Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is a "Prophetic Voice?"

What would a "Prophetic Voice" look like in our culture?
  • In the face of moral relativity, truth would describe promiscuity, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, deceit, indebtedness, and idolatry as sin.
  • Sin would be worthy of judgment. Judgment would not be descibed as pernicious consequences of sin that medicine or science can reverse. It would be described as cosmic rebellion against a holy Creator. The meanings of Justice and Mercy would be restored to our culture and sin would prompt us first to deal with the God we have made our Enemy. Feel good Psychology would be seen as a curse.
  • Spiritual Formation would deal first with repentance. If I am not encouraged and centered, if I am uncomfortable with mention of my sin, at least the way to restoration is clear. It is not compassion to tolerate my sin and leave me in danger of the holiness of God.

"Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment" are familiar prophetic themes. The culture will clamor to hear pleasant things, illusions, anything as long as they are not confronted with the Holy One of God.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Where is the Prophetic Voice?

The Prophetic Voice is missing in our contemporary world. It has been sacrificed on the altars of feel-good psychology, scratch and sniff spirituality, and moral relativism. Popular Psychology builds our self-esteem even when we abandon biblical values in our decision-making. Methods of spiritual formation minister to my felt needs without warning me of the precipice toward which my sins are directed. Moral relativism allows my best pragmatic judgment to trump scriptural warrant. All of this is headed for judgment. And it is never a good idea, when you're headed in the wrong direction, to push the acelerator to the floor.

The prophetic voice is missing from the pulpit. Who warns us of the results of promiscuity, adultery, deceit, and indebtedness? Where is the voice calling in the wilderness urging us back from the brink of calling good evil and evil good? Our society is in a moral free fall. We no longer have the tools to identify right and wrong or to describe sin with any measure of objectivity.

The result is that parents throw up their hands when their children consider promiscuity. "What can you do?" they say, "it's the culture." They vainly try to warn of disease and emotional difficulties associated with premarital sex. No one says you are rebelling against your Creator, destroying the divine purposes for sex, and putting yourself in serious danger "of the dread of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty" (Isaiah 2:19).

The prophetic voice is the only voice that can save our culture. The prophet was the one who represented God and warned his people of rising judgment, "when He rises to shake the earth." As long as our pulpits, in the midst of societal rebellion and rot, teach us to pursue our best life now, the church will lead the culture into ultimate ruin and collapse.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Dangerous Word "About"

"About" is a dangerous word in Christian Spirituality. Students of Spiritual Formation run the risk of learning "about" prayer, "about" fasting, "about" the great spiritual writers of the past, and "about" Bible reading. It is possible to become an expert in the field while having no experience in it. We know about prayer, but we do not pray. We know God answers prayer, but there is nothing of the miraculous in our lives. We know the reasons for fasting and the results, but, we've never fasted ourselves. We know about God, but we do not know Him.
Such training without experience is dangerous because it gives a student confidence with no attending power. He or she becomes a target for interior collapse. Training for spiritual formation is more like playing the piano that learning an academic discipline. Both teacher and student need years of regular practice to become proficient. Classes on the history of the piano won't help you play it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Come, Let Us Walk...

"Come, O House of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord." Isaiah 2:5

According to Isaiah 2, "the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains." The picture is of a time when the glory of God, his ways and his law, are valued supremely by all nations. Nations who have lost their way and forgotten God's law, will rejoice in its rediscovery when the law goes out from Zion.
Nations will come from the ends of the earth to the place where God dwells to worship and to learn, not to know about God, but to know him in such a way that they are moved to walk in all his ways. There will descend upon those nations, when the whole world sits under the authority of Christ, a settled peace and security. They will no longer teach the ways of war to their children because they no longer fear. The authority of God will be a cloak of protection around them.
At this time, I too will walk with pilgrims to Zion. My transformed nature will be wholly Christ's and I will marvel at the zeal reflected in the face of my friend. He will tell me how God's law has transformed his nation and reformed his culture. He rejoices at how quickly God's principles have changed everything for him.
He turns to me: "God's word has changed everything for us. Our nation rejoices and trembles at it. How long have you had it?"
We walk on to worship in silence. Did the same Word yield its soul-transforming power in my life that efficiently? On that day, will my testimony rivel his or will I walk on in sanctified shame?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Obstacles to Integration

    1. Where a two-tier theory of truth prevails, integration is impossible. The two areas are like apples and oranges. They allow no admixture.
      2. Training of teachers at secular schools has given them a sense of mastery in the content area without reference to God.
      3. Integration is impossible with an unsure hermeneutic of Biblical revelation. It will be an easier task for those who hold to biblical inspiration and authority. An added step will be necessary for those who must determine whether the passage is from God or wonder if the passage was meant for us.
      4. Tolerance and pluralism will be obstacles, not in the sense of differing opinions within Christianity, but in the sense of showing deference to other religions or no religion.
      5. Integration is a bigger challenge in some areas because the content of that discipline is in rebellion to the word of God. Many areas of law, science, and sociology will need to be reconsidered. Even Theology will not be immune. Integration may require the revision of knowledge in the content area, if it can be shown that biblical teaching demands it.
      6. The nature of man will also kick against the implications of integration. Every new insight gained will have moral and spiritual implications. The heart will need to remain submissive to the work of the Holy Spirit, even as it wrestles with a "secular" discipline.

    Friday, November 7, 2008

    What Does Integration Look Like in the Local Church?

    What can the church do to support the idea of integration in religion and education?
    • Reinforce the idea that science and religion deal with the same kind of truth
    • Remind us that the standard for any kind of truth is always scripture
    • Help us to see the application of scripture at work in many different areas of life: Work. Family Life, Sex, Economics, Politics, Relationships, and Education
    • Try creating events in which hands-on integration can take place

    In our church, we are trying a few ways to foster such integration. Design Detectives teaches hands-on science while pointing to the Creator as Designer and Sustainer at every opportunity. Our new Economics club (not yet named) will attempt to teach in an intergenerational way the principles of handling money, making money, debt, investment, work, and stewardship. We propose to show that God's principles in Economics work every time they are tried.

    If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them. Showing how God fits in every area of knowledge is good integration. Good integration leads to an accurate understanding of the world around us.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Is Integration Possible?

    Integration of faith and education- is it possible? Our cuture holds to a two-tier theory of truth (see Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth) in which the facts of science or economics are divorced from the opinions expressed in values, morality, and religion. This has pushed faith out of the public square and relegated it to personal subjectivity.
    Integration will demand that knowledge of immaterial things (values, morals, religious precepts, numbers) be accepted on a par with scientific knowledge. What will be a reliable standard for acceptance of moral and religious ideas? Rebuilding a Christian worldview will be necessary to effective integration.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    Integration of Faith in Life and Education

    Colossians 1:15-20, especially v.17, provides the foundation for successful integration of faith and the academic disciplines. Christ is designer and maker of all things, the purpose for the existence of all things, and the goal toward which they are heading. No explanations of science, economics, sociology, or politics are complete without reference to Christ.

    What would integration look like?
    • Integration would allow the student to see that his faith is vitally related to the subject area he is studying. It would not be tacked on as an afterthought. Where there is a gap between the "facts" of the content area and faith, doubt is engendered. The goal is congruence between the subject area and the revelation of God.
    • Integration includes correct thinking about both the content area and faith, responding properly to the implications of that content, and organizing your life around it.
    • Integration means the student can begin and end his interaction with the academic discipline with responses of faith, grace, and worship.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Historic Elections and Where We Go From Here

    On Tuesday, our nation makes history. Either we elect the first black president or the first female vice-president. Barak Obama's candidacy is not a sign of the end of racism in America, but it may be a sign that the obstacles racism presents are no longer insurmountable. This may open up some new opportunities for racial reconciliation in the nation and in the church.

    I for one would welcome the opportunity to work side-by-side with black pastors to press the gospel into the problems faced by the urban poor. I recognize my learning curve would be steep but the effort could mean progress toward permanent change as the gospel proves itself once again as the only real hope for mankind.

    If Barak Obama wins the election, it will be a sign that the American mind-set has moved to the point of co-operation. If Obama loses, his progress this far is no less an indicator. It would not show proper respect to the distances Obama's campaign has traveled to say that he is a victim. The race will be won or lost on issues. I am an old school conservative who believes that real compassion is not shown by increasing the power of government. That does not make me a racist.

    It will be important not to fall back on old racist arguments of victimization. Obama's candidacy has taught us that. As a nation, we are now in a position to do better.