Within the context of the schism between the church of the East and the church of the West – who tried to contextualize the faith and practice of the church according to culture, East or West? Were they wrong to adapt or contextualize their faith? How does this apply to today?
Power produces pride, and from pride proceeds poison. For the paradoxes of Christianity, that poison takes the form of a destructive Either/Or mentality compared to a healthy Both/And mentality. As the church of the East and the church of the West allowed the seed of the gospel to bloom within their culture's soil, they forgot Paul's message that The Church is a body with many parts. Thus when they claimed power by attempting to prune the other church's flowers, because they looked different from their own, they effectively cut off The Church's own arm.
Revivals require radicals. A radical leads people away from worldly desires and back to what is right in God's eyes, and Judah only had four during the reigns of twenty king. King Asa so responded to God's prophet by removing idols that Israelites settled in Judah (2 Chron. 15:8-9). King Jehoshaphat appointed teachers to instruct the people in the book of the law and the fear of the Lord fell on their enemies (2 Chron. 17:7-9). King Hezekiah purified the temple and held the first passover in centuries that inspired the people to destroy their idols (2 Chron. 30). King Josiah demolished the high places of Israel (2 Kings 23) and also held a momentous passover. The other good kings lacked the boldness to take a radical stand for God, and this lack of boldness remains with Christians today. Radical pastors preach what the bible teaches, even the unpopular parts. Radical Christ followers forsake worldly trappings to fulfill the Great Commission. Radical leaders become servants to all, setting aside pride and power to help the poor and the needy. As radicals rise up to return to what is right, revival is sure to follow.
The Problem of Evil: How could a good God create a world that contained evil?
Scripture addresses the problem of evil directly in the book of Job and delivers a key message: that God is trustworthy even when we don't understand him (Job 13:15), but it stops short of explaining the reason for evil's existence. Sadly, this response, and Isaiah's response that God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), are not enough to answer the inquiring minds of seekers and skeptics. Thus, theodicies are developed, not to question God's sovereignty, but to try and know the mind of God (using our limited understanding) and hypothesize (like good science) why evil exists in the world.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
A) What the film declares about the current worldview (specific details)
The 2009 detective film “Sherlock Holmes” espouses the naturalism worldview and indirectly attacks theism (namely Christianity) through the film's plot, visuals, and dialogue. The plot revolves around Sherlock Holmes unraveling the mystery of a man's resurrection from the dead. Of course, while others tremble at the apparent supernatural event, the eccentric scientist Sherlock is unphased, and sets to determining not if, but how a man could be resurrected. Clearly operating from a naturalistic worldview, he begins asking the pertinent question of, “What are the facts?” which sum up a key line from the film: “It's a huge mistake to theorize before one has data. Inevitably, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” The film's unsaid assumption is that once one has the facts, all supernatural theories will be put to rest at the feet of Naturalism and reason.
God rewards obedience. Of the twelve spies Moses sent into the promised land, Caleb and Joshua were the only two who faithfully and obediently reported that with God's blessing they could acquire their inheritance immediately (Num. 13:30). As a result of their faith, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones out of their entire generation allowed to enter the promised land after the other ten spies instilled unbelief in the Israelites (Num. 14:30). In addition, God gave Caleb and Joshua their top choice of the land for remaining faithful for over 45 years (Joshua 14:6-14). God desires to scandalously reward sacrificial obedience a hundredfold (Matt. 19:29), but rewards are often not Earthly rewards like Caleb's and Joshua's. We must avoid erroneously declaring that The Lord's will is for every man to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous in this life when oftentimes those rewards are Heavenly rewards where moth and rust do not destroy (Matt. 6:20). However, we will do well to remember that even the smallest act of obedience, such as a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, will be eternally rewarded (Matt. 10:42).
A noble character is earned. In a great tragedy, Naomi returns to Israel after loosing both her husband and two sons while sojourning in foreign Moab. Fortunately for Naomi, her foreign daughter-in-law Ruth loyally stays and supports her by gleaning (scavenging) behind harvesters. Ruth's unswerving loyalty and work ethic are not only noticed (Ruth 2:6-7), but also reported among the entire town (Ruth 3:11). When Ruth makes her daring marriage request of Boaz, he confirms his intent, largely influenced by her “noble character.” Reputation and family names are still worth their weight in gold (Proverbs 22:1), since they have a way of uplifting or haunting us our entire lives. Strongly tied to obedience, the difficulty of earning favor and a good name with both God and man hinges on our following God's teachings and commands. (Proverbs 3:4). To further confirm the difficulty of earning such a reputation Proverbs congratulates the man who finds a wife of noble character (Proverbs 31:10). Once earned, we must defend our noble character by following God's wisdom in complete love and faithfulness.
What are our true priorities?
We can tell by when and how often our wallets make an appearance.
These statistics were printed in a November 2010 church bulletin at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia.
They speak for themselves.
U.S. Spending per year
Cars - $600,000,000,000
Xmas gifts - $250,000,000,000
Fast Food - $110,000,000,000
Ice Cream - $20,000,000,000
Weight Loss - $33,000,000,000
Missions - $39,000,000
Global Needs for every man, woman, and child
Basic Education - $6,000,000,000
Water/Sanitation - $9,000,000,000
Basic Health - $13,000,000,000
The basic humanitarian needs of the world could be met if Americans would be less selfish in one area by spending:
5% less on Cars
12% less on Xmas Gifts
22% less on Fast Food and Ice Cream
The money saved on weight loss products would more than cover the world's need.
Are we being good stewards of what we've been given?