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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Courageous the Movie Opens Tonight - Honor Begins at Home

Here is a great opportunity for our culture to talk about what it means to step up to manhood and fatherhood. Opening weekend matters a lot when it comes to movies. If you can go see it, support the film. Here is the trailer:

Here is the movie website. Here are resources on exploring biblical manhood as a follow up for watching the movie.

Excellent book on biblical manhood by Dennis Rainey - Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood (highly recommended!)

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Barna Group Releases Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church

These are fleshed out in the new book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman. Here is one of the six reasons:
Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
"Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%)."
You can find the other 5 reasons here.

We need to do a better job of talking about truth in our churches. It is not enough to say that this is the right and answer and leave it at that. As Christian leaders we need to model the process of how to arrive at truth. What are the reasons we hold our views? Why are the slogans and soundbites like "that may be true for you but not for me" mistaken? Narrate the difference between false tolerance and true tolerance. We can no longer assume people (even Christians) accept the Bible as an authority; they don't. In our feeling culture, we need to recover the ability to think well--dare I say Think Christianly--about the biggest questions in life. I offer some analysis and suggestions here.

I am grateful for the work of the Barna Group and David Kinnaman for helping clarify the assumptions and questions of this generation. Learn more here.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Make College Count

I am passionate about college students making the most of those strategic years. I have written on the subject and speak on it often. But I am so glad that there are many other voices out there helping encourage and equip the next generation. It's a team effort! That is why I want to tell you about a recent book by Derek Melleby called Make College Count. It is a quick read that is packed with vision and helpful tips for succeeding in college. Here is more information, check it out!

(From the Back Cover)
Discover the way to true success at college--and beyond

There's more to college than classes, credits, and a nonstop social life. It's more than getting a degree to improve your job prospects. College is a time where you develop into the person you will be for the rest of your life. Make College Count will help you make the most of your time in college. It encourages you to ask the big questions, like

Why am I going to college?
What kind of person do I want to be?
How do I want my life to influence others?
With whom will I surround myself?
What do I believe?

You want your college years to count. This book shows you how to make that a reality.

"For years I have been looking for the right book to give to Christian high school grads: readable, real, honest, grace-focused, Christ-centered, and practical. Finally, I've found just the ticket--Make College Count is that book."--Chap Clark, author of Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers; professor of youth, family, and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Christian college students hear a lot about what to avoid during their college years. So it's refreshing to encounter a book that explains what students should embrace in college. It's clear that Derek Melleby understands the world of today's students."--Joseph M. Stowell, president of Cornerstone University

"Make College Count is just right! What Derek Melleby has done is find a way to come alongside someone on the way to college and offer guidance about things that matter most."--Steven Garber, director of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture; author of The Fabric of Faithfulness

"Make College Count offers an accurate preview of college life and encourages and equips students to thoughtfully make the most of college (and the rest of their lives) by embracing a real and vibrant faith that's not an extracurricular add-on but a foundation for all of life. This could be the most important book students read during their college years."―Walt Mueller, president, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Derek Melleby is the director of the College Transition Initiative, a ministry of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He is the coauthor of The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

He's not God

My friend John Stonestreet of Summit Ministries and worldview commentator for offers a very important reminder (regardless of your political party) as we get into the election cycle--The President is not God.
"Recently on The Gospel Coalition blog, Kevin DeYoung offered a blunt reminder: “the President is not God.” This sounds like stating the obvious, but DeYoung’s reminder is a timely one as we enter another election.

Americans, even Christians who should know better, have a tendency to want our President to “right every wrong, solve every problem, fix every pothole, provide health and prosperity for all, and on top of that be a likeable, fatherly, dignified, fun-loving, brilliant, down-home, urbane, humorous, serious, athletic, good looking, poet-warrior-manager man…”

No one can live up to that! But because we expect these things, candidates end up making promises that far exceed their capacity and voters have their misplaced hopes dashed time and time again.

That doesn’t mean we should abandon the political process as some have suggested. No way. Be informed and be involved. We need competent, morally sound leadership like never before. But let’s keep our hope in the right place...." (read more)
As Christians, we should know that utopia will not be ushered in by any sitting president. Now to be sure, there can be good and bad presidents who either promote the public good or undermine it--but they are limited. And as we think Christianly about politics, this is a first principle we need to operate with.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Religion And Science Can Coexist, Scientists Say In New Survey...Should We Be Surprised?

Are science and faith really in conflict? Huffington Post writer Jaweed Kaleem has posted an interesting article discussing a new survey that has been released on how scientists view religion. Here's a portion of the article:

"A majority of scientists say religion and science don't always conflict, according to new survey results released by Rice University.

The study, conducted over five years through in-depth interviews with scientists at universities whose fields range from biology and chemistry to social sciences like political science and economics, dispels the widely held notion that religion and science are incompatible.

“When it comes to questions about the meaning of life, ways of understanding reality, origins of Earth and how life developed on it, many have seenreligion and science as being at odds and even in irreconcilable conflict,” said Rice sociologist Elaine Ecklund. Yet, a majority of the scientists Ecklund and her colleagues interviewed saw both religion and science as “valid avenues of knowledge” she said.

Ecklund and her team interviewed 275 tenured and tenure-track faculty members from 21 research universities in the United States. Only 15 percent of respondents said religion and science were always in conflict, while 15 percent said the two were never in conflict. The majority, 70 percent, said religion and science are only sometimes in conflict....(read the rest)

Science is not the issue; worldviews and philosophies are the issue. Everybody works with the same facts. What makes all the difference is which interpretations are allowed to compete (in principle), what counts as knowledge (only scientism?), and which worldview best explains all the relevant data. (Notice again that these are all philosophical questions and not scientific ones.)

As Sean McDowell and I point out in our book, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists, Naturalism is a scientifically oriented worldview that denies the existence of God and the soul. Richard Dawkins put it this way: “An atheist in this sense of philosophical naturalist is somebody who believes there is nothing beyond the natural, physical world, no supernatural creative intelligence lurking be- hind the observable universe, no soul that outlasts the body and no miracles—except in the sense of natural phenomena that we don’t understand yet.”

Theism holds that there is a personal creator and sustainer of the universe who is omnipotent, omniscient, essentially good, omnipresent, and eternal. Christianity believes that the Creator has revealed himself to humankind in the person of Jesus Christ, a member of the Trinity, who was resurrected from the dead in confirmation of his deity. Thus, Christians believe in the supernatural world, including God, the soul, angels, and miracles.

There is no inherent conflict between Christianity and science. Defining these two worldviews shows us the root problem: naturalism and theism are at odds, not science and Christianity. Naturalism is intrinsically atheistic because it sees nothing outside the natural or material world. Here is what’s interesting about the foundational beliefs of naturalists: naturalists place enormous trust in nature’s order and their powers of reason, but their worldview ultimately undermines any basis for such confidence. Science is only possible if the world is ordered and if we can trust our senses and reason.

You can learn more about the history of the relationship between science and Christianity by reading The Soul of Science.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The God Quest DVD Curriculum by Sean McDowell

I am excited to tell you about (and endorse!) a new DVD curriculum for youth by author, apologist, and teacher Sean McDowell. Having had the pleasure of co-writing a book with Sean defending the existence of the Christian God, I know his heart is to reach this generation with the good news of Jesus Christ. And this top notch, accesible video study will be a great tool for youth pastors and parents to use to engage today's students. Sean invites students on a God Quest and offers six signposts (six 15 minute sessions) that point down a path where if a person is seeking God...they will find him. The message of the God Quest is intellectually satisfying and emotionally compelling. It answers the biggest questions in life. The kit is affordable and comes with a well designed guide that students can use during the week as they explore these critical questions. I hope you will consider taking your students on a God Quest!

To find out more about the God Quest and to purchase a copy for your church, click here. "Like" the God Quest Facebook page and share it with others here.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Why college students leave church - @washingtonpost @stickyfaith

Last friday I was interviewed for an article by Piet Levy that ran in the Washington Post. We had a great conversation about this important topic and I was grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts. Students walking away from their faith was a big reason that I wrote Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey and it also prompted Sean McDowell and I to write Is God Just a Human Invention? to deal with the toughest intellectual objections to the Christian faith raised by the New Atheists. We must do a better job equipping the next generation so that they are prepared for the opportunities and challenges of college life and beyond.
"Millions of college freshmen are overwhelmed right now trying to make new friends, adjusting to more rigorous school work and learning to live away from home. Whether they also find time for church during their first two weeks on campus will set the mold for the rest of their college years, according to new research.

These findings come from a six-year study of approximately 500 Christian youth group members, conducted by Fuller Theological Seminary’s Fuller Youth Institute in Pasadena, Calif.

The study’s results will be released Sept. 17 in “Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids.” The book examines why, according to a 2006 report by Christian research firm Barna Group, 61 percent of 20-somethings who regularly attended church as teenagers later left the pews...." (Read the rest of this article)

In my forthcoming book Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture (October with Zondervan) I offer suggestions as to what we can do to reverse this trend among students and help them cultivate a mature faith. One thing we must do is help students realize that Christianity actually rises to the level of being of true or false. It is capable of being rationally investigated and defended (1 Pet. 3:15 cf. Jude 3).

To read more on the new research this article is based, see Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark:

When all is said and done, may we be like the Psalmist who prayed, “O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:17-18). That's as missional as it gets.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Think Christianly Podcast: Does the Bible Encourage Blind Faith? (Part 1)

Do Christians know anything? Or is Christianity the kind of thing one must simply confess by blind faith? Our culture is having this conversation, so it is important that we know what the Bible has to say about faith. In part 1 of this podcast we will take a snapshot of how both the culture and the church misunderstand biblical faith.

Subscribe with iTunes | RSS

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Seven Days in Utopia - A Movie You (And Your Family) Need To See

My wife and I were on a date night the other night and decided to see if anything was worth watching at the movies and we stumbled across Seven Days in Utopia starring Robert Duvall among others. It was excellent and here is why. It painted a redemptive picture that included some important truths about relationships, fears, insecurities, and identity. Some may call this movie too predictable, perhaps, but that's not a reason not to watch something. To be sure, there need to be movies that accurately show the darker side of life (we live in a fallen world after all), but not all movies have to be dark and offer no hope. This movie offers hope, is inspiring, and has a great message. Moreover, it is rated G...Which means you can engage the whole family. This would be an ideal father / son date for kids around 8 or 9 or older (depending on maturity level). The cynic may dismiss this movie as "too cliche." But to do so has missed the point. There are some messages that ring true for a reason and this movie found the mark. Go see it and spread the word!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Christians are for Truth wherever it is found

All truth is God's truth. John Calvin provides us with a good reminder that engaging our minds matters because truth matters: "It is superstitious to refuse to make use of any secular authors. For since all truth is of God, if any ungodly man has said anything true, we should not reject it, for it has also come from God. Besides, since all things are from God, what could be wrong with employing to His glory everything that can be rightly used in that way?” Application: Think hard and think Christianly for the glory of God! (1 Cor. 14:20)

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Monday, September 5, 2011

How Do We Know That Jesus Is Who He Claimed To Be? - Jonathan Morrow (Video)

This is the central issue when it comes to examining the claims of Christianity. Here are 2 powerful reasons that support Jesus's radical claims.
Here is a link to the Think Christianly podcast with a talk I did on the historical evidence for the resurrection that goes into more detail.

I have a chapter on it here:

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Mind Your Faith by David Horner Is a GREAT Read!

Recently I was honored to have the opportunity to endorse a great new book by Dr. David Horner of Biola University. Here is what I wrote:
"Many Christians heading off to college are simply unprepared for the intellectual, spiritual and moral challenges that await them. Confronted with new ideas, strong desires and relational pressures, it's not surprising that so many drift away from their childhood faith. But it doesn't have to be this way! In this timely book, David Horner offers students a compelling vision of what it means to follow Jesus Christ with a mature faith during the college years and beyond. High school graduates need to read this book!" (Jonathan Morrow, author of Welcome to College and founder of
Dave Horner is a topnotch (Oxford trained) Christian thinker. I had the privilege to study under him at Talbot School of Theology while doing Master's work in Philosophy of Religion and I count myself lucky to call him a friend today. This is a GREAT book that will help you think and live well and flourish as a human being as God intended. My hope is that many adults will read it and then invest in the next generation.

Here is the book:

Here is an interview with Dave Horner on the Frank Pastore show in L.A.

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