Thursday, July 31, 2014

All Around the Web - July 31, 2014

The Gospel Coalition - The Biggest Challenges in Youth Ministry

Inerrant Word - Fuller Theological Seminary: The Implications of Abandoning the Doctrine of Inerrancy - Part 1
It is not unusual today to encounter people who claim the Bible has inaccuracies. “Such a view however does not square with the Bible’s claims about itself or the historic view of the Christian church.”[1] It is for this reason that many conservatives today believe “that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact”[2] and have adopted the term” inerrancy” to describe this distinction. For if the Bible[3] is in “usable and reliable form, not dependent on man’s fallible judgment, it must come in an inerrant form. Otherwise it would depend ultimately on the authority of man for its validation and, therefore, could not serve its purpose as a trustworthy disclosure of divine truth.”[4]
            The majority of the mainline denominations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had moved away from this position because they were suffering from a theological hangover caused by the global influence of enthusiastic German liberal scholarship. Most notably Schleiermacher asserted “that religion is primarily not a matter of doctrine but rather of feeling, intuition and experience.”[5]  In doing so, Schleiermacher made religion a personal and subjective experience and sought to remove the need for a divinely revealed code of faith. “Instead of the belief that ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom 10:17), here was a faith which depended neither on hearing nor Bible…so instead of a straight denial of Scripture truths Schleiermacher simply did away with the need for revealed truths and for an authoritative rule of faith.”[6] By separating objective revelation from how the Christian feels “Schleiermacher seemed to provide a means whereby the essence of Christianity could remain unaffected, no matter how much of the Bible was rejected.”[7]

Thom Rainer - Three Views on How Long a Sermon Should Be
I am reticent to put my numbers in statistical percentages since my social media polls of the past three years are not scientific. Since numbers, however, can provide greater clarity, I list them here with the caveat that the accuracy is definitely not precise.
  1. 41%: Sermons should be shorter, in the 20 to 30 minute range. These respondents see a cultural barrier related to short attention spans. Any sermon over 30 minutes, they say, does not connect with the typical mind of today, especially in Western culture. We, therefore, must keep the message shorter and pack more information into a relatively brief time period.
  2. 37%: Sermons should be longer, in the 35 to 55 minute range. A solid exposition of Scripture, this perspective argues, cannot be done in just a few minutes. The sermon is the central part of the worship service, and the time allocated should be significant. We do a disservice to the Word of God when we move toward shorter sermons.
  3. 9%: There should be no time constraints on the pastor’s sermons. The pastor should have a sermon length that is only subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Anything else lacks sensitivity to God’s work and involvement.

BreakPoint ColumnMystical Light: C. S. Lewis' Debt to George MacDonald
It all began with a book that nearly went unread. The setting was England, the time, October 1916. Amid the whistle and clatter of steam engines, and the sound of a porter shouting out arrival and departure times, a well-dressed young man, age 16, pored over the books set out on a railway station bookstall. He had done so before, times without number, for he was an avid reader. He prospected for books like a miner in search of buried treasure.

But not just any book. He was looking for titles that held some promise of a great literary experience. He had been reading Edmund Spenser’s epic allegory, “The Faerie Queene,” with rapt attention. Its stories of martial valor and chivalric virtue had stirred something deep within him. He wanted to revisit that world, or something like it, if he could.

And so he had several times taken up and replaced a book that caught his attention. It bore an alluring title, with just enough hint of mystery to catch the eye. But as to its contents—he knew little about them or the book’s author. Several times, he did what many would-be readers have done: He picked the book up, thumbed through it, couldn’t decide whether to buy it, and set it back on the bookstall. Perhaps a dozen times, on as many days, he had done this.

Gallup - Religion Remains a Strong Marker of Political Identity in U.S.
Even as overall party identification trends in the U.S. have shifted over the past six and half years, the relationship between religion and party identification has remained consistent. Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and less frequently identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with those who are moderately or nonreligious.

Gallup classifies Americans as "very religious" if they say religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. That group constituted 41% of all U.S. adults in the first half of 2014. "Nonreligious" Americans (30% of Americans in 2014) are those who say religion is not an important part of their daily lives and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining group, 29%, are classified as "moderately religious." These people say religion is important in their lives but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important but that they still attend services.

From 2008 to June 2014, nonreligious Americans have been the most Democratic of the three religious groups, with a net Democratic value ranging between +38 and +19 over that period. Those who are moderately religious have also tilted Democratic, with net values ranging from +23 to +1. Those who are very religious are least Democratic, with net values in the negative range, meaning that on average, this group identifies with or leans toward the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party.

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