7 Debilitating Lies Of The ‘Covering Doctrine.’

What is the “Covering Doctrine?”  To put it simply, it’s the doctrine that claims all Christians must be under the authority (covering) of a church leader or mother organization to act with ‘authority,’ be protected from the attacks of the devil, or receive God’s blessings. It came from the shepherding movment of the 70’s which was really rooted in the cultural revolutionof the 60’s, and utterly failed a short time afterwards.

The face of the shepherding movement, along with it’s overblown ‘covering doctrine’ was Bob Mumford. Although in 1989 he said:

Accountability, personal training under the guidance of another, and effective pastoral care are needed biblical concepts. True spiritual maturity will require that they be preserved. These biblical realities must also carry the limits indicated by the New Testament. However, to my personal pain and chagrin, these particular emphases very easily lent themselves to an unhealthy submission resulting in perverse and unbiblical obedience to human leaders. Many of these abuses occurred within the sphere of my own responsibility.

It rears its head every now and then and comes from the felt idea that certain Christian movements, parachurch organizations, and even missionaries are too loose and that there’s not enough accountability, credibility, or control ‘over them.’  In the past 5 years, I’ve probably heard the question, “Who’s your covering?” at least 50 times.  Other versions of the question are;

“Under what authority do you minister here?”

or

“Who do you answer to?”  

It’s as if legitimate ministry can be determined by “the right answer” to those questions.  Answering those sorts of questions in a cavalier way, for example, Jesus/God is my authority (covering),” is thought to be rebellious, of poor attitude, or having an inclination towards disobedience. If continued, it usually results in one being forced out from under that covering or “umbrella of protection” for the ‘destruction of the flesh so that the soul might be saved’ which is really code talk for trying to justify religious abuse.

It’s one of my favorite exchanges in scripture when the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders approached Jesus saying:

By what authority are you doing these things?” and they also asked,  “And who gave you authority to do this?”  Jesus replied,

“I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”  

They responded, “We don’t know,” because either way their answer would have obliterated their ill conceived covering doctrine, (Mark 11:27-33)  It was one of the most disassembling questions, doctrinally speaking, of Jesus’ ministry.  It was also one of the wisest of all possible answers He could have given to those challenging Him.

Given mankind’s propensity to form hierarchical systems and structures which are diametrically opposed to Jesus’ teachings in Luke 22:25-26, Matthew 20:25 and Mark 10:42, we have purposed to expose these 7 lies of the doctrine;

      • Covering encourages accountability.
      • Covering procures legitimacy.
      • Covering provides safety.
      • Covering encourages fidelity
      • Covering transfers authority
      • Covering ordains ministry
      • Covering leads to prosperity

These are just some of the lies that have been birthed from the fundamentally flawed principles within the movement.  Sin is redefined as disobedience to God’s ‘delegated’ authorities.  Grace is filtered through fickle feelings of generosity in others (those who cover), and is often mitigated without objective reasoning.  Obedience to the Lord requires obedience to God’s delegated authorities and across all realms such as employers, church leaders, and civil authorities. Bucking any leadership in any way ‘puts you outside of the covering.’

Further, rebellion against God’s delegated authority is rebellion against God Himself.  Rebellion to authority opens one up to the demonic realm results in being deceived.  People should live by the principle of obedience rather than by discernment and objective reasoning.  People should always obey authority [usually the pastor] unless they are clearly instructed to violate scripture [but he is the final interpreter of scripture, so…]  ‘Spiritual authority and blessing flows to those who suffer under authority.’  God does not judge people on the fruit of their life but on how faithfully they followed authority.  And, those outside the local church and the covering of its leaders are at serious risk of spiritual attack.  While these principles may contain nuggets or even smaller bits of truth here and there, there are none the less widely misinterpreted and misapplied.*

In addition to the 7 lies listed above, I think these are 7 possible negative fruit:

      1. Covering doctrine distorts the gospel
      2. Covering doctrine is disobedience 
      3. Covering doctrine is manipulative, fear-driven, and abusive
      4. Covering doctrine reinforces and widens the clergy/laity divide.
      5. Covering doctrine usurps Jesus’ authority.
      6. Covering doctrine is idolatry.
      7. Covering doctrine creates ungodly dependency.

Those that insist on the covering doctrine as a valid and biblical teaching, can be equated with modern-day shamans, charlatans, and shysters.  The doctrine itself is one of the key catalyzers of the destructive prosperity gospel and ultimately kills ministry and mission. In part II of this series, we’ll talk about 7 countermeasures to the doctrine of coverings, but I’d like to ask you a few questions:

1.  What truths might there be in the covering doctrine?  Point out a few?

2.  How would you answer the question, “Who’s your covering?”

3.  What lies, or results have you seen come out of those who teach the covering doctrine? 

 

*While primarily motivated by our day to day dealings with the doctrine of “coverings” in our context, much of this post has been inspired by materials found here.

 

When ‘Waiting on God’ Just Might be Apostasy – A Missionary’s Perspective

The words

“Apostle,” “Apostasy,” and “Resurrection,”

could change the way you look at the Mission of God forever! 

 Here’s why; 

 
Apostle (Apo-Stello) There are over 80 occurrences of the Greek word ‘apostolos’ (apostle) in the NT, mostly in the writings of Luke and Paul. The word is a joining of two ideas; the common prefix ‘apo’ (out from) and the verb ‘stellō’ which means “to send.”  In NT it is applied to Jesus as the Sent One of God (Hebrews 3:1), to those sent by God to preach to Israel (Luke 11:49), and to those sent by churches (2 Corinthians 8:23; Philippians. 2:25)
 
Apostellō seems frequently to mean ‘to send with a particular purpose,’ the force of apostolos is probably ‘one commissioned,’ and implied, commissioned by Christ.
 
All believers comprise the Apostolate because all believers are sent.
It is reasonable, then, to say that all believers are apostolic-ally accountable for their sent-ness. (Luke 9:10) (John 17:18)  Even if we were to limit the Great Commission to a subset of believers, which I would not, we are still ALL ambassadors of the King and co-workers in the reconciliation of all things. (2 Corinthians 5:18, Colossians 1:20). The Apostle Paul discusses the ministry of reconciliation when he uses the term “ambassadors” for Christ:
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20, emphasis added).
 
So the prefix “apo” or “ap” means – from, off, or away from.  Combined with “stello” – to get set, place things in order, arrange, equip to be sent, and GO!
 
More simply put, ‘Apo’ (Separated out) & ‘Stello’ (to be sent) “Separated out to be sent,” is having a Christlike sent-ness and to be separated out like Christ, and sent.  “Therefore, holy brethren, be partakers of  the heavenly calling, and “consider” (meditate, dwell on, be infused with life changing thought leading to action) Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”  (Hebrews 3:1) 
 
Apostasy (Apo-Stasia)  We already know that ‘apo’ means ~ “to be separated out from,” but ‘Stasia’ is where we get our english word ‘stasis.’ For you Sci-fi geeks out there, you know when someone is put in stasis, usually because of a grave or life threatening injury, they are immobilized, set still, and artificially sustained until such a time as something can be done.  To be in stasis is to be sedentary or motionless.  An example of ‘stasis’ from scripture is when Peter “falls into a trance” in Acts 10:10.  The word ‘trance,’ is ‘exstasis’ in the Greek and is most similar to our word ‘ecstasy.’ Of course, being held still by God and having all of our attention captivated by Him is a good thing.  But there is a fear that paralyzes one into an evil sort of ecstasy.  (Mark 16:8) 
 
We often equate apostasy with teaching false doctrine or rejecting biblical truths.  That’s part of it, but settling for that definition undercuts the seriousness of it’s more complete meaning.  If we take a second look at the word as ‘apo’ and ‘stasis’ together, then it could very well mean being separated out for the purpose of being put in stasis or immobilized.  In other words, rejecting sent-ness and embracing a sedentary state is apostasy. We can separate ourselves out by indecisiveness or ‘waiting on God’ and being motionless or paralyzed in the waiting. There are times, to be sure, when waiting on the lord, or ‘being still’ (Psalm 46:10) is appropriate and good, but saying “I am waiting on God to reveal his will” may be just a spiritualized excuse for procrastination or simply justifying your lack of activity because you just son’t want to do whatever it is that the Lord is asking of you.   Another way of saying apostate is “being mission-less.”
 
“Some will fall away from the faith, “inappropriately focusing attention on” deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, they will be “seared” (encased) (put in stasis) in their own conscience, they will “forbid” things and “advocate abstaining” from things which God has created to be gratefully “shared in community” by those who believe and know the truth.  They will “reject” the things that God has created for His purposes and sanctified to be received and “exercised” with gratitude.” (1 Timothy 4:1-4) Paraphrase mine…
 
Apostasy then, is sort of a self disfellowship that leads to being mission-less and motionless, an attachment to detachment, or an unsanctified stationary posture.
Apostasy = mission paralysis. Apostasy = un-sent-ness.
 Forgive me for being too geeky or should I say Greeky, but these thoughts were inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Tim Catchim.  It caused me to lose a lot of sleep for which I blame him and am grateful for.  Thank you for reading up to this point.  You can subscribe to this blog for similar posts and mission oriented discussions here.  But, here comes the “punch line…” 
 
Resurrection (Ana-Stasis)  The Greek prefix ‘ana’ means – up, back, again, upside down, or back again.  We already know what stasis means, but I’ll add that it implies ‘a sinful and willful motionless or passivity.’  So putting the greek root words together for “resurrection” (Ana-Stasis), it would mean rising up, inverting, returning, or coming back to a state of movement in life, ekklesia (church), community, and mission against stasis.  It is the opposite direction of apostasy.  It is the counter-measure to apostasy, and the solution to a sedentary, silent, and sinful stillness.  It is the appropriating of and the identification with Christ’s resurrection and ours.
 
You have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God…  Whatever your mission is in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (Colossians 3)
 
Rejecting mission, is the path to apostasy. Resurrection, Christ’s & ours, is the solution.
 
My fellow ambassador, live in a posture of resurrected, apostolic, and communal sent-ness and you will guard yourselves well from apostasy. 
 Therefore, holy brethren, be partakers of the heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession… 
*This article has been revised and updated from early 2013.

The Ethos of ‘Gathering Together,’ A Hebrews 10:25 Contemplation

In a bit of self-reflection concerning 2016, I took an account of how much ‘gathering’ I’ve done with other believers. I can remember at least a half-dozen times, when ‘humble exhorters’ verbally expressed; based purely on speculation, that I just might be developing a custom or habit of forsaking/neglecting the gathering of myself with the saints.

Although, and in many situations, the kind of gathering that they’re talking about is not what I would consider gathering.

The author of Hebrews says; “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

It is interesting that the Greek uses the word ‘episunagógé’ for ‘gathering’ or ‘meeting together.’ Literally ‘synagogue-ing,’ It would suggest that our time together should reflect what took place in the early synagogues.  I’ll leave that to you, but I’m still not sure that temple gatherings or synagogue gatherings are the best models for the Church today.

More importantly, the reason for gathering is to “think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Gathering for the sake of gathering is just not supported by any biblical text. We don’t gather for theological reasons, but for teleological ones. We gather towards a purpose.

I saw one of my twitter friends today make this tweet: “We don’t go to church. We are the church. The church goes to worship.”

To which I would have made this slight change;

“We don’t go to church. We are the church. The church worships as it goes.”

Ever so slightly nuanced, it makes all the difference in the world to me. I find gathering without purpose distasteful. I consider mission-less churches enemies. And yes, I will love my enemies, but it doesn’t mean that I have to gather with them if all they’re going to do is foment momentum for the next gathering.

When the author of Hebrews says not to forsake the gathering ‘as is custom’ (ethos) with some, it makes me think about what kind of ethos I’d like to see. ‘Ethos’ technically – a custom or behavior based on tradition (a habit) fixed by the religious social life of a group of people, cannot stand alone just because it’s a tradition that has been fixed by repetition. Our gatherings are to be fixed toward future purposes and not on antique assumptions.

If there’s no ‘purpose’ being manifested by the gatherings other than self-propagation, then NO THANK YOU. I’d rather gather with a people of direct purpose than with a people of misdirected purpose.

To put it more simply, If a gathering is not focused primarily toward acts of love and good works (mission), then I’m not interested. Am I being overly harsh? Maybe. Is my attitude keeping me from gathering as much as I should? Probably. But I will say this. My fewer gatherings in 2016 have been more impactful than the abundance of gatherings in years past. This overarching principle to ‘worship on the way – as you go’ has birthed new fellowships and deepened the ones already in existence.

It makes me wonder if gathering less and purposing more isn’t ‘the higher road,’ and if reshaping the ethos instead of just accepting the one in play is the better path.

Your thoughts?

Advent Apologetics Day #11 – Is It Suppose To Hurt?

Modern apologetics tends toward spending more time defending the historic Christian faith… or a perceived one… than demonstrating hope in the present or expressing a future confidence.

An advent apologetic sometimes needs to ask “Where does it hurt?”

A well reasoned logical argument, an attempt to rationalize the pain of others, or defense of the tenets of one’s faith, does little to acknowledge or alleviate the hurt or answer suffering.

 In fact, much of modern-day apologetics causes unnecessary and untimely hurt.  It’s often glossed over by the curt and insensitive philosophy “The Truth Hurts.”  If you are prone to use that phrase, then take a meditative pause before using it again.  It is unlikely that those speak life, restoration, or reconciliation.  It can be devastatingly deceptive to tell a truth at the wrong time. The truth, spoken at the wrong time or in the wrong context can become a manipulative lie.

C.S. Lewis once said;

“We accept the claims of Christ because they make sense and then abandon them when a painful or confusing situation causes us to be overcome by feelings of fear or guilt.”

Struggle in apologetics is often thought of as the frustration or inability to convince the other party of their error. Thoughts like these often lead to shame for both parties and deviate far from a biblical apologetic goal. An Advent Apologetic, is one that is familiar with real struggle and is willing to join others in it. 

Most of us, if we’ll admit it, do not trust God in times of struggle because we really don’t trust God when things are going well. We develop our faith arguments to cover up our own frailty and then foist them on others to make ourselves feel better.

Apologetics is about hope, and not hoping you’ll be able to win arguments. Advent Apologetics is benevolent. But again, as C.S. Lewis has said;

“Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

An Advent Apologetic based in love is not rude, does not irritate, and does not portray resentfulness. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

We are about to enter in to the hurt and suffering of many. Our goal is to develop long-lasting relationships and alleviate a bit of the physical needs right now. You can help by contributing to feed a family of 4 for a week via our Christmas Basket Project. Click here for details.

51 Things You Can Do To Make Mission The Priority Of Your Church – Part I

images1.  Dedicate 51% of your entire budget to Missions

2.  Dedicate 51% of your time to mission work

3.  Declassify 51% of what you call ‘ministry,’ and ask yourselves if it qualifies as the Missio Dei.

4.  Sell off 51% of your sound and media equipment used in ’worship,’ and use it to support international missions.

5.  Make Sunday School 51% less about studying the bible, and more about serving others who would never attend Sunday School.

6.  Spend 51% of your church planting and church growth planning sessions on figuring out how to better make disciples.

7.  Shrink your coffee and pastry servings by 51% and go feed some homeless people.

8.  Figure out how to shave 51% off of your new building project and instead, invest it in your local community.

9.  Shut down any ministry that requires more than half of its income to sustain itself.

10.  Cut your short-term mission budgets in half and have the same impact. (Yes, it’s entirely possible)

11.  Stop taking out newspaper ads which are only read by 3% of the population and send real letters to harvest workers all over the globe.

12.  If someone mentions a Fog Machine, ‘restore such a one with humility.’

13.  Stop sending your leadership to learn from successful Mega-Churches which practice none of these things.

14.  That ‘Discipleship’ Conference? Nix it. They rarely result in Disciples anyway. Instead, send them out 2 by2 into the real lives of others.

15.  The ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’ Get it Straight!

16.  Tell your ‘Mother Church’ or Denominational Headquarters that instead of kicking up a percentage of your offerings to them, you’re going to send and support more missionaries from your local congregation. They’ll understand.

17.  Did I mention Make Disciples?

Parts II and III to follow shortly…

Before I get to those, What would you add to this list?

Advent Apologetics Day #10 – Unable to Cope

harpSome would think that the attitude of Advent and those often expressed via Apologetics, are at odds with each other.  Advent actions and attitudes are often described with words like patience, waiting, and hope.  Apologetics is often associated with abrasiveness, pompous posturing, and pithy argumentation.  

What if we adopted an attitude of Advent in our apologetics all the time? 

This series will conclude with  1 Peter 3:15, everyone’s favorite apologetics verse.  Until then, I’d like to look to some other texts that I believe are important to any discussion on apologetics. Todays text is Acts 6:8-10

“And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.  But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen.  But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”

Of particular interest is the last sentence, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.”  The NIV translates it this way;

“But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”

When they could not answer Stephen’s arguments as a well known debaters, they prosecuted him as a criminal.  They could not resist the Spirit that was in him.  Later, Steven would say concerning them; “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you!”

Often, apologetics is centered on intellectual prowess or keen debating skills.  It is also primarily focused on the spoken word.  Steven’s apologetic contained three critical components;

  1.  Action or deeds

2.  Being present amongst others

and

3.  Spiritually empowered disposition and discourse.

An Advent Apologetic includes all three.

Thomas a Kempis once said;

“For truly it is not deep words that makes one holy and upright; it is a good life which makes one dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skillful in the definition of it. If you know the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should this profit you without the love and grace of God?”

 

Celebrate Advent by feeding a family over the Holiday Season. Click here for more details.

 

 

Advent Apologetics Day #9 – Changing Minds?

starIf repentance = “Changing one’s mind,” and “repentance leads to life” (Acts 11:18, 2 Corinthians 7:10), then changing one’s mind leads to life.  

If that’s correct, then the goal of apologetics should be to help others (with the hope) (1 Peter 1:3) change their minds.  

The Bible points out that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Regarding these thoughts, I’ve come across two interesting quotes that seem to contradict each other:

1.  “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than think your way into a new way of acting.”  

This quote comes from Jerry Sternin’s book The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems.

and

2.  “You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and move.”  

This quote is by singer Scott-Heron and pointed out in a book by Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw titled Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians

I love the tension in these two ideas, especially as it relates to apologetics and this series. Whether we must act our way into a new way of thinking or think our way into a new way of acting well represents the challenge and friction in modern-day apologetics.

It would be easy to say this is a “Both & And” situation and not an “Either Or,” but how you approach apologetics and people will demonstrate which approach you are more disposed to.  Two questions:

What has been your best approach to get another to change his or her mind?

What does an apologetic action look like to you?  Be specific.  

 

Celebrate Advent by feeding a family over the Holiday Season.  Click here for more details.

 

Advent Apologetics Day #8 – It’s the Question That Drives Us

15356016_342069826161549_973305508_n“The best responses to the questions people ask us about our faith are not those borrowed from textbooks, logically forced from biblical texts, or based on  some ecclesiastically machined template.  The best ‘defenses are those developed by individuals acting apologetically as they reflect on the questions being asked, the situations of the people asking them, and the resources available to answer them.” *

Apologetics can be problematic if we only want to regurgitate what we’ve eaten from traditional theological troughs.  Good alliteration there huh?   What we’ve learned form a book or classroom, absent from real life situations, may just be well reasoned but self-serving and ungraceful banter.  If your apologetics is only making you feel better about yourself, then it’s quite possible that it’s parasitic. You might just be defending a position instead of a hope.

Advent Apologetics is about communicating joy, coherence, relevance, and hope, but also rightly handling the anxieties, difficulties, and concerns of others.  Advent Apologetics is a dialogue or narrative.  We enter in to other’s stories and share our own.  Humans, whether we like it or not, don’t process this sort information in bullet points as well as in story form.  We strive for bullet point apologetics because, if we’re honest, we don’t want hear other’s stories, and we really don’t have one of our own to tell.  We’d rather go in blindly with assertions to deliver than dare to let our audience dictate the proper course of actionable conversation. 

This series is called “Advent Apologetics” for the season, obviously, but I’m convinced that this “good will toward men,” in how we approach apologetics year-round has merit.  What if we considered, at least for a season, that apologetics is about being drawn into the life scenes of other people and living in such a way as to have them written into ours?  

Our text for today is 2 Corinthians 5:20

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” (NLT)

We model the values of the gospel in our response to people. Like it or not, we’ve been tasked with putting God’s graciousness  on display, not our human arrogance or impatience.   If we strive for patience, politeness, consideration, and helpfulness with others and their stories, then apologetics won’t be something we have to trained up for.  It will be second nature.

* For the past 10 years, we have been ADVENTING during the holiday season by providing tons of food to the families in need during the holiday season. It’s not a fanfare and forget event. We go back throughout the year and visit with them, pray with them, and give them a message of hope. Please consider sponsoring one family this year. Find out more here.

 

 

* Adapted and edited from McGrath, Alister E. (2012-01-01). Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith (pp. 158-159). Baker Book Group. Kindle Edition.

Advent Apologetics Day #7 – The Samaritan Approach

James Fissel, Jim Fissel

Jesus was the greatest apologist who ever lived.  If there ever was an archetypal model of how we should do apologetics, I believe it was The Christ. 

I love Jesus’ questions!  I especially love the ones where he politely checkmates his opponents.  I’ve never thought of the Parable of the Good Samaritan as an apologetics text, but I believe it’s well suited to be one.  After Jesus was challenged on how one obtains eternal life, and who qualifies as a “neighbor” by “an expert in the law” (Luke 10:25), Jesus tells a parable.  We know this parable as that of “The Good Samaritan.”  Jesus told this parable in the context of the hope for eternal life.  

Let’s take a look:

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

I think there are 9 Attitudes we can adopt from this passage that reflect Advent and Apologetics;

1. But a Samaritan, “as he traveled,” – Went about his life routine, disposed to help others.

On this, Dallas Willard said, “We should not only want to be merciful, kind, unassuming, and patient persons but also be making plans to become so.  We are to find out, that is, what prevents and what promotes merci­fulness and kindness and patience in our souls, and we are to remove hindrances to them as much as possible, carefully substituting that which assists Christ-likeness”  – The Great Omission, p. 29.  

2. When he “Came where the man was” – Assessing his context, evaluating the situation, and conscious of his environment. 

3. Saw him – He sees people and not just the problem.

4. Took pity on him – not with disdain, not disingenuous pity, and not unrighteous judgement, but real empathy.

5. He went to him and bandaged his wounds – brought healing, restoration, and human touch.

6. Pouring on oil and wine – Spirit motivated love and shared joy comes at a cost.

7. Then he put the man on his own donkey – Gave up his comfort and stature and became lower than the man.

8. Brought him to an inn and took care of him – expended time as if it were not his own (availability)

9. The next day he took out two denarii, and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ – committed to the future care and development of the man. (Hospitality) It was not a hit and run “act of passion.”

The above 9 components of Jesus’ apologetic by parable may be applicable in many situations where we are inclined to defend our faith instead of giving a reason for the hope within us.  An Advent Apologetic is one that’s courageous, compelling, caring, helpful, hopeful, unselfish, generous, sacrificing, available, hospitable, and neighborly.  What do you think?

10153045934835087For the past 10 years, we been adventing during the holiday season by providing tons of food to the families in need during the holiday season. It’s not a fanfare and forget event. We go back throughout the year and visit with them, pray with them, and give them a message of hope. Please consider sponsoring one family this year. Find out more here.

 

Advent Apologetics Day #6 – Countering Foolishness

8x8 multi-media

Living in the tension between foolishness and wisdom while being amongst others can be a delicate matter, even for the most mature of believers. When tempted to give an answer to asked or unasked questions, prudence decides between:

“Not answering a fool according to their folly and becoming like them.” (Proverbs 26:4)

and

“Answering fools as their folly deserves,That they not be wise in their own eyes. (Proverbs 26:5)

Foolishness has a certain appeal, a form of freedom if you will. Foolish people don’t stop to reflect on their actions and often are convinced that they don’t need to. They are characteristically unimaginative, don’t stop to consider how their words affect others, and amplify their own thoughts through anger, selfishness and ignorance. Foolishness despises wisdom and teaching (Proverbs 1:7), quarrels over opinions (Romans 14:1), serves with divided interests (Luke 16:13), and seeks refuge amongst insecure people and places (Psalm 118:8).

Advent Apologetics is about hoping with others, not heaping hurt on them.

But being smarter or even right doesn’t always equate with being more reflective or thoughtful. For many, apologetics is more about proving rightness rather than showing and righteousness. Dallas Willard once said;

“A thoughtless or uninformed theology grips and guides our life with just as great a force as does a thoughtful and informed one.”

Leading up to everyone’s favorite verse on apologetics, 1 Peter 3:15 on Christmas Eve, today’s text comes from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-22)

Paul is not asking where the Grecian sophists or well reasoning rabbinical hair-splitters are. He’s asking; “Where are those who have hope?” Where are the proclaimers of hope and what is their message?

“It is one thing to show (or attempt to show) that assorted arguments against religious faith are weak or unsound; it is a rather different task to offer people reasons why they should believe. The latter is the task of Advent Apologetics.” ~ Adapted from Ronald Nash

It’s easier, for all of us, to be cynical or angry than hopeful or kindly towards others where matters of faith are concerned. It’s easier for us to leave the true work of apologetics to the few “gifted ones.”

Advent Apologetics is not an intellectual enterprise for the elite or a franchise for the few. Advent Apologetics is the task of all believers at all times. We can all give reasons for the hope within us.

10152232767335087For the past 10 years, we have been adventing during the holiday season by providing tons of food to the families in need during the holiday season. It’s not a fanfare and forget event. We go back throughout the year and visit with them, pray with them, and give them a message of hope. Please consider sponsoring one family this year. Find out more here.