Faith: June 2007 Archives

Many private Christian schools require that a student's parents are Christian, too. One of the advantages of such a school, usually not spoken explicitly, is that your child will be going to school with other children who are being shaped by the same values as yours.

But there are Christian schools which welcome non-Christians, and Michael Spencer is chaplain for one such boarding school, a school that requires Bible classes and chapel attendance and which is unapologetic about its Christian mission:

For the past 30+ years, our school has taken many internationals and children of internationals as students. A fair number of these have not been Christians. Some are from other religious traditions, like Islam, and some are from Atheistic cultures like China....

Several times in yesterday’s ceremony, essays by students were read and the student said…

1) I am not a Christian.

2) Thank you for all you’ve done for me while I have been here.

3) I now understand Christianity much better (or I now realize Jesus is very important.)...

God brings non-Christians to us because we are inexpensive and offer the language and science background international students want to get them into American universities. Our school does not have the “nice” things that more expensive schools have, but many of these internationals do not have American ideas of comfort and entitlement. They are open to our school, the hospitality and friendship of our staff and the generosity and compassion we share with them.

We do not mince words about the Gospel. At least I don’t. I point out the difference between Mohammed, Buddah and Jesus all the time. I preach Christ as the exclusive way to eternal life. I preach that hell exists and judgement without Christ is eternal condemnation. I engage atheism as an inadequate answer. I preach, teach and proclaim the Gospel with all my abilities....

When we do anything with our students, we tell them that we are doing it because of Jesus Christ. I regularly connect up what we do with what Christ has done for us.

And so, sitting there yesterday, I heard many student essays talk about finding Christ and about renewing commitments to Christ. But I also heard about coming here for one, two or more years and leaving without Christ.

And saying so. “I am not a Christian.” One of my best Bible students said it in her essay. “I am not a Christian.” But she thanked me and others for showing her Christ, and she said she is on the way.

Others said they were not Christians, but now they understood better what Christianity means. Some said they had learned that what they had been told about Christians in their culture was not true.

Read more.

There's a great opportunity coming up later this month for Tulsa-area Christians with an interest in sound theology and a concern for the lack of interest in same which prevails in much of the evangelical realm.

Dr. David Wells is professor of historical and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Wells will be speaking at this year's National Founders Conference, to be held June 26-29 at Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, Okla.

This is the 25th annual conference of the Founders Movement within the Southern Baptist Convention. The word "Founders" signifies the group's aim to promote within the SBC the doctrines of grace that were held without apology by the founders of the convention. That doctrinal heritage -- and the accompanying theological depth -- was lost around the turn of the 20th century. Awareness and understanding of the Reformed (Calvinistic) doctrines of grace is growing in the SBC, as is acceptance. One of America's most prominent Southern Baptists, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is Reformed, and he and his colleagues throughout the SBC seminary system are influencing the next generation of SBC pastors.

The theme of this year's conference is "God's Truth Abideth Still: Confronting Postmodernism." They couldn't have picked a better keynote speaker. Wells has written a series of challenging and brilliant books on the culture's abandonment of the notion of truth and its influence on evangelical Christianity.

The first book, published in 1993, was No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology. It had its origin in an offhand comment by one of the students in the required theology class that Wells taught. The student told him that he had struggled with his conscience about whether to take the course:

Was it right [the student wondered aloud] to spend so much money on a course of study that was so irrelevant to his desire to minster to people in the Church?

As I look through the book, I find my pencil marks on every page. Here's one section I found worthy of note, beginning on page 293:

The vast growth in evangelically minded people in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s should by now have revolutionized American culture. With a third of American adults now claiming to have experiences spiritual rebirth, a powerful countercurrent of morality growing out of a powerful and alternative worldview should have been unleashed in factories, offices, and board rooms, in the media, universities, and professions, from one end of the country to the other. The results should by now be unmistakable. Secular values should be reeling, and those who are their proponents should be very troubled. But as it turns out, all of this swelling of the evangelical ranks has passed unnoticed in the culture. It has simply been absorbed and tamed....

Here is a corner of the religious world that has learned from the social scientists how to grow itself, that is sprouting huge megachurches that look like shopping malls for the religious, that can count in its own society the moneyed and the powerful, and yet it causes not so much as a ripple. And its disappearance, judged in moral and spiritual terms, is happening at the very moment when American culture is more vulnerable to the uprooting of some of its cherished Enlightenment beliefs than ever before, because it knows itself to be empty....

Here's another, from a couple of pages on:

It may be that evangelicals will never recognize their pious self-absorption for the cultural thing that it is because conformity is a powerful force in the evangelical world, and it quickly stifles lone dissenters. Nevertheless, reality will take its toll. The publicized exodus of various evangelicals into the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches in recent years is simply a notable symptom of widespread disquiet in the evangelical world. Many ordinary believers are disillusioned with their churches, with their ministers, and with the larger evangelical empire, which has failed in the business of making known the character, acts, will, and purposes of God in the larger society and in embodying these in the kind of service that has the ring of spiritual authenticity about it.

The good news is that the intervening years have seen the beginnings of the kind of reformation for which Wells called. In addition to the growth and influence of the Founders movement in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, a trans-denominational movement emerged in the late '90s, the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, which, in its Cambridge Declaration, reaffirmed the historic solas of the Reformation and set each one against its opposing tendency in modern evangelicalism.

The classical Christian education movement has emerged, helping Christian children develop a Christian worldview which is grounded in timeless truth and preparing them to engage the broader culture equipped with that worldview. The movement stands in contrast to Christian schools which were all about isolation from the world, hiding out in a tidy evangelical subculture and preaching to the choir.

World Magazine brings that same idea to the field of journalism:

We stand for factual accuracy and biblical objectivity, trying to see the world as best we can the way the Bible depicts it. Journalistic humility for us means trying to give God's perspective. We distinguish between issues on which the Bible is clear and those on which it isn't. We also distinguish between journalism and propaganda: We're not willing to lie because someone thinks it will help God's cause....

We cover all aspects of the news: national, international, and cultural; politics and business; medicine, science, technology, and sports. We have feisty columns and religious reflections. We even have cartoons and a page with funny or strange stories of the week. But what matters the most is this: We believe in a God who tells the truth and wants us to do the same.

An affiliated organization, World Journalism Institute, is engaged with the task of preparing Christians to work as journalists in the mainstream media. The curriculum includes both basic journalism skills and the development of a Christian worldview.

These are hopeful signs, but postmodernism, with denial of the very notion of truth, is still a strong influence in the culture at large and, through the culture, in the church.

The National Founders Conference ought to be well worth attending. Because the target audience is pastors, the schedule isn't convenient for those of us with 8-to-5 jobs, but Wells is speaking at two evening sessions. Although Founders Ministries is focused on the SBC, I see nothing in the online material that would exclude pastors and laymen of other denominations from registering.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from June 2007.

Faith: May 2007 is the previous archive.

Faith: October 2007 is the next archive.

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