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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

In This Culture Of Biblical Illiteracy


If "to integrate Christian faith and work" means to apply the implications of the Word of God to the shop, the office, and the construction zone, then understanding what the Bible has to say is critical.

For those who work in the “halls of power,” taking care how the Bible is interpreted is particularly important, because it affects millions. My post last week was in response to the man in the highest office of the land who recently justified his acceptance of “same-sex marriage" on the basis of Christian faith and Scripture. [See "Evolved."]

Yesterday’s Point of View commentary by radio host Kerby Anderson (National Director of Probe Ministries) is an appropriate follow-up:

Sometimes, the only way you can respond to a statement is to ask, “What Bible are they reading?” That happened recently on my radio program when Penna Dexter and I were interviewing Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily. He said that he allows commentators of various political persuasions to write and post their columns.

One of those columnists is radio host Bill Press who recently wrote, “Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn homosexuality.” The predictable response from us was,“What Bible is he reading?”


Two passages in Leviticus call it an abomination. The Apostle Paul in his letters to the churches in Rome and Corinth condemn homosexuality. Those are four verses for starters.

But of course, we can also understand the negative prohibitions by looking at the positive principles. Genesis 2 sets forth the biblical principle of a man and a woman leaving father and mother to become one flesh. Jesus refers back to this foundational principle in Matthew 19 (which we also find in Mark 10).

And the Bible also teaches that this sexual sin [homosexual behavior] has consequences not only for the individual but for the nation. Farah said, “This is about as serious as the Bible gets in condemnation. This is not only sin that affects the individuals involved; it’s the kind of sin that has ramifications for the entire nation.”

It may be easy for Bible-believing Christians to shake their heads and ask,“What Bible is he reading?” But in this culture of biblical illiteracy, many people are likely to take the word of Bill Press rather than look it up in the Word of God. That’s why we must firmly, but lovingly, teach God’s Word.


For more of Kerby's “Point of View,” click here. Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Biggest Idea Of All

How does a banker do banking “as unto the Lord?” How does a car mechanic repair cars in alignment with Christ (pardon the pun)? How does the president of a company, or the President of a country, "think like Jesus" about issues and policies?

It starts with ideas. Fundamental ideas. Decision-guiding ideas. Commitment-shaping ideas. Rooted in the biggest idea of all: that the Bible is the Word of God in print, and that the Scriptures are totally true, for the totality of life.

I take an old-fashioned approach to the Bible. By “old-fashioned,” I mean an approach that has been around for centuries. An approach whereby Scripture is held as divinely inspired. By “inspired,” I mean “Holy Spirit originated.”

I believe inspired means the human writers put stylus to papyrus in such a manner that the words they wrote expressed the thoughts God Himself would have written had He been holding the pen. Not that God dictated the words, necessarily, but He guided the human authors to express thoughts with particular meanings. That's not to say the human authors always fully understood what they were writing, but the Writer behind the writers did.

 
I realize the meanings of words change over time. I also realize certain words have different shades of meaning to different people. But I also realize that the words put to print by the human authors of the Bible, in the days they were written, had particular meanings in the mind of God. It is this meaning that's the point.  

Why is this so important? Because if I am going to make authentic connections between the biblical worldview and my daily work, then accepting the Scripture as divine communication with intended meaning (regardless of the opinion of my wife and kids) is essential.

I’m very burdened to say that biblical “truth” is increasingly subjective these days, blurred and individualized beyond recognition. It is no longer a matter of endeavoring to understand what the Writer meant by the words the human authors used. Rather than discovering what the Bible means to the Writer, it has devolved into, “What does this Scripture mean to me?” 

Asking “how does it apply to me?” is very different than “what does it mean to me?” That kind of hermeneutic wreaks havoc with one's ability to integrate authentic Christianity with one's work, and it is particularly harmful when one's work affects the direction of a nation.  Bookmark and Share

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Exhilarating Duty Of Making Culture

I seem to be on a book endorsement roll, so I'll keep the ball moving with an enthusiastic endorsement of Andy Crouch's great book, Culture Making.  

This 2008 volume earned a "starred review" from Publishers Weekly: "Those who have struggled with the sacred-secular dichotomy will find this book life-giving; every Christian interested in changing culture should read it." You can see why I think Crouch's book is so important.

The uniqueness of Crouch's contribution toward ridding the Church of  SSD (the "sacred-secular divide"), is that he draws a distinction between transforming culture and making culturemaintaining that the best way to transform culture to create new culture.

When we think of "transformation," we tend to think of "remodeling." Of course, much of our culture needs "remodeling." But Crouch suggests we come about this task from a different angle. "The only way to change culture," says Crouch, "is to create more of it."

He asserts that, "cultural change will only happen when something new displaces, to some extent, existing culture in a very tangible way." Using the example of his own young family being subjected to his frequent cooking of homemade chili, Crouch argues that "our dinner-table culture will only change if someone offers us something sufficiently new and compelling to displace the current items on our menu." Carrying this idea into broader applications beyond dinner-table culture, Crouch says, "...if we seek to change culture, we will have to create something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal."

The ramifications of Crouch's thesis are profound, and far-reaching. He maintains that "if all we do is condemn culture...we are very unlikely indeed to have any cultural effect, because human nature abhors a cultural vacuum. It is the very rare human being who will give up some set of cultural goods just because someone condemns them. They need something better, or their current set of cultural goods will have to do, as deficient as they may be." 

Tim Keller says Culture Making takes "the discussion about Christianity and culture to a new level." I agree. 

The book is just one of the excellent offerings in the Seattle Centurions curriculum. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, come join with others in the exhilarating duty of making culture. Applications close May 31. Click here to get going. 

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Faith In The Halls Of Power

God has His people spread throughout the full spectrum of American society. From one end to the other, the People of the Vine are occupying all corners of culture through the daily workforce. While the largest percentage of them hold "everyday jobs," the Lord has His Esthers and Daniels in "high places," too.

I was reminded of this recently while reading D. Michael Lindsay's 2007 book, Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. This fascinating volume, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, is the result of Lindsay's doctoral dissertation at Princeton. He collected data from 360 one-on-one interviews over three years, logging more than three hundred thousand miles, doing twenty-eight transcontinental trips, visiting seventy-two different locations, from Boston to San Diego, and Miami to Seattle.

Lindsay, current president of Gordon College and a member of Chuck Colson's first Centurions group, defines an evangelical as: "someone who believes (1) that the Bible is the supreme authority for religious belief and practice, (2) that he or she has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and (3) that one should take a transforming, activist approach to faith." While one or two of the individuals Lindsay mentions may stretch the envelope of this definition a bit, what Lindsay discovered is, evangelicals are increasingly present in the mainstream of American culture-making. This is true not only in politics, but in higher education, the corporate world, and Hollywood.

While an "evangelical power-broker" sounds like an oxymoron, Lindsay's research suggests otherwise. After a period of withdrawal in the 1920s and 30s, American evangelicalism took a course correction in the 1940s, as "neo-evangelical" leaders, including Billy Graham, made the intentional choice to "enter the public square again without abandoning their religious identity."

While evangelicals were relatively minor players among the so-called "elite" in the 1960s and 1970s, the last 35 years have seen a marked resurgence of evangelicals in "the halls of power." Lindsay writes: "As America has become more religiously diverse, evangelicals have begun acting on their faith in more public ways."

I was unaware of the breadth and depth of the presence of evangelicals in positions of public influence until I read Lindsay's book. "Though most of us know that there are growing numbers of evangelicals in leadership today," writes Lindsay, "we know virtually nothing about them."

Lindsay's book changed all that.


For more on this topic, read yesterday's BreakPoint article by Eric Metaxas:
The Next Unreached People Group: Christianity and the Elites.

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