A failure of Christian thinking is a failure of discipleship, for we are called to love God with our minds.
A failure of Christian thinking is a failure of discipleship, for we are called to love God with our minds.
The Christian doctrine of eschatology provides the Christian worldview with its mature understanding of history.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares salvation and redemption to all who believe in him.
As Christians, we know that the world as we see it contains vestiges of the glory of God that shine through the corruption of the universe blighted by sin. Nevertheless, we are constantly reminded that the entire universe is groaning under the burden of human sinfulness.
A buzzing little fly is only a nuisance. The theory of evolution is no mere nuisance — it represents one of the greatest challenges to Christian faith and faithfulness in our times.
In one of his columns for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof once pointed to belief in the Virgin Birth as evidence that conservative Christians…
Once we know that God is the solitary explanation at the beginning, we can be confident that he will be the one who brings this story to a close in a way that brings him no less glory.
The Christian worldview is structured, first of all, by the revealed knowledge of God. There is no other starting point for an authentic Christian worldview—and there is no substitute.
We should respect the power of the Devil and his demons, but never fear them. We do not need a rite of exorcism, only the name of Jesus. We are not given a priesthood of exorcists — for every believer is armed with the full promise of the Gospel, united with Christ by faith, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
BioLogos is a movement that asserts theological arguments in the public square in order to convince evangelical Christians to accept their proposals. They now have the audacity to ask for a pass from theological responsibility. That is the one thing they may not have.
It turns out that Robert Schuller offers the best analysis of this crisis with his own words. “No church has a money problem; churches only have idea problems.” The theological crisis in Garden Grove is far more significant than the financial crisis.
“I mean, I have my beliefs in my head,” the young man said. “But I don’t enjoy the whole religious scene. I’m not really into…
Does America worship four different gods? Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today gives considerable attention to a recent study undertaken by two sociologists at Baylor University. The professors, Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, report their findings in a new book, America’s Four Gods: What We Say About God — And What That Says About Us.
The angle USA Today took is both predictable and interesting. With an important election date before us and with any number of issues dividing Americans, any argument that puts these questions into clearer focus is likely to gain attention. Froese and Bader argue that Americans cluster around four different understandings of God. They identify these “four gods” as the “Authoritarian God,” the “Benevolent God,” the “Critical God,” and the ‘Distant God.”
You can pretty much figure this scheme out for yourself, but the Authoritarian God is a deity of divine judgment, revealed truth, and moral precepts. The Benevolent God is loving and non-judgmental. The Critical God is a deity of delayed judgment and little engagement with the world. The Distant God is the god of Deism — a deity who created the world but is really a distant force in the cosmos.
Now, the front-page placement of the story in USA Today can be traced to what Froese and Bader assert are the likely moral and political postures taken by those who believe in each of these four gods. In the main, the big issues divide those who follow the Authoritarian God and the Benevolent God.
The big theological problem with this scheme is that it is a pure abstraction. The God of the Bible is unquestionably authoritative, but He is also loving, merciful, and truly benevolent. He is transcendent, but He also actively rules over his creation and creatures. No theologian would argue against the notion that an individual’s concept of God is largely determinative of all subsequent thought and mental operations. But the easy division of America’s religious diversity into these four arbitrary categories is more unhelpful than helpful.
Hats off to USA Today for its coverage of this research and book. The front-page exposure of this story indicates that this paper still believes that theological issues are important and worthy of primary attention.
We will not answer to four gods, but to the triune God of the Bible. This new research out of Baylor is interesting, but more for its political and social implications than for any serious theological consideration.
I will take a closer look at this new book in coming days.
Cathy Lynn Grossman, “How America Sees God,” USA Today, Thursday, October 7, 2010.
Well, you never know what a day holds. This morning, Yahoo put the Associated Press story about my article on yoga on its front page.…
The scandals surrounding Atlanta’s Bishop Eddie Long now center on allegations of sexual immorality put forth by four young men who had been teenagers under his ministry. But previous attention had been directed at the financial elements of his ministry at Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
Eddie Long is a teacher of prosperity theology, a perverse distortion of the gospel that transforms the message of Christ into a message of secular salvation through wealth and prosperity. Scholars of the movement have studied why it is that poor, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised people seem so drawn to a false gospel that leaves them poor but makes their preachers wealthy. They seem to find encouragement and hope, even a source of pride, in a pastor who preaches prosperity and lives in ostentatious wealth, even as they contribute their own meager funds.
The Bible is clear in warning against false prophets who preach false gospels and those who would use spiritual authority for their own wealth. The world is scandalized by the false promises of prosperity, and believers in Christ should be just as scandalized about this false promise. But Christians should be far more concerned about the eternal consequences of prosperity theology — its false promise of salvation through financial abundance, of health and wealth through the exercise of “seed faith.” Missing from the prosperity gospel is the message of salvation through faith in Christ alone — a salvation that makes every believer unspeakably wealthy in the grace of Christ but does not promise earthly riches or unblemished physical health.
Writing in the “Houses of Worship” column in today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, DeForest B. [“Buster”] Soaries, Jr., pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey, writes of the scandal of the prosperity gospel and its popularity among African American churches:
The prosperity gospel—the idea that God guarantees truly faithful believers physical health and financial wealth—is not new. But cable and satellite television broadcasting have turned prosperity preachers into celebrities that have followings similar to musicians and movie stars. A movement and a theology that once seemed like an aberration among black churches now appears to be mainstream.
He writes further:
Teaching that desire for more material possessions is a sign of one’s religious piety is simply offering a justification for crass consumerism. Prosperity theology elevates greed to a virtue instead of leaving it as one of the seven deadly sins.
Of course, it is much easier for clergy to preach this gospel when they are living proof that the “system” works. Hence the celebrity-like lifestyles of so many religious leaders. The fact that the people most likely to do well in the prosperity gospel movement are the people at the top suggests that it is all an ecclesiastical pyramid scheme.
Soaries seems mostly concerned in this article about the false promises of wealth and the economic effects of these teachings on African Americans. All Christians should share his outrage and know that prosperity theology is found among all races and ethnicities. The television screens are filled with their messages and heresies.
But the central problem with prosperity theology is that is is a false gospel. The prosperity preachers do not promise too much. They promise all the wrong things.
Of course, The Wall Street Journal is an interesting place to find an article on prosperity theology. The editors of that famous newspaper know what leads to financial wealth — that is their business — and they know that prosperity theology leads into deeper poverty. It’s only those at the top who drive the expensive cars and ride in private jets.
DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., “Black Churches and the Prosperity Gospel,” The Wall Street Journal, Friday, October 1, 2010.
Accommodations to evolutionary theory never end. There will always be “unfinished business” that will demand further theological concessions.
We are entering a new phase in the battle over the Bible’s truthfulness and authority. We should at least be thankful for undisguised arguments coming from the opponents of biblical inerrancy, even as we are ready, once again, to make clear where their arguments lead.
Given what is at stake, living on the basis of a mere assumption that we cannot know if God exists seems a bit flimsy.
This move by the Claremont School of Theology illustrates what happens when churches and denominations allow their institutions to embrace theological liberalism. Watch this development carefully. Claremont may be the first multifaith seminary, but it will almost surely not be the last.
The true and living God desires to be known and has made himself known. That makes all the difference. True theology is not explaining the unknowable, but coming to know the God who wants us to know him. Theology is about knowledge — indeed, about the knowledge that matters most of all.
Barely five days after The New York Times ran a major news article on the firing of Atlanta’s fire chief for his views on homosexuality,…
As Solomon warned, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecc 12:12). There is no way to read everything, and not everything deserves to be read. I say that in order to confront the notion that anyone, anywhere, can master all that could be read with profit. I read a great deal, and a large portion of my waking hours are devoted to reading.
Yesterday’s release of a video showing the senior medical director of Planned Parenthood casually discussing the sale of organs from aborted babies is a moral…
Presidents of the United States are usually awful as theologians. In far too many cases, the closer they get to anything theological, the bigger the…