How do you know if your church is legalistic?
I think this is an important question. It is a term that gets bandied around a lot but it isn’t always clear what people mean. This helpfully breaks down different kinds of legalism.
Satan’s stolen treasure
‘Satan is a thief. He takes what’s not his. Be it glory, worship, children, whatever he can get his hands on. He’s also a saboteur, read Genesis 3, he doesn’t form things, he doesn’t do beauty, he can’t create culture, he can only sabotage it, or create counterfeits. He steals, he twists, he warps. And we live with the consequences. Our lives so often are impoverished as a result and we don’t even realise it.’
The deconversion stories that go unnoticed
‘For every high-profile professed Christian that turns his back on the faith, there are 100s overseas that make the same stated professions, walk away from the faith….and it goes largely unnoticed. Christians revel in the statistics of the number of baptisms and churches planted per year overseas, but for true accuracy there should be a third and fourth category: 3. Those who turned back to their original beliefs, and 4. Churches that didn’t make it past five years. While those figures would make for poor Twitter content it would give us a more accurate picture of what exactly is happening overseas and maybe bring some much-needed scrutiny to what the Protestant missions world is doing.’
Are pro-lifers just ‘pro-forced birth’?
‘Words matter. They’ve been used to rally troops and comfort widows as well as incite violence and intimidate opposition. Words inspire and illuminate, but they also deceive and distort. Words are powerful. When it comes to moral issues, the stakes are high. Words can be used to either reveal or conceal evil. Someone once said, “When words lose their meaning, people lose their lives.” This dictum is no more obvious than in the abortion debate.’
The frustrating paradox of serving with an amiable autocrat
This model is unbiblical, but nevertheless abounds. When the amiable autocrat doesn’t get his way, it doesn’t take long for him to turn into an abusive leader.
How will people in Heaven view Hell?
‘I fairly regularly get asked this question in various forms: How will the people in Heaven view Hell? How can they enjoy the glories of God while others are suffering? My answer has two parts—a direct answer and a crucial context for that answer.’
From the archive: Should we make our children go to church?
‘I do not believe if you insist your children go to church that they will automatically come to faith. However, we can’t be that surprised if our children drift off from the church when it is treated as something we (or, more to the point, they) can take or leave.’