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Indelible Grace Church Blog

Skeptics Night 2014

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So I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book, Center Church. And he talks about how though we live in a post-Christian world, modern people are nevertheless attracted to the values inherited from our Christian past. I thought it was an interesting point and I’d like to quote the passage at length:

In his history classes, C. John Sommerville used to demonstrate to students how thoroughly Christianized they were, even those who were atheistic or antireligious. He would list the values of shame-and-honor cultures (like those of pagan northern Europe before the advent of Christian missionaries) and include values like pride, a strict ethic of revenge, the instilling of fear, the supreme importance of one’s reputation and name, and loyalty to one’s tribe. Then he would list corresponding Christian values, which had been hitherto unknown to the pagans of Europe – things like humility, forgiveness, peaceableness, and service to others, along with an equal respect for the dignity of all people made in God’s image. Many of Sommerville’s most antireligious students were surprised to learn just how deeply they had been influenced by ways of thinking and living that had grown out of biblical ideas and been passed on to them through complex social and cultural processes. His point was that much of what is good and unique about Western civilization is actually "borrowed capital" from a Christian faith, even though the supernatural elements of the faith have been otherwise neglected of late in the public sphere.

This has relevance to how we do evangelism in a post-Christian world. Christianity is widely seen as retrogressive and oppressive. And yet people are still drawn to the Christian ideals of universal human rights, justice, equity, freedom. We must make our appeal that these values have their strongest foundation in the gospel and not in secularism, and simultaneously, we must address the objections our culture has that makes Christianity no longer a viable option.

We’re going to try to do that at Bodi’s Java café on March 15. I will be addressing the question: Isn’t it cruel of God to cast people into hell just because they don’t believe in him? I encourage you to invite your friends.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:42
 

What does it mean to be a missional church?

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We’ve been talking about the vision of our church for 2014 – to be outward-facing.  Another way to say this is that we seek to be a missional church. This term has gained popularity of late but is not well understood.  To be missional means to understand that modern culture has shifted.  America used to be a “Christianized” nation, meaning most people had a general but vague understanding and appreciation of Christianity.  So that evangelism was merely stirring up people to believe what they already knew.  But we now increasingly live in a “post-Christian” world, in which most people have no idea about even the basic elements of the gospel, and moreover, are suspicious of, if not hostile to, Christianity.  In other words, American Christians now find themselves in the same position that Christians in India or Japan face.  All of us live in a mission field.  And therefore, this changes the way we do church, so that our gospel presentation has to be theologically deeper and provide cogent answers to the objections our culture raises.   If we’re going to effectively reach our secular neighbors, we have to adopt a new posture of being “in mission” in every aspect of our lives.   This is an age full of promise, for our situation is more like the early church than in any other period of Western history.  It is an age full of opportunity but with many challenges.

Image: Paul preaching at Mars Hill by Raphael.

 

IGC Vision 2014

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Years ago, I read Stephen Covey’s self-help book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I don’t remember much except the counsel that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.  You would think this is a bit of unnecessary redundancy.  But for people as well as churches, it’s incredibly easy to get sidetracked and forget what the main thing is.  For IGC, the main thing is the gospel.   And so we seek to be gospel-centered in teaching, community, and other-orientedness.  On this third area, we've looked for these past two weeks at how we can be an outward-facing church through mission and mercy.

Mission
From July 25 - August 2, we’re going to send a short-term missions team to Haiti.  This Sunday, Pastor Wade will give a presentation on the details of that trip.   I hope you will prayerfully consider going out this summer and support this team with resources and prayer.

Mercy
I will be leading a "Mercy Study Group" that will meet once a month to discuss various readings on the theology and pragmatics of helping the poor.  The study group will last six months and is open to anyone.   In the end, we’ll be asking – how can we engage the poor in the East Bay?  What practical steps can we make as a church to lift up even a single family out of poverty?  This study will begin in February.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 January 2014 12:27
 

Christianity is a Rescue Religion

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I just recently read If God, Then What? by Andrew Wilson.  And I came across something I’ve never considered before.  Andrew Wilson writes that only Judeo-Christianity claims that God will rescue the world.  Here’s how he puts it: "I mean, lots of people talk about a God or gods, and an afterlife and religious behavior, but the idea of salvation by grace is found only in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.  This was so surprising to me when I first realized it, and it’s still such a strange idea, that it’s worth saying again: in most religions, people don’t really talk about being ‘saved’ or ‘rescued’ at all, because there’s no concept of that. Almost all other religions believe that things continue in endless cycles or that all the good guys parachute out to paradise. The idea of the world being redeemed and set right, with human evil finally dealt with and death overcome…" that is unique to the Bible.

I think Andrew Wilson is absolutely right.  Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in that it envisions a God who will rescue this world.  Not that we will float up to some ethereal heaven, away from this broken world.  But that this broken world will be set to right and there will be a New Earth and a redeemed, resurrected people.  It’s a beautiful vision of a world restored and all sadness undone – a new creation where the mountains will drip with wine, the trees will clap for joy, the deserts will flow with living water, and there will be shalom.  The Bible says that this has already begun in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the hearts of all who follow him, and that one day, it will come to full fruition when the King returns.

Even if you don’t believe this, don’t you want this to be true?

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 January 2014 16:41
 

Summer-in-Review 2013

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Photo Caption:
Top left: Women's Fellowship Tea Party
Top middle: BBQ Picnic at Valley View Park
Top right: Mercy Ministry at Emergency Shelter Program
Middle left: Men's Fellowship Hike
Middle: Your typical summer day at IGC
Middle right: Women's Summer Retreat
Bottom left: Men's Summer Retreat
Bottom middle: Church at the Park (Palomares Hills Park)
Bottom right: Mercy Ministry at Alameda Food Bank

You can also see our 2012 summer-in-review here.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 September 2013 15:40
 


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