How Can You Maintain a Christian Worldview in a Post-Modern Culture? – John Stonestreet

I meet folks all the time who sense that things have changed. What Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson once called “a post-Christian” culture has become a “post-Christian-and-darn-proud-of-it” culture. Living out your faith is, well, difficult these days. And it’s frustrating.
 
Yet here we are. We, like every other generation of Christ followers, are still called to share our faith in this cultural moment. We’re still called to live our faith out in our communities, places of work, neighborhoods, etc. But how do we do this?
 
The most important thing, Chuck Colson believed, was to be equipped in Christian worldview, with the ability to communicate it in what he sometimes called “prudential language.” Here’s Chuck describing what that means.
 
While we have to be immersed in scripture and understand it fully, we also have to know when and how to use it in public discourse.
 
Let me give you an example. G. K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were asked if they were shipwrecked on an island, what would be the one book they would want to have with them.  Everybody expected Chesterton, a prominent Christian, to say “the Bible.”
 
When it came his turn to speak, however, Chesterton said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island, he’d like to have “Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
 
The point is that oftentimes we need to understand things that aren’t covered in the Bible. And we need to understand things that help us apply biblical teaching to all of life. This is why I teach biblical worldview.
 
A man once told Oswald Chambers that he read only the Bible.  Listen to what Chambers said:
 
“My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology, until you know more of these subjects than ever you need consciously to think. It is ignorance of these subjects on the part of ministers and workers that has brought our evangelical theology to such a sorry plight…The man who reads only the Bible does not, as a rule, know it or human life.”
 
And when it comes to making a biblical case on any hot topic—taxes, the deficit, homosexuality, whatever—we need to understand the issue and how to make that case in a way that is accessible to believers and non-believers alike.
 
The sad fact is that today, starting a conversation with “the Bible says” will often cause the listener to stop listening.  So what you do is make arguments based on what the Reformers called common grace, or what historically has been known as natural law.

This is what Paul did when he gave his famous sermon at Mars Hill, his first foray into the Greek culture. He quoted Greek poets; he referred to Greek artifacts.  He thoroughly engaged their culture.  And then he used their beliefs to lead directly into the gospel.
 
This is why we’ve got to study biblical worldview, to compare how the Bible works out in life versus how other systems of thought do. I assure you: You will see that the biblical way is the only way to make sense of the world, to live rationally in the world, and eventually, your friends will see this as well.”
 
That vision led Chuck to start an exclusive nine-month training program for Christians that is now known as the Colson Fellows. The program is intense: reading the best worldview books, participating in teleconferences with top Christian leaders, and attending three in-person residencies with the best worldview teachers in the country. Now it’s not for everyone, but if your heart is being tugged to go deeper in the way that Chuck described, it may be for you.
 
The next class of Colson Fellows will begin their study near the end of summer, and the deadline to apply is May 15. Visit ColsonFellows.org to learn more.

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Marijuana Madness: The Negative Effects of Weed – John Stonestreet

In the 1930s a film called “Reefer Madness” warned viewers about the dangers of marijuana. The film enjoyed an ironic renaissance in the 70s as an unintentional satire of the drug fears of uptight adults—at least so said advocates of looser drug laws.
 
Well, it seems that those advocates are winning the cultural debate these days, and opponents have little more credibility than “Reefer Madness.” Recreational and medicinal marijuana are now legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia. And twenty-two states have laws decriminalizing or legalizing medical marijuana.
 
And that’s just the beginning. A proposed federal law would let states legalize medical pot without interference from the federal government, which would take it off the list of drugs with a high abuse potential. We’ve come a long way, baby—or have we?
 
The only problem with this brave new narrative is that it neglects to mention the consequences of this growing embrace of marijuana—frankly what could be called Marijuana Madness.
 
According to a Dr. Jangi, writing in the Boston Globe, serious questions remain. First is the fact that the drug, contrary to popular perception, is addictive. Sharon Levy, the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that at least 1 in 11 young adults who begin smoking pot will become addicted.
 
And Jodi Gilman, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, says pot smoking is an epidemic among younger smokers. As she notes, “If you go into a high school and ask the classroom, ‘Are cigarettes harmful? Is alcohol harmful?’ every kid raises [his or her] hands. But if I ask,” she says, “Is marijuana harmful?–not a hand goes up.”
 
And while tobacco and alcohol use among 12-to-17-year-olds has fallen in the last year, habitual use of marijuana is on the rise.
 
But supporters of legalization might say, so what? Here’s what. First off, Gilman’s research demonstrates differences in the brain’s reward system between users and non-users among 18-to-25-year-olds. Gilman also found that college-age tokers experienced impaired working memory even when they weren’t acutely high.
 
Dr. Jangi says we need to slow down the push for legalization as we study weed’s effect on the brain, stating, “While marijuana has not been definitively shown to cause cancer or heart disease, its harmful cognitive and psychological effects will take time to capture in studies. The underlying biochemistry at work suggests deeply pathologic consequences.”
 

What kind of consequences? As Dr. Jangi says, “THC in marijuana attaches to receptors in the brain that subtly modulate systems ordinarily involved in healthy behaviors like eating, learning, and forming relationships. But THC…throws the finely tuned system off balance.”
 
According to Jangi, THC “can cause these receptors to disappear altogether, blunting the natural response to positive behaviors and requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect. Marijuana exploits essential pathways … to retrieve a memory, to delicately regulate our metabolism, and to derive happiness from everyday life.”
 
So if you don’t care about eating, learning, remembering things, forming healthy relationships or having a happy life, by all means, light up!  And, I should add, in light of all of these concerns, it’s reckless for policymakers and the voting public to jump on the weed bandwagon simply in the name of more “freedom” and tax dollars.
 
Friends, we were created for something higher than getting high. As C.S. Lewis noted, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
 
Or we might call it madness.

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Why You Don’t Need to Fear the News – John Stonestreet

 

On a recent broadcast, Shepard Smith of Fox News took to task what he called the “hysterical voices” that are spreading fear and panic over Ebola in the United States.
After telling viewers that “You should have no concerns about Ebola at all. None. I promise,” he added, “Fear not. Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and the television or read the fear-provoking words online. The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible.”
“Fear not.” Now whether he was aware that he was quoting scripture or not, that’s what he was doing. God and His messengers uttered those words to God’s people at least eighty times in the Bible. In fact, by some estimates, “fear not” and variations such as “be not afraid” are the most often-repeated commands in all of Scripture.
That’s fitting because it also might be the most transgressed-against command, especially in modern life.
We all know the expression “sex sells.” But it’s also true that fear sells, especially among the middle-aged and the elderly. If you can stand it, try watching an afternoon worth of commercials and take note of how many of them appeal to fear and anxiety that we have over, well, everything: our health, our family’s future, our finances, and, especially in the run-up to the November elections, our national security, special interest groups and our very way of life.
And it isn’t only the ads: The reason for what Smith called the “hysterical voices” is that television networks and other media outlets know that fear and panic are good for business.
Now I’m not saying that there aren’t things in the world today to be concerned about—of course there are. Besides Ebola, we’ve got ISIS and the collapse of order in the Middle East, home-grown terrorism, the decay of decency, growing restrictions on religious liberty—and for some, simply putting food on the table.
But make no mistake, the media know that a frightened audience is one that will stay tuned-in for every scrap or morsel of news, no matter how fragmentary or out-of-context it might be.
I wish I could say that Christians are immune to this kind of fear and are innocent of the sin of fear-mongering. But we’re not. In fact, let me be honest with you: While we would never intentionally stoke fear among our listeners, one of the hardest things we do at BreakPoint is attempt to strike a balance between telling folks the unvarnished truth about the challenges that Christians face and avoiding giving them a reason to be fearful and to despair.
And on behalf of Eric and all of our team, at any of those times that we’ve failed to strike that balance, we apologize to you and we repent before God.
As Christians, we ought to know better than to fear, because we know how the story of the world—and our story—ends. It’s an ending beautifully summed up by Thomas Howard in his book, “Christ the Tiger.” In which he reminds us that our Lord announces that he “[makes] all things new” and does “what cannot be done.”
Here’s a passage from Howard’s book:
God “[restores] the years that the locusts and worms have eaten . . . the years you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheel-chair . . .  the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massif your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder and the identity lost to you because of calumny and the failure of justice. . .”
And, in an awe-inspiring act of grace, God restores “the good which [our] own foolish mistakes have cheated [us] of.”
How do we know this is true? Because He raised his only-begotten Son from the dead. He destroyed sin and death, and in so doing, demonstrated, to quote Howard again, “the Love of which all other loves speak, the Love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow.”
This is the Good News that not only overcomes fear, but for those who have heard it, it renders fear absurd.
One of the greatest gifts we can offer an increasingly-fearful world is to be hopeful, to proclaim the good news, and more importantly, to live as if it were true.
So, brothers and sisters, fear not. He has risen. Indeed.