We need to uphold absolutes without absolutism, practice rationality without rationalism, make assertions without arrogance and offer a defense without defensiveness. In doing so, we need three priorities: right thinking, right practice, and right attitudes. Even when the first two are clearly maintained, the third is sometimes lacking. The defense of the gospel is most effective when combined with the demeanor of Christ.
— Art Lindsley, TRUE TRUTH, Defending Absolute Truth in a Relativistic World, IVP, 2004; page 172
Some secular groups like the Boy Scouts are still “religion friendly” and allow for various degrees of religious expression. That can be a good thing, and I’m glad for it, but culture’s view of ‘pluralism’ and demand for tolerance(!) typically overrule any biblically-faithful practices (such as preaching or praying or explicitly speaking of ‘Jesus’).
At BSA summer camp this past week, they scheduled a brief time for “chapel” in a beautiful place near the waterfront late on Thrusday afternoon. I’ve attended their chapel services in the past and found it little more than a bland religious exercise.
This past week, I overheard how some adult leaders explained the chapel time to scouts who’d asked about it. Let me paraphrase a few of the comments I overheard….
No, chapel is not required, but it’s good for you.
[Yet that adult did not attend chapel that day]
It’s non-denominational, and not just one religion, so anybody can go.
It’s generally about good ideas and values we should think about.
They sometimes sing, or do readings and such, but it’s pretty short.
What dominates the rationale for chapel here is a self-improvement mind-set: It’s good for you, it’s not too demanding, it can make you better…. Interesting to note the absence of any talk about God, or giving to Him the worship He deserves — even as we enjoy the great outdoors He has made! My sense of this was intense (sadly) as the service was underway that day. Lots of nice thoughts, and even a few generic citations from the Bible woven into the principles of scouting — but nothing of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sin or salvation by grace. We did sing “He’s got the whole world, in his hands” but with nothing explicit about who HE was or is. There was nothing solid here; no ultimate foundation for the behaviors being commended.
Yes, religion can make one “better” in the eyes of the world, but it is really just moralizing and positive peer-pressure (all the while giving false assurance and temporal comfort to these folks). We know from the Bible that such man-made righteousness falls short of what God demands — which ONLY JESUS CHRIST can supply! That is why the gospel is such good news, since it speaks of our obtaining such from Jesus….
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” [Romans 1:16-17, esv]
Oh, that these religious scouts could hear this good news, and meet the one true and living God, and experience the great joy and soul-satisfaction of worshipping Him in spirit and in truth.
Pray with me to that end.
School’s out and the lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us. And the thoughts of young men and women often turn to love, romance — and sex. How do we mature Christians guide them through the mine field of emotions and the maze of sexual myths?
Excellent help can be found in “How to Stay Christian in College” (Navpress, 1999) by Prof. J. Budziszewski. In chapter 6 he smartly raises and demolishes several common myths young people hold about love and sex. Let me cite the first, and his reply…
MYTH NUMBER ONE:
LOVE IS A FEELING, AND SEX IS THE ADULT WAY TO EXPRESS IT.
Have you ever wondered why when people get married, they promise to love each other until death? Think about it. Feelings change. You can’t promise to have a feeling. So if love is a feeling, the marriage vow makes no sense at all. But the vow odes make sense because love is not a feeling. What is it , then? Love is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person. Love, let me repeat, is a commitment of the will to the true good of another person.
Now the outward expression and seal of a commitment of the will is a binding promise. So the adult way to express love is to enter into a binding promise — and that’s what we call marriage. “If you really loved me,” some people say, “you’d do it with me.” Baloney. If he really loved you, he wouldn’t demand it. If she really loved you, she wouldn’t either.
Score: Truth = 1, Myth = 0.
More to follow….
Immediately following the terror strikes of 9/11 the churches of our country swelled with new attenders — with those wishing to draw near to God, or deal with their fears, or for other reasons. Yet they didn’t stay long. Commenting on this return to “pre-9/11 levels” of spiritual activity, Dr Al Mohler makes this profound observation:
“Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square. It is the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth. Spirituality affirms us in our self-centeredness and soothingly tells us that all is well. Authentic faith in Christ call us out of ourselves, points us to the Cross, and summons us to follow Christ.”
— CULTURE SHIFT (2008), p. 51
In these post-election days, I sense this ebb and flow — away from truth and toward this civil spirituality, which is no threat to self-centered living. How sad. We who love the truth of God’s Word certainly have our work cut out for us.