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Recovering Personal Responsibility in Our Culture of Victimhood, Blame-Shifting, and Identity Politics

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Every year, the Center for Cultural Leadership hosts for its friends and supporters at least one major symposium on a critical cultural issue. CCL is a think tank, so we value thoughtful discussions that can lead to godly change in our families, churches and wider society. In addition, and no less importantly, we value friendships, and we are confident that godly change occurs as much by cultivated friendships as it does in other ways. 

 

Our 2017 symposium will be Saturday, December 2 at a gorgeous hotel on San Francisco Bay. The theme is “Recovering Personal Responsibility in Our Culture of Victimhood, Blame-Shifting, and Identity Politics.” At this time in our culture’s history, I’m not sure there are many topics as relevant. Presenters include David L. Bahnsen, Brian G. Mattson, Jeffery J. Ventrella, and me. Just as important, all attendees are invited to be part of the discussion, and we treasure that contribution. Our goal: not one attendee goes away without a greater knowledge of how to influence our culture in distinctly Christian ways — and the courage to do it.

 

This event is not a conference in the conventional sense. Rather, it will be a discussion — more accurately, five, fifty-minute discussions (with breaks). All guests will be invited to enter the discussions. There will be no recordings, and you will be permitted to discuss pertinent issues freely, as long as you are gracious and respectful. 

 

This event will not be open to the general public, and attendance is capped at 45.  There is no cost, but you must be invited.

 

Plus, you get to spend at least one day rubbing shoulders with like-minded, culturally attuned Christians, renewing old friendships and making new ones. 

 

Our objective is three-fold: (1) to furnish a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere in which Christians committed to godly cultural change can discuss relevant issues and suggest strategies leading to effective cultural action; (2) to foster a thoughtful, respectful, prayer-drenched camaraderie among these diverse but like-minded Christians; and (3) to create a network of these Christians that can work both individually and collaboratively to bring God glory by reclaiming our culture according to distinctly Christian truth.

 

It’s also a great time to take in the gorgeous scenery of the Bay Area. The culture and politics may be bad in San Francisco, but the scenery and weather are great!

 

I am committed increasingly to the younger Christians (late teens and 20s and 30s) who must perpetuate the culture-reclaiming message of a robust Christian Faith. I’m convinced few messages are more vital today for this age group than our symposium theme: personal responsibility. I want to get specially selected young adults there. Can you help me do that? 

 

First, if you have children or other young adult relatives open to influencing the world for Jesus Christ, can you let me know so that I might invite them? Second, can you sponsor one or more attendees? The cost (tax deductible) is $250 per person. I would be happy if as many as half our attendees this year are young Christian adults whom we can influence for the kingdom. In addition, please save the date and let me know if you’re planning to attend.  

 

Contact me: sandlin[at]saber[dot]net or 831-420-7230. You can also send a private Facebook message. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

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Romanticism in Prayer

We live in a time drenched in the Romanticist notion that spontaneity is king. In the church, this means that godly habits and customs are sub-spiritual, while spontaneous, carefree, “Spirit-led” actions truly please God. The less we ponder and plan and premeditate, the godlier we are. Nothing could be further from the truth. The same Spirit who leads prophets to speak spontaneously leads them to spend time in prayer every day at the same time, and in the same way. Godly habits and customs aren’t somehow less spiritual than godly spontaneity — and are almost inevitably a great deal weightier.

I urge you to set aside time, like Daniel, every day, to pray, to call out to God:

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Dan. 6:10)

Make a prayer list. There’s nothing whatsoever sub-spiritual about a written prayer list. Unless your memory is superhuman, there’s no way you can remember everyone and everything you need to pray for. It might not be necessary to pray through the entire list every day, but you probably need a list. In fact, if you can remember every person and everything you want to pray for, I suspect your prayer life is quite paltry. Your memory is not good enough to recall everyone and everything you need to pray for.

From a youth, Daniel had learned to pray. It was his custom. We’ll never be people of prayer until prayer becomes a custom and habit. If we wait to pray until the exigencies of the moment, we’ll never be people of prayer. Prayer is a religious observance in the best sense. Jesus prayed at customary times. It’s a principle of the Christian life. Every day we must acknowledge God as our Almighty and our Father. Every day we must glorify him in prayerful worship. Every day we must bring our requests to him. Every day we must show that we rely entirely on him for our life and provision. To go day after day without that kind of prayer — I’m not referring simply to hurried prayer over meals — is to go day after day without any communion with the One in we live our very lives.

Customary and habitual prayer is normal prayer. 

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The Nashville Statement and the False Teachers

Pete Enns, self-appointed champion of the burgeoning anti-inerrancy wing of evangelicalism, joins a chorus of “progressives” opposed to the Nashville Statement. That statement is a simple, direct, bold affirmation of the Bible’s teaching concerning human sexuality, particularly with reference to homosexuality, signed by leading biblical evangelicals. Enns assaults the statement with satire and irony, but in particular a heavy dose of epistemic skepticism. We can know that there’s a God, but for some reason we cannot be rock-certain about what he’s like. We know that he’s given us a revelation, but we really can’t be quite sure what it is teaching us. 

There’s nothing new or interesting about this form of skepticism. Postmodernism dictates the unreliability or uncertainty of textual meaning. It blankets the humanities departments of most major American universities. It is always self-defeating. In Enns’ case, he can’t be sure what God teaches in the Bible about human sexuality, but he can be sure there’s a God, apparently. Modern discoveries and understanding about the universe call into question ancient interpretations of the Bible, but apparently this fact did not lead Enns to question Christianity itself, which is an ancient faith. 

Being consistently postmodern is oh-so-hard. 

Enns’ objections to the Nashville Statement will carry little weight with culturally latitudinarian run-of-the-mill evangelicals who are tolerant of same-sex “marriage” mainly because it has become popular. He will, however, influence some younger putative evangelical scholars who wish to be academically popular. Seemingly his goal in his mocking skepticism is to unsettle the faith of intelligent Bible-believing Christians weary of the arrogance they perceive in sectors of today’s Christianity.

But skepticism about what God has said is not the proper antidote to epistemic arrogance. It is no arrogance to submit to what God plainly teaches, and it plainly teaches that homosexuality is a grievous sin. It is, in fact, arrogance, not humility, that leads one to dispute what the Bible plainly teaches. 

This skepticism needs to be called what it is: false teaching. And Enns needs to be called what he is: a false teacher. If you spend your time undermining students’ confidence in the authority and clarity of the Bible, you are simply not a Christian teacher. Christianity demands, and has always assumed, a stable, knowable, generally understandable propositional revelation. Jesus taught this. The early apostles taught this. You can’t have Christianity without it.

For too long well-meaning evangelicals have treated Enns and similar false teachers with kid gloves.

It’s high time the gloves came off. It’s the Christian thing to do. 

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