The 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is pretty significant. Stuart Lange has been offering seminars in various parts of the country looking at the relevance of that event, and the whole Reformation, for us. Of course, there have been many other people doing similar things and the anniversary has led to a plethora of books, articles, and videos.
Is it all academic or is it pertinent to your church? Is it only history buffs who will be interested or should all of our people know about these things?
The latest 9 Marks journal asks those questions and looks at various aspects of the Reformation.
Connecting the church and the gospel
What about the Reformers’ character flaws?
How the Reformation addresses social exploitation
The five solas
How the Reformation changed church history
The Reformation and…
The Holy Spirit and true conversion
Personal evangelism and the Great Commission
And there’s more. Take the opportunity this anniversary gives, to learn more and re-think the issues.
Prof John Whitehall was recently one of the speakers at the Family First “Forum on the Family”, speaking on “The Phenomenon of Childhood Gender Dysphoria”. He was also interviewed by Leighton Smith on Newstalk ZB.
Given the prominence of this topic in the media at the moment, it is important that we understand the issues. It seems increasingly common to see parental encouragement to “change gender” as, in fact, child abuse.
It seems obvious that the Bible is receiving less attention and being given less respect. But is that true even amongst those who claim to follow the scriptures? In this talk Don Carson talks about Evangelicalism “drifting towards a softer view of scripture again”.
Don Carson speaks about the subtle ways that we can ignore scripture. Listen to the warning but also be re-inspired with the truth of the Bible.
N.B. Carson makes a comment about women in leadership. That is not a view with which most in AFFIRM would agree. There might be other issues with which you disagree. Please listen to the principles without being offended by the specific examples. Listen to what he says about the ways we can dismiss the Bible.
I like Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast and writings. His work on leadership is challenging, very practical and level-headed. Check him out at http://careynieuwhof.com/.
In this piece he argues that, if we look for consensus before we act, we will do little. Bold ideas are not always adopted straight away. We need the courage to act anyway because consensus kills courage. We need to be willing to act alone. Great leaders have had to step out without having everyone on side.
That is balanced by a recognition that simply being independent and pig-headed can mean that we are jerks. We still can benefit from advice and we still need to test our ideas by looking for others’ buy-in, but after we have taken the initiative, not before.
Do you have a vision that others’ haven’t yet caught onto? What is it? Do you believe it is of God? Do you have the courage to make a start trusting that people will see its value and join you?
Trevin Wax has written on The Gospel Coalition site, questioning whether those who hold a traditional view of sexual morality can accommodate those who want to revise that understanding (including the pressure to accept homosexuality and to redefine marriage). Can we simply give space to everyone?
There are some in the PCANZ who claim to hold a biblical view but also call for the church to make room for everyone, so this is very relevant.
Wax’s answer is a clear “No” for several reasons including the following:
The revisionists (those who propose a new morality) don’t actually want there to be multiple views. They want their view to prevail. As Wax says, “they don’t ultimately want just a space at the table. They want the table.”
While many revisionists claim that tolerance is required for effective mission today, that tolerance is not actually calling people to repent and turn to Jesus. Again, in his words, “As the Sexual Revolution wreaks havoc in the lives of people around us, Christians have the opportunity to proclaim the Scripture’s moral clarity–not as a barrier to the faith, but as the beacon of light in a morally chaotic world. To be faithful in this time, the Church must be a haven of hope, a refuge in the midst of sexual chaos. We won’t be able to do that if we think the way forward is “agreeing to disagree.””
“What we have is not historic Christianity, but a mutation of classic Liberalism, only now the emphasis has shifted from denying or downplaying Christian miracles to denying or downplaying Christian morality,” he says.
For another article by Trevin Wax on the same subject, but making different points, click here. In this one he considers the call to unity at all costs and questions who it is that is dividing the church.
In this video, Tim Keller and John Piper wrestle with the question of sanctification and its place in our salvation. Will I be saved if I put my faith in Jesus but do not live a holy life? Do I need to repay God for what He has done for me?
These may sound like theoretical questions but they are real for normal Christians. What does happen to the person who responds at an evangelistic rally but shows no signs of being a follower of Jesus? If holy living is necessary, how much must I do?
In the sexuality debate, people have sometimes held out hope for a “third way” but it has never been found. Indeed, David Gushee, a pro-homosexual ethicist, says there can be no compromise, only complete acceptance of homosexuality. You can read his article here.
Gushee talks of scriptural convictions as “discrimination” and says that society is changing on this issue so radically that any who don’t change will be marginalised. There is no doubt that society is changing but Christians have always sought to obey God, not people.