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Remember that old chorus, “This world is not my home I’m just a-passing through”? I sang that many times as a kid in Daily Vacation Bible School and church camp.

The lyrics seem to suggest believers have no real role or duties on earth and the sooner we can get out of here the better, but is that really sound biblical theology?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #24 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life. 

When I was a young professor, I developed a college course entitled “Christian Social and Political Responsibility.” We examined what the Scripture said about a Christian’s place in the world, beginning with the Cultural Mandate in Gen. 1:26-28 wherein human beings are charged by God to care for the world and develop it. 

And we considered Jesus’s prayer in John 17, in which Jesus noted we are to be “not of the world” even though we remain “in the world,” and then not to be forgotten, he said, we are to go “into the world.” And in the Great Commission of Matt 28:19-20 we learned that we are to go into the world and make disciples, teaching them to follow Christ.

As a kid I was much blessed to have parents who took me to church where I learned not just Bible stories but theology, values, principles, and propositions in the Word of God. But it was in college that I first confronted the phrase “Christian theistic world and life view,” a mouthful that meant Christian philosophy of life, what later we shortened to Christian worldview.

A fully developed Christian worldview begins of course with salvation in Christ, but we don’t stop there, nor are we immediately raptured away to eternity. No, we live out our lives, for the time God gives us, and we are supposed to proclaim the Lordship of Christ in all of life. 

I have always believed Christians could fulfill these divine commands in a variety of ways, that we are called into all walks of life, some into politics, some not. 

This point of view goes back to what the great reformer Martin Luther said about vocation, that the farmer is as important and valued as the clergy.

So, according to Scripture we’re to witness to the truth of Christ, sharing with others the message of reconciliation. We’re to carry the message even as we care for the world, meaning build culture, make possible human flourishing to the glory of God.

But given humanity’s penchant for sin that began with the Fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, Romans 1 tells us sin affects every part of Creation. So, as we live out our lives we come in contact with spiritually bereft individuals who need saving grace, and we come into contact with a world full of what we now call social problems. 

Our task as Christians is to speak the truth in love, to be ready always to give an answer, and to bring peace, healing, and hope. This is the evangelism and social concerns tension. For which do we have greater responsibility and to which to we give more time?

In the early 1900s, Christians debated the relative importance of evangelism vs what was then called the social gospel. The Fundamentalist church movement emerged from this, rightly asserting the authority of Scripture—the fundamentals of the faith—over and against the social gospel proponents who too often strayed from Scripture. Unfortunately, many Fundamentalists eventually over-reacted by rejecting responsibility for or engagement in social issues.

By mid-century in the 1940s and thereafter, another segment of conservative Christendom emerged that became known as Evangelicals. Billy Graham, theologian Carl F.H. Henry to name two influential leaders helped propel this movement to great growth. Evangelicals attempted to maintain a commitment to the basic doctrines, the fundamentals of the faith, while giving renewed attention to social concerns.

Like most movements, in time, this one divided and it remains so today, along a spectrum, Right to Left. Some on the Right began to align with conservative politics and the Republican party. Some on the Left began to align with moderate to liberal politics and the Democrat party.

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Now in the early 21st Century, Evangelicals seem to be even more divided and may fragment further. We face a new tension in the form of a set of values collectively known as social justice ideology, maybe better known as Woke philosophy.  

As I detailed in an earlier podcast, social justice ideology has infiltrated virtually every part of American culture and much of the Church, especially those who would call themselves Liberal or Progressive or the Left, but now also increasingly among those who, formerly at least, aligned on the Right.

Social justice ideology is a secular worldview. The way social justice advocates define and approach their ostensible public goals—racial justice, helping the marginalized, expanding access and tolerance, justice for those who do not consider themselves sexually binary, and more, is at bottom antithetical to biblical Christianity. 

Social justice ideology must be resisted and rejected. It must not be allowed to influence the Christian church…and yet today it is.

In our present day, it’s much like a century ago. We must resist social justice ideology, which is not biblical and not Christian social concern, while at the same time, not losing site of our responsibility to both carry the message—evangelism—and care for the world—social responsibility.

All positive cultural change includes gospel proclamation and inward spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit. The antisocial justice mindset puts evangelism against social transformation. The biblical worldview, however, brings them together into a seamless whole. In the words of John Stott: ‘Evangelism is the major instrument of social change. For the gospel changes people, and changed people can change society.’”

We must not allow the Devil, as the chief of liars, to divide the Christian Church once again, those committed to evangelism on one side, those committed to social engagement on the other. The biblical approach to living in the world while not of the world while going into the world is built upon a Christian worldview that connects evangelism to social change. 

In fact, since most of the problems we face are spiritual at root, not social, the Good News of the Gospel stands as the most potent transformational message we can share. It changes people within, then they change what is without.

 

Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com. And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022   

*This podcast blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.  

No greater question can be asked of any human being than what Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?” (Matt. 22:42). And once you answer that question, particularly if you trust in Jesus Christ and him alone for your salvation, you become a Christian, so then “How should we then live?”

This latter question was asked by the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. 33:10) and then by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer as an influential book entitled, How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (1976).

I was recently privileged to speak on these questions at my church, First Baptist Church of Middleville, MI:

And then was blessed with a publication entitled, “Two Profound Questions: What Think Ye of Christ? How Should We Then Live?

Americans now live in an irreligious society. How should we then live?

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

In the wake of a challenging political week—

I find interesting the Apostle Peter’s (1 Peter 2:12-13) direction on living in an irreligious society:

1-“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

OK, got that, but then he immediately follows noting government:

2-“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors.”

In other words, if we want to live right and live well, we mind our own character, then honor current government. 

If you think this is difficult in the US today, remember the government Peter referenced was the Roman Empire and the despicable Emperor Nero.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

People sometimes think they can make it alone. But it’s not so. Human beings are first, last, and always social creatures.

In the extreme, people who think they can do it alone end up freaky weird. Think Howard Hughes, Bobby Fischer, or the Unabomber.

People need interaction, certainly for emotional wellbeing but also for achievement. Sure, there are great works of art or literature that are the products of one genius. But even they didn’t spring forth fully formed and fully able to produce. They had to learn, to be nurtured, to grow and to grow up. Someone, more often, some many, invested in them.

God created us for communion with him. Then he created others for our companionship and community. First Adam, then Eve, then the family, and then the human race.

Cultures vary. There’s the individualistic West and the communal or collective East, and there’s strengths and weaknesses to both. But even in the West’s frontier-forged independence we still needed each other then and now. Even our legends, Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, had sidekicks. Even our heroes like Teddy Roosevelt didn’t charge up San Juan Hill alone. Nor did the Greatest Generation, with more than it’s share of heroes, win WWII one at a time.

Scripture says, “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:7-8). We belong to the Lord and are positioned as regents in his creation.

So despite Simon and Garfunkel’s pithy phrase, “I am a rock, I am an island,” we’re really not. Even their final poignant lyric doesn’t fit human beings and human experience: “And a rock feels no pain; And an island never cries.” We’re neither rocks nor islands. We do feel pain and we do cry.

So going it alone in some kind of macho misperception is an enormous mistake. People only go it alone when greed, pride, hurt, or arrogance overcome them.

Even the Lone Ranger didn’t go it alone. He had has faithful Tonto.

One can be lonely in a crowd, I know. This is a by-product of modernity. People live amongst millions in relative angst and alienation. It’s a sad life because it is not a “normal” life.

If one is a Christian he or she need never be alone. Indeed Christians are not and cannot be alone for the Holy Spirit of God indwells us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Yet many believers seem to act as if they are alone. This too is a sad life.

Friendship, relationships, companionship, a good marriage, fellowship, these are powerful enabling concepts. They are gifts of God. Seek such things. Nurture them. They make life livable, enjoyable, and fruitful.

I don’t want to be a rock. I don’t want to be an island. I don’t even want to be the Lone Ranger. I want us, not just me.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Drinking too much has been around as long as, well, “drinking.” This is particularly true for young people under the legal drinking age of 21 years.

But there’s a new development afoot that’s causing more concern than too much beer on the weekend ever did. It’s called extreme drinking, which is sometimes assumed synonymous with binge drinking and sometimes presented as another notch beyond that. Extreme drinking is increasing rapidly and dangerously among high school and college age students.

Extreme drinking is often built upon drinks like Jungle Juice, a mixture of hard liquor, fruit juices, and, sometimes, high caffeine energy drinks. It makes adolescents drunk quicker and cheaper, which is part of its youthful appeal.

Researchers have demonstrated that teens don’t drink like adults, which means they don’t drink a glass over a meal or social drink at a party. Instead, 90% of all teen drinking is binge drinking. Four beers for women and five for men consumed within an hour is the standard definition of binge drinking, a both-gender issue.

Caffeine in alcoholic drinks apparently makes them more dangerous because the caffeine can keep a person awake and drinking long after the drinker might typically have fallen asleep. And hard liquor is being used more often than beer in drinking games like beer pong.

The problem with underage extreme drinking: more injuries, more fatalities, more sexual aggression by the drinker or sexual abuse of the drinker, and a 40-60% higher likelihood the underage drinker, beginning early, will become an alcoholic in later years.

I don’t consider drinking a sin, as some of my conservative Christian friends do. But I don’t drink as a matter of choice, as more and more of my Christian friends are doing—in fact, I’d say the number that don’t drink has dropped precipitously and rapidly in the past thirty years. But that’s another subject.

Binge or extreme drinking is something else again. The attraction is anyone’s guess, though youth who participate talk about getting drunk without having to taste the drink—an odd thought to me—and about their perception of fun, which they indicate can’t happen without senses-deadening, ear-splitting noise and getting hammered. Psychologists talk about a sense of belonging for which people search during youth or a sense of alienation from the world with its concomitant desire for escape, even if for just a few hours.

I think recent increases in extreme drinking are not about kids just being kids or young ones sowing wild oats. This is a danger sign and a warning. For all their lack of innocence, youth today are still naïve about the long-term consequences of what in 2008 candidate Barack Obama called “youthful indiscretions.”

Youth have always been youth, meaning they get into trouble experimenting their way to adulthood. But the trouble they can get into today is exponentially more dangerous than it used to be. Indiscretions used to give youth hangovers and from time to time a pregnancy. Now indiscretions can leave youth with lifetime addictions or serious maladies like STDs. Or worse still, indiscretions can kill them outright. Extreme drinking brings all these probabilities with it.

Drinking education programs in schools can help but aren’t the real answer. We need something more powerful and we have it.

For all their presumed and postured rebellion against adults, youth still largely take their cues from adults. It seems youth want adult supervision, that’s part of the "belonging," even when they reject it. Until youth see adults sharing different attitudes about alcohol use and abuse and until adults use alcohol more wisely, I don’t think much will change in youth drinking patterns. So what the kids need are grownups in the group, adults who are mature in attitudes and behaviors.

It’s a tough world out there. Time for grownups to grow up, take charge, model good behavior, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries, stay engaged, and tough love kids into adulthood, especially in terms of alcohol abuse. The risks and rewards are high. Not doing this could mean youth never see adulthood. Adults getting involved with kids in terms of extreme drinking can mean kids live long and prosper.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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