A North Texas Native, Kris grew up in Sherman, Texas. While in high school, he met his future wife Amy. They have two children, Rook and Molly. Having achieved degrees from Baylor University (B.A. 1996), Southwestern Baptist Theological...
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The burger is the staple meal of the modern man. The greatness of the burger is it’s simplicity. Some fresh bread, the right garnish, proper condiment proportion and a choice piece of beef–it really doesn’t get much...
If the recent election has shown us anything about our country it is that America has definitely become post-Christian. It has little to do with political parties, but the hearts of the American electorate. In this past election, we saw the continued advancement of the homosexual agenda, the legalization of drugs, and the affirmation of the Nanny state. Now, before you write me off as the prototypical right-wing, fundamentalist preacher, I am the first to admit that the problem did not begin with the population at large, but with the Church itself.
I am not angry, in fact, I have been preparing for a post-Christian America all of my ministry life. We had been warned in the past–there were notable cracks in the hull of our ship. We saw what happened in England as the fog of post-modernism turned once robust church buildings into discos. The nation that gave us the Wesley brothers has few people who even know who they are today. Most statistics has church membership in America at about 53 million people, a number that has remained static since the middle of the last century. Population has grown radically, since that time, and the church as retained the same 53 million people. The Church did not adequately advance the Gospel to our nation. While our nation was going to Hell, we were doing things like arguing about worship styles. Admittedly, the Church, in general, abandoned major American cities over the last 60 years and developed Christendom in the suburbs. Unreached and unchurched masses emerged in these huge population centers–without the Gospel. Then, the Church, did not speak with love into some of the big cultural crises of the last several decades. For instance, instead of working with AIDS patients in the 1980′s, many Christians said this was a curse from God that people deserved. So, whatever reality we are in now, we, as Christians, helped us get here. I am not pointing one finger at the country at large, without four fingers pointing back at me, a member of the Church.
All that being said, over the next few blogs, I will be presenting a Biblical rationale for how we got this way. For now, Christians you need to pray for our leaders, ask God for revival, and figure out what role the Church must play as we live as a minority group. The good news for the Church is that when times get tough, Christians rise to the occasion. Don’t lose heart!Read More
Why is Christianity declining in the U.S.? Here are five basic reasons found in Ross Douthat’s new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. FIVE MAJOR CATALYSTS that the author suggests precipitated the decline are listed below and are explained in detail in this article:
1. Political polarization between Left and Right among churches.
2. The sexual revolution and the birth control pill that made it possible.
3. The dawn of globalization and the impression that Christianity was imperialistically “western.”
4. The enormous growth in the kind of material prosperity that generally works against faith.
5. The loss of the elites from Christianity and the academic and cultural institutions they control.
First, he points to the political polarization between Left and Right that drew many churches into it. Mainline Protestants and some Catholics were pulled into line with the political positions of liberalism, while the evangelical churches (and again, some Catholics) became instruments of conservative political policy. He writes: “Issues that were swiftly turned to partisan ends by politicians in both parties…divided churches against one another as no controversies had since slavery.” As Robert Putnam has demonstrated in American Grace, this has greatly weakened the credibility of Christianity in the culture. Since so many parts of the Christian church are now strongly tied to one end of the political spectrum or the other, it means each branch of Christianity can be dismissed by a majority of the population (moderates and those on the other end of the spectrum) as partisan pawns. It has been particularly damaging to see white evangelicals voting overwhelmingly in the opposite way as black evangelicals. This has all given rise to a broadly held perception that religion is really not about God and the Bible but about politics.
We should keep in mind that in the 1950s, the two great enemies were the fascism of Hitler and the Communism of Stalin and Mao—both movements that had severely persecuted their national churches. Marxism was of course intensely atheist. And so in the average American’s mind, religion and Christianity were associated with freedom and democracy while secularism and atheism were not. Today, post 9-11, that has been completely reversed. In the average American’s mind religion and fundamentalism are associated with political extremism and terrorism. They are now seen as the enemies of pluralistic, western society.
Second, he points to the SEXUAL REVOLUTION AND BIRTH CONTROL PILL that made it possible. “Before the sexual revolution,” Douthat writes, “a rigorous ethic of chastity and monogamy had seemed self-evidently commonsensical even to many non-Christians.” Why? The fear of “illegitimacy, abandonment, and disease.” But the pill changed all this. “Over the course of a decade or so, a large swath of America decided that two millennia of Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality were simply out of date.” The arguments against the traditional ethic had been around for centuries, but the hard reality was that sex produced babies and so the only really safe sex was married sex. The pill swept that argument away. Now far more people wanted (and were free) to believe these arguments for extra-marital sex because of “the new sexual possibilities” that the birth control pill afforded.
The importance of the sexual revolution for the loss of Christianity’s credibility can’t be over-estimated. For centuries individuals have justified and rationalized sex outside of marriage, but this had never occurred on a culture-wide basis as it now did in the West. Today there are enormous numbers of professing Christians, including card-carrying evangelical believers, who simply have stopped practicing the Christian sex ethic. It is seen as unrealistic and even perverse by thousands of people who identify as believers. This is massively discrediting and makes Biblical faith implausible to hundreds of millions both inside and outside the church.
The new sexual view of the world is one of the main barriers today to belief in historic Christianity. Most apologetics books (including mine!) give a chapter to each of the main objections to the faith, and yet few address what is almost the number 1 “defeater” for young skeptics—the regressive and supposedly unrealistic Christian view of sex and homosexuality.
The third factor has been the dawn of globalization and the impression that Christianity was imperialistically “western.” After World War II, the “Third World” de-colonialized—dozens of former Western colonies were given their freedom. “To celebrate the new global civilization was to celebrate the eclipse of European dominance…[and] to cast a cold eye across the many sins of Western civilization.” This occurred during the 1960s through the 1980s with the rise of academic studies of colonialism and western imperialism, through books about U.S. genocide toward Native Americans (e.g. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee), through discovery of southern white churches’ resistance to Civil Rights (e.g. The 1988 film Mississippi Burning), and to the uncovering of the history of the European church’s support of anti-Semitism in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust. Meanwhile “the more the world was swept up in the drama of decolonialization and Third World empowerment, the more tainted Christianity seemed by its centuries of association with the now-discredited imperial projects of the European West.” Out of “Christian guilt” over all this, the number of professing Christians who were willing to say that their faith is the one, true faith plummeted. Globalization has seemed to support those who attack Christianity’s claims to uniqueness.
The fourth factor in Christianity’s decline, according to Douthat, is the enormous growth in the kind of material prosperity that generally works against faith. This explanation was striking to me personally. Most religious-cultural analysts do not go here, but I found this argument persuasive. John Wesley was famous for his insistence that whenever a society (or a portion of society) becomes more wealthy, Christianity loses its power. Why? One underrated reason for the decline in the quality and quantity of those pursuing the ministry as a vocation is that other professions now provide far more wealth and status (as they did not 50 years ago). Another is that Biblical Christianity actually contains a very trenchant, powerful critique of greed and acquisition, as it does of sexual immorality. Just as the sexual revolution makes it hard for people to stomach one part of Biblical wisdom, so a highly materialistic society makes it hard to stomach the other. In addition, the consumerism of our culture is so pervasive and powerful that it has shaped American Christians’ attitude toward the church—namely, it makes the church irrelevant. Americans are conditioned to think of themselves as customers of goods and services, and churches as vendors that can be used or discarded on the basis of cost-benefit analysis. Douthat adds that in a materialistic society people are extremely mobile and they tend to commute long-distances to work. “Religious community proved harder to sustain in the new commuter society than it had been in an America of small towns and urban neighborhoods.” That’s right. In a society of increasing wealth, human community becomes less important for sustaining your life. Both church and neighborhood becomes superfluous.
The fifth and final factor in Christianity’s decline is the loss of the elites and the academic and cultural institutions they control. In some ways all of the other four factors have had their most powerful impact on what Christopher Lasch called the “knowledge classes”—the most educated and affluent, and this in turn magnifies secularization, because this class controls the media, newspapers, and networks, the academy, publishing, the arts, the most powerful and rich foundations, and much of the government and business world. Here Ross sounds a lot like Lasch (The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy) or James Hunter’s To Change the World. He argues that the educated and affluent have “gained the most from the new sexual freedoms and…suffered the least from their darker repercussions.” They were more cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, and well-traveled, and so they held more intensely to the view that religion was culturally narrow and imperialistic. The result is that the cultural elites have not merely “rejected” the faith. “Orthodoxy was less rejected than dismissed, reflexively, as something unworthy of an educated person’s intellect and interest.”
All quotes taken from Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press, 2012) pp.65-81Read More
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. To this day, people continue to put life and lives back together. One storm displaced entire population segments, altered livelihoods, and ravaged families. Storms change people and nations.
It is amazing how one phone call can change a life. Or, one diagnosis can rock a family. Or, one accident can alter ones existence. Or, one decision can damage so many lives. Bad things happen to everyone. Good people, bad people, rich people, poor people, smart people, simple people all have storms which rage in their lives. Hardship is the common denominator of human existence.
Understanding God is sovereign over all people, places, and things, why does He allow storms to rage in our lives? If God can stop calamity from occurring, why does he allow it to continue?
Volumes have been written on this topic, but essentially two types of storms are allowed into our lives. God allows storms of perfection and storms of correction to enter into our lives.
For instance, the biblical example of Job demonstrates a storm of perfection. Scripture states that Job was a blameless man, who was put through extreme trials. Through Job’s trial his faith was perfected. James 1:2-4 states:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
When we find ourselves in life’s storms, we must ask is this a storm of perfection?
Next, the biblical example of Jonah demonstrates a storm of correction. Scripture states that God commanded Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh. Resisting God’s will, Jonah headed in the opposite direction. He finds himself on a ship, in a storm, a storm of correction. Eventually, Jonah is partially digested by a fish and regurgitated onto the land. Jonah experienced the discipline of God. God loved Jonah enough not to let him continue in his sin. Hebrews 12:7 states:
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?”
When we find ourselves in life’s storms, we must ask is this a storm of correction?
In conclusion, Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble, but that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). If Christ Himself us told about troubles to come and if He Himself endured the storms of life personally, we should not be surprised by the storms. Simply, we must ask, “Is this for my perfection or correction?”Read More
As we enter into what will no doubt be another contentious year of elections in 2012, I simply want to give some perspective on one candidate in particular, Mitt Romney. Romney is a very faithful and practicing Mormon or member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. If you have ever had a Mormon friend, I imagine your experience has been like mine–great. Mormons are, by my own experience, delightful people. They are always mannerly, value family, good neighbors, willing to help, and ,generally, some of the most caring people I have ever known. Mormons are some of the most moral people in our culture today. However, MORMONS ARE NOT CHRISTIANS.
There are several points of deviation. First, Mormons do not believe in the Trinity as 3-in-1. For Mormons the Trinity is made of three distinct persons and Jesus Christ is not the only begotten son of God. Next, Mormons believe the Bible is to be interpreted through the lens of the Book of Mormon and other writings by Joseph Smith. Christians understand we are not to add or take away from God’s revealed Word. Third, Mormons believe in the Law of Eternal Progression. Essentially, Mormon eschatology teaches ‘as man now is God once was’. Basically, God (Elohim) was like man and he evolved to the point of gaining his own planet to populate with spiritual babies, of which you and are one. We, humans, have the opportunity to gain our own planet one day as well. In conclusion, while Mormons and Christians may use some of the same jargon, we both have very different definitions. I was glad to hear Romney admit that Mormons and Christians have different beliefs in his May 2012 graduation address at Liberty University.
Now, I have heard some Christians say, “I could never vote for a Mormon.” I can understand their objections. However, I believe that Mormons and Christians can work together as ‘frienemies’. What do I mean by this term? Simple. Mormons are enemies of the cross of Christ. They do not worship the same Jesus we do as Christians. Now, some may want to debate this, but research will reveal Mormonism and Christianity are incompatible theologically. But, Christians and Mormons can work as friends with respect to cultural issues. For instance, Mormons teach and practice that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman–Christians and Mormons worked together in California to defeat same-sex unions. Also, Mormons are anti-abortion. Biblical Christianity teaches the value of human life. I have never known a woman to tell her friends she is having a “fetus”. No a woman says she is having a “baby”. Only God has the right to give and take away life, we never get to play God. Mormons and Christians can stand arm and arm on this issue.
So, how will you vote in November? That is completely up to you and the Lord. But, participate!
This past weekend (5/19-20) FBC Wylie had the privilege to host the Love Worth Fighting For Conference with Kirk Cameron and have Kirk speak on the following Sunday morning. The way the opportunity came to us was an ‘only God’ circumstance. All that being said, I, like many in my generation, grew up watching Kirk on Growing Pains. Every guy my age could relate to Mike Seaver, the lovable, Eddie Haskle of his time. A number of years ago, I heard about his conversion to Christ and have watched his life from a far. In the brief time I spend with Kirk, several things impressed me about him and call me to pray for him personally.
First, he is the real deal. Sometimes, in the mainstream media, he has been portrayed as a legalist. This could not be further from the truth. Cameron is a Christian man attempting to live for Christ as a husband, father, and leader. He was kind, humble, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Not to mention the fact, he is funny. Also impressive to me was his availability to the crowds that flocked around him.
Second, he is a good steward of his platform. Kirk is quick to give God credit for all of his life–past and present. After coming to Christ out of atheism, he completely gave his life to the Lordship of Christ. His choices in movie roles, television, and radio, have been Kingdom oriented. I would liken Kirk, to the man who found treasure in a field and when he discovered it, he sold everything he had to possess the field. Without question, Kirk has given up much of this world to possess that of another world.
Third, he needs our prayers. As Kirk continues to hold up the truth of the Bible, he will, undoubtedly, get beaten up by people in the world–the Piers Morgans and such. In researching him before he arrived, so I didn’t confuse him with they guy from Knight Rider, I discovered there is some real animosity to Cameron and his faith. Let’s pray God will continue to ground Kirk in His Word, keep his marriage and family strong, and continue to use his platform to the glory of God.
There is a new phenomena occurring in American culture. It is the rise of the Kidult. A Kidult is an adult who functions as a kid. Many times, Kidults are in their 20′s or early 30′s, yet function as adolescences. Adolescence is a man-made stage of life; it is not found in the Bible. We, as people, have created the “American Teenager” who is allowed a few years to be irresponsible and goofy, only to dismiss these sinful actions with cliches like “everyone is doing it” and “boys will be boys”. Essentially, an adolescent may have the physical attributes of an adult, but does not have the practical, financial, or emotional abilities to take care of them self. Adulthood is defined by the ability to take care of yourself. In former generations, kids were forced into adulthood by their parents, culture, and necessity, mainly war. By not forcing the 20′s and 30′s to grow up quicker, like the Bible teaches, we have enabled sin and have robbed them of some of their most productive years. I challenge Kidults and those who love them to make them grow up.
This Kidult crisis is gripping the Church too. If physical adolescence can last into a person’s 30′s, then spiritual adolescence can last into a person’s 50′s or 60′s. 1 John 2:12-14 identifies three stages of Christians–little children, young men, and fathers. Little children know they basically have been forgiven and know who the Father is personally. This likened to the new believer in Christ, who has just begun their relationship with Christ. Young men are strong in their faith and have overcome the tactics of Satan. This would represent the disciple who is yielding to the Holy Spirit’s lead in their life–growing in faith and seeing victories over sin in their lives. Finally, Spiritual Fathers know God. They have walked with Father long enough that their desires are His desires; they live for an audience of one.
Churches are struggling because many believers simply have not grown up spiritually. There are many little children or Kidults in the American Church today. The problem with spiritual Kidults in the Church is simple–they mess things up. Kids are selfish, lack commitment, make messes, don’t listen to authority, loud, get mad easy, are unpredictable, pout, won’t forgive and must be constantly entertained.
According to the Bible you are either MATURE or IMMATURE. So, which are you? MATURE or IMMATURE.
(In the posts ahead, we will explore how we fix this problem for individuals and the Church at large. Check back for Part 2- “Growing Up as Fast as You Can”)Read More
What an incredible Holy Week it was! One Night to Unite was greatness. The Church, in mass, came out in droves (Nearly 6,000 people) and Dr. Tony Evans was fantastic. Hundreds of decisions for Christ.
The Easter weekend services at FBC Wylie—EPIC. A record number of visitors, Worship Attendance, and Growth Group Attendance. All of this is due to the power of the Holy Spirit and your willingness to invite people.
So now what?
1) Remember, Christ will be out of the tomb this weekend too. Great news!! (Show up this weekend for church!)
2) Encourage your friend to come back with you. (80% of people who return to a church a second time make it their church home.)
3) Help your visitors process what they have experienced. (Translate any “churchanese” words or concepts)
4) Serve your friend in some way this week. (ideas: buy lunch, send a pizza, send a note, meet a need)
5) Pray for your friend regularly. (Ask them what you can pray about. They will not be offended.)