"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
Last week on Sunday was Remembrance Day. A day we look to in sadness at the lives lost to the horrors of war. At the end of two minutes of silence at 11AM this pledge is read out:
“They were young, as we are young,
They served, giving freely of themselves.
To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,
To carry their torch and never forget.
We will remember them.”
Since 1917 we in Australia have been reminded of the acts of courage and valour that our past countrymen have displayed in troubling and dangerous times. It is good that we intend to never forget these sacrifices.
One of the key arguments used by atheists when they are debating against theism is that were God to reveal Himself in a miraculous act they would believe immediately and be converted. Such a view of man is not supported by Scripture. Humanity is prone to forgetting the unforgettable, even if it is the miraculous.
Let me give you an example. The book of Exodus depicts God's salvation of His people who are enslaved by the Egyptians. Through many miraculous acts God displays His power and brings the Egyptian empire to its knees. He proves that He is superior to every last one of the Egyptian gods and He delivers His people from slavery. His final act is the parting of the massive sea, the Yam Suph. His people walk on dry ground, the Egyptian's pursuing them do not.
So one would think that with all these physical manifestations of God's power before them the Israelite people would forever be reminded of the majesty and of the sufficient of Him. But they do not. They complain to Moses about Him. They build other idols instead of Him. They flaunt His laws. Finally they get to the promised land and they are so frightened of the opposition facing them that they claim it would be better to have died in Egypt than to follow God's plan. By this time God had had enough. He says:
“But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.” Numbers 14:21-23 (ESV)
None except Caleb and Joshua are given permission to enter the land of Canaan. Instead they are cast into the desert where they all die without seeing the land promised to Abraham those many centuries earlier. In this example we see God acting justly against a people in rebellion. A people who had no right to forget because he performed many miraculous signs in their lifetime. So even with the Passover practiced to this day we are reminded of how man is prone to forgetting even the most blatant example of God's power.
Let me give you one final example. Simon Peter is the most spoken about of the twelve disciples. At many times he is the spokesman for the rest of them and probably says the things the other may have been thinking but didn't have the courage to say. He is at the Lord's side as Jesus performs most of His earthly miracles and many times recognises Jesus' might and power. Yet even he, with front row seats, disowns Jesus in the face of possible death.
Both of these examples display much about the nature of man. Miracles are upheld as a method that will allow us to unequivocally prove that God exists and is all-powerful. But were He to show us (not that He is merely a performer) we, like our ancestors, are prone to not believing that God can and will do what He has promised to do.
Many people were compelled by Jesus' miracles in the life of His ministry. They were drawn to the man who could heal the injured and confused the legal experts in their own field. Yet when Jesus faces certain death He is left alone with no-one but criminals by His side. Because while these people had seen Jesus' display of power over death they didn't believe it for themselves.
We, as Christians in the 21st century, are similar in a lot of ways. It was God's display of power through the Holy Spirit that has compelled us to a life-saving faith but if we become complacent (which we probably already have) and if we don't truly believe what we have experienced we are going to turn from God and back to our old lives. We need to become a people of endurance. Not prone to being confused by worldly messages that promise comfort but do not fulfill. If we have died to sin we cannot continue to live in it. Thus we must desire sanctification and the continuing veracity of the Word. It is reliance upon Christ alone that we are convicted of utmost need for Him. If we require a miracle every couple of months then we need to turn the spotlight on to our own heart and reasons for believing.
The other day I was at a breakfast and one of the key speakers mentioned how he was a Catholic and married to a Baptist woman. It occurred to me that such a situation may present itself quite frequently and so I wished to discuss the difficulties of being a Christian while maintaining a relationship with a spouse who does not hold to a biblical understanding of how the world works or, more importantly, that God is sovereign in every capacity of life.
In the presented situation between a Catholic and a Baptist there is a very clear difference between quite a few doctrines and articles of faith. Most of them could be overlooked, though would still cause friction. There is one, though, which I believe would cause a separation between the two parties that would be almost impossible to navigate past in order to find the points of similarities.
This is namely the reformed doctrine of justification. Now I can already anticipate some people's responses as “how can one doctrine that not even Christian's can agree upon divide a marriage?”. Well, it is quite simple. The concept that we are justified by faith alone cuts to the heart of the Gospel. The only way to dislodge this doctrine is to step away from the act of Christ on the cross entirely. Martin Luther was entirely right when he uttered articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae – the article of faith that decides whether the church is standing or falling. This is clearly devastating in its implications. For indeed if a church cannot be divided upon this doctrine then neither, in my opinion, can a marriage.
This presents tremendous difficulties for the speaking at the breakfast but a Catholic/Protestant marriage is not the only challenging marriage combination. Take for instance the marriage between a Mormon and a Christian. In this relationship there is a clear division as to what each party believes about deities. The Christian is compelled by the Scriptures to understand God as the only deity in existence. The first and the last. This is clearly not consistent with Mormon teachings that humanity are deity figures in an embryonic form. Even were we to look past the other significant theological differences this belief about God and man cannot be overcome, nor should it.
The contrasts that exist about how the different faiths view God, man and what God has or has not done in the actions of Jesus do make co-habitation and profitable marriage an almost impossible task. Yet these combinations pale in comparison to a marriage (or relationship) between a Christian and an atheist. As Australia (and the rest of the western world) moves closer and closer to secular take-over the pairing of a Christian and a self-described “non-religious” person become more and more prevalent.
Like the many other faith's that may mimic Christianity in some way atheism does produce men and women who could be confused for Christians in many ways. They want to make the world a better place, they may value life and be very generous people. Outwardly it may be very difficult to differentiate between the Christian and the atheist. So, one may argue, what does it matter if their doctrines don't align?
To answer this I believe it is important to point to the first variance that I established between the Catholic and the Protestant. Where is the crucial line between these two groups? The doctrine of justification by faith alone. If seen through the biblical lens we realise that a person can do all the earthly good they are capable of doing and then more, it will not affect their salvation. Indeed, a person can be pitiful and totally depraved of any good deed and he could still be saved. Our works do not save us and because they cannot save us to call someone a good man is meaningless because there are no good men. Our very nature makes such a person impossible.
Upon understanding this difference of opinion what should become obvious is the clear disparity between atheism and Christianity. The atheist believes that there is no God, that man is neither good nor bad because he is just a creation of evolution (a process devoid of any meaningful moral) and because there is no God, Jesus' act upon the cross was, and is, meaningless. Whereas the Christian believes that there is a God, one who is personal and omniscient. The creator and the maintainer. We believe that man failed in our attempts to keep ourselves pure and were seduced by evil. Because of this we are born with evil hearts and sinful ambitions. It was only through the actions of Jesus, who is God himself, on the cross that we were given another opportunity. One that is available not through any actions that we are capable of and one that we can never work for.
The danger is that many non-religious non-Christian people are not the militant kind of atheists and many Christian's fall into the nominal category where they don't give biblical doctrines any credence. Unfortunately this dichotomy in a relationship does have a profound upon both parties. One is particularly affected by the split. For as Paul says: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?”
2 Corinthians 6:14 - 15 (ESV)
One person will inevitably default to the other person's beliefs. And it is usually the nominal Christian who surrenders the Christian faith for the sake of continuity in the partnership. For how respect and ambitions remain between two when one believes that the other (on their current path) is destined for hell. There are some occasions where a Christian may remain a strong Christian whilst their spouse remains staunchly against anything to do with Christianity but this does not signify a strong marriage.
Not only did God create us but he orchestrated the institution of marriage. Picture a two-person canoe with two people in it. Now give these two people opposite directions to get to and see how the canoe progresses down the river. This analogy depicts some of the difficulty in an unequally yoked marriage but it misses the most important part of the story. Marriage is a gondola. Both parties must surrender their paddles up to God who will direct and maintain the course. As God is the instigator of marriage he is most definitely the navigator as well.
My hope is that this is food for thought for everyone. For the Christian dating a non-Christian this may be hard to read. Indeed you might reject it out of hand as judgmental. This is not the case, I write this with sincerity and a longing that God will become the centre-peice of your life. Nor do I say the situation is as simple as breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend. For the non-Christian dating the Christian I hope that you will understand the differences between what you believe and understand and what the Bible teaches about God, man and our purpose. You must also realise what you may cause the other person to give up if you remain in disobedience to God and His purpose for your relationship. God has carefully crafted the roles for both the woman and the man in their partnership. Without God it is unlikely your relationship will be profitable for either of you in any sense that matters (and I don't mean materialistically). If you respect and love the other person in your relationship then why aren't you open to moving from lawlessness to righteousness? Or do you believe that they, like all other faiths, are out of touch with reality? In this is the case you clearly do not respect the other person nor are you loving them appropriately.
You may disagree on politics, the footy or anything else. But if you disagree upon who made the universe, who controls the universe and who man is there can be no harmony in a relationship. This is the conflict that decides whether the relationship is standing or falling. Take this to heart as you make life-defining decisions.
Here is an article written by Professor Rob Gagnon in response to Tim Keller's interview at Veritas:
Rev. Tim Keller’s Disappointing Comments on Homosexuality
Article by Prof. Rob Gagnon, September 14th 2012
"A YouTube video entitled “What do Christians have against Homosexuality? Tim Keller at Veritas [8 of 11]” is getting significant play in Exodus circles as supporting Alan Chambers’ flawed theology in assuring “gay Christians” that unrepentant continuance in homosexual practice is no obstacle to inheriting the kingdom of God. Though the video was uploaded at the end of Nov. 2011, I saw it for the first time only a couple of days ago. It shows Rev. Tim Keller, prominent pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City (part of the Presbyterian Church of America, a conservative denomination that does not ordain women), being interviewed by Columbia University historian David Eisenbach for the Veritas Forum at Columbia University.
Toward the end of the interview Eisenbach asked Keller about whether he thought homosexual people will go to hell:
I wrote a book about the gay rights movement because I was appalled by the oppression and the discrimination against homosexuals in my America. This questioner asked, “What do so many of the churches have against homosexuals and what about your church’s approach to homosexuality? Is it a sin? Are they going to hell?”
This question led to a 6-minute response on Rev. Keller’s part that I have to say is disappointing. In Rev. Keller’s defense, let me say that some allowance has to be made for the venue (New York City, Columbia University, responding to a homosexualist professor with perhaps a majority of people in the audience left of center), the time (only 6 minutes), and the intent of the speaker (Rev. Keller trying not to alienate others from the Christian faith). Maybe too some allowance should be made for the “Stockholm Syndrome”: he has imbibed the culture of New York City for too long.
Even with these considerations I still find his response to be disappointing, especially as regards his unqualified insistence that homosexual practice will not send anyone to hell; but also for criticizing the church in an unqualified way for “oppression of homosexuals,” claiming that an act of homosexual intercourse is not as bad as an instance of greed (any greed), and viewing sin merely as “something not good for human flourishing.” Much of the response had the feel of a dodge and some of what Rev. Keller said is so misleading as to come under the rubric of misinformation. This isn’t justified even when one is in “seeker-friendly” mode.
I will also grant that I have not explored other statements that Rev. Keller has made about homosexual practice (here’s one that someone forwarded to me: http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/index.html?aid=363). Rev. Keller’s view may be more biblically accurate than the video suggests (and I will certainly see if I can contact Rev. Keller about this). However, a video interview has a life of its own. Some Christians will circulate this video as justification for their own anti-scriptural views. So a response to the arguments that he makes in the video is justifiable. I hope that Rev. Keller himself will issue a statement providing clarification...."
"1. Does the church in fact oppress homosexual persons?
Rev. Keller criticizes “the Christian church for the oppression of homosexuals.” But he never specifies what that is. The vast majority of what counts as “oppression of homosexuals” for homosexual activists should not in fact be considered oppression by Christians: opposing the ordination of homosexually active persons, opposing granting any of the benefits of marriage to homosexual relationships (which relationships are constituted from the get-go in sin), opposing “sexual orientation” laws that inevitably lead to the attenuation of the civil liberties of those who find homosexual practice to be morally wrong, etc. In only criticizing the church for “oppression of homosexuals” and leaving unmentioned the huge qualification that opposing the homosexualist agenda for society does not in fact constitute “oppression” Rev. Keller’s remarks have the feel of throwing much of the church under the bus (especially given the interviewer’s opening comment). Moreover, he says nothing about the hatred and intolerance for orthodox Christians by homosexualist forces. It is certainly true that a minority of individual Christians wrongly treat homosexually active persons as beyond the pale of any Christian outreach in love. However, what occurs is not overt oppression by churches but the absence of acts of love by some individual Christians.
2. Is it the case that homosexual practice will not send anyone to hell?
Rev. Keller declares categorically that homosexual practice (and sin generally) will not send anyone to hell but only the self-righteousness of thinking that “I am my own savior and lord.” “And that is the reason why Pharisaism, moralism, Bible-believing people who are proud and think that God is going to take them into heaven because they are good, that is sending them to hell.” But claiming to be a follower of Christ while repeatedly and unrepentantly engaging in gross sexual immorality will not send one to hell? Certainly, refusing to accept Christ as one’s Savior and Lord confirms one’s destination will not be heaven. But what is misleading in Keller’s presentation is that self-professed believers who engage unrepentantly in homosexual practice or in other ways show themselves to be slaves of sin will not inherit God’s kingdom because they show their ‘faith’ to be something other than saving faith. True faith trusts in Christ’s saving work and issues in a life no longer lived in the main for oneself but for God. When the lives of self-professed believers are grossly incongruent with a claim to faith in Christ as Lord, when they do not bear appropriate “fruit,” Christ casts them away as not genuine believers or as believers who have fallen away from the faith. I find it hard to believe that Keller would have been so misleading in his answer if the question was about serial killers, those who regularly defraud others of their life savings, or perpetrators of rape, incest, or pedophilia. There is a reason why Paul warned the Corinthians, in treating a case of adult-consensual incest at Corinth: “Do not be deceiving yourselves: Neither the sexually immoral [including the incestuous man in ch. 5], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor ‘soft men’ (malakoi; i.e. men who feminize themselves to attract male sex partners), nor men who lie with a male (arsenokoitai), nor thieves, nor greedy defrauders [or: extortionists], not drunkards, not those who viciously slander others, not robbers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). That reason was not to assure the Corinthian believers that participating in extreme sexual immorality and other grave offenses could not get them sent to hell.
3. Is greed—indeed any experience of a greedy impulse—far worse than homosexual practice?
Rev. Keller compares homosexual intercourse to any instance of greed and argues that the latter is far worse based on frequency of mention by Jesus (“10 times more than he talked about adultery”). This completely overlooks the point that sexual impurity was not a major problem in the Palestinian Jewish society that Jesus addressed. Jesus said not a thing against having sex with one’s mother, rape, and pedophilia but does Rev. Keller seriously think that any desire for a little more money is far worse than these grave offenses? Sexual immorality was a major problem in the Gentile world so that it is not surprising that Paul makes it no. 2 on his list of things to address after the issue of idolatry. Moreover, when Jesus and Paul address the issue of greed as a factor that can exclude self-professed believers from the kingdom of God, they are not talking about problems with greedy impulses that all humans struggle with on a daily basis but those who extort and defraud and steal from those living on the economic margins of life and who amass great wealth in the process (the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a case in point). As homosexual practice is regarded in Scripture as an extreme offense within the general category of sexual sin (as is bestiality, incest, and adultery), it can only be compared with the most extreme manifestations of material exploitation of others. At Corinth the “haves” were humiliating the “have-nots” and many of the Corinthian believers were (in Paul’s words) “puffed up” or inflated with arrogance. Nevertheless, it was only in the case of the incestuous man, an instance of gross sexual immorality, that Paul demanded removal of the offender from the life of the community. Evidently, Paul did not regard the instances of greed and pride exhibited at Corinth as serious as this particularly extreme case of sexual immorality.
4. Is the only thing bad about sin that it does not help human flourishing?
Rev. Keller appears to have a reduced understanding of sin as merely something that is “not good for human flourishing” but can’t send one to hell. “We want people to do things that are good for human flourishing but that is not what sends people to heaven and hell.” Rev. Keller, intentionally or not, was giving the impression that homosexual practice is not so bad. It’s kind of a minor sin. It’s just not going to give a person an optimal life where “human flourishing” can take place. This is incorrect. Immoral behaviors are also grave offenses to God. Homosexual practice is repeatedly designated in Scripture as an action that is “abhorrent” to God (as are some other grievous moral offenses). Human sin is what creates the judgment of hell in the first place. True, one is delivered from that judgment if one puts one’s faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. But if one claims to have such saving faith while continuing to live unrepentantly in egregious immorality then one is a liar. Paul is emphatic that only those who are being led by the Spirit and who “put to death the deeds of the body” are true children of God who will inherit eternal life (Rom 8:12-14). A life given over to the primary service of sin is no Christian life and leads to the offender’s destruction (so Paul in the places where he deals most profoundly with the question of the believer’s relationship to sin: Rom 6:1-7:6; 8:1-14; Gal 5:13-25; 6:7-10).
Rev. Keller is a Calvinist. So one might claim that he is simply offering a Reformed “perseverance of the saints” perspective that might be at odds with a Arminian-Wesleyan view but still represents a respectable biblical option. Not so. Rev. Keller’s view on the essential character of the transformed life, at least as expressed in this interview, compares unfavorably with the view of John Calvin. Calvin, no slouch when it came to advocating the eternal security of the believer, said: “Those in whom the Spirit does not reign do not belong to Christ; therefore those who serve the flesh are not Christians, for those who separate Christ from his Spirit make him like a dead image or a corpse. . . . Free remission of sins cannot be separated from the Spirit of regeneration. This would be, as it were, to rend Christ asunder.” It tears Christ apart because it divides the acknowledgment of Christ as Savior from the acknowledgement of Christ as Lord. Those who claim to have accepted Christ as Lord but who live as if sin is in fact their Lord will be recompensed with death rather than receive the gift of eternal life (see Rom 6:15-21).
Rev. Keller’s view also compares unfavorably with the view expressed recently by Prof. Michael Horton (Ph.D., Oxford University) of Westminster Seminary in California, a Calvinist theologian who supports the eternal security of the believer:
It is as unloving to hold out hope to those who embrace a homosexual lifestyle as it is to assure idolaters, murderers, adulterers, and thieves that they are safe and secure from all alarm…. Paul’s point is clear: For Gentiles, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, within proper social boundaries) is normal, but to take that view is to exclude oneself from the kingdom of Christ. A proud sinner defiantly ignoring the lordship of Christ while professing to embrace him as Savior is precisely what Paul says is impossible. These passages do not threaten believers who struggle with indwelling sin and fall into grievous sins (see Romans 7 for that category); rather, they threaten professing believers who do not agree with God about their sin…. [By] refusing to agree with God about the nature of such behavior as sinful, those who embrace sexual immorality as a lifestyle reject the gospel. One cannot even seek forgiveness for something that one does not regard as sinful in the first place…. We dare not try to cut Christ in pieces, as if we could receive him deliverer from sin’s guilt but not from its dominion, or as Savior but not as Lord” (“Let's Not Cut Christ to Pieces,” Christianity Today online, 7/12/12).
The New Testament is quite clear on the point that saving faith necessarily produces a transformed life lived for God and in conformity to the Spirit of Christ. For a selection of texts that make the point, see http://robgagnon.net/RHNEternalSecurityQuestion.htm.
In the end, Prof. Eisenbach may have offered a closer representation of what Scripture says about homosexual practice than Rev. Keller. Rev. Keller wanted to communicate that Christians should reach out to homosexually active persons with love and not with disdain. This desire is well and good. However, his actual response was a dance around the question raised by Prof. Eisenbach and misleading at best, incorrect at worse. Simply put, it is true that homosexually active, self-professed Christians who refuse to repent will not inherit the kingdom of God. To be sure, this applies as well to many other serial-unrepentant, egregious instances of immorality. Moreover, forgiveness of sins is available to those who repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith and who continue in the faith by letting themselves be led by the Spirit of Christ. Nevertheless, self-professed Christians can have no assurance of inheriting the kingdom of God if they live primarily in conformity to sin operating in the flesh. This includes engaging in homosexual practice repetitively and without repentance.
Rev. Keller could have said something along the lines of the following:
Yes, homosexual practice is a sin. Having sex with a person of the same sex dishonors or degrades the participants because it treats as a complement to one’s own sex a sexual same rather than a sexual other. It falsely implies that the participant’s sex or gender is only half intact in relation to one’s own sex. God created and designed “male and female” for sexual pairing. It is on the basis of a foundation of male-female complementarity that one can maintain logically prohibitions of incest (a violation of the principle of too much embodied sameness, not enough complementary otherness) and polyamory (a violation of the principle of two established by the requisite two genders, male and female).
Will homosexual practice send a person to hell? Yes, along with any other sin since no one is good enough to merit a place in God's kingdom and any sin causes one to fall short of God's glory. Will it send a self-professed believer to hell? Yes, because it is a mark of unbelief. Living unrepentantly in homosexual practice or other patterns of egregious immorality (adultery, incest, robbery, extortion, and the like) are signs of a life not lived by faith, of claiming that Jesus is Lord but actually living as if sin, not Jesus, is one’s lord."
Robert Gagnon's commentary in regards to Tim Keller's comments should not be construed as a personal attack.
What Gagnon is suggesting is that clarification is required from Keller's comments in this video.
It is disturbing that people like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett have managed to influence some pastors, yet it is unsurprising. At times there appears a staleness to the cultures of some of our churches. It is hard for the leaders of these churches to avoid being influenced by such cultures. Furthermore, many may have been brought up in Christian households only to adopt a belief that they could never claim as their own. The Clergy Project has provided them with an avenue to leave a life that they haven't believed for a very long time.
Jerry DeWitt is a prime example of the "atheist pastor". DeWitt is now one of the leading proponents of The Clergy Project and like many apostates he is part of a long line of preachers who have taken to the family business without believing in it:
"[DeWitt] and his wife began touring the South, building a reputation for the power of his sermons. It was a tremendous ego charge, especially for a short, chubby young man with dyslexia. For the first time, he was treated with respect, even awe. "I had this whole prophet persona going on. I wouldn't really mix with people before the sermon," he told me. "All kinds of people were seeing miracles, and I believed it 100 percent.""
Now admittedly excommunication is not the most helpful solution when something like this occurs. The amount of stories mentioning friends and family turning away from those who leave the faith is saddening. Such an action usually reinforces that person's decision to walk away. In practical terms people like DeWitt are no different than nominal Christians who attend church without participating in the spiritual aspects. Yet, ostracizing yourself from your church community and deliberately rejecting God makes any further interaction with Christians who may encourage and bring you back to faith unlikely.
Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story. DeWitt (like many others in The Clergy Project) continued to preach until his employers (presumably the church Board) was made aware of his change in religious persuasion. DeWitt and other ex-pastors (like Teresa MacBain) report continuing to preach even when they no longer were a theist. It seems intellectually dishonest that these people would continue to stand behind the pulpit even while leading their church astray.
Albert Mohler reports succinctly upon this phenomenon:
"The Clergy Project is a parable of our times, but it is also a pathetic portrait of the desperation of many atheist and secularist groups. They are thrilled to parade a few trophies of unbelief, but do they really believe that these example are serving their cause? They celebrate a former Pentecostal preacher with no education, who was already a theological liberal when called to his church, and who then educated himself by reading Sagan, Dawkins, and Hitchens. Seriously?
The Clergy Project is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to their congregations, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with atheists, and still retain their positions and salaries. Is this how atheists and secularists groups intend to further their cause? They are getting publicity from the media to be sure, but do they think it will win them friends?
Ministers struggling honestly with doubts and struggles are in a different category altogether. Doubt will lead to one of two inevitable consequences. Faithful doubt leads to a deeper embrace of the truth, with doubt serving to point us into a deeper knowledge, trust, and understanding of the truth. Pernicious doubt leads to unfaithfulness, unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, and despair. Christians - ministers or otherwise - who are struggling with doubt, need to seek help from the faithful, not the faithless.
Christianity has little to fear from the Clergy Project. Its website reveals it to be a toothless tiger that will attract media attention, and that is about all. The greater danger to the church is a reduction in doctrine that leaves atheism hard to distinguish from belief. And the real forces to fear are those who would counsel such a reduction."
"I was a member of a Christian online dating site last year and met a wonderful godly man. We exchanged emails and talked via Skype every day and night for two months. We were planning to meet, but before it happened, one day during our Skype conversation, he started to say things that stirred up our emotions. We ended up climaxing over Skype.
I felt so guilty. I've never done such a thing, but he didn't seem upset by it. He said this was natural, but later because I could not go on, we prayed together and asked forgiveness from God and each other.
Is telephone sex still sex or not? By the way, he stopped contacting me after a while. So sad."
Now the Boundless author, Candice Watters, appropriately chastised this woman and pointed out some of the mistaken assumptions this woman has. For instance, the description of "godly man" is debunked by the man's actions. Watters' article is certainly worth the read if you have a spare 5 minutes.
What bears some consideration particularly, however, is the mindset of this anonymous woman. She would likely call herself a Christian, hence being on a Christian online dating site and then contacting Boundless website after this incident. Yet she still participated in the sinful act that this man on Skype instigated.
As a young Christian I do realise that there are great temptations out there. It may not be this specific situation that sticks to your otherwise clean appearance but there are other lustful decisions that have brought young Christians undone. Watching pornography on the internet. Late nights up with a boyfriend/girlfriend that lead from one compromise to the next. These things cannot be undone and we know they are impermissible. So why do we, as young Christians, persist in them?
Perhaps the biggest reason is because we have bought the world's lie. Through entertainment, social media and our friendship groups our understanding of biblical truth in regards to sexual ethics has been eroded away. We may have been sheltered from this in our early years by our parents but eventually we are exposed. Either in high school or in our university lives we realise that others do not agree with how our parents brought us up. Letting our friends talk around us about sexual exploits without challenging their way of thinking is the first compromise. It makes it much more difficult to convince ourselves that we need boundaries. After all, why should we have boundaries if others do not have them imposed on their sexual lives?
Another dangerous trend that may relate to compromise is the lack of support. When a person hits puberty many questions are raised. It cannot be said that these questions aren't addressed by leading theologians and many pastors out there. However, at teen years most of us aren't turning to D. A. Carson or our elderly pastor (you know, the one who has meeting with your parents) for answers. Instead we turn to our peers. Even within Church circles many of our peers have bought the lies of the world. It is a domino effect where those who have questions no longer have biblically literate peers to turn to and so, while they don't usually act upon urges just yet, their questions and concerns are left unchallenged. This exacerbates any future compromise.
A devastating compromise is not on the part of the individual but on the part of Christian leadership. While this is not always true many youth pastors (or Christian's in youth leadership roles) feel handicapped about what they can promote, in regards to ethics. Some are concerned about losing the numbers who turn up for a games night on the Friday. Others are having a similar crisis as the woman from the email. What is occurring more and more is a watered down message of the Gospel. Instead of something that is life-transforming the story of Jesus becomes something trendy that is promotable and palatable.
Mentioned above are some of the issues that cause compromise but not all of them. Obviously individual people have specific motives for compromising but these are trends that need to be addressed. At one level it starts with the youth pastor. If those young Christians within the Church actually have solid footing and answered questions then they are more likely to be ready to face these challenges. In a similar role are the university chaplains. These people can do a lot of good. However, this role is a double-edged sword because these people can actually work to undermine a person's faith.
If a youth pastor can turn the tide then these young Christians who he/she has trained up can act as moral support for their friendship groups. After all, a Christian teenager will soon be thrust into university, work or other endeavour and the youth pastor will no longer be a source of biblical grounding. So it is essential that we keep each other grounded. Let us reason together.
When all this is said and done, though, the buck stops with the individual. We do not have the luxury of missing the signs of our impending sinfulness. We must strive for purity. Desire it and run from compromise. The lie of the world is all-consuming and ensnares the unwary traveller.
"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."