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Posted 11/27/12 at 6:39 AM | Grayson Pope |
The absence of cult activity and gross superstition in American life is really starting to worry me, and that's not a joke.
...But assume for the sake of argument that such surveys genuinely do reflect a secular shift, and the United States really is moving to become more similar to Canada, or the nations of Western Europe. If that were the case, then one of the first symptoms we would expect would be a general reduction of interest in spiritual or religious matters across large sections of society.
...In other words, the first symptom we might expect of genuine American secularization would be the disappearance of cults, and a precipitous decline in activism and enthusiasm on the spiritual fringe, which is exactly what has taken place over the past two decades. If that linkage is genuine, then the odds of a national religious recovery or revival like that of the 1970s would be vastly diminished. Perhaps secularization really is looming. FULL POST
Posted 11/20/12 at 11:08 AM | Grayson Pope
We live in a day pregnant with historical significance. Surely, we are not the first to have lived through such times.
Just as surely, though, many of us live as if this is not the case. We carry on lives which proclaim there is nothing beyond today and the trip to the store. Lives spent only understanding the now; clueless to their specific situation in light of what has come before them.
I am guilty as much as the next man. We all are or have been at some point.
To avoid this pitfall, here is a list of
10 ways to understand the significance of now:
What did I miss? Would you add anything to the list? FULL POST
Posted 11/15/12 at 12:32 PM | Grayson Pope
The Great Commission is one of those sets of verses so often repeated it often falls on deaf ears. This has certainly been the case with me before.
Once something becomes overly familiar we can often replace the words with our own feelings or attachments. Of course, this is a dangerous thing to do. Because in doing so, we miss the originally intended meaning.
While rereading the book of Matthew recently, I was trying to avoid falling into just this trap. It proved well worth it.
Upon reading the Great Commission, I noticed a singular word which had never “popped out” at me before. The word?
Here is the Commission so you can see this in context:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matt. 28: 19-20 FULL POST
Posted 11/13/12 at 11:04 AM | Grayson Pope
Humans, in general, are not prone to reflection of their current situation. Without intentionally carving out the time and place for thought, little weight is often given to the current situation.
This is dubious in itself, but perhaps more perplexing is that even in the face of great danger, men can carry on without deep thought.
In the months before declaring independence from Britain, then General George Washington reflected on his predicament of being outmanned and essentially unarmed with the British Army within a sight glass’ view,
The reflection upon my situation and that of this army produces many an uneasy hour when all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people know the predicament we are in.
Washington knew his army was a ragamuffin crew. Their situation was dire, lacking the necessary gunpowder and ammunition to carry out an attack, or, more importantly, hold off an attack by the British if they decided to move.
On the eve of certain death in the most gruesome of fashions, Jesus would ask his disciples to keep watch and pray over him, only to find them sleeping.
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them,“Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” FULL POST
Posted 11/1/12 at 3:27 PM | Grayson Pope |
Tolerance is probably the most praised virtue of the day. And rightly so. No one wants to be judged by an intolerant person who can’t see past the plank in their own eye.
Somewhere along the way though, tolerance began including complete intellectual acceptance as part of its definition.
Here’s what I mean. The old definition of tolerance, from dictionary.com, is
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
The new definition of tolerance might go something like this:
a radically permissive and condoning attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.
These are not small changes.
And they have led to what Pete Wilson noted in a recent sermon, which is that,
Intolerance in the name of tolerance is still intolerance. FULL POST
Posted 10/30/12 at 2:18 PM | Grayson Pope
We are far too easily pleased...
Those chilling words come courtesy of the one and only Clive Staples Lewis, and they are more applicable now than ever.
The new iPhone 5 is out, along with the iPad Mini, and with them came the unstoppable media train barreling around the world. Before the Apple guys were done announcing it, everyone already knew all there was to know.
Believe me, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I’m not even planning on getting one, but I’m always captivated by the magic Apple is able to create time and time again.
I was feverishly sifting through tech sites and blogs when I came across this headline that shifted my mood entirely:
Sigh. I knew I would have to address it when I saw it.
Headlines like this are so commonplace we don’t often feel the need to stand up and say anything about it. As Christians, we need to learn to start speaking up for ourselves. Why? Well, as Rick Warren pointed out in a recent sermon, everyone else is. FULL POST
Posted 10/25/12 at 12:03 PM | Grayson Pope |
The current state of culture towards Christians, especially those closely aligned with orthodox Christianity, is one of increasing hostility. It can be seen in the public square on issues like gay marriage or abortion. Any time a person makes a legitimate claim to a belief based on Christian principles it seems they automatically lose endorsements, funding and, ultimately, votes.
In a recent episode of the radio show Stand to Reason, Greg Koukl said something very thought provoking on the subject. He said he has noticed this same increase in hostility towards Christians, then spoke of Paul’s willingness to wear the label of “fool” when it came to his belief in the Gospel. The world labeled him a fool for his beliefs, but he was fine to take up that cross and bear it for God.
Then Koukl applied the same idea to gay marriage today. He pointed to the fact that if you say you are against gay marriage, the label you must now wear is “bigot.” It doesn’t matter what is right or wrong, or even justified, anymore. If you say you stand for the biblical view of marriage, you will be labeled a bigot. FULL POST
Posted 10/23/12 at 11:25 AM | Grayson Pope
We live in increasingly dangerous times. Revolution in the Middle East, economic turmoil here and abroad, and increasing numbers of people with no religious identity, all illustrate the point. One of the scariest trends, however, is far less subtle — historical ignorance.
Our culture knows very little of what came before it, both in popular culture as well as Christian culture. It is the second area, ignorance of Christian history, we will examine.
Many in the current generation have little to no clue about historically significant moments, sacraments, or figures in Christianity. Among them, Billy Graham has never been heard of, Eucharist is a term which seems foreign, and orthodoxy an idea which smells of outdated religiosity.
I have seen this first hand. I am 25 years old, converted to the Christian faith just over three years ago. The more I learn about my faith, the more I am appalled by the lack of historical knowledge I had. It is no better if I survey the landscape around me, not just for 20-somethings, but those in the their 30’s and 40’s as well. FULL POST
Posted 10/18/12 at 2:19 PM | Grayson Pope
What constitutes knowledge has changed. Instead of being able to recall as much information as possible, knowledgeable people today are able to locate information quickly. So instead of memorizing dates and locations from history, we learn instead how to Google what we are searching, using the best input to give us the best output.
It is a fascinating change in the way things work. Of course, as with most changes, this is a result of the tools we have available, namely the Internet. It has forever altered the way we look at information and knowledge. And it is not necessarily all bad.
I think of it like a calculator. Complicated math became accessible to humanity on a massive scale with the calculator, changing the way we interacted. The Internet did the same. It took a massive storehouse of knowledge and made it accessible to a massive audience that may never have known it otherwise. (Although research has shown we are far more interested in using the Internet for social media and entertainment as opposed to learning, but that is a topic for another day.) FULL POST
Posted 10/16/12 at 11:19 AM | Grayson Pope
If one were to survey the landscape of Christian blogs and websites today, they might come away with two notions concerning the church:
The first of these is reasonable. Many churches seem very broken. Sex scandals, misuse of tithings, and condemnation are all too familiar tales these days, unfortunately.
There are always areas in which the church can be improved. This will be true as long as sinners are in charge of running them.
The second point, that the church is redefinable, is where we have gone seriously astray. A common headline or title of a post on a popular Christian site might well read like one of the following:
Let me be very clear before moving on: I believe the church is in desperate need of repair. I believe there are very real problems with her, or more appropriately, how we have chosen to engage her. But I also believe she is the hope of this world, indeed the only one it has. FULL POST