Parents can hardly pass on to the next generation what they lack themselves. How can we expect rising generations to take the Christian worldview seriously when the overwhelming majority of their parents are clueless, shaped far more by cultural trends than Scripture?
The Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University has released its American Worldview Inventory 2022. The results are disconcerting, to put it mildly. Two-thirds of parents of pre-teens in America identify as “Christian,” yet only 2 percent meet a minimal criteria of possessing a Biblical worldview.
The study exposed serious deficits in both homes and pulpits around America. As for the home, lead researcher George Barna notes that “A parent’s primary responsibility is to prepare a child for the life God intends for that child. A crucial element in that nurturing is helping the child develop a Biblical worldview—the filter that causes a person to make their choices in harmony with Biblical teachings and principles.” Yet Millennials, who now make up a majority of today’s parents, have become the generation least likely to ascribe to a Biblical worldview, with a meager 4 percent meeting the basic criteria.
Roughly one-in-four parents of preteens believe in objective moral truth, the personal agency of the Holy Spirit, and that life is sacred. Parents can hardly pass on to the next generation what they lack themselves. How can we expect rising generations to take the Christian worldview seriously when the overwhelming majority of their parents are clueless, shaped far more by cultural trends than Scripture?
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By John Beeson — 8 months ago
The gospel and God’s grace to us are not set aside in giving, but God himself, in his grace, is the one with the power to make this grace abound in us. God’s blessings result in good works.[v] And every good work is the work of generosity. In this, we return to Paul’s first reason for giving: it is a grace. Generosity is beautifully cyclical. When we actually cheer as money leaves our wallets, we are a place of delighting as God delights. It is then that we are experiencing the gift God intends to give us, the gift of generosity.
I worked for a few years in development and was trained in best practices for raising money. I was blessed to work for a Christian organization that was committed to raising money in a godly way, but the broader development industry doesn’t have many scruples in doing what they do best: separating people from their money. And they are clever! How does a development professional unlock the giving vault?
The secular handbook on getting people to give reveals a lot. There are three universal rules in development:[i]
1) Appeal to donors’ emotions, not their minds: tell a story that will move them;
2) Inflate a donor’s sense of importance and appeal to their interests;
3) Create urgency: donors need to feel as though the need is immediate and significant.
The Christian generosity handbook is very different. Having delivered his four strange reasons for giving. Paul is now going to five equally strange instructions for giving in his letter to the Corinthian church. Paul’s instructions contradict the development professional’s handbook at almost every turn. Paul tells us we should give this way:
2) Not reluctantly
3) Not under compulsion
5) Through the power of Christ
Paul explains his instructions this way in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” It is staggering just how different this is from today’s secular handbook for giving.
Faux Christian Generosity
But shouldn’t we take tithing seriously? The LDS (Mormon) Church takes tithing very seriously. In an official publication, they state that a bishop may move forward with disciplinary action on that member including “information probation, temporarily restricting his privileges as a Church member – such as the right to partake of the sacrament, hold a Church position, or enter the temple.”[ii] That’s a far cry from our evangelical churches today. On the one hand, the LDS Church is to be commended for the seriousness with which they take stewardship and generosity. On the other hand, these guidelines draw very near overturning two of the ways in which Scripture calls us to give: “not reluctantly” and “not under compulsion.”
The Beautifully Strange Difference
Where today’s handbook tells one to appeal to the emotions, not reason, Paul tells us our giving must be thoughtful. Where the secular handbook tells us that any giver, even a reluctant giver is okay, Paul tells us that true generosity requires that there is an eagerness.
By Helen Louise Herndon — 1 year ago
Why shepherds have a challenging and difficult task today: When it comes to racial division in the church, the culprit is today’s social justice agenda, and immoral sexual identity or tolerance relates to the LGBTQ activism and agenda. The former is not biblical justice, and the latter is not biblical morality. Racially, we are called to be one in Christ. Sexually, we are only physically male and female in Christ–—not emotions or immoral desires.
Shepherds, that is ministers, priests, and other church leaders, have a most challenging and difficult responsibility–—especially today. You may ask why or even articulate a Hmm! Throughout church history, it has not been easy. There have been challenges resulting from false teachings, heresies, apostasies, moral scandals, and persecutions. However, it may be questioned how can it be more challenging or difficult today? Hopefully and eventually, I hope to be capable of shedding light on the why.
First, the flock and shepherds themselves need reminding of what shepherds are tasked to do and how they genuinely fulfill their obligation to the sheep. Wouldn’t it be helpful to go to a sheep farm to observe what they do or to even go back in time in order to understand the biblical definition and description of shepherding? Basically, shepherds were responsible to both feed the sheep by leading them to green pastures and to protect the sheep by anticipating dangers such as predators, rocky cliffs and dense bushes in which they could become entangled.
Personally, I’ve wanted to visit a sheep ranch to learn how differently ewes and rams are treated, as a constant conflict exists throughout church history and today as to the roles of men and women in the church. I once thought of writing a book or essay entitled “Ewes in Rams’ Land.” I hope this brings a smile on both men’s and women’s faces! I’ll leave you to guess in what direction that would go; and you might be surprised!
Back to the shepherds and their task(s); feeding and protecting the sheep appear to be equal in importance for the sheep. In many churches, expository preaching–— preaching through an entire book of the Bible–—is considered the summa cum laude preaching method, so much so it can even become an idol for some. In other churches, topical preaching is the favored choice, while yet in others short, pithy homilies are de rigeuer.
Each perhaps has its strengths and weaknesses. Certainly, expository preaching feeds; but does it protect when specific threats arise? Topical preaching may do a better job of protecting, but does it promote nurturing feeding? Not as familiar with short homilies, I’m incapable of distinguishing clearly which is stressed or if neither are.
Today’s shepherds do well to recognize their sheep–—like those grazing in a meadow–—are seriously in need of lush pastures for feeding and anticipatory protection from predators, falling down rocky cliffs or becoming entangled in thick bushes. Both are equal responsibilities for shepherds who love and care for their Master and His sheep. In other words, feeding and protecting the sheep are fulfilled by shepherds who are genuinely committed and loyal to their Master/Owner of the sheep.
The sheep will never flourish or thrive without feeding from “the whole counsel of God.” They also will not persevere if they are not protected from false ideologies and teachings or moral scandals. They require clear focus on what the dangers are. Someone else has written that sheep have poor eyesight but have a keen sense of hearing; are timid and nervous–—defenseless against predators; tend to huddle together and go where one sheep goes. In other words, they are fragile and self-defenseless.
Today, just as throughout the Church’s history, Christians and the church are speedily assaulted with one deceptive ideology after another. It’s not the time to ignore or be silent in face of such assaults. This may be the weakness of expository preaching, that is, it doesn’t take a rest from feeding to protect the sheep. The sheep need to be made aware of what ideologies are false and why from diverse biblical passages. That requires topical preaching. It also requires sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s urging to focus on protecting the sheep. Shepherds do well to remember there are also new lambs in the flock. It‘s not enough for church leaders only to be aware or to be engaged in fighting infiltration of racial divisions and embracing sexually immoral identities or tolerance. These are just two of the most aggressive false ideologies infiltrating the Church currently–—all three branches–—and particularly Evangelical and Reformed Faith churches and denominations.
I expressed hope to shed light on why shepherds have a challenging and difficult task today. When it comes to racial division in the church, the culprit is today’s social justice agenda, and immoral sexual identity or tolerance relates to the LGBTQ activism and agenda. The former is not biblical justice, and the latter is not biblical morality. Racially, we are called to be one in Christ. Sexually, we are only physically male and female in Christ–—not emotions or immoral desires.
Shepherds (clerical and laity), continue to feed the sheep, but please–—really please–—protect your flock as well. Don’t ignore or be silent to the dangers your Master’s sheep face. They need you to do both tasks.
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder andwitness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glorythat is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you,exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, accordingto the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness . . . (1 Peter 5: 2)
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.
By Campbell Markham — 8 months ago
Whoever you are, and whatever the depths and agony of your trials, God is hovering over you: he loves you, he is near to you, and he can rescue you. We see a living picture of his rescue unfold in the subsequent six days of creation.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.—Genesis 1:1-2
If we are going to get anything out of Genesis, then we must prepare ourselves.
Basil of Caesarea (330-79) said at the beginning of his Hexaemeron, a series of sermons on Genesis 1,
How earnestly the soul should prepare itself to receive such high lessons! How pure it should be from carnal affections, how unclouded by worldly disquietudes, how active and ardent in its researches, how eager to find in its surroundings an idea of God which may be worthy of Him!
And John Calvin (1509-64) said in his commentary on Genesis, “The world is a mirror in which we ought to behold God.” “If my readers sincerely wish to profit with me in meditating on the works of God, they must bring with them a sober, docile mild, and humble spirit.”
So remember that the author of these words, Moses, saw an appearance of God at the burning bush, and God spoke with him “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exod. 33:11; cf. Num. 12:6-8). And don’t forget the power of these words, “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).
The Hebrew word for “beginning” is ראשׁית (rēshīt), which may also mean “starting point” or “first,” and is closely related to ראשׁ (rōsh), which means “head.” The word God translates אלהים, Elōhīm, which may be the plural for אל (el), the generic word for god. The plural does not in itself teach the doctrine of the Trinity, that there is one God and three persons in the godhead, but is more likely a “plural of majesty.” God is not just god, he is GOD. Elōhīm. GOD! The very sound of this word, naming as it does the Creator of the universe, should fill us with awe, dread, and love.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Before there was an earth and atoms, life and light, time and tide, there was God. He is eternal, which does not mean that he is very old, but that he had no beginning. He always was, is, and will be. Many have mockingly asked, “What was God doing before he created the world?” In his Commentaries on Genesis, Calvin relates a humorous answer he had read to this question:
When a certain impure dog was in this manner pouring ridicule upon God, a pious man retorted that God had been at that time by no means inactive, because he had been preparing hell for the captious.
We cannot speak reasonably of what God was doing “before creation,” because before creation there was no time as we know it—there was no “before.” Certainly there was nothing that brought God himself into existence.
The Hebrew verb for create is ברא (bārā); it is only ever used with God as the subject. What did God create? The “heavens and the earth.” Heaven, שׁמים (shamayīm), also means sky. Earth, ארץ (erets), also means land and ground. These words do not have a special meaning in Genesis 1:1; but when put together like this, “heaven and earth,” that is, “sky and ground,” “everything that’s up and everything that’s down,” they emphasize that God made everything. Only God himself is not made.
There are no time indications in these first two verses. The earth (erets) was formless and empty. There is some lovely alliteration here in the original, the earth was תהו ובהו, tōhu va bōhu. These words are neither “good” nor “bad” but are exceedingly and perhaps unpleasantly bland. Tōhu can refer to a barren wasteland, “a barren and howling waste” (Deut. 32:10; also Job 6:18). It can refer to futility (1 Sam. 12:21) and meaninglessness (Isa. 29:21). Bōhu appears only three times in the Old Testament. Isaiah 34:11 describes how “God will stretch out over Edom the measuring line of chaos and the plumb line of desolation,” and Jeremiah uses just the same phrase as Genesis 1:2: “I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty (tōhu va bōhu); and at the heavens, and their light was gone” (Jer. 4:23). We will return to Jeremiah’s hugely significant phrase in a moment.