Good News for Those Who are Already Okay?
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  • February 9, 2014

American Christians like to hide our need.  We like to act as though we have things together.  

But when we do this, we undermine the very gospel that we want to proclaim.

Read more…

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  • May 2, 2013

You should read Paul Miller’s article, “I’m Still Here: Back online after a year without the internet.” I have a couple of thoughts and I’m interested in yours.

  1. The internet doesn’t corrupt, but it creates a space for the expression of existing corruption.  This shouldn’t surprise any Christian (see Mk 7:14-23), but it’s helpful to remember that the internet does not defile.  Our response to the internet defiles.
  2. The internet distracts us from who we are.  Miller had the idea that without the internet, he would be a better person–that the internet was “corrupting his soul.”  But, all it did was allow for existing corruption to play out in a different environment.  The web plays a growing role in blinding people to the evil in their hearts, and it anesthetizes them by convincing them that their behavior is shaped by the internet (“If only I could disconnect, I would be a better person!”).  However, while the expression of their desires might take different shapes in different environments, but their desires come from within, not from without.
  3. The internet reveals who we are.  Ironic, I know, given no. 2.  While I believe the internet distracts us from who we are, I think it also reveals our great evil.  Daily we are confronted with the reality of great human evil–child abuse, sexual assault, murder, racially-motivated hatred, disgusting practices and desires, and on and on.
  4. Christians need to let the gospel shape our response to the internet, and let the internet serve our proclamation of the gospel.  We must constantly, daily, return our minds to the gospel reality–we are great sinners in need of a great savior–and the internet did not make us this way.  At the same time, the internet is another irrefutable piece of evidence against those who say that humans are basically good.  Who can surf for a day without agreeing that humanity is broken and wicked?
  5. We can use the internet to sustain Christian community. As missionaries and members of the body of Christ, we find e-mail, Skype, and social media to all be significant aids to maintaining healthy relationships with a worldwide community of fellow believers and family members.
  6. We can use the internet to avoid true community.  At the same time, the internet gives us an extra mask.  We can hide behind our e-mails and status updates, feigning vulnerability and hiding from one another.  Face-to-face, hand-in-hand discipleship requires time and presence.
  7. We can let the internet can distract from more substantial work–work which requires extended thought and extended time for creative output.  Perhaps this alone is sufficient cause to disconnect for extended periods of time.
  8. Christians need to personally evaluate how to apply the Sabbath principle to our connectivity.  Shutting off our phones, email, social media, Netflix, television, etc., at set weekly times would likely be a valuable and edifying practice.  Maybe you all do this, but I don’t and I should.  (On this, maybe read “What Happens When You Really Disconnect” by Tony Schwartz.)

I’ll stop there, but I’m very interested in your thoughts.

Internetfully yours,
Dan J.

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  • March 3, 2013

Chapel of the RockAll too often, we sacrifice truth for experience, and this is a growing, dangerous trend in the American church.  Out of the desire to avoid doctrinal arguments, we rely only on our own life-story to explain Scripture.

Rather than proclaim Christ incarnated, crucified, risen, and seated (1 Cor 15:1-11), we talk about how the church has improved our lives, broken our “bad habits,” or made us better people. These things are true, but they are not the center of the Gospel. In fact, other groups often do these things as well or better than many churches (see AA, Mormonism, counseling, Neighborhood Clubs, Peace Corps, etc).

Such an attitude towards evangelism and discipleship reduces Christianity to another form of self-fulfillment. It acts as though the Gospel is all about us.  I think that such an evangelistic approach springs out of an over-acceptance of the claims of postmodernism.  While postmodernism is correct in emphasizing our subjective experience of objective truths, it often over-reaches–valuing such experience (which is limited in scope and context) over objective reality (which is not limited).

So, churches, seeking to avoid division over doctrine, begin to emphasize experience first.  This feels good–we’re naturally bent towards narcissism–and it pushes us further away from doctrine and further into ourselves.  Eventually, we have divorced ourselves from the Word, from clear truth, and ultimately from the hope that the Gospel gives to those who know the depth of their sin.  For such people, hope is not found inside or in our experience.  For such people, hope is found in the truth of Scripture.  But if the church has abandoned such truth in favor of experience, then the church has nothing to offer hopeless sinners.

The linked article is a helpful discussion of this problem:

So Happy that Christ is Always True,
Dan J.

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  • February 16, 2013

In Genesis 3, the serpent did a couple of things: (1) He turned the focus of Adam and Eve inward, away from God and his goodness; (2) he de-emphasized the need to esteem the gracious and life-giving words of God.

Adam & Eve also did a couple of things: Read more…

Does God Have Short Arms?
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  • March 18, 2010

I’m teaching on Isaiah 59:1-15 this Sunday as the second part of a four part series on the Gospel.  Last week, we looked at Genesis 1:26-31 to discuss what it was that God created us for–I argued that he created us to glorify Him as His image bearers, in harmonious relationships to creation, to each other, and to Him.  This week, we’re looking at what the problem is–why we aren’t enjoying harmony with each other and intimacy with God.  I think Isaiah 59:1-2 makes it pretty clear that it’s not God’s fault.

Read more…