Thursday, June 22, 2006

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

This is an essay I wrote back before The Purpose Driven Life was driven off the best seller list by The Da Vinci Code.......

....So I was watching Rick Warren on CNN. Larry King described him as a Christian superstar, which is a warning to my ears to begin with. But aside from that, watching Warren being interviewed was just frustrating from an Evangelical point of view.

Larry King was not hostile at all (I taped the interview). He gave Rick Warren all the time he needed to answer questions and every opportunity to preach the gospel. But getting him to do so would have been like trying to nail Jello to a wall. I watched the interview thinking to myself, "Say it; just say it. Jesus is the only way." Warren kept referring to God as God, making God sound generic, rarely uttering the name Jesus Christ.

I don't know anything about Rick Warren other than what I have read in his book and heard him say on television. I can't judge his heart and he gave good answers to many of King's questions such as the one about euthanasia. But I fear that in trying to make the Gospel oriented toward the 21st century listener, the Gospel itself is being compromised.

The purpose-driven message seems designed to avoid the things about the Gospel that make people feel uncomfortable, such as sin and Hell. Warren is absolutely right about many of the things he says. The world is full of selfish pleasure seekers. People are wondering about their purpose and significance in the world. Individual self-sacrifice is personally fulfilling and pleasing to God. But that is where Warren puts the cart before the horse.

The Bible says that without faith, it is impossible to please God. Rick Warren does not seem to be going so far as to suggest a works-based salvation but neither does he lead the reader of his book (yes, I have read it) to a personal awareness of one's sinful condition. He spent the entire interview with Larry King beating around that very important bush. It almost seems as if he's trying to sneak Jesus in through the back door.

The bottom line is this: If people decide, in their quest for self-fulfillment, significance, etc., to be self-sacrificing servants to others, and that makes them feel better about themselves and God, has Rick Warren done them any favors if they leave this life without the knowledge of their need for the redemption available only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection? Even servanthood is merely a good work and in the Christian life, good works are the product of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Beyond Da Vinci

OK, everybody calm down. If China, Stalin, the French Revolution and the Roman Empire could not destroy the Church, The Da Vinci Code won't either. The statements people might make after seeing the movie are pretty much the same urban legends used by skeptics for centuries.

The good thing is that there has been an explosion in the Church in the study of Church history and the origins of the Scriptures. Things we should have been studying anyway.

But know this. The Da Vinci Code is the tip of the iceburg. There are other books out there written by college professors and some by people who have held positions in church pulpits. The History Channel regularly presents "evidence" why different parts of the Bible couuld not be accurate. We are entering a period that will seperate the real believers from the pretenders. Study hard. Pray hard.

I Peter 3:15 "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;" (NASB)

Fear not. This is nothing new. For all of the fanfare, all of these water cooler talking points are old news, recycled. The Gospel of Judas, the Gnostics, etc. They've all been examined before and come up short. The difference now is that we live in the age of information saturation. Every minute, someone is finding something about the Gospel of Judas on the internet and thinking that they've discovered a recent revelation. Here's my advice. Turn off everything, the TV, the computer. Open your Bible. Read. Pray.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Humble Confidence

It is amazing to me how offensive it is to some people for other people to be completely confident in their beliefs. Apparently, some people thrive on the idea that the only thing that CAN be known for sure is that nothing can be known for sure.

Life is too complex and our individual experiences too unique, they say. Certainly, my truth is not yours, and there can never be a definitive explanation for life and earth and man and God, etc.

This idea only serves the purpose of allowing people to avoid confronting the things in God's Word, which make them uncomfortable. Things like sin, death, judgment, and Hell and especially their own depravity.

Eventually, those who are offended by another's confidence accuse the other of being less than humble. "Oh your so sure of everything, aren't you?" I have heard it said more than once. "Why should I believe something just because you believe it?"

They miss the point entirely.

Never confuse confidence with arrogance. I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and see a middle aged fat guy who deserves none of the good things (a lasting marriage, great kids who love the Lord) with which the Lord has blessed me. There are no delusions of grandeur here.

But my confidence is not in me. It is in the Lord, His promises, His Word, His sacrifice for me on the cross, His resurrection, and the fact that there is no other way. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I cannot, must not rely on myself. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Read II Corinthians 11 to see what someone far greater and more confident than I says about his confidence (foolishness?). Paul was concerned that the believers, to whom he was writing would be led astray by false teachers. That is what this blog is about, though it is directed to no one in particular.

So, if you have happened upon this blog, make no mistake. You need Jesus real bad. How do I know? Because I need him worse than you.