American Christianity’s Magic Word: “Just”

Added a new link to the Humor section, Stuff Christians Like, the site is a spoof of Stuff White People Like which blew up here on WordPress earlier in the year.

The fact that the site is a spoof itself of a “secular” idea does not escape the author’s notice per the inaugural post,
#1. Putting a God Spin on Popular Secular Ideas

Entry #96 Using God’s favorite word (“Just”) took me back to a post over on Purgatorio titled, Just the Lord’s Prayer, in which the clever people over there interject “just” into the Lord’s Prayer.

Even the relatively short time (5 years) I’ve spent immersed in American church culture, I’m still puzzled at the prevalence of this word.

Does the profligate use of “just” in public prayers reveal something more significant than the existence of Christianese?

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Conversion: Not the Christian’s Responsibility

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,

so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
— St. Paul to the church at Corinth

There is a great deal of confusion regarding conversion to Christianity. Many are resistant to even hearing the good news of Christ and this should not surprise anyone given the Apostle’s words here.

I recall, with gratitude given the immeasurable grace of God, the days when my residence was in the darkness in which all men are born into, and can testify to the truth of Paul’s words.

Then there are those who take it upon themselves to be the motive force behind the conversion of the unbeliever, forgetting the clear testimony of Scripture (see above or see here) that this cannot be so in the case of true conversion, that is, the rebirth from which a new creature (in Christ) arises.

Currently reading J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, and he shares the following insight,

It is not for us to imagine that we can prove the truth of Christianity by our own arguments; nobody can prove the truth of Christianity except the Holy Spirit, by His own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart.

It is the sovereign prerogative of Christ’s Spirit to convince men’s consciences of the truth of Christ’s gospel; and Christ’s human witnesses must learn to ground their hopes of success not on clever presentation of the truth by man, but on powerful demonstration of the truth by the Spirit.

The Christian’s responsibility is not to convert those around him, but to give testimony to Christ who has graciously redeemed him from the miserable natural state where he was but a child of wrath, deserving to face God’s Justice. The Christian’s responsibility is to echo the blind man’s reply to his Pharisee interlocutors,

Whether He is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

Futility Lives Here

The myth of Sisyphus was a favorite of mine when we studied the mythology of the Greeks. If one recalls, Sisyphus is the man whose eternal punishment was to roll a huge boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down as he neared the summit.

The story is invoked when an illustration of futility is needed, for an apt one it is, at least from Sisyphus’ perspective.

No matter how many grains of morality we gather from hearing this myth, it is astounding that some of our actions and attitudes show that we are not immune from rolling our proverbial boulders up our own hills.

One such boulder which is defiantly and may I say proudly, continuously pushed up that hill, is the boulder of not taking God at His Word. That this is par for the course for people who for now, remain in the dark is of no surprise to anyone.

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Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ravi’s 2000 book, Jesus Among Other Gods. The man has a way with words without being verbose and thus inhibiting the presentation of the Gospel.

While a post a day quoting a great insight from this book is doable, I’ll try to contain myself.

Before I cite the words relevant to the title of this post, I sense the urgency to quote Ravi’s words from a few pages earlier,

Jesus’ kingdom was of such nature that it was not procured by military might or power. Its rule is neither territorial nor political. If history has proven anything, it is that the spread of the gospel by the sword or by coercion has done nothing but misrepresent the message and bring disrepute to the gospel.

Now to the main quotation,

The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state.

Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death. Freedom to critique the text of the Koran and the person of Mohammed are prohibited by the laws of blasphemy, and the result is torturous punishment.

One must respect the concern of a culture to protect what it deems sacred, but to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel, and that is a vital difference. The contrast is all too clear.

Zacharias, Mohler, and Sproul on the Emergent Church

Interesting video…

I thought Ravi’s comments are “worth the millenium.” The following starts at around 4:55,

Sproul:When Christians make confessions of faith propositionally and say “here we stand this is what we believe”, the emergent church was a built-in allergy to that don’t you think Al [Mohler]?

Zacharias: Vance Havner who had a very sharp wit with his one liners…

Mohler: He wasn’t emerging from anything?

Zacharias: Nope. He made the comment years and years ago when he was around. He said “when the tide is low every shrimp has his own puddle.” This [Emergent Church?] is another one of these puddles.

And it makes me wonder. There is seriously… with these men and women who are the progenitors of it, were they bored with God? What brought this about? You know, what brought this methodology into a theology? When you write a book like “The Secret Message of Jesus”? [by Brian McLaren] What?!?! 2,000 years have gone by now suddenly he’s found the secret to it, we didn’t know it?

This is so bizarre, but you know the problem is that we got non-critical people listening to this stuff and they absorb it.

When you read Brian McLaren every chapter dies the death of a 1,000 qualifications… At the end of it you wonder what he really believes and maybe something on Monday something else on Tuesday. He’s an anti-doctrinaire doctrinaire doctrinizing individual always postulating doctrine while he’s anti-doctrine.

These are hard words but it is pitiful to watch something like this actually gain currency

(H/t: Reclaiming the Mind)

Moses was High on Mount Sinai?

According to this story,
“‘Moses was high on hallucinogenic drug when he received Ten Commandments,’ claims top academic”

Moses was high when he saw the burning bush as well as when he received the Ten Commandments.

Check out the story to read the details according to Dr. Benny Shannon, a psychology professor, who came up with this theory.

I wonder if the good doctor will reach (has reached?) the same conclusion in regards to Muhammad claiming to have been visited by Jibril at Hira? And if he does (did), will he make his “studies” public?

If the Muhammad cartoon and teddy bear debacles are any indication, I wouldn’t count on it…

Lifestyle Evangelism at the Workplace?

Pastor John Piper addresses this brand of evangelism as it pertains to the Christian’s workplace,

Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not even know we are Christians is like admiring and effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed but won’t know what to buy.

This quotation came from his his excellent book “Don’t Waste Your Life”.

I’m not sure that I’ve seen such an apt analogy as it pertains to this popular form of evangelism.