Monthly Archives: September 2022

The Status of Preaching

While reading Second Timothy as Paul instructs Timothy from prison to be a staunch and steadfast promoter of the gospel and to “correctly handle the word of truth”, it struck me that many of the examples of preaching that I encounter stand in stark contrast to that injunction. Pop psychology, platitudes, personal views and alternate readings, replace what should be at the heart of preaching – God’s infallible Word.

Even worse, some preachers encourage their hearers to find “their own truth” in the text. This is a very postmodernist approach where we all have our own “truths”. All we need to do is discover it. God’s truth, is secondary to our “truth”.

I found an alternative view in a church in Porvoo, Finland, a number of years ago. As the preacher approached the pulpit, above the door to the pulpit the cleric would have read: 1 Cor 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” And as the preacher left, on the other side, 1 Cor 4:20 “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” For me, it highlights the fact of God’s truth is proclaimed through the foolish mouths of humans. However, this Word, as it comes from God, is empowered to change lives and destinies. It doesn’t give us an excuse to replace God’s Word with some fantasy of our own.

Our foolishness, however, does not give us liberty to stray from God’s word. This must always be at the heart of all preaching.

Categories: Bible, Christianity, preaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Medieval parenting

My wife and I were discussing parenting for faith last night as we often do. We reflected on the perilous social conditions that confront Christian parents today.

I cast my mind back to my own parents who were foundational in their influence on my life, especially with regard to faith. My parents were two very different people. My mother believed and knew what she believed and nothing would dissuade her. My dad, on the other hand, had a more tumultuous relationship with his Creator. He struggled with understanding God’s actions, His revelation of himself, His fairness and many other aspects of the God revealed in Scripture. But there was one absolute truth that both my parents abided by – God was real! And that is what I mean by Medieval Parenting – there is no question around the existence of God. It is a given. In Medieval times there were no atheists. In my family, growing up, the reality of God’s existence was always at the heart of our family life. This truth guided our decision making, priorities and also guided us through life, which, at the time, being a migrant family with few resources, was an amazing comfort. We were in God’s hands no matter what happened or whether or not we understood Him..

What I particularly appreciated about my father’s relationship with God was that God was a constant presence in the conversations. In prayer, in family devotions and at Christian gatherings God was always in the middle the conversation. Never on the periphery.

Looking back, I treasure my father’s open struggles in understanding God. It gave me a living example of what we often see in the Psalms – the psalmist questioning God, angry at God, confused by God but always conversing with God.

“Medieval parenting” starts with a living and real relationship with God and the question of His existence is never part of the conversation.

Categories: Children, christian, Family | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Pornification of our Culture

Currently I am reading Carl R. Trueman’s brilliant unpacking of our contemporary social morass in his book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. This mind-bending unravelling of the nature of modern identity in the West is a “must read”. However, I just want to reflect on one chapter: Chapter 8 – The Triumph of the Erotic. In this chapter Trueman explores how Surrealism, inspired by the likes of Marx but particularly Freud, made a concerted attempt to destroy Christianity via the means of a sexual revolution.

The author traces how this process has worked in what he describes as the “pornification of mainstream culture.” We see this in more recent times through the rise of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine in the 1960s through to explicit sexual acts in mainstream television and films in the 2000s. There has been an increasingly overt wearing down of the old sexual morals. What was once hidden  in dark places is now celebrated out in the open. As he points out, in today’s context Hefner looks conservative. Now porn in every aspect our culture is the norm.

The author then goes on to look at the implications for violence particularly towards women, and the impact of this revolution on the feminist movement as a whole.

My precis is brief and insufficient, however, the question this chapter raises for me is, how do we protect our children from this inescapable onslaught? In some ways contemporary society must resemble the situation of the early church in a pagan environment in which the culture was etched into every aspect of daily life. How do you grow up faithful to the gospel in such an environment?

Here are some thoughts, but I would love readers to add their contributions as well. For the church, this is a communal issue in which community must play a crucial role in the response:

  1. Nurturing faith must be a parent and church’s highest priority. Faith is both the foundation for protection but also the restorer when failures occur.
  2. Modelling within the family and church is key: what we say, what we watch, how we respond to the inappropriate must always be consistent with our faith. Children watch our every move and are expert at detecting hypocrisy.
  3. Nurturing responsibility is also important. Age-appropriate steps in trust and responsibility are essential. Teaching strategies in reading and watching and choosing what to read and watch is essential.
  4. Many of the practical parenting ideas given (by a variety of programs) with regard to the internet are helpful, but ultimately children need to be responsible for their own choices and action.

These are just a few broad ideas. But Carl Trueman is right when describes this as an assault. The “pornification of our society” is an attack on faith, the family and the church. There are many who see these as outdated institutions. Therefore, we must be prepared to defend these institutions vigorously and passionately with the welfare of the most vulnerable foremost in our mind.

Categories: Children, christian education, Christianity, Faith | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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