Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Church's Man Crisis

Over the past few weeks I've been reading a verity of things that have all got me thinking about the way the Church seems to be masculinity. The first was an article at the Art of Manliness which addressed the decline of masculinity in our culture. I found myself in agreement with the article. It seems that in our society in which Egalitarianism and Feminism are the dominate worldviews, men get left out in the cold. These doctrines, in a reaction to Aristotelian chauvinism, promotes the idea that men are women are identical. Despite this, there is almost the suggestion that women are superior. Women can do anything and everything. Men are only good for so much. As such, masculinity has become a vice and not a virtue.

Later, I was reading an article by Dr. John Piper which really brought home to me the dangers of the Church accepting these philosophies. The result has been the emasculation of the Body of Christ. Now, understand that I'm not advocating the complete defeminizing of the Church. Throughout the Bible God gives us certain word pictures of terminologies that will appeal to both men (the armor of God) and women (the Bride of Christ). However, contemporary Christian seems to be reaching out almost entirely to women and children.

Across the board, women are generally more religious than men. I think that's because we guys seem to struggle with more egotistical pride. We don't like to submit to anyone, much less God. As such, preachers and church leaders have tried to appeal to their base and in doing so have emasculated the Church. Walk into most churches and you'll see a festive arrangement of pink, baby blue and lemon yellow. The music is hyper-emotional and a very love song-esque.

Notice that I'm not saying women don't have a part in the Church. Women have a vital part and the total removal of Christianity's feminine elements would be equally fatal. However, that's not the problem our culture faces. We guys have failed to do our part. Most men in the Church are either chauvinists who abuse their power or cowards who avoid it.

Thankfully, we are beginning to see an increased awareness of the this issue. Many of the young up-and-coming preachers, such as Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler, have made this a signature of their respective churches. The New Reformed movement has also made Complementarianism a doctrinal staple. It's no longer just those crazy Quiverfullist and family-integrated churches that are aware of the problem. Many of the more mainstream churches are also waking up to it.

However, this will ultimately need to happen on an individual level. We guys need to start taking responsibility and initiative. Servant leadership needs to be prized virtue among young men again.We need a return to courageous manhood in which guys aren't afraid to take a few hits for a just cause. We need to start leading through humility and not self-centered dominance. I believe that the extent to which we respond to this "man crisis" will determine the Church's effectiveness in the upcoming generation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why the Gospel Matters to Believers

I'm very confident in my salvation. I've confessed with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead. But when did I first get saved? I have no idea. I know when I first prayed a prayer and I know that I prayed a prayer many times after that. In fact, if the sinner's prayer was a credit card I would have maxed out by the time I was six. I've always known the Gospel and there's never really been a time in which I've rejected it (though I did go through a period of doubt in my younger days). And so, it has only been recently that I've truly fallen in love with the Gospel, not just because it saved me but because of what it means for me as a believer.

The imperatives (commands) of Scripture always derive from the indicatives (statements) of Scripture. For example, in Exodus 20, before God gives the infamous Ten Commandments, He first reminds that them that, "I am the LORD thy God who has brought thee out of the house of Egypt." Every command that God was about to give the Israelites hinged up this truth. I am the Lord and I've rescued you, God told them. Everything we do as believers is based on who God is and what He's done for us.

It's only recently that I've truly begun to appreciate what God has done for me. It is a beautiful concept that the Creator would become His creation and die for them. That our Judge would be our Advocate. That God would be mindful of man and chose to claim them as His own.

The more I ponder all the ramifications of the Gospel's indicatives the more I realize the need for imperatives. Because of all that God has done for me I am willfully bound to take action. His patience and forgiveness toward me ought to motivate me to patiently forgive others. His desire to see souls have fellowship with Himself ought to give me the same desire. His love for me ought to cause me to love Him and all those He loves. His hatred for my sin ought to cause me to hate it as well.

The more I begin to think about who God is and what He's done for me, the more I realize that there is no room for laziness in my life. The Gospel ought to motivate believers to take action. That's why it's so important that the Gospel never becomes old or familiar to us. We must be in continual awe of God's beautiful masterplan. A failure to fully appreciate the indicatives of God's Word will turn the imperatives into legalism and vain religious motions. However, the more we fall in love with the indicatives the more joyous the imperatives will become.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mission: Read Like Crazy

The great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said, “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”

Lately, God has been impressing upon the need to gain wisdom from men who already possess it. This has motivated me to start asking more and better questions of different people I admire. It has also motivated me to start reading more non-fiction books by the great contemporary theologians.

I know from experience that these commitments usually fizzle away without two secret ingredients: discipline and accountability. You all can help me with both. I've decided to make a goal of reading ten books by the end of next year.

Why ten? I don't know. It just seemed like a good round number. Likewise, I think it is both a doable goal and a goal that will take a bit of effort. Upon finishing each book I'll be posting a brief review here.

This is my list thus far:

Just Do Something By Kevin DeYoung

Religion Saves and 9 Other Misconceptions By Mark Driscoll

Desiring God by John Piper

Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney

Knowing God by JI Packer

God is the Gospel by John Piper

Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World - Various contributors

How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer

What do you think? Good list? Bad list? What books have been meaningful to you? What books would you recommend?