I love apologetics. It’s fun to teach apologetics, discuss apologetics, and offer reasons for what I believe to non-Christians who ask. Yet, quite clearly, not all Christians share my enthusiasm. Why not? Below are five common reasons why many Christians dismiss apologetics (thanks to my Twitter friends, acknowledged below). Apologists have often failed to model gracious apologetics. Rather than blaming others, we apologists might do well to start by examining ourselves. Let’s be honest, we could probably all share a story where we failed to model the kind of evangelism and apologetics we see in Jesus, Paul, and the early church fathers. If you can’t think of a story, then you’re probably not even aware of your own blind spot! As I emphasize in A New Kind of Apologist, many Christians dismiss apologetics because they have seen apologists being arrogant, dismissive, and uncharitable to others. Many dismiss apologetics because of a bad experience. Faulty understanding of faith and reason. Some time ago my father and I were speaking at a student conference in the southeast. Noticeably upset, a young female youth worker approached us afterwards and (essentially) said, “I wish you guys had a more biblical view of faith. We don’t need evidence. Real faith involves believing something without proof.” And then she stormed away. Sadly, this young lady had bought the idea that faith involves believing something blindly without evidence. If she were right, then apologetics wouldbe frivolous. But the Bible both teaches and models a different view of faith. Simply put, evidence is offered to give people a confident faith (E.g., Exodus 14:31; John 20:30-31; Acts 1:1-3). Mistaken view of apologetics. A couple years ago I spoke with an influential youth leader about the present state of youth culture. When I inquired about his views on apologetics, he […]Continue reading →
By Natasha Crain There’s a new church movement you may not have heard about, but it’s growing by leaps and bounds. It’s called the Sunday Assembly. It started less than two years ago in England and now has more than 60 congregations around the world. Twenty-five more congregations are expected to launch by early 2015. The Sunday Assembly is growing especially quickly in the United States, where congregations have formed in 17 cities. At a Sunday Assembly, church members come together to sing songs, hear a speaker and reflect on their lives. Outside of church, they have small groups, book clubs, a choir, peer-to-peer support and a variety of opportunities to volunteer. Their motto is “Live better, help often and wonder more.” So what’s unique about this rapidly growing church? Most of the congregants don’t believe in God. It’s a church for atheists. What is an Atheist Church? The Sunday Assembly was started by two comedians named Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones who liked the idea of a church without God. Pippa is an ex-Christian who found she missed church elements like “community, volunteering, and music,” but didn’t miss God. Sanderson had noticed the joy at Christmas created by caroling and wondered if it was possible to harness those warm feelings and just celebrate the fact we’re alive. When Evans and Jones launched the Sunday Assembly, they promoted it using the (appropriate) phrase “atheist church.” However, they now avoid the atheist description and promote the Sunday Assembly as a group “celebrating life.” A New York congregation actually broke off from the group earlier this year because they wanted to focus more on celebrating godlessness than celebrating life. True to this rebranding effort, the “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the Sunday Assembly’s website attempts to distance the organization from a […]
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The Bible Tap Initiative is very simply, a manner whereby to seek change via a simple action.
If you are anything like me you are sick and tired of sermonizing. No, not of sermons but of sermonizing.
You know the sort, it is tantamount to a short attention span theater wherein the pastor will say, “Now, our text today is thus and such and it states this and that,” thirty seconds later, “Hey, did you watch the football game last night?,” five minute later, “What the text is telling us is…,” thirty seconds later, “How about that new restaurant that just opened down the street…,” 10 minutes later, “The Greek word here is wait, actually that reminds me of a joke,” 15 minutes later, “And just like Paul, when I was a kid…,” fade into utter confusion, frustration and realize that you just wasted your time.
Now, some people just love 10 minutes of substance peppered with 50 minutes of jokes and anecdotes. Yet, for we who seek to lean the deeper things of God and His word it is all too much.
Note to sermonizing pastors: if I want to hear jokes I can go hear a comedian and if I want to hear your personal anecdotes we can go have tea and have a person chat. But when I attend Christian Bible study worship services: just open the Bible and tell me what is says.
Now, let us no go overboard as there are some anecdotes that are very on point. For example, I learned more theology just by becoming a dad that I have in any other manner. Thus, I could regale you with a few very relevant and elucidating anecdotes. Thus, not all anecdotes are distracting or irrelevant.
Likewise with jokes. For example, take a classic such as stating, “The Sadducees did not believe in the supernatural; that’s why they were sad, you see?” A joke such as this will certainly mean that you will never forget the difference between the Sadducees and Pharisees. Yet, such on point jokes are few and far between.
Note: you may be a sermonizing pastor if in your sermon notes you have, “Should have actually studied the text: tell joke here. Did not bother reading up on the relevant history: insert anecdote here…” and in your calendar of scheduled sermon you have, “Use jokes and anecdotes as filler so as to draw out covering one chapter over 8 months—then go on sabbatical [thinking that it has something to do with observing the Lord’s day] on a cruise ship by getting your congregation to pay your way on a ‘Bible Cruise.’”
Now, draw out covering one chapter over 8 months would actually be fine if it is because the pastor is delving into the historical context, the cultural context, the grammatical context, etymology, cross referencing other texts, etc., etc., etc. But doing it just to make the pastor’s “study” time easier and shorter is simply unacceptable.
Modern Churchianity sermonizing leads the flock out to pasture and yet, the pasture is all but a dried up wasteland with mere patches of grass scattered about here and there. The sheep get a little bite of grass, the word of God, and then have to travel quite a distance, through jokes and anecdotes, until they find the next little bit of grass.
Sure the sheep are starving to death but hey, they are having a good time a laugh a lot while doing it. Is this really that for which 2,000 years of Christians have devoted their lives and given their lives to the point of death? No, rather this is what modern day pop-Churchianity is doing as it focuses more and more on a good ol’ time rather than the good news.
The Bible Tap Initiative is a simple manner whereby to seek to, eventually, get such pastors to, you know, actually do that which they are supposed to do.
Bible Tap refers to just that: tapping your Bible. Simply stated: when the pastor trails off into sermonizing, hold your Bible up and begin tapping it with your finger or writing utensil. And, yes, by the way, in many churches you will have to BYOB: bring your own Bible as they only one they have is in a shelf, in a backroom and covered in dust.
At some point you will likely have to explain to those sitting around you and, hopefully, to the pastor just what you are doing. In fact, you may want to make your pastor and other congregants aware of the The Bible Tap Initiative so as to alert, warn, encourage and get people involved.
The point is not to cause trouble or be a smarty pants: although this is exactly how you will be viewed by most—including the lazy pastor who is used to coasting through sermons.
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By Brian Chilton When asked to identify the greatest commandment in all of the Law, Jesus answered the inquiry by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command” (Matthew 22:37-38). It seems that one aspect of this commandment has eluded the modern church. Yes, the church notes the great need to love the Lord with the heart, that is the will and emotions. The modern American church also focuses on the love that one must hold for God with one’s soul, that is, one’s conscious being (life). However, the third aspect of the great commandment seems to have escaped the modern American church. The Christian is also commanded to love the Lord with his or her mind. Extreme fideism (believing that the Christian life is only about faith without reason) has led the church into a state known as anti-intellectualism. Anti-intellectualism is defined as the state of “opposing or [being] hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In this case, the intellectual approach is the intellectual approach to the Christian faith. Anti-intellectualism not only hinders one from keeping the great commandment, but such an attitude is also damaging to the church. This article will present eight ways that anti-intellectualism harms the church. 1. Anti-intellectualism harms the church theologically. By theologically, I simply indicate how the church views God. Dr. Daniel Mitchell, one of my theology professors from Liberty University, once said, “The more you study God, the bigger God becomes.” His statement proved true. So often, anti-intellectuals limit their scope of God. Because anti-intellectuals fail to examine, research, and contemplate, they miss out on the vast nature of God. While the Christian may understand the basic […]
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By Mike S. Adams Dear Raymond: Thanks for your kind letter. I appreciate your willingness to reach out to me for advice concerning recent developments in your church home. Your question to me was pretty direct. Given your pastor’s recent declaration that he intends to grow the church membership by 10,000 in five years, how should you express your concerns that numbers have now replaced the Gospel as the focal point of your church’s mission? My answer will also be direct. In my view, you should not bother voicing your concerns to your pastor. You should leave your church immediately. That may sound extreme so please allow me to explain. Whenever pastors get together in groups they make small talk just like anyone else. It isn’t long before one pastor asks another pastor the size of his congregation. If a pastor has a large church he tries to conceal his pride when he reveals the size of the congregation. If a pastor has a small church he is almost apologetic when he reveals the smaller number. Their interaction is similar to children arguing on a playground – each asserting that his dad is bigger and can beat up the other guy’s dad. Of course, the pastor who has the biggest congregation eventually starts to think it is a reflection of his greatness – as opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit. He begins to take pride in church growth and would consider it to be a failure on his behalf if the church did not continue to grow. Once his ego becomes wrapped up in the size of his church, the numbers will never be enough to satisfy him. He doesn’t realize this unless someone brings it to his attention. But no one ever does. So he starts […]Continue reading →