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Christian Defense of the Faith

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Christianity Honors And Affirms Women

I have an amazing wife and four beautiful daughters (one being a daughter-in-law.)  I can honestly say that I would never subscribe to any worldview that thought of them as chattel, demeaned them, or otherwise asked me to treat them as anything less than my equal in God’s eyes.  I believe that the exalted call of wife and mother honors women.  Certainly my wife is  specially gifted physically, emotionally, and psychologically for the stewardship over herself, children, and husband. I am so thankful that my God has not only blessed me with a wonderful wife, but He has also given her, my daughters, and all women a special place in His kingdom.Women of the Bible

All throughout the New Testament, we can see that God affirms women. In Luke, Mary is elevated, The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus highlights the special sacrifice that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12:1-3), makes for him: “While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matthew 16:6-13)

Elsewhere, the New Testament mentions the involvement of several women in important ministries.  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna supported and traveled with Jesus and His disciples (Luke 8:1-3). While most of the male disciples were in hiding after Jesus’ arrest, women witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and prepared His body for burial (Matthew 27:55.) The church at Jerusalem met at the home of Mary, mother of John, also called Mark (Acts 12:12.) Paul commends Phoebe, Priscilla, Junia, and many other female co-workers (Romans 16.) Time and time again, women are mentioned as prominent members of the fledgling Christian church (Acts 18:26, 1 Timothy 5:3-10, 1 Timothy 3:11, Titus 2:3-5.)

Finally, as Ravi Zacharias states, “It is fascinating that the greatest historical event the world has ever known (the resurrection of Jesus Christ) was first revealed to the women.”

Why Youth Are Leaving The Church (II)

A few years ago, in David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith (Baker 2011),  Kinnaman argued that there are at least six reasons why men and women between 18-30 leave the faith behind.

Youth Leaving2Here, I will examine the final three reasons.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.

Pop culture has legitimized an attitude of immediate gratification which has manifested not only in premarital sex but also extramarital sex (including homosexual acts) which, in the Christian worldview, are illicit and immoral.  There is a strong reluctance to say that it is wrong to engage in these acts for fear of being labeled exclusionist or intolerant. This is just very, very unpopular today. It’s difficult for Christian kids to reconcile what the church teaches and what their culture and their friends tell them, as well as what their sin nature drives them toward.

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.

What lies behind religious pluralism is the idea that religious belief is not a matter of fact, it is a matter of preference or fashion.  People don’t think of religious belief as objective matters of fact. Therefore this kind of exclusivity they find offensive, just as if I were to condemn your taste in art or your taste in fashion and say that my tastes alone are correct. If religious belief is just a matter of taste then these claims to exclusivity are indeed absurd and offensive.

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

I’ve seen it in my own kids that they erroneously feel that their doubting friends may not be welcome or treated well so they are reluctant to bring their doubting friends to church. They don’t feel they will get a friendly reception.  Ironically, they can’t site examples of this type of treatment but nevertheless assert that this is how they will be received.

Also, I have a friend that was invited to church by her in-laws.  She said she felt judged and unwelcome and therefore not only has refused to return but has been driven away.

I believe that pastors must simply take these reasons into strong consideration, address them responsibly and seriously, and empower staff members and lay persons in their church to develop creative ways of addressing these burning issues. The answers are there but in prayerful consideration we must ask God to show us the way.

Why Youth Are Leaving The Church (I)

Youth Leaving

A few years ago, in David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith (Baker 2011),  Kinnaman argued that there are at least six reasons why men and women between 18-30 leave the faith behind.

Let’s examine the first three reasons.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.

Indeed there is a failure in our churches to engage with challenges to Christian belief.   In our culture, which is imbued with relativism, scientism, and pluralism, it seems that pastors are either unwilling or incapable of addressing questions which run headlong into Christian truth claims.  Subjects such as evolution and geology bring into doubt Christian Doctrine and Biblical teachings so there seems to be either a “turn the cheek” or “ignore it” mentality.

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twenty-somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.

Often, youth experiences in church are more like social gatherings with scripture sprinkled in.  There is a lot of superficiality in general church services today rather than solid Doctrinal teaching.  Services often seem more intent on entertaining primarily which leaves teaching the Gospel a byproduct of the Sunday production.  As Dr. William Lane Craig states, “…the time for simpering devotionals and feel-good Bible stories is past.  We have to teach our kids sound doctrine and apologetics.”

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.

The Creation-Evolution debate which still, is undoubtedly a huge issue, is a sort of unholy alliance between New Atheists and Young Earth Creationists. If you think that the world is older than ten to twenty thousand years, you have somehow betrayed or contradicted the Bible. So, if you are convinced that those two ideologies are incompatible then something has got to give and the church will come across as antagonistic to mainstream science.

I will discuss the final three reasons in the next blog.

But…

“But…,” I often hear my beautiful three year old daughter say. The use of this word is obviously not isolated to her as I catch myself using it as well. That is our nature. The sin nature that has pervaded humanity since the fall.

If you look up the word “but,” you’ll see it defined as a conjunction used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned. Oh, how often we hear it. “I want to get in shape, but I don’t have the time to exercise.”, “I don’t really have the money, but I really like that watch.” , “I don’t need it, but I’m going to get it anyway.” , “I know I’m not following Jesus’ teachings, but God knows my heart.”

Prov 28:9 tells us, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to My instruction, even their prayers are detestable.”

ButWe as Christians don’t have the luxury of “but” for we live under a law that transcends the world’s excuses and rationale. God’s Word has been given to us as an instruction manual for our lives. Not only should we feel compelled but we should strive to live by it’s teachings when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We must not say something and contrast it in the next breath for “Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:8

Passages in Scripture don’t include, “Love thy enemy, but…” , “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, but…” , “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, but…” or “If Christ has not been raised, our faith is in vain, but…” The challenge for us, as followers of Christ, is to remove the word “but” from our lexicon.

If we can do this, we will be a better witness to His glory and power in us. “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Mat 5:37

” Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Cor 16:13

No ifs, ands, or buts…

Truth

In a world suffused with relativism and pluralism; where legal and social sways to and fro like a tree in the tempest of societal and historical influences, our modernist and postmodernist culture leatruthns on ones own self to find meaning and truth. Real is subjective.

That reality is what you make it. Of course, this doesn’t always apply. According to the tenants of natural science, if you place a frying pan in fire it will get hot. If you touch the frying pan when its hot, you will burn yourself. No amount of subjectivity will alter the result. After all, only the degrees of pain are relative but certainly the residual blisters aren’t. How about engineering? Is it plausible to say, as postmodernism will, that the words load bearing wall have no objective meaning? Surely your building inspector would disagree. Its only in matters of society or religion that anyone but the most misguided would say that there is no objectivity.

We all can see that society has evolved. Once, slavery was a legal business. Today, slavery is abhorrent. Once prejudice was the norm. Today, bigotry and intolerance is unacceptable. But why, if there are no objective truths is owning another human being or thinking one race better than another frowned upon socially? Why aren’t, what we would consider social abominations merely the “fashion” of our time and place in history? If there is no objective wrong in these instances, could we eventually move back to an acceptance slavery and prejudice? How could we judge? Who are we to make those distinctions? After all, what’s real is subjective and reality is what you make it, right?

In the Christian world view, there is right and wrong. Our Lord and Savior died on the cross for the injustices that we perpetrated on this world. “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21 I believe that there is an objective reality and there are basic truths that we all hold because of experience. As Paul says, ” For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Rom 1:20. So, look around you. Live your life knowing that there are objective truths. Look Jesus Christ, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

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