Confession: I read a lot.
I read books I agree with.... books I don't agree with....books that are a bit over my head....books on subjects I'm interested in....books on subjects I'm not particularly interested in....and books that are just mindlessly entertaining. I read books about philosophy, science (remember those books that are a bit over my head?) and history. I devour theology like it's the latest teen fiction craze to take over Barnes and Noble.
But one of my favorite things to do just before I go to bed is read the Church Fathers. Oh, how I love the Fathers. Whenever I read something a bit "heady" or confusing, I head over to consult with Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, and Augustine. These guys were dead serious about Jesus and were not messing around when it came to their faith. They were flawed like the rest of us and were certainly fallible—but they help us understand Christianity as it was expressed in their times and cultures.
One of the most common objections skeptics raise to the deity of Christ is the idea that Jesus never actually claimed to be God. Sure the church ended up worshiping Him as such, but this was a later development that was projected onto Jesus but wasn't something He intended to claim for Himself....or so the argument goes.
If you are expecting to find a Bible verse in which Jesus stands on the Mount of Olives and proclaims in English, and every other known language, "I am God!" You won't find it. He actually did one better....but we'll save that for the end.
"Progressive" Christianity...And WHY You Need to Understand It—Mama Bear Apologetics Podcast with guest Alisa Childers
The gospel accounts found in the New Testament are embarrassing. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John included some pretty uncomfortable details in their writings. But if you're a Christian, that's actually a really good thing.
We humans have a tendency to paint ourselves in a good light—to leave out the bad stuff and exaggerate or embellish the good. If you need proof of this, click over to Facebook and check your newsfeed. You will be bombarded by photos of your friends vacationing at the beach, having ice cream with their children, drinking artisan coffee, and eating mouth-watering delicacies at the new local Bistro. You will read a wife's birthday tribute to her husband that would convince the most skeptical rationalist that she is married to Superman himself. In short, Facebook is a highlight reel.
That's not necessarily a bad thing—no one wants to scroll through Facebook and see everyone's dirty laundry.
But Facebook isn't exactly an accurate portrayal of history.
Progressive Christian blogger and author John Pavlovitz wrote, "We believe that social justice is the heart of the Gospel..." Is he right? And what exactly is social justice?
I recently posted an article in which I described Progressive Christian churches as swapping out the gospel for social justice. I got a lot of pushback on this point, but I believe that most of this pushback comes down to a misunderstanding of words.
Some are quick to say, "Social justice is good!" or "Social justice is bad!" without giving any nuanced thought to what the phrase actually means. Recently, I listened to a Mortification of Spin podcast episode called "Hijacking Social Justice," that brilliantly dove into the history and meaning of the phrase and how it interacts with the gospel. It inspired this article, and I highly recommend listening to it.
The world my kids are living in is radically different from the one I grew up in. When I was a kid, there was no internet. There were no cell phones. No Facebook or Twitter. No one I knew owned a computer. If I wanted to find something out, I had to go to the library and check out a book, or consult my parent’s encyclopedia set. In the '80s, it was fairly easy to settle into your church and community and not hear much from the outside world. I wasn’t particularly sheltered, but still I had never heard many of the sophisticated intellectual objections to the Christian faith until I was an adult....and I was not prepared with answers. But the one thing I DID have—I had praying parents.
As a Christian parent, have you ever felt like the world has gone mad, and you aren't sure how to navigate it? Have you wondered how to deal with the challenges of addiction, racial tension, "hook-up culture," and consumerism? Have you wondered how to best help your child who is struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation, or how to help steer your child's entertainment choices? Have you wondered how to love your gay neighbors while maintaining a biblical worldview? Have you ever wondered how to protect your children from pornography, or even face your own porn problem? You need this book.