EVANGELISM WEEK 7

CULTURES TODAY

Speaking God's Truth in a Post-Truth World

UNDERSTANDING OUR CULTURAL LANDSCAPE

This week we explore some assumptions and values underlying modern Australian culture. This knowledge will equip us to discuss these values with others, to compare them to Christian values and to challenge the assumptions we may have unintentionally absorbed from the surrounding culture, instead of from Scripture.

We have selected videos from Christian leaders who provide different but coherent insights into challenges to Christianity today. They explore strategies used to distort the truth and the implications for the world that God loves. Each speaker gives a different perspective on how our culture has shifted. They each express concern. And they also express hope found in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Surely, this is a call to each of us to wake up, to pray, and to equip ourselves to speak the truth of Jesus to others.

We have chosen the video by Dr Michael Bird for the podcast. There are also quality resources to be explored in Digging Deeper.

We also explore how some of the "isms" such as Universalism, Secularism and Relativism are shaping the underlying beliefs and values of Australians. J. C. Sproul explains the impact of the "isms" in his address on Post-Christian Christianity.

You can subscribe to the Christians Engaging Culture podcast here.

Podcast duration: 31:11Speaker: Dr Michael BirdPublisher: Australian Christian Lobby (used with permission)Accessed: 8/7/19

EXPLORING THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES

Dr Michael Bird - Our Changing Culture

Dr Michael Bird, lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, examines the factors that have changed our culture such as a strong belief in moral autonomy, the therapeutic scale of ethics, the political language of the aggressive secular left, the association of religion with terrorism and child sexual abuse, and the sexual revolution. He concludes with a discussion on possible future outcomes.


Duration: 28:28 Speaker: Dr Michael BirdPublisher: Australian Christian Lobby Accessed: 23/5/19

Conversations with John Anderson: Featuring Rt Rev Gavin Ashenden

John Anderson engages in a wide ranging conversation with the Rt. Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden. They discuss where our democratic freedoms come from, what the contemporary threats to them are, and what we can do to safeguard them.


Duration: 1:03:24 Speakers: John Anderson and the Rt Rev Gavin AshendenPublisher: https://johnanderson.net.au/ Accessed: 17/5/19

Ravi Zacharias - Is Truth Dead?

Our postmodern culture strives to convince us that there is no such thing as objective truth and that no religious truth claim is better than any other. In this video, Ravi Zacharias examines the issues of truth in our society, demonstrating the necessity and existence of objective truth as foundational to the Christian message and all of life.

You will find Ravi's answer below in Digging Deeper.


Duration: 44:54 Speaker: Ravi ZachariasPublisher: Ligonier Ministries Accessed: 17/5/19

EXPLORING THE UNDERLYING BELIEFS IN THE WORLD AROUND US

THE IMPACT OF "ISMS" ON SPEAKING GOD'S TRUTH TO OTHERS.

Post-Christian Christianity. R. C. Sproul

Sproul says, 'When we follow the history of philosophy, generally speaking, one school of thought solves a problem and raises a new one; the new problem is resolved by the next school of philosophy, and so on. After (Immanuel) Kant, a whole host of philosophies were spawned including Marxism, Humanism, Logical Positivism, Existentialism, Relativism, and Secularism. These “isms” have their distinctive characteristic that differentiate them from the rest."

'They all have one thing in common; scepticism with respect to the supernatural and to God.'


Author: R.C. SproulPublisher: Ligonier Ministries Duration: 27:53 (clip starts from 18:24)Date accessed: 11/6/19

SECULARISM

Secularism is defined as ‘indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations.’

6 Cracks in a Secular World View. Rebecca McLaughlin

When our friends hear the claims of Jesus, they wonder why we'd believe such fantastical things when there is a perfectly rational, coherent view of the world available to us. But if we look at the secular world on which we supposedly all stand, we'll realise it’s more like pack ice floating away from land.


Estimated read time: 6:50Author: Rebecca McLaughlinPublisher: The Gospel CoalitionDate accessed: 17/5/19

RELATIVISM

Relativism is defined as ‘the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute’; ‘each point of view has its own truth.’

Relativism: Does it Contain Any Truth? Sheri Bell

'But the Bible draws a clear contrast between truth and error; the Bible does not present truth as a cultural creation. When Jesus drove a stake into the ground by claiming, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6) He did so to give us a clear standard of truth to follow."


Estimated read time: 6:40Author: Sheri BellPublisher: John McDowell MinistryDate accessed: 17/5/19

UNIVERSALISM

Universalism is defined as ‘the belief that all humankind will eventually be saved.’ ‘It focuses exclusively on God's love and mercy and ignores his holiness, justice and wrath.’

Will everyone be saved? If not, why not? Dr Timothy Keller

"Jesus talks more about hell than heaven."


Duration: 00:54 Speaker: Tim KellerPublisher: The Gospel CoalitionAccessed: 14/6/19

ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE BIBLE

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me."

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

John 8:31–32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Ephesians 3:10–12 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

GROUP OR PERSONAL REFLECTION

1. ‘Faith in God’, ‘love for others’, ‘obedience to the Word of God’, and ‘trust in the work of the Holy Spirit’ embolden us to share the gospel. Who can you share the gospel with this week?

2. We are living in challenging and changing times. Why might a sovereign God allow us to go through persecution (such as the consequences of speaking his truth to others)? How does knowing God more fully equip us for these times? What are the potential consequences for us personally, for our Australian culture and our family and friends if we remain silent?

3. In the age of “isms” and the common underlying scepticism about God, how can we as Christians convey the confidence we have in God through Christ Jesus? How is our family of believers a strength in these times?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

You call us to tell others about Jesus, to stand up for righteousness, to protect the vulnerable and weak. Help us to know the truth of your Word and to base our lives on that truth.

As your dearly beloved children, we humbly ask that you would embolden us to share the gospel with others, and to point them to the uniqueness and sufficiency of your Son and the magnificent and great plan of salvation through him.

May your love for the unsaved be our motivation to speak your truth. May your love for us be our strength. May we remain steadfast in these changing and challenging times.

In Jesus' name. Amen.

DIGGING DEEPER

Boomers, Millennials, and the Growing Tension. David Mathis

This article explores how we can work against the tensions between different generations. "The cross is the common ground where Boomers and Millennials and even Gen Xers can stand together."


Estimated read time: 5:20Author: David MathisPublisher: Desiring GodAccessed: 23/5/19

Generational Conflict. Don Carson

Don Carson explains that while conflict between generations has been the norm, the level of tension has increased due to rapid cultural shifts. He provides sound biblically-based thoughts on how different generations can connect.


Estimated read time: 8:40Author: Don CarsonPublisher: ThemeliosAccessed: 6/6/19

Universalism - An Interview with Michael McClymond. Justin Taylor

Michael McClymond is the author of a major work on Christian Universalism. Kevin Vanhoozer says, “Important issues require important books, and McClymond has produced what I suspect will be the definitive treatment of Christian Universalism for years to come."

(In the last part of the interview McClymond summarises some possible answers to friends who are tempted toward Universalism).


Estimated read time: 22:40Author: Justin TaylorPublisher: The Gospel CoalitionAccessed: 14/6/19

What is Universalism? Jack Zavada

Jack Zavada notes that “The main argument for universalism is that a good and loving God would not condemn people to eternal torment in hell”. But he reminds us that such a view runs counter to the teaching of the Bible that "all who call upon the name of the Lord" will be united to Christ and eternally saved, not all people in general”. “Jesus Christ taught that those who reject him as Saviour will spend eternity in hell after they die."


Estimated read time: 4:00Author: Jack ZavadaPublisher: learnreligions.com Accessed: 14/6/19