Category Archives: Christianity

Hear C.S. Lewis Reading a Portion of “Mere Christianity”

I really enjoyed listening to this recording of C.S. Lewis addressing British audiences during the War years. The series of addresses became “Mere Christianity.” Apparently only one recording survived. Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Also posted in apologetics, audio, books | | Leave a comment

Matthew Parris Goes to Africa and “Gets” Religion… Sort Of

I’ve read exactly two articles by the British columnist Matthew Parris. An avowed atheist, I find Mr. Parris refreshingly honest and genuinely insightful. Having read two columns (here’s the first), I’m pretty sure I comprehend his body of work. Not really. But I like what I’ve read.

His latest (second) piece to catch my attention–“As an Atheist, I Truly Believe Africa Needs God“–makes the bold (for an atheist) and undeniable (for a Christian) claim that Africa needs God! He means Christ, not pagan, tribal witchcraft. That, too, staggers the imagination given the more strident anti-Christian atheism en vogue these days. What can I say? This man is worth the read.

Anyway, back to Africa and God. Here’s how Parris begins his piece:

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it’s Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution …

Also posted in Africa, evangelism, mercy, missions | | 11 Comments

Learning to Be the Moral Minority from a Moral Minority

In recent weeks the evangelical world has found itself reeling from cultural setbacks it once took for granted. The re-election of President Obama, state passage of “gay marriage” initiatives, the uninviting of Louie Gigglio to the Inauguration, and even last night’s Super Bowl have signaled to some that Christians and Christianity have lost their welcome place in the public square. For the first time, some evangelical conservatives feel like an oppressed minority in the country.

As I’ve watched the chatter mixed with laments and jeremiads, I couldn’t help but think of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority,” founded in the late 70’s and defunct by the late 80’s. For nearly a decade, the Moral Majority exercised its political voice largely in southern states.

It seems to me that the very notion of a “moral majority” rested on two assumptions that some evangelicals no longer find tenable. First, it assumed the basic morality of most of the country. It assumed basic “Judeo-Christian principles” shaped and framed the moral reasoning of the average citizen, making your “average Joe” basically friendly to the aims and concerns of conservative Christians. Second, it assumed privilege. The very notion of “majority” suggests strength in numbers, a perch from which to rule for no other reason than outnumbering one’s opponents. The last couple months have upturned both of those long-standing assumptions and some evangelicals find themselves at a loss for how to handle it, claiming to be “persecuted,” “rejected,” and “shut out” from the public square. Many who …

Also posted in Christian living, Christianity and politics, culture, persecution, perseverance | | 37 Comments

Christian Tribalism in the Era of Democratized Publishing

Dare anyone deny that Christians are among the most tribal of peoples in the world?  I’m not thinking of the way Christians may legitimately distinguish the church from the world, the saved from the lost, or the way lines must necessarily be drawn between orthodox and heretical views, or even about denominations (as Trueman likes to point out: “Denominations mean that somebody somewhere still believes something”).  Rather, I’m thinking about the way Christians divide and gather, further divide and gather into value-based societies distinct from and uncooperative with one another.  Is it me, or is the problem pandemic?

On one level, the problem exists simply at the label of labeling.  We have and need ways of describing ourselves, our commitments, and our ambitions.  The natural tendency is to create a moniker, a one-word or one-phrase representative of deeper meanings.  I don’t know that this is avoidable or good even if it were avoidable.  We’ve been naming things since Adam, and good names carry meaning, history, and identity.  That’s why any call for doing away with labels won’t work.  Sometimes we hear things like, “Can’t we just call ourselves ‘Christians’?”  But what is “Christian” but a label?  And what must “Christian” mean in order to escape a reductionism that leads to rank individualism?  We need labels–good labels– that communicate who we are.  So, we’ll never escape naming ourselves and the quest for a one-size-fits-all tag seems quixotic.

But there’s something deeper than naming that feeds the tribalism.  Beneath it all run three tributaries that dump into the lake of …

Also posted in sanctification, unity | | 19 Comments

An Apologetic Duel in Poetry

Desiring God linked to these dueling videos from a young Muslim and a young Christian poet.  Apparently, the Muslim’s video launched first, and the Christian responded with the support of Alpha & Omega Ministries.  One thing should be abundantly clear from the videos: Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God.  That should have been obvious, but sometimes people need it stated.  It’s creatively stated here:

Also posted in apologetics, Islam, poetry, video | | 5 Comments

Talking About Jesus, Christians, and Christianity

A couple days ago I linked to the Matthew Parris article warning Christians not to be too chummy with the defenses of Christianity offered by non-Christian critics.  It was a thoughtful piece and since reading it I’ve come across a couple related things that help you to see his point.

First, there’s this video and article at CNN from atheist Alain de Botton advocating what he calls “Atheism 2.0.”  de Botton has grown tired of the old strident atheism that chucks out everything having to do with religion.  He says that atheism 2.0 should, of course, reject the silly notion of there being a God, but culture needs all the things that religion provides that makes us feel good–Christmas carols and preaching, for example.  Let’s keep the feel-good trappings and utilize the effect things like preaching for an atheist cause, but waive our hands at any serious notion of God existing. De Botton writes:

God may be dead, but the urgent issues which impelled us to make him up still stir and demand resolutions which do not go away when we have been nudged to perceive some scientific inaccuracies in the tale of the seven loaves and fishes.

The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many sides of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed. Once we cease to feel that we must either prostrate ourselves before them or denigrate them, we are free to discover religions as a repository of occasionally …

Also posted in persecution | | 7 Comments

Fandom: The People and Realm of Evangelical Celebrity

It seems like forever since we started this series on celebrity culture in Evangelical and Reformed circles.  I’ve enjoyed a rather long blog hiatus, for which I’m thankful.  And tonight I feel like writing that final post I promised some time ago.

For several posts, we attempted to think about the issue of “celebrity pastors.”  Over the last several years, the topic appeared repeatedly in the blogosphere and in on-line periodicals.  ”Celebrity pastors” are universally decried (well, except for Jonathan Leeman’s appreciation) but rarely defined or identified.  Since the term and its cousin, “Rock star pastor,” communicates negative judgment, and since the tag rarely falls on particular pastors but drapes like a blanket over much of the conference-going, book-buying Evangelical and Reformed world, it seemed at least some preliminary investigation and framing were required.

In this series, I’ve offered one take, depending on the secular work of Daniel J. Boorstin and Neal Gabler.  Thus far, we’ve covered the following ground:

In all of this, I’ve tried to dust off some corroded social science approaches to the issue.  And at the heart, I’ve tried to show that celebrity culture involves three players, each with their respective role: the well-known person who may or may not be guilty of …

Also posted in culture, Evangelicals, Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Tell All Your Friends Who Do Not Yet Believe…

That there is a great website at which they can explore the Christian faith without pressure and with a lot of helpful, interactive answers. It’s the new Christianity Explored website.

The site features a short introductory video, “What is Christianity?”, “Tough Questions,” and “Real Life Stories.” How about inviting a friend who does not yet believe to “tour” the information on the site and then meet up with you for lunch/dinner/coffee to tell you what you think? Then invite them to take a slower, deeper look by studying the Gospel of Mark with you.

I appreciate the high-quality work put into this project. The videos are crisp. The answers to questions are generally thorough and engaging without being clunky and abstract. If folks want to “go deeper,” they can click on a drop-down link that gives more information. They’ve brought in the likes of Vaughn Roberts, Kevin DeYoung and others to contribute.

I think you’ll find this a very helpful aid in personal evangelism.  If you haven’t seen the CE materials, I’d recommend getting a copy.

Also posted in evangelism | | 1 Comment

A Bloody Religion

1And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering. 4He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the LORD. 5And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the LORD in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall remove from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 9 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long …

Also posted in Christian living | | 5 Comments

Do You Know Your Faith Better than an Agnostic?

HT: Challies

A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.

Find the full article here.

What is the state of the church if even “the most basic tenets of the faith” cannot be explained correctly by its members?  It’s bad.  All of God’s men must return to a faithful teaching of the truth in all of its biblical, systematic, and historical categories.

This result points to a painfully obvious fact: The church at large simply isn’t producing the kind of Christian capable of sustained, deep, rigorous, joyful, applied, and life-changing meditation, thought, and worship needed in this ever-changing world.  We need more thinking and feeling Christians who believe God.

Open forum: If you’re in a church where your knowledge of the faith if growing, give a positive shout out to your pastor and congregation in the comments section.

Also posted in Christian living, Discipleship | | 23 Comments