In 2020, the evangelical Christian church, as a whole, has little impact on American society. In mainstream society, many people worship the idols of money, power, and sex. Many people consider as normative behavior the practice of child sacrifice in the form of abortion and sexual perversion advocated by the LGBTQ movement. The mainstream media mock and vilify Christians who stand up for biblical morality. Our immoral society brings to mind the way society was in the days of Noah (Genesis 6; Luke 17:26-27) and 1st Century Greco-Roman society (Romans 1). Sadly, 2 Timothy 3:1–4 (ESV) describes the present condition of 21st Century America society:
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
In his book 23 year old book entitled Love Your God With All Your Mind (NavPress (1997)), J.P. Moreland points out the overall ineffectiveness of the church in general to impact the world. While he does not say he has the compete answer to this issue, at p. 188, he presents one factor:
Among a small handful of factors foundational to such a response is the hostility or indifference to the development of an intellectual life in the way we go about our business in the church. … I have become convinced that we evangelicals neither value nor have a strategy for developing every member of our congregation to one degree or another as Christian thinkers.
He then made the observation that while the church is supposed to be a hospital and a war college, in 1997, the primary function of church was a hospital. Moreland writes at p. 189:
In the midst of all this, the church has become primarily a hospital to soothe empty selves instead of a war college to mobilize and train an army of men and women to occupy territory and advance the kingdom until the King returns. Of course, the church should actually be both hospital and war college and. In fact, much, much more. But there is no question that we are not succeeding in mobilizing such an army and training them with the intellectual and spiritual skills necessary to enter deeply and profoundly into the spiritual life and to destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. A church incompetent cannot effectively be a church militant. And make no mistake, like it or not, we are in a war for the hearts, minds, and destinies of men and women all around us.
While there are exceptions, it is sad to say that in 2020 the church is even more of a “church incompetent” than when Dr. Moreland wrote his book. So many believers are too self-focused on their brokenness to ever consider developing an intellect. Very few believers can carry out a competent study of a passage of Scripture.
Thinking in church is a dying, if not a dead, practice.
In October of 2020, the United States is embroiled in many vicious political campaigns. The ideological divide between Republicans vs. Democrats and liberals vs. conservatives is great. However, no matter who wins happens on November 3rd, the one constant is humankind’s need for the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what the evangelical church ought to be about. The evangelical church ought to have an outward focus proclaiming the gospel to a lost and dying world. Believers ought to be capable to carry out 1 Peter 3:15 (NET):
15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.
One must develop an intellect to better give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope he or she possesses.
Does the Bible say anything about a believer being a thinker, i.e., developing an intellect, especially in the context of evangelism? Yes, it does. And it says it with clarity!
In Part Two of this series, I will look at what Mark 12:29-31 teaches about a Christian developing an intellect so as to be a thinker in an evangelistic context. In Part Three of this series, I will look at the role thinking played for Paul when he presented the gospel as described in Acts 17:1-4. .
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation! Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved. You can also go to another article at my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/10/20/there-is-hope-even-when-there-seems-to-be-no-hope-2/ ).
If you have comments, questions, observations or the like, please leave a comment in the comments section or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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