Robert over at echurch.com is asking about creating and supporting community within churches. He has mentioned funtionality similar to linkedin.com, as well as making other community and event functions available online. Robert, I have the following contributions to make:
What signifies a healthy church? Is it a building? Or the number of people who attend on Sunday morning? Or the number of activities the church has available? Or the number of people baptized in a given year? While all of these things might be ways that we determine whether a church is healthy, God’s definition of a healthy church as spelled out in the Bible is completely different.
Scripture instructs us parents not to provoke our children to anger:
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
But what exactly do we do to hurt our children this way? John MacArthur gives us a nice list, which I’ve summarized below.
If a man asks you this question, beware! He is most likely just looking for an argument. In fact, a question like this is just begging for fruitless, heated discussion. Allow me, however, to presume to answer this question once and for all, and prepare you with the biblical answer. The answer is…man is BOTH good and evil. However, before we examine the biblical viewpoint, there is one more point to be made about this question, and that is – this is a bad question.
A friend of mine told me today that the thing that really bugs him about religious people is that they never want to critically evaluate what they believe, and turn a blind eye to contradictions in their scriptures or the teachings of their spiritual organization.
I agree, many people are not critical and don’t want to be. However, not all people with faith “turn a blind eye.” For instance, I left my faith for many years, for intellectual, emotional, and spiritual reasons, and later returned to Christianity. I am not blind to the apparent contradictions of scripture, or complex reasoning that people must sometimes use to harmonize scriptures. However, as a fellow seeker, I offer the following observations and cautions:
1. The Limits of Reason
While reason may help you to identify a trustworthy source of faith, reason has its limits in the quest for spiritual truth, and we must also use the faculties of our heart and conscience in the quest.
John Calvin coined the phrase Sensus Divinitatis (Sense of the Divine) to describe the innate sense and awareness of God that all humans possess, as well as the ‘organ’ of awakening acted on by the Holy Spirit in awakening us to salvation.
William Lane Craig, the eminent Christian philosopher and apologist refers to this in his arguments for the existence of God, calling it “the self-authenticating witness of God’s Holy Spirit” – that is, that God can be “immediately known and experienced.”
Of course, such claims irritate anti-theists because such subjective experiences defy reasonable inspection or discussion, and the fact that the typical born-again process itself seems to lead with experience rather than intellect frustrates them even more. (See Are you a Christian because of your experiences, or because of logic?) Read more
Many great Christians in history, such as Andrew Murray and Watchman Nee, have emphasized that the bible teaches that man has a tripartite structure, made up of Spirit, Soul, and Body. The main proof text for this is 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which reads:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Whoopi and Joy from the daytime show The View walked off the set when Bill O’reilly said that Muslims attacked us on 9/11 – he ‘forgot’ to say ‘radical’ Muslims (video below). But as I’ve said many times previously (Why there may never be a vibrant moderate Islam, There are no moderate Muslims), the problem is not radical Muslims, but the Koran itself, which they are following faithfully, not in a twisted manner. Here’s my letter to Bill, who is missing this:
Joe over at the evangelical outpost had a nice post on his struggle with attending church. Here’s my outline of what is wrong with most churches. But let me first say this – almost all of the problems in a local church are the fault of the local leadership, not the congregation.
A few years ago, I subscribed to a wonderful magazine (now defunct, unfortunately) called Life@Work Journal. The magazine was a Christian publication geared towards believers in the marketplace. Each issue would focus on a particular subject. One of the most memorable issues was the issue on balance.
This post is part of a series on Can we be good without God?
In Part I introduced and gave an overview of the question under consideration. Moving on to our first point, we must first DEFINE our term ‘good’ so that we don’t waste time talking past one another.
When we say ‘good, what exactly do we mean? Ethical or moral? Subjective or objectively true? Situational or absolute? Pleasure-inducing or health giving? And good for whom? Humans, animals, the planet?
For the sake of argument, I want to use what I think is the common use of the word ‘good’ in this context – that is, MORALLY good.
One of my favorite sites, Quodlibet (definition), with great content and a colorful look, has closed down - but their content is still up. Check it out. They even have a sense of humor, as seen in this tagline:
And Jesus said unto them, “And whom do you say that I am?” They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed.” And Jesus replied, “What?”
The first approach one should take to treating depression is that of treating physical causes. By addressing these, you can eliminate them as causes and move on to emotional and spiritual issues.
How are your diet and your sleep?
You need to improve these first to make sure these are not the problem.
While the scriptures are clear on the morality of some issues, on the more mundane issues, it is largely silent, and it is up to us to apply principle to determine these issues. So to answer questions of the gray areas of personal morality, Romans 14 is very instructive.
The Apostle Paul taught that, while some matters are black and white, other matters, like whether it is a sin to eat meat offered to idols, are up to the individual. He gives the following guide to navigating such gray areas: Read more