PROGRESS ACCORDING TO WHO?

The Air We Breathe: How we all came to believe in freedom, kindness, progress, and equality Glen Scrivener Good Book Company, 2022

I gave a brief review of this book by the Australian pastor Glen Scrivener (now living in the UK) in a recent post. However, I would like to share more and encourage you further to purchase his book. It will equip you to engage in good conversations with the lost and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance help you to bring them to a knowledge of the truth. As a reminder Scrivener’s main thesis for his book:

Today in the west, many consider the church to be dead or dying. Christianity is seen as outdated, bigoted, and responsible for many of society’s problems. This leaves many believers embarrassed about their faith and many outsiders wary of religion. But what if the Christian message is not the enemy of our modern Western values, but the very thing that makes sense of them?

SCRIVENER ON PROGRESS

Progress does have a dark side. Darwin proclaimed biological progress (evolution by random chance versus creation by an intelligent designer), Hegel, historical progress (Hegel’s providence is not the providence of the Judeo-Christian God. Rather, Hegel argues that universal history is itself the divine Spirit or Geist manifesting or working), Freud, psychological progress, and Marx, economic and political progress. The ugly fruit of such philosophies notwithstanding, Christian ideals run through them like veins in blue cheese. But without a vertical reference (God unacknowledged), the desire for progress all too easily spawns violence. The 20th century was the most blood-stained in history, the ‘murder century’. Think of Stalin’s Holodomor (Ukrainian: murder by famine) and purge of tens of millions in the 1930s, or of Chairman Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forwards’ (1958–1962), where over 45 million died of overwork, starvation, or murder—not to mention the horrors of death camps like Auschwitz. Post-WWII, a moral standard was needed to establish the ‘self-evident’ moral truths so bespattered by the Nazis. As with slavery, those atrocities were deemed “crimes against humanity” but few admitted they were crimes against God. If they were mere “crimes against humanity”, we have a dilemma, for humanity was on both sides (evil oppressors and their victims). Scrivener states pithily, “If
we’re all squabbling apes, then there’s no transcendent justice in condemning Nazism” (p. 181). So what price progress?

Secularism today, having fled past evils, now pursues values like rights, freedom, and progress, but divorces them from their source. This concurs with Tom Holland’s thesis in Dominion—without Christianity’s humanity-enhancing teaching about the image of God, the ruthless suppression of weaker minorities fits evolutionary logic: “To believe that God had become man and suffered the death of a slave was to believe that there might be strength in weakness, and victory in defeat. Darwin’s theory, more radically than anything that previously had emerged from Christian civilization, challenged that assumption. Weakness was nothing to be valued. Jesus, by commending the meek and the poor over those better suited to the great struggle for existence, had set Homo sapiens on the downward path toward degeneration. For eighteen long centuries, the Christian conviction that all human life was sacred had been underpinned by one doctrine more than any other: that man and woman were created in God’s image.”

Transgender advocates want equality, compassion, and consent, but they divorce these from Christianity and recombine them
differently. Equality becomes a radical individualism as people emphasize rights over institutions and community. Compassion risks becoming what sociologists have termed ‘competitive victimhood’, and perceived victim status is used to gain an advantage. This leads to clashes between different minority groups—e.g. feminists versus trans-rights activists—so whose suffering takes precedence? Divorcing sexual consent from Christian values is a wrecking ball as far as marriage, family, and the wider community are concerned. As Scrivener points out, “Consent is vital, but it is not a sufficient foundation for sexual ethics” (p. 194). Progressive secularization is not a sustainable strategy! The WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) values upon which Scrivener’s book focuses are strongly believed by all, but people in Western society are
making a hash of applying them in everyday life. Compared to the ancient world, equality, compassion, consent, enlightenment, science, freedom, and progress were given a makeover by Christianity, and these are dear to the hearts of modern people. As
Scrivener says, “These are our creedal convictions, and, by and large, we are a society of believers” (p. 197). But even as people are straining to discard Christianity, they continue with their moralizing: “If anyone blasphemes our WEIRD values … we ‘cancel’ them—that is, we ostracise them socially and professionally. This is really a modern form of ‘ex-communication’ for modern kinds of ‘heretics’” (p.198). And anyone can find themselves a target, especially, as the author wryly observes, with the turbo-charging of outrage made possible by social media. In today’s ‘cancel culture, there is plenty of guilt, but without grace, forgiveness is nowhere in sight! Scrivener is right on the money in noting that the denial of King Jesus while trying to retain Christian ideals,
brings judgment, not liberation: “In order to pursue the kingdom without the King, we have had to dethrone the person of Christ and install abstract values instead. … [But] Values can only judge you” (p. 200). People need the Gospel of hope, so the author invites readers to consider how history will judge them— more especially how will God judge them? Wonderfully, Christ came not to police people’s morals so much as to heal them, cleanse them, and forgive needy, despondent human beings.

Scrivener skilfully defends the Gospels and their accounts of Christ, and he does so in a highly original and compelling manner,
demonstrating their sheer genius. The strong evangelistic approach is fresh, not hackneyed. Jesus, the History Maker, is the One behind the values so cherished by the West—He embodies them. In fact, Christ loved this world to death, pioneering life for all violators of those values through His Resurrection. This is not a book that fizzles out toward the end. In its closing pages,
Scrivener appeals in turn to the three categories of readers mentioned in the second paragraph of this review. It is refreshingly honest and very well executed. To Christians, he writes, “In all this, great wisdom is needed to discern the Christian-ish values of a
WEIRD culture from true Christianity” (p. 230). Absolutely, and this book deserves to be very widely read to equip us to convey the truth to those the Holy Spirit brings across our path.

AA GROUP EXCLUDED OVER CHRISTIAN CONTENT IN MEETINGS

An Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group has been separated from the organisation because it includes Christian content in its meetings. Leaders of the group which meets in a church in Yeovil were told that prayer and talking about Jesus made new members feel uncomfortable. It’s now been removed from the AA online directory following a vote by local bosses. Minutes from a meeting of the Somerset Intergroup, which oversees AA groups in the region, describe the church-held group as a “Christian based meeting, lovely meeting but not along AA guidelines”.Concerns were also raised over an announcement in one of the recovery group sessions that the only way to recovery is through Jesus. The Somerset Intergroup claimed that, while there was nothing wrong with discussions about Jesus, they didn’t belong in an AA meeting.

1971 Bill Wilson died. His last words to AA members were, “God bless you and Alcoholics Anonymous forever.

John Palmer, a leader of the group, said: “AA was founded by Christians to transform lives. Over the years I have seen Christianity marginalised from the organisation. It is sad to see, and I think AA is having less of an impact on people’s lives as a result. “Of course, you don’t have to be a Christian to be part of an AA group, but if you cannot say the Lord’s Prayer in a church without being treated like this, what are we coming to? “We were shocked when we found out about the action being taken against us, but we are determined to carry on.” Campaign group Christian Concern is now taking action to get the group reinstated within Alcoholics Anonymous. Chief executive Andrea Williams said: “The message of the gospel is of a saviour who came to bring hope to every one of us. The power of the gospel is what inspired the setting up of AA following the radical transformation alcoholics experienced after encountering Jesus Christ.

Is now saying the Lord’s Prayer in a church offensive and not appropriate? “It is sad, but not surprising in our world of cancel culture, to hear from this group that the gospel message is no longer appropriate for AA and must be kept ‘separate.’ “We call on the AA to reinstate this group to the online directory and to recognise the crucial role Christian faith plays in transforming lives.”

Source: Premier Christian News

Separating and punishing Christians so that they cannot attract new members for sharing the gospel message of hope is disturbing and ludicrous but Biblical prophecy tells us that this is just one of the signs we are approaching the end of this age. Jesus soon coming return is in view and we need to be prepared for the increasing tribulation that God allows Christians to experience to refine His church.

 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:9-13

PHIL ROBERTSON ON CANCEL CULTURE

Have you ever seen or heard Phil Roberston on faith. If you have not you are missing out on a treat.

On this episode of Faith vs. Culture: How should Christians respond to cancel culture?

Duck Commander Phil Robertson joins Dan and Billy to talk about his experience with and response to cancelling (cancel culture). It is brilliant.

Robertson, who infamously faced his own bout with cancel culture in 2013, when A&E suspended him over comments he made about homosexuality during a magazine interview, told CBN’s “Faith vs. Culture” he holds no ill will against anyone involved in his highly-publicized controversy.

ABSOLUTE TRUTH – OTHERWISE LAWLESSNESS ABOUNDS

Skillet frontman John Cooper is calling out what he described as the “woke ideology” permeating the church, arguing it’s “wrecking Christianity.”

He said, “You can’t believe in God and not believe in absolute truth, obviously, because one negates the other. Yet, that is what’s actually happening in Christianity.”

Cooper said he went through something of an awakening around 2016, recalling reading nearly 200 books in hopes of understanding the rapidly changing culture in which we live. Ultimately, Cooper explained, he came to the realization that people “don’t believe in absolute truth anymore.”

That conclusion led him to become “outspoken” about what he sees as a problematic cultural shift that is infiltrating Christian communities.

In his book, “Awake and Alive to Truth,” Cooper argues we “are living in a time that can best be described as a philosophical stew,” suggesting it’s highly influenced by postmodern thought. He relies on the following definition of postmodernism from Encyclopedia Britannica editor Brian Duigan:

A late 20th century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

The data seems to bear out the presumption that society is trending toward moral relativism and postmodernism. A recent study from the Barna Group found that a majority of teens and young adults — 65% — agreed with the claim that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” In addition, 31% of the survey’s participants said they “strongly agree” that what is “morally right and wrong changes over time, based on society.” Forty-three percent said they “somewhat” agree with that claim.

Cooper urged Christians to “be extremely vigilant about the Word of God,” suggesting a relativistic worldview will encourage some to reinterpret Scripture based on a cultural understanding untethered from absolute truth.

Of course this is exactly what is happening and it is what the Bible prophesied would happen in the last days before Jesus returns, first to take the Saints to heaven, and then to pour out His wrath on an unbelieving world with the trumpet and bowl judgements.

When He (Jesus) opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:12-17

Sadly, Jesus tells us that prior to His return people will be like they were in Noah’s day when God judged the world and all but eight people perished in a worldwide flood, lawlessness will abound.

“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12

Justin Bieber Shares Gospel, Condemns Cancel Culture in New Song ‘Afraid to Say’

Great to see this article on Faithwire by editor Tré Goins-Phillips: Pop star Justin Bieber, who has been outspoken about his Christian faith, is using a single on his new Gospel EP to share Scripture and condemn cancel culture.

In the song “Afraid to Say,” 27-year-old Bieber expresses sorrow over the accelerating cancel culture that has consumed much of our public discourse in recent months.

“What have we done with society when everybody’s getting canceled?” he asks. “And can’t there be room for maturity? ’Cause writing ’em off is not the answer.”

The “Peaches” singer then goes on to explain that redemption from God is the solution to what ails our broken culture:

We can’t write people off. God never writes us off, even in our darkest days. Even when we least deserve it. Even when we’re doing that stupid thing we wish we weren’t doing. God never writes us off — ever. He’s with us in our pain. He’s with us in a struggle. He’s with us in our bad decisions. He’s with us all the time. He never writes us off.

In the chorus, Bieber sings: “Does what I gotta say even matter? / Is life about climbing up the ladder? / And can we even see lives that are shattered?”

The songs ends with Lauren Walters reciting Psalm 139:13-16.

“You formed the whole of me, inward and out,” he said. “I am awesomely and wonderfully created. Your creations are spectacular. You skillfully designed me. You saw the Essenes of me, before I was formed. Before I existed, all of my days were written in your book.”

CANCEL CULTURE HAS CHRISTIANITY IN ITS SIGHTS

Actor Kevin Sorbo said this week he plans to “look into” how his Facebook page got deleted from the platform, calling the website’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “a big ole wuss.” In mid-February, the Christian entertainer’s Facebook account was scrubbed from the social media site, according to CBN News.

As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, developed by their parent company, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.

Cancellation, unlike criticism, seeks to silence the opponent.  It specifically seeks to take away the forum for articulating the disputed opinion. Cancelers often define the mere act of disagreeing with them as a threat to their safety or even an act of violence.

Cancellers create a climate of fear by promoting guilt by association, threatening the same punitive action against the target’s employer, professional organizations, and anyone who comes to his or her defense.

Cancellers are willing to assert inaccuracies, distortions, and falsehoods.  And they will stick with them even after they are demonstrated to be untrue.

Cancellers seeks to punish.  If cancellation is successful, you lose your job.  The person who is cancelled must be made to suffer. In Australia, one of our best rugby players, Israel Folau is a good example where he cannot now play any form of rugby because he quoted a Scripture verse on Facebook which states God will send homosexuals to hell, i.e. along with all others guilty of sexual immorality as defined by God. Mind you, Israel also told people of how they can avoid God’s judgement by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The reality is, cancel culture is just another ploy Satan is using to destroy belief in God and His Word.

The following Scripture is just one of many that reveals intense persecution of Christians is prophesied for the days prior to Jesus second coming to earth.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty (persecution). For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.2 Timothy 3:1-5

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:12-13