Getting Fed by Digital Shepherds- A Few Podcast Recommendations for Your Enrichment

February 22, 2009

One of the things that I have benefited by most in my own spiritual growth is the blessing provide our generation of digital media.  In fact, a year and a half ago when I was going through a tough time with God, being in a new place with new challenges and no real Christian community to speak of, my journey back to good was ignited by a decision to add John Piper’s podcast to my iPod and listen to him preach during my daily commute.  Now I have a wide array of preachers and theologians that I subscribe to and devour at various times throughout the week.  Because this has been such a blessing on my life I thought I would share some of the podcasts that provide me with regular spiritual nourishment over my speakers and headphones:

(These are listed by the titles of the podcasts which you can look them up under, followed by the main teachers I listen to in them)

  • Desiring God Sermon Audio (John Piper); I have to start with this one as this is the one where my obsession with podcasted sermons began in the first place.  This podcast presents the weekly sermon from Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, MN, as well as giving occasional special messages that Piper delivers at conferences or in seminars at The Bethlehem Institute.  Dr. Piper is currently on a several week writing hiatus, but when he returns he will be picking back up in the third chapter of the gospel according to John, a series he began back in September and looks to be going through over the next several years (yes, I said years).
  • Mars Hill Church: Mark Driscoll Audio (Mark Driscoll); Though Piper was my first, this is probably my favorite.  Each week I look forward to getting the 65-80 minute sermon that Pastor Mark has delivered at his pulpit in Seattle as it is always challenging and, from the viewpoint of someone who hopes to be planting in an urban context shortly, very instructive at the same time.  One nice thing about podcasts is that once you subscribe to them you usually have access to past episodes (sermons) that you may have missed but that have been archived for future listening.  When I first subscribed to Driscoll’s podcast there were about 100 archived sermons that I added as well (just click ‘GET ALL’).  Once I had listened to the current sermon I would go back to one of these archived sermons and take them in until the new sermon arrival the next week.  At this point I have listened to every archived Mars Hill sermon.  One past series I found particularly interesting was the exposition on the book of Nehemiah.  If you are thinking about planting or pastoring in a major city I would recommend you download and go through these messages.  Currently Driscoll is going through 1 and 2 Peter.
  • The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, NC, J.D. Greear Sermons (J.D. Greear)- After I heard his message on Romans 9 from the 2007 Building Bridges conference I knew I needed to subscribe to Pastor JD’s podcast and have been listening to it weekly ever since.  If you have not heard of him yet, JD is the pastor of a rapidly growing SBC/Acts 29 church in the bustling area of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle, which also conveniently is where Southeastern seminary is located.  I got to meet JD and attend his church a few weeks back and was even more impressed by their ministry in person than I had already been over the airwaves.  Right now JD is wrapping up a series on how their church can work together to reach the goals God has called them to over the next several years.
  • The Village Church- Sermon Audio (Matt Chandler); Matt Chandler is another SBC.Acts 29 pastor and is very similar in style to Mark Driscoll (though a little calmer) and JD Greear.  I am really big on Chandler right now following the message he delivered a few weeks ago at FBC Jax and am personally benefiting greatly from his messages right now.  He is certainly a guy, if not to listen to, at least to watch as time goes on.  Our generation is looking for a leader, a voice in the SBC, and Chandler (or JD Greear) may just be that person, and if not, they most surely will help inspire whoever will emerge to fill that role.  Chandler is about to start a sermon series on repentance.
  • 10th- Tenth Presbyterian Church (PCA) (Paul Tripp); This is the historic pulpit of Dr. James M. Boice in Philadelphia, PA, now headed by Dr. Philip Ryken.  Though it is no disrespect to Dr. Ryken, the reason I subscribe to this podcast is for the sermons it posts done by Paul Tripp.  Dr. Tripp delivers the evening message at 10th each week and is posted shortly after Dr. Ryken’s morning message.  I like Paul Tripp a lot.  He is very insightful, uses great illustrations, and for those of you who do not have the 50-75 minutes needed to listen to these other guys, Tripp is typically done in 25 minutes to half-an-hour.  Tripp just started a series on living a unified life as believers following the Lordship of Christ.
  • Living Grace on OnePlace.com (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones); This podcast is a little different than the others.  It is actually a radio-style broadcast in which old sermons by the late British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones are cut into parts (usually two) and released each Sunday.  It is a little frustrating having to wait one or two weeks to listen to something new (I won’t just listen to half of a sermon at a time), but to hear the amazing voice and surprisingly relevant commentary of such a great preacher is well worth the hassle of piecing together a couple of episodes to get the whole sermon.  These releases do not seem to follow any particular order.
  • The Albert Mohler Program (Al Mohler); The final recommendation I will give is not actually sermons like the rest of them, but is instead a daily (on weekdays) radio program hosted by the president of Southern seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler.  There is probably not a more intelligent theologian alive today when it comes to connecting Christ to the culture (sorry Dr. Piper) and to get a daily view into what he finds important for Christians to be focusing on is quite a blessing.  Usually his show features an introductory 10 minutes of surveying all that is relevant and newsworthy to the Christian community from around the world, followed by 20-30 minutes of interview,  discussion, and call-in (the show airs live on radio) over some predetermined topic.  The best however is every Wednesdays when Dr. Mohler opens the airwaves for assorted random questions which people can call in, email, or even post onto Twitter or Facebook for him to answer.  This can sometimes be frustrating (like the never-ending calls about which version of the Bible is best or if using birth control is okay), but usually there are one or two worthwhile questions that I am interested to hear his response to.  This show is a must for anyone who lives at the intersection of Christian beliefs and the secular world (which should be all of us) and is worth listening to at least every Wednesday, if not everyday.

I hope these suggestions can help you find more resources to grow in your Christian walk.  Of course, I do not recommend any of this as a replacement for a local church that provides your primary needs and gives you a place to serve and grow in community with fellow believers.  This is simply meant to be a supplement to your own daily quiet time and weekly church attendance, a way to keep engaged with the things of God while driving to work, exercising, or browsing the internet.  The more time spent consuming the things of God, the less time you will have for indulging the lusts of the flesh, which is always a good thing.  Plus, it never hurts to see how people from around the country and world are speaking about God and in what ways God is showing up in their contexts.  Enjoy!


The Church That Lacks Theologians- A Warning from the UK

December 11, 2008

I find it interesting that the day I post a piece on the fact that “theology . . . does not fare well in the church because it is not wanted,” Dr. Mohler makes a post which I think typifies what the end result will and must be of a church that ultimately rejects theology.

As he comments in The Secularization of the Church, “[s]ecularization is the process by which a society becomes more and more distant from its Christian roots,” and whereas this process has traditionally been viewed in a societal framework as defined, it is now possible to observe this secularization also taking place inside the religious institutions, with the Christian church being removed from its Christian roots and being conceived of as a “public utility,” “open for use by people of any religion or none, like a hospital.”

I agree with Dr. Mohler completely, and appreciate his candidness, when he says that, “This is a strange and pathetic vision of the church.” Pathetic. I had to read this twice to be sure it is what he said, and seeing that it is, I do not believe a more appropriate word could be found. It is pathetic when the church has become so removed from its roots, so antagonistic to the presence of theology in its messages and classrooms, that the only argument remaining for its existence is one of secular philanthropy.

The example of hospitals is duly disturbing to me as indicative of how far removed from the Gospel we’ve become. I agree, a church that functions merely as a “public utility” would be quite similar to the inclusive nature of a hospital, most of which are traditionally run or founded by specific Christian organizations. However, this is misleading in the fact that the hospitals themselves did not look like this until the liberalization and erasure of the Gospel through increasing public cries of tolerance. Yes, hospitals have always cared for people of all races and creeds, but in the beginning they also served to try and heal peoples spiritual illnesses as well. To say that we should want our churches to reflect the secular diversity and philanthropy of our hospitals is to neglect the fact that our hospitals only look like this because we lost our way to begin with.

Seeing this statement coming out of the Church of England also exemplifies a point that I made in the post yesterday when I said, “Theology, as [those who are opposed to it] have been taught, is boring, stuffy, and, this is the kicker, it often times leads to arguments.” If there is any church which has seen its fair share of arguments in recent years and decades it is the Anglican communion. So, between the increasing secularization of Great Britain and the overwhelming strain of animosity and distrust within the body, it seems like many people just want to cash in their chips and put away all arguments, moving forward with a vision of the church that is not centered on “divisive” doctrine but instead is focused on performing social charity.

Of course, this armistice is first to be praised by the humanist society which sees no need in telling anyone they’re wrong, but it completely misses the boat on the Christian call to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Don’t misunderstand me, I believe we should not seek to be angry with one another or to quarrel over words (2 Timothy 2.14), but to simply fold on the issues of exclusivity and inerrancy, and allow to pass the radical moral ambiguity that is promoted by one side of the Anglican communion in the name “peace” and “love,” appears to me to be nothing more than “exchang[ing] the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man” (Romans 1.23).

I think where we have ultimately gone wrong is by forgetting what Christ says in John 15: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (vv.18-19). The church, like Demas, getting tired of being hated and persecuted, has fallen in love with this present world, and deserted the “good deposit entrusted to [us]” (2 Timothy 1.14, 4.10).

This is not right, it is not how it’s supposed to be, but if we do not quit taking the high road on theology and forget to give a defense for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3.15), this “strange and pathetic vision of the church” will become all we have left of the church at all.


More than Just a Ghost- Al Mohler on the Holy Spirit

October 24, 2008

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” -John 14.25-26

But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” -John 15.26

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” -John 16.7-8

Growing up I did not have much church exposure, but, what exposure I did have came at services and camps which fell under the pentecostal denomination. Because of this, I had a strong initial presentation to belief in the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Now some 12-15 years later, and 7 years since joining a Southern Baptist church, a strong view of the Spirit is still a part of my faith (though with certain necessary orthodox changes from the pentecostal beliefs in spirit baptism, etc). However, as a Southern Baptist denominationally and a Calvinist soteriologically, I would have to say that the view portrayed of the Spirit in typical SBC life leaves something to be desired.

A couple of weeks ago Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern seminary, gave legs to this complaint. As one who shares the same reformed convictions as myself, Dr. Mohler knows all to well the necessity of a strong view of the Spirit in the work of regeneration and the inner testimony of assurance of salvation. He also knows the propensity of Baptists to avoid the idea of an active Spirit for fear of placing too much emphasis on seeking signs and gifts among the body of believers. Therefore, when approaching the topic of the Holy Spirit as spoken of in the Apostles Creed, Dr. Mohler delivered a thorough explication of the him as revealed to us by the words of Christ in John chapters 14 through 16, without going overboard into the more murky waters of the involvement of the Spirit in the life of the church a la the book of Acts.

I think his message, which was part of Southern seminary’s Heritage Week, is a must listen, particularly for those among us who err too frequently on the side of a passive, unimportant Spirit. As Dr. Mohler points out, the Spirit does not come to testify about himself (John 16.13), yet without his presence the church would be lost in the world (John 14.18).

Dr. Albert Mohler- The Apostles Creed: The Holy Spirit


Welcome Words from the 1600′s- Richard Baxter on Every Generation’s Battle

October 8, 2008

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” -2 Timothy 3.16

As I have written before, echoing the words of men like Al Mohler and John Piper, it is every generation’s battle to determine whether they will stand on the authority of Scripture or not. In light of this thought, I found it refreshing to see the call to arms for standing on God’s One Inspired Word, turning away the philosophies and ponderings of imperfect man, tucked inside of a classic work of Christian thought.

The piece I am talking about is Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor. I am about two-thirds of the way through this treatise right now and already I know that it will be a book I come back to for years as a guide on the pastoral ministry. Baxter speaks with such clarity and passion on the issues he sets out to deal with that it is hard to imagine him fitting the mold of the cliched stuffy-shirt Puritans.

In the close of his discourse on how ministers should exercise the oversight of their flocks (taken from Acts 20.28) Baxter says these words:

The Scripture sufficiency must be maintained, and nothing beyond it imposed on others; and if papists, or others, call to us for the standard and rule of our religion, it is the Bible that we must show them, rather than any confessions of churches, or writings of men.

This is such an incredible declaration. How often do we find Christians trying to define their faith by pointing to the current fad in Christian publishing (think Blue Like Jazz, Velvet Elvis, A Generous Orthodoxy, or The Shack) when all that is need and sufficient is the collected Word of God in the Bible? Or even among my own Calvinist friends, how fast are we to want to bind people by their confessions of faith, the same confessions which Baxter is decrying here (This book was published in 1656, the Westminster Confession of Faith was written in 1646)? This is a stern reminder that there must never be anything which we would refer to in place of the Bible when we are looking to defend or guide or lives as children of God.


The Doctrines of Ignorance- A Response to Aversion towards Calvinism in the SBC

September 17, 2008

It is no secret, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, that the Southern Baptist Convention is struggling with keeping young people in the church. I also spoke of this problem while reading Thom Rainer’s new book Essential Church? Yet, in light of all this there is a mindset in the SBC which completely amazes me, and it has to do with the hardening towards a particular movement among young adults in the church. No, not the emergent movement, which obviously from my posts I am no fan of either, but instead it is a hardening against the increasing numbers of Southern Baptists who identify themselves as (5-point) Calvinists.

Last year at Southeastern seminary there was held a conference entitled “Building Bridges” which was aimed at looking into whether or not Southern Baptists can accept Calvinism as a compatible theology within the framework of the SBC. After listening to every message from that conference I have to say myself that I think it was extremely well done. All points of Calvinism were presented, as well as the historical record of Calvinism/Arminianism in baptist life, each point having a speaker from either side of the debate. And at the end of the conference there seemed to be a general consensus among the participants that Calvinistic views are no threat to our baptist communions, though they are in no way required for membership either.

However, sitting here about 11 months removed from that conference we see the same issue being brought up again. Only this time, I am afraid, the line is being drawn much deeper in the sand. The first place we see this issue cropping up today is in a recent pastor’s survey among SBC ministers, that Ed Stetzer so kindly posted on, which states that a full 27% of Southern Baptist ministers strongly agree with the statement that “the rise of Calvinism among recent seminary graduates concerns [them],” and another 36% somewhat agreed. That’s 63% of SBC ministers who are concerned in some fashion at an increase in Calvinistic beliefs among what would be a mostly younger crowd. That’s nearly two-thirds of the congregations which would be unwelcoming to what is obviously a growing number of young adult Baptist leaders. Now, when we are having a problem with getting and keeping leaders of lesser age in the SBC, doesn’t it seem counter-productive to start turning them away because of their soteriology?

The second thing which bugged me, and on this I am trying to maintain as much charity and respect as possible, is my recent discovery of “The John 3:16 Conference.” Though bearing the name of the great end-zone verse, don’t be fooled about the purpose of this conference, which, as stated by its directors is “to be a biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism.” (They also make the initial caveat that “This conference is not going to be a ‘Let’s bash the Calvinists’ conference”, which is not really important to say unless you could be misconstrued as being a “Let’s bash the Calvinists” conference). Now, besides the fact that implying John 3.16 is at odds with Calvinism shows a degree of ignorance about actual non-hyper-Calvinism, this conference also does not appear to be making the efforts to display both sides of the argument as the “Building Bridges” conference so masterfully did. What appears to be going on in its place is just a series of five lectures by five non-Calvinists about why they do not agree with one particular point of the TULIP acronym, which, if not bashing Calvinists, is surely pandering to that audience.

But what beyond this aggravates (maybe infuriates) me is just exactly who is going to be there. To start off with, the conference is being spearheaded by the well-respected retired minister Dr. Jerry Vines, and is going to be hosted in the church building whose pulpit is occupied by current SBC president Johnny Hunt. From here we see that other speakers include Southwestern Seminary president, Paige Patterson; SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president, Richard Land; New Orleans Seminary provost, Steve Lemke; and the renowned pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Dr. Charles Stanley. The event is being sponsored by three of the six SBC seminaries, Southwestern, New Orleans, and Midwestern. Maybe this list doesn’t mean much to you, but it sure does to me. What it says to me is that a core segment of the SBC finds Calvinism untenable, and even counter-productive to evangelism and personal growth. Again, I have to ask, If you are trying to solve an ever-growing age crisis, why are you running off some many up-and-coming leaders over such an unscriptural dispute?

Where will this lead? Well, for sure this is leading to an increasing exodus of young Spirit-filled talent from the SBC and into independent Baptist and Bible churches, and networks such as Acts 29 and Redeemer. But beyond that, when I look at how deeply the lines are being drawn on the non-Calvinist side, it makes me wonder how much longer they will tolerate the likes of people such as Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Tom Ascol, who are all unabashedly Calvinistic, in the SBC.

I can’t help but feel like this is two-steps back. I am just hopeful that God will choose to raise up men of sound mind and conviction and make these voices of unreason slow to speak and quick to listen so that we can put an end to this nonsense before it destroys the unity we’ve been blessed with in the SBC.


Rebuilding the City- The Necessity of Biblical Preaching

September 12, 2008

(This is the third post in a series concerning what principles we can learn about rebuilding the church in America as seen through the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. . . . They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” -Nehemiah 8.1-3, 8

It is my conviction that first and foremost, if the church is to be rebuilt among us, the primary concern for our people should be strong, expository, biblical preaching. And I mean that exactly as I said it, it should be the primary concern for our people. So many of us are want to put the onus for biblical teaching on the preacher and “his style,” but what is really needed is a culture which commands a faithful, thorough handling of the Word of God. As we see in Nehemiah 8, it was the people who “told Ezra . . . to bring the Book of the Law of Moses” to teach from. And moreover, it was the people who sat for 4 hours and listened as Ezra exposited from the text. The people desired strong preaching and they called forth a leader who would give it to them. We must share this desire if we are going to make a difference.

But, you may ask, Why is this type of preaching, namely exposition, so important? Well, as a first authority on this I want to refer you guys to Al Mohler’s new book He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World. Most of my understanding of the importance of expository preaching has its roots in what Dr. Mohler has taught and so I will defer to him as a superior authority on the topic. However, I will give an argument for why I believe this way.

Expository preaching, as defined in Dr. Mohler’s text, is

” . . . that mode of Christian preaching that takes as its central purpose the presentation and application of the text of the Bible. All other issues and concerns are subordinated to the central task of presenting the biblical text.” (p.65)

In other words, expository preaching is preaching which starts with God’s Word and radiates out to everything else. By preaching in an expository manner the preacher is bound solely to what the Bible says. This is important, though a seemingly trivial requisite until one observes that most congregations in America treat the Bible as only one among a number of central texts, of which may include other religious tomes, man-made religious studies, or even popular fiction (such as the case with The Shack). The people need to be crying out to hear what God has to say about himself and not what things William P. Young has to say about God (or “Papa” as he calls her, eek!). If we aren’t getting God’s Word first from the pages of Scripture then chances are, given the proportion of wackos to devout teachers, we are getting it with a lot of man-made philosophy attached.

This also makes a difference because if one is bound to the text then they are bound to whatever situations it may bring up. And since I do not know of a book in the Bible which is made up of just four chapters on how to avoid road rage (for real, I sat through a sermon on this once) then we will be forced to face theological questions and commandments which may not necessarily appeal to our laissez-faire desires for spirituality. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of applications to be found in the Bible, but those should be a secondary concern of ours to the raw message of Scripture as we encounter it. This is the role of the radiating out. We start with the text and what they show us and then, once we have addressed what God is saying, we begin to search for applications of it to our lives. Unfortunately, there are too many people, including preachers, who have their own ideal of a God they would be willing to serve, and thus only thumb through the Bible looking for passages which they can bend to justify their desires. Correcting ourselves to a right position of Scripture in our views will make a visible change in how we worship.

A third wonderful consequence of expository preaching is that when you take what comes without running it through the filter of seeker-sensitivity you are put in a place where many false teachings of Scripture are confronted. This is what I believe the Spirit meant through Paul when he wrote Titus 1.9 speaking of pastors, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” As is even visible on the comment board here (see comments on “I Choose Hell- CS Lewis and God’s Role in Condemning”), people can construct almost any argument they want using out-of-context Scripture. But when keep within the lines of the larger, coherent message, these heresies and misconstruals are more readily shown in the light for what they really are.

If we want to see the city of God rebuilt and the church to regain its influence and reputation in the culture, we must begin at the level of desiring solid biblical teaching and preaching. As 2 Timothy 3.16 says, the whole Bible is “profitable” to us, and as such we should not neglect any of it.


The Laodicean Project- The Death of Christian Britain

May 9, 2008

I was searching through some blogs today when I came upon this post at AlbertMohler.com. I thought I would post it because it speaks to what we’ve been discussing in The Laodicean Project as it pertains specifically to the spiritual state of Christianity in Britain.

The post, entitled “It Feels as if the Soul of Britain is Dying”, discusses how declining church attendance in Great Britain has led to such drastic lows in Sunday morning communicants that “the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation.” Drawing off of a recent article in The Times of London, Mohler uses his blog to awaken a new awareness of the problems which are being faced in a location that most people would not flinch about calling a “Christian nation.” I expect that his radio show this evening will also deal with this topic and I will be sure to add a link to that when and if it does.

I can’t lie. The spiritual anemia being faced by Christianity in Britain weighs heavy on my heart. The Lord has really burdened me for those people and planted in me a desire to see revival brought to a nation which once figured so prominently in the growth of the Church. Beyond this, I think that the issues we see coming up in England bear witness to what we can expect over the next 20-40 years in America.

The lukewarm nature of Christianity in places that used to be bastions of Christian influence is a tragedy that I think we are being too slow to awaken to. It is vitally important, for the sake of the souls of the millions of people which inhabit these countries, to open the eyes of their citizens and call them to repentance and a renewing of their minds and hearts before it is to late and Christ spits us out of his mouth and removes our candle.


The Laodicean Project- Fighting Atheism

May 2, 2008

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” -Romans 1:18-23

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” -Richard Dawkins

“The kindly God who lovingly fashioned each and every one of us and sprinkled the sky with shining stars for our delight — that God is, like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in. That God must either be turned into a symbol for something less concrete or abandoned altogether.” -Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, p.18

The second major issue which I think we have to address when looking at the cause of lukewarmness in our traditionally Christian societies is the rise in popular “belief” in Atheism. By definition, atheism is the rejection of belief in God or gods, or to state positively, is the belief in the nonexistence of God or gods. Today atheism is commonly associated with the study of science, particularly evolution, however this is neither a necessary or sufficient condition for holding this belief. As we have seen in the number recited in an earlier post, traditionally strong forces for Christianity in Europe such as Britain, France, and Germany, are turning more and more to atheistic beliefs as a world view. Though the numbers are not quite as high in America, I think this is something that we should consider an up-and-coming problem here as well.

One interesting point of atheism is the fact that, even though it seems like such a trite thing, people didn’t specifically begin formulating atheism as a belief system until 16th century France. And even then, the true explosion of atheism onto the scene as a recognizable belief wasn’t until the modern period of the 18th and 19th centuries. Truly, the formulation of atheism was the result, not of man being to blind to see a god in the universe, but instead it resulted from man exalting himself (and more precisely, his intellect) as god. Atheism reached a major watermark when it was advanced by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Amazingly, all of this coincides well with the words of Paul in Romans 1: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Here we see man, thinking himself wise, exchanging the glory of God for the exaltation of the modern man and his powers of reason and science. Wow!

Now, in the 21st century, atheism is taken in a lot of places as the rule and not the exception. In America we are being confronted with an increasingly atheistic society, with the removal of God being pursued in all areas of public life. In the bookstores, books by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris are sitting upfront and perennially rank among the top nonfiction titles. Atheism has truly moved out of the darkness and scandal of the French salons and has become an acceptable way of thinking throughout Western society.

As Christians seeking to awaken the faith in these Christian countries we must acknowledge the threat posed by atheism. In the consumer driven lifestyle of most Westerners, once an item is able to make its way into the pop-culture then it is able to win over disciples and stake its claim as a legitimate option to buy into. This is what atheism has done. It has pushed in through popular literature and with the sweeping current of educational reform and has established itself as the only intelligent choice. Above we see Dennett saying that atheism is the only thing a “sane” individual could accept, and Dawkins accuses those who claim faith in something as being intellectually dishonest, using a “cop-out” from actually thinking critically. The message is clear: only the mentally inadequate have faith in a god; the truly enlightened know that science has all of the answers and man can access them on his own. As such, Christianity becomes a mentally inferior way of life.

In order to effectively revive faith in our traditionally Christian societies, in order to carry out the Laodicean Project, we must be able to confront atheism, defend Christianity, and demonstrate the existence and character of God. A good resource for this is a series of lectures which R. Albert Mohler recently gave at Dallas Theological Seminary. I have placed the link below and encourage anyone interested in or currently dealing with the challenge of atheism to give it a listen and see just exactly what it is we’re up against.

God exists, and deep down inside, every man has been gifted with the knowledge of this by Him. Because of this we are all “without excuse” when faced with God’s wrath, no matter how much we deny it is true!

R. Albert Mohler- “The New Atheism”