I will continue my review of Think Christianly and we will look at Part one of the book. I will attempt to not make this an overview merely of what the book says, if you are looking for that I would encourage you to just read the book itself. Although at times overview will be pertinent. I just want to cover sections that helped me the most, and some questions that were raised.
Part one is all about understanding the intersection we find ourselves where faith meets culture. Whether we as Christians would like to admit this or not culture does matter. In order to interact and think Christianly within our culture we need to have a firm grasp on what culture is. In the book culture is simply define as “what people make of the world” (32). We as Christians must understand that we are not against culture but we work within culture. From the way Jonathan Morrow defines culture I would say you could also call this a worldview, which is a way people strive to make sense of the world.
A distinction that is fleshed out in pages 32-33 is pertinent because to often we mistake the culture for the world system in which we live. As Christians we are not to love the world (First John 5:19), we are not to be conformed to the thinking of the world (Romans 12:1-2). Those who make themselves a friend of the world make themselves enemies of God (James 4:4). Culture is the way people make sense out of things in the physical world and the world in the system that lies in the power of the evil one. We are to interact with culture and our faith, thinking Christianly, must come into play in when we handle the way others make sense of the world we are in.
The problem we must be aware of is if we are not safe as we try to meet the intersection of faith and culture we could get affected by the world if we have do not have every thought taken captive to Christ.
In Chapter two we are called to engage. Engagement is key. To often as Christians we will hear things and not speak out against them, in love, even though we know the certain thing to be false. Of course there are many reasons for this. To often the opinions of Christians are seen as being invalid. Many times this is the case because we do not have clear thought out arguments in order to engage in. We must remember that we are Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God meant to take His message into the realm of our everyday mundane lives.
One question that comes into mind when I deal with chapter two is what is the role in all of this? It is helpful to remember this book, for lack of a better way to describe it, is a book about worldviews or apologetics and how we defend our faith so I realize the book is not laying out a doctrine of the church. But what kind of role does the church have? According to Morrow it has a very active role. I agree with this. The question is where does all of this work in to the life of the church? The church is the bastion of the truth of God and is designed to make disciples of all nations through the proclamation of the gospel. From what I can see Morrow agrees with this. As a church leader I need to be thinking about where apologetics fits within the life of the church. Is it something we should focus on, on Sunday mornings where we meet as the church gathered to get our marching orders from our head? Or is it something we work in to a midweek service or even Sunday school? The church HAS to play an active role in this because if we as leaders are not influencing the people God has placed under our care someone else will. Just some food for thought here for myself and anyone else who may be a church leader.
For the truth to advance we must be equipping the next generation better than we have. Chapter three deals with this issue. To often youth groups take on the role of presenting a myriad of options and leaving the students to choose which is truth for themselves. I know this is the case I have witnessed it in the town I live. I can distinctly remember when I was in high school visiting a local church youth group with a friend and the youth leader presenting a biblical texts and giving us options and his conclusion was I will let you choose which is correct. Although there may be times for this it should be the exception rather than the rule. We must equip the next generation to understand what they will be facing intellectually as they transition from high school to college so they can have an intelligible response.
There are a few hurdles that will have to be jumped. In the book there are three. Boredom and Apathy, relational disconnection and intellectual disengagement. Our attention spans are getting shorter. We relate with one another more through Facebook at times than face to face. And we are in a culture where the intellect is downplayed. This is true in the church and outside of the church as well. We will have to address these issues even though the task will be tough. This can be done in many ways within the church. Morrow points out that mentors would be helpful (56-57). As older Christians we should and must come along side those who are younger and mentor (disciple) them in the faith. We need to be honest with them and allow them to ask honest questions of us. We need to be firm in our convictions and have a big view of God. But, importantly, we must be sharp intellectually and give them tools to combat the arguments they will encounter. This is important because the age when people drop out of church is getting younger and younger.
This is especially important for us to remember being in Berea, KY. This is a college town and different views always abound in this setting.
To wrap this post up we need to be comfortable with interacting with the culture around us. We need to be ready and we must equip the next generation of believers so they are prepared to battle the arguments they will face. These are just a few things that stuck out to me from part one. In the next post we will look at part two: preparing to engage.