Bedtime Ponderings

 

Have you ever found yourself reading in bed at night when you suddenly come across a quote that makes it feel like the ground beneath you just shook? If so then you will be able to relate exactly to how I feel about the two excerpts below. The first is by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and co founder of Together For the Gospel alongside Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney and Ligon Duncan. Despite admitting to being the briefcase kid in high school, Al has proven himself to be no woose when it comes to taking a stand for the truth of the Bible. In the quote he touches on authentic christianity and what he says struck me because I have been thinking quite a bit recently about what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus. To be honest I am often wearied by my own hypocrisy in this area because I know that all too often I pay lip service to things that I should be passionately living out. I think of some of the things that Jesus said like “sell all your possessions and give to the poor” (Luke 12:33), “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22), and “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

Unquestionably, Jesus was 110% serious about the call to follow him. Yet my western, materialistic, selfish, sinful heart all too often tries to suppress the call of Christ to fully surrender my life for the glory of God. And it really gets to me, or as we say in Northern Ireland “It does my head in”. Too often I make excuses for myself because my indwelling sinful nature is so alluring at times. During these times I don’t want to be challenged with, or rebuked by the truth. I am very comfortable with where I am in my ‘Christian’ walk thank you very much. I’m not alone though am I? We have churches full of people who want nothing more than a superficial, almost superstitious faith. Worse yet we seem to have a growing number of churches who have pastors that seem happy to tickle their audiences ears with self-help, pop psychology and comedic sermons so long as the tithes keep coming in.

Truly though, if we were to stop and examine ourselves for just 1 minute out of the 1440 minutes that make up a day, we would soon see that we fall frighteningly short of the the biblical mandate for what a Jesus follower should be. In fact it probably wouldn’t be wrong to suggest we have more in common with the Pharisees. We possess a “form of godliness but [deny] its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). We love ourselves and our little ‘clubs’ more than we do God. We pat each other on the back and say well done when what we really need is a solid rebuke like Jesus gave to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mathhew 16:23). We hold on to our little unbiblical traditions and refuse to be open and listen to emerging generations. Or, if we are part of the emerging generation, we refuse to learn from the past because we are, as C.S. Lewis termed it, “Chronological snobs”. Who needs the past? They’ve had their say! Their message is outdated and irrelevant for our culture we say! En masse church, as Mohler puts it below, is becoming, or worse yet has already become, “the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth”.

God Deserves More

God deserves so much more than that does he not? The Bible calls us to live lives that magnify God not shrink Him. This is to be done in both word AND deed. Not one at the expense of the other. Jesus says in John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” The Liberals and emergent church are big on these deeds but not on the preached word. They seem to follow St Francis of Assisi’s mantra to “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words”. However that stance ignores the clarion call of scripture to “Preach the Word [at all times]” (2 Tim 4:2) and only serves to undermine the fact that we are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, apart from our works. I did a word search for preach in the New Testament and it pulled up 76 passages that talk about preaching the gospel and the good news of the kingdom; 76!! How can that be ignored? Note also that Jesus says in the passage above that we “BEAR FRUIT”. A tree cannot bear fruit if it is dead. Nor can a branch bear fruit unless it is attached to the tree. Likewise we cannot bear fruit, proper fruit, fruit that is more concerned with glorifying God than it is mere social change, if we are not first joined to the tree that is Jesus Christ. But how do we become joined to the tree?! Luke records in the book of Acts,

“….when they heard this [the gospel] they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38 ESV)

So by focusing on the fruit the Liberals forget the root!! They forget that the gospel is first and foremost a call to repentance and faith in the good news that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It is through believing the gospel that men and women become attached to the tree of life, Christ, which will then result in the fruit of good deeds. If the gospel is not first then what distinguishes the deeds of the Muslim from the deeds of the Christian?!

Equally as guilty though are we who deem ourselves to be evangelical conservatives. How often do we pass the homeless person on the street without even saying hello because “they are filthy and stink of piss”? We sing our lovely hymns about going and answering the call, proclaiming salvation in Jesus’ name, yet we can’t even pluck up the courage to share the gospel with our friends and neighbours because we are more concerned about offending them, than we are in glorifying God. So we leave them right there where they are; on the path to hell. We need to be careful that we do not become like the liberals and ignore the fact that we are to live it out as well as preach it (Matt 23:3, 1 John2:4-6).

How are we to live then? That brings me to my second quote. It comes from a sermon preached by John Piper. In the extract Piper asserts that it is the Christian’s duty to live a life that magnifies God. In typical Piperesque passion he says, “The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God…” I really can’t say anything more about this quote because it leaves me speechless and amazed at my total and utter dependance upon the grace of God and Jesus Christ. Read the whole quote and perhaps you will be left feeling the same.

 

Albert Mohler

“Spirituality is what is left when authentic Christianity is evacuated from the public square. It is the refuge of the faithless seeking the trappings of faith without the demands of revealed truth. Spirituality affirms us in our self-centeredness and soothingly tells us all is well. Authentic faith in Christ calls us out of ourselves, points us to the Cross, and summons us to follow Christ.”- Albert Mohler

John Piper

“When David says, ‘I will magnify God with thanksgiving, he does not mean: ‘I will make a small God look bigger than he is. He means: ‘I will make a big God begin to look as big as he really is.’ We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes. Christians are not called to be con-men who magnify their product out of all proportion to reality, when they know the competitor’s product is far superior. There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as it really is. The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think, and act in a way that will make God look as great as he really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God…

We are called to be telescopes: people who make the greatness of God seem as great as it really is. This is what it means for a Christian to magnify God. But you can’t magnify what you haven’t seen or what you quickly forget. Therefore, our first task is to see and to remember the greatness and goodness of God. So we pray to God, “Open the eyes of my heart,” and we preach to our souls, ‘Soul, forget not all his benefits!’

…There are only two groups of people in the world whose differences from each other are of any eternal significance: those who love to magnify God and those who love to magnify themselves. At the root of all ingratitude is the love of one’s own greatness. For genuine gratitude admits that we are beneficiaries of an unearned bequest; we are cripples leaning on the cross shaped crutch of Jesus Christ; we are paralytics living minute by minute in the iron lung of God’s mercy; we are children asleep in heaven’s stroller. Natural man hates to think of himself in these images: unworthy beneficiary, cripple, paralytic, child. They rob him of all his glory by giving it all to God. Therefore, while a man loves his own glory, and prizes his self-sufficiency, and hates to think of himself as sin-sick and helpless, he will never feel any genuine gratitude to the true God and so will never magnify God, but only himself.”

Limited (Actual) Atonement- An Intro

Panel Discussion – A New Kind of Christianity? – Brian McLaren Recasts the Gospel

Albert Mohler and a panel from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary held a recent panel discussion regarding Brian McLaren’s new book “A New Kind of Christianity”. I’ve literally just posted on this topic below but I just came across this video link and have begun listening to what these guys are saying, and boy they call a spade a spade! And to be quite frank i’m with them on what they say. I encourage you to watch the video and listen up. Click on the link below for the panel discussion.

Southern Baptist Panel Discussion on Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christianity”

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth?

I was recently at an overnight gathering of those aged 18-28ish in my church, which proved to be a great time of blessing and fellowship. However, one worrying thing that occurred was what was said during a discussion a few of us had about the virgin birth. I, and the others, firmly hold that the virgin birth is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and to refute it is to attack Christ himself. However, one fellow said he didn’t see it as a problem and he ‘knows’ people who don’t believe in it and would not deem them heretical. I nearly choked on my chinese chicken bite when he said it, cough, cough, “What!?” I said “I beg to differ I’m afraid”. So, I figured I should probably post something regarding this issue. Have a read below at what Dr. Albert Mohler recently said on his blog about this central doctrine of Christianity.

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? This question would perplex the vast majority of Christians throughout the centuries, but modern denials of biblical truth make the question tragically significant. Of all biblical doctrines, the doctrine of Christ’s virginal conception has often been the specific target of modern denial and attack.

Attacks upon the virgin birth emerged in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, with some theologians attempting to harmonize the anti-supernaturalism of the modern mind with the church’s teaching about Christ. The great quest of liberal theology has been to invent a Jesus who is stripped of all supernatural power, deity, and authority.

The fountainhead of this quest includes figures such as Albert Schweitzer and Rudolf Bultmann. Often considered the most influential New Testament scholar of the twentieth century, Bultmann argued that the New Testament presents a mythological worldview that modern men and women simply cannot accept as real. The virgin birth is simply a part of this mythological structure and Bultmann urged his program of “demythologization” in order to construct a faith liberated from miracles and all vestiges of the supernatural. Jesus was reduced to an enlightened teacher and existentialist model.

In America, the public denial of the virgin birth can be traced to the emergence of Protestant liberalism in the early 20th century. In his famous sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?,” Harry Emerson Fosdick–an unabashed liberal–aimed his attention at “the vexed and mooted question of the virgin birth.” Fosdick, preaching from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, allowed that Christians may hold “quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth.” He accepted the fact that many Christians believed the virgin birth to be historically true and theologically significant. Fosdick likened this belief to trust in “a special biological miracle.” Nevertheless, Fosdick insisted that others, equally Christian, could disagree with those who believe the virgin birth to be historically true: “But, side by side with them in the evangelical churches is a group of equally loyal and reverent people who would say that the virgin birth is not to be accepted as an historic fact. To believe in the virgin birth as an explanation of great personality is one of the familiar ways in which the ancient world was accustomed to account for unusual superiority.”

Fosdick explained that those who deny the virgin birth hold to a specific pattern of reasoning. As he explained, “those first disciples adored Jesus–as we do; when they thought about his coming they were sure that he came specially from God–as we are; this adoration and conviction they associated with God’s special influence and intention in his birth–as we do; but they phrased it in terms of a biological miracle that our modern minds cannot use.”

Thus, Fosdick divided the church into two camps. Those he labeled as “fundamentalists” believe the virgin birth to be historical fact. The other camp, comprised of “enlightened” Christians who no longer obligate themselves to believe the Bible to be true, discard this “biological” miracle but still consider themselves to be Christians.

More contemporary attacks on the virgin birth of Christ have emerged from figures such as retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong and German New Testament scholar Gerd Luedemann. Luedemann acknowledges that “most Christians in all the churches in the world confess as they recite the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Now…modern Christians completely discount the historicity of the virgin birth and understand it in a figurative sense.” Obviously, the “modern Christians” Luedemann identifies are those who allow the modern secular worldview to establish the frame for reality into which the claims of the Bible must be fitted. Those doctrines that do not fit easily within the secular frame must be automatically discarded. As might be expected, Luedemann’s denial of biblical truth is not limited to the virgin birth. He denies virtually everything the Bible reveals about Jesus Christ. In summarizing his argument, Luedemann states: “The tomb was full and the manger empty.” That is to say, Luedemann believes that Jesus was not born of a virgin and that He was not raised from the dead.

Another angle of attack on the virgin birth has come from the group of radical scholars who organize themselves into what is called the “Jesus Seminar.” These liberal scholars apply a radical form of interpretation and deny that the New Testament is in any way reliable as a source of knowledge about Jesus. Roman Catholic scholar John Dominic Crossan, a member of the Jesus Seminar, discounts the biblical narratives about the virgin birth as invented theology. He acknowledges that Matthew explicitly traces the virgin birth to Isaiah 7:14. Crossan explains that the author of Matthew simply made this up: “Clearly, somebody went seeking in the Old Testament for a text that could be interpreted as prophesying a virginal conception, even if such was never its original meaning. Somebody had already decided on the transcendental importance of the adult Jesus and sought to retroject that significance on to the conception and birth itself.”

Crossan denies that Matthew and Luke can be taken with any historical seriousness, and he understands the biblical doctrine of the virgin birth to be an insurmountable obstacle to modern people as they encounter the New Testament. As with Luedemann, Crossan’s denial of the virgin birth is only a hint of what is to come. In Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, Crossan presents an account of Jesus that would offend no secularist or atheist. Obviously, Crossan’s vision also bears no resemblance to the New Testament.

For others, the rejection of the birth is tied to a specific ideology. In The Illegitimacy of Jesus: A Feminist Theological Interpretation of the Infancy Narratives, Jane Schaberg accuses the church of inventing the doctrine of the virgin birth in order to subordinate women. As she summarizes: “The charge of contemporary feminists, then, is not that the image of the Virgin Mary is unimportant or irrelevant, but that it contributes to and is integral to the oppression of women.” Schaberg states that the conception of Jesus was most likely the result of extra-marital sex or rape. She chooses to emphasize the latter possibility and turns this into a feminist fantasy in which Mary is the heroine who overcomes. Schaberg offers a tragic, but instructive model of what happens when ideology trumps trust in the biblical text. Her most basic agenda is not even concerned with the question of the virgin birth of Christ, but with turning this biblical account into service for the feminist agenda.

Bishop Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church offers further evidence of modern heresy. In an address he presented on June 25, 2002 at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, this bishop denied the faith wholesale. Sprague, who serves as Presiding Bishop of the United Methodist Church in northern Illinois, has been called “the most vocally prominent active liberal bishop in Protestantism today.” Sprague is proud of this designation and takes it as a compliment: “I really make no apology for that. I don’t consider myself a liberal. I consider myself a radical.” Sprague lives up to his self-designation.

In his Illiff address, Bishop Sprague claimed that the “myth” of the virgin birth “was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to appoint poetically the truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging church.” Sprague defined a theological myth as “not false presentation but a valid and quite persuasive literary device employed to point to ultimate truth that can only be insinuated symbolically and never depicted exhaustively.” Jesus, Sprague insists, was born to human parents and did not possess “trans-human, supernatural powers.”

Thus, Sprague dismisses the miracles, the exclusivity of Christ, and the bodily resurrection as well as the virgin birth. His Christology is explicitly heretical: “Jesus was not born the Christ, rather by the confluence of grace with faith, he became the Christ, God’s beloved in whom God was well pleased.”

Bishop Sprague was charged with heresy but has twice been cleared of the charge–a clear sign that the mainline Protestant denominations are unwilling to identify as heretics even those who openly teach heresy. The presence of theologians and pastors who deny the virgin birth in the theological seminaries and pulpits of the land is evidence of the sweeping tide of unbelief that marks so many institutions and churches in our time.

Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth? The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Those who deny the virgin birth reject the authority of Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Savior, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ.

Anyone who claims that the virgin birth can be discarded even as the deity of Christ is affirmed is either intellectually dishonest or theological incompetent.

Several years ago, Cecil Sherman–then a Southern Baptist, but later the first coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship–stated: “A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the Virgin Birth should not be fired.” Consider the logic of that statement. A Christian can be led by the Bible to deny what the Bible teaches? This kind of logic is what has allowed those who deny the virgin birth to sit comfortably in liberal theological seminaries and to preach their reductionistic Christ from major pulpits.

Christians must face the fact that a denial of the virgin birth is a denial of Jesus as the Christ. The Savior who died for our sins was none other than the baby who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin. The virgin birth does not stand alone as a biblical doctrine, it is an irreducible part of the biblical revelation about the person and work of Jesus Christ. With it, the Gospel stands or falls.

“Everyone admits that the Bible represents Jesus as having been conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary. The only question is whether in making that representation the Bible is true or false.” So declared J. Gresham Machen in his great work, The Virgin Birth of Christ. As Machen went on to argue, “if the Bible is regarded as being wrong in what it says about the birth of Christ, then obviously the authority of the Bible in any high sense, is gone.”

The authority of the Bible is almost completely gone where liberal theology holds its sway. The authority of the Bible is replaced with the secular worldview of the modern age and the postmodern denial of truth itself. The true church stands without apology upon the authority of the Bible and declares that Jesus was indeed “born of a virgin.” Though the denial of this doctrine is now tragically common, the historical truth of Christ’s birth remains inviolate. No true Christian can deny the virgin birth.

(Source. Albert Mohler’s Blog)

Albert Mohler said…….

mohlerThe very possibility of heresy is dismissed in many circles within mainline Protestantism, and many evangelicals seem to have no better grasp of the moral imperative to honour the truth and oppose error. Matters of truth and falsehood are not matters of moral indifference to the Christian church. We are to contend for the faith, and the love of the truth is an essential mark of the believer. An attitude of indifference, whether based in postmodern deconstructionist theory or simple epistemological apathy, is a scandal to the gospel and a looming threat to the church. Confessing Christians love the truth and refute error, not in a spite of pride and vindictiveness, but in a spirit of humility and faithfulness. Our responsibility is clear, as articulated well by Blaise Pascal:

“It is as much a crime to disturb the peace when truth prevails as it is to keep the peace when truth is violated. There is therefore a time in which peace is justified and another time when it is not justifiable. For it is written that there is a time for peace and a time for war and it is the aw of truth that distinguishes the two. But at no time is there a time for truth and a time for error, for it is written that God’s truth shall abide forever. That is why Christ has said that He has come to bring peace and at the same time that He has come to bring the sword. But He does not say that He has come to bring both the truth and falsehood.”

(Quoted from “Here We Stand! A Call from Confessing Evangelicals for a Modern Reformation”, P&R Publishing, 1996, revised 2004- read this book!)

The Marks of Manhood- Dr. Albert Mohler

When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man’s fulfillment of responsibility and leadership. With this in mind, let me suggest thirteen marks of biblical manhood. The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity.

 

1. SPIRITUAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO LEAD A WIFE AND CHILDREN.

The Bible is clear about a man’s responsibility to exercise spiritual maturity and spiritual leadership. Of course, this spiritual maturity takes time to develop, and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit working within the life of the believer. The disciplines of the Christian life, including prayer and serious Bible study, are among the means God uses to mold a boy into a man and to bring spiritual maturity into the life of one who is charged to lead a wife and family. This spiritual leadership is central to the Christian vision of marriage and family life.

A man’s spiritual leadership is not a matter of dictatorial power, but of firm and credible spiritual leadership and influence. A man must be ready to lead his wife and his children in a way that will honor God, demonstrate godliness, inculcate Christian character and lead his family to desire Christ and to seek God’s glory. Spiritual maturity is a mark of true Christian manhood, and a spiritually immature man is, in at least this crucial sense, spiritually just a boy.

 

2. PERSONAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO BE A RESPONSIBLE
HUSBAND AND FATHER.

True masculinity is not a matter of exhibiting supposedly masculine characteristics devoid of the context of responsibility. In the Bible, a man is called to fulfill his role as husband and father. Unless granted the gift of celibacy for gospel service, the Christian boy is to aim for marriage and fatherhood. This is assuredly a counter-cultural assertion, but the role of husband and father is central to manhood. Marriage is unparalleled in its effect on men, as it channels their energies and directs their responsibilities to the devoted covenant of marriage and the grace-filled civilization of the family. They must aspire to be the kind of man a Christian woman would gladly marry and children will trust, respect, and obey.

 

3. ECONOMIC MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO HOLD AN ADULT JOB
AND HANDLE MONEY.

Advertisers and marketers know where to aim their messages — directly at adolescent boys and young men. This particular segment of the population is inordinately attracted to material goods, popular entertainment, sporting events and other consumer options. The portrait of young manhood made popular in the media and presented as normal through entertainment is characterized by economic carelessness, self-centeredness and laziness.

A real man knows how to hold a job, handle money with responsibility and take care of the needs of his wife and family. A failure to develop economic maturity means that young men often float from job to job, and take years to “find themselves” in terms of career and vocation. Once again, an extended adolescence marks a huge segment of today’s young male population. Slothfulness, laziness and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage and respect money. A Christian man understands the danger that comes from the love of money, and fulfills his responsibility as a Christian steward.

 

4. PHYSICAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO WORK AND PROTECT A FAMILY.

Unless afflicted by injury or illness, a boy should develop the physical maturity that, by stature and strength, marks recognizable manhood. Of course, men come in many sizes and demonstrate different levels of physical strength, but common to all men is a maturity, through which a man demonstrates his masculinity by movement, confidence and strength. A man must be ready to put his physical strength on the line to protect his wife and children and to fulfill his God-assigned tasks. A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.

 

5. SEXUAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO MARRY AND
FULFILL GOD’S PURPOSES.

Even as the society celebrates sex in every form and at every age, the true Christian man practices sexual integrity, avoiding pornography, fornication, all forms of sexual promiscuity and corruption. He understands the danger of lust, but rejoices in the sexual capacity and reproductive power God has put within him, committing himself to find a wife, and to earn her love, trust and admiration — and eventually to win her hand in marriage. It’s critical that men respect this incredible gift, and to protect this gift until, within the context of holy marriage, they are able to fulfill this gift, love their wives, and look to God’s gift of children. Male sexuality separated from the context and integrity of marriage is an explosive and dangerous reality. The boy must understand, even as he travels through the road of puberty and an awakened sexuality, that he is accountable to God for his stewardship of this great gift.

 

6. MORAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO LEAD AS AN
EXAMPLE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Stereotypical behavior on the part of young males is, in the main, marked by recklessness, irresponsibility and worse. As a boy grows into manhood, he must develop moral maturity as he aspires to righteousness, learning to think like a Christian, act like a Christian and show others how to do the same.

The Christian man is to be an example to others, teaching by both precept and example. Of course, this requires the exercise of responsible moral reasoning. True moral education begins with a clear understanding of moral standards, but must move to the higher level of moral reasoning by which a young man learns how biblical principles are translated into godly living and how the moral challenges of his day must be met with the truths revealed in God’s inerrant and infallible word.

 

7. ETHICAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO MAKE RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS.

To be a man is to make decisions. One of the most fundamental tasks of leadership is decision-making. The indecisiveness of so many contemporary males is evidence of a stunted manhood. Of course, a man does not rush to a decision without thought, consideration or care, but a man does put himself on the line in making a decision — and making it stick. This requires an extension of moral responsibility into mature ethical decision-making that brings glory to God, is faithful to God’s word and is open to moral scrutiny.

A real man knows how to make a decision and live with its consequences — even if that means that he must later acknowledge that he has learned by making a bad decision, and then by making the appropriate correction.

 

8. WORLDVIEW MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

An inversion of values marks our postmodern age, and the predicament of modern manhood is made all the more perplexing by the fact that many men lack the capacity of consistent worldview thinking. For the Christian, this is doubly tragic, for our Christian discipleship must be demonstrated in the development of a Christian mind.

The Christian man must understand how to interpret and evaluate issues across the spectrum of politics, economics, morality, entertainment, education and a seemingly endless list of other fields. The absence of consistent biblical worldview thinking is a key mark of spiritual immaturity. A boy must learn how to translate Christian truth into genuine Christian thinking. He must learn how to defend biblical truth before his peers and in the public square, and he must acquire the ability to extend Christian thinking, based on biblical principles, to every arena of life.

 

9. RELATIONAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO UNDERSTAND
AND RESPECT OTHERS.

Psychologists now talk of “emotional intelligence,” or EQ, as a major factor in personal development. While the world has given much attention to IQ, EQ is just as important. Individuals who lack the ability to relate to others are destined to fail at some of life’s most significant challenges and will not fulfill some of their most important responsibilities and roles.

By nature, many boys are inwardly directed. While girls learn how to read emotional signals and connect, many boys lack the capacity to do so, and seemingly fail to understand the absence of these skills. While a man is to demonstrate emotional strength, constancy and steadfastness, he must be able to relate to his wife, his children, his peers, his colleagues and a host of others in a way that demonstrates respect, understanding and appropriate empathy. This will not be learned by playing video games and by entering into the privatized world experienced by many male adolescents.

 

10. SOCIAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY.

While the arena of the home is an essential and inescapable focus of a man’s responsibility, he is also called out of the home into the workplace and the larger world as a witness, and as one who will make a contribution to the common good. God has created human beings as social creatures, and even though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, we must also fulfill our citizenship on earth.

A boy must learn to fulfill a political responsibility as a citizen, and a moral responsibility as a member of a human community. The Christian man bears a civilizational responsibility, and boys must be taught to see themselves as shapers of the society even as the church is identified by our Lord as both salt and light. Similarly, a Christian man must learn how to relate to unbelievers, both as witness and as fellow citizens of an earthly kingdom.

 

11. VERBAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO COMMUNICATE AND
ARTICULATE AS A MAN.

A man must be able to speak, to be understood and to communicate in a way that will honor God and convey God’s truth to others. Beyond the context of conversation, a boy must learn how to speak before larger groups, overcoming the natural intimidation and fear that comes from looking at a crowd, opening one’s mouth, and projecting words.

Though not all men will become public speakers, every man should have the ability to take his ground, frame his words, and make his case when truth is under fire and when belief and conviction must be translated into argument.

 

12. CHARACTER MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO DEMONSTRATE
COURAGE UNDER FIRE.

The literature of manhood is replete with stories of courage, bravery and audacity. At least, that’s the way it used to be. Now, with manhood both minimalized and marginalized by cultural elites, ideological subversion and media confusion, we must recapture a commitment to courage that is translated into the real-life challenges faced by the Christian man.

At times, this quality of courage is demonstrated when a man risks his own life in defense of others, especially his wife and children, but also anyone who is in need of rescue. More often, this courage is demonstrated in taking a stand under hostile fire, refusing to succumb to the temptation of silence and standing as a model and example to others, who will then be encouraged to stand their own ground.

In these days, biblical manhood requires great courage. The prevailing ideologies and worldviews of this age are inherently hostile to Christian truth and are corrosive to Christian faithfulness. It takes great courage for a boy to commit himself to sexual purity and for a man to devote himself unreservedly to his wife. It takes great courage to say no to what this culture insists are the rightful pleasures and delights of the flesh. It takes courage to serve as a godly husband and father, to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It takes courage to maintain personal integrity in a world that devalues the truth, disparages God’s word, and promises self-fulfillment and happiness only through the assertion of undiluted personal autonomy.

A man’s true confidence is rooted in the wells of courage, and courage is evidence of character. In the end, a man’s character is revealed in the crucible of everyday challenges. For most men, life will also bring moments when extraordinary courage will be required, if he is to remain faithful and true.

 

13. BIBLICAL MATURITY SUFFICIENT TO LEAD AT SOME
LEVEL IN THE CHURCH.

A close look at many churches will reveal that a central problem is the lack of biblical maturity among the men of the congregation and a lack of biblical knowledge that leaves men ill equipped and completely unprepared to exercise spiritual leadership.

Boys must know their way around the biblical text, and feel at home in the study of God’s Word. They must stand ready to take their place as leaders in the local church. While God has appointed specific officers for his church–men who are specially gifted and publicly called — every man should fulfill some leadership responsibility within the life of the congregation.

For some men, this may mean a less public role of leadership than is the case with others. In any event, a man should be able to teach someone, and to lead in some ministry, translating his personal discipleship into the fulfillment of a godly call. There is a role of leadership for every man in every church, whether that role is public or private, large or small, official or unofficial. A man should know how to pray before others, to present the Gospel, and to stand in the gap where a leadership need is apparent.

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Copyright © 2005 Dr. Albert Mohler. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.