Important Questions from a Reader

Today, I received an email from an ABI Facebook Group member with some questions and issues that this person would like for us to consider as topics to be addressed on the ABI website and/or blog. I have also encountered these myself in a variety of contexts including ministry situations, articles and books, blogs and forums, conversations and just during personal reflection. I have summarized the main issues below and plan to write on many or most of them in over the next few weeks (or have guest writers contribute, as well.)

So, stay tuned.

(As always, please feel free to comment on the blogs – and also send me your own questions, as well.)
Reformed theology: We are seeing this become an increasingly divisive issue within and between churches. Some churches now no longer want to have gospel invitations and didn’t like it that invitations were included in some of the teaching material they had been using. They had concluded that a person could not understand and properly respond to a gospel message the first time they hear it. This also seems to be related to the “Lordship salvation” / “easy believism” debate. (My comments: These also sometimes have implications for other issues that are worth discussing such as dispensational versus Covenant theology, Calvinism versus Arminianism, predestination versus free-will, eternal security versus conditional security, among others.)

The Emergent Church: I get asked about this a lot by many people, including pastors. But I’m also asked this by a lot of lay people and regardless of their role in the church – I would love to be able to refer people to a good, concise article that explains things clearly. On the other hand, I am amazed at how many others don’t even know that this and other major issues are having a profound impact on the church as a whole today.

Worldview: What does “worldview” mean in general – and what does it mean to have a biblical worldview? I have been in at least one rather tense conversation with someone who was struggling to understand that not every believer necessarily has a biblical worldview. Along this line of thought, I was recently involved in one discussion in which the actual “Christian-ness” of a parent’s worldview came into question by on of their teen children – because they appeared to be sort out the idea that there are possibly various degrees of Christianity.

A major issue I frequently encounter is the question, “why does doctrine matter?” For many, the bottom line is that “God is love” and we should all work together on that basis alone. We are seeing a wide variety of beliefs, many contradictory – which cause problems for both those who try to minimize the differences as well as those that are struggling to define core beliefs that essential separation issues.  As one example, a few years ago when asked about what his church held to doctrinally the pastor responded, “Well – we are really on the cutting edge of theology here . . . ” We had a lot of discussion about just what that meant – and it just wasn’t very clear. The edge of theology (that lacks clear biblical basis) is not where we want to be nor where we would want our children being trained!

The “homechurch/family integrated church” movement: This thinking is promoted heavily by Vision Forum among others. (Also, the long-term effect / effectiveness of small-groups needs to be examined for results – long-term and short-term.)

Old Earth/Young Earth Creationism: This a big topic causing a lot of discussion a homeschool forum, with some suggestion that perhaps Young Earth Creationism is actually a tool of Satan to divide the church.

Biblically rearing children: Many methods and philosophies are being promoted concerning appropriate education of one’s children. This extends from more moderate mainstream views on responsible schooling – with often more heat than light generated in some discussions. Some are happy to put their children in school because the parents feel it is a comfort to put her children in school knowing that there were people in the government whose job it was to know what was best for her children and to take that burden from her. Others fall to the other extreme – perhaps something in the vein of the “quiverful movement,” Bill Gothard teaching and philosophy and even whether or not youth groups are biblical.

Depending on the context, some of these have turned into real emotional “hot-button” issues.
Thank you for taking time to ask about these. We will try to address them in a fair and balanced way. Some might require multiple posts and I may call upon guest writers with greater expertise to write on some of them. Whatever the case, I encourage others to write to me as well – and we will try to address your hottest topics.

Dave James
Ministry Coordinator

  1. Some good areas to address. I am hopeful that extremes will be avoided, such as presupposing that “Reformed Theology” is detrimental to a church or kills evangelism (as the post suggests). William Carey, the father of modern missions, was “Reformed” insofar as he was a Calvinistic Baptist (as most baptists were in those days). As J.I. Packer points out in his excellent and still-very-relevant book “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God,” to believe that God is in control of all things is an impetus not a deterrent to evangelism. Because of this, Carey believed, and is often quoted to have said, “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” His life is a good example to study which reflects a balance between evangelistic zeal and reliance upon God’s sovereign activity in salvation. See more at Charles H. Spurgeon, another Calvinistic Baptist, is also well-known for his passion in preaching the gospel and urging all men to believe upon and receive Christ.

    This is one example of how each of these topics might be “tempered” to avoid extremes. When we cite others with whom we might disagree (and of whom we often have little firsthand knowledge), we are sometimes prone to select the poorest examples from their camp to critique. I would recommend citing quotes and references (such as website links) which fairly and accurately represent spokespersons who represent the best from other viewpoints.

    While it is important and helpful to point out error, it is also edifying to recognize where God has been at work in other places and through other people who might differ from us. We don’t want to be discouraging Christians more than we are encouraging them, otherwise, we might find ourselves partnering more with the devil than with the Lord.

    • Thanks, Rick.

      My intent is to always provide a fair and balanced view. And the blog site is open for comments to bring balance and contra-points if I have failed to do so or if I have missed something.

      On the other hand, if someone has put something into the public forum, then even if it is a poor example or an extreme example, it has the potential to have as much influence as the best examples – and therefore is rightly and fairly open to critique. And it would not be fair and balanced to cite only the examples which are biblical if there are statements which are not. There are any number of writers or speakers who even promote heresy who might also make good biblical statements. Wm. Paul Young in The Shack is one of the most obvious recent examples. He did make some very good points in certain places, but this does not reflect the overall nature of the theology of his book.

      I appreciate your thoughts and will certainly keep your suggestions before me as I deal with these issues.


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