When what we feel doesn’t match what we believe.

More than 30 percent of workers say they are always or often under stress at work (citation). One in ten Americans over the age of 12 are now on antidepressants (citation 1, and ABC news). Suicide rates are highest for people between the ages of 40 and 59 (citation). Where does all of the pressure come from?

Lately, I have been spending much time and mental energy pondering the human experience. What seems to cause us grief and stress is not having too many things going on, but not having control over too many things.

Inspired by the film “No Country For Old Men” and this article by RC Sproul, I decided to write this post. (Here are my thoughts on No Country for Old Men)

For the believer, we affirm that this is God’s world (John 1:1-18). That Christ has conquered sin and death. That he is sitting at the right hand, he is preparing a place for his Bride (John 14.3) and he is coming again to judge. We affirm that God is sovereign over his creation; that he has all control, authority and presence over his world (Col. 1:15-20). We believe that he will preserve those he called (Eph. 1-2). We believe that evil will not prevail (*) and that righteousness will reign (Rev. 21).

Yet we too often struggle to reconcile what we believe with what we experience. Can we really trust God’s Word and our experiences? If I arrive at that conclusion that God’s Word is in question, as Sproul put it, we are in danger of being a “sensuous Christian.”

Often one who once believed, but now challenges the entire Gospel, does so because their life experience teaches a message that seems incompatible with the biblical worldview they once held. They will abandon God’s Word altogether because it doesn’t seem to jive with “what we experience.” If I arrive at that conclusion, than I have gone too far. Hear how Sproul grapples with this:

I said, “Wait a minute. God promised that he would be here.” I didn’t feel his presence, and so I thought he wasn’t there. I had become a sensuous Christian, allowing my strength of conviction to be determined by the strength of my feelings.

I realized that I’ve got to live by the Word of God, not by what I feel. I think that’s how you deal with doubt. You begin to focus on what God says he’s going to do rather than on your feelings.*

Pop Art and a Post-Christian Culture (part 2)

 Go here for “Pop Art and a Post-Christian Culture” (part 1)

(2) What’s more, however, God is not the only one whose name has been on the lips of our mainstream idols, but so is the name of Jesus.

Justin Bieber garnered the best new artist of 2011. Holding his statuette, Bieber announced “I just want to say thank you so much, not only to God but to Jesus, because I wouldn’t be here without him. He’s really blessed me. He’s put me in this position. So I want to say thank you so much.”

Kanye West storms the stage at the 2010 MTV Europe Music Awards preshow. During a charged performance of the anthem “Hurricane” by Jared Letto’s band, 30 Seconds to Mars, West walks out to join Letto wearing his (likely $200 or more) Givenchy tee. It read “Jesus Is Lord.”

Following the VMA show, I was left sitting there gazing blankly at the now dark television screen wondering what all of this means. I began to type this post and do a little research. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one confused and yet intrigued about the Christian allusions in the arts. According to this Fox news article, “immediately following the telecast, the words “God and Jesus” became top trending topics on Twitter due in large part to pop prince Justin Bieber.” Read more…

Pop Art and a Post-Christian Culture (1 of 2)

It is both curious and confusing that there is so much reference to God among pop stars–this is old news, but true none-the-less. Now, however, we notice that there are others making reference specifically to Christ. Is this something new? What are we to make of this? First, a look at references to “God” and his blessing, then, references to “Christ” among musicians and artists.

     (1) The name of God and invoking his blessing:

Lady Gaga receives the VMA for best female video. Clutching the Moonman trophy, Gaga used the mic to repeat the message of her song “Born This Way.” She said, “I feel so blessed to be here, and it’s true. It doesn’t matter who you are. Gay, straight, bi, lesbian, transgender — you were born this way. God bless you, MTV. Yeah!”

Again, thanking God for playing a role in one’s career success is not at all news and Gaga was not alone that Sunday night. When Britney Spears receives her Video Vanguard VMA, she begins, “First I’d like to thank God for blessing me so much.” But looking specifically at Lady Gaga and the lyric of the song for which she won the award, we have to ask: Is one whose message rebels against God able to invoke a blessing from “God,” whether for herself or others? She even receives her award in drag. At the same time she says “God has made us” she is saying that we make ourselves.

Read more…

What is an evangelical?

Are you evangelical?

Poll America and most will say that they are “Christian,” says Gary Langer for ABC news in this beliefnet poll.

Eighty-three percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians. Most of the rest, 13 percent, have no religion. That leaves just 4 percent as adherents of all non-Christian religions combined — Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and a smattering of individual mentions.

Among those identifying themselves as “Protestants:”

The largest group within the ranks of American Protestants is unaffiliated: Read more…

Defining God

The single most crucial component of seeing the world and seeing ourselves rightly is seeing “God” rightly. He made the world, he made man according to his likeness and he placed man in the world he made for his purpose and pleasure.

I received an important comment in response to Ridiculous Doctrines – Religious Pluralism. My friend writes:

You are defining “God as he is and on his terms” in a manner that fits you and your religion. You have faith that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. For many, they look at the same text and dispute your assertion as impossibly at odds with the reality of the lives they lead and the experiences they have everyday.

Read more…

What Teens Actually Think (pt. 2 of 2)

In more recent days, Bauer’s thesis has received a new lease on life through the emergence of postmodernism, the believe that truth is inherently subjective and a function of power. With the rise of postmodernism came the notion that the only heresy that remains is the belief in absolute truth–orthodoxy. Postmodernism, for its part, contends that the only absolute is diversity, that is, the notion that there are many truths, depending on a given individual’s perspective, background, experience, and personal preference. In such an intellectual climate, anyone holding to particulary doctrinal beliefs while claiming that competing truth claims are wrong is held to be intolerant, dogmatic, or worse.

— Kostenberger & Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), pp 39.

Read more…

What Teens Actually Think (pt. 1 of 2)

Biblical authority has always been challenged. Post-Enlightenment scholasticism, higher criticism and modernity have challenged widely held convictions regarding biblical authorship, authenticity, authority, inerrancy and infallibility. How can I live without having to submit to or be accountable to biblical authority? How can I create a reality that is free from widely held convictions regarding ethical absolutes? I must challenge biblical authority. I must challenge the absolutes. I must remain autonomous–able to define myself, reality, ethics, etc. without Scripture as a norm. We simply have to refer to Scripture as man-made. Or in the case of Bauer and Ehrman, we have to refer to “orthodoxy” as man-made. Read more…