"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."
"The fingers of your thoughts are molding your face ceaselessly."
"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."
"Humility enforces where neither virtue nor strength can prevail, nor reason."
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
Resistance Thinking Faith
It is through the Jesus lense the Resistance Thinking seeks to explore truth about the world in which we live. In this faith section you will find articles, news and reivews that will help you explore the complexities of the Christian faith.
We will cover a broad range of topics, including: theology, church, leadership, devotions, classic Christian literature, prayer, everyday faith, apologetics, church history, Christian living, Old Testamnet, New Testament, creation, fresh expressions, epistomology...the list could go on and on!
If there is any topic you would like the Resistance Thinking team to go to work on please shoot us an email. If you have any work that could help us all to be more effective 'Resistance Thinkers' please send it in for our team to review.
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." CS Lewis
It is a regular occurrence that we, the Spink family, gather around the television on Christmas Eve and watch the Melbourne Carols. This years festivities had me contemplating about carols and what importance we must place upon them. Songs are an integral part of worshipping. As the psalmist utters:
"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let uscome into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!"
Psalm 95:1-2 (ESV)
God is pleased with music that glorifies Him. The Psalms are full of adoring music to our creator and saviour. Many of the carols that are sung are, indeed, reflecting and discussing the absolute power and majesty of our King. Yet, I can't help feeling that there are many singers who perform items at carols all over the world who do not bend the knee to the God they sing about. This is perhaps ironic that God may, indeed, work through the non-believer to touch another.
My favourite carol is O Holy Night. This was written in 1847 and, as Wikipedia states was composed to the French poem Minuit, chrétiens. The direct translation of this poem is particularly powerful. Here is the full version:
Of course what is now sung is typically very different from this translation. Usually this song is performed by the strongest female vocal singer. Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are only two of the many artists to have bent their vocals to the skies as they battled the high notes in this song. One of the most impressive covers of this song was child prodigy Rhema Marvanne who recorded her version at the mere age of seven:
It is hard to gauge how many people actually think about the words they are singing. There are many who would not wish to have any association with our God yet still choose to glorify Him in the carols they sing. Rhema Marvanne, in her capacity at her age, is an avid follower of Christ. Her website www.rhemamarvanne.com quotes Jeremiah 29:11 at the top of her page. Rhema is only nine now so her faith will mature and grow through the years. No doubt, as a celebrity, she will face trials and she may waver in her understanding of biblical truths (like so many others do) but at the moment she has a unique perception of the love of God. It is of this love that she sings about.
The faith of a child is something to be envied. It is a pure form which is dimmed over the years by a destructive society. Jesus calls us to "receive the kingdom of God like a child" (Luke 18:17). As we grow we tend to develop into unhealthy skeptics who believe that our way is better than God's. We are fed this lie in University, in advertisements and, likely, in our work place. This is profoundly similar to the original sin that transpired when Adam and Eve bought into the lies of the serpent. Because of our disobedience we deserve the wrath of God but through Jesus we have the opportunity to be redeemed and delivered.
It is this theme that the original poem of O Holy Night immerses itself in. Listening to this song while disregarding the implications is to be wilfully ignorant to the immersive power of our creator. I am a fond listener to a great variety of music and it is the story behind a song that gives a song intensity beyond the instruments and vocals. The form of O Holy Night that is present today was developed by John Sullivan Dwight as a singing alternative and isn't it majestic? It has a musical climax to rival all other songs in history but it has a truth that is still present about the night when hope came to this world.
It was 1800 years after the historical life of Christ that the poem Minuit, chrétiens was penned. It seems ridiculous to look at the history of civilisation and the amount of events that have occurred and see Christ as the enduring influence. One man spoken of, sung about through the ages. Yet, should we expect any less? Isaiah discusses the coming of Christ over eight centuries before God entered the world in human flesh. Isaiah 53 proclaims the arrival of the one who will "bear our griefs" (Isaiah 53:4) and be "wounded for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53:5).
This brings me great joy. From the start of creation to this very day humanity sings to a magnificent creator. As He remains in our songs so does He in every facet of our world. This is part of the good news. It is part of having faith like a child to know that we are not alone. We have an ever-present and always powerful God. As we have citizenship in salvation it is our task to make our words and actions an"ardent light" that points to our redeemer. Where once we were chained by our own way our eyes have been opened to the understanding that our earth is free. We no longer have to be slaves, we can be released from captivity. Such a reality deserves the greatest of songs and the deepest reflection. As the new year is peaking over the horizon I encourage my readers to dwell upon the knowledge that "[f]or all of us He is born, He suffers and dies". Such an act has brought hope to the entire world!
On October 27th Jim Wallis (presidential advisor and founder of the Sojourners magazine) debated Albert Mohler (president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) on the topic of social justice. Namely, "Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?". Jim Wallis was in the affirmative and Albert Mohler took the negative to this question. The question, as it stands, relies on both parties personally believing the position they defend. And they do, Wallis is a progressive who is a regular activist and very much in the President's ear. Mohler is a conservative who is convicted in the purity of the Gospel by itself.
This debate is very civil from the outset. It appears that both men respect the credentials and the ministries of one another. One could be almost convinced that these two men were arguing two sides of the same coin. Do not be deceived, though. Mohler advocates that "the preaching of the New Testament is the preaching of the Kingdom. It is first and foremost the preaching about how sinners can be made right with God. The apostolic preaching in the book of Acts, did it have social implications? Of course it did, but the preaching itself is the preaching of the Gospel" (67:37). He elaborates upon this saying "the Gospel is about how sinners, who rightly deserve nothing but the eternal condemnation of God, nonetheless are redeemed by His decisive act in Jesus Christ, to redeem sinners" (110:50).
Jim Wallis states his definition as "justice is integral to the Gospel" (108:30) and is "not an add-on or an extra-curricular or a secondary or something that happens...." (109:33). It should be clear that these definitions are not equal. Where this separation occurs is the interpretation of Luke 4:18-19:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)
Wallis would advocate that this decree by Jesus incorporates a directive to help the poor and to right injustice. Mohler would be of the opinion that this verse is merely endorsing the proclamation of the Gospel to the poor and a social justice agenda cannot be attached to the essence of the Gospel by this verse. Frankly, Wallis' argument is untenable. While acts of social justice are important for Christians to do it is not at the essence of the Gospel. To try and place social justice at the centre is to undermine the Gospel greatly and to distort the purpose of the Church.
During this debate Jim Wallis uses many anecdotes. In fact, the amount of tales he tells stretches to the absurd. He defends his position with them and not with Bible verses. Such a strategy should be a strong warning sign when discussing a theological issue. One such anecdote he discusses is his interactions with the Occupy Wall Street movement and he states that "they're talking about massive inequality which, by the way, is a biblical issue" (89:00). He also mentions "economic unfairness" (92:00). It is easy to say this, but he needs to point to Bible verses to defend his position. The bulk of verses that speak about justice in the Bible are in reference to God's righteous judgment against human kind. It should also be said that the people involved in Occupy Wall Streetare, more likely than not, participating in jealous, which is condemned in the Bible.
Jim Wallis insinuates that the Gospel is a non-practical vessel without social justice being attached to it. For instance, some of the anecdotes he told basically end up with people asking "why do you do the things that you do?" (64:06) which provide him with the ah-ha moment to confirm that he is a Christian. This suggests that as Christians we have the moral superiority over others. That it is the example of our actions that bring people to Christ. But this begs the question; can a person be swayed by an atheists good deeds? Why should a Christian doing good influence them more? So we see that our actions are auxiliary, a response to the Gospel and not the Gospel itself.
I am an avid fan of Albert Mohler. There are very few men like him in theological circles. Yet I felt that in this debate Mohler had the opportunity to really stamp on Wallis' misguided assumptions about the Gospel and the way he uses Jesus for his own political purposes. He did not even engage with Wallis in the actual debate about this and it was only in question time that we see Mohler really rejecting what Wallis was saying. Dan Phillips, Christian blogger, has elaborated on this point and I find his analysis of the debate both succinct and worth reading. Mohler is clear on the Gospel but he also needed to be clear on his rejection of Jim Wallis' definition from the get-go. After all, he knew what Wallis was going to say and such perversities should not be left to stand.
What is required from the Church is very simple. The Church must stand on the truth that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Through this truth disciples will be born. Part of their role is to minister to the poor and help the poor. However, this role is not, nor should it ever be, the essence of the Gospel. To portray the Gospel as such should not be tolerated.
"I asked several publishers to highlight upcoming books that might appeal to the readers of this blog. I chose three books from each of their recommendations (and a few houses didn't respond). I haven't read these books (except for one or two) so I don't know what is in each one, but from what I can tell these look like some very promising selections.
The write up for each book comes from the publisher.
Thanks to Andrew and Jenny for doing all the hard work in setting up this post.
Alister E. McGrath.Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers & Skeptics Find Faith (January 2012). Throughout history there have been great and articulate defenders of the faith. But with the new challenges of scientific atheism we see in our day, there is a need for a fresh and flexible approach to apologetics. Rather than supplying the fine detail of every apologetic issue in order to win arguments, Mere Apologetics teaches a method that appeals not only to the mind but also to the heart and the imagination.
Josh James Riebock.Heroes and Monsters: An Honest Look at the Struggle Within Us All (March 2012). In this stunningly honest, compelling, and ultimately hopeful book, Josh James Riebock explores issues of trust, obedience, intimacy, dreams, grief, purpose, and the unexpected stops along the journey that form us into the people we are. In a creative way, he shows readers that pain and beauty are so inextricably linked that to lose the former costs us the latter.
Shawn Lovejoy.The Measure of Our Success: An Impassioned Plea to Pastors (May 2012). In this honest and encouraging book, Shawn Lovejoy calls pastors back to the "main thing"-the call to love people and make disciples-and to measure their success the way God does. Using Scripture, personal examples, and case studies, Lovejoy gently leads pastors back to their first love, and in doing so he leads them toward a more effective and joy-filled ministry.
Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke.Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship (April 2012). Ted is a thirty-something father of two who's been going to church his whole life. Dallas is a twenty-one-year-old former cocaine addict who has recently become a Christian. When they agree to meet for "discipleship," they know that chatting over coffee once a week won't cut it-restoring an old Triumph Spitfire is more their speed. Filled with surprises and humor, this is the story of two lives changed, and along the way it gives readers a new model for men's ministry.
Chris Travis.Insignificant: Why You Matter in the Surprising Way God Is Changing the World(August 2012). Chris taught math for two years in a middle school in Harlem that the media considers the most dangerous school in all of New York. Now he is planting a church in another rough area of the city. Through stories of his time teaching and examples from the lives of others, Chris casts a vision of how God has a way of turning things upside down: making the weak strong, the foolish wise, and the insignificant matter.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Fall 2012). Cultures and organizations do not change without strong leadership. While many leadership books focus on management or administration, the central focus of The Conviction to Lead is on changing minds. Using his own experiences and examples from history, Dr. Mohler demonstrates that real leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. This practical guide walks the reader through what a leader needs to know, do, and be in order to affect change.
Gerald Hiestand, Jay S. Thomas.Sex, Dating, and Relationships: A Fresh Approach (February 2012). A paradigm-shifting book on purity and relationships that challenges even the basic assumptions of evangelical subculture, Heistand and Thomas equip and engage readers to get serious about honoring Christ with their sexuality.
Matt Chandler, with Jared C. Wilson.The Explicit Gospel (April 2012). Few pastors are more gifted than Matt Chandler at reaching both the "overchurched" and the "unchurched" with the gospel. In this, his first book, Chandler insists that we make the gospel-in both its micro and macro aspects-explicit in all that we do.
Michael J. Kruger.Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books(April 2012). Combine popular-level interest in the Gospel of Thomas and Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, with the current gap in evangelical scholarship on the origins of the New Testament, this book meets a significant need for an up-to-date work on canon by addressing recent developments in the field. The result is an academically rigorous yet accessible study of the New Testament canon that looks deeper than the traditional surveys of councils and creeds, mining the text itself for direction in understanding what the original authors and audiences believed the canon to be.
David C. Cook
Britt Merrick.Godspeed: Making Christ's Mission Your Own (Summer 2012). There is a discrepancy today between the life of most American Christians and the life of Jesus in the Gospels-and the outside world has noticed. Yet, a growing number of believers feel that something's missing and are aching to live authentic lives like Jesus. Godspeed equips the twenty-first-century Church to join with Christ as He's presently on mission all around them. Jesus said, "As the Father sent me, I also send you" (John 20:21). Godspeed follows this pivotal Scripture to reveal the Father's mandate for mission, the Son's model of mission, and the Spirit's ministry through mission.
R.C. Sproul.The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus' Life Mean for You (Summer 2012). In The Work of Christ, Sproul looks at every aspect of Jesus' life and work, addressing such life-changing topics as: Why Jesus' baptism is relevant for our salvation; The similarities and differences between the temptation of the first Adam and the temptation of Jesus, the "second Adam"; How God uses song to celebrate his redemptive acts; Why the Last Supper marks the beginning of a greater exodus than that of the Old Testament; How Jesus' death and resurrection are grounded in the eternal covenant among the persons of the Trinity; Why Jesus' ascension makes a difference in our lives today; and what we know and don't know about Jesus' return.
James McDonald.Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be (Summer 2012). Church is about God: God's glory, God's Son, God's Word, God's presence. End of discussion. Vertical Church is about a total shift in our thinking. This is where honoring God and adoring His Son and proclaiming His Word and seeking His face are the total focus. Vertical Church is about challenging people, inviting them to something harder, calling them to something deeper, discovering something far better and more authentic. It's a bold call to pastors, church leaders, and motivated disciples to fully embrace the truth that the church is first and last about the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Lee Eclov.Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (May 2012). When Jesus Christ, the Lord of the church, calls a pastor He instills a kind of heightened instinct for grace; what we call a shepherd's heart. However, pastors often become disoriented by leadership demands, congregational expectations, and the wounds of ministry. They forget how to use the grace of Christ in the everyday work of pastoring. Lee Eclov equips the reader to understand their calling, their equipping, ministering in difficult circumstances and relationships, and how to finish well.
Carol Barnier. Engaging Today's Prodigal: Clear Thinking, New Approaches, and Reasons for Hope(April 2012). Many families today experience the profound guilt and shame-filled pain of seeing a child walk away from their faith and values. Parents and churches often feel powerless to change the relationship and engage the prodigal in positive ways. With wit and humor Carol Barnier equips the reader with a better understanding of a prodigal's motivation, useful responses that won't prevent reconciliation, clear boundaries to protect themselves and other children, and the value of realistic expectations.
Doug Wilson.Indispensible Dad(May, 2012). This book is a thoughtful and timely excursion into our culture of fatherlessness, what Wilson calls "the central malady of our time." Central because it is the cause of so many of the ills we face-everything from atheism and crime to joyless feminism and paternalistic government expansion-but most important because of the effect it has on families, children, wives, and husbands. Bottom line: when fathers are checked out, left out, or ruled out, it hurts literally everyone.
Patrick Henry Reardon (foreword by Russell Moore).The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ (February 14, 2012). A respected and beloved theologian shows how a renewed appreciation for the humanity of Jesus Christ can better our biblical understanding of the Savior, strengthen our faith, intensify our relationship with him, and give us hope in the darkest hours of our lives. While taking special care not to minimize the Godhood of Christ, Patrick Henry Reardon helps readers come to grips with his real flesh-and-blood humanity-the confession of the Christian church for 2,000 years.
John MacArthur.Twelve Unlikely Heroes:How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You(August 7, 2012). In the third installment of the Twelve series, readers discover that true success is measured in terms of obedience, humility, and faithfulness to God. In Twelve Unlikely Heroes readers gain new insights into the kind of people God uses, and what it means to be successful in his eyes. It highlights this wonderful mystery: that God uses weak, foolish, and broken people to showcase his power, wisdom, and love. He works through those who are humble, contrite, and eager to obey. By God's grace and for his glory, ordinary sinners are unexpectedly transformed into heroes of the faith."
Click here to go to Kevin DeYoung's website at Gospel Coalition.
Today I present to you three Christian Blogs that a worth a regular visit. The three I have endorsed show a strong commitment to staying Biblically accurate and vary between discussing theology and social issues.
Kevin runs a website called Generations with Vision. This site, and its creator, seek to "present life from the perspective of a biblical worldview and within the framework of a relational model of living". Kevin regularly writes articles and blogs but the appeal is in the extensive media section connected to his ministry. Not only does he have a vast radio program but he also has his own Vimeo Channel that comprises over 340 videos. Kevin has a great understanding about the topics he talks about and it is very engrossing to hear him discuss his views with various guests. Here is a small sample to whet your appetite:
Rev. Mohler is a giant of the conservative Christian movement in America, which is perhaps why I appreciate his writings so much. Albert Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and, as such, his opinion holds some clout. I consider Mohler as the leading voice on American social issues and, despite his other numerous commitments Mohler regularly pens articles for his website. There are also podcasts available to listen to. Mohler always approaches issues with a clear perspective allowing the reader, regardless of background, to grasp any issue that he is discussing. He has a jovial tone and speaks with great authority. Make sure you check out his self-titled website.
DeYoung is a relative new-comer to evangelical circles but he has already made a strong mark. He is the Senior Pastor at a Reformed Church in Michigan and involved in the Gospel Coalition, where his website resides. Kevin has also tried his hand at writing/editing some book titles and has released two books this year What is the Mission of the Church? and Don't Call It A Comeback (which he co-wrote). The latter is especially impressive and combines several young Christian thinkers discussing many core features of Christianity. Kevin DeYoung is probably best known for his articulate response to Rob Bell's book Love Wins. Ironically this review is much more extensive than the 224 page book he was reviewing.
Recently I put a post up on my Facebook wall that was, admittedly, quite harsh. Yet, was likely interpreted to be much more callous than actually intended. However, I stand by my comment, which chided a newspaper for having an extremely liberal leaning. What is interesting, though, is one of my friend's posts in response to my status. She said:
"I am not a Christian, yet I respect your faith and your beliefs-though I may not feel the same way about religion as you, I respect you enough as a person, and respect your right as a human being to make your own choices in life...."
Now, I appreciate that she kept a level tone. Very few people can do that when discussing a heated, controversial topic. Unfortunately, there's something that doesn't sit right with this comment. She has repeatedly said in this comment that she respects me. Yet, she has no reason to give me such respect. I could imagine from a humanist perspective I would be considered hateful, homophobic, bigoted and racist. Of course, these are just words with little substance, yet, my point remains. If I am wrong then I shouldn't be respected. As Paul says:
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." (1 Cor 15:19NKJV).
So, indeed, if my faith is baseless then I should be pitied. But, more than that, I should be considered a dangerous fool. Perhaps, then, Richard Dawkins provides us with a more accurate atheistic response:
Yet, Dawkins method has significant short-comings, as well. His approach polarises both sides of this debate. The theistic and the atheistic. There is no middle ground and no respect, whatsoever, for the other side. Incidentally, in this style, he and I are similar. You see, I think Richard Dawkins is extremely dangerous and, while there are those who oppose Dawkins and still have the upmost respect for him, I cannot share the same courtesy for someone who is actively striving to do Satan's job for him. Regardless of whether Dawkins is conscious of his deception or not. I do differ from Dawkins, however, by appreciating that there are people who would overshadow my intellect who fall on the other side of this debate to me. Yet, I am comfortable with the company I hold.
I think you can love someone without respecting their ideology or, indeed, even them as a person. There are several examples of this in the Bible. Elijah is a sterling illustration of someone who did not put up with the nonsense of other worldviews. We read in 1 Kings about his interactions with the prophets of Baal.
"Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it." And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention." (1 Kings 18:25-29ESV)
As Christians we should not respect any other worldview. These worldviews are smoke-screens of deception that leave their followers with no footing to stand on once they are shown for what they really are. It is worth quoting at length what follows in Paul's letter to the Corinthians:
"But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." (1 Cor 15:20-34NKJV)
It is through Christ's historical actions that we are able to avoid the pity that we would deserve were our worldview based on lies. Because of this, we cannot boast (Eph 2:9) and we certainly don't deserve any of the respect. You see, my choices are frail and my desires faulty. If, indeed, I was to stand before God, without someone interceding for me, then "[my] right as a human being to make [my] own choices in life" would be the very thing that would condemn me.
Yet, Paul assures us that our struggles are not in vain. That the dead will rise and everyone will become subject to His will. However, this is both a comfort and a challenge for those of us who have the mark of God upon our souls. Because, Paul, in his wisdom, speaks about those who "[d]o not have knowledge of God". Our task has only just begun. While we may not possess the righteousness of Elijah we serve a God who demands that we fight for the damned, that we shine our beacons for the lost.
I have nothing but amiable feelings for my friend who posted her comment on Facebook. She is extremely pleasant to socialise with and displays a generous and caring nature to her friends. Yet, I grieve for her, and others who are entrapped by Satan's lies. I know something for sure, though. I am not doing enough to try and steer them from the destructive path that they are upon. Such idleness brings me great shame.