We’ve all been warned about the connection between pride and reading. Charles Spurgeon warned that “little learning and much pride come with hasty reading.” Bertrand Russell once observed, “There are two motives for reading a book. One, that you enjoy it. The other; that you can boast about it.” Alan Jacobs has similarly commented: “I think most people read quickly because they want not to read but to have read.” Continue reading “The Humility of Reading (or The Pride of Not Reading)”
Ever since my first ministry post as a middle school ministry director in 2003, I’ve dealt regularly with Christian folks who want to know if it is acceptable for them to date an unbeliever. Often (but not always), those who are pondering this question readily acknowledge that the Bible says a Christian cannot marry a non-Christian. Nevertheless, they believe they can move down this path because (1) the Bible does not forbid dating an unbeliever; or (2) their romantic relationship can serve as a means of evangelism to the unbelieving boyfriend or girlfriend; or (3) their situation is unique; (4) a combination of some or all of the above. Continue reading “Can I Date an Unbeliever?”
When it comes to the matters related to physical life and how Christians should think about earthly enjoyment, the Church has rarely found herself securely balanced between the extremes of severe asceticism and unrestrained indulgence. Even the New Testament gives the indication that there has always been pressure to move toward one of these two poles. In Ephesus, there were lovers of pleasure; in Colossae, there were rigorous ascetics. In the early church there were those, like Augustine, who (personal reasons notwithstanding) rejected marriage and sought the pseudo-spiritual environment of a monastery. There were the hedonists and the Epicureans. Today we have the legalists and the health, wealth, and prosperity teachers. What we need a theology of enjoyment. Continue reading “All Things Richly: God and the Good Things of Life”
You can read part 1 here
Two texts that a person could point to–really the only two in the New Testament–to argue that Christians can be classified as hypocrites, are Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42. In both texts, Jesus, speaking to his disciples, appears at first glance to imply that a disciple who does not deal with his own sin before helping another disciple with their sin is not merely guilty of hypocrisy, but is, in fact, a hypocrite (Matt 7:4; Luke 7:42).
These passages are often used as proof texts for how Christians should conduct their ministry of confrontation and restoration. The pattern should be this: before you deal with the little sins in other brothers and sisters, first deal with the big sins in your life. Well and good. As a principle, this approach is certainly valid. But a closer look at these texts shows us that Jesus’ use of the word hypocrite in Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42 is consistent with how he uses it elsewhere. In other words, Jesus isn’t assuming the person with a log in their eye is a genuine believer who simply needs instruction on how to humbly interact with other believers. Continue reading “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 2: What About the Log in our Eye?”
You can read part 2 here.
You’ve heard it before.
One reason people give for not being a Christian is that the “church is full of hypocrites.” Why believe the message about Jesus Christ, the argument goes, when that message has no obvious power in the lives of his followers? If Jesus’ professed followers don’t really seem to believe his message, why should we? Continue reading “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 1”
Are there times when our desire for spiritual growth could hinder us from walking in the truth of the gospel?
For Christians serious about making progress in their spiritual lives, such a question sounds either intuitively wrong-headed or so easy to answer that it doesn’t even merit a response. Growth in godliness and right affections is one of the primary aims of the Christian life. Peter commands us, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The sign of a sound pastoral ministry is individual and corporate spiritual growth (see Eph 4:15, 18). But is there a way to approach spiritual growth that actually keeps us from making progress and diverts our gaze from Christ? Continue reading “Replacing Christ with Spiritual Growth”
The past thirty years have seen an increase in the phenomenon known as short-term missions. In the last three decades, American church members have enjoyed a growing ease of access to multi-week foreign mission trips in which they provide assistance to the ministry of overseas missionaries and Christian workers. Many churches have joined in what has been called the Short-Term Missions Movement by sending their members across the world on these single or multi-week ventures.
Certainly there is value in this kind of ministry. Although writers like Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert offer poignant criticism of how many churches are conducting their short-term mission trips in their book When Helping Hurts, they also conclude that these overseas trips should not be eradicated from church budgets. Reformation, not removal, is the aim of their critique. (see also Robert Lupton’s Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help for a trenchant critique of and recommendations for our short-term mission projects). Nevertheless, there is a hidden danger in these noble attempts at getting Christians to be more globally-minded. Continue reading “A Sustainable Christian Life Requires that We Love Those Around Us”