Radicalized – the “Red Herring”

RadicalIn today’s constant terrorist activity news cycle, whenever an attack from Islamic jihadists occurs, the word “radicalized” is regularly tossed out. The impression is to convey the thought that a radicalized Muslim has abandoned the faith of Islam and taken on a violent and non-Islamic path of terror. This is a red herring (diversionary attempt) with the goal of being politically correct and to try and appease the Muslim community.

Are most Western Muslims violent? No. Most are peaceful and simply want to have a life of success with acceptance in our democracy, while providing for their families. However, there is no easy way to state the truth and keep it from stinging–Islam is a violent religion at its core. Based upon the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad in the Hadith, Islam teaches, promotes and endorses extreme violence against those who reject it.

Peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are those who have either rejected parts of the Quran and Hadith, or who fail to know the violent teachings contained in them. These facts become the greatest avenue to reach Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can offer them a coherent and truthful worldview that upholds the supreme ethic of love as its highest standard, while showing them the violent teachings of Islam.

All it takes for a Muslim to be a “radical” jihadist, is for him to simply believe in the truthfulness of the Quran and Hadith, gain the knowledge that they teach and command violence, and then simply obey those commands. In short, what the news media calls a radical Muslim is a faithful Muslim!  Continue reading “Radicalized – the “Red Herring””

The Journey to Faith

Questioning-GodMany in evangelical circles have thin skin. That is, they react unloving to others who do not hold to their view of God, faith, or truth. This must change if we are going to have a voice with the next generation. I have good friends who are atheist, homosexual or agnostic. And yet, we have very respectful and insightful discussions. Sure, we kick things around from different world views and philosophies of life, but we do not view our conversations as competitions or wrestling matches. Instead, we see the conversations as investigations of life and a pursuit of honest reflections.

Until those of us who claim to belong to Christ actually demonstrate a heart felt love for those who see things differently, we will continue to lose our voice in the marketplace of ideas and remain irrelevant to those who may be on a journey to faith. We must hear the questions of the heart from those who are our unbelieving friends before we will understand the questions they are seeking answers to. Continue reading “The Journey to Faith”

How NOT to Communicate With Others

Indian to IndianThere are ways of proper discourse and persuasion, and there are ways guaranteed to fail. The photo to the left sums up vividly how NOT to communicate with others if you want to persuade them. Our culture is filled with the ‘up in your face’ form of shock journalism and dialogue. Even in many Christian circles rudeness and speaking down to people is defined as spiritual boldness. We must do better, we must think biblically, and we must get our example from Scriptures and not from the latest fad in social media.

Here are some quick points (with some sarcasm) on how NOT to communicate:

Fail to Listen – we understand it all anyway, right?

Fight for the floor – if both are talking, keep raising your voice until they yield the floor.

Ad Hominem – fill the discussion with personal assaults and zingers to embarrass. (Or you could dress up to match their culture…see photo at top of post!)

Fail to ask questions – after all, I’ve already googled the subject, so I know what they would say. Continue reading “How NOT to Communicate With Others”

Apologetics – The Bridge That Holds

Golden Gate Bridge FogThe traction of outreach and life-changing evangelism of the previous generation in America was weak, in my opinion, due to the belittling of apologetics. For the most part, the church failed to engage the mind and heart of the younger generation. Faith became an existential leap apart from a rigorous and coherent view of reality and a reasoned expression of thought. We left the young men and women of the previous generation stranded on a bridge and surrounded by the fog of irrationality. The result was that many ‘church kids’ turned away from faith under the battle cry for intellectual credibility when they went off to college. Their beliefs were assaulted from the secularists and militant atheists who set traps with slick word games that were filled with red-herrings and Zeno paradoxes.

Apologetics is as crucial to the life of a Christian as prayer is. If we do not discover the warrant that undergirds our beliefs, the world will toss us around like a ‘straw blowing in the wind.’ Christianity is not a faith of make believe or fantasy. It carries the evidence of history, archaeology, reason and the existential longings of the heart. We believe, not because we are walking along a foggy bridge, but because Jesus and Scriptures pass the Continue reading “Apologetics – The Bridge That Holds”

Answering Historical Objections to Christianity

ApologeticMany times when we present the Christian faith to a crowd or individual, we will get a strong push back reminding us of the horrors committed by Christians throughout history. It seems that people use this tactic of reaching back into ‘stonehenge’ to justify a rejection of faith. What should we do when people view the atrocities committed years ago as a static issue as if it happened today? How should we respond?

Unfortunately, this is a common objection we encounter whenever we present the Chrstian Worldview in any type of forum, discussion, or Q & A session, especially if any are aware of ancient or medieval history. Time is static to so many, however, with wisdom our response should restore it to fluidity. I have found that the best response is not the ‘ostrich’ or ‘distancing’ moves that ease us from the brutal reality of past sins within Christendom. In order to demonstrate honesty and integrity, we must take the questions head on by stepping up and admitting the mistakes that are associated with Christianity. I emphasize “associated” for a reason. (See below – Our Reponse) If we fail to face the music about the issue of the crusades, scandals, or hypocrisies of the past, we will be demonstrating a slanted view of reality and therefore fail to live consistent with our own worldview. This would make us no different from those in Islam, Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons who refuse to answer the character issues of the history of their movements. Continue reading “Answering Historical Objections to Christianity”

Faith is NOT a Leap

leap of faith2It greatly disturbs my heart when someone uses irrational, confusing and contradictory statements that are borrowed from existentialism or eastern philosophies and applies them to the Christian faith. Most on Facebook and twitter who share or post these sayings are usually assuming they are promoting ‘deep’ or ‘spiritual’ affirmations of faith. However, they reveal a lack of biblical pursuit to worship the Lord with all of our “heart, soul, and MIND.” (Matt. 22:37) The gospel of Jesus Christ engages the totality of man’s being, including his faculties of reason, emotion, will and intellect.

The Christian faith does not hang with its feet planted firmly in mid-air like relativism.¹ Instead, it is grounded in the propositional truth of Scriptures and in the revelation of Jesus Christ through God’s grace. We must never adopt the ebb and flow of philosophical synthesis in our pursuit of reasonable truth and rational faith. God has spoken. He has spoken clearly. He has spoken in the Bible. And nothing makes more sense than to place our trust in the God who created us and sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.

One such statement is that saving faith or the embracing of biblical truth is a “leap of faith.” Most who would use this term fail to realize that it has its roots in the teachings of Immanuel Kant and Soren Kierrkegard. These two men were responsible for dividing knowledge between reason and non-reason, applying the later to religious conviction and faith, and stating that faith is outside of rational verification and pursuit, and thereby giving rise to what became known as existentialism in the philosophical world, and Barthianism or Neo-Orthodoxy in the theological world. Of course, those who promote these epistemological dangers fail to see that they have committed the error of using reason to discount and reject reason. (Self-defeating) Continue reading “Faith is NOT a Leap”

The Longest Bridge

Lake Pontchartrain CausewayI have personally traveled across the top three longest bridges in the United States. They are all in Louisiana. The longest is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge pictured in this article. In fact, it is the longest continuous bridge over a body of water in the world. The journey across it seems to never end with the ‘plank-plank’ of the tires across the concrete sections of this 24 mile long bridge. It has an eery sound which seems surreal and sobering at the same time. I always wonder at the ingenuity of man to be able to construct such a large bridge.

And yet, there is a bridge that is longer than this–the distant between the heart and the head. It seems to be traveled by few and maintained by even less. Here is a quote from Ravi Zacharias about that Bridge.

“…life has to find a bridge from the mind to the heart. It was a famed archbishop of Canterbury who said that the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart.” ¹

This bridge is a necessary part of building a confident faith and a Spirit-filled walk with Christ. If we only engage the head, it makes us cerebral and dry, giving answers without compassion or empathy. If we only Engage the heart, it makes us over emotional and volatile, giving pat answers without the substance of intellectual vigor. Both extremes create a freakish anomaly in the name of faith. Continue reading “The Longest Bridge”

Young Earth Controversy

UniverseThere are some godly men who believe in the young earth position. There are some godly men who do not accept its position of the earth being only 6,000 years old. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the young earth position is indefensible and presents a major hurdle in communicating to men who are versed in the sciences and are familiar with cosmology.

I get asked questions about the age of the universe, the earth, or man in many different settings. From small groups to Q & A with students and churches, this seems to be a topic of interest. Inquiry about this subject is important for anyone attempting to reach out and evangelize this generation. We cannot lift the draw bridge and hide in our small castles and expect to hide from the issue of geology or cosmology when standing upon the authority of Scriptures. A refresher course on how the Church dropped the ball in the Nicholaus Copernicus issue (ca. 1532 A.D.), when he proclaimed that the earth was not the center of our solar system but that the sun was, should be a quick reminder of our need for humility.

It is my opinion that young earth proponents are missing the mark. I do not believe the Bible tells us the age of the universe. In fact, it appears to go at great lengths to avoid the issue. Holding to the young earth position does not make a person more or less faithful to being a Christian. However, it will make a person less credible in the defense of the gospel to those outside a rigid fundamentalist view of Scripture. Continue reading “Young Earth Controversy”

Christianity: It’s Not Just About Doctrine!

aposlescreedHave you ever heard, “Well, his doctrine is correct.” or “He believes in a sound statement of faith.” These are two examples of  statements which are common among evangelicals in regards to community and fellowship. It is imperative that we understand that Christianity is not just about doctrine. A person can be correct on all the major points of theology and yet spiritually dead or heretical in practice. We can be as straight as a gun barrel and just as empty.

In many of our mainline churches, the Christian faith has been reduced to a set of doctrines which one must adhere to. That is good, if we do not stop there! Certainly, the historic faith of Christianity can and should be presented in the fashion of sound theological propositions. However, the ‘faith’ of Christianity is way more than just some accurately stated doctrines or correct mental belief. At its core, it is about an initimate and personal relationship with the risen Savior. And this relationship takes place through repentence and faith in the finished work of Christ at calvary.

There are many ‘professing’ believers who would tow the line on sound doctrine, but whose lives are still destined for hell because they have not entered a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Sound doctrine protects us from cultic/heretical representations and preversions of the Christian faith. Therefore, sound doctrine is essential for accurately presenting and holding to the biblical view of God, Man, Sin and Salvatiion. It is impossible for cults to flourish apart from erroneous doctrine, as false doctrine is the seed bed for strange and heretical views.  Continue reading “Christianity: It’s Not Just About Doctrine!”

Reasons to Believe (Part 1)

Are there sufficient reasons for man to believe there is a God if he does not accept the Bible as God’s Word? Yes! More and more in the age we are living in, the Bible is being set aside by those in society… especially by those who run from accountability and desire to justify a selfish lifestyle. We easily see this around us, from the youth of our day to those in the market place and in academia. Where do we go in conversation? The Scripture is the last place to begin, for that is not a common ground for conversation with them. Where are the entry points for discussing truth with those who have distanced themselves from the authority of the Scripture?

As Christians, we can go on their turf, appeal to the reasons available to all men, and begin a dialogue with men of the world. If their hearts are seeking truth there are plenty of areas for dialogue with those who presently reject the Bible. Paul and the early believers faced this alot in their day and we will face it more and more in ours. If we insist on telling them what “the Word of God” says, when they do not even believe there is a God, we will only be talking to ourselves.

Our understanding in this day must go outside the small minded presentation of truth so many of us have. We must allow the Lord to make us wise in communication as we pray for those we are called to reach with the gospel. There are plenty of areas to engage the men of this world with before we attempt to share the Scriptures. What are some of the ‘reasons to believe’ which we can use when conversing with unbelievers who are not sure Continue reading “Reasons to Believe (Part 1)”

Holiness is Essential for Evangelism

Holiness is the single most important issue for evangelism. John Wesley said, “Get on fire for God and men will come to watch you burn.” May the Lord raise up men and women whose first desire is to live holy and righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In order for us to properly understand biblical holiness and how it applies practically to our everyday life we need to have a basic understanding of separation from the world. We will only look at two vital points, but they are critical for helping us stay clear of legalism and sectarianism in our Christian walk.

Not of the World

Shortly before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus prayed for His disciples. This prayer was not only for the twelve, but also for every true believer down through the ages. (Jn. 17:20) In this prayer, Jesus mentioned how His disciples “are not of the world.” (Jn. 17:16) In some circles or camps this statement is completely ignored and the result is a very worldly church. In other camps, this statement is misunderstood or improperly Continue reading “Holiness is Essential for Evangelism”

Don’t Dumb Down The Gospel

This past week I had the privilege to speak to a youth group at First Wesleyan Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The crowd was high school, college and a sprinkling of older adults as well. A great crowd of youth came with expectant hearts and lively minds. I was asked to share about the work in India with the orphans and church planting. Seeing their faces as I shared power point photos of some of the work was golden. I’m praying for the Lord to continue to burn a desire in the hearts of these young people for missions and church planting…not just overseas, but in their neighborhood.

After that, I shared a brief message, “What is Truth?” Prodding and probing the hearts of those in attendance with how each of us answer the postmodern challenges to the gospel. These youth took the message to heart and were filled with questions. We opened the floor for the Q & A session and the real ministry began. For over an hour in the ‘official’ service, and then for 3 more hours after that, questions were constantly asked and discussed. I barely had time to grab a slice of pizza. In fact, a friend had to bring it to me, as I could not tear away from the constant stream of questions.

These youth wanted to understand how to answer their friends who object to the gospel because of difficult questions. They wanted to know, from God, how to reach their lost Continue reading “Don’t Dumb Down The Gospel”