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Overlooking the Story of Christmas


Well -- how did your church do regarding Christmas this year?

I've noticed that some pastors mostly ignore the Christmas message until the Sunday just before Christmas or even Christmas Eve, while others spend a number of weeks on Christmas themes using the Advent calendar or other guiding themes.

It is unfortunate that a great opportunity in Christmas is missed by many pastors and congregations.  They worship the baby in the manger and miss the full implications of the Incarnation, and more importantly how that fits in the overall scope of Scripture.  The Christmas story is full of opportunity to show the truth of the Creation-Fall-Redemption framework of the Christian worldview.

How did it go for you?

Comments:

Interesting thoughts. I think Billy Graham may have been reflecting the thoughts of Tozer from his book "The Knowledge of the Holy," in which he notes the powerlessness and ineffectiveness of the church is due to its "low view" of God.

As for your suggestion that Open Theism is the most crucial issue confronting the church, I simply can't agree. Most Christians sitting in the pews don't even know what the Open Theism debate is, and beyond that even the scholarly debate on the subject is relegated to a few concerned pockets. Granted, the discussion is important, but to say it is the most crucial debate of our time is overstating its relevance. Not to mention that Open Theism still has not dealt with Anselm's ontological argument to really shift the view away from the traditional understanding of God's sovereignty.

What is the most vital issue of the day? Cultural relativism infecting the church...the focus on entertainment in worship...the American idea that wealth is a validation of spirituality...and many others? It's hard to say that ONE thing is the key.

Suffice it to say that, as Christians, we don't think very well. As a result of poor thinking, we don't live very well. This has been the point of many for the last 50 to 75 years including Tozer, Schaeffer, and Harry Blamires in his excellent book, "The Christian Mind." And this is upheld by Scripture -- the renewing of the mind leads to a renewal of the life (Romans 12:1-2 and others).
Laying The Groundwork
Mark, in your post of 01/30/2013, you posed the question: "Is it that Christians are ineffective (Certainly the Colson Center is doing its part), or is that battle at such a high level that progress is thwarted in the culture?"

As we all know, when the culture witnesses more strongly to the Church than vice versa, then it's clear that the battle is at an extremely high level, and that Kingdom-building progress is indeed being culturally thwarted.

As I alluded to in my post of 1/30/2013, we need to start at the beginning. The key question is one that Dr. Billy Graham posed decades ago with his sermon titled, "What Is God Like?" The entire issue of bad/poor thinking within the present-day Church has its roots in the debate over the proper view of God. The way in which a culture apprehends or misapprehends God impacts everything else.

Both biblical-worldview-driven and biblical-worldview-lacking Christians are presently involved in a debate over (1)whether God meticulously and exhaustively foreknows all that will ever transpire in history/the future, or (2)whether God knows all reality as possibilities and thereby leaves the future OPEN, and thus does not exhaustively and meticulously foreknow all that is eventually going to come to pass.

This is the most important debate going on within the Body of Christ in our time, and the fact that this debate exists, means that the culture surrounding the Church has no way to be clear about what God is like until the Church becomes crystal clear about what God is like.

Does it make any sense to say that God has exhaustively and meticulously predetermined and presettled all the future, while saying, simultaneously, that He has not done so, and that the future is open? Both positions cannot possibly be true, since they are diametrically opposed to one another. Yet today's Church is torn between these two positions. This debate between and among Christians has to be resolved, if the Christian witness and practice are to have credibility, are to elicit trust, and are to pique the interest of a spiritually hungry and confused culture.

Those are my thoughts, and I'm looking forward to hearing yours.
Why, how and where
Curtis,
I think that the Colson Center is a pro-active ministry seeking to hold back the tide of bad thinking in the church. There are other movements as well.

We know why and how the culture has changed, and the Evangelicals of the mid-20th Century never listened to people such as Tozer and Schaeffer, thus we now have inherited much of the fallout from poor thinking.

Beyond such activities as what the Colson Center is doing to educate (as well as the Acton Institute, for example) -- I'm not sure what else you might be suggesting?
Preaching Worldview During to Post-Moderns
Thanks Curtis and Mark for the conversation about the serious deficiency in worldview thinking, both in culture and in local churches. Emotionally, I share the same sense of fear for the future, but not necessarily that of despair. As like the prophets of the Scriptures, Jesus' is stirring more than a few to rethink the "Why" question. May I recommend "The Gospel and the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World" at http://www.christianlibrary.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166:the-gospel-and-the-supremacy-of-christ-in-a-postmodern-world&catid=44:church-planting-missional&Itemid=76
Where Should We Start?
As I look at the success which the high priests of paganism and relativism are enjoying, as they sow the seeds of their anti-supernatural thought systems, it occurs to me that the biblical worldview should be on the offensive, but, painfully, finds itself on the defensive. That fact is hard to argue with.

This hasn't always been the case, and it indicates that too many geometrically-accelerating cultural changes have passed the Church by. They have ensued more rapidly than the Church has been able to diagnose and respond.

Thinking Christians have got to start asking WHY AND HOW THAT HAPPENED. How and why did the biblical worldview become vulnerable to the charges of "Irrelevancy" and "Out-datedness" hurled at the Christian Thought System by the secularistic politicians, academics, and celebrities of today?

This will be a difficult conversation for Christ-followers to ignite and sustain. Yet if we don't start dialoguing with each other over this essential question, we'll continue to see the waning of our fast-fading platform of influence.

In my humble view, recognizing WHY, HOW, AND WHERE our Scripture-centered Ideology and Practice are vulnerable is the crucial first step. Your thoughts on this?
Suggestions for a solution?
Do you have any thoughts on how to break this cycle of poor communication of Christian truth? Or should we rather say that it is a lack of commitment to Truth itself? The new article in the Imprimis periodical from Hillsdale College points out that the worldview of relativism is being pumped into our culture by the likes of Yale, Harvard and many other large schools. These produce the political leaders in our nation.

Is it that Christians are ineffective (Certainly the Colson Center is doing its part), or is that battle as such a high level that progress is thwarted in the culture?
One "Why" Behind Overlooking
One reason that so many pastors pay scant--if any--attention to the Christmas message is that the 2000-year-old declaration of "Glory to God in the highest, And on Earth peace, good will toward men!" (Luke 2:14/NKJV)is becoming more and more difficult to back up.

Can Christians today state with confidence that the Truth-Claims and Behavior-Claims of their faith-tradition are getting the job done here in America, in such a way that this nation is offering "glory to God in the highest?"

Across the globe, are Christians living out the biblical worldview in ways that make "peace on Earth, good will toward men" a realistic propositon?

As the old ballad says: "And in despair, I bowed my head. 'There is no peace on Earth,' I said. For hate is strong, and mocks the song of 'peace on Earth, good will to men.'"

I think it's very difficult to passionately stick with and/or boldly promote a story the central promise of which has to continuously be re-explained or apologized for, and this presents a genuine concern for all Christians, both the worldview-driven and the worldview-lacking.

What do you think?