1 Peter 5:6-7
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because[c] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour
Have you ever wondered what the strategy of the devil is for those he can’t devour – like does he just walk away and go Oh well
Or is there something else that he does.
3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, 5 old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. 6 And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”
7 Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?”
8 But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”
And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”
9 So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy.
You know what happened here – the Gibeonites couldn’t beat the Children of Israel and so they neutralized the threat.
Defintion of neutral– impartial, uninvolved and indifferent
Neutral is a powerful weapon of warfare of our adversary the devil
The Idea that the enemy’s aim if he can’t take you out – he will aim to neutralize you.
He will aim to get you to become a fence sitter. – Neutral
1) Matt 13:22 – The third type of seed – the mature Christian – becomes unfruitful – neutralized.
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
2) The church of the Laodiceans – Rev 3:14
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[g] I will vomit you out of My mouth.
There are 5 hostile environmental factors right now in Australia that are designed to neutralize you and your church – that if we are ignorant of these devices – they will neutralize us.
Three are external to the church
Two are internal in the church
1) Post Modernism
To understand Post Modernism – we need to know what Modernism – or modernity is.
Seeing its Post Modernity
The term Modernity is used to describe the period of time as the world emerged from the Dark Ages into the Age of Rational Thought – also called the Period of Enlightenment.
Said to have started around 1500 and finished around the mid to late 20thCentury, Modernity is the rise of science and knowledge, with capitalistic highly industrialized economies, democratic political structures, sexual freedom, secularization, individualism, increase of the presence of women in employment and business and urbanization.
Key events that facilitated Modernity are:-
- The Introduction of moveable type,
- The French Revolution,
- The conquest of Constantinople by the Turks,
- Luthers 95 Thesis – which was part of the reformation,
- The fall of Muslim Spain,
- The Discovery of the Americas
- The Industrial Revolution.
In the 1950’s, people started to coin the phrase Post Modern to try and describe the cultural mood that was beginning to emerge. Thus the concept of Post Modernism was born.
The Characteristics of Post Modernists are:
1) They don’t believe in metanarratives – no big picture to truth.
2) No Absolute truth and no authority for truth
Instead of black and white, all things become gray,
3) Truth is what people subjectively agree on – thus it’s a social construct
a. This also promotes Religious Pluralism
A Great book – The gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism
Quote from the book
theologians often talk about postmodern culture as one in which people are increasingly reluctant to accept the existence of any absolute, universal truths or to believe anyone who purports to have “the truth” or who maintains that one truth applies to all people. This postmodern rejection of universal truths has led to an acceptance of “multiple truths” or “religious pluralism” that depends on individuals to sort out what seems right, acceptable (or perhaps politically correct) to them
4) Any big picture is always oppressive so there is an inbuilt cynicism
5) The elevation of rational thought to an all powerful position within society and reduced the idea of the supernatural to something the idiots believe in. The deification of science.
The implications of Post Modernism for you:
1) Outreach events – you can’t assume people know who Jesus is –or that they know the Christmas and Easter Story
2) Saying it is in the bible is not a good enough reason and not seen as an articulate argument
a. Look at the gay marriage debate for instance.
3) The failure of Western Christianity to bring in significant lifestyle distinctives in followers has invalidated the authenticity of the gospel – so we have to re-examine our discipleship pathways.
4) Anger against the institutionalized church. We must understand that coming across as if we have all the answers leads to an immediate rejection from a Post Modernist. We have to become skilled dialoguers – articulate apologists.
5) The integration of Faith and Reason. We need to mighty men and women of faith – who are skilled at preaching a message that connects with the spirit of man and the mind of man.
6) Rejection of the supernatural
7) Post Modernism strengthens the acceptance of Evolution and increases the attack on creationism
8) Very cynical toward Christianity and its message.
9) Post Moderns are offended by the idea that Jesus is The way, The truth and The life – rejection of absolutes.
If we ignore postmodernism and don’t engage with it – we will find ourselves increasing marginalized on the periphery of society – dreaming about the good old days – when we had some level of influence in the culture.
2) The Doctrine of tolerance
The hypocrisy of intolerant tolerance
The definition of tolerance – espouses ‘validity and equality of all viewpoints’.
The new tolerance movement, teaches that you have to understand, respect, and acceptall values and viewpoints.
Its core philosophy of ‘live and let live’ therefore leaves no room for absolute truth and morality.
This new breed of ‘tolerance’, however, is completely intolerant of the viewpoint that other viewpoints can be morally wrong.
So it is not surprising, sadly, that it is often coupled with extreme intolerance towards Christianity.
Quote from Byran Chapel
Nothing is more intolerant than a tolerance that requires the absence of all convictions. Tolerance – once defined as respecting others rights to hold different perspectives, has morphed into a pervasive insistence that no one should hold firm convictions
The ‘gay ‘movement is in the forefront of such hypocritically intolerant tolerance. :- where they beg for tolerance for their activities on the one hand, but advocate punishing all dissent on the other.
My question is – shouldn’t someone who preaches tolerance, tolerate those who they deem to be intolerant
But yet my passionate Christianity is not being tolerated.
The danger of the doctrine of tolerance is that we are bullied into silence.
It’s like when people accuse me of being judgmental because I stand for righteousness.
I always ask them the question:-But aren’t you being judgmental by accusing me of being judgmental
Tolerance is aimed at silencing Christians and moving the church to a position where they are unable to define sin. Which then means – if there is no sin – there is no need for a savior.
I refuse to be silenced.
Tolerance is a tool to tame those who post modernists deem to be offensive.
3)Radically Intolerant Atheism
The Attack on Christianity of the Theophobics
Passionate or militant Atheistic Evangelism
Not just atheistic but anti-theist.
Christopher Hitchens – famous Atheist and Author – describes himself, as an anti-theist – the new Atheists are out to destroy your faith as a Christian.
Atheists are setting out to try to purge the country of this “dangerous delusion” of religion. They think God is bad for you, to borrow Hitchens’s title.
Atheism is, the rejection of beliefin the existence of deities.
Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs
So modernity effective elevated rational thought to an all powerful position within society and reduced the idea of the supernatural to something the idiots believe in.
Here are some quotes from probably the worlds most famous Atheist – and author of the Book – the God Delusion.
“I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.”
― Richard Dawkins
“There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it.”
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
“Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one.”
― Richard Dawkins
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
― Richard Dawkins
“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”
― Richard Dawkins
Some Pro Christian Quotes
Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? ~Maurice Freehill
Tweets from QLD Pastor – James McPherson
It’s not religion but atheism that needs an evolutionary explanation. Why would nature breed a group of people who see no point to life
Before people argue the world would be better without religion they must somehow explain away the failed atheistic experiment called communism
Dawkins says if you can’t prove God scientifically God exists, then He doesnt. In which case love, beauty, courage & more don’t exist either
What do Atheist say or Believe
1) You either believe in God or your subscribe to the facts of science
So they are saying – you can have faith and be irrational or you can be grounded and rational
What they are saying is that there is no scientific proof of God – so in typical Post Modernist fashion – Atheists deify rational thought – and see science as omniscient – all knowing
I actually find Atheism to be an exceptionally arrogant worldview – the whole concept that man thinks that he has worked out the entirety of the universe – is nothing short of mind numbingly arrogant.
2) The God of the Gaps
Philosopher John Lennox explains this concept: “the introduction of a god or God is an evidence of an intellectual laziness: we cannot explain something scientifically and so we introduce ‘God’ to cover our ignorance.”
3) Religion causes all wars
The short answer is no.
Religion has been used throughout history to generate popular support for a variety of wars, but to say that religion is the cause is a gross simplification.
Other things can be used as this “public rallying cry” to bring groups large and small to war. If you look at the battles of the 20th century the most common was nationalism or support of a particular political ideology. I would argue that most (or all) wars are caused by leaders trying to increase their power / wealth / position / prestige etc…
Well if an atheist would do their research a little better they would realize that the most atrocious wars were started and fought by atheists. Stalin killed 20m; Mao 70m & Hitler 10m. That’s 100m killed in a single century.
4) The Problem of Evil
In brief, the problem is that the traditional conception of God implies that if God exists then he knows how to, wants to, and is able to prevent all suffering. If such a God existed, though, then we would expect him to prevent all suffering. Suffering, though, is a familiar part of the world around us; it has not been prevented. There is, therefore, the argument concludes, no such God.
My Blog on the Subject.
5) Christianity is Offensively Exclusivist
Another objection to theism is that Christianity is offensively exclusive
What Atheists say: – On this view, we ought to be tolerant both of those of other faiths and of those of no faith, and the only way that we can do that is by embracing religious pluralism, the view that all views of religion are equally valid and equally true for those that hold them.
Continuing with the factors that are aimed at Neutralizing you:
This is a bigger impact on our attitude and mentality that what we really understand.
We are all so schooled in the West to have a consumerist framework through which interact with life, that we are blind to its impact.
The federal govt with its constant handouts of money is reinforcing this entitlement consumer mentality
And we can bring that sense of entitlement in to the church, and even into our relationship with God.
When it comes to consumerism – love this quote
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
We find ourselves in a culture that defines our relationships and actions primarily through a matrix of consumption.
As the philosopher Baudrillard explains, “Consumption is a system of meaning.”
We assign value to ourselves and others based on the goods we purchase. One’s identity is now constructed by the clothes you wear, the vehicle you drive, and the music on your iPod.
In short, you are what you consume.
This explains why shopping is the number one leisure activity of Americans. It occupies a role in society that once belonged only to religion—the power to give meaning and construct identity.
Consumerism, as Pete Ward correctly concludes, “represents an alternative source of meaning to the Christian gospel.” No longer merely an economic system, consumerism has become the Australian worldview—the framework through which we interpret everything else, including God, the gospel, and church.
When we approach Christianity as consumers rather than seeing it as a comprehensive way of life, an interpretive set of beliefs and values,
Christianity becomes just one more brand we consume along with Gap, Apple, and Gloria Jeans to express identity.
And the demotion of Jesus Christ from Lord to label means to live as a Christian no longer carries an expectation of obedience and good works, but rather the perpetual consumption of Christian merchandise and experiences—music, books, t-shirts, conferences, and jewellery.
So we can fill our churches with people who are merely Sunday Christians who have no more relationship with Jesus than the people who sit in Gloria Jeans have a relationship with the original owner of Gloria Jeans.
And this leads into the final influence that will neutralize you or your church.
5) Vampire Christianity
The church is great at making converts but it was called to make disciples
Talk about the book as the most life changing book of the 140 books that I have read in the last two years.
There is a clear difference between being a convert to Christianity and a disciple of Jesus Christ.
A convert is someone who changes from one faith to another.
Simply changing one’s religion to Christianity does not mean that someone has become a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.
A convert is someone who has changed his or her faith but not his or her heart.
The result is a cheap grace that cost us nothing.
Dietrich Bonheoffer first defined cheap grace in his most famous work is The Cost of Discipleship, first published in 1939. This book is a rigorous exposition and interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, and Matthew 9:35-10:42. He described cheap grace as, “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
Christian V’s Disciple
The word Christian appears 3 times in scripture.
In contrast, the word disciple comes from the Greek word Mathetes, which is found 269 times in the New Testament and means an apprentice, learner, or a pupil.
In the ancient times of the Bible, a disciple was a person who left everything that they had to follow the teachings of a master.
The word ‘disciple’ implies much more than a learner or a pupil, it is someone who has totally committed his or her life to the training and teaching of a master or a school of thought.
According to the New Testament, (John 15:7-17; Luke 9:23-25; Matthew 28:19). a disciple is a born again believer who is obedient, bears fruit, glorifies God, has joy, loves others, denies themselves, and is committed to fulfilling the Great Commission
The danger is that the church worldwide is being overrun by Vampire Christians
Some years ago, AW Tozer, expressed his “feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout evangelical Christian circles – the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need him as saviour and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to him as Lord as long as we want to.” He then goes on to state – that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred scriptures.
This “heresy” has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a vampire Christian. One in effect who says to Jesus, I’d like a little of your blood please, But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, wont you just excuse me while I get on with my life and I’ll see you in heaven. But can we really imagine that this is an approach that Jesus finds acceptable.
And when you stop to think about it, how could one actually trust him for forgiveness of sins while not trusting him for much more than that.
We want the saving blood but then we want to treat the rest of Christianity as an optional extra.
Summarize – Things designed to neutralize you and your church
1) Post Modernism
5) Vampire Christianity
Really appreciate your commentary on this Pete