There are Two Paradigms in America Trying to Operate Today
Neither is Where Jesus Christ is Leading Us Now
In a previous version of this article I reported on a talk last June 2019 by Tim Keller at the Howard Hendricks Center of Dallas Theological Seminary. Keller spoke of a disconnect in Christian groups between older generations and Millennials.
See: Today’s American Christian Divide and The Great Generational Disconnect
Tim Keller sees Old Paradigm Churches as fading from being relevant in America now, so that we are becoming spiritually dead like Europe. Younger people in droves, reacting to the hypocrisy of the older generation, have been dropping out of the Establishment. The Great Generational Disconnect is well known. By "Old Paradigm Churches," Keller was referring mostly to Reformed Churches springing out of the Protestant Reformation.
After writing this sketch last February (2020), I found a wealth of enlightening material which I had forgotten about over the years--or never knew in the first place. May I first recommend searchers get better acqua 2019inted with Tim Keller’s numerous messages reflecting his well-informed understanding of our culture. You may wish to start here: An Identity that Can Handle Success or Failure.
Today, 5/25/2020, I received a great YouTube link from Roger Murray calling my attention to the magnificent Cologne Cathedral built between 1248–1473; 1842–1880.
The history of great cathedral building is amazing in the context of history. I expect my friend Bryce Self knows it well. I visited Cologne Cathedral with Ray Stedman about 1970. These amazing buildings in Europe are stark and empty on Sundays. If they have a great pipe organ and choir, music lovers come to occasions such as recitals, but not to meet God as a Person or to study the Bible.
The state churches in Europe are today a sham. Everyone is baptized by the church and everyone water baptized is a “Christian” (of course). Citizens in those nations are sprinkled as infants, confirmed, married and buried by the state church. The state church is supported by taxes. The tiny band of true Christians in those nations is obscured and silent.
The State Churches were born out of the great Protestant Reformation 500+ years ago. But the Roman Catholic Church still claims to be the one true church withe the ruling pontiff the official vicar of Christ on earth.
The first settlers in America imported mostly Reformation Christian values and culture with them. Of course the Roman Catholic Church came along for the ride but never caught on big time in pluralistic American colonies. Later, many immigrants flooded in from China, Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, India. Eastern Religious philosophies, many gods, and pantheism came along for a free ride in the 20th Century. Farm workers from Mexico made a huge difference a well. Most were nominally Catholic.
No wonder Tim Keller used dead European Christianity in his perception that the U.S. also has a dying state church (with science as now our main state religion.) Followers of Jesus in this country are a tiny remnant today.
Big churches mean nothing to God when Body Life is missing.
As we recover from the lock down many will go back to our old dying “state religion” and today's mega churches. Hopefully true followers of Jesus will wake up and set up small groups and home cells, and let the false church blend into the Harlot of Revelation 17. Since many who have grown up in the "moral majority" --and others embedded in the Old Paradigm--actually do know Jesus Christ personally, the generation gap is not a simple disconnect. Many who are living in the new paradigm know Jesus as well.
Tim Keller notes that those who are living in the Old Paradigm believe in a "two storey" universe but Millennials he says live in a "one storey" universe. The upper storey is where God, the angels, and heaven are to be found. But the lower story is the domain of man and the church. A person seeking God should become part of the church community downstairs and reach up to invite God to change him or her. Once converted, the supplicant only needs to conform to the lower story culture and live happily ever after. Whether or not Jesus actually is allowed to change the inner person, thought, emotions, motives is unimportant they wrongly assume much of the time. Actually, intimacy with God is a very big deal.
Under the rules of the new paradigm there is only one storey, the upper storey is assumed to be empty. Therefore in the new paradigm, "I am God," "you are God" "we are all gods." This is all Eastern Pantheism. Therefore Keller rightly says that a "two-storey" universe is more true to reality. Those who are walking with resurrected Lord Jesus, earth's coming King are safe, the rest are not. At risk are Compromised Christians, Cultural Christians, Closeted Christians, the Rebellious Ones, and of course Atheists, Agnostics and the like, as always. A small group of die-hard sinners, is excluded.
If we were to pray for a “revival” at this late hour, would a good God favor the “state church” over the common people? I think not! Which group would God breath life into at this late hour? Yes, He’d safeguard his Bride and take her home ASAP then deal with the unsaved majority left behind with maximum mercy and very tough love.
This leaves BOTH open…
"Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?”
If we lack either side of the equation, it is not the true Faith, which is both rational and experiential.
Jesus says this in context of the resurrection—His resurrection is the focal turning point of global and cosmic history. It is both based on factual evidence and attained to only by living faith.
We seldom either grasp or assert the resurrection as the core fact of our faith because we have become habituated to thinking of “heaven” as a diaphanous, ethereal, insubstantial place where our disembodied spirits go to be happy when we die. Christ’s resurrection is physical, it is a human being in the body Who sits on the throne of the universe, and we will be raised in His likeness. This is the Christian hope. This morning, I've been corresponding with a fellow who thinks that Saul experienced a mere vision on the Damascus road so, the fellow wonders, how is Paul different from any other modern so-called “apostle” who claims to have gone to heaven for an interview with Jesus to be chosen as an apostle.
The difference is that the appearance to Saul was public, with many witnesses (enemies to boot) who were also affected, And it was Jesus Himself who appeared to him bodily—“I am Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus did not become a disembodied spirit when He rose from the dead — something He made quite an emphatic point of with The Eleven, "And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Facts and faith, doctrine and experience, both together, Thomas. To divide them into sequestered compartments shatters the Biblical faith.
Thank you, Bryce!
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 3:7-14)
The State Church | Separation of Church and State | Theocracy | Monarchy | A Glorious Church
The culture of America has been Christianized because of the influence of generations of true Christians embedded in an otherwise secular culture. There has never been a Christian nation in the world. The Bible speaks only of Israel and the Gentile powers. Only Israel has a covenant with God.
Christians attending most churches apparently adapt their behavior to what they see as prevailing standards. A vital daily walk with Jesus, obeying him and not being conformed to the culture are rare. We think of our selves as responsible citizens calling on the impersonal God "who lives upstairs." The New Testament imagery of our being Ambassadors to earth from another realm is illusive. When we die, we assume we’ll get to go to a remote heaven up there and be rewarded for our good deeds.
Many people who are Old Paradigm “Christians” may not yet know Jesus personally. They are often trying to live good lives, but actually walking in the flesh, compromised by being still embedded in the evil world system. Those living in the old paradigm tend to think of God and the angels as residing in the upper story of a two-story universe.
Followers of Jesus Christ from either paradigm are supposed to be on the same page. Today many who have come to know Jesus from the new paradigm community don’t have any close friends among old paradigm Christians—and vice versa. Christians on both sides of the fence are often at odds with each other ignoring passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:18-26:
“But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it
The church Jesus has been building for the past 2000 years is one organism. All of us who are connected to the Head are one body as God sees us. “If one suffers all suffer, if one rejoices all rejoice."
Only about 5% of the people in the world are Americans, so that about 95% of the Christians in the world are “foreigners.”
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Old paradigm Christians tend to measure orthodoxy by doctrinal statements and logical reasoning, while new paradigm believers value personal experience with Jesus without necessarily “rightly dividing the word of truth.” This leaves one open to demonic deception, to false Christs, to the counterfeit.
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."
“I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. (John 5:39-43)
The plain teaching of the Bible about us being call to live separated lives is overlooked. Personal holiness is rare. The scientific view of origins is taken by default as the best description of reality. The transcendent realm is overlooked. Day to day social values are heavily influenced by movies, TV, and schools. Digging a bit beneath the surface, raw paganism is the default mode. Social standing, income levels, and degree of education are considered “better off.” Right and wrong behavior is culturally driven with little reference to the real God or moral absolutes. The status quo stands unchallenged except by a minority of religious crackpots.
“Come Weal or Come Woe, the Status is Quo.”
Among old paradigm professing Christians overall perceived godliness is a measure of one’s standing in the community. Outsiders see a plethora of churches differing from one another over fine points of doctrine and shunning those who see things a bit differently. Heresy is tolerated, but not perceived moral lapses. Hypocrisy is largely overlooked, blatantly false teaching is not addressed and few have read the Bible. The trend over the years—apostasy—is evident to outsiders. Legalism rules many churches by default. A distinct clergy class is often in place — paid professionals who rule over the flock.*
* This is the ancient heresy called Nicolatianism twice mentioned the letters to the Seven Churches). The Trouble with Titles, by Ron Matsen
I beg you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
In the Bible, God is said to be Transcendent and also Imminent.
A Generalization of New Paradigm Values
Loss of moral absolutes. "I reject, insofar as possible, all superimposed moral values." Affinity for Eastern mysticism. Mind Altering drugs common. Pragmatic decision making because of a loss of moral absolutes and paucity of visionary leaders.
“My parent’s values don’t apply to me. In many ways they were hypocritical and judgmental. I believe in tolerance for every one. Other religions are just as good as my parents’ Christianity.”
“I have never studied history seriously. I take one day at a time and I trust in Lady Luck.”
“My will is king. I do whatever seems right to me and I respect your right to do what seems right to you.”
“Bad things happen to good people and I am basically a good person. I have not read the Bible.”
“SELF is my god. Since I know that your god is also SELF, we must all respect the boundaries of everyone.”
"I reject a two storied universe (the old paradigm). If there is an upper story, it’s empty."
“My day to day life is existential. I must survive one day at a time. The future is totally unknown and unknowable. If there is a heaven (which I doubt) I expect to go there when I die, because I’m basically a good person.”
“I am in a relationship with my GF or BF but we don’t plan to get married. Of course we have sex together but we also hook up with other people. Why get married at all? Everyone knows that sexual desires are part of life. Abstinence is impossible anyhow. I accept other people who are wired differently than I am. They have a right to happiness just like me.”
“I am terrified of death and the hereafter.”
“I believe everyone deserves to be loved.
“I was raised in the church and my parents are very religious. But I am on a different quest in life.”
Godly men and women boys and girls —finding themselves living in either paradigm —actually know and love Jesus Christ. It is not an either/or deal! The great divide in life is between those who know Jesus Christ personally and those who do not.
May I ask you to listen to several short talks by Tim Keller. They show how any of us can live in both paradigms at once by going deeper with God, by knowing Jesus Christ personally and intimately.
The One, True God loves you deeply. He brought you into being. His son, Jesus gave His life to make it possible for you to be saved. Here are some terrific passages from the Bible for inquirers who are seeking to know more about God:
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. (Acts 17:22-34)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:16-25)
All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:27-30)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12)
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-7)
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
“...by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:22-25)
“...which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
Who to Fear
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:26-42)
For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.
For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 5:13 - 6:10)
The work of Jesus on the cross paying for all sin is finished and does not need to be repeated. Outside of time and space Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Please invite Jesus to be your Lord now and escape from the Wrath to Come.
Jesus’ Death: Six Hours of Eternity on the Cross
In The Cross
Christ in You
The Exchanged Life
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:3-14)
People are reading the Bible more than ever these days -- and based on a new survey, they need to! Only six percent of adults in this country have what George Barna defines as a "biblical worldview" -- a shocker of a statistic that has more Christians wondering, what on earth are parents and churches teaching?
He's been in the business for more than 25 years -- interviewing tens of thousands of people. And here's one thing George Barna has learned: No one has a pure worldview. It doesn't matter if their worldview is biblical, postmodernism, secular humanism, new age, mysticism, whatever it may be.
To some degree, he says, "we all pick and choose things that make sense to us and feel good... then we wrap it all together in this unique package..." But the problem for Christians is, more and more of that package doesn't include the black and white truth of God's word.As part of his American Worldview Inventory, Barna -- who directs the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University -- asks 51 different questions about what people believe and how they live out those beliefs. Then, he explained on "Washington Watch," "we drill down." He asks people things like how they would define success, what is our common purpose, or the ultimate reason for living. And what he found is, there's really no dominant perspective.
On success, about one in five said, "living and healthy, productive, and safe life." Another 22 percent said, "being a good person." About the same amount answered, "personal happiness and freedom." Only 21 percent replied that success is "consistent obedience to God."
These are startling statistics when you consider that roughly 70 percent of Americans identify as Christians -- and yet most of them don't seem to know their fundamental purpose on earth. "It kind of ties in to the other things we found in the research, as well," George pointed out, "related to what they believe about God.
We're at a point where only 51 percent of Americans now have what you might call an orthodox biblical view about God -- that is, describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the universe who is perfect and just and still rules that universe today."
When Barna asked them to agree with more statements -- about God's love, existence, who He is, and His involvement in everyone's life -- only 10 percent of the population lined up on all of them. Suddenly, he said, the six percent figure with a biblical worldview starts to make sense.
But what about the evangelical community -- surely, that statistic is higher there? "It is," George replied, "but not as high as you might think." Even people going to Bible-believing churches don't have much of an edge in the worldview department.
Only 21 percent line up on the Barna scale -- a dismal number that ought to be a wake-up call to every pastor and parent in America.
It all, George insists, "comes back to our households. Because, of course, it's the parents' job to be developing the worldview in their children. The church is there to support the parents in doing that -- whether it's through [children's ministry] or how they prepare the parents to do that task through the teaching in the church... But really, the most significant thing is what we do with our children... Really, it's those early years in life that are so critical."
Believe it or not, he went on, a person's worldview starts developing at 15 to 18 months of age -- and it's almost completely developed by age 13. That's not a lot of time, and we -- as parents -- aren't the only influencers. There's the media, their friends, teachers, public officials. They all help shape their thinking about right and wrong, purpose, God, and life.
It all goes back to what Scripture tells us: if we teach our children when they're young, they'll return to it. But they're not going to return to that which they don't know. That's why it's extremely critical that parents take the leading role -- even in pre-school, kindergarten, and elementary school -- in teaching them a biblical worldview and helping them integrate that faith with the world around them.
The bottom line, George insists, is: we can't keep doing what we've been doing. "When we talk with senior pastors across the country about worldview, more than 80 percent say they're doing a great job."
The evidence disagrees. "When we talk with parents, we find that less than five percent of parents of kids under 13 have a biblical worldview. They can't get what they don't have. So we've got to change our plan if we want a different outcome." And for the sake of this generation -- the sooner, the better.Originally published at Family Research Council - reposted with permission.
Among today’s evangelicals, it has become virtually commonplace for us to talk as if all sins render us equally guilty before God.
Perhaps we have bristled at a previous generation’s tendency to identify one or two sins as particularly hell-deserving. Perhaps we are looking for a way to winsomely engage a society allergic to the idea of sin. My guess is that many of us just want to do justice to Scripture’s universal condemnation of human sinfulness. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Should we really insist that some have sinned worse and fallen farther?
“The worst sinners in this world are those who go on sinning when they have every reason and opportunity to repent.”
But then we listen to Jesus and find, as usual, that like so many tables in the temple courts, he turns over our assumptions. Although Jesus warns us not to make hasty, simplistic conclusions about who the “worse sinners” are (Luke 13:1–5), he also warns us that some sinners, if they do not repent, will face “the greater condemnation” (Luke 20:47). He teaches that some will receive a comparatively “light beating” on the last day while others will receive a “severe beating” (Luke 12:47–48). He speaks of the final judgment being “more tolerable” for some groups than for others, though both are heading to hell. In short, he tells us that not all sins are the same, and that hell will be worse for some.
And who did Jesus have in mind when he warned of hell’s lowest levels? Not (as we might again assume) the Hitlers and Stalins of the first-century world, but rather ordinary, respectable religious folk. People perhaps like our relatives and neighbors. People, perhaps, like us.
Somewhere in the middle of Jesus’s ministry, he looks back on the cities of Galilee “where most of his mighty works had been done” (Matthew 11:20) — and be begins to denounce them.
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! . . . And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. (Matthew 11:21, 23)
On the last day, he tells us, the judgment will be “more bearable” for Tyre and Sidon, and “more tolerable” for Sodom, than it will be for the citizens of these Galilean cities (Matthew 11:22, 24).
Tyre plundered Jerusalem after Babylon had laid it waste (Ezekiel 26:1–2), but better to be a marauding Tyrian on judgment day than to be a citizen of Chorazin. Sidon exulted with Tyre over the destruction of God’s chosen city (Isaiah 23:4, 12), but better to be a proud Sidonian on judgment day than to be a member of Bethsaida. The men of Sodom nearly battered down Lot’s door in order to rape his guests (Genesis 19:4–9), but — can it be? — better to be a lecherous Sodomite on judgment day than to stand with the city of Capernaum.
“Jesus tells us that not all sins are the same, and that hell will be worse for some.”
How can we understand this? As far as we know, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were not renowned for their wickedness. These were small Galilean cities, neighbors to Nazareth. Capernaum was even Jesus’s “own city” during his ministry (Matthew 4:13; 9:1). The residents of these places were likely synagogue-attending, Torah-memorizing, Sabbath-keeping Jews. How could they possibly outdo Sodom in sin?
For this simple reason: when they witnessed the mighty works of the Messiah, God’s own Son, “they did not repent” (Matthew 11:20).
Jesus’s Galilean hearers carried with them a greater guilt not because their sins, considered in themselves, were especially heinous. To be sure, Scripture does not shy away from calling some sins especially heinous (see, for example, Leviticus 18:24–30; Jeremiah 16:18). But that is not Jesus’s point here. His point is that greater knowledge brings greater accountability. The more truth we have, the more damnable is our preference for lies.
The worst sinners in this world, then, are not necessarily those who live in rank debauchery, but those who go on sinning when they have every reason and opportunity to repent. Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, for all their wickedness, lived and died in gospel darkness. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum saw the gospel’s blazing light — and they quietly closed the curtains.
The ancient pagan cities had not seen the Son of God cast out demons; Capernaum had (Matthew 8:16). They had not watched him open the eyes of the blind; Bethsaida had (Mark 8:22–26). They had not witnessed the paralyzed walk or the sick made well; Chorazin had (Matthew 4:23–25). If Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom had seen such wonders, Jesus tells us, “they would have repented long ago” (Matthew 11:21).
“The more truth we have, the more damnable is our preference for lies.”
The residents of Galilee may have watched with awe as Jesus worked his miracles, but they soon returned to life as normal — planting crops, raising children, performing religious duties, forgetting about the King who commanded repentance. In other words, they responded to Jesus with a sin worse than Sodom’s: polite impenitence.
English bishop J.C. Ryle (1816–1900) applies the point to our own day: “It will prove more tolerable to have lived in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, than to have heard the gospel in England, and at last died unconverted” (Matthew, 85). For England we might substitute America, or any other nation filled with the gospel’s light.
It won’t matter on the last day if we have lived near Jesus all our life. The citizens of Galilee could claim the same: “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But if we have not repented, we will hear the same response: “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” (Luke 13:26–27). Repentance, not proximity, will be the mark of Jesus’s followers on judgment day.
Jesus is not addressing here those saints who have truly believed, truly repented, and yet find that their faith is little, their strength weak, and their need for mercy great. He will not break such bruised reeds, nor quench such smoldering wicks (Matthew 12:18–21). He is instead addressing those who, though familiar with Christ and his gospel, have not yet followed Jesus wholeheartedly, have not yet turned to hate their wickedness, have not yet forsaken their secret sins.
Have you heard Christ’s gospel, and watched his mighty works in the transformed lives of those around you, and repeated the creeds and confessions, and been washed in the waters of baptism, and partaken of the Lord’s Supper, and attended church all your life — but not actually repented?
Lukewarm, half-measure responses to Jesus will aggravate, not ease, the wrath of God on the last day. Better to have been lost in the fires of Sodom than to have heard, and watched, and repeated, and partaken of Christian things all your life, yet without repentance.
Perhaps some of us need encouragement to finally, sincerely repent, while others need help to go on repenting every day. If so, we need only keep reading. Jesus’s woes against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum soon give way to one of the warmest invitations he ever spoke.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)
Come to me. No matter how many years someone has merely dabbled with the gospel, no matter how many opportunities they have trampled, no matter how many sermons and exhortations they have despised, Jesus says, “Come to me.” He invites those who rival Sodom in their evil, and he invites those who compete with Capernaum for their apathy. He invites those who have blatantly hated him all their life, and he invites those who have quietly rejected him.
Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart. He does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). Rather, he delights when the wicked, after long years of refusing him, finally come, ready to repent and find their rest in him.
Not all sins, and not all sinners, are the same. But they all have the same remedy: the Savior who came, and lived, and died so that no one who feels the weight of their guilt need finally go to hell.
Note about Sam Eaton: He is a fascinating young man (about 30) whom I follow on FaceBook.
His account of being rescued from suicide is amazing.
Does he know Jesus Christ as Lord? Probably not yet, but I think he is on the way.
by Sam Eaton
I, the token, blue-eyed millennial, was present to soak up the wisdom of those who have gone before me. Like much of my generation, I grew up without a single male role model and have tried to put myself in the company of the men whenever possible.
Tuning in and out of our discussion around the latest best-selling MEN ARE CREATED TO BE RUGGED WARRIORS toxic-masculinity-leaning literature, I was snapped back to reality as a crass joke came flying across the circle.
The hairs on the back of my neck leaped to attention like a military, surprise 2 am role call.
I’ve never been a megaphone wielding, marching supporter or antagonist of the LGBTQ+ Community. I have chosen to be somewhere in the middle; I have chosen to be a connector to both sides. I have chosen to love all people.
Then some of the most hateful words I ever heard were launched into the air.
My vision went blurry and my stomach dropped miles into the reservoir below.
I knew this game. If I stood up to this comment it would be assumed I was gay, feminine or worst of all to them: both.
But as the banter continued, I spoke a quiet wondering.
The culprit of the joke furled his brow beneath his camo hat. Another man widened his eyes perhaps indicating I had broken the unwritten, “don’t challenge your elders” rule.
“It’s just a joke,” was muttered as an interruption from the large group leader brought the tension to a screeching halt.
My question lingered in the air never to be answered. No one came to my defense. Most importantly, no one came to the defense of those not present.
It’s no secret Millennials (born 1980-2000) are fleeing from church faster than sit down restaurants, large department stores, napkins and bars of soap. A study by Pew Research shows only 42% of Millennials are church members today, a drastic change from the 77% who were members forty years ago.
Only 42% of Millennials are members of a church today, a drastic change from the 77% who were members forty years ago.
A lot of people have written words on the millennial exodus.
I wrote some thoughts myself in a little piece titled, “59% Percent of Millennials Are Leaving the Church and They’re Trying to Tell Us Why” which quickly reached over 3 million views and was featured on the 700 Club.
Turns out, my internal struggles with trying to love Church vibrated across the world.
Traveling all over the U.S. and speaking in Churches primarily about suicide prevention, I’ve had the unique opportunity to connect with thousands of Millennials all over the country.
And when you ask about Church—especially to those who have left—one word rises above the rest. Hypocrisy
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Newsletter #44 March 2022
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