1) To practice writing on various and sundry things
2) To proclaim the Gospel’s impact in all things
To that end this year in review will cover religious issues. Some are unique events and others are part of growing or interesting trends. Obviously, given my conservative, Calvinistic, Presbyterian background, some of them will be narrow issues indeed.
I chose religion because where the church goes so goes the culture…and the politics…and the laws….you get the idea.
The church leaders and members need to keep an eye on churchly trends—at home and abroad.
1. Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question
Brian who…? He is one of the leaders of the emerging church. He tries to tip-toe around the homosexual issue with church visitors. If this is part of being "emerging church" I don't want it!
2. Growth of High-Church practice
The growth is primarily through church movements into Anglicanism. However, in the Reformed churches it is through emphasis on liturgy and the Lord's Supper (hint: weekly Communion).
3. Rocky Mountain (Tainted) Spring Water
Haggard. & then a co-worker. Then Barnes….they all drank from the same fount.
And they all came out of the closet. Terrible. Sad.
4. Christian Leader Is Doctrinally Liberal
More amazing than point 3 (everyone sins) is the doctrinal heresies that lie behind it. Remember, Haggard was the leader of a large Christian group (NEA), yet he believed in sinless perfectionism. (30:15 into the interview). And he defined "Evangelicalism" as ranging from Benny Hinn to R. C Sproul! (4 minutes into the interview). But then most Christians don't take doctrine seriously...
5. The Pope & Islam
Well, you get the picture….
6. Presbyterianism in Action
R. C Sproul Jr., son of the famous Sproul, was deposed (defrocked) for abuse of authority, illegal tax number and practice of paedocommunion. Deposition is not embarrassing for Presbyterians. Rather it shows we take discipline seriously. And discipline is to bring men to repentance. It did. Sproul and his fellow ruling elders repented. Sadly, they left their denomination and joined Wilson's group (CREC) because of their ongoing belief in paedocommunion.
7. Does It Matter How Many Americans Are Christian?
The Barna Group identifies about 40% of them as “born again” (loosely defined I might add) and 9% as "Evangelical" (more serious about the bible, etc.). So, where is the Christian impact on society….?
On the other hand, Al Mohler (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) insists “this is a nation whose citizens are overwhelmingly Christian.” Thus, we are not a Christian nation, but a nation of Christians.
I must say, I am not sure what definition of “Christian” he is using….
8. All in the Family
Although starting a few years ago, the “family-integrated church” ideology has been gaining momentum. It is primarily homeschool centered & is not explicitly Reformed. I actually visited their conference. Many good things were said. Other questionable things were said as well. It is against any age-differentiation (ie. Sunday School, youth camp, etc.), yet properly wants children in public worship. There has been no public dialogue (for instance amongst neighboring pastors), just a public confession signed by churches (from Fundy, Arminians Baptists to OPC churches) rejecting such things as unbiblical. I am not sure what long-term impact this will have on families and inter-church relations.
9. Calvinism Is Chic
Christianity Today did a front-cover story on the rise of Calvinism in Evangelical circles (especially the Southern Baptist Convention). Now, Calvinism is certainly something to center a movement upon!
10. Federal Vision Blurred in OPC
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church General Assembly’s study committee finished its report. The importance is not that the battle is done, but that it is rather just begun. The OPC drew a line in the sand. The churches and presbyteries should now begin the discussion in earnest. The issue of justification is no little thing. Such deviancy within the Reformed faith must be brought to the forefront of our churches and discussions amongst our leadership must be maintained. Other things have importance (see number 8) but pale in comparison to the Gospel—that truth which holds all others together.
Either way, keep the faith, watch your theological environment and follow Christ.
This year in review is obviously narrow. Nevertheless, I hope it was informative. And it was information that moved you to reflection, encouragement or action.