Posts Tagged With: religion

Can we Agree on This? Christian Worldview pt. 3

A reader asked me to define “Christian Worldview” before I go on any further in this series. Although I was doing so implicitly, it gave me the opportunity to answer him from the best of my understanding. I believe the definition below is a clear foundation from which Christians should be building their family lives, church lives, social lives, and ministries. I do hope all believers in Christ Jesus could agree to it. Here it is:

The Christian worldview is that there is one true God, eternal, uncreated, existing in three Persons, co-eternal, each one being God in all His attributes.

He is the Creator of all things, and He has created humankind for His own glory and purpose – chiefly so that we might know Him, honor Him for who He is, and enjoy His good gifts forever.

There is evil in the world because humankind chose to reach for autonomy from Him, to be “as gods.” We tried to become our own judge, our own standard of good and evil. This has resulted in the evil and chaos in the world – all sin and brokenness a result of this disconnection from our true relationship with God.

Although God is within His right as the Sovereign Judge to allow humanity to fully perish in sin, He yet intervened to save a vast multitude. He has done this through choosing a people, the descendants of Abraham, with whom He made an unconditional covenant of grace. Through the history of Abraham’s descendants, God has been slowly revealing His greatest moment of glory – the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of His Son Jesus Christ, who though eternally God chose to empty Himself to become a man, born of a virgin, and at the end of His life, the penal substitution before God for all who would ever trust Him and thus receive His forgiveness and salvation.

We need a Christian worldview because most people do not believe this is the real history of God’s interaction with the cosmos (world). When people believe other things, and do not repent of their own religions and sins, they cannot be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. They must hear His gospel and be baptized into Him – and He receives all who come to Him, never casting even one person out.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 ESV).

That is the battle cry for us to wage a war of truth against Satan’s world of lies. We are to use God’s Word to cut down arguments that are exalted against the knowledge of God so that the people in bondage to lies can be set free in the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead – there will be a resurrection of all people, some to hell, some to the presence of God in a renewed heaven and earth. Those who have turned to Christ Jesus will be received into the presence of God as if they were Jesus Himself, having received His own righteous standing before God as He Himself received our sin and condemnation on the cross.

In the end of all things, Jesus will reconcile all things to Himself in that nothing in the universe will be independent of His rule and reign, and all things will acknowledge that perfectly.

And, I should add this as well – that in Jesus Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). No human being knows anything apart from Christ having given them life, logic, reasoning, and the spirit of inquiry. This is the common basis for all human beings: we are created by the Son of God, and for the Son of God. Any structures of philosophy and religion which do not place Him at the blazing center of thought are faulty structures.

Right?

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). We can know nothing apart from Him. We cannot justify one iota of our knowledge without beginning with Him. This is the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Jesus the Pinnacle of History, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is Christianity Ultra-Divided? (Worldview pt. 2)

Big Tent

Out of all the people who are counted in the big Christian family – over 2 billion alive today – the variation in beliefs is incredibly, depressingly broad. From Rome to the East, Southern Bible belt Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostals and Presbyterians, wily Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists, everyone is counted in when it comes to the umbrella label “Christian.”

And this is one of the greatest scandals I can think of – for it is in the writing of the Apostles that we see Jesus praying for the unity of His people (John 17), and Paul exhorting the Church to be all of one mind, speaking the same thing (1 Cor. 1). How could it be that there is so much disagreement as to what Christianity actually is and teaches?

Broken Body

The short answer is that much of what is called Christianity is made up of aberrations of the true Church. Many of the denominations in the world right now are Christian in name only, bandying about the flag of Christ with no earthly idea what they are doing.

Shattered Body?

Shattered Body?

The fallacy we can all fall into is concluding that since there are so many different groups claiming Christianity, that therefore there is none which is true. Muslims go for this conclusion, while Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses thrive on the visible division between churches. Yet if we are honest, none of this logically excludes the possibility that there is a church that represents the biblical formula, and which is the best visible representative on earth of Christ’s ancient promise that “the gates of hell would not prevail against” His Church.

Unity where God’s Word is Faithfully Represented

The Church is created by the Word of God (Acts 2:39, 47); is made up of individuals who have repented from sinful self-autonomy, idolatry, wicked lifestyles, and gross unbelief (1 Cor. 6:9-11); and who gather visibly to hear God’s Word proclaimed, celebrating the sacraments of baptism and the communion supper (Matt. 20:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). Anywhere in which these elements are gathered (born-again Christians who are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, led by officers of the Church as instituted by the New Testament instructions, hearing God’s Word, sharing in His body and blood at the communion table, and confessing the orthodox gospel to the world at large), we have the Church.

Over time, the Church has been more or less visible according to the degree of heterodoxy that has entered into official, hierarchical teachings. The ecumenical Church of the first 10 centuries after Christ was forever shattered by the East-West split in 1054, and so has never risen again. Since that time, and then with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, visible unity in Christianity has been elusive at best.

When Churches Teach What is Contrary to the Gospel

Although a physical church parish may have within it true Christians (those who are really born from the Spirit of God, justified in His sight through faith alone in Christ alone), the leadership and teaching ministry may stray far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so imperil the visibility of that local church body.

The sacraments are only one element of the true Church (Rome and the East have the two biblical sacraments [plus additional sacraments by tradition and not Scripture], but have added to the Gospel in such a way as to bury it), while simply teaching the Bible without baptism and the Lord’s supper obscures the visibility of the Church as well (Salvation Army and others).

Any addition or subtraction from the core of what constitutes the Church puts that congregation/parish in jeopardy of no longer being part of Christ’s visible body. The form of Christianity may endure, and the true sheep of Christ may be present, but the unity of the faith is imperiled and destroyed by these amalgamations.

No Amount of Error in the Teachings of Men Can Negate the Christian Worldview

I have written this post to lay the groundwork for my coming posts on Christian worldview. Because so often error and hypocrisy in the churches and denominations of Christianity are held forth as proof positive that we are a false religion, I want to pre-empt that fallacious charge.

My long series on Christian hypocrisy from last year addresses many different angles of this same issue – please search the “Christian hypocrisy” tag on the right side to read those posts.

No matter how much junk is piled onto the Church of Jesus Christ, no matter how much error in teaching and living, no matter how many denominations, these things do not negate the fact that we have the one, true religion and worldview.

So many under the Christian umbrella are laboring in a false doctrine and worldview, not because Christianity is false, but because they have not believed Christian doctrine – rather they have followed a deviant path and retained the Christian label.

I would never have had to have defended Christianity in this manner just a few hundred years ago, but today modernism and post-modernism have wrought destruction on the thinking of Western humanity. We assume that truth is either impossible to know for certain, or that there is no universal truth.

Yet when the all-knowing, all-powerful God speaks, He is able to communicate Himself in such a way that we can know for certain that He has spoken, and so that we may know for certain the things He means for us to know.

Christianity is the Location of Ultimate, World-Framing Truth

So then the object of the Christian is to know God’s Word contained in the Holy Bible; the revelation of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Our mission is to then believe the things revealed therein, and to express these truths to all of humanity so they might be reconciled with God (1 Cor. 5).

We are supposed to be equipped with knowledge so that we can answer any objector – in fact, Jesus said “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:15 NKJV).

Do we believe that?

With over 80% of kids of Christian parents leaving the faith once they go to college, something has become seriously detached in American/Western Christianity. As our culture dies, we still have the opportunity to disciple and train the next generation. Let’s be busy learning God’s Word and will, and training people in the consistency and beauty of the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Meaning Woven into Nature, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Israel and Gaza at War

Three years ago I had the privilege of visiting Israel and the West Bank.

It is a fantastic land full of the world’s most important history, and having visited I will never be the same. As an American Christian, I also must say I will never understand the mindset of the Jews and Muslims in the land of Israel.To be clear, I believe Israel has the right of a nation to defend her citizens against legitimate threats. Rocket attacks from nearby is a legitimate threat.

I have been following the Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Forces, and they make it out to be like they are on a humanitarian mission in the dropping of bombs all over Gaza City – and in their minds they may be. The Palestinians don’t see it that way. If Hamas truly is hiding their weapons and personnel nearby schools, hospitals, and residences, then they are bringing the carnage upon their own people. Knowing a little about the mindset of Islam, there is little value placed on human life in comparison with the urgency of Jihad.

So what is to be our worldview conclusion as we watch this war?

Probably sympathy and grieving for both sides, but for slightly different reasons. We are to sympathize and pray for Israel in their spiritual darkness. They missed their Messiah now almost 20 centuries ago. They need to be grafted back into the tree of Abraham and the blessings of covenant with God. In their land today, they are surrounded by enemies and have nothing except military might. They need the good news of the risen Messiah! Pray for our Israeli friends (both Jew and Arab).

For the Arabs, it’s got to be a hellish life in the Gaza Strip. It is poor, isolated, and infested with terrorists. The population there is at the mercy of a big, angry military in Israel, and a small, crazy band of terrorists within them. There is a sizable Christian community within the borders of Gaza as well – they need our prayers and love. Who are we to condemn these fellow humans in any way? I am rarely more ashamed of American evangelicals than when I hear ignorant war talk about beating down and/or wiping out the Palestinians. Have the heart of Christ, friends, and pray for both sides.

Both people groups are made in God’s image; the lost Muslims in Gaza who are dying and entering God’s presence without a mediator, and the lost Jews who are lording their military might in paranoid fits – as is understandable in light of the, you know, whole thing 70 years ago in Europe where 6 million of them were murdered… but neither side is “on God’s side” here, friends. There is only a broken, cursed human order of nations which cries out for redemption.

For every people group, there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, and there is only one hope for all of war-impoverished humanity: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And by the way, for Christians there is only one concern in any turmoil between nations: that the gospel and glory of Jesus Christ be made known. Rooting for Israel to flatten and destroy the Palestinians is the quickest way to dishonor and conceal the glory and gospel of Christ. I hope each of Christ’s sheep is praying for the peace and redemption of all people in this conflict.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Should we then Live? part 10: Final Choices

When this was filmed and released, it was 1977. As you watch this most important episode, think about how accurate Dr. Schaeffer was in his predictions about the future. Perhaps you may also find something he says to have been inaccurate–watch for that too, but all in all, I recommend you listen very carefully, receive the interpretation of the world which he gives, and allow your mind and heart to be shaped by the same Spirit who moved in Dr. Schaeffer. I believe if any of you have the Holy Spirit, you will not be able to blithely dismiss this dire warning, or for that matter, dismiss the hope which is held out towards the end of the episode.

I would call your attention to a very interesting detail in this video: out of the 10 episodes, it is the only one in which Dr. Schaeffer cracks a smile. Watch for it, and notice what it is that brings this smile to his face. We ought to be grateful for God’s grace given to this brother, and for his work in worldview, philosophy, and ethics. I have benefited greatly in studying his work– and this blog is in part a product of men like Dr. Schaeffer’s passion in this world.

 

Grace and peace in Jesus Christ!

Thanks for watching,

-Justin

Previous episodes posted:

Roman Age 1

Middle Ages 2

Renaissance 3

Reformation 4

Revolutionary5, Scientific 6, Age of Non-Reason 7, Fragmentation 8, Age of Personal Peace and Affluence 9

 

Categories: Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Not World Peace?

Let’s interpret the lack of world peace…

I hear that all religions are essentially the same, moving us towards the same goal or god.

Is that so?

The road to world peace seems to be simply to forget our differences and all hold hands under the banner of love and mutual interest in peace. The United Nations, the World Council of Churches, the Trilateral Commission, and every college professor alive seems to all be geared towards getting everyone together under one big, happy tent of peace and endless joy. What’s the problem?

The problem is that Truth divides. Why? Truth divides because what we believe matters, immensely. Like, beyond description it matters. To compromise Truth is to lose Truth completely…

Simply put…

Let me make it as simple as possible, so simple I open myself up to seeming to be simple. It goes something like this:

All of the false, man-made religions which leave people ultimately undone by the justice of God are philosophies which keep people in the dark, including the many counterfeit forms of Christianity. Again, to put it simply: man is at war with God, and one of our favorite ways of fighting God is to create our own religious systems, to try and earn our way back to Him. This is the root of all war and strife in the world – we are fighting God so of course we fight each other. We are a warlike race. We have been so bold as to declare war on God, on His earth (through greed and environmental rape), on the animal kingdom (in misusing and depleting them), and on each other in endless wars of aggression between individuals, communities, companies, schools, states, countries, and tribes. It all originates with war against God through false religion. The simplest way to see that all false religion is truly false is to spot the common thread:

ALL OF THEM END UP SAYING IT THIS WAY: you must do something in order to get what you need, be it salvation, enlightenment, good feelings, nirvana, academic acclaim, etc etc etc whatever one may call it.

Almost there!

Are you a Buddhist? Roman Catholic? Jehovah’s Witness? Atheist? Self-religionist? Muslim?

I'm sure we're all going to end up in the same place by different paths! Yeah... about that destination.

Agnostic, Pentecostal, hedonist, Baptist, dog, cat, or mouse who thinks you must do something in order to earn something from God or to earn your goodness in the world? (Hint: we all are like this by nature – self-deceived and dead). You (and I) need a strong gospel…

There is only ONE TRUTH, ONE WAY out of all of the religions, philosophies, ideas, and daydreams – the way of Jesus Christ. In Him, and in Him alone is there a different conclusion from all the others. In Him it is not you must do in order to get what you need. No.

In Jesus it is simply: He has done it all for you. He accomplished it…

He has decided to create, He has decided to initiate, He has built and made

and started and begun and assured

ALL

that is necessary to bring men out of darkness, out of rebellion against God, out of their deep, dark pits of sin,

HE

has done it, start to finish – it is accomplished, it is finished, τετελεσται, and He has guaranteed our perfect, seamless, airtight, complete redemption by dying in the place of the enemies of God.

HE

raised Himself from the dead three days later, He then ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, ruling the cosmos in Sovereign power. No one will unseat Jesus from the throne of the universe. No one will defeat Him. No one can fool Him –

-He is God-

So… simply put, it is an insult to God to claim any contribution to your religion or salvation. All we can do is receive what Christ has done for us on the Roman death cross in dying in our place for our sins – yet even that trusting in Jesus and receiving His payment for our sins is a gift of grace to us who on our own are totally incapable of believing in Him. That’s how bad off we are. That’s how bad we need a Savior. We need Jesus.

Paid in full. Nothing to add.

And… it is therefore impossible to have peace with those who do not believe in these teachings of Christ’s Sovereignty and perfect gift of salvation which cannot be earned, cannot be bought. There you have it, world peace is only possible through all knees bowing to Him, the King. So, what are you waiting for?

The alternative is no world peace

…as humanity struggles to be king through false religion and individual accomplishment… Oh, and to those of you who believe that abolishing religion is the key to world peace, I’m right there with you. I’m with you as long as the we agree the Abolisher is Jesus, and He has promised to do so when He returns in glory to announce the consummation of His eternal, unchallenged reign. When that happens, all falsehood will cease, everyone who has loved Him will have peace, and all who have set-up a religion or philosophy which is against Him will then lose everything in judgment… just to put it simply.

Which kingdom are you in?

Life or Death

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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