Are we really thinking Christian? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
In light of the equal sign being in several places by Christians for the redefining of marriage, I just wonder what on Earth it is that we are teaching not just our youth, but even leaders in the church. Yes. There are some church leaders who are looking at this and not seeing the problem with it.
It is my contention that what has happened is that when we have gone to church services, we have made it all about us. Churches by and large just have application going on. Christianity is all about how you relate to your fellow man. Jesus came so we could know we ought to love one another and get along.
I kind of think the Son of God didn’t need to die just to give us that message.
Absent beyond that is any idea that the Christian faith makes claims about the world. We regularly speak in our church services about how Jesus is Lord and then don’t think about what that means. We go off and live our lives without considering “If Jesus is Lord, what does that say not just about how I live my life but the world around me?”
For instance, in May for our podcast, I’m hoping to have E. Calvin Beisner come on and talk about environmentalism. What does the Lordship of Christ have to do with the environment? He’ll give a much fuller look of course, but for now, we could say it means we are the stewards. It means we realize that ultimately, it all belongs to Him. It means that we can use it for our good, but we are not to abuse it. It means we are to respect it as His creation.
What does the Lordship of Christ say about politics? It says that man has been put in charge in various ways to govern the world, but that He should seek to have it be a good society driven by the holiness of God. This does not mean a theocratic state per se as no man can rule as God, but every man should have the idea of right and wrong informed by God and seek to instill the right. He should be willing to recognize the sinfulness of man and grant certain liberties knowing he is not the judge, jury, and executioner.
So, when a Christian goes to the voting booth, they should see what their Christianity says about all the issues and act accordingly. We cannot put a disjunction between Jesus and any other thing. As soon as we do that, we are saying there is something that Jesus is not the Lord of, and in that case He is not the Lord of all.
What does it say about marriage? Even without the homosexual debate, we Christians need to learn a lot in this. By the way, if you want to know why the world reached this state church, look in the mirror. It’s our fault. We were not honoring marriage as we should have been and allowed ideas like no-fault divorce to come in.
If you are a Christian who is married, you will look and see how Christianity affects your marriage. What does Christianity say about sex? What does it say about how you are to love one another? (Of course, the concept of loving one another should not be abandoned from Christianity, but it is not the total of Christianity.) What does it say about a husband leading his family? What does it say is the role of submission? What does it say about the raising of children?
If you are single, you too have the questions. Why should I consider marriage? Do I have to? Do I want to? (It can be perfectly valid to be a Christian and choose to remain single) If I marry, what kind of person will I marry? If I don’t marry, why is it that I am having to make a choice to abstain from having sex? How am I to live on my own and serve the Kingdom?
What does Christianity say about pleasure? Am I allowed to enjoy anything? If so, what? If a certain pleasure is forbidden for a Christian, why is it forbidden? Could it be a pleasure is not forbidden but is forbidden if done to excess? Is it possible to do it in the wrong way or in the wrong place?
Yet the most important questions we can ask about thinking Christian are to ask what are the claims about God, Christ, the Spirit, Scripture, and creation? These are questions not asked. Very few Christians have any kind of doctrine of God and then we sit back and wonder “Why is it that we lose Christians to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses?” Both of those groups have a doctrine of God. It is a false one, but it is a doctrine.
Who is God? What is He like? How do I know He exists? What about evil in the world? Who is Jesus? Did He exist? Did He do miracles? What were the claims He made? Did He rise from the dead? Who is the Spirit? Is He deity? Is He a person? What is the Bible? How did we get it? How was it written? When was it written? What is the purpose of creation? How does it exist? How did it begin to exist? (Those last two ARE different questions)
Of course, this list is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a start.
How do we get here?
First, our leadership needs to know better. If you are considering hiring a pastor, and his eyes glaze over when you ask “What is apologetics?” I recommend you move on. Your pastor needs to be able to defend the flock. I am not saying the pastor should be an apologist. That is not excluded however. Some apologists are not meant to be pastors. Every pastor does not have to focus on apologetics, but he should have a basic knowledge. If he cannot focus, he needs someone in his church who can.
Second, after the pastor, the rest of the staff needs to be questioned on essential Christian doctrine. Everyone who has some position of authority in a church needs to know a basic idea of what they believe and why. If not, it will only lead to the shame of the church when they make egregious mistakes and it will lead to the confusion of those in the church, especially the youth, who take these people as such authorities.
Third, every sermon should have more than just application. It should have a basis in order to know how to act out that application. Back in 2010, I had to speak at my grandmother’s funeral. Being one of three speakers and the last one, I had ten minutes to speak before I would then be an M.C. and help everyone talk about how they remembered my grandmother.
Only ten minutes. What did I do? I went straight to 1 Cor. 15, gave a brief apologetic for the creed in that passage and showed why it is we can argue Jesus rose from the dead, and then spent the rest of that time talking about what a difference it makes and why it would mean we’d see my grandmother again if we were in Christ, with a final call to urge people to be in Christ.
That talk was very well received!
In fact, I have generally found when I speak this way at churches with giving a basis and then an application, people really like what they hear. Believe it or not pastors, you can do the same thing! I did the one I talked about above remember in less than ten minutes. This will not be a huge distraction from your sermon, and if you think giving evidence for the truth of Christianity is a distraction, you have a problem.
Fourth, there need to be classes at the church on how to think Christian. We have classes on most everything else, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not saying to cut out other classes. I am saying to add one. How can your church not benefit if people are learning to think Christian? Let it be a study of a book like “Cold-Case Christianity” or a class on how to answer a Mormon. Either way, get your church thinking.
Fifth, the laity need the freedom to challenge the pastor. If the pastor knows that after the sermon, some members of the laity will ask him hard questions if they don’t think they’ve been addressed, that will make a pastor study more. I have heard too many sermons that are done with no preparation and no exegesis of the text. They have a lot of passion, but they end there. Passion is not wrong, but passion is not going to help that mother in the congregation where her son dies in a car accident this week.
The crisis the church is in now is because we have not thought Christian. We have instead ran and hid and isolated ourselves in our little Christian bubbles and said we will have no contact with the rest of the world. We dare not do this any more. If we do not engage the world, we cannot be ready to take it for Christ, and according to the Great Commission, our marching orders are to take it for Christ. Ultimately, we isolate ourselves from Christ when we isolate ourselves from the world, for we are no longer serving Him, but rather just protecting ourselves.