Tag Archives: Theological Liberalism

What’s the best way to get men back into the church?

Here’s a conversation I had with a pastor and his wife on Tuesday night. I anonymized the names. The rest is verbatim.

I’d like one of our atheist commenters like Sandwiches for Sale or Jerry to comment on this pastor and his wife.

I was mean, but I hope not TOO mean. This sort of thing really pushes my buttons, as you might expect. I tried really hard to stay calm and focused, but I could have done a lot better. I apologize to my readers for being a bit abrasive and over the top at times. I hope my language is not to harsh or disrespectful.

I think we really need to work about encouraging Christians to see a relationship with God through Christ as being… a relationship. And in a relationship, both sides are aware of the different character of the other person, and they make adjustments. It’s not a good idea to project our emotions and intuitions onto the other person and to think that our goals are their goals. It may be that we have to perform actions to hold up our end of the relationship, and that we may need to study in advance in order to know what to do and to achieve those goals effectively.

—-

Pastor:
http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/04/opinion/bennett-men-in-trouble/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Why men are in trouble – CNN.com

For the first time in history women today are better educated, more ambitious, and arguably more successful than men, says William Bennett.

Pastor: Wow, even the secular media is figuring this out! Come on men! Man UP!

WK: Pastor, consider that the problem is not with men, but with an increasingly feminized society that has undermined the traditional male roles and marginalized men in the education system, the church, etc.. Not to mention misandry in the media. The denigration of men is everywhere, which undermines their ability to lead on moral and spiritual issues. Even high taxes and social programs rob men of their ability to have authority from their roles as providers.

WK: Consider just one example: no-fault divorce and single mother welfare has caused many, many young men to be raised in fatherless homes, and then they go on to attend public schools where 80%+ of the teachers are female, and the curriculum is set by females. The church is very much focused on singing and avoids apologetics. Where exactly are these men supposed to get male role models? As a society, we have become uncomfortable with men exercising authority on moral and theological issues. Denigrating men in the media, dumbing them down in femininized schools, taxing their income and replacing fathers with welfareare not going to help us to produce manly men. The opposition to apologetics in the church doesn’t help either – if we can’t talk about truth and evidence, then men stop caring about God.

Look:
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=14-01-026-f

This is a complicated issue, and you need to read a lot more about it before engaging in man blaming. If men aren’t doing well in school, ask yourself WHAT CHANGED.

Touchstone Archives: Missing Fathers of the Church
http://www.touchstonemag.com
You may have noticed that, in general, men are not as interested in religion a…
See More

Pastor: Winter…Men have to Man up.

Pastor’s Wife: Women have to step up because the MEN are not

Pastor’s Wife: I thank God I have a husband who prays for me and respects me as a wife, a woman, and a daughter of THE KING. I thank God my husband knows “headship”

WK: Wow, Pastor. Your avalanche of facts and evidence is astounding. Your voluminous, erudite catch-phrase really refutes all of the concerns I raised. I stand corrected. </sarc>

Pastor: Why are Men not attending church?

Pastor: or do you actually go there?

WK: Because the church is totally feminized. There is no emphasis on anything that men like, like apologetics or practical application to areas of knowledge like economics or politics. It’s dominated by frilly God-talk, prayers, emotions and pop authors like Joyce Meyer and Max Lucado. People are not being challenged to grow.

Pastor: So you dont go? Maybe if men went there and made changes and protest the situation instead of ARMCHAIRING it might make a difference?

Pastor: ??

WK: Please don’t engage in ad hominem. Stick to the public evidence.

Pastor: Well?

Pastor: Sorry your honor

Pastor: Have you thought that the feminizing the you alledge (with public record) could be alleviated if men took back the church?

Pastor: Winter you say Ad Hominem? //// Wow, Pastor. Your avalanche of facts and evidence is astounding. Your voluminous, erudite catch-phrase really refutes all of the concerns I raised. I stand corrected. </sarc>///What the heck?

WK: Pastor… you don’t know anything about this issue. It’s pointless to discuss it with you since you are not in command of any facts.

Pastor: So why are you?

Pastor: wow

Pastor’s Wife: Gee, wonder how many times a Christian man is going to infer my husband is stupid?

Pastor’s Wife: I pray for you…

WK: I listed about a half-dozen factors, and made one argument supported by evidence from the Touchstone Magazine article. I.e – I argued that the fatherlessness was a cause of declining religiosity, I cited the Touchstone article, then I argued that public policies like no-fault divorce and single mother welfare increase fatherlessness.

Pastor’s Wife: What about Jesus?

Pastor: I have actually EXPERIENCED my position.

WK: So far, I’ve heard nothing in response. And that’s because only one side has facts. The other side has God-talk and “I’ll pray for you”. That’s not an argument. That’s not evidence.

Pastor: Neither have I

Pastor’s Wife: ?”I AM the way the truth and the life…”….those are TRUTH from Jesus a true man and our Savior

Pastor: What are you doing about this Winter?

Pastor’s Wife: Facts and figures I care to have none, when I have a Savior that over the world has won!

WK: Again, we want to have a discussion about the public policy question, we don’t want to make the issue about my character. The issue in question is… how do we get men to lead in the Christian life.

Pastor: You know I didn’t say YOU were armchairing this but I was not supplied with any evidence that you really are wanting to change the “feminization”

Pastor’s Wife: Usually the very thing we complain about is the very thing that God has called us to go and change

Pastor: Well I see the charaacter issue going both ways here

Pastor: want to start over?

Pastor: ?//// how do we get men to lead in the Christian life.//// Well we as men need to have a deep relationship with our Father. How does that sound?

WK: There are several ideologies now present in the church that discourage men from taking an active role. I know you know these. Postmodernism and moral relativism would be two of them. Those need to be refuted. But to really get men to engage, we have to think about what men are like, and what men like that is present in Christianity. For example, apologetics. Men like competition, problem solving and conflict. We need to get them exposed to different points of view, and allow them to ask questions and to debate. That means lots of learning and discussion about science, history, logic and morality. Men also like using facts and evidence when they argue. You can see it in the sermons of Mark Driscoll, and the Sunday School classes of Wayne Grudem (Essentials) and William Lane Craig (Defenders). Men like to argue about moral obligations and moral standards, and they like to use evidence. Lastly, men like politics and current events.

Church needs to be made safer for men to show their knowledge, and to debate the issues of the day in the open, without worrying about being shushed for making people feel bad. That means allowing men to discuss things like what laws strengthen and weaken marriage and the role of the father in the home, what education policies strengthen and reinforce parental authority, what fiscal policies encourage personal responsibility and liberty, what foreign policy is best for creating peace and protecting the weak from evil. Practical Christianity. Men should be good at pro-life debating and pro-marriage debating, and using public facts and arguments – not by quoting the Bible. (Although they get their view from the Bible, that’s not how you talk to non-Christians – with Christianese)

WK: Here’s a good article that features one of my favorite theologians/apologists, Mrs. Nancy Pearcey:
http://www.biola.edu/news/biolamag/articles/06spring/feminization.cfm

I really recommend her book “Total Truth”.

Pastor’s Wife: How about men who love Christ and have a close relationship with Him , for out of that relationship comes all ministry etc. We need to LOVE Christ and honor Him as well as allow Him to speak into our lives and let him lead HIS BRIDE

Pastor: Look Winter, I agree to a point. However I think that Politics / knowledge can and is taught in the church. You sound like a lawyer. Why not go to a church and do as you profess. My apologies if you are already. The church is a house of prayer, not a courtroom!

WK: Pastor’s wife, you talk about Christ. Do you think that it would be loving to Christ to study history and to be able to make a defense of his resurrection to non-Christians? A defense that doesn’t assume that the Bible is inerrant? As Peter did in Acts 2, and as Peter urged us to be ready to do in 1 Peter 3:15?

If you agree that defending the resurrection when it is called into question by non-Christians, who do not accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God, would be an effective way to love Jesus in a practical way, please explain to me how you would encourage others to go about doing that? Do you think that men would like to see a debate on that topic, or on the topic of God’s existence, in the church, and would God be honored by having church people know how to defend his existence, and the resurrection of his son, using public, testable evidence and sound logical arguments? Would that be a way to love God?

Pastor: Apologetics (which I like doing) has it’s place. You are sounding like a Pharisee!

WK: Again with the insults. Why should I be surprised?

Pastor: Well you are sounding like a Pharisee!

Pastor: Tell me how you are not sounding like one.

WK: Do you think that name-calling is an appropriate response to my specific concerns?

Pastor: in this case

Pastor: i call you on something and you call it name calling

Pastor: I offer a solution…Men go to church… do you?

Pastor’s Wife: Debate and displays of knowledge of historical events can be done in any local gym or community center.(or perhaps a Sunday school session with those topics of interest) Our Father’s house is a place of prayer and worship, to give ministry to our God in worship and in community with the saints.

WK: Do you think that William Lane Craig is a Pharisee because he goes and does 2 M.As and 2 Ph.Ds, studies the issues in depth and writes a lot of books on the existence of God and the resurrection, and then debates Christopher Hitchens in front of 5000 people at Biola University? Is that being a Pharisee? Defending God’s existence and the resurrection of Jesus in front of thousands of people because you first accepted the message of 1 Pet 3:15? Is it being a Pharisee to do what the Bible says (be ready to give a defense)? Is it being a Pharisee to meet non-Christians were they are and to use effective means to refute them?

Pastor: You can “idolize” apologetics. I worry sometimes about that

Pastor’s Wife: Jesus Himself through His Holy Spirit defends the resurrection. It is God who saves not man…God through His Holy Spirit

WK: Ok, again with the name calling.

(later in another thread)

Pastor: Wintery you are a wimp

Pastor: Wintery? I see your interest is Chivalry? LOL

William Lane Craig asks John Dominic Crossan: do you believe in God?

The answer is NO, Crossan does not believe in God.

And here is the proof from William Lane Craig. (H/T Glenn Peoples)

This exchange with Crossan occurred in their debate entitled “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?”.

The MP3 file of that debate is here.

Now look over this post about theological liberals, from philosopher Glenn Peoples.

Excerpt:

Secondly there’s a palpable dishonesty at work here too. If you’re going to present ideas, it’s helpful to name them. But if you name them, you need to be conscious of the fact that some names are already taken, and already have meaning. Some of these names are covered by copyright (such as Coca Cola), so you wouldn’t be able to use those, but others aren’t. When you identify as a Christian theologian and say “I believe that God exists and that Jesus rose from the dead,” you’re using terminology and also theological phrases and concepts that have recognisable meaning. In a Christian context there’s an existing understanding of what those concepts are and what those terms mean. God is the being who created the Universe, and Jesus rose from the dead by coming back to life and exiting his tomb. That’s what Christians have always meant when they say those things. But how honest is it to say “I’m a Christian, God exists, and Jesus rose from the dead” when what you actually mean is “I have a healthy respect for the teachings of a man who was no saviour, I believe that there is such a thing as goodness, and Jesus’ teachings still have some relevance for today”? Surely the respectable thing to say is “Look, Christianity is false, there’s no God, but we can still gleam a thing or two from what Jesus said.”

And more:

I have no doubt that for people who – for whatever reason – have an emotional or wistful connection to chapels, ecclesiastical robes and moving liturgy but who cannot stomach the perceived balderdash about inconvenient things like God, liberal (or “progressive”) Christianity is perceived as more intellectually respectable and credible. But those on the outside are a little more discerning and quite frankly aren’t this easily duped. However wrong they might be, they are not uniformly stupid. The genuinely honest and self respecting thing would be to stop receiving the church salary or pension, stop using its land, buildings and resources, admit that you reject Christianity outright and be done with it. Do something a little less duplicitous with your life. Start your own religion if you must, but face the fact that a more respectable version of religion is not what you have created.

That’s an excellent assessment of theological liberalism.I would have liked it even more if Glenn had talked about Crossan’s other pre-supposition – of religious pluralism – which requires that nothing in Christianity be exclusive such that people in other religions would be mistaken in their view of God and face whatever consequences that entails.

By the way, if you like that kind of frankness, I really recommend getting hold of the Greer-Heard forums with John Dominic Crossan (2005), Bart Ehrman (2008) and Paul F. Knitter (2009) – three apostates who are strongly questioned by the other respondents to the debate. Especially by the philosophers, Paul Copan and Doug Geivett. That is one excellent thing about philosophers. While historians and theologians see to me to often what to cloud things over, philosophers (analytical philosophers anyway), seem to want to clear things up.

I do not yet have the 2010 MP3s yet, but will buy them this weekend. Greer-Heard does a great job on these MP3 recordings – $15 for an entire forum with respondents. You learn a ton, but it is definitely intermediate level material.

Disclaimer: I don’t agree with Glenn on some things – I believe in non-material souls and I believe in Hell, and he seems to be more for material body only and annihilationism. But he keeps writing these amazing posts, so I keep linking.

C. Michael Patton explains why women cannot teach in the church

He explains why he thinks that the Bible teaches that women cannot teach in the church.

His point:

Now, let me give my short and sweet answer as to why Paul did not allow women to teach:

Paul did not let women teach due to the often aggressive and combative nature that teaching must entail concerning the confrontation of false doctrine. Men must be the teachers when combating false teaching. However, because the role of a teacher in the church is so often to combat false doctrine, and because false doctrine is always a problem, generally speaking, the principles are always applicable. The “exercising of authority” is inherently tied to teaching and its necessary condemnation of false doctrine.

The combative nature of teaching is particularly relevant to a broader understanding of the characteristics of men and women.

I agree with Patton on this one. I think in practice most women are more interested in relationships and community than they are in truth and polemics. Christianity is a propositional faith, though. It’s not meant to be a set of arbitrary preferences that give our lives hope and meaning without any evidential foundation. And it needs to be defended using rational arguments and evidence against lies.

I would make an exception for women who want to teach on an area of knowledge not related to the Bible but related to apologetics or Christian living, like astrophysics, economics, ancient history, bio-ethics, etc. In that case I would allow a woman to teach. I would also be willing to make exceptions for women who are truth-focused and who do not mind making exclusive claims if it makes them unpopular, e.g. – Jennifer Roback Morse or Nancy Pearcey.

Apologetics advocacy

Related posts


Are Christian churches and parents producing solid young Christians?

Let’s look at the facts from a recent Pew Research survey.

Excerpt:

A recent report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life seems to validate concerns among Christian leaders that younger generations of Americans are losing the spiritual moorings that have helped keep their nation strong from its founding.

Analyzing the extent to which the religious views of America’s “millennials” — adults between the ages of 18 and 29 — differ from those of adults over 30, the Pew Forum’s “Religion Among the Millennials” report found that they are in general less affiliated with a particular religious faith than their over-30 counterparts, attend religious services less often, and say that religion is less important to them.

Here are some of the findings of the report:

  • Twenty five percent of 18-to-29-year-old adults say they are religiously unaffiliated, describing themselves variously as “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “nothing in particular.” By contrast, about 19 percent of adults in their 30s, 15 percent of those in their 40s, 14 percent of those in their 50s, and less than ten percent of those 60 and older identify themselves as unaffiliated.
  • Only 45 percent of adults under age 30 say that religion is important to them, compared with almost 60 percent of adults 30 and older.
  • Sixty-five percent of 18 to 29-year-olds say they are “absolutely” certain of the existence of God, compared with 73 percent of their 30-and-older counterparts.

What about surveys conducted by Christians?

The findings of the Pew report appear to reflect the results of similar surveys conducted by both Catholic and evangelical researchers. For example, a recent survey by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found that over 80 percent of Catholic adults aged 18 to 30 think that “morals are relative” and that “there is no definite right or wrong for everybody.”

Similarly, a 2008 study by evangelical pollster George Barna found that half of all adults in America say that Christianity is just one of many faith options… Barna found that unlike previous generations, over 70 percent of American adults today have jettisoned an organized approach to their faith and are more likely to come up with their own set of religious beliefs, with over 80 percent of young Americans under the age of 25 inclined to customize their faith.

And from Christian Newswire:

“In today’s world Christian children and teens are in serious crisis,” says Larry Fowler, Executive Director of Global Training for Awana and author of the new book Raising a Modern-Day Joseph: A Timeless Strategy for Growing Great Kids, (David C. Cook, January, 2009.) “What we see happening in the world is merely a reflection of what is happening in the church. Most Christian teens succumb to the world and fall away from the Lord by the time they leave home.” According to Josh McDowell Ministries, denominations are seeing anywhere from 69 to 94 percent of teens leave the church after high school.

[…]Statistics show that even children who grow up in Christian homes, go to church on a regular basis, and participate in youth group activities are abandoning their faith at an alarming rate.

Naturally, my approach to fixing this failure of churches and parents is to leverage philosophical theology to define Christian claims and then leverage apologetics to sustain those claims in the public square. I would emphasize mainstream science apologetics in order to do that. As for the problem of young people being uncomfortable with moral judgments, we need to do a better job of explaining to them WHY some things are wrong.

Here are some -isms that the church and parents may want to try to address:

  • postmodernism – the view that truth, especially religious and moral truth, cannot be known
  • relativism – the view that each person defines their own reality by personal preferences
  • pluralism – the view that all religions are basically the same – they make us act good
  • universalism – the view that all religions are valid ways of knowing ultimate reality
  • syncretism – the view that the truth claims of all religions do not conflict

Perhaps we should be focusing more time talking about truth and morality, using reason and evidence. I think that the critical mass of people in the church are against my plan – they have decided that the purpose of Christianity is to make people have happy feelings and to be part of an inclusive community. It’s not clear to me how happy feelings and an inclusive community are related to the goals of the Christian faith, but that’s what people seem to have decided on, anyway. They didn’t ask me, and they don’t ask me.

Apologetics advocacy

Why men stay away from the feminized church

On the Biola University site, I found a book review of a new book by David Murrow called “Why Men Hate Going to Church”.

Here’s the problem:

There are generally more women than men in every type of church, in every part of the world, according to church growth experts like Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World. A traditional explanation is that women are more spiritual than men. But the leaders of this new movement suggest that the church’s music, messages and ministries cater to women.

…In America, among evangelical churches, 57 percent of members are women and, among mainline Protestant churches, 66 percent are women, according to a 1998 book American Evangelicalism (University of Chicago Press).

The problem is that the church has become feminized, and men don’t like that, and so, they leave.

Here’s more:

To describe many women, Murrow lists traits like “relational,” “nurturing” and “peace-making.” He describes many men as “goal-driven,” “competitive” and “adventurous.” These differences show up in the types of movies many women and many men like: romantic vs. adventure films, Murrow said. In sum, women thrive when secure, and men thrive when challenged, he said.

As Christianity became more feminized, it began to focus more on producing emotional satisfaction. But men want something different.

The article goes on to quote one of my favorite Christian writers, Nancy Pearcey, an expert in apologetics and theology.

…many people think of church only as a nurturing place that addresses personal needs, Pearcey said. Think: sitting in circles, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, comforting members. An example of the feminization of the church is its music. Typical praise songs refer to Jesus as a Christian’s lover and praise his beauty and tenderness. Rarely do they praise his justice or strength, or refer to him as the head of an army leading his church into spiritual battle, like “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

All of the outward facing disciplines within Christianity, such as apologetics, theology, ethics, etc. are de-emphasized, censored or resisted in feminized churches. There is no place for rationality, moral judgments and boundaries, debates and disagreement, confrontations and persuasion, or other manly Christian practices.

Christianity is evangelical, and evangelism takes study and preparation, which culminates in confrontations and discussions. The object of these discussions is not to win the argument. It is to win the person over to your side. So facts and arguments play a huge role in  evangelism, but there has to be gentleness too, if you actually want to win. And this is what Christian men are supposed to do. But does the church support it?

Another turn-off for men is touchy-feely sermons. Pearcey said the modern church stresses emotions and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the faith.

“The more traditionally masculine side of Christianity enjoys crossing swords with hostile secular worldviews. So, as long as Christianity appeals to the emotional, therapeutic, interpersonal, relational areas, it’s not going to appeal to men as much as to women,” Pearcey said.

Churches should engage men’s intellects to help them see the relevance of Christianity to the “real” world of politics, industry and business, Pearcey said.

“We have to recover the notion that Christianity is true on all levels, not just for your emotional life or repairing relationships, as important as those things are,” she said.

Christian men love apologetics and they also love theology, philosophy, ethics, science and history. We love competition. Anything testable that can be debated! Anything where there is a clear winner and loser.

Many churches emphasize Jesus’ softer teachings, like his love and his desire to save, and they ignore the doctrines of sin and hell, according to Podles. But men dislike liberal Christianity — “a mild religion of progress and enlightenment” as opposed to a battle between good and evil, Podles said.

Men want to expend their lives for a great cause, even if it involves risk, according to Murrow. He said that’s why the U.S. military’s “Army of One” campaign was effective. But American churches rarely teach about Christian suffering and martyrdom, Murrow said. Instead, today’s Christianity is presented as an antidote to these things, he said.

And men thrive on risk, adventure and achievement:

“Men are more attracted to religion if it presented as a quest, an adventure, a heroic exploit,” Pearcey said. “They want something challenging, bracing, demanding.”

To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ — including Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, according to Podles.

Yet, men should be reminded that the sacrifice won’t always be a “huge, glorious display like William Wallace stepping out on a battlefield,” Erre said. Many times it will be staying in a troubled marriage, raising a handicapped child, or working a hated job to provide for a family, he said.

Many women believe that the purpose of Christianity is to be happy and to make others happy by not discussing controversial things like religion. They do not attach the same importance as men do to the duty to be an informed ambassador for Christ, trained in apologetics, and able to persuade others about God’s existence and character. They do not believe that the Lord’s reputation needs to be defended in public in the same way that men do.

Many women also don’t want to be confronted about their beliefs by informed men, because their beliefs are based more on intuition and emotion. They would rather be accepted and affirmed – and so they favor men who don’t know much about the details of Christianity. So manly Christian skills; theology, apologetics, ethics, philosophy, history, science, etc. are not valued in the feminized church.

Touchy-feely sermons come from touchy-feely pastors. A feminized church tends to attract more “gentle, sensitive, nurturing” leadership,” according to Pearcey.

“If religion is defined primarily in terms of emotional experience and is therapeutic, then who is it going to attract as ministers?” she said.

Pearcey said to consider a typical youth pastor.

“He’s really into relationships, very motivating, but is he teaching good apologetics? Is he teaching youth to use their minds and to understand deeper theological truths? At least the ones I’ve known haven’t,” she said. “Today, the common trajectory is for youth pastors to become senior pastors,” she added.

Maybe women should be more sensitive to male needs and character, and more concerned about what the Bible teaches about the the role of apologetics in the Kingdom of God.

If you want to know what Christian men look like, check out this profile of Christian philosopher and apologist Paul Copan on Truthbomb Apologetics. If you want to see one tough and effective Christian lady, visit Denyse O’Leary’s blogs: Post-Darwinist, Mindful Hack and Colliding Universes.

UPDATE 1: Here is an essay I saw on Truthbomb about the need for apologetics, by Norman Geisler.

UPDATE 2: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks for the link. Forgive me if this post was a bit mean, but consider it a cry for reconciliation between men and women in the church. I recommend that everyone make the Anchoress a daily read, as she integrates her faith very well with the issues of the day!

UPDATE 3: I noticed this post linked over on the Anchoress. It talks about what men like and don’t like in the church. But keep in mind that this is a poll of men ALREADY in the church, so these ones are more accepting of the feminization of church already. The men outside the church would be less likely to put up with the feminization of church.

Just one quote:

Sixty per cent said they did not like flowers and embroidered banners in church, while 52 per cent did not like dancing in church…Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.

There’s a list of hymns that men do like, as well.