A Nice Quiet Apology

I spend a significant amount of time with college kids; many of them professed Christians. They cannot accept that there is such a thing as good and evil in the world for more than one debate at a time, and for no longer than five minutes. They believe God and Heaven are good, and Satan and Hell are evil, but they think every thing and every action actually in the world are only relatively good or evil and even then only predicated on one’s opinion. It is enough to make me want to weep.

The churches, from whom one might want to recruit, are either half-filled with timid Christians, scared and scarred by the undead assault, or (worse) full of the husks of Christians. So I’ve been listening and reading pastors and bloggers in search of encouragement and resistance, but I have not much found it. The advice from the pulpits and keyboards is “More Apologetics!” or “More Revival!” I must assume that these men are not really seeing the sad state of the potentially revived apologists in the pews. Sufficiently inquisitive and bright and passionate men are not in great supply. So the apologetics produced are for niceness, and the revival is for passivity.

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20 thoughts on “A Nice Quiet Apology

  1. The advice from the pulpits and keyboards is “More Apologetics!” or “More Revival!”

    That would be all well and good if the people in leadership positions making such calls actually followed them up with ACTION. Given the state of apologetics training (nearly non-existent) in most churches, along with zero evidence of revival, we can see that this isn’t happening, nor is it likely to in the foreseeable future.

  2. Could be a result from weak leadership?

    As I progress through certain aspects of life I’m getting more involved. By doing so, I’m seeing things happen. Remember the old saying faith without works is dead.

  3. @Cane Caldo

    the apologetics produced are for niceness, and the revival is for passivity.

    This is it.

    You explained in another thread why you don’t care for the term “churchian”. I agree. As I see it, the issue is with Christian culture, and specifically with “conservative” Christian culture (because the non conservative Christian culture doesn’t even pretend to be serious). Churches are made up of Christians, who identify with Christian culture. That is, their religion is defined by the culture, whether they pretend it is defined by something else or not. This in itself isn’t a problem, except the culture is corrupt, and in many ways something entirely different than Christianity.

    To have a church that wasn’t corrupted, it would have to be made of Christians who aren’t part of Christian culture. By definition, a non corrupt church is radical, an extreme outlier. The same is true for pastors theologians, and the seminaries.

    The other piece of this is (for “conservative” Christians) there is a fundamental disconnect between doctrine and the culture. Doctrine is what the group says it believes, while the culture is what the group actually believes.

  4. @Cane Caldo/ @Dalrock

    I don’t want to derail the broader concept under discussion here, but I am interested in your opinions about how we might refer to Christians that fit this model:

    “their religion is defined by the culture, whether they pretend it is defined by something else or not.”

    I have been, and maybe still am, in danger of being this person. When I first encountered the term from commenters on Dalrock, I immediately understood what was being implied by it.

    I wrote this in the earlier thread here about my understanding of the term. Christians who have, or are in the process of submitting to popular culture rather than to God.
    Attending church as a sort of social affirmation and support group.

    I understand “churchian” is meant to be pejorative, and why you don’t appreciate it; but the concept is obviously a real thing.

    Who are the (often well meaning) people that fit this bill? “Doctrine is what the group says it believes, while the culture is what the group actually believes.” What can we call them (or me, if I don’t keep my head on straight)?

    More to the point. Are there churhces like this? “By definition, a non corrupt church is radical, an extreme outlier.” I used to think mine was like this, but less sure all the time.

  5. @LP

    “their religion is defined by the culture, whether they pretend it is defined by something else or not.”

    There is a term I’m sure you’ve heard before: “Cultural Christians”. It’s not popular in the overall Dissident Right because it is used by the very Christians whom the Dissident Right Christians are criticizing; also because many Dissident Right people were either never Christian, or–very often–are themselves Cultural Christians. To use the term is to condemn themselves as the enemy! If a man quits meeting with the body of Christ and quits partaking of the Lord’s Supper because he is bored, or uninspired by the effeminate pastor: That man, if he is a Christian at all, is merely a Cultural Christian.

    Effeminate pastors are a real stumbling block. But that is a separate issue and it is not a good reason to forego communion. We can’t do it at home. Home worship is not the place for it. St. Paul in 1 Cor. 11 writes:

    17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

    We see that we are supposed to take the Lord’s Supper, in congregation, and not at home or individually.

    We also see in the text I bolded that Cultural Christians have been there from the beginning. St. Paul says they highlight who is genuine.

  6. I’m not completely sure that “cultural Christian” is a term that I’d use.

    I’m very familiar with the issue – the number of people who call themselves “Christian”, without objectively qualifying.

    Ok, that requires some qualification in itself, and there are obvious limits in the degree to which we can “objectively” determine the state of someone’s heart. However the very definition of “Christian” is someone who follows the teachings of Christ, and it is frequently possible to observe that some who claim the title of Christian, don’t actually do this.

    As it is written, “by their fruits, you shall know them.”

    I think that a better name for them is “Nominal Christians” Those who claim the name, but don’t actually qualify.

    The problem with using the term “cultural” is that any group with a common belief system will develop a common culture, and that includes any genuine church, however you define it.

  7. Cane Caldo

    Thank you for that explanation. I have heard the term Cultural Christian, though not much lately; possibly because lines are becoming indistinct. What I mostly heard in times past was the term “Carnal Christian”. Would you view this as basically the same as the cultural, or is there some other nuance? At any rate, I do not hear that term much anymore either.

    I sometimes forget that these new problems of the church have often been there from the beginning, and are not really new at all.

  8. I doubt you are forging the company of other believers when you walk away from formall churches. I doubt they are coming together to worship, or that they have any idea of God beyond some magical, wish granting Super Santa

    However, it is not an issue of more apologetics and revial. It’s a matter of strength. Men will not follow the weakness the churches, pastors and priests preach. They won’t follow because such weakness is ungodly, those messages are not from the Lord.

    Recently I was invited to do a motorcycle ride with a church group. Their 1st group ride, and a benefit ride as well. I was asked to lead/ organize/ instruct them on how to run these sort of things. So I agree, grab 2 of my boys and meet at the appointed time.

    Game day comes, I gather up the other bikers before we are to depart. I’m pretty sure the only 3 men there with a set of functioning testicles are myself and the guys from crew. It was supposed to be a mens event, three wives showed up. These men are soft, soft hands, soft eyes, soft voices, weak body language…. the works.

    I brief them, explain what to do, why to do it, when to do it and the route. Utter waste of time. Then give the prayer. Ends up my pray offered them because I beseech the Almighty to crush the enemies, spiritual and physical, who are in opposition to His will and this boys healing. Sort of thing you read in the Old Testament pretty regularly

    During the ride, three riders where riding in an unsafe manner. The kind of stuff that can pile up bikes and bodies. During the lunch break, I approach the senior church member, and ask him to address the three riders before they get people hurt. He would not because “Bob, Jim, & John are such nice guys”. My next suggestion was to break the ride up into smaller flights. Can’t do that either. Put them in the rear with one of my guys in front of them, and one behind them. Nope, don’t want them to feel singled out.

    They’d rather risk lives then censure grown ups.

    Long story short, the weakness of men is killing the church. No amount of apologetics etc will work coming from a position of weakness and best I can tell, only week men are left in the church

  9. Last Sunday at Church we read a passage I never before thought to link with the Great Whore of Babylon, but clearly it fits the pattern.

    James 4 [a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “[e]He [f]jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

    If adultery = idolatry, then according to James, friendship with the world = adultery = idolatry. This series has been causing me to see things with new eyes, and that blows my mind.

  10. I like the SFCTon illustration of the general principles explained in the original post. Not disagreeing I think, but I have an additional phrase to cultural christian, and that is a bible reading UMC social club. Essentiaaly what Dalrock said, being led by the culture. Then that beautiful motorcycle illustration brings it to light. 11 posts for a complete and great lesson, you guys are efficient! And right minded, because the comment was right, we need to pray. The leaders rather endanger lives on that bike ride rather than be honest and wise. Otherbthan boxing their ears, what can you do for such willful pussiness other than pray? Politeness, the reason my church is a never Trump haven. Really, what they want is to fight us, but are too polite to directly tell us to shut up or go away. A show fight to secularism and a real, but passive, or lazy, fight against the pro patriarchy brothers.

  11. Ajp,
    Tithe is food and shelter. Levites were given food etc because they were not given a land inheritance like the other tribes. Church buildings sit for the most part empty all week with maybe a secretary. Not a good insvestmant or good steward of money. Money offerings in NT were for the needy and missions.

    You might as well say we need men with the name Peter, as Jesus said he is the rock on which the church would be built.

  12. @Jeff

    ”You might as well say we need men with the name Peter, as Jesus said he is the rock on which the church would be built.”

    Jesus and God was also referred to as a spiritual rock. So the rock could be referring to Jesus and not Peter.

    Jesus did not say upon you “Cephas” but upon this Rock which is referring to Christ.

  13. In this discussion, we have a classic example of why GOOD apologetics is an absolute necessity…… and that is tithing.

    We’ve seen many of the modern mega-churches and denominations make tithing a doctrine, an expected part of membership. In some ways, it is appealing as it does three things.
    1. It clearly states that Christianity is important enough to require a significant cost of its participants.
    2. It means that participants see themselves as part of something that does real (and often good) things rather than merely feeling good and following rituals.
    3. It applies a law, something that has appealed to people since before the time of Moses.

    Problem is, it is not a Biblical doctrine under the New Covenant.

    Starting at the beginning.

    In Abrahamic times, a portion of the spoil of battle (valuables taken from a defeated enemy) was regarded as belonging to the King leading the victorious army. This portion was typically 1/5 or 1/10.

    When Abraham was victorious in war, he gave 1/10 of the SPOIL to the priest of God Most High. In neither keeping the King’s Portion, nor giving it to another King, he was making two statements. Firstly, that Abraham, himself, was not a King. Secondly that his King was God Most High.

    Note that Abraham was not tithing on his income. There is no record that he ever did this, or that he tithed as a normal practice.

    The tithe required under the Mosaic covenant is surprisingly limited. It only applies to the produce of the LAND. It is grossly simplistic to assert that grain, olives and livestock automatically equate to income and wages because “Israel was an agrarian society”. This is to argue that there were no potters, carpenters, traders or anyone who made their living other than by farming… yet we see no requirement that the potter tithe every tenth pot, the carpenter every tenth chair, or the musician every tenth song. In modern terms, the only people who would be required to tithe are farmers and gardeners, not craftsmen, labourers or businessmen. Furthermore, a tithe on produce is a tithe on TURNOVER, not on income. Anyone who runs their own business knows that this is a massive difference and can easily equate (in modern terms) to 20 or 30% of actual profit/income.

    Applying historical context, the land of Israel – the Promised Land – was itself a SPOIL OF WAR. Israel had fought for the land, and won it under God’s leadership. The prophets constantly reminded the Israelites that God had brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, and the Tithe was an annual reminded. The tithe was the King’s Portion of the fruit of the land won in war, not the fruit of normal human toil and ingenuity.

    How is this supposed to apply to a Gentile Christian, who does not live in the Promised Land, does not live on land taken in war, and possibly does not even farm? Surely we need to be very careful how we apply something to people who simply do not fit the criteria.

    I believe that this is why tithing is never preached in scripture to those under the New Covenant. Note that in the only mention of tithing in the New Testament, Jesus is talking the Jews, living in Israel under the Old Covenant , and are teachers of the Law of Moses. For such teachers to not tithe themselves would be gross hypocrisy, not to mention a denial of the Law.

    But New Covenant Christians are not under that law. The apostles had many opportunities to preach tithing, yet they did not. Remember that the tithe is an OBLIGATION. It is something OWED, just as we owe a debt. There is no grace or liberty in the payment of debts. Payment of debts is morally and legally compulsory.
    Giving cannot be compulsory. A gift given under compulsion is a contradiction in terms. It is not a true gift if it is not given out of love and a desire to please.
    This is the essence of grace, of New Testament giving. To preach tithing as the payment of debt, or tithing as a method of investing in order to get a return (as some misuse the promises in the Mosaic Covenant) is to deny the grace of the NT and reduce it to a business transaction.

  14. I was reliably informed recently that God only used whore as a descriptive instead of as a pejorative. This is of course nonsense.

    One of the young girls in Sunday School thought she could flip the tables on me by having me read Timothy (I’m sure at the prompting of her mother) since that dealt with young people. She was more than a little horrified at what was actually _in_ first and second Timothy. There are all sorts of very deep barbs there. God is not a tame lion.

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