We’re ranting and raving here for a few minutes. There are so many concerns that I have, especially for the next generation. I hope I don’t come across like the old curmudgeon to the right, but these are matters that are really critical.
What got me thinking about these issues is the conference I just attended. I’m actually writing this before the conference, but, Lord willing, it will (did) take place and I will do (did) an okay job of speaking on the topic “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality.” The conference took place at Emmaus Bible College February 6-7 and was called the “Christian Ministry Seminars.”
My last message in my four-part series expressed some of these concerns that I am summarizing here and in the earlier post of the same title (Feb. 18th). Permit me to share just a few more of my “issues”:
(1) I’m concerned that young believers get into the battle and do good work on an intellectual basis. This means reading books that challenge the Christian faith (what I call “Boiling Books”, i.e. books that boil your blood before you get through the preface). If we only read the books we agree with, we will not learn the questions and issues an unbelieving world has with the gospel. “Doing good work” on an intellectual basis involves good study skills, critical thinking, and solid research. Believers of the next generation need to work hard in what are called the “primary” sources, rather than get all their information from secondary sources. Primary sources are the original documents of a writer or thinker, not what others have said or written about him or his position (secondary sources). So, if one is going to challenge the abandonment of the gospel by someone like the late Chuck Templeton (at one time Billy Graham’s best friend and an evangelist), one needs to read Templeton! His Farewell to God as well as his An Anecdotal Memoir would be the first place to start (before one reads Lee Strobel’s interview of Templeton in The Case for Christ). Does that make sense? Sometimes Evangelicals are guilty of reading only what others have said about a person’s beliefs — and not that person himself.
Suggestion: Start small. Begin a blog and take on some topic with which you want to engage. Be positive toward the writer and gracious toward what they have written. But point out the weaknesses in their argument or position as you formulate your response from a biblical perspective.
(2) I’m also concerned with how many of us view life in general. My generation frowned on such activities as going to the movies, roller skating (it was dancing on wheels, unless you fell a lot like me), and visiting museums (a waste of time — one ought to be reading his or her Bible). Today’s generation, it seems to me, doesn’t give those issues a second thought (which is good), but doesn’t hesitate to go to (or download) just about any movie (some are downright diabolical), learn and sing the lyrics of just about any contemporary song (have you analyzed the words in songs by Lady Gaga or Beyonce?), or attend any play just because the critics said it was good. If you’ve never been tempted to walk out of a movie theater, turn off your TV in disgust, or ask for your money back at a play, check your Christian pulse. You might be dead.
Suggestion: There’s a better way than the legalism of my generation and the libertarianism of today’s young people. I believe Mike Witmer has articulated that better way in his book Becoming Worldly Saints. Christians are to enjoy God’s good creation (I Tim. 6) and not become or be known as anti-world. We should live in biblical freedom!
(3) I’m also concerned with how many of us look at the local church. It seems that for many today the local church is a big bother. We go through the motions; we serve when we have to; we give when we must. Instead of seeing the church as the one thing that Jesus is presenting building, we tolerate it as our Sunday activity and as a gathering place with other Christians. I’m not surprised that one of Philip Yancey’s books is entitled Church: Why Bother? We must move from thinking of the local church as a place we must be to a place we get to be.
The church in Acts focused on four priorities, according to Acts 2:42 — “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Here’s my final list of questions:
1. Are you truly “devoted to” the local church? How do you or I show that?
2. How concerned are we about biblical doctrine/truth? Do we see theology only as the domain of elbow-patched, sweater-wearing academics who debate how many angels can sit on the head of a pin? Or are we committed to knowing, enjoying, and defending the truths of God’s Word?
3. Do we really understand “fellowship”? Perhaps we all need a primer on something as basic as FRIENDSHIP!
4. We must constantly ask, are we truly worshiping the Lord? Or are we just keeping the machinery going?
5. I have so much to learn — and to practice — when it comes to the issue of prayer! I commend you to my post back on January 9th when Dr. Roy King talked about the three prayers we all ought to pray everyday!
So much for my rantings and ravings. Any you wish to comment on?