Start Another ‘Jesus’ Conversation

Well, the back to school routine is in full swing for another year.  Did you ever wonder though how this routine of sending everyone to school came about?  The kids may not be happy to hear this, but we owe it all to Jesus!

Few stop to realize the world changing impact that Jesus had on our culture in so many areas, not the least of which is our cultural conviction that everyone is entitled to receive a proper education.  Unfortunately, many Christians have also forgotten Jesus’ intended purpose for the careful development of our minds.

Here is a short video that may stimulate some good discussion around your dinner table, or open a door for a meaningful conversation with someone who you would like to talk to about Jesus.

The Battle For The Bible

On September 15, 1959, George Vanier, Canada’s 19th Governor- General, opened his installation speech with these words.

“Mr. Prime Minister, my rst words are a prayer. May Almighty God in his in nite wisdom and mercy bless the sacred mission which has been entrusted to me by Her Majesty the Queen and help me to ful ll it in all humility. In exchange for his strength, I offer him my weakness. May he give peace to this beloved land of ours and, to those who live in it, the grace of mutual understanding, respect and love.”[1]

This invocation of God’s grace by a national public servant stands in stark contrast to the installation speech only 46 years later, of Canada’s 27th Governor- General Michaelle Jean who opened with these words:

“It is with tremendous pride and deep emotion that I am responding today to the call of destiny [emphasis mine]

While Jean’s positive vision for Canada also extolled the values of “respect, tolerance and sharing”, unlike Vanier’s it was completely devoid of reference to any deity.[2] Rather than looking to God, Jean placed the key to our nations success squarely in our hands.

We [emphasis mine] must give our young people the power and, even more, the desire to realize their full potential.”[3]

With almost lighting speed God has been virtually erased from Canadian public consciousness. How this happened has been discussed by others. Here we wish to reflect upon an important implication of the fact that it has Continue reading

Recovering the Christian Mind

In the Christmas classic “A Miracle on 34th Street”, a department store Santa (Kris Kringle) stands trial to decide once and for all: “Does Santa Claus really exist?”

In his defence “Santa’s” lawyer Fred Gailey, passionately clarifies for the jury what is really at stake. He states:

“Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.”

Persuaded, the jury returns a verdict declaring Santa Claus to indeed be real, and onlookers rejoice in their collective relief that “faith” is still alive and well.

FAITH WITHOUT REASON:

Such is our contemporary culture’s view that divorces faith from reason. Today, “faith” means feelings or opinions concerning personal and private beliefs, whereas reason deals with knolwedge of facts about the “real world”. As Mark Twains puts it: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

This view of faith has wreaked great havoc on our culture which now sees faith as purely irrational. Unfortunately the church, God’s people of “faith”, has not escaped this cultural re-conception and the impact has been more far-reaching than we may wish to know.

THE RISE OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM:

The study of history is a vital, albeit too often neglected subject for Christians to understand where we find ourselves. Therefore, at the risk of oversimplifying, a brief historical sketch is in order.

The pilgrims, and particularly Puritan, settlers who established the New England colonies in the early 17th century placed a high priority on education, founding colleges such as Harvard and Yale. Their members were studied in art, science, philosophy, Latin, and typically taught their children to read fluently by age six, all as a means of “loving God with their minds”.[1]

Beginning in the mid 18th century, a series of spiritual revivals that would sew seeds
of dramatic change began with the powerful preaching of George Whitefield. By the mid 19th century, further spiritual revivals which became the birthplace of evangelicalism, occurred. Ironically however, as evangelical historian Mark Noll points out, “The very character of the revival that made evangelical religion into a potent force in North America weakened its intellectual power.”[2] J. P. Moreland summarizes the impact of this unexpected result.

“Much good came from these movements. But their overall effect was to overemphasize immediate personal conversion to Christ instead of a studied period of reflection
and conviction; emotional, simple, popular preaching instead of intellectually careful and doctrinally precise sermons; and personal feelings and relationship to Christ instead of a deep grasp of the nature of Christian teaching and ideas. [3]

This growing anti-intellectualism would spill over into the 20th century as evangelical leaders, such as E. Y. Mullins, further “personalized” faith by isolating it into it’s own category of knowledge. Historian George M. Marsden observes:

“Religion [Mullins said], was not governed by the principles of science and philosophy, but rather by its own principle of ‘personal relations.’ Such a relation could be confirmed only [emphasis mine] by the ‘immediate experience of God.’”4

While experience of God was seen as essential for true religion, there were those like Princeton’s J. Gresham Machen who believed such an extreme move to be dangerous, since “science, philosophy, and religion all dealt with precisely the same thing—facts.”[5]

Unfortunately, Machen’s views represented a minority opinion among evangelicals. The result was a further retreat toward an overly “personalized” view of Biblical revelation. Moreland summarizes:

“People began to see Scripture reading as personal and so ‘devotionalized’ it, considering it an opportunity for personal experience rather than understanding it in its literary and historical contexts. It came to be believed that only the Holy Spirit was needed to experience the truth of Scripture while no intellectual exercise was needed for spiritual growth.”[6]

THE LOSS OF THE EVANGELICAL MIND:

This historical movement toward an overly internalized “heart” emphasis on faith produced what Mark Noll calls a tragic “loss of a Christian mind.” The result in the 20th century was the disappearance of Christian thinking from public life with secularism stepping in to fill the vacuum. Noll laments:

“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind…. They have nourished millions of believers in the simple verities of the gospel but have largely abandoned the universities, the arts, and other realms of ‘high’ culture…Unlike their spiritual ancestors, modern evangelicals have not pursued comprehensive thinking under God or sought a mind shaped to its furthest reaches by Christian perspectives.”7

Today, the 21st century generation receives its full education devoid of any Christian viewpoint. Unfortunately Christian young people by and large receive this same education and graduate wondering what, if any, relevance their faith in Jesus has to the “real” world. As Christian pollster George Barna reported just three years ago:

“…84% of Christian 18 to 29-year-olds admit that they have no idea how the Bible applies to their field or professional interests.”[8]

And why would they if they have never been exposed to a shared body of Christian thinking about whatever field of study or profession they pursue? As Henry Blamires observes, “in contradistinction to the secular mind, no vital Christian mind plays fruitfully, as a coherent and recognizable influence, upon our social, political, or cultural life… there is no contemporary field of discourse in which writers are reflecting Christianly on the modern world and modern man.”9

With such an intellectual void in broader Christian thinking then, is it any wonder that education in general has been downgraded as a priority within our churches, leading to a general decline in biblical literacy itself. Why commit myself to studying basic Christian doctrine, history, textual criticism, apologetics, or even bible memorization for that matter, if faith’s only role is the shaping of my heart? And yet we forget Paul’s instruction that the transformation necessary to become true worshippers of God does not require the devotion of our heart, but “the renewing of [our] mind.” (Romans 12:1-2)

RECOVERING THE CHRISTIAN MIND:

Many Christians believe that what Canada needs is a spiritual revival, where hearts are turned back toward God en masse. But could it be that what our country really needs is an evangelical church undergoing something more akin to a renaissance?

Over 100 years ago Gresham Machen gave this warning that speaks prophetically to our present situation:

“False ideas are the greatest obstacle to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervour of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there,if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.”

Has our evangelical “zeal” to reach people for Christ been hamstrung by accommodating our cultural perspective that defines faith as mere personal belief, thus consigning it to the category of “harmless delusion”? Have we “shrunk” the gospel by viewing it only as God’s means to meet the personal needs of the individual sinner, forgetting that the power of the gospel is not that it meets our needs but that it is TRUE; and because it is true it necessarily transforms our thinking and therefore our lives in relationship to every living experience? The aforementioned absence of a collective body of Christian knowledge on the broader areas of human experience would seem to bear this out. It would seem that we need to “destroy the obstacle” within the church first through a broad sweeping recovery of the Christian mind?

THE CHURCH AS A LEARNING COMMUNITY…AGAIN!

The Apostle Paul expressed the great danger of possessing spiritual fervour without understanding. Speaking of his fellow Jews he says:

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

Generating spiritual enthusiasm is no substitute for teaching truth since we can always be “enthusiastically” wrong. As Solomon warned: “It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.” (Prov. 19:2) That is because faith is not “belief in spite of knowledge”, but rather the willingness to act upon what we “know” to be true. This is what our fore-fathers of faith were com mended for. (Heb. 11:2) But how can we “willingly act” upon that which we do not know? How can we grow in faith if we are not also growing in knowledge? Hence Peter’s admonition to: “add to you faith… knowledge.” (2 Pet. 1:5)

The kind of corrective needed will not be achieved by anything resembling a “quick fix”. What has been lost over generations may take generations to recover, but recover it we must. God’s instrument to reach the “nations” has always been the local church, so recovering the Christian mind needs to begin there; with pastors, leaders and congregations recapturing a vision of the church as a learning community that fulfills Christ’s commission to make disciples by “teaching them to obey everything” that he commanded and taught. (Matt. 28:20) Teaching and education need to become central activities of disciple- making churches again.

We must guard our motives however, for as Paul warns, “knowledge puffs up while love builds up”. (1 Cor 8:1) Growing our minds out of pride will only destroy, but loving God with our minds is for his glory and our joy, intended for every Christian and not just those “academic types”. As Noll puts it, developing our minds should be viewed as: “an effort to take seriously the sovereignty of God over the world he created, the lordship of Christ over the world he died to redeem, and the power of the Holy Spirit over the world
he sustains each and every moment.”[10] Training up the Christian mind therefore, rightly seen, motivated and enacted is nothing less than our living pursuit to know God.


1. J. P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind., (Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress, 1997, 2012), 16.

2. Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans Publishing, 1994), 24.

3. Moreland, Love Your God, 16.

4. George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, (Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press, 2006),

216. 5. Ibid.

6. J. P. Moreland and Mark Matlock, Smart Faith, (Colorado Springs, CO, NavPress, 2005), 23.

7. Noll, Scandal, 3, 4.

8. www.barna.org, “Top Trends of 2011: Millenials Rethink Christianity”, [Last accessed online June 4, 2014)

9. Henry Blamires, The Christian Mind: How Should A Christian Think? (London, SPCK, 1963), 4, 7.

10. Noll, Scandal, 3, 4.

Is The Trinity Practical? – Part 4

TRINITARIAN  LIVING – EVEN  FOR  KIDS

Thus, keeping the Trinity as core to faith and worship,  how can we in turn lead our own children into ‘Trinitarian living’?  That might sound foreign to our ears, but remember that God is the Trinity.  What we simply mean is ‘living with God’, but with the recognition of who God is and what he is like.  Remember that the ‘eternal life’ that Jesus gives us is not about life in heaven (although it includes that), but about knowing God.  As Jesus said:

“Now this is eternal life, that they know you the one true God, and Christ Jesus whom you sent” (Jn. 17:3)

That said, we really can lead our children into a more full and satisfying relationship with God by helping them consciously relate to God according to who he really is: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  And I believe we can do this within the simple framework of gospel living that we are hopefully striving to teach them already. Continue reading

Is The Trinity Practical? – Part 3

TRINITARIAN WORSHIP

“Keep it practical!” Restoring the Trinity to the core of our faith and worship then is intensely practical because, to quote Packer again, “it requires us to pay equal attention, and give equal honor, to all three persons in the unity of their gracious ministry to us.”4 This isn’t just theory that remains in the abstract, but reality that forms and shapes all true worship. For starters consider this: Continue reading

Is The Trinity Practical? – Part 2

BEHOLD  YOUR  GOD!

You’ve probably heard many attempts to explain the ‘oneness’ and ‘three-ness’ of God by analogy.  Water is one substance that can exist in three forms; gas, liquid and solid.  An egg is one thing made up of three parts: yolk, white and shell.  However, all such analogies break down at some point. Continue reading

Is The Trinity Practical? – Part 1

When I mentioned to my wife the idea of writing an article on the Trinity her response said it all: “Keep it practical!”  But can the doctrine of the Trinity really be practical?  In this four part post I would like to help you grow in your understanding and appreciation for what most consider to be either a riddle or a blatant contradiction that Christians believe about God.  The first three parts are meant to help you grasp more fully this awesome truth about God’s nature and identity, and see how it will deepen and enrich your faith walk with God.  The fourth part is for those of you who are raising children, and is meant to give you some practical tools to make a trinitarian view of God foundational to their faith. Continue reading

The Trinity for Kids – Part 2

The Doctrine of the Trinity is such an important thing for kids (and grown ups) to learn about God.  It is no exaggeration to say that our understanding of God as Trinity supplies the bedrock for Christian faith and the gospel.  J. I. Packer pulled no punches in stressing its importance:

“All non-Trinitarian formulations of the Christian message are by biblical standards inadequate and fundamentally false, and will naturally tend to pull Christian lives out of shape.”

Teaching your children about God as Trinity therefore should begin at the earliest age possible.  In my first The Trinity for Kids post I discussed how to begin teaching the Trinity to young children, emphasizing our need to simply “stick to the facts”, and not giving them more than they can handle.  When my kids were very young I just wanted to affirm the truth about God as the Bible presents it.  The core affirmations of a biblical view of the Trinity can be summarized as:

1. God is three persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit
2. Each person is fully God.
3. There is one God.

As they grow and begin developing higher critical thinking skills however, I want to help them grapple with the great truth of God’s triune nature, encouraging them to reflect and dwell upon this great mystery that God has revealed to us about himself.  At the same time however, I want to help them avoid falling into error and any pitfalls that may distort their view of God. Continue reading

Safeguarding Your Kids Against Porn

baby-84626_1920According to the Kaiser Foundation, a 2010 study showed that 69% of 11-14 year olds and 31% of 8-10 year olds had their own cell phones, while a study by Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) determined that 52% of all children under 8 had access at home to smartphones, iPods, iPads, or other internet ready devices.  It is no wonder that studies show that the average age for children to begin looking at internet pornography is between 7 and 12. Continue reading

Wynne’s Sex-Ed Curriculum Wrapped in a Worldview: People Are Starting To Recognize This.

It’s rare to find articles in the media that I agree with on the subject of Ontario’s soon to be released sex-ed curriculum, but I found this one by Dr. Nadine Nyhus in July 8ths Kitchener Record helpful and worthy reading for parents.Kitchener Record Sex-Ed Article Continue reading

Porn Kills – Get Informed!

St. Augustine said that Christians should realize that “wherever we may find truth, it is the Lord’s.” (On Christian Doctrine, II. 40)  We know from the Bible that God’s design for sex is finding its expression within the safety and commitment of the marriage covenant.  In a culture that has seen at least two full generations turn sex into a commodity for mere consumption, it is heartening to see a new generation waking up to the absolute destructive power of porn.

God’s Word warns us, and now even more science is showing us that porn is far from harmless, and even though in Christ we can always find forgiveness, the real life consequences are not easily dispensed with.  Porn physically alters the brain, destroys capacity for genuine relational intimacy, and empties the soul.  Christians addicted to porn need to find a safe place to confess and break free, and parents need to take vigilant steps to educate and safeguard their families.

I recently came across this movement to end porn called Fight The New Drug (www.fightthenewdrug.org).  It isn’t Christian in its orientation, but there is good information related to the insidious nature of porn.

Tending to Your Soul by Reading Books

Tending To Your Soul By Reading Books

Growing up I recall Saturdays where I would literally watch TV all day.  I can still hear my parent’s warnings that always seemed to ring hollow: “All that TV is going to rot your brain!”  Little did they know what a whiz I would become at useless TV trivia games. Kidding aside, it turns out that they were partly right, and partly wrong. Continue reading

The Christian Task: Winning Hearts AND Minds

healingtheheartmindWhy is our culture so rapidly departing from a Christian view of the world?  Where the Judeo-Christian worldview essentially shaped our national consciousness 100 years ago, how have we come to our present state where Christianity has been virtually excluded from having a credible voice in the public sphere?  In reading an article in JETS recently, I stumbled across what I think was a prophetic insight from Charles Malik, former Lebanese ambassador to the United States and President of the United Nations.

“If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover that you have not won the world.  Indeed it may turn out that you have actually lost the world…”1 – Charles Malik Continue reading