If church is the crowd that you are feeling lonely in, you might want to consider why.
Wheaton has abandoned Israel and embraced barbarians….
A Wheaton College professor announced on Facebook Thursday night that she will be wearing a hijab (Muslim head scarf) throughout her celebration of the Advent as a way of showing solidarity with Muslims.
Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at the Wheaton, Illinois, evangelical higher education institution, explained on her Facebook page that she will be wearing a hijab to work, class, and church. She also vows to wear the hijab during her trip to Chicago and even when she goes on an airplane to return to her hometown for Christmas.
Wheaton College Professor Comes Out Wearing Hijab, Quotes “Pope Francis”: “We All Worship Same God”
According to Christian News Network:
A professor at a prominent Christian university in Illinois posted photos of herself wearing an Islamic hijab this past week, stating that she was doing so to show solidarity with Muslims.
Larycia Hawkins is an associate political science director at Wheaton College, one of the most renown Christian schools in the world. On Thursday, she posted two photos of herself wearing a hijab, and stated in a lengthy explanation that she plans to wear it everywhere she goes during the Advent—including at the Christian college and to church.
OK, one rather clueless dhimmi does not make an entire institution bad, but one sure has to wonder why such a person is allowed to stay. I refer to America’s most prestigious and well-known Christian liberal arts college, Wheaton College in western Chicago.
I just read something about one of the professors there that still has me reeling. I take a bit of interest in this place for the simple reason that I graduated from Wheaton many years ago. So when I find my old alma mater seemingly going down the tubes like this, it is of great concern indeed.
I refer to a political science prof (who was not there when I was a student) who has come out saying some of the most ridiculous and even dangerous things a so-called Christian professor could say at a Christian college regarding Islam. I really hope she is the only clueless dhimmi there.
Sadly Wheaton has had various issues over the years. I was even aware of some real problems when I was a student there 30 years ago! No institution is perfect of course, and all will have a real mix at times when it comes to faculty and staff.
But it is already getting wobbly on the homosexuality issue, which is always a real telling indication of where a Christian institution is at. Consider for example “OneWheaton”. And just what is that? You guessed it: “A community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and allied (LGBTQ&A) alumni and students of Wheaton College (Illinois).”
And consider another staff member who had to (thankfully) resign recently, someone who had referred to herself as a “gay Christian”. “Julie Rodgers, advocate of the notion of a ‘gay Christian’ identity, resigned from her position as ministry associate for spiritual care at Wheaton College (IL) on the same day she admitted her support for homosexual relationships.”
So Wheaton is struggling here with the issue of homosexuality. But just as bad, it is clear that it is struggling with the issue of Islam as well. One prof who has not yet resigned is pushing the “we all worship the same God” baloney and is even singing the praises of the terrorist-related group CAIR. This episode is so mind-boggling that I must present the entire news item about this here:
A Wheaton College professor announced on Facebook Thursday night that she will be wearing a hijab (Muslim head scarf) throughout her celebration of the Advent as a way of showing solidarity with Muslims. Larycia Hawkins, a political science professor at the Wheaton, Illinois, evangelical higher education institution, explained on her Facebook page that she will be wearing a hijab to work, class, and church. She also vows to wear the hijab during her trip to Chicago and even when she goes on an airplane to return to her hometown for Christmas.
“I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American. I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity,” Hawkins wrote. “I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind — a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014.” Hawkins, who has been on the Wheaton faculty since 2007, further asserted that not only are Muslims her neighbors but they also “worship the same God.”
“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God,” Hawkins stated. “But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.”
“As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church,” she added. Hawkins did not respond to requests from The Christian Post for comments by press time.
The Wheaton College professor further explained that she hopes she is not the only non-Muslim woman wearing a hijab this holiday season, as she desires to start a movement of women showing their solidarity for Muslims.
“I invite all women into the narrative that is embodied, hijab-wearing solidarity with our Muslim sisters — for whatever reason. A large scale movement of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs is my Christmas #wish this year,” Hawkins continued. “Perhaps you are a Muslim who does not wear the veil normally. Perhaps you are an atheist or agnostic who finds religion silly or inexplicable. Perhaps you are a Catholic or Protestant Christian like me. Perhaps you already cover your head as part of your religious worship, but not a hijab.”
Hawkins turned to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where she has a friend on staff, for advice on whether it would be offensive to Muslims if a non-Muslim wears a hijab.
“I asked whether a non-Muslim wearing the hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims. I was assured by my friends at CAIR-Chicago that they welcomed the gesture,” she explained. “So please do not fear joining this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic, sentimentality.”
Wow! What can one say? Well, I can say plenty, actually. First, this is how Christian higher education in the West ends. Allow dhimmis like this at a Christian college to undermine not only the Christian faith but a free and democratic America, and you will quickly see the loss of both.
That every person on earth is made in the image of God of course goes without saying. But using that basic biblical truth to pretend that there are effectively no differences between Islam and Christianity is the height of foolishness and theological mushiness.
And spare us this “embodied solidarity” silliness. She really wants to wear a hijab to identify with and show solidarity to Muslim women? A symbol of oppression, misogyny, and second class citizenship? Get real Hawkins. Any genuine Christian would want to see Muslim women liberated and emancipated from their enslavement, not stand with them and celebrate their wretched condition.
This prof clearly knows nothing about Islam or the treatment of women in Islam. She needs to do a bit of reading. She could start with one of my many articles on this, such as: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2006/11/02/islam-and-women/
Or she can listen to someone who knows exactly what she is talking about: she should read Cruel and Usual Punishment by Nonie Darwish. See my review of her important volume here: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/06/24/a-review-of-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-by-nonie-darwish/
As to her reckless and unbiblical claim that we worship the same God: um, no we don’t. Not at all. But I explain this in detail elsewhere so I will not repeat myself here: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/08/19/no-we-do-not-worship-the-same-god/
And what about this shocker: “anti-Sharia laws” are “unconstitutional and Islamophobic”!? What? This has got to be the most idiotic and uninformed thing she says here, and mind you, she says quite a few idiotic and uninformed things. Of course implementing anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-Christian, and anti-women sharia law is unconstitutional. Earth calling Hawkins!
And if that makes me Islamophobic for saying so, then we obviously need a whole lot more Islamophobia. But by tossing this useless terms around (like homophobic, etc), she is simply trying to shut down debate and demonise her opponents. And she teaches at Wheaton?
And like so many other Western guilt-tripping and self-loathing lefties, she speaks about “class privilege” on a Wheaton web page: “Acknowledge your privilege. Class privilege results from education at an elite liberal arts institution like Wheaton.” Oh good grief. If you are so bent out of shape by your class privilege, why don’t you leave Wheaton and let some poor kid from the Southside of Chicago take your place.
(BTW, Dinesh D’Souza does a superb job of dealing with this class privilege silliness in this terrific video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN9bu6CP318 )
Then she says she actually sought permission from CAIR to go ahead with all this! And she is a political science prof! Puh-leeese. Does she know nothing about CAIR, an organisation with proven links to the Muslim Brotherhood?
Some clueless wonders might say, “Oh how sweet and Christlike of you to ask them first”. No, the truth is, how brainless, naïve and even dangerous of you. CAIR happens to be a dangerous terror-supporting group. Just a year ago the United Arab Emirates included CAIR on its list of “designated terrorist organisations and groups”.
Robert Spencer cuts to the quick in clearly identifying this dangerous organisation:
CAIR is not a terrorist organization, if one considers violent acts an essential part of what defines terrorism: it doesn’t blow things up or exhort others to do so. It is, however, an Islamic supremacist organization with the same goals as those of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: the imposition of Islamic law wherever and whenever possible. And while CAIR is quite mainstream these days, this self-styled “civil rights group” was actually named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case by the Justice Department. CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR’s cofounder and longtime Board chairman (Omar Ahmad), as well as its chief spokesman (Ibrahim Hooper), have made Islamic supremacist statements. Its California chapter distributed a poster telling Muslims not to talk to the FBI. CAIR has opposed every anti-terror measure that has ever been proposed or implemented.
CAIR’s dark side has been well known for years. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) said that CAIR is “unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect.” Another United States Senator said of CAIR that “we know it has ties to terrorism,” and “intimate links with Hamas.” Those were the words of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), and they have been proven correct. Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA) has said: “Time and again the organization has shown itself to be nothing more than an apologist for groups bent on the destruction of Israel and Islamic domination over the West.”
Yet this utterly clueless prof thinks it is neat to cozy up to CAIR in true dhimmi fashion, asking its permission to do what she had done. This my friends is the exact definition of dhimmitude. Hawkins is already a slave. She has so kowtowed to Islam that she even has to get their approval for submitting to Allah and become a second class citizen.
The Islamists just gotta love this. They have already won when utterly clueless Western intellectuals do their bidding for them. Islam always respects strength, and always looks down upon weakness and grovelling, which is just what Hawkins is fully displaying here.
So any good Muslim will look down on her with contempt. Way to go Hawkins. Way to stand up for truth, freedom, democracy, the rule of law, the full equal rights of women, and so on. You have proven in this incredibly foolish and inappropriate gesture that Islam is right and the West is doomed.
You have certainly proven that Wheaton College and higher Christian education is in a very bad way. I absolutely cringe when I read reports like this. I expect this grovelling, servile dhimmitude from the clueless secular left, but not from someone who is supposed to represent biblical Christianity and the evangelical faith at a top-notch college.
This my friends is how we lose. We are watching our own cultural suicide as we speak. Right before our very eyes we see clueless appeasers in our midst, and we see the enemy getting a real foothold. It is painful to behold. But sadly this is not the only example of it.
Let me say that if Wheaton College finds absolutely no problems at all with her incredible remarks and actions, then all evangelicals will see that we have a big problem with Wheaton College. We need to pray for those in charge there that they think biblically and carefully about the way ahead.
And we should pray for Hawkins, that her possible good intentions are grounded in some hard-core common sense and biblical realism. If this issue is not dealt with one way or another, things can only spin further out of control. If so, kiss Christian higher education goodbye.
by Erin Davis
As God’s girls who believe that His Word is true, it feels like we see pink and blue in a world that sees rainbow. Here are five ideas on how to stand for truth.
by Erin Davis
Even though I know that Jesus is the true gift of Christmas, it’s hard to make my eyes focus on Him when all the stuff I’ve been hoping for is just waiting to be unwrapped.
by Erin Davis
You look at a guy and get butterflies in your belly. What’s up with that?
An evangelical preacher from Northern Ireland who branded Islam satanic has been charged with spreading a “grossly offensive” message
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
The window of freedom that gospel preachers around the world have long enjoyed to be able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ might very well be starting to close. If preaching a message that “Islam is satanic” (which it is) is now a crime, then none of us will be left standing when the dust settles. In the New World Order, any Bible preacher who dares to lift the lid on the demonic truth of what Islam really is will be silenced. Islam is not a religion, it is a violent and fascist ideology, bent on world conquest, and enforced at the tip of a knife blade.
In a May 2014 sermon, Pastor James McConnell told worshippers at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast: “Islam is heathen. Islam is satanic.” The sermon was streamed online, and 78-year-old McConnell has been charged with transmitting the message over an electronic communications network.
Prosecutor David Russell told Belfast Magistrates’ Court Monday that the case had “nothing to do with religion or freedom of expression.”
He said McConnell “characterizes the followers of an entire religion in a stereotypical way. And that’s grossly offensive and that’s not protected from saying it from a pulpit.” McConnell denies the charges, and told police he didn’t intend to offend, insult, arouse fear or stir up tension.
Pastor James McConnell’s Full-Length Sermon On Islam:
Listen to the sermon that got Pastor McConnell put in jail, and decide for yourself if it was “hate speech” or just good, Bible preaching.
“The Muslim god is a heathen deity, Allah is a cruel deity, and Allah is a demon deity” Pastor McConnell says is his sermon. He goes on to say that the embrace of Islam by England will be it’s downfall, which most certainly is true. These words are his crime and considered to be “hate speech”. Nowhere is his sermon does Pastor James McConnell call for violence or oppression of any Muslim people. What he does do, however, is make a passionate plea for New Testament Christianity, and perhaps that is what has really landed him in legal hot water.
“I know the time will come, in this land, and in this nation, that to say such things will be an offense to the law.”, McConnell goes on to say. “The Muslim religion was created many hundreds of years after Christ. But Muslims believe that everyone in the Old Testament, up to and including Jesus Christ, was a Muslim.” He outlines many of the lies and untruths of Islam in a rational, calm and intelligent way.
Everything that Pastor McConnell says in this sermon is absolutely true, and in line with the teachings of the Bible. But Biblical truth is not welcome and has no place in the New World Order bent on installing Sharia Law around the world. Pray for Pastor McConnell, right now it is his time in the “hot seat”.
But you and I are next.
By Nathan Busenitz Mention “Christmas” and “controversy” together in the same sentence, and most evangelicals will assume you’re talking about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or the secularization of the winter holiday season. But, from a historical perspective, a much more significant controversy surrounded Christmas for the first five centuries of church history; and its effects […]
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This morning we take a tough look at our Government-mandated Public Education System and ask this question: Is it supporting–or undermining–what our children think of God? Well the answer to that one is pretty easy of course. Yet most of us continue to send our children off to Government run schools, expecting they will actually […]
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Easy Believism teaches that an individual doesn’t have to run to Calvary’s cross as a BROKEN SINNER in need of a sinless Savior to save them from HELL
“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matthew 9:11-13 (KJV).
A few days ago the Lord allowed me to witness to an atheist about creation and Jesus Christ’s blood atonement for sinners. After a few minutes of going back and forth, I could see that the particular atheist I was dealing with was not interested in truth, but excuse. As I was about to end the conversation by telling the atheist that he will one day face his Creator face to face at the Great White Throne Judgment and give an account for every secret sin, the atheist interrupted me by telling me that he was “a former Christian”. Now any Bible Believer knows that it is not possible for a born-again Christian to apostate so dramatically to the point where they could possibly become an atheist (2 Tim 2:13 KJV). Therefore, I decided to check out his testimony in the Lord.
I asked him “how did you become a Christian?” He answered “I was raised in a society that was mostly Christian.” I then explained to him that being raised in a Christian society does not make you a Christian any more than being raised in a garage makes you a car. So I presented the question to him again: “how did you become a Christian?” This time he answered me and said “I believed in a theistic God.” I then explained to him that the devils also believe in a theistic God and tremble (James 2:19 KJV). I presented the question to him a third time: “how did you become a Christian?” He answered and said “I believed the bible and that prayers would be the answer” I then explained to him that Muslims also believe in prayer and that Mormons also believe the bible, but that doesn’t make them Christians. I then rebuked the atheist by telling him that according to all three cases of his own testimony, he was NEVER a Christian, only RELIGIOUS. It was at this point were the atheist let his anger get the best of him at accused me of being radical, mean-spirited, outrageous, illogical, spreading hate, unreasonable, what’s wrong with “Christianity” today, ridiculous ideology, blah, blah, blah.
Now why would this atheist label himself as a “former Christian” when he was absolutely clueless to what a Christian was? Two words: EASY BELIEVISM. Easy Believism is a heresy that teaches that salvation or reconciliation with God is relative to the individual and NOT ABSOLUTE according to God’s word. In other words, Easy Believism teaches that an individual doesn’t have to run to Calvary’s cross as a BROKEN SINNER in need of a sinless Savior to save them from HELL. Instead, the individual can come to God self-righteously as their own mediator, in their own way, in their own time, according to their own thoughts and logic.
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world to save good people, social people, Baptist, Catholics, welfare participants, organ donors, church members, atheist, agnostics, creationist, dog lovers, tax payers, non-tax payers, scientist, smart people, ignorant people, white people, black people, rich people, poor people, ect. Christ Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS!!
10 WAYS TO SPOT FALSE COVERTS OF EASY BELIEVISM:
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
- THEY WON’T OR HAVE DIFFICULTY ADMITTING TO BEING A SINNER
- THEY DON’T BELIEVE THAT THEY EVER TRULY DESERVED TO BURN IN HELL
- THEY BELIEVE THAT ANY GENERIC BELIEF IN GOD IS “GOOD ENOUGH”
- THE IDEA OF SALVATION ALONE THROUGH CHRIST CRUCIFIED IS FOOLISHNESS TO THEM
- THEY IDENTIFY THEMSELVES AS BEING A “CHRISTIAN” OR A “CHILD OF GOD” WITHOUT EVER ADMITTING TO BEING A LOST HELLBOUND SINNER BEFORE CONVERSION
- THEY VIEW GOD AS A GENERIC BUDDY INSTEAD OF A SINLESS PERSONAL SAVIOUR
- THEY BELIEVE THAT GENERAL GENERIC PRAYER, BIBLE READING, CHURCH ATTENDANCE, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, CHURCH MEMBERSHIP, SOCIAL FUNCTIONS, AND DEALING WITH SOCIETAL ISSUES EARNS THEM SALVATION OR SPECIAL FAVOR WITH GOD OUTSIDE OF SCRIPTURE.
- THEY BELIEVE THAT SALVATION AND A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED BY REJECTING, IGNORING, OR BEING PURPOSELY IGNORANT TO WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS.
- THEY BELIEVE THAT ALL RELIGIONS ARE THE SAME OR LEAD TO THE SAME GOD.
- THEY CAN’T REMEMBER A TIME IN THEIR LIFE WHEN THEY HAD A FACE TO FACE COLLUSION WITH JESUS CHRIST AND CALLED ON HIS NAME FOR SALVATION AS A BROKEN SINNER.
EASY BELIEVISM IS NOT WHEN A CHRISTIAN STRUGGLES WITH SIN:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
If I only had a nickel for every time I heard a Christian accuse another Christian of not being saved because they struggled or fell in sin. According to the scriptures, every Christian has some sort of struggle with sin. We all have a sin that easily besets us whether its pride, arrogance, ignorance, untamed tongue, selfishness, laziness, superficial, vanities, love for the wrong things, unthankfulness, disobedience, rebellion, etc. The simple fact that there is a struggle present is evidence of a new man!
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:17 (KJV)
I’m not condoning sin, but always keep in mind that we’re in spiritual warfare with the world, the flesh, and the devil and there will be casualties. The complete victory over sin does not occur until the pre-catching away of the body of Christ before the time of Jacob’s trouble where we will get our new bodies (Praise God!!)
Watch out for Easy Believism!
Hypocrisy stinks – no question about it. The Bible often warns against this. Yet more and more I find too many Western believers today using hypocrisy – or the avoidance thereof – as a cover for living a carnal and sinful life. That is, they will say it is bad to be a hypocrite (they are right about this), and so they will lower their standards on holy living so as not to be accused of hypocrisy (they are wrong about this).
We get this sort of faulty reasoning from many in the emerging church movement for example. They often go on and on about being “real” and “authentic” Christian living, and how “messy” Christianity is. So they seek to get away from hypocrisy (always good), but they do so by effectively making excuses for sin and the compromised, fleshly life (always bad).
These folks rightly state that no one is perfect, but then use that as a justification for not even striving for perfection – something of course Jesus commanded us to do (“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” – Matthew 5:48). By seeking to be “relevant” and “real,” these folks often present us with a watered down gospel, anaemic discipleship, and compromised Christianity.
Of course we all know absolute sinless perfection in this life will never be fully attainable, but going from one extreme to another helps no one. If we can do damage by insisting on immediate and complete perfection in this life, we also can do great damage by putting all the stress on being “real”.
What about striving for the biblical balance instead? What about striving for more holiness and less hypocrisy – simultaneously? Isn’t that the way we should be proceeding here? I so dislike these unbiblical extremes and these false antitheses. But of course the emergent church thrives on all this, as I have spoken about elsewhere: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/06/27/on-emergents-and-false-dilemmas/
I quoted D. A. Carson at the end of that article, and it is worth doing so again here. In his 2005 volume Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church he said this about unnecessary extremes:
So which shall we choose? Experience or truth? The left wing of an airplane, or the right? Love or integrity? Study or service? Evangelism or discipleship? The front wheels of a car, or the rear? Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge? Faith or obedience? Damn all false antitheses to hell, for they generate false gods, they perpetuate idols, they twist and distort our souls, they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.
Strong words indeed, but much needed. Forget this foolishness of avoiding hypocrisy by embracing and settling for carnality and second-rate Christianity. We need to reject both. We should seek holiness, obedience and righteousness (by the Spirit’s help of course), and we should seek to avoid hypocrisy as well. Forget this lousy talk about “authenticity” and start talking about biblical holiness.
And I am not alone in these concerns. Just on two years ago Brett McCracken wrote a great piece for the Gospel Coalition on this very matter. Entitled “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” he also takes to task those who would use the avoidance of hypocrisy as an excuse for sinfulness. He mentions books, articles and even films which have pushed this way of thinking, and then says this:
Evangelicalism – both on the individual and institutional level – is trying hard to purge itself of a polished veneer that smacked of hypocrisy. But by focusing on brokenness as proof of our “realness” and “authenticity,” have evangelicals turned “being screwed up” into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness? Has authenticity become a higher calling than, say, holiness?
He quotes Erik Thoennes, professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola University: “There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy. To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”
Our notion of authenticity should not primarily be about affirming each other in our struggles – patting each other on the back as we share about porn struggles while enjoying a second round of beers at the local pub Bible study. Rather, authenticity comes when we collectively push each other, by grace, in the direction of Christ-likeness.
Reflecting on Christianity’s “current obsession with brokenness” for hermeneutics, Megan Hill wrote, “If we are constantly looking for someone else who is broken in all the same places, we overlook the comfort we can have in the perfect God-man.”
Hill wisely notes, “Grace covers. And it covers again and again. Thanks be to God.” But if we stop there, “We are only telling half of the story. . . . Receiving grace for my failures also includes Christ’s help to turn from sin and embrace new obedience.”
Could it be that the most authentic thing any of us can do is faithfully pursue holiness and obediently follow after Christ?
In Scripture, Paul teaches again and again that Christians are “dead to sin” and risen to new life, no longer slave to sins but to righteousness (Rom. 6). That doesn’t mean the battle with sin is gone. But as Paul describes the struggle in Romans 7, he says “it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” (Rom. 7:17), noticeably separating his identity from this unwanted alien thing still residing within. The struggle is neither the point nor the marker of one’s identity. In Christ we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), called to flourish through life in the Spirit (Rom. 8).
“I think goodness is more real in that we are actually living more as humans were intended to,” Thoennes said. “Jesus is the realest human we’ll ever see. He’s authentic. He understands our brokenness. But he’s as real as can be.”
His closing words are also quite helpful:
Sin is necessarily part of our story as redeemed people. We shouldn’t ignore or make light of it. But we also shouldn’t wallow in it or take it lightly, for the sake of earning authenticity points.
As someone who became a Christian in his 20s, after having experienced the rocky ups and downs of a life without Christ, Luis Salazar of Whittier, California, finds it sad that so many young evangelicals seem to think dramatic struggles with sin are more real.
“I would never want to walk through it again,” Salazar said. “I wish I hadn’t gone through all that. A lifestyle of flashy sin isn’t necessary to experience grace. It’s not necessary to have a grand testimony of brokenness in order to be an authentic Christian.”
To overcome our “authenticity” confusion, evangelicals must see themselves differently. Rather than focusing on our brokenness, we should look to Christ and those who model Christ-likeness. We should move in that direction, by grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes quite so. Yes we all struggle, and yes we should be open, honest and accountable to one another. But simply making excuses for our sin and struggles in order to not be seen as hypocritical is not the way forward. Seeking, with the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit, to become more Christlike and holy is the way ahead.
When the writer of the book of Hebrews said that without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), he meant it. Instead of focusing on our struggles and our “authentic” sinful condition, why not focus on a God who is able to redeem, cleanse, purify, and empower us to become what we were meant to be in Christ?
This is not to deny that the Christian walk can be difficult, and that obedience is not always easy, and godliness is no magic pill. But it is to get our eyes off ourselves and back onto Christ where they belong. Let me finish by offering a few quotes on holiness and its importance.
I have collected some 400 quotes on this topic, and many could be used here. But let me just draw upon one author who always delivers the goods: J. I. Packer. In his important 2009 volume, Rediscovering Holiness he has much to say on this. Here are four brief quotes from that book:
“Holiness, like prayer (which is indeed part of it), is something that, though Christians have an instinct for it through their new birth, as we shall see, they have to learn in and through experience. As Jesus ‘learned obedience from what he suffered’ (Heb. 5:8) – learned what obedience requires, costs and involves through the experience of actually doing His Father’s will up to and in His passion – so Christians must, and do, learn prayer from their struggles to pray and holiness from their battles for purity of heart and righteousness of life.” (pp. 14-15)
“The process of learning to be holy, like the process of to pray, may properly be thought of as a school – God’s own school, in which the curriculum, the teaching staff, the rules, the discipline, the occasional prizes and the fellow pupils with whom one studies, plays, debates and fraternizes, are all there under God’s sovereign providence.” (p. 15)
“Holiness means, among other things, forming good habits, breaking bad habits, resisting temptations to sin, and controlling yourself when provoked. No one ever managed to do any of these things without effort and conflict.” (p. 160)
“Holiness, as we have seen, is neither static nor passive. It is a state of increasing love to God and to one’s neighbour, and love is precisely a matter of doing what honors and benefits the loved one, out of a wish to raise that loved one high.” (p. 194)
I have been writing on trends in churches for two decades. I certainly don’t have a perfect record with my predictions, but my overall record is pretty good.
My methodology is simple: I observe emerging issues in some churches and extrapolate them into major trends.
This year I take this approach with a higher level of confidence than previous years. I have seen most of the following issues grow month by month in 2015, so I don’t have to be the brightest person in the world to project them as major trends in 2016.
Here are the first eight trends. I will conclude with the second group of eight trends in my next post.
- Church security as the fastest growing ministry. Shootings in churches and sex abuse of children mandate this unfortunate trend. No church can afford to be without serious security measures, policies, and equipment. It will evolve into a major church ministry.
- Decrease in worship center size and capacity. The large worship gathering is not as popular as it has been. Through multiple services and multiple sites, churches will follow this preference with smaller capacity worship centers.
- Increase in successfully revitalized churches. More church leaders sense a call to lead revitalized churches. Because of this desire and intentionality, we will see more success stories of churches that have experienced significant revitalization.
- Rapid growth of coaching ministries for pastors and church staff. The current trend is anecdotal, but it will soon be verified and obvious. Pastors and staff who have the humility to be led, and the willingness to invest resources in coaching are becoming the most effective church leaders.
- Increase in the numbers of churches in gentrified communities. Thousands of older urban communities are becoming revitalized. Churches are following the increased numbers of residents to these communities.
- Increased emphasis on practical ministry training. Church leaders in America have seen a much needed two-decade renewal of training in classical disciplines and doctrine. That need remains, but more leaders are crying for training in leadership, relational skills, and other practical ministries.
- Increasing emphasis on groups in churches. Church leaders are getting it. When church members are a part of some type of group, such as a small group or Sunday school class, they attend more faithfully, evangelize more frequently, and give more abundantly.
- Fewer segregated churches. For most of American history, 11:00 am on Sunday was the most segregated hour of the week. That is changing. A church that is not racially and ethnically diverse will soon become the exception instead of the norm.
Join me on Wednesday as I share trends 9 to 16. In the meantime, let me hear from you.
The post 16 Trends in American Churches in 2016: Trends 1 to 8 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
Today’s Kindle deals include the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible and the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible discounted to $11.99 each. That’s more than most deals I post here but still a good value. Also consider Esther by John Piper ($2.99) and Speaking Truth in Love by David Powlison ($0.99). New from GLH Publishing is True Repentance by Thomas Boston ($0.99). Finally, if you didn’t check in on the weekend, be sure to give these Kindle deals a look.
You can use the code 25OFFBOOK to get 25% off any one print book at Amazon (this deal ends today). That means you can buy Do More Better for just $6.74! Or buy any other book by starting here. Also, I just happened to notice that for one day only Amazon has The Lord of the Rings movies, in the Blu Ray extended edition, at just $27.99.
Ray Van Neste: “I received word this morning that I. Howard Marshall, professor emeritus professor of New Testament at the University of Aberdeen, had passed away, a month before his 82nd birthday.” He pens a sweet tribute.
Christianity Today covers the recent revelations about Gospel for Asia, what went wrong, and what they claim to be doing about it.
If you are a sports fan you may enjoy this article about the decline of Tiger Woods. “Tiger, as we knew him, no longer exists. But with the rebirth of Eldrick, maybe we can cheer for Woods once more.”
Daniel Darling offers some wise and helpful tips on responding to crisis. “The question for Christians is now twofold; how should we think about these events, and how should we respond to these events? Much ink has been and will be spilled on the former, but I’m not sure we’re giving enough thoughtful attention to the latter. Can we do better than we’ve been doing?”
This Day in 1872. 143 years ago today, John Geddie (missionary to Polynesia) died in Australia, where he had sailed following a stroke. A wooden tablet memorializes him by saying, “When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians here, and when he left in 1872 there were no heathen.” *
Counsellors and/or committed readers may be interested in this list from Bob Kellemen.
Conrad Black (yeah, I know, I know) has quite a good article on climate change. “Where is there evidence of climate change, other than the endlessly repeated divinations of professedly clairvoyant people such as Prince Charles and Al Gore (who also told us that he invented the Internet and that the Pacific island country of Tuvalu would be submerged by now — the water level there has actually declined slightly)?”
Our Time is Short
Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?
Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?
Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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