Empty Suits and Unholy Rage - ISIS vs. the Secular West (Part 3)

Read Part 1, Part 2.

On the rare occasions when its god is allowed to be seen or heard from, the secular West offers up an apologetic, impotent and dewey-eyed theology—a cosmic butler who lives to serve. One Christian commentator quipped that the popular conception of Jesus Christ is that of a “European metrosexual with the hair of a shampoo model.”1 A researcher has coined a term to refer to this blasphemous phenomenon; “moral therapeutic deism.”2 ISIS, for all its fiendish perversity, has something to say about their false version of God. They have a theology and they wield it.

The naturalistic, secular West offers a world without hope, without a future, without light and without God. The universe is the result of natural processes. There is no eternal decree of God. Jesus is not “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3), and miracles such as the virgin conception, the incarnation and the resurrection are absurd myths. There is nothing but the melancholy, barren abyss of ultimate irrelevance—what Bertrand Russell called “the firm foundation of unyielding despair.”3  Read more about Empty Suits and Unholy Rage - ISIS vs. the Secular West (Part 3)

The Gospel Applied: “Mission Impossible” (Romans 13)

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When I was a kid, Peter Graves used to get his spy assignments for a secret team of agents on a reel to reel tape recorder. Every episode, we heard the words: “Your mission, should you decide to accept it is…” The fun part was the end of his listening to the message when it ended with: “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”

The tape would start smoking, then evaporate! During the whole series (1966-73), producer Bruce Geller kept us guessing at how the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) would trick one bad guy after another. Every enemy seemed clever. Every problem seemed insurmountable. Yet, episode after episode, the “Impossible Mission Force” pulled out some new magic.

Romans 13 is a simple passage. Its plain instruction is not written in a style that demands too much of any reader to grasp. Yet, though it is simple, the passage requires an understanding of the broader context. Otherwise, we will read God’s Word, seek to do what He told us, and find ourselves defeated and depleted. Read more about The Gospel Applied: “Mission Impossible” (Romans 13)

Review: By the Waters of Babylon

aniolScott Aniol’s new book, By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, argues at length against the architects of missional evangelism—not because Aniol thinks the attractional model (of Hybels, Warren, et al.) is better, but because he doesn’t see cultural forms as neutral, suitable for any message including the gospel.

Here’s what I take to be his thesis paragraph for the book:

Although the missional church seems to correctly recognize the nature of the Christendom paradigm in western civilization and in many cases rightly discerns the integral relationship between Christianity and culture during that period, it appears to view this development in the history of the church as entirely negative, with very few positive fruits. At the very least, most missional advocates see what happened as merely neutral contextualization of the church’s worship to culture, yet their very quick dismissal of worship forms coming out of that period as simply antiquated “relics” reveals what may be a simplistic understanding of the impact of the church upon culture during that period. This perspective limits their ability to recognize the strengths of the cultural forms from that period in expressing Christian values and the vast differences that exist today with regard to culture and contextualization in worship.

Read more about Review: By the Waters of Babylon

A Reluctant Dispensationalist

Some of you know that I am a reluctant dispensationalist. In writing this (actually re-writing it) I thought it appropriate to use my moniker (“Dr. Reluctant”) as a title.

Dispensationalists have not always done themselves many favors. They have sometimes squandered the opportunity to make profound long term contributions to the Church through the publishing of detailed commentaries, biblical and systematic theologies and the like, for the sake of short term pragmatic and populist goals. Bestsellers seldom influence the direction of biblical teaching for long, if at all. And although the sin of academic obfuscation should be avoided and the merit of conciseness recognized, the Truth is properly respected when its deeps are probed and its channels explored.

For this reason, Dispensationalists are not, nor should not be, fixated on the defense of a system. Any approach to theology must be concerned with only one thing—its adequacy as an explanation of the whole Bible. We may be persuaded that we have gotten certain things right. That is a good thing. But the last word will not be said in this life. We must take seriously the obligation to explore and expound the Scriptures as we try to improve on what we know (and what we think we know). The explanatory power of Dispensationalism has often been concealed behind the well-meaning but rather myopic views of its defenders. Not that it doesn’t sorely need some trained defenders, but much more it needs knowledgeable and courageous exponents. Read more about A Reluctant Dispensationalist

Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

Whenever I think of this verse, my mind goes back to a Friday in October of 1996. I was pastoring in Iowa at the time, and my wife and I took a day off to attend a banquet held by the Kansas City Youth For Christ.

That day is memorable to me for several reasons. For one, that was in the age before GPS, and we got lost both going to the meeting and coming back home. Secondly, I remember that, as we were eating our meal at the banquet, we suddenly heard the strains of the theme from “Mission Impossible” and saw some young men going over our heads toward the platform on zip lines. But the third reason that day is memorable—the most important one and the reason that we went to Kansas City on that beautiful autumn day—was that the speaker was one of my spiritual heroes, Dr. Dave Breese. Read more about Always Abounding in the Work of the Lord

Empty Suits and Unholy Rage - ISIS vs. the Secular West (Part 2)

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Two Competing Worldviews

Secularism is a religion which makes no reference to God or morality. It is a worldview in which God has no place. If He does exist at all, He lives in quiet, unassuming little churches and never causes a row about anything. He is a private deity. He stays tucked safely away behind closed doors like a fragile china doll. He is never spoken of. He is not allowed to inform anything about us, our actions or how we ought to live our lives.

For example, a new judge was recently appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The new judge opposes homosexual “marriages” and believes authority is derived from God, a position which a leftist rag labeled “extreme.” The new judge hastened to reassure reporters, “The oath that I will take will guarantee to you that my personal political beliefs and my political philosophy will have no impact on me whatsoever… [t]hose things simply have no place inside a court of law.”1 Read more about Empty Suits and Unholy Rage - ISIS vs. the Secular West (Part 2)

Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 3)

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Non-Christian Answers to the Problem of Evil & Suffering

Several other attempts have been made to address evil and suffering in our world.

1. Non-Reality of Evil View

Some Eastern religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, deny that evil and suffering are any more than an illusion. By denying that evil and suffering are real, they attempt to avoid any dilemma between the deities in charge of the world and the way the world is. The problem for this view, however, is that the experience of suffering is universal and undeniable. Additionally, these same Eastern religions seek to end oppression and alleviate the very suffering that they deny exists. This is clearly self-refuting. Read more about Answering Objections about the Problem of Evil & Suffering (Part 3)

Homeschool Success Means Recognizing Your Limitations

You are one step closer to homeschool success when you recognize your limitations.

Words mean things, and I realize the word “limitations” has negative connotations. We think of a limitation as a restriction, a drawback. Our culture places enormous value on ignoring and overcoming limitations; an attitude that has resulted in some amazing discoveries and astonishing progress.

However, this mindset isn’t applicable across the board. Limits are often natural and helpful; they keep us safe from harm, morally, physically, and spiritually. 

We are limited by the 24-hour day, our income, the available resources where we live. God is aware of these limits, and beating the air because we are not content with our state is fruitless.

So why do we so often set expectations for ourselves that would render Martha Stewart catatonic? Read more about Homeschool Success Means Recognizing Your Limitations