May 21, 2007
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend,

    I'm a Christian, but I've rejected the narrow-minded thinking that has characterized many of the leaders who, in our generation, have claimed to speak for the "evangelicals." There is far more breadth of belief in the Christian community than their old-fashioned dogma.
    In a time of international, multicultural bridge building, we have to be willing to recognize that there is a need for fresh considerations about our underlying assumptions. Absolutes get us into trouble; we need to have a fluidity that allows our ideological underpinnings to change - and, improve - as we advance. The more we discover about our past; the more we create a peaceable, sustainable future; the more we recognize that the Bible is a great history of the struggle of one strain of the planet's people to understand themselves in spiritual terms. It's a journal of their journey, and is joined by other, similarly-rich accounts of the human family to progress toward our potential. The mystery of the universe, its origins and its systems is being unraveled by brilliant people in scientific ways, allowing us to become freed from the superstitions of the past that drove our predecessors to create mystical solutions with stories of gods and devils, floods and fires, paradise and purgatory, and life-after-death. What a refreshing thing: to live at a time when we've finally figured out that life is about the here-and-now, not the hereafter... and doing what we need to do to make this planet habitable for the next 1000 generations is the most important legacy issue on today's agenda.
    Question: reread the two paragraphs above. Do you sense any dissonance in the statements outlined in the sentences that ran from, "I'm a Christian..." to "... the most important legacy issue on today's agenda?"  Is there anything "wrong" with what was said in that string of declarations?
    Okay, I confess: the ONLY honest statement in that monolog was the first three words. I'm a Christian. Everything that followed was my use of journalistic license to portray what we're hearing - more often, all the time - as people slip their membership badge onto their lapel ("I'm a Christian"), and then proceed to portray a politically-correct, culturally-savvy, confrontationally-avoiding belief system that has no direct connection with the core constructs of the Christian faith. I didn't mean it; I was in character!
    Some would say it's overly-confrontational to challenge this enigmatic matter: what makes a Christian a Christian? If one says they are a Christian, are they then free to cobble-together a belief system from various sources, resulting in an end-product that has no connection with the Apostles' Creed? Can you say, "I believe in Jesus"... and not believe in the things that Jesus believed?
    Is a Christian/Biblical Worldview optional? Or, is it the basis upon which my claim to be a Christian is validated? Doesn't it matter what we believe?
    Absolute moral truth exists; and, The Bible is absolutely true; and, God is the Creator of the universe; and, God is all-knowing and all-powerful; and, God is still sovereign over all; and, Jesus is the Son of God; and, Satan is a real entity. That's how far we've come in this multipart examination of faith's foundations. Today, the addition is that last curve ball: Satan is a real entity.  What happens to the Christian/ Biblical Worldview... if you airbrush the Evil One out of the picture?
    The modern mind scoffs at the idea of the serpent in the Garden; Flip Wilson's "the devil made me do it" is more punch-line than storyline. The epic, eternal battle between Good (God) and Evil (Satan) is softened into a toddler's bedtime story if you remove the Deceiver, the Destroyer, the Lord of the Flies, Lucifer, the Dragon, the God of This World, the created being who led a third of heaven's angels in an act of rebellion against God and is destined to spend eternity future in the Lake of Fire... and wants to take as many people with him as he can, using any means at his disposal. If you don’t know we’re at war, with an enemy… you’ll be a casualty, for sure!
    One strategy he employs: make it fashionable to portray the principles found in the two opening paragraphs of this Point of View from modern pulpits, advocated by men and women who are employed as clergy... but are really agents of the Evil One, dismissing truth and advancing error. Does it matter what you believe?

Bob Shank

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