One of the reasons why Christians differ in their views and approaches to cultural engagement is because they not only view their own history differently, but also because they view our present responses to that history very differently. Do we have an accurate picture of Church history? What responsibility, if any, do we have for the sins committed by Christians in the past (or present)? What are the challenges present in coming to a consensus on these issues? These are some of the questions I will tackle in this second part of the series. This post is a part of a series that is meant to be read in order. For part 1, start here.
The first grid we need for understanding what it means to be Christians in culture is that of historical humility. Continue Reading
The pool is open, and summer is almost upon us! Whatever stage of life you may find yourself in, I hope the next few months for you will give you the opportunity to rest, take a break, and enjoy some good weather and even better company. But I also want to encourage you to use some time this summer to grow and challenge yourself in new ways. One of the best ways to do that is through reading. Not only do you expose yourself to new people and ideas, but you also become a better reader of Scripture, which in turn can help you become like Jesus.
If you’re looking for good books to read this summer, allow me to recommend to you 10 books that I think would be of great value to you. While anyone could benefit from these books, I have the church members in mind who I have the privilege of pastoring at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. Each of these books can be loosely categorized under a broad heading of community. For those of you who call Shady Grove your home, I want us to grow together in becoming a family that can only be explained by the gospel of God’s grace to us in Christ. I believe these books can help us do that.
I do have your summer vacations in mind with these books! I’ve tried to choose books that won’t take you too terribly long to read, that are engaging and well-written, and will leave a lasting impact on you. So whether you’re having a staycation or heading to the beach, take one or two of these books along. Continue Reading
In 313 A.D. the Roman emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan; a pronouncement that declared Christianity was to be tolerated and protected as a religion under the Roman government. For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were either outcasts (at best) or a heavily persecuted group. It was far from being a convenient time to be a Christian; converting to the faith often meant giving up your family, your job, your way of life, and even your community – all to follow this crucified carpenter from Nazareth.
During these first few centuries of the Church people often converted to Christianity not only because of the gospel message they heard but also because of the gospel mercy and compassion they experienced. Christians were known to have cared for orphans when no one else would, to have taken in widows when Roman society said they no longer had value, and to have rescued discarded babies from the trash heaps to raise them as their own.
Christians pushed back against the immorality of their day not through boycotts and public protest but by displaying a positive Christian ethic in their homes and communities. For example, sexual slavery and prostitution was at the center of ancient Greco-Roman culture. One of the most reliable ways to tell when a local region had become Christianized is when they decided that sexual slavery was unjust – not because of a moral majority who took over the government, but because people were forsaking their idols to follow Christ. Christianity is at its best when it shows people a better way to find their satisfaction: in Jesus.