This quote from Mark Dever, given at a recent pastors conference on the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian:
The difference between a Christian and non-Christian: When a non-Christian is convicted of sin, he sides with his sin. When a Christian is convicted of sin, he sides with God, against himself.”
Do you agree? Is this a good definition?
Please take a moment to leave a comment…
More troubles for Sovereign Grace ministries folk. This hit the Washington Post today:
A pastor known for promoting corporal punishment has been accused of physically abusing a woman for 25 years, beginning during her childhood.
The Rev. Larry Tomczak, an associate pastor at Bethel World Outreach Church near Brentwood, Tenn., was named in a Maryland lawsuit that was filed against leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries, a denomination Tomczak helped found in the 1980s and later left.
The suit was originally filed in October by three alleged victims of abuse and was amended Friday (Jan. 11) to add five others. All eight were given pseudonyms.
It alleges that Tomczak, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., and other church leaders covered up sexual abuse in the denomination and at a Christian school in Gaithersburg, Md., in the 1980s and 1990s.
Tomczak also is accused of repeatedly assaulting a woman (who is given the pseudonym Carla Coe) with plastic and wooden sticks. The alleged abuse began when she was a child and lasted more than two decades. When the woman was an adult, the lawsuit claims, Tomczak beat her bare backside.
The suit doesn’t say where those incidents occurred or how he met the woman.
Tomczak denies all of the allegations of physical abuse. He also said that as a parent, he was saddened to hear of the allegations. But he said he knew nothing about sexual abuse in the denomination.
“I had no involvement in any of this,” he said.
OK… so far, so bad. Maybe he didn’t have any involvement in any of this, as he said.
But then there’s this:
A book called “The Little Handbook on Loving Correction,” for sale on Tomczak’s website, advises parents to use a stick to spank their children. He stands by that advice today.
“That book has helped thousands of parents around the world,” he said.
Most people who read this story in the Washington Post will not agree that spanking a child with a stick constitutes any type of loving correction.
I don’t even believe that. (And I’m trying to stick up for the guy). No pun intended.
If, for example, some kids were… oh… I don’t know… spanked with sticks in the Christian school that Tomczak was over, then I would think (in today’s culture and today’s laws, there would be at least some guilt of sexual abuse.
Am I the only one who sees mixed signals here.
Why do Christians and our Christian leaders get into these messes? Don’t we see this stuff as troubling?
And how do we expect people to believe us when we’re not making any sense?
Please… let me know how wrong I am on this one.
Leave a comment…
Come on women… get with the program.
Pat Robertson gives advice from his 58 years of marriage. He knows what he’s talking about.
Somehow I think his co-host doesn’t agree.
Don’t you wish you owned your own Christian television network so you could say wacky things?
Joseph Wared, the director of Believe Out Loud has an op-ed piece in today’s Advocate.
I have no doubt that there are conservative Christian leaders who provide extraordinary ministry in the social justice arenas of their choosing. Reverend Giglio’s commendable work to combat human trafficking was the rationale for his selection. But our culture is shifting, and when it comes to LGBT equality, Americans expect more from our churches. The U.S. Episcopal Church, Metropolitan Community Churches, and the United Church of Christ are just a few of the denominations that are meeting this need.
Christians are consistently becoming more visible advocates for the full inclusion of our LGBT neighbors. Over the past few years I’ve had many conversations with friends and families, and I’ve seen folks move from antigay opinions to an unconditionally loving theology and everything in between.
Christianity does not have to be exclusive of LGBT equality, and when it is, people are leaving the church.
The Public Religion Research Institute found a significant increase in the number of college-age millennials who transitioned from being religiously affiliated in their childhood to religiously unaffiliated as young adults. A sizable majority view present-day Christianity as antigay and judgmental and believe that what makes America great is our openness to change and new ways of doing things.
As public opinion shifts, churches that do not fully affirm LGBT people will leave many in their flock behind. Scripture that is void of compassion is merely words, and our ability to have compassion for every human being is critical to our faith and in an increasingly diverse world.
If conservative Christians cannot stomach this evolution, they should not be surprised if progressive Christian traditions, like the U.S. Episcopal Church, gain more traction in society. For some, this is a necessary consequence to maintaining their biblical interpretation on homosexuality, but this shift should not be depicted as a decline of Christian beliefs in our society.
Thoughts? I definitely disagree… but agree that this is the way the culture is headed.
Not so sure that he’s right that people will leave churches in droves that take a Biblical stand on homosexuality.
What do YOU think?
Millennial Worshipers may be few and far between these days… but they’re passionate!
From a USA TODAY article:
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a Nashville-based Christian research agency, analyzed Protestant trends from 1972 to 2010 in data collected by the General Social Survey, a biannual survey from the National Opinion Research Center.
When he looked at young adults ages 23 to 35 — an age group that is often away from their parents’ influence and the cocoon of college — he found that during those 38 years:
– Mainline Protestant numbers dove from 24% to 6% and their worship attendance slid from more than 4% to less than 2%.
– Black Protestants held steady in number, less than 10%, and their worship attendance did, as well, at about 2%.
– Young evangelicals rose in number, up from about 21% to 25%. But only about 9% attended church at least once a week in 2010, up from about 7.5% in 1972.
(Length: 7 min 37 sec)
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What do YOU think? Leave a text or video comment here…
“God told me”.
Carey Nieuwhof talks about this ‘trump card’ today at his blog. And I couldn’t agree more.
He states the fact that when most people play their trump card, it really has nothing to do with any time of theological thing (like salvation, the cross, etc.) and almost always has to do with their own opinion… things like church programs, vision, direction, etc.
I like what he says:
Most of the time when leaders trot out “God told me”, they’re actually seeking to add divine weight to something that truthfully, is either their opinion or their (maybe sincere) attempt to apply what they’ve learned to the situation they’re facing.
So why not just call it that?
It’s our opinion.
It’s my conviction.
It’s our belief.
It’s my understanding.
It’s my decision.
I think people would just respect you more. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it?
And if church people wonder whether you actually heard from God when you claim to be speaking for him, I promise you unchurched people – especially the millennial generation – don’t find it credible.
So… have you used the ultimate Christian ‘trump card’ recently, or at any time in your ministry?
Why did you do it?
Did God really speak to you?
And did your proclamation come true? And did it help your leadership?
I’d love to hear your experience.
One school district in California is mandating Yoga classes for their 5,000 students as a kind of “21st Century P. E.”. This has a handful of Christian parents upset.
Is Yoga something, as Christians and church leaders, to take a stand on? Mark Driscoll has said that he thinks Yoga is ‘demonic’?
Watch and listen as Matt Steen and I tackle this subject, and start the conversation…
(Length: 5 min 58 sec)
What do YOU think? Leave a text or video comment here…
I really like the post that Michael Lukaszewski posted yesterday. He talks about how pastors always think that the people in their churches are just like them.
The reality is… they’re not.
Here are some of Michael’s examples:
They don’t know who John Piper or Steven Furtick are. They are confused when you quote them without context.
They aren’t familiar with their Bibles. When you say, “You know…like it says in First Timothy,” they absolutely don’t know.
They don’t work in a Christian environment. They aren’t surrounded by Christians who love worship music and some have bosses who are jerks.
They don’t go to conferences. It’s a way of life for many church leaders, but the most people don’t do it.
They don’t go to church every week. This might be the biggest of all. You’re there every week; they are not.
Here some additional ones that I’d add:
1. They don’t have a clue what you do all week, and they probably think you make too much money.
2. They expect totally different things from you than the way you are spending your day today.
3. For 90% of your attenders, the next time they think about you or your church is the next Sunday morning or Saturday night… and the thought is “Am I going to get up and go to church?”
4. They think you’ve got a pretty easy job. You think you have the hardest job in the world.
What would YOU add to the list?
Johnnie Moore is the author of Dirty God (#DirtyGod). He is a professor of religion and vice president at Liberty University. Keep track of him @johnnieM .
Johnnie thinks that Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture.
He thinks that despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God.
Matt Steen and I discuss the book and the concept in this short video.
From the CNN article:
Jesus was a lot more like you than you think, and a lot less clean cut than this iconic image of him that floats around culture.
You know the image. It’s the one where Jesus is walking like he’s floating in robes of pristine white followed by birds singing some holy little ditty. He’s polished, manicured, and clearly – God.
But despite the Christian belief that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, Jesus was a rather dirty God.
He was the “earthly” son of a carpenter, and life in the first-century was both more lurid and unfinished than our collective religious memory seems to recall.
To that end, I suggested recently to several astounded colleagues of mine that Jesus actually had to go to the bathroom, perhaps even on the side of the road between Capernaum and Jerusalem.
What tipped them over the edge was when I insinuated that Jesus, like almost every other human being living in the rural world in that time, might have even had dysentery on an occasion or two.
Someone said, “You mean that Jesus might have had severe diarrhea?”
“Yep,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I mean.”
It seems like an obvious statement if you believe that Jesus was “fully God” and “fully man” (as most evangelicals believe and call the Incarnation), but to some of us it seems in the least, inappropriate, and at the most, sacrilege, to imagine Jesus in this way. We might believe that God was also man, but we picture him with an ever-present halo over his head.
But, actually, the Jesus of the Bible was more human than most people are conditioned to think.
I call this the dirty side of Jesus. He was grittier, and a lot more like us than maybe we believe, and that’s one of the reasons why so many thousands of people followed him so quickly.
They could relate to him.
Ponder if you will the state of our world; and in particular the condition of America. Although one can easily argue the United States is still the greatest nation in the world and a country so many desire to come to— even risk their lives to enter into—there is no denying America’s social, moral and spiritual fabric continues to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. For many this is an alarming and discouraging trend.
Now consider the fact that 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, making the United States one of the highest per-capita Christian nations in the world. A nation full of Christians in a deteriorating society? If this indeed be the case then WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS? To solve this conundrum author Eric Shuster gives us a book that bears this question as its title with the promise of answers and unique journey for readers.
Where are the Christians? uses the classic format of who, what, where and how to explore Christianity and the dynamics that unite and divide the religion into the unrealized potential it suffers from today (thus the subtitle of the book—the Unrealized Potential of a Divided Religion). The book enlightens readers as to who the Christians are from a historical perspective; what a Christian is from a spiritual perspective; where the Christians are from a behavioral perspective; and how Christianity can be strengthened and more united from a societal perspective. Where are the Christians? examines hundreds of Biblical and scholarly sources, analyzing data from a multitude of studies leading to unique perspectives and solutions to the challenges facing Christianity in the modern era.
Where are the Christians? contains 17 chapters arranged into four sections:
SECTION 1: WHO ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a history: 4 chapters providing a concise history of Christianity spread across four distinct periods: Evangelization and Formation, Legitimacy and Codification, Corruption and Division, and Reform and Denominational Proliferation.
SECTION 2: WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?—a definition: 4 chapters examining the definition of a Christian from the perspectives of the world, the Bible, landmark religious studies, and what Shuster refers to as Modern Day Pharisees.
SECTION 3: WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS?—a categorization: 5 chapters profiling the five types of modern Christians including a unique and enlightening exercise to help readers understand what type of Christian they are among the five.
SECTION 4 – HOW IS CHRISTIANITY TO UNITE?—a vision: 4 chapters describing the ways Christians in America can unite into a force for good by focusing on individuals, families, churches and communities.
To watch the book trailer, take a survey to find out what type of Christian you are, and to pre-order the book go
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