Category Archive: Featured Blog

  1. A Faith Grounded In History

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    July 8, 2017 – John Stonestreet   In his new book, “The American Spirit,” David McCullough observes, “We are raising a generation of young Americans who are by and large historically illiterate.”  And in her Wall Street Journal review of the book, Peggy Noonan recounts McCullough’s description of “a bright Missouri college student who thanked him for coming to the campus, because, she said, ‘until now I never understood that the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.’”

    While it’s tempting to laugh at the state of history education, and it is really abysmal among most Americans, we should first look in the mirror. And by we, I mean Christians, those of us who follow a historical figure, who actually lived in history, who was born as part of the story of a nation that played a central role in human history, and who lived and died and rose again, in obedience to God the Father who, from all indications in Scripture, is a God concerned with time and place.

    In particular, we evangelicals need to take history more seriously. As Mark Noll wrote in his book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” “American evangelicals display many virtues and do many things well,” he writes, “but built-in barriers to careful and constructive thinking remain substantial.”

    Now what barriers is he talking about? Some are obvious when we look carefully at our own history. As many, including Noll, have described, evangelicalism began as a tiny reform movement away from larger institutions such as the state-supported Catholic and Anglican churches. Early evangelical leaders stressed things like individual conversion, small groups, and the evangelizing of young people. And Evangelicalism innovated means to grow in faith that were outside of established, traditional channels.

    “In general throughout the 18th and on to the 19th century,” Noll explained in an interview with Christian History, “the whole of the English-speaking world [was] moving away from traditional religion defined by respect for authority, respect for the past, respect for the tradition, and moving toward a more individualistic, pragmatic, and practical practice of Christianity.”

    What all this means is that the greatest strength of evangelicalism—the emphasis on the personal aspect of faith—may also have become a weakness. In our personal zeal for Jesus, Noll suggests that we’ve neglected deeper, more historically rooted education in the Christian faith and the development of a public theology that can speak broadly to the culture. Or as one of my history teaching friends often likes to say, some of us suffer from evangelical Alzheimer’s.

    All of this suggests that we do, in fact, have much to learn from our Christian forebears. A robust study of church history will not only ground us in the rich story of our faith, it will allow us to learn from those who have gone before. After all, we didn’t invent the gospel or the church. And the Bible is not a collection of moral maxims or principles isolated from history. No, it contains the overarching story of God’s interaction with humanity. And God’s concern with time and place means He has historically situated His people, while breaking into history in such a way as to bring about its conclusion and consummation.

    And though we find in Scripture saints and heroes, we shouldn’t stop at the end of the New Testament. Two-thousand years of church history has given us believers like Polycarp, Augustine, Francis, Teresa, Carey, Wilberforce, Chesterton, Lewis, Bonhoeffer, Ten Boom, and my friend and hero, Chuck Colson, all of whom modeled the Christian life and left records of their journey.

  2. The Continuing Triumph Of Faith

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    July 5, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   The World Is Becoming More Religious

    Ever hear the old saw that religious people are on the wrong side of history? It isn’t true. Turns out, we’re on the right side of the future as well.

    A year ago, National Geographic told readers that “religion is rapidly becoming less important than it’s ever been, even to people who live in countries where faith has affected everything from rulers to borders to architecture.”

    But as Rodney Stark documented in his recent book, “The Triumph of Faith,” that statement is wrong. In fact, it’s the opposite of the truth. According to Stark, “The world is not merely as religious as it used to be. In important ways, it is much more intensely religious than ever before . . .”

    This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. For years, Chuck Colson, John Stonestreet, and I have been telling you about the explosive growth of Christianity around the world, especially in what is called the “global south.”

    We’ve told you about what’s happening in places like sub-Saharan Africa, and even China, which, by some estimates may have more Christians than any other country by the middle of this century.

    But the story that Stark tells goes beyond these two examples. The growth of Christianity in Latin America is, in many respects, just as amazing as its growth in Africa.

    That might sound strange, since Latin America has been ostensibly Christian since the sixteenth century. But until the mid-20th century, it was largely a nominal kind of Christianity. As recently as the 1950s, only between 10 and 20 percent of Latin Americans were “active in their faith.”

    The arrival of Protestant missionaries, especially Pentecostals, changed this. Not only did they succeed in turning nominal Christians into practicing ones, they also forced the Catholic Church to, as they say in sports, “up its game.” This, in large measure, took the form of the Charismatic renewal.

    Today, Charismatic Catholic rallies fill the same stadiums as Pentecostal ones. And the result is that in large parts of Latin America, sixty percent or more of the people attend church on at least a weekly basis.

    Another largely untold story is what’s happening in India. The son of a colleague recently traveled to India. One Tuesday, he went to Mass. When he arrived, he was stunned to see that the church was full—so full that the worshippers poured out onto the street. On a Tuesday.

    Late last year, Christianity Today ran a story on “Incredible Indian Christianity.” Since 1980, the number of pastors sent out by the Delhi Bible Institute has grown from 100 per year to nearly 7,600 in 2015. As CT tells us, part of India’s so-called “tribal belt,” which runs across central and northeast India, is becoming India’s “Bible belt.”

    But even in Europe and the United States, the rise of secularism has been overstated, if by “secularism,” you mean “denying the supernatural.” For example, sociologists consider Iceland to be one of the most secular nations on Earth. Yet, here’s a list of things that a significant percentage of Icelanders believe in: reincarnation, elves, gnomes, fairies, fortune tellers, and Spiritualism. You find similar results across so-called “secular” Europe.

    Here in the U.S., the same period that witnessed the rise in the religiously unaffiliated did not witness a decline in church attendance or an increase in atheists. The increase in the so-called “nones” was a function of people who rarely, if ever, attended church finally admitting as much.

    Those who claim that people of faith were “on the wrong side of history” have it exactly backwards. Religion, especially Christianity, is not in decline. It’s going from strength-to-strength. You just need to know where to look, or, in this case, what to read.

    Get a balanced perspective on religion in the world. Take a break from reading the National Geographic and pick up Rodney Stark’s book “The Triumph of Faith.”

  3. A Practical Guide To Culture

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    June 30, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  Helping The Next Generation Navigate Today’s World

    John Stonestreet and I talk about culture all the time. And we talk about it, we hope, in a way that’s challenging but still easy to understand. Because in these days of cultural upheaval, Christians need to be able to think clearly about what’s happening in the world, how it influences us, and how we are to live in it.

    I know Chuck Colson sought to bring that clarity to believers, and it is something John and I try to do every day on BreakPoint.

    And now, John is taking that effort to another level with his new book, “A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World.”

    John, along with his co-author, Brett Kunkle, have worked with thousands of students and their parents across the country. Parents, of all people, understand the rapid pace of change and moral decline in the culture: headlines about schools secretly giving children hormones to change genders without parental consent, same-sex “marriage,” the ubiquity of pornography, drug addiction, social media, and on and on.

    So John and Brett wrote “A Practical Guide to Culture” to help students in their life survive and even flourish in this cultural moment.

    Now what makes “A Practical Guide to Culture” so valuable is that even beyond the obvious challenges facing young people today, which they talk about with a rare practical clarity, this book also identifies the unseen undercurrents in the culture that parents often miss—messages about wisdom and virtue, extended adolescence, consumerism, and identity in the midst of the ongoing sexual revolution.

    This book is ideal for anyone who cares about and is willing to invest in the next generation. And “A Practical Guide to Culture” lives up to its billing. It really is practical. How do we talk to kids about LGBT issues? How can we steer them away from substance abuse and other addictions? And how do we ground them in the biblical story—the story of God’s grand work of redemption in Christ?

    “We didn’t want to stay in the clouds,” John said. The book is worldview and theory applied—something you can pick up and start helping your kids right away.

    That’s why each chapter contains both specific strategies and discussion questions. And in part 3 of the book, where John and Brett deal with specific challenges young people face—technology, pornography, consumerism, etc.—each chapter also contains sections on exposing cultural lies, recapturing the wonder of God’s story, action steps, and what John and Brett call “hopecasting,” pointing us to the truth that “God’s story continues to play out all around us.”

    I loved what Christian mom and blogger Alisa Childers had to say about it: “Every once in a while, a book comes along that makes me want to buy a whole case and give a copy to everyone I meet. “A Practical Guide to Culture” is that book . . .  John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle pull no punches and shy away from no topics in their effort to help young people walk through a secular culture that has become empty of meaning.”

    Look, it’s tough being a Christian in these rough cultural waters. I know. That’s why I’m so glad John and Brett have produced this wonderful guide to help us.

  4. Unlike Their Central And Eastern European Neighbors, Most Czechs Don’t Believe in God

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    June 29, 2017 – The vast majority of adults in Central and Eastern Europe identify with a religious group and believe in God, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 18 countries in the region. But those in one country are an exception to this pattern: the Czech Republic, where a majority of the population is religiously unaffiliated and does not believe in God. About seven-in-ten Czechs (72%) do not identify with a religious group, while on a separate question, two-thirds (66%) say they do not believe in God.

    About seven-in-ten Czechs (72%) do not identify with a religious group, including 46% who describe their religion as “nothing in particular” and an additional 25% who say “atheist” describes their religious identity. When it comes to religious belief — as opposed to religious identity — 66% of Czechs say they do not believe in God, compared with just 29% who do. (While a lack of affiliation and a lack of belief may seem to go hand in hand, that is not always the case. In the U.S., for example, a majority of religiously unaffiliated adults — 61% — say they believe in God.)

    Even in the former Eastern Bloc that was dominated by the officially atheist Soviet Union throughout much of the 20th century, the Czech Republic is a major outlier by both of these measures.

    Belief in God is widespread across the region, with a median of 86% across the 18 countries surveyed expressing this belief, including 86% in neighboring Poland and 59% in Hungary. And when it comes to religious identity, the only surveyed country besides the Czech Republic where more than a quarter of people are unaffiliated is Estonia (45%). Ten countries in the region have Orthodox Christian majorities of roughly seven-in-ten adults or more, while four more are majority Catholic.

    The Czech Republic has long had a large unaffiliated population, and scholars have cited centuries’ worth of historical reasons for this. In fact, 64% of Czech adults in the Center’s recent survey say they were raised without a religious affiliation. And another Pew Research Center report projects that the country will remain largely unaffiliated for the foreseeable future, as reflected in the survey’s finding that 79% of Czech parents are raising their children unaffiliated.

    In addition, 29% of Czech adults who were raised in a religious group (largely Catholicism) are now unaffiliated, a far higher rate of disaffiliation than the regional median of 3%.

    As might be expected with so many religiously unaffiliated adults, the Czech public tends to hold less-conservative social views and to participate in fewer religious activities compared with its neighbors. For example, Czechs have among the highest levels of support for legal abortion (84%) and same-sex marriage (65%) in the region. Similarly, they are the most likely to say they never attend religious services (55%) or pray (68%).

    A similar pattern emerges when it comes to a variety of religious concepts, such as miracles, the existence of the soul, or fate. For most religious beliefs mentioned in the survey, the Czech Republic has among the lowest levels of belief in the region, and typically falls far below the regional median. For example, 19% of Czechs believe in hell, compared with a regional median of 54% – which includes roughly six-in-ten adults in Poland (62%) and Croatia (60%).

    But that does not mean that the country is entirely devoid of religious or supernatural beliefs. Despite relatively low levels of belief in each concept, a majority of the Czech public (65%) believes in at least one of the nine concepts included in the survey (belief in God plus the eight items in the accompanying chart). Even among religiously unaffiliated Czechs, 52% believe in at least one of the concepts, including about a third (32%) who believe in fate (i.e., that the course of one’s life is largely or wholly preordained). And Czechs overall are much more likely to believe in the existence of the soul and fate than they are to believe in God.

    Another sign of the Czech Republic’s complex relationship with religion is seen in attitudes toward religious institutions. Despite not affiliating with such institutions in high numbers, Czechs’ views of such institutions are not much more negative than those seen in the rest of the region.

    For example, while Czechs are less likely than Central and Eastern Europeans overall to say religious institutions strengthen both social bonds and morality in society, 51% of Czechs agree that “religious institutions play an important role in helping the poor and needy” – almost identical to the regional median of 50%.

    The survey also asked about a few potential negative traits of religious institutions, and Czechs are more likely than others to say religious institutions focus too much on rules. But the shares of Czech adults who say religious institutions are too focused on money and power (55%) or too involved with politics (42%) are similar to the regional medians (51% and 39%, respectively).

  5. Saved By An Atheist – Do Humans Matter Or Not?

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    June 9, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  Find out how a famous atheist started a secular humanist on the road to faith in Jesus Christ.

    Sarah Irving-Stonebraker was on the fast track to academic stardom. A native of Australia, Sarah had won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake her Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge.

    Sarah’s secular humanist perspective fit right in at King’s, and her views of Christians—that they were anti-intellectual and self-righteous—seemingly were confirmed.

    Yet, as she details in an eye-opening testimony from the Veritas Forum, a strange thing happened to Sarah inside her secular bubble. Somehow, the truth got in. After Cambridge, Sarah said she attended some lectures at Oxford by the atheist public intellectual and Princeton ethics professor Peter Singer.

    Singer, as you probably know, has stirred worldwide controversy by advancing the notion that some forms of animal life have more worth than some human life. Singer doesn’t believe in God, and therefore he sees no basis for any intrinsic human dignity.

    During the Oxford lectures, Singer asserted that nature provides no grounds for human equality, pointing to children who have lost their ability to reason through disability or illness. Sarah Irving-Stonebraker’s comfortable secularism was suddenly rocked.

    “I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo,” Sarah writes. “I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.”

    A few months later, at a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion, Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials and a Christian, asked Sarah a perfectly reasonable question: Do you believe in God? Again, Sarah was flummoxed, fumbling something about agnosticism. Briggs replied, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?”

    “That question,” she now says, “made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.”

    Fast forward to Florida, where Sarah was conducting research. She began attending church as a seeker: And she was overwhelmed by Christians living out their faith:  “feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.”

    And when she started reading the likes of Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, she saw the intellectual depth and profundity of their Christian faith. Then this: “A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night,” she wrote, “I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.”

    Sarah’s journey from doubt to faith reminds me a little of another formerly atheist denizen of Cambridge and Oxford—C.S. Lewis. Lewis saw the bleak implications of his worldview, stating, “Nearly all I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real, I thought grim and meaningless.” And just like Sarah, Lewis had good, well-informed Christian friends and colleagues such as J.R.R. Tolkien to point a disillusioned atheist gently to Christ.

    As Chuck Colson would say, while there are many good ways to share the good news with people, even scholars, one is to help them follow their worldview assumptions to their logical conclusion. The fact is, the grim, atheistic worldview simply can’t carry the weight of human significance on its bony shoulders.

    Created in the awesome image of God, men and women know that life has a meaning beyond “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” People everywhere see the True, the Beautiful, and the Good and long to know their source. And, thank God, He has revealed Himself!

  6. Nearly 50% Are Of No Religion, But Has UK Hit ‘Peak Secular?’

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    May 17, 2017 – Study shows overall decline in faith….  The secularisation of Britain has been thrown into sharp focus by new research showing that for every person brought up in a non-religious household who becomes a churchgoer, 26 people raised as Christians now identify as non-believers.

    The study also shows that inner London is the most religious area of the country, mainly because of its large Muslim and migrant communities. The least religious areas are the south-east of England, Scotland and Wales. People identifying as non-religious are typically young, white and male – and increasingly working class.

    Analysis of data from the annual British Social Attitudes survey and the biennial European Social Survey was carried out by Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. “The rise of the non-religious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so,” he says in the introduction to his report, The ‘No Religion’ Population of Britain.

    It paints a picture of a Britain in which Christianity has seen a dramatic decline – although figures suggest a recent bottoming out in recent years. The avowedly non-religious – sometimes known as “nones” – now make up 48.6% of the British population. Anglicans account for 17.1%, Catholics 8.7%, other Christian denominations 17.2% and non-Christian religions 8.4%.

    Between 1983 and 2015, the proportion of Britons who identify as Christian fell from 55% to 43%, while members of non-Christian religions – principally Muslims and Hindus – quadrupled.

    Bullivant identifies a marked growth in “nonverts” – a person who was brought up to practise a religion, but who now identifies as having no religion. More than six in 10 “nones” were brought up as Christians, mainly Anglican or Catholic.

    Non-Christian religions have significantly higher retention levels; overall, only 2% of “nones” were raised in religious homes other than Christian. The “nonversion” rate was 14% for Jews, 10% for Muslims and Sikhs and 6% for Hindus. The picture is very different for people brought up as non-religious – 92% continue to identify as “nones” as adults. Conversely, the proportions of the non-religious who convert to a faith are small: 3% of “cradle nones” now identify as Anglicans, less than 0.5% convert to Catholicism, 2% join other Christian denominations and 2% convert to non-Christian faiths.

    “Looking at the long-term pattern, the non-religious share of the population has shown strong growth over our whole period,” says the report. “The year 2009 was the first in which nones outnumbered all Christians put together. With the single exception of 2011, this pattern has held. In two years, 2009 and 2013, nones formed a majority of the adult British population.”

    But, Bullivant told the Observer that the “growth of no religion may have stalled”. After consistent decline, in the past few years the proportion of nones appears to have stabilised. “Younger people tend to be more non-religious, so you’d expect it to keep going – but it hasn’t. The steady growth of non-Christian religions is a contributing factor, but I wonder if everyone who is going to give up their Anglican affiliation has done so by now? We’ve seen a vast shedding of nominal Christianity, and perhaps it’s now down to its hardcore.”

    Catholics, he said, had stayed “pretty steady”, thanks largely to immigration from countries with strong Catholic traditions. Immigration has also contributed to regional variations in faith affiliation, with a religious “micro-climate” in inner London. Bullivant said “Christian, no denomination” was the biggest group in inner London at 14%, followed by Muslims at 13%, Catholics at 12%, Hindus at 8% and Church of England at 7.8%.

    The south-east of England has the highest non-religious population, at 58%, followed by Wales at 56% and Scotland at 55%. More men than women identify as non-religious, with a 55:45 gender split. Younger people are also more likely to reject organised religion, and nones are “significantly whiter than the British average”, says the report.

    Bullivant identifies a generational shift in terms of education and religious affiliation. Among older nones, a high proportion had degree-level education. But the nones’ above-average levels of higher education fade further down the age groups. Thus the non-religious have the lowest levels of degree-level education among 25- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds.

    He said: “It used to be middle-class people ​who had gone to university who were more likely to step out of their parents’ religiosity. As having no religion has become the norm, vast swathes of working-class people are now also identifying as nones.”

    Although religious affiliation is declining in western Europe and north America, there is significant growth in other parts of the world. Islam is expected to become the world’s largest religion by 2075, and Christianity is booming in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and China.

  7. 34th Annual Metro Prayer Breakfast, Hosted by CBMC Oklahoma City

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    On April 19, Jim Firnstahl had the privilege of attending this Annual Prayer Breakfast. The guest speaker for the event was Tim Philpot, who served as president of CBMC International from 1996-2003. After he retired from CBMC International Tim began his service as a  judge of the Fayette Circuit Family Court in Kentucky in 2004. The prayer breakfast was attended by over 1,100 business, professional and government leaders in Oklahoma. Individuals who led in prayer included US Senator James Lankford and Joel Harder with the state Capitol Commission. Harold Armstrong, CBMC Area Director, Dru Baker, CBMC Program Administrator and an army of volunteers stage this wonderful event every year. We pray our Lord continues to bless this influential event for the gospel and CBMC. Read the full story here:  MPB 2017 The Oklahoman – April 20 2017

    Jim Firnstahl, Tim Philpot and Harold Armstrong

    Hobby Lobby Table

  8. Opening Closed Minds The Chick-fil-A Way: Friendship, Not Confrontation

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    May 6, 2017 – Eric Metaxas  Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”!

    Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court.

    Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.”

    So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups.

    But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open.

    “Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’”

    There was no marginalizing here, no destruction of safe spaces, even as Dan Cathy made no apologies for his beliefs, while conveying respect and a peaceable witness to Windmeyer. I wonder whether those Duquesne students might gain a new perspective about Chick-fil-A—and about Christians—upon reading that article. Even better, what might happen if Christians like Dan humbly came alongside them and became, not a debating partner, but a friend?

    Let’s face it, folks, convincing people who’ve fallen for the new sexual propaganda that we’re not out to scare or marginalize them won’t be easy. Through long years of indoctrination in academia and popular culture, their minds have been closed to a Christian worldview. Sadly, they really do think we have horns and tails.  But we don’t, and we’ll need to more consistently emulate the patient, loving approach of Dan Cathy if we’re ever going to change their minds.

  9. A New Rain Of Faith In Europe: Hope For Christianity On The Continent

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    May 4, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   Has the demise of Christianity in Europe been greatly exaggerated? There are some encouraging signs of life.

    It’s become customary to refer to Europe as “post-Christian.” But this is an overstatement—and it obscures large differences in religious practices across the continent: For instance, Poles are far more likely to attend church on a weekly basis than Scandinavians—and even more likely than Americans. Still, it’s difficult to dispute the idea that Christianity’s influence in Europe, on both a personal and societal level, is in decline.

    But a pair of recent stories suggests that this may be changing.

    The first story was a column in the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. The headline read “Our politicians are more devout than ever—so it’s time we started taking their faith seriously.”

    In it, Nick Spencer, whose just-released book is entitled “The Mighty and the Almighty: How political leaders do God,” notes that rather than European politics becoming a “God-free zone,” one of the “most striking trends of the last generation or so is how many Christian politicians have risen to the top of the political tree.”

    Whereas in the thirty-five years following the end of World War II, only one Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, could be described as “devout,” since then, at least three of his successors—Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and now Theresa May—could be described that way.

    And it’s not only Britain. As Christianity Today recently told readers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christianity is “deep,” “genuine,” and “important” to her life.

    Even in France, the country that invented and institutionalized modern secularism, what the French call “laïcité,” Catholicism has become a kind of “X Factor” in the upcoming presidential elections.

    And that brings me to the second story. In the most recent issue of the Jesuit magazine, America, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry told readers that a few years back, he noticed that “Whenever I was less than five minutes early for Mass, I had to go to the overflow room.” His church “was filled to the gills every Sunday, with young families and children most of the time.”

    He decided to see how widespread this phenomenon was, so he visited parishes all over Paris and found the same thing: Sunday high Mass is packed in most parishes in Paris. The same is true in France’s second largest city, Lyon. It’s even true, albeit to a somewhat lesser extent, in his family’s home village.

    What was once a revival that “you could fleetingly smell in the air,” has become more tangible, nowhere more so than in the movement called La Manif Pour Tous, “protest for all.” La Manif got 200,000 people in Paris alone to march in protest against legalizing same-sex marriage.

    This in turn spawned other Christian movements in a country that supposedly had moved beyond that sort of thing. What these movements share is an opposition to liberalism, which in the French context means “a drive for ever-greater individual liberty.” As Gobry writes, “Liberalism, in this view, is responsible for sexual depravity and the culture of death,” and “leads both to abortions and to quasi-slaves in third world factories making disposable consumer items of questionable worth.”

    While French Christianity still has a ways to go, what Gobry describes brings to mind the “cloud as small as a man’s hand . . . rising from the sea” Elijah’s servant saw in 1 Kings 18. Secularism has left Europeans “in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Let us pray that God sends much-needed rain to both sides of the Atlantic.

  10. Know The Truth, Know The Culture

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    April 27, 2017 – John Stonestreet   Acquiring the Tools of a Christian Worldview    You’re a Christian. You sense God has more for you. You want to go deeper. You want to make a difference.

    I meet folks all the time who sense that things have changed. What Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson once called “a post-Christian” culture has become a “post-Christian-and-darn-proud-of-it” culture. Living out your faith is, well, difficult these days. And it’s frustrating.

    Yet here we are. We, like every other generation of Christ followers, are still called to share our faith in this cultural moment. We’re still called to live our faith out in our communities, places of work, neighborhoods, etc. But how do we do this?

    The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means.

    While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know whenand how to use it in public discourse.

    Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them.  Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”

    When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”

    The point is that oftentimes we need to understand things that aren’t covered in the Bible. And we need to understand things that help us apply biblical teaching to all of life.

    A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible.  Here is what Chambers said:

    “My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight…The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”

    And when it comes to making a biblical case on any hot topic—taxes, the deficit, homosexuality, whatever—we need to understand the issue and how to make that case in a way that is accessible to believers and non-believers alike.

    The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening.  So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been known as natural law.

    This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts.  He thoroughly engaged their culture.  And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.

    This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.