Monday Links: Are you childlike or childish?

Start off your week with a great article by Carl Trueman on how our expectations of not only our kids, but young adults (and dare I say, adults) have taken a dramatic shift for the worse.  We talk about having childlike faith, but have we misunderstood this for acting like a child?  Here are a couple of excerpts from the article that is well worth your time.  

I suspect that future generations may well look back on the present day as an era of unsurpassed childishness in the history of mankind….Sadly, this pervades the church as well. Many megachurches have grown prosperous through the strange, unexpected but undoubtedly successful marriage of a broadly orthodox theology with childish idioms. Further, many Christians in churches that are not so ‘mega’ have their childish ways and their childish people. It is not simply those pastors who dress like slovenly thirteen year olds when they preach that exhibit such qualities. All of us can be tempted in this direction when we are not given what we want and proceed immediately thereafter to throw out of our little prams whatever toys we happen to have. And what can one say about the consistent failure of the Christian twitterati, from the least to the greatest, to understand that some things are for public consumption and that some things are to be kept private? Knowing when to speak in public and when to keep discreetly and modestly quiet (especially about one’s own successes) used to be a basic part of what it meant to grow up.  

Perhaps at the very heart of childishness lies the inability to acknowledge any kind of external authority. The toddler screaming for the confiscated teddy bear is expressing outrage that his world has been changed against his will, in much the same way that the teenager whose life has (and I quote) ‘been like totally ruined’ because her cell phone has been taken away from her for the evening by an irate parent.
 
Childlikeness, however, is the very antithesis of childishness. If childishness involves the refusal to acknowledge external authority, and thus a refusal to acknowledge one’s own limits and one’s own lack of uniqueness in this world, childlikeness is very different. To be childlike is to accept that one is not the measure of all things. Children at their best are those who look to others, especially adults, that they might learn things of which they are as yet ignorant.
 
Growth in Christian maturity should manifest itself in numerous ways. One of them is that we should become less and less enamoured  with the myths we tell ourselves of how unique we are as individuals, of how we have limitless potential, of how we really do have the last word on everything. In short, we should become less childish. Instead, we should become more conscious of how we are really just like everyone else – limited, dependent, finite, fallen. We should also learn more and more to find our fulfillment in resting in the simple biblical, catechetical faith which describes who we are, what we need, and how we can find it in submitting in humble and reverent faith to Christ. In other words, we should become less childish and more childlike.
 
-Our church heard last night from our missions team that spent time in Appalachia leading VBS.  The group told of the group they witnessed to, and about how they were able to enter into their environment and develop relationships that allowed them to share the gospel.  If you left last night, you were inspired and convicted to give an answer for your faith, and maybe even willing to talk to a stranger about Christ.  When you think about it, that is what we are supposed to do.  And when you think about it from the point of view of atheist Penn Jillette (from Penn and Teller), it really is shameful that we are not bold enough to tell someone about Jesus Christ.  Perhaps this chastisement is well deserved.  In fact, I know it is.
 
-Finally, here is an article that explains what most people think of when you tell them you are reformed.  Offended at all by this?  Then congratulations, you are in the minority who wasn’t arrogantly bashing people over the head with reformed theology at one point in your life (most likely, when you first started understanding and believing it to be true).  Now do not get me wrong.  I am reformed.  I love the confession and the catechism.  They are very useful.  BUT, I would suggest to you that the best way to be winsomely reformed is not to add calvinistic language when explaining the gospel.  Along the same lines, I would not try to pick fights with Christians who are not reformed, because they are actually your allies.  Here is an example that one of my seminary professors told us…
He was at a scholarly conference that focused on the Bible.  Now, this is not a conference like Together For The Gospel or Passion Conference, but a scholarly conference, which means an overwhelming majority of the people attending and presenting are not Christians.  My professor gave a lecture the first day, and was wandering around afterwards and ran into a non-reformed scholar who he disagrees with, yet the man is a Christian.  My professor had some thoughts about the man (cynical, some might say), and only talked for a few moments before moving on to the next lecture.  After three days of hearing lectures against the Bible, my professor loved this guy, not because of his beliefs, but because he was a Christian.  The man’s disagreeing beliefs on reformed theology meant nothing when they both were under fire. 
So what does this mean for us?  Stop arguing with your fellow classmates about reformed theology.  You are doing more harm to your witness and credibility with unbelievers than good.  Also, expand your view of heaven.  It is going to be more than John Calvin and his followers in heaven.  
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