Tim Challies – The truth about Wikipedia


Tim Challies has been reflecting on the good and bad of a ‘wiki’ view of the world and more specifically Wikipedia – looking at how it handles, defines and redefines what is considered as ‘truth’ in our contemporary culture:

“God is true. God is truth. God is entirely without error, entirely true in all he is, in all he knows, in all he commands. He is the source of all that is true and right. As beings made in his image, we are to reflect his truth, to value what is true and turn from what is error. Truth leads to God, error leads to Satan, for it is Satan who is the first liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Wayne Grudem offers this warning: “In a society that is exceedingly careless with the truthfulness of spoken words, we as God’s children are to imitate our Creator and take great care to be sure that our words are always truthful.” Lying is an abomination to God because it mocks his truth. And while factual errors may not carry the same level of moral culpability as outright lies, while they may be unintentional, they are still lies, still pointing to a false reality. They still dishonor God.”

As he continues:

“…I thought about how we encounter truth in the world today, how we determine what is true and what is false. And naturally my thoughts led me to Wikipedia. It led me to pour a lot of thought into Wikipedia and into the reality that Wikipedia may well now be our culture’s primary arbiter of truth. What does this mean to the Christian? Is Wikipedia a source of truth? And what does it mean that as a society we now believe that a wiki model is the best way to determine what is true?”

Read his full post in two parts – part one here, part two here.

Tim Keller – Preaching hell in a tolerant age


Tim Keller posted a really insightful article on SermonCentral about preaching hell in a tolerant age:

The young man in my office was impeccably dressed and articulate. He was an Ivy League MBA, successful in the financial world, and he had lived in three countries before the age of thirty. Raised in a family with only the loosest connections to a mainline church, he had little understanding of Christianity.

I was therefore gratified to learn of his intense spiritual interest, recently piqued as he attended our church. He said he was ready to embrace the gospel. But there was a final obstacle.

“You’ve said that if we do not believe in Christ,” he said, “we are lost and condemned. I’m sorry, I just cannot buy that. I work with some fine people who are Muslim, Jewish, or agnostic. I cannot believe they are going to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus. In fact, I cannot reconcile the very idea of hell with a loving God—even if he is holy, too.”

This young man expressed what may be the main objection contemporary secular people make to the Christian message. (A close second, in my experience, is the problem of suffering and evil.) Many today reject the idea of final judgment and hell.

Thus, it’s tempting to avoid such topics in our preaching. But neglecting the unpleasant doctrines of the historic faith will bring about counterintuitive consequences. There is an ecological balance to scriptural truth that must not be disturbed.

If an area is rid of its predatory or undesirable animals, the balance of that environment may be so upset that the desirable plants and animals are lost—through overbreeding with a limited food supply. The nasty predator that was eliminated actually kept in balance the number of other animals and plants necessary to that particular ecosystem. In the same way, if we play down “bad” or harsh doctrines within the historic Christian faith, we will find, to our shock, that we have gutted all our pleasant and comfortable beliefs, too.

The loss of the doctrine of hell and judgment and the holiness of God does irreparable damage to our deepest comforts—our understanding of God’s grace and love and our human dignity and value to him. To preach the good news, we must preach the bad.

But in this age of tolerance, how?

Read the full article here.

Britain still claims to be 71% Christian

Interesting article in the Daily Mail today about the sexual and religious make up of Great Britain:

More than seven out of ten Britons say they are Christians, according to an official count.  The high figure will be seen as a firm endorsement for those who argue the British public remain wedded to traditional religious values despite the fall in church attendances…..The analysis produced by the Office for National Statistics suggested that a big majority of the population still believe in Christianity.  Based on nearly 450,000 replies to a series of Government-backed surveys, it found that 71.4 per cent of the UK adult population call themselves Christians.  They dwarfed the numbers of atheists and secularists. Just over one in five people, 20.5 per cent, said they had no religion.  The analysis from the new Integrated Household Survey, which is produced from answers to the same questions put in six different established surveys, put the Muslim proportion of the population at 4.2 per cent, just under one in 20.  It said 1.5 per cent are Hindu, 0.7 per cent Sikh, 0.6 per cent Jewish, 0.4 per cent Buddhist, and 1.1 per cent say they follow another religion….

Read the full article here.

Mark Sayers – Boundaries and the meat bikini


Mark Sayers posted a really insighful post on his blog a few days ago called ‘Boundaries vs Meat Bikinis’:

Last week Lady Gaga incensed animal rights activists by appearing in an Italian magazine wearing a Bikini made of raw meat. This was the latest effort a long line of media attention grabbing stunts in which various cultural, religious and sexual boundaries were crossed by her Gaganess. However the obsession with pushing boundaries and crossing lines in not restricted just to Lady Gaga, paradoxically it is tradition within modernity…However boundaries are essential to human life. Distinctions and separations are key not only to human life, but to the whole of creation. The piercing truth of this reality was brought home to me recently as I accidentally opened the unlocked door of a plane bathroom to be greeted by the shocked face of a woman – how shall I say? – not expecting to be disturbed. This moment of embarrassment reminded me that boundaries offer us dignity, they make us human.

Read the full article here.

British church attendance turns a corner

From an article on the Christian Today website:

For years now, the words ‘church attendance’ have rarely been read apart from the rather gloomy utterance of ‘in decline’.

But it seems there may be more to smile about than any of us realised as the latest figures out from Christian Research show that attendance in the Catholic Church and Church of England have stabilised, while the Baptist Union has seen sizable growth.

Read the full article here.

Strippers protest outside church


I saw this on The Gospel Blog (here) and it just made me laugh – I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it:

For the last four years, Pastor Bill Dunfee and his congregation have held protests outside of a strip club in Warsaw, OH. Now, Tommy George, the club’s owner, and a few of his dancers have decided to turn the tables and protest outside of New Beginnings Church.

It seems that when Pastor Dunfee and his congregation protest outside of the strip club, they bring bullhorns, signs and video cameras for posting customers’ license plate numbers online. As a counter measure, dancers from George’s strip club wear bikinis and grill hamburgers outside of New Beginnings Church.

I just love the irony and the sense of humour of the strip club owner, Tommy George – but I wonder if Pastor Bill sees it that way?

I can’t help but feel that it is a real opportunity for the church to reach out to the strip club employees and show some love, care and compassion.  I wonder if any of the church members have gone and had a burger with the protesters?

Also see the YouTube video below:

Any thoughts?

The church and culture contextualisation


What is the right way for the church to engage with its contemporary, surrounding culture?  Should we engage, or should we be distinctly separate?  And if we do engage – in what form should that engagement take?

These are big questions that we need to get a hold of if we are to be effective disciples.

To this end, Ed Stetzer has posted a number of articles on his blog recently about the ‘contextualisation’ of the church within contemporary culture:

The call to contextualize is not a call to gospel compromise and syncretism, or living thoughtlessly and recklessly. The call to contextualize and engage the culture is simply an implication of being called to preach the gospel and make disciples.

Read the articles in the series – Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.

Any thoughts?

Breakup via Facebook


A true contemporary cultural phenomenon – the breaking up of relationships via Facebook as reported in Newsweek:

….Ilana Gershon, an assistant professor of communication and culture at Indiana University, began to notice a curious phenomenon among her students. She was teaching a class on linguistic anthropology—the study of how language influences culture—and she tried a new exercise to get her students to think about their shared expectations for behavior. “I asked them what makes a bad breakup,” Gershon says. “I was expecting people to have really dramatic stories, ‘I caught them in bed together,’ something like that.” Instead, they all responded with tales of outrage about the medium rather than the message, complaining that they got the bad news by text or by Facebook rather than in person.

Gershon decided to study how new technology has changed the rules of romance. She interviewed 72 undergrads, 18 men and 54 women, who shared stories of being dumped via texting, voice mail, Facebook, instant messaging, Skype, and even occasionally an actual paper letter. The result is her new book, The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting Over New Media. Almost all the people she talked to agreed that the most honorable way to break up was in person, but many turned to new media because the face-to-face conversations didn’t get the results they wanted, Gershon says. “They would be in cycles of breaking up and getting back together, and they finally said, ‘If I do it through another medium, maybe I will finally end this relationship and I won’t be stuck anymore.’”….

….Facebook’s role is unique because it is so public, Gershon says. (In one class, her students compared it to the abstract gaze described by French philosopher Michel Foucault). “Facebook official” has emerged as a new stage in a relationship, Gershon says, but the meaning can differ from one person to the next. Gershon says that some people will claim that a breakup isn’t official until it is Facebook official, while others point out that changes in Facebook status may just be a sign of trouble; in many cases it’s unclear whether the breakup will take.

Read the full article here.

Also – have a look at this article from 2009 in the NY Daily News here.

Photo: Getty

Who in the world isn’t on Facebook?


From a recent article on the CNN website:

Seriously … at this point, who’s not on Facebook?

Grandmas are commenting on their teen grandkids’ angst-ridden status updates. One of your grade-school teachers wants you to join their mafia.

Candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission have fan pages. So does actor Will Arnett’s voice. Not Will Arnett. Just his voice.

On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the site hit a half-billion active users.

That’s nearly five times as many people as watched this year’s Super Bowl — the most popular television broadcast ever — and about four times as many people as voted in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

People spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on the site and, according to Facebook, 400 million of them have logged in during the past month. Keep in mind there are only 309 million people in the United States — total.

So, seriously … who’s left?

Read the full article here.

HT: Mark Sayers

Freezing eggs to delay starting a family?

I thought the recent article in Time Magazine about women considering the freezing their eggs so that they could pursue their careers and still have babies later is life is an interesting observation on contemporary culture:

New research from Belgium and the U.K. suggests that women may increasingly be considering freezing their eggs as a way to prolong fertility as they pursue a career — or find the right romantic partner. A survey of nearly 200 female students found that half of those pursuing degrees in sports or education would consider freezing their eggs to give them the option to delay starting a family, while more than 8 out of 10 women pursuing a medical degree said that they would do so. Meanwhile, a tiny study in Belgium (which included only 15 women in their late 30s) found that half of those interviewed said they’d consider freezing their eggs to take the pressure off the hunt to find the right partner.
Any thoughts?
Read the full article here.