Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Posts Tagged ‘Evangelicalism

Evangelicals: Now is Not the Time to Spike the Football

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David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, David Green with Bible in warehouse, Culture Wars, Abortifacients, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

I was as happy as you were that the Supreme Court upheld the closely held corporation, Hobby Lobby’s, right to not provide coverage for the 4 abortifacients in the Affordable Care Act.  While in no way do I pretend to understand the field of law, the argumentation that closely held corporations appear, function, and act more like individuals than they do corporations made common sense to me – and hence, applying the Constitutional right to dissent to the mandatory coverage of the 4 abortifacients in Affordable Care Act seemed appropriate.

All of that said, now is not the time to spike the football.  Evangelicals cannot rely on the Supreme Court, Congress, the Senate, nor the Executive branches to make America a “Christian nation” once again.  I am pretty confident that I love America as much as you do, but the reality is that we are a post-Christian nation that is growing increasingly undiscerning.  The people/culture(s) of America lack the worldview needed to understand the logical consequences of the breakdown of gender, marriage, and the family (the most fundamental unit of society).  The people/culture(s) of America have created a Swiss cheese patchwork quilt from a variety of different worldviews to piecemeal together sets of ideas that justify their behaviors, lifestyles, sin patterns, and addictions.

In other words, we cannot rely on the federal government to be a positive agent of cultural change in America.  Cultural change happens at a wide variety of levels but politicians and bureaucrats are chameleons which change their skin color based on the popular opinion – this is why politics is more of a reflection of the culture(s) rather than the driver of the culture(s).   Evangelicals have a Herculean task ahead of them to engage the drifting, aimless, and anesthetized conglomeration of sub-cultures that comprise this thing we call the United States of America.

Culture flows out of people’s wants and desires.  People’s wants and desires flow out of their hearts.  If you want cultural change then you have to see changed hearts.  If you want changed hearts then you must see the Holy Spirit remove the heart of stone and replace it with the heart of flesh.  If you want the Spirit to move then you must pray for Him to move and you must be faithful to share the Gospel winsomely, clearly, and boldly.  I am not saying don’t vote, or don’t engage politically; however, we cannot lobby or legislate people into the Kingdom of God.

 

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Best Links of the Week

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Incredible story of a geological statistician who figured out the algorithm of winning certain lottery scratch off tickets.

Apparently a higher up Google executive, turned spokesperson for Egyptian opposition group is now missing.  Strange.

Microsoft scandal of Bing copying Google’s search results.

An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel

The Arab Revolution and Western Decline

Excellent piece by Doug Wilson entitled, “Gravitron Fairies

Christianity Today on the debate of Bible translation how far to go in contextualization into Arabic

U.S. gives secrets about British Trident class nuclear submarines in order to secure nuclear arms deal with Russia.

Kevin DeYoung makes a brief yet cogent case that the principle difference between Liberal Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, and Roman Catholics is their view of Scripture.

91 year old man and his 82 year old wife successfully stand against a robber in their home.  These kinds of folks amaze me… the kind of folks that made this country great.  We need more like them.

Online Universities are future of education says Bill Gates.

A Typical Day of Air Traffic:

Excellent Article from Tim Keller on Issues Facing the Western Church

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The Big Issues Facing the Western Church

1.  The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S

2.  The rise of Islam

3.  The new non-western Global Christianity

4.  The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

5.  The end of prosperity?

As usual, Keller has some prescient and keen cultural insight.  Your thoughts?

A.W. Tozer Critique of the “New Cross” of Popular Evangelicalism

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I ran across this quote from A.W. Tozer in his relatively unknown book, The Pursuit of Man.

But if I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament.  It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain.  The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them.  The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses.  The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.  The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter.

Tozer wrote this in 1950:  eerily prophetic, alarmingly true.

Convicting Gem from Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”

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Don't Waste Your Life: Click for the free PDF book

Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family.  So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud – just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend-woven around church (mostly).  This is life for millions of people.  Wasted life.  We were created for more, far more.  John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life, ch. 7, pps. 119-120.

Ouch.  That hits close to home.  Full book available in PDF here.

Written by Michael Graham

January 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

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 10: Final Analysis

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Hard Work Ahead

I have stated before that there is cause for optimism in evangelicalism.  There are some solid movements, positive shifts, and creative/bold people.  Broadly speaking, I have concern for evangelical populism and am more encouraged by Reformed evangelicalism (see blog series for why).

Our world is becoming more complex and it is changing faster.  We need to be proactive in thinking about these shifts, ready to address them with the Gospel, rather than writing books about the shifts 10-20 years after they have happened.  Our thinking about our world/culture(s)/context need to be thoughtful and not intellectually sloppy.  Are we positioning ourselves to have influence in all areas of America – transcending class, ethnicity, politics, geography, technology, and social media?  Are we seeking balance in our theology, philosophy of ministry, and relationships?

I have hope for the future.  However, I think we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.

Up next, there will be a series on book recommendations and online resources.

Written by Michael Graham

November 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

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