Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for the ‘Fundamentalism’ Category

Best Links of the Week

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Chuck DeGroat has one of the best pieces I have read in a long long time called, “What’s Wrong With Your Pastor?”  Orthodoxy without orthopathos is orthoworthless.

Tim Tebow writing a memoir about ‘faith, family, and football’ entitled Through My Eyes, and can be pre-ordered in hardcover and Kindle.

Marvin Olasky is resuming full-time duties at World Magazine.

Kansas State nutrition professor loses 27 pounds over two months while eating a diet of Twinkies and Nutty Buddy Bars, while lowering bad cholesterol by 20% and raising good cholesterol by 20%.

Company creating an app and cell phone plug-in device to test for STDs.  I am not sure if this is exceedingly strange or a good idea… or both.

iPhone app of the week:  MileBug – creates IRS compliant travel logs simply and easily and you can email yourself the reports in both Word or Excel formats.  If you don’t want to pay the $2.99 they have a Lite version that allows you to create 10 trip reports before having to email yourself.  Also, it allows you to take notes and add parking, toll, or food expenses to each mileage report.

Pretty crazy trick play in a Middle School football game:

Women solves Wheel of Fortune puzzle with just one letter:

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“Waiting for Armageddon” Movie Trailer

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I ran across this movie trailer today on Hulu.  It is a film analyzing the impact of classical Premillenial Dispensationalism on Israel, American culture, neo-conservativism, American foreign policy, Islam, and Mideast peace.  Suffice to say, without having seen the film, I most likely agree with the disturbing affects of classical Dispensational Premillenialism on all of the aforementioned spheres.

Should a 150 year old doctrine that isn’t taught at any seminary drive American foreign policy?  Your thoughts?

3 Month Introspective

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Introspective

So, I’ve been blogging consistently for three months.  This is the week of Christmas and I’ll be all over the place.  I thought I would briefly summarize the 3 months of blog series on here:

Blaise Pascal:  We took a look at Blaise Pascal’s thinking, its use of aphorism and its relationship to both tri-perspectivalism and presuppositionalism.  We also looked at his use of aphorism and his warnings against deism and atheism.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future, Parts 1-7:  We defined the term evangelical.  We looked at its historical roots in the First Great Awakening, Second Great Awakening, and its ties to celebrity culture, democritization of knowledge, and modernism.  Then we looked at the roots of liberalism, the Protestant split and suburbanization, and defined and outlined evangelical populism and their game plan for reaching America.  Finally we assessed the current status of American evangelicalism and then made some predictions of future trends.

Introduction to Apologetics, Parts 1-7:  We looked in broad strokes at the various schools of apologetics.  We then took a more in-depth look at:  Classical Apologetics, Evidentialist Apologetics, Presuppositional Apologetics, and the specific apologetics of Blaise Pascal and Alvin Plantinga.  Finally, we employed the three phases football as an analogy for the different apologetic schools and I likened Tim Tebow to the presuppositionalists.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Parts 1-10:  We looked at some analysis of some shifts evangelicalism will need to make moving forward:  Doctrine, Worldview, Urbanization, Globality/Mobility, “Post-Modernism,” American Culture(s), Contextualization, Balance, and Final Analysis.

Top ~10 Books by Topic:

Top 10 Systematic Theology Texts

Top 10 Devotional Classics

Top 10 Books on the Church

Top 10 Books on Science and Christianity

Top 10 Books on Christian Biography

Top 10 Books on Culture

Top 10 Books on Eschatology

Top 5 Books on Worldview

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

Top 10 Books on Church History

Top 40 Books to Read While in College

Top 10 Books on Missions, Discipleship, and Evangelism

The 25 Most Destructive Books Ever Written…

Top 10 Apologetic Works

Top 10 Books on Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Top 10 Books by John Piper

Top 5 Children’s Books

Best Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms of the Christian Church

A Comprehensive List of Top 10 Book Lists of 2009

Up Next:  We will be looking at some thoughts on the economy and investment and then delve into the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche…

Written by Michael Graham

December 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Top 15 Books on Status of American Evangelicalism

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No Place for Truth by David Wells

These books represent the best analysis on the present status and recent history of evangelicalism.  This list is meant to be informative and not to be alarmist or disconcerting.  I think the classic Dicken’s line, ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times‘ will apply the Christ’s church til He return.  It is implicit also in this list that works commending a Christian worldview, like Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth, are must reads.  I have also omitted more esoteric debates including books on open theism, federal vision, new perspectives on paul… etc.  The purpose of this list is zoomed out than those specific issues.

1.  No Place for Truth by David Wells  [e, p, s]

How modernity crept in and screwed up evangelicalism.  Absolute classic.

2.  The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll  [y, l, e, p, s]

The scandal of the evangelical mind is that it is so scarce and scant.  You may also want to read Os Guinness’ Fit Bodies Fat Minds, addressing evangelicalism’s intellectual laziness and preoccupation with the temporary.

3.  The Democritization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch  [e, p, s]

Fascinating analysis of the democritization of Christianity in America.  His historical analysis is keen and well-researched.

4.  Christianity and Liberalism by J. Greshem Machen  [e, p, s]

This classic work delineates the liberalism of the early 20th century as being a completely other faith than the historic orthodox Christian faith.  86 years later it is still relevant.

5.  God in the Wasteland by David Wells  [e, p, s]

Wells continues where he left off in No Place for Truth, by challenging evidenced consumerism in evangelicalism.

6.  The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells  [e, p, s]

The title is a play on Paul Tillich’s The Courage to Be.  Tillich’s work was a classic in early 20th century Protestant liberalism.  Wells draws connections between the emergent movement as really being a form of rehashed 20th century era liberalism.  Wells is also scathing on the level and abuse of marketing in modern evangelicalism.  As far as Wells goes, his Above All Earthly Pow’rs s also a worthwhile read:  in terms of analysis Pow’rs is to post-modernity what No Place for Truth was to modernity.

7.  The New Shape of World Christianity:  How American Experience Reflects Global Faith by Mark Noll  [e, p, s]

I am surprised by the lack of press for this book.  Noll examines the history of Christianity in America and draws parallels in key growth areas (Southern hemisphere and the East).  Noll is actually rather positive amid the torrent of bad press on what American Christians are exporting.  This is an important work because we are good to be reminded that American evangelicalism is not the height of church history.  Further, the church is Christ’s and she will prevail.  I think Noll has his fingers on the pulse of what is going on and what is next, we would be wise to listen to what he has to say.

8.  Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism by George Marsden  [e, p, s]

This is a must read if you seek to understand our history.  Also an important work is Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray.

9.  Reclaiming the Center:  Confronting Evangelical Accomodation to Postmodern Times by Various Authors  [y, l, e, p, s]

Various heavyweights chime in on the necessity of remaining faithful to the preaching of the Word and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you like this work, I suggest also Os Guinness’, Prophetic Untimeliness:  Challenging the Idol of Relevance.

10.  Christless Christianity by Michael Horton  [y, l, e, p, s]

This books has caused a bit of a stir.  You can read John Frame’s book review here.  I have yet to read the book, but I thought it a worthwhile mention to engage in present dialogue over the status of the Gospel in evangelicalism.  From what I gather, Horton has guys like Joel Osteen in view when he speaks of a Christianity without Christ.

11.  Young, Restless, and Reformed by Colin Hansen  [y, l, e, p, s]

This book is an important first look at the growing demographic of young Reformed folk.  This is an area that needs further analysis and hopefully a good work will come soon.

12.  Respectable Sins:  Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges  [y, l, e, p, s]

Bridges is 100% right when he highlights several sins that evangelicals strangely tolerate:  gossip, anger, pride, jealousy, anxiety, and selfishness to name a few.

13.  Why Johnny Can’t Preach:  The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon  [e, p, s]

Gordon applies Marshall McLuhan’s keen insights to shed light on the dearth of serious bible teaching in evangelicalism.

14.  Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Mark Driscoll  [y, l, e, p, s]

I think Mark Driscoll is a very important voice in evangelicalism, moreso than many of my fellow Reformed brethren.  This book is a humorous yet insightful look into the story of the planting of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  There are many lessons weaved into the narrative that are wise and memorable.

15.  Why We’re Not Emergent:  From Two Guys That Should Be and Why We Love the Church:  In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck  [y, l, e, p, s]

The first book is a solid book on the emergent church.  I also wanted to end this list with on a positive note with Why We Love the Church.  Many times we can get so bogged down in self-criticism that we forget to praise God for all the truly good things he is doing in and through the church in America.

What we need is always adherence to the same three things:  orthodoxy, orthopathos, and orthopraxis.

(c=children; y=young adult; l=lay leader; e=elder; p=pastor; s=scholar)

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Part 9: Balance

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"Because the deck of life is always shifting..."

Because the deck of life is always shifting balance can be nothing more than momentary synchronicity.  (Richard Pratt)

Balance is something that evangelicals know very little of.  We were birthed as a reaction against liberalism.  In doing so, much of the conservative theology and philosophy of ministry were an equal and opposite reaction against liberalism.  For much of fundamentalism-turned-evangelicalism’s existence, we defined ourselves anegativa against liberalism, rather than forming a positive definition from Scripture alone.  In many ways, early evangelicalism required liberalism to exist, in order for it to exist.

Moving forward, here are 9 (non-comprehensive) areas where evangelicals ought to seek balance:

1.  Words and Deeds

Some churches like to show the gospel, some like to preach the gospel – we should do birth.  The lost should see and hear Christ preached.

2.  Evangelism and Discipleship

Jesus called us to make disciples and this includes evangelism.  Jesus modeled evangelism as a part of his disipleship.  In many cases, Jesus sent out his disciples before him.  These two things go together.  When we do not model how to share our faith, we cannot expect that our disciples will ever multiply themselves.

3.  Boldness and Clarity

Boldness corresponds to preaching the gospel.  Clarity corresponds to showing the gospel in relationship.  Paul did both.

4.  Immanence and Transcendence

Immanence emphasizes God’s nearness.  Transcendence emphasizes God’s bigness and incomprehensibility.  Both are true and both need to be reflected in our personal and corporate worship.  Some like to emphasize God’s immanence at the expense of his transcendence (Pentecostalism).  Some like to emphasize God’s transcendence at the cost of his immanence (Liturgical).  We need to help people see both and not just pander to one or the other.  Who cares about the form of worship style if God is presented in both his immanence and transcendence.

5.  Preservation and Adaptation

We need to honor the vast tradition of the history of the church – preservation.  We need to innovate to adapt to the language of the culture (obviously, without over-contextualizing).

6.  Individual and Communal

We are saved as individuals.  We are called out to a community.  We are not saved by merely being in the church while we are called out to a church.

7.  “Already/Now” and “Not Yet”

Christ has already risen from the dead; Christ has not yet returned.  We stand between two worlds and must yearn for the one to come, while seeking to affect change on the one we reside.

8.  Reaching-up and Reaching-in and Reaching-out

Reaching-up is the vertical ministry of our relationship with God.  Reaching-in is the horizontal and inward ministry of those in our church.  Reaching-out is the horizontal outward ministry to the world.  If we fail to do any one of these, we have been deficient as a church.

9.  Orthodoxy and Orthopathos and Orthopraxis

All of the previous balances can be summarized in this final one.  Right belief, Right emotion, Right practice.  Balance is critical here.  If we are seeking sound doctrine it ought to produce right practice and right emotion.  If we are seeking right emotion it ought to produce right belief and right practice.  If we are seeking right practice it ought to produce right doctrine and right belief.

What balances would you add?

Moving forward, balance is critical.  Up next, we will look at some summarizing thoughts regarding evangelicalism in the future.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future… Part 4b

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Suburbanization:  Evangelicalism's Physical Cultural Sequestering

Suburbanization: Evangelicalism's Physical Cultural Sequestering

So, Protestantism tore in two:  liberal and fundamentalist.

We must consider the affects of denying inerrancy on how we view the story of the Bible.  Recall that higher criticism read the Bible through rationalistic eyes.   The net result was the demythologization of the Bible.  Demythologization means exactly what it looks like – taking the supernatural and mythological elements out of the text.  So, liberal Protestants recast Jesus as a  more charitable/moral, kinder, gentler and better way to be human – rather than the substitionary sacrifice to save sinners from the wrath of God and an eternity in hell.  Jesus is boiled down to the moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.  The concept of the Kingdom of God is not salvific but merely social in nature.  For the deconstructed liberals, Jesus’ mission statement was something to the effect of:  I came to make society better by showing an unselfish way of living.  Jesus’ vision statement would be something like:  By showing a better way to live, people will follow my example and gradually make the world a better place.

The tragic thing about the liberal social gospel is that there is truth to be found, the problem is that the truths are imbalanced by a lack of their necessary counterweights.  The reality is that the Gospel is both salvific and social in nature.  When God’s people take the Gospel to a new place, God’s rule/reign/authority comes along with it.  Where God’s rule/reign/authority is manifest, His blessing is also manifest.  That blessing is not full, final, and complete in the manner that it will be at the Second Coming of Christ – but it is present.  Unfortunately, the early fundamentalists did not fully embrace this consequence of the Gospel.

What happened was simple… the fundamentalists saw that the liberals were embracing and engaging culture because they had bought into a merely social gospel.  Hence, the fundamentalists reacted against the liberal engaging of culture and they decided they would disengage from culture and sequester themselves.  The core issue was the fundamentalists did not develop a positive identity, rather they defined themselves anegativa (the not-liberals and hence not-socially-engaged).  Fundamentalism became a negative term and eventually conservative Christians grew to self-identify as being “evangelicals” to avoid the negative connotations of the pejorative title of fundamentalist.  Recall that most evangelicals were already highly anti-intellectual at this point (with the notable exception of the Reformed Old Presbyterian folk), so a movement to disengage further from culture was devastating.  Conservative Christians receded from the world of academia, art, media, and other American cultural institutions.  A cursory look at the history of American Universities during this same period (first half of the 20th century) will show a rapid de-Christianization and the beginnings of secularization.  The receding of the conservative Christians from cultural interaction combined with the suburbanization and white flight of the mid-20th century created a huge void of Christian witness in America, particularly in city centers, the hub of cultural life.

Evangelicals have decried how godless/liberal our schools, Universities, media, art… etc. have become and are upset with urban decay.  The problem with this is that we are substantially culpable.  If only the Gospel brings God’s blessing on a society, and the people who still hold fast to that Gospel completely disconnect from society, we can only expect serious moral, intellectual, and social decay to follow.

Next, we shall look at the methodology of mid-late 20th century evangelicalism…

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