Saturday, March 14, 2009

Analysis 0f Michael Spencer's "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" (Part 5)

Spencer's fourth cause for the imminent collapse of evangelical Christianity-

"Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself."

Assuming Spencer is defining "Christian Education" generaly as the sum total of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4 then I agree with him. Indeed the Great Commission bids us to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Not many would disagree the church at large (and not just evangelicals) in America has not done a good job dicipling and training her members. "Secularism" has gained a foothold where the church has left a vacuum.

The reason "Christian Education" hasn't produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism is due to the lack of a serious effort to practice actual, biblical Christian education. As mentioned in a previous post, Scripture puts forth an intense, all day, every day approach to discipling our young people. This involves a thorough approach to exposing our children to God's truth and the living out of the same. The church at large isn't doing this. Period. We cannot expect to offset 9,000 daytime hours of classroom time in a "secular" environment, between kindergarten and eighth grade, with a few hours of church teaching and family devotions. If we think Christian Eduction means Sunday morning sermon, Sunday School, youth group and some family bible-reading time, no wonder our kids are being lost to secularism! We've got to start getting real about this.

Christian education means nothing less than life long discipleship. Discipleship must be particularly intense in our early years as we are learning to interpret the world through God's World (Deut. 6 and Eph. 6 illustrate the importance of early training). I think many evangelical families think church is just one of many "positive" associations they should have. They really believe what is being taught at school is somewhat disconnected from what they believe about God or is being taught at church. Further, if there are some "bad" things their kids learn at school, the church can correct or fix those during Sunday school or youth group. Maybe a talk with junior at night during dinner will keep them straight spiritually, many naively think. Such a lax, unbiblical view and practice of what Christian education really entails has most certainly left our children ill-equipped to confront the false philosophies and secular worldview they will be confronted with at every turn.

The church in the U.S. (evangelical or otherwise) must reform in the area of Christian education. We have given away FAR too much in this foundational area. The bible is not ambiguous regarding the kind of effort it will take to carry out the work of discipleship.


Rick Calohan said...

If one thing can be said about this series of post regarding Evangelism it has open the door to some other blogs of late that I am taking notice of. Of course, Reepicheep is now and shall forever be my favorite blog. This week I had to my collection the following.

From the Time Magazine article The New Calvinism I came across

Between Two Worlds by Justin Taylor

Which lead me to another blog: Informing the Reforming

Other Reform Blogs that I recommend

Reformation 21

And I would be remised if I did not include the following three:

from Ligonier their blog

from John Piper

and from Sean Michael Lucas

These blogs along with yours Tony are a conduit to a wealth of Biblical Christianity that is not being preached by Synergistic Evangelist of today.

Yes, we Calvinist do Evangelize for the Great Commission calls us to do so.

From Challes the other day I came across Calvinism and Evangelism

Here is some spiritual food from this post.

“According to Scripture, God has not called us to do in our evangelism

We cannot help others realize the desperation of their situation or convince them that God exists It is the Holy Spirit who must do these things. Men are willfully ignorant of them. 2 Peter 3:5

We cannot convince unbelievers of their sinfulness. It is the Spirit who convicts men of sin. John 16:8

We cannot convince them of the necessity and wonder of Christ. A man needs the grace of the Spirit in his heart before he can see this. Isaiah 53:2

We cannot produce repentance or faith. Once again, those are God’s works and His alone. We can speak of the reality and importance of them, but cannot bring them about in others.

The Bible also teaches us several things things that we must do in regards to evangelism. These are things God tells us we must do if we are to obey Him and faithfully represent Him.

We must pray for the lost.

We must show our faith in our lives.

We must share our faith.

We must invite others to hear the message. I Corinthians 14:25”

Knowing how much you admire J.I. Packer Tony this was also included in the same post may the non-Reformed Evangelist take this to heart.

from J.I. Packer’s wonderful book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

“If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray.

Let us work this out. If we regarded it as our job, not simply to present Christ, but actually to produce converts—to evangelize, not only faithfully, but also successfully —our approach to evangelism would become pragmatic and calculating. We should conclude that our basic equipment, both for personal dealing and for public preaching, must be twofold. We must have, not merely a clear grasp of the meaning and application of the gospel, but also an irresistible technique for inducing a response. We should, therefore, make it our business to try and develop such a technique. And we should evaluate all evangelism, our own and other people’s, by the criterion, not only of the message preached, but also the visible results. If our own efforts were not bearing fruit, we should conclude that our technique still needed improving. If they were bearing fruit, we should conclude that this justified the technique we had been using. We should regard evangelism as an activity involving a battle of wills between ourselves and those to whom we go, a battle in which victory depends on our firing off a heavy enough barrage of calculated effects. Thus our philosophy of evangelism would become terrifyingly similar to the philosophy of brainwashing. And we would not longer be able to argue, when such a similarity is asserted to be fact, that this is not a proper conception of evangelism…

…It is right to recognize our responsibility to engage in aggressive evangelism. It is our right to desire the conversion unbelievers. It is right to want one’s presentation of the gospel to be as clear and forcible as possible. If we preferred that converts should be few and far between, and did not care whether our proclaiming of Christ went home or not, there would be something wrong with us. But it is not right when we take it on us to do more than God has given us to do. It is not right when we regard ourselves as responsible for securing converts, and look to our own enterprise and techniques to accomplish what only God can accomplish…only by letting our knowledge of God’s sovereignty control the way in which we plan, and pray, and work in His service, can we avoid becoming guilty of this fault.”

Sorry about the length of this post but I wanted to share the Good News that yes its OK to be a Calvinist and Evangelize so long as you know the conversion is God’s alone!

Frontier Forest said...

The more I witness the deterioration of our Nations’ Christian values and the arrogance on lost mankind, the more real God’s promise of Romans 1 becomes.
"18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."