• Pluralism •
September 6, 2006
David Bentley Hart argues that contemporary persons are increasingly committed to belief in nothing. He does not mean that modern persons do not believe in anything, but that they are actually committed to a form of nihilism. Speaking as a representative of modern humanity, Hart simply explains — “our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.”
July 7, 2006
Michael Shermer of Scientific American offers an interesting column on confirmation bias. Mr. Shermer is prone to biological reductionism (as evidenced in this article) and his primary interest in this article is politics, but his column raises a basic question of intellectual integrity.
April 24, 2006
December 7, 2005
The prophet Joel spoke of a day when the sun would be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood. This picture–besides giving us a glimpse of that terrible, coming Day of the Lord in judgment–is also a graphic picture of our own times. Even today, in the gathering clouds of our culture, we see darkness at noon. One of the central realities of this darkness is the dawning of a post-Christian culture. Even beyond that, we will see in this emerging culture the closing of the postmodern mind.
October 25, 2005
October 24, 2005
Hypermodern America has become a collectivity of “spiritualities” even as the contours of American culture become increasingly secularized. How is this possible? The emergence of spirituality as an alternative to historic Christianity is itself a product of secularism–offering universal “meaning” without doctrine, truth, or specific content.
September 30, 2005
William Murchison takes a good look at the tragic collapse of Christian belief in Europe, describing Europe’s vanishing faith in poetic terms: “Centuries of Christian belief swept away in a great cosmic sorting-out; history stood on its head.”
The evidence is irrefutable, and the future of European civilization is very much in doubt. After all, the population growth in Europe is not coming among secularists, but among Europe’s fast-growing Muslim population. These are not secularists looking to build a post-Christian Europe.
Nevertheless, Murchison’s gaze also falls upon the United States, where Christian belief often appears more substantial that it really is. Consider these words of analysis:
Meantime, it seems necessary to advise against Americans’ giving themselves pious airs. Ours is a culture that puts more trust in supernatural religion than does Europe’s–but not that much more. On the way to church, my wife and I sometimes joke about the comings and goings on the road: joggers, bicyclists, the lounging crowds at Starbucks. Guess they’re getting a quick refill for the ride to First Methodist, we might say with a wink, well knowing the patrons to be occupied with latte and laptops rather than Bibles.
The legacy of the Enlightenment weighs upon us, as upon our European co-religionists: religion as claptrap and show, churches and cathedrals as places you repair not for physical and spiritual connection to Reality itself but for the satisfaction of habits or social needs or goodness knows what else. Anyway, how to present Christian realities in the context of a culture wedded to choice, change, and the satisfaction of personal wants? The immediate satisfaction, I should add: not deferred to some Better Time. Now. And preferably with as little pain and inconvenience as possible.
Christianity–we should admit it–is un-modern. Or, rather, it is modern in the sense that it encompasses all eras: past, present, and future. What we might call the “modern spirit” is in fact detached from the Christian spirit.
See “Vanishing Sea of Faith” in the October 2005 issue of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.
September 27, 2005
America’s evangelical Christians are facing a critical testing-time in the twenty-first century. Among the most important of the tests we now face is the future of missions, and our faithfulness to the Great Commission. At a time of unprecedented opportunity, will our zeal for world missions slacken?
September 13, 2005
August 27, 2005
Beliefnet.com has published an exchange on the exclusivity of the Gospel. Bill Haley, pastor of the Coracle Community in Washington, D.C., argues for an inclusivist position. His argument follows the framework common to almost all inclusivist positions — expressing a vague hope rather than a careful biblical argument.
Take a look at this paragraph: For me, I hold out hope that heaven will be inhabited by those whom my theology won’t easily allow in. While I do believe that it is the forgiving blood of Jesus that is the ticket, I wonder if one has to conscientiously know that it is Jesus’ blood that saves them in order for them to be saved. I wonder about the figures in the Old Testament whom I would expect to see in heaven who, while they certainly didn’t know the name of Jesus, are saved by him. I wonder about how God has been effectually revealed to those of many tongues, tribes, and nations in miraculous ways that don’t require a human messenger. I wonder about verses like 1Timothy 4:11 that speak of the living God, “who is the savior of all people, and especially those who believe.” I assume he meant 1 Timothy 4:10 rather than 4:11. In any event, Paul is not suggesting anything like a universal salvation. Furthermore, the question about Old Testament saints is conclusively answered in Hebrews chapter 11. They were saved through faith in Christ — just like the saints who came after them. They consciously trusted God to be faithful to His promises.
Michael Youssef, pastor of The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, GA and speaker for Leading the Way, argues for the orthodox position that conscious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. We are saved only by the grace of God, and salvation is possible because Christ died on the cross to pay the price for your sins and for mine. And praise God He did!, affirms Youssef. Further: While our society continues to evolve, we must remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He does not change. He alone is the way to God the Father, to heaven, to salvation. And nothing we can do or dream up will ever change that. Youssef offers a helpful framework for evaluating today’s various “spiritualities” as well.