For the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1:1–4) – Part 1: Identity, slavery, mission

Author’s note: My faith is in Jesus Christ; therefore, I must rest in the Scriptures, which are inspired by God, inerrant, absolutely authoritative, and utterly sufficient. I am convinced the issues churches and individual Christians are facing today, including the controversies, could been null and void if we would only submit to the word. For that reason, I am blogging through Paul’s letter to Titus. You can find all of the posts in this series here.

Along with the two canonical letters to Timothy, Paul’s letter to Titus is often referred to as a pastoral epistle, for the contents of the letter are, to a large degree, intended to instruct Titus, and by proxy local churches, how they ought to conduct themselves (c.f. 1 Tim 3:15). In other words, the pastoral epistles are about telling (no, commanding) the church how to be the church.

And I feel the need to emphasize from the outset that command part, because ours is a day in which many evangelical Christians are quick to say the Bible is the word of God. Many of those will also be quick to say the Bible is inspired by God, inerrant, authoritative, and even sufficient for us. Many say those things. But let’s be honest. Ours is also a day given to pragmatism in the church and the exaltation of feelings above all.

Pastors avoid preaching on hard topics because of how it might make someone feel (or the backlash they’ll get because of those feelings). Very few churches take the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin seriously enough to practice church discipline. Why? More than any other reason: feelings. And as a I write this, the biggest controversy on Christian social media is about comments one pastor made regarding Beth Moore, specifically, and women preaching more generally; and I would argue that controversy would not be a thing if many in the church weren’t, whether they realize it or not, elevating feelings even above their commitment to the word of God.

Now I realize that last statement might be enough to cause some of you to stop reading, or if you’ve clicked on this through Facebook, leave an “angry” face instead of liking it. I encourage you to wait, though. Be patient.

I realize in the age of Instagram, Facebook, and 280 character Twitter posts blogging is passé. Nevertheless, what I intend to start now and follow through to completion over the next few days or weeks is walk through Paul’s letter to Titus, one of the three pastoral epistles, and think through what it says, what it means – including what it means to the church and the implications thereof. So join me, and let’s look at Titus.

Continue reading “For the faith of those chosen of God (Titus 1:1–4) – Part 1: Identity, slavery, mission”

The Christian and Same-Sex “Marriage”

As the moral and cultural tides shift with tsunami-like speed, how should the church of Jesus Christ respond to the idea of same-sex “marriage,” the issue of homosexuality, and people who disagree?

It is practically impossible to go a day avoiding the issue, the debate, the presence of homosexuality in the United States of America. Could you imagine that sentence being true even ten years ago? That’s how quickly the times have changed, not that it hasn’t been a long (or at least a longer) time coming. Homosexuality, through a vociferous cultural campaign, has gone mainstream to the point that any who dare to speak of it as a sin are now deemed out of touch, out of step, ignorant, bigoted, irrelevant, and/or more. “How did this happen?” you may have asked yourself, or another. Pardon the pun, but it feels like the country, not to mention the church, got caught with its proverbial pants down. But where do we go from here? Let’s consider some things… Continue reading “The Christian and Same-Sex “Marriage””

So much like the real one

“…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Cor 11:14)

Of all the places to see this quote, I got it while watching a little Jack Van Impe for the first time in many years last night, but it’s so true and so appropriate to the times…

The devil is not fighting religion. He’s too smart for that. He is producing a counterfeit Christianity, so much like the real one that good Christians are afraid to speak out against it. We are plainly told in the Scriptures that in the last days men will not endure sound doctrine and will depart from the faith and heap to themselves teachers to tickle their ears. We live in an epidemic of this itch and popular preachers have developed ‘ear-tickling’ into a fine art.

Vance Havner – Playing Marbles With Diamonds

 

Article on CNN.com paints picture of fake Christianity and radical faith

CNN.com isn’t usually the place you find thought provoking and fairly accurate analysis of Christianity and the culture, but I believe that to be the case today in “Author: More teens becoming ‘fake Christians'” by John Blake. Kenda Creasy Dean, author of Almost Christian, minister in the United Methodist Church, and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, argues that more teens are being taught a “moral therapeutic deism” which amounts to “a watered-down faith that portrays God as a ‘divine therapist’ whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.” This “imposter” faith, being purported by parents and pastors alike, is a leading cause of church abandonment by today’s adolescents.

Here is a snippet from the column:

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good — what the study’s researchers called “moralistic therapeutic deism.”

Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can’t talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that’s not true.

“They have a lot to say,” Dean says. “They can talk about money, sex and their family relationships with nuance. Most people who work with teenagers know that they are not naturally inarticulate.”

In “Almost Christian,” Dean talks to the teens who are articulate about their faith. Most come from Mormon and evangelical churches, which tend to do a better job of instilling religious passion in teens, she says.

No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

It is unsurprising, sadly, that Mormons were found in the study to be able to articulate their faith. They do a much better job of “discipling” their children than even most conservative, evangelical churches. Yet it is heartening that evangelicals were found to instill so much religious passion in their teens.

But the “feel good and do good” approach to ministry is still all too common amongst individuals and teachers who profess Christianity. One of the best-selling “Christian” books of the past decade was titled Your Best Life Now. The follow-up, by the same author, was Become a Better You. Joel Osteen’s preaching follows the tenor of his books, and his brand of “Christianity” and his “gospel,” which I’m pretty sure the apostle Paul would call “no gospel at all” (Gal 1:6-9), has run rampant amongst professing Christians. Continue reading “Article on CNN.com paints picture of fake Christianity and radical faith”