Showing posts with label Maturity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maturity. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Idealism and Realism

A couple of blog posts and a recent sermon have me thinking again about the idea of perfection in the Christian life.

Sinless perfectionism is a minor heresy in the Christian community — not minor in the sense that it is an unimportant error, but minor in the sense that far too many of us can see the inherent impossibility of such a pursuit to be deceived into believing Christ-like impeccability can be attained in this life. Accordingly, the doctrine’s ardent proselytizers are few.

If you go around asking “Which one of you convicts me of sin?” long enough, somebody is bound to step up.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: A Bit Too Agreeable

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

David de Bruyn’s series of Letters to Stagnant Christians at Churches Without Chests hit what both Immanuel Can and I considered its peak this week. It’s an insightful post entitled “Confirmation Bias” in which David makes the case that it is possible for Christians to fail to grow in Christ as they should, not because they agree too little with what they hear, but because they agree too much.

Tom: Now, that sounds a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it, IC?

Immanuel Can: Well, yes. We might wonder how it’s possible to agree too much with anything God says. That seems highly implausible at first. You’re going to have to unpack that a bit, I’m thinking.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Anonymous Asks (270)

“What does it mean to receive the grace of God in vain?”

Today’s question comes from 2 Corinthians 6:1, where Paul writes to the believers in Corinth, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” When you appeal to somebody not to do something, it’s evident there is a less desirable outcome you are trying to avoid.

So then, what does receiving the grace of God in vain look like?

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

I won’t soon forget his face.

He was perhaps thirty or forty years of age, well-dressed and smart looking, a typical man of his era. He was just one among the thousands who had come to this week-long Christian conference.

Every morning, the speakers had been dealing with the reasons for faith, their goal being to show people how firm and rational the foundation for our beliefs really is. Naturally, in this day and age, they had found it necessary to refer often to the recent screeds of people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris, the self-appointed “brights” of the atheist world, the so-called “Four Horsemen” of the secular apocalypse; though, really, all four are theological lightweights, since contempt for one’s subject matter tends to make one rather imprecise. Anyway, they make their way by preaching to the atheistic converted, reciting to them the same old canards that have been circulating since Darwin, Freud, Marx and Nietzsche. (Truly there is no new thing under the sun.)

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Failure to Launch

Stock characters are those fictional roles we recognize instantly: you know, the incompetent police officer, the clueless secretary, the crooked lawyer, the rebellious teen, the uptight schoolmarm … and so on. You see them on TV all the time.

There’s a new one going around lately: the adult child. This is the mid-twenties son or daughter who still lives in his parents’ basement, having his meals cooked and his laundry done for him, blithely confident that the world outside — the world of careers, responsibilities and independence — is overrated. His harried, weary parents pray for him to move out and make his way in the world or for some nice girl to come and snap him up. But he knows very well that for now he has it good. Being too old for his parents to control but too needy for them to abandon, he is free to devote his time and assets to playing video games, going to clubs, flirting with girls and hanging out at the beach. A periodic trip to the employment office is all that is necessary to convince his parents of his helplessness.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Grace of Receiving

It is undoubtedly more blessed to give than to receive — I know, I didn’t exactly come to that conclusion on my own — but I suspect it may also be easier, at least for Christians.

When we become children of God, we receive a new nature like that of God himself. Paul urges the Ephesian believers to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Curing Instability

“… a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

“Among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women …”

“… that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

Weakness of will. Instability. Confusion. None of these qualities have been traditionally considered admirable in Christian circles, and with good reason. Indecisive people make poor signposts. Our role models rarely include those who fail to exhibit self-control. Erratic individuals are not likely to have your back in times of crisis.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 2]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Continuing a discussion arising out of Immanuel Can’s recent and well-received post “Who’s Minding the Store?

Elders have the job of feeding the flock. IC’s post suggested that not only the Holy Spirit’s leading but a certain amount of human organization, ingenuity and especially careful observation are necessary in effectively carrying out that task. I pointed out some of the things that make that tougher than it looks, and we considered three of them last week. And here we are.

Tom: Since you mention individual gifts, IC, I pointed out in our discussion last Friday that our gifts tend to predispose us to see the world a certain way.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 1]

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In his recent post “Who’s Minding the Store?” Immanuel Can considered the responsibility of elders in deciding what should be taught in the local church they care for. His point was that elders need to really know their congregations in order to provide them with the spiritual food they need. Somebody needs to “mind the store”, so to speak.

Tom: I wanted to get into this a bit further with you, IC, and it seems to me this is a better place to do it than a back-and-forth in the comments to the original post.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Numbers Game

“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth …”

A few years ago I sat through a summer camp message from an alumnus of Dallas Theological Seminary. I can’t remember the man’s name now, and it doesn’t really matter. The thrust of his message was that a very, very large number of people will ultimately come to the knowledge of Christ and be brought into the fellowship of the saints. Comparatively few, he said, would be lost.

I found him quite unconvincing.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Failure to Launch

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Under Construction

Twice each day for the past two weeks, my morning constitutional has taken me past an older house in the middle of major renovations. Each day, any remotely attentive passer-by could observe two to three men on the job along with all the requisite heavy equipment, trucks and supplies. A radio blasted encouragement as the construction crew scurried back and forth.

And ... nothing happened. Not a thing. From the street, there was no observable progress whatsoever.

In a way, it reminds me of many of us.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 2]

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Too Hot to Handle: Minding the Store [Part 1]

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Immature Christian

I don’t know a lot about modern Judaism, orthodox or otherwise. But I was intrigued by this opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post. Of all the things that might tick Jews off about Christians, the one that particularly sticks in the craw of writer Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks is that we’re ... well ... immature.

Now let’s face it, almost nobody in this century or the last much likes the idea of a religion that claims a monopoly on truth. But the one completely untenable, utterly illogical position to be taken is that all religions are therefore simultaneously true, or even contain substantial truth. The Law of Non-Contradiction declares that contradictory statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time, and contradictory statements about the nature of God are no exception. Some ideas about God, the universe and morality are simply more accurate (and therefore more truthful) than others.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why Are We So Easily Shaken?

The most current version of this post is available here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Quality Control

Knowledge is not enough.

We know this, of course. Where the Christian life is concerned, it’s first principles that real blessing is reserved for those of us who not only hear the words of Christ but who act on the wisdom we have heard. Believers who are satisfied with mere exposure to truth are kidding themselves. There is no reward for head-knowledge, and neither testimony nor substance in the Christian who prides himself in it.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Failure to Launch

The most recent version of this post is available here.