Sunday, December 26, 2010

God-Centered Evangelism

In response to the Facebook version of my recent post, "Man-Centered Worship:  Our Altar-Call Culture", our old friend Chief chimed in with some thoughts I thought worth posting in full:
The Altar Call is another legacy from the early revivalism of the 2nd Great Awakening - C.G. Finney's emphasis on a kind of science of revival emphasized the methods of bringing people to Christ (the anxious bench, judicious selection of music, illustrations that draw attention to themselves rather than to the Scripture they are supposed to clarify, etc. ... sound familiar?). Revival was now a means that depended not on the Holy Spirit's intervention but on the right means to ensure His presence. My concern is not about the altar calls so much any more since we have to live with so many of them at the school where I teach, but how to conserve the fruits of those who make commitments there. Often I find that there are zero commitments, only vague emotional reactions to stimuli.
This seems right to me, and is an excellent reminder of why a familiarity with church history can help us recognize the roots of our thoughts and methods, and how many of those we assume leap right from the pages of Scripture have rather evolved through the centuries--and not always in a godly direction.

R. B. Kuiper's little book on God-Centered Evangelism was penned in response to this phenomenon, and only seems to gain relevance as an indictment against the present infatuation with emotional manipulation so prevalent throughout our churches.  In essence, we resort to manipulation because we don't trust God to save by His methods:  prayer, the Word, and His Holy Spirit.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are

Anyone who reads these pages knows what a huge Rich Mullins fan I am. As I think back along my long, crooked road--one highlighted by selfish motivations and splintered relationships--this particular song has always hit me in the gut.

Well, it took the hand of God Almighty
To part the waters of the sea
But it only took one little lie
To separate you and me
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

And they say that one day Joshua
Made the sun stand still in the sky
But I can't even keep these thoughts of you
From passing by
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

We are frail
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are

And the Master said their faith was
Gonna make them mountains move
But me, I tremble like a hill on a fault line
Just at the thought of how I lost you
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are


And if you make me laugh well I know I could make you like me
Cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun
But we can't do that I know that it is frightening
What I don't know is why we can't hold on
We can't hold on

When you love you walk on the water
Just don't stumble on the waves
We all want to go there somethin' awful
But to stand there it takes some grace
'Cause oh, we are not as strong
As we think we are