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Interview with Rebecca McLaughlin

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2021 6:00 am

Interview with Rebecca McLaughlin

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 18, 2021 6:00 am

This weekend, Pastor J.D. will be welcoming Rebecca McLaughlin for a Q&A session during weekend services. She is the author of Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World's Largest Religion. She'll be helping us dive into some of these hard questions starting at our Thursday evening services.

Some of the topics that will be discussed include conversations about gender and sexuality, which may not be appropriate for children.

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...to celebrate. Amen. 150 baptisms over the last two weeks alone, 100, more than 100 professions of faith, and then 134 since the first three months of the year just online through those of you that are joining us at our online communities or there in your home. I want to say welcome to all of you to different summit campuses around the Triangle, and as I mentioned those of you joining us at home or maybe you're by yourself somewhere, you're in your car or wherever, we are grateful to be able to gather. Even if still under somewhat a little bit of restriction, we are grateful that we can still come together as one church. Summit church, I want you to open your Bibles to the book of John, the book of John. That's right, I didn't say Daniel, I said John. John chapter 1. John 1. Last weekend we started a series on Daniel called Shining in Babylon, and it's about not only surviving but also thriving and shining in the midst of a very hostile world. That is going to be our main regularly scheduled programming for the next few weeks, so to speak, but I wanted to sprinkle in this weekend a little bonus track from John 1 because it so well illustrates what we learned the first week from Daniel. So if last weekend was the lesson, then this weekend is going to be the application. Do you remember the main lesson from Daniel 1?

Do you remember? I hoped it was really simple. It was very simply this. You can't make a difference unless you are different. You can't make a difference unless you're different. We talked about the difference between being odd and different. We're not talking about being odd. There are plenty of Christian weirdos in the world, I explained.

Too many, and we do not need any more. That's not what we're doing. We're talking about living in such a way that shows that you are marching to a different beat from everybody around you, that you're living by a different set of values.

You remember the illustration I used? I said suppose you were watching a marching band and you're up in the stands and you're noticing that everybody, several hundred people there on the field, are all trained on one man or one woman in the middle as a conductor that's keeping everybody together, but then through your binoculars you see one guy who's obviously got in his AirPods and he's not looking at the conductor and evidently he's dialed into some radio station. He's listening to Chance the Rapper. He's going to look totally out of sync. It's going to look like chaos.

It's actually not chaos. He's very tuned into something. He's just not listening to the same, or not watching the same conductor everybody else is. Well, in a very similar way, that's what you and I are.

We're dialed into a different frequency. Daniel and his friends are called to serve the living and true, the only God in the midst of Babylon, which is a hostile culture. That meant they had to take on Babylonian names and wear Babylonian clothes and have Babylonian hairstyles and speak the Babylonian language and serve in the Babylonian palace, but they lived differently in those places than everybody else around them and because of that they made a real difference.

They lived out the principles of the kingdom of God and pointed Babylonians to the true king. Well, like Daniel, I explained, God has called most of you to live and work in Babylon. I work in the church.

Most of you don't. You work in Babylon, and so just like in Daniel's time, you're going to find that the powers of our culture are often arrayed against you. We are supposed to be for our culture both a thermometer and a thermostat. What does a thermometer do? A thermometer reflects the environment around it. It registers what is true about the environment, but what does a thermostat do? Well, a thermostat changes the temperature. Christians are called to be both.

They are thermometers that reflect their cultures in the right way, but they're also thermostats that change their cultures. Many Christians do one or the other well. I'll say very few do both well. God has called us to be both, however, and the greatest example of that, of course, is not Daniel and his friends. It's Jesus. Jesus entered our world. He took on human form. He lived according to a different set of values, though, as he dwelt in human flesh.

He marched to a completely different beat, so to speak. Here's how the apostle John describes it. John 1 14. And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten son of the father, full of, here's your two words I want you to focus on, grace and truth. Grace and truth.

Let me flip them around. Truth and grace. Truth. Never has there been anyone who so exemplified God's truth and purity and perfection. Jesus said, for example, that sooner would heaven and earth pass away than he would compromise one jot or tittle of God's moral code or his holy word. But grace also, not just truth. We also know that never has there been anybody who, at the same time, so effectively gathered the outcast, the broken, the nonreligious to his side, be they the prostitutes or thieves, the broken or the outcast.

He was the friend of sinners, and everybody wanted to be around him. Truth and grace. Both are necessary for Christian witness. Truth without grace is fundamentalism. It's mean.

It's argumentative. I will say that many of you have experienced that in the church, and maybe that's why you have a difficult time coming. Truth without grace is no good, but grace without truth, that's not any good either. That's sentimentality.

That's meaningless. It enables others in their sin, and that's where a lot of other people in the church are today. In the name of niceness, they don't tell people what God says, which honestly is the most unloving thing that you could ever do for somebody. So neither truth without grace or grace without truth is loving.

Neither are like Jesus, and neither reflect Jesus' his kingdom. And that brings us to this weekend. You see, because maybe nobody that I know personally right now demonstrates that balance of grace and truth better than our guest today. She has become one of my favorite authors, Rebecca McLaughlin.

She wrote a book called Confronting Christianity, the 12 Hardest Questions for the World's Biggest Religion. That is this one. We offered it last weekend.

You've almost completely bought us out. There may be a few smattered copies here and there, but for the most part, it's out, but you can still check. And then there's a teen version of the book that just came out called 10 Questions Every Kid Should Ask and Answer About Christianity. I will tell you, I've read thoroughly this book and reviewed this one. Both of them are amazing, and maybe the best treatments of the hard questions about Christianity in print today. They're well researched. They're easy to read. They're beautiful, beautifully and emotionally moving in how they're written.

She writes about things like the supposed conflict between Christianity and science, Christianity and the LGBT community, politics, immigration, and all kinds of things. By the way, I will just say here, there are a few things that you could do better with your summer than to dive into one of these. I had our whole staff read and discuss the red one, the one for adults, parents. For years now, I will tell you, I have paid my kids, shamelessly paid my kids to read books like this over the summer.

I just tell them it's one of their summer jobs. That would be a great book. The one for kids and teens would be a great book for that.

Probably the best $10 investment that you could make in the life of your child this summer. Both of them, again, are authored by Rebecca McLaughlin. She holds a PhD in Renaissance literature from Cambridge University in England, like many of us do. Now, fair warning, she gets into some difficult subjects even today in her interview.

Immigration, same-sex attraction. She doesn't get political, so let me just say, I implore you to listen fully and not take clips out of context or listen to those people who are going to take some of these clips out of context and put them all over the internet. I want you to not assume she means something just because she brings up a subject. By the way, parents, if you're sitting there thinking, well, I'm not sure that my nine-year-old is ready to hear about these things. Hey, now might be a great time to check out our amazing kids ministry at every campus.

If you take them out right now, somebody will meet you in the lobby and help you get where you need to go, okay? Our conversation this morning begins with me asking her about a metaphor that she uses throughout the book from the popular kids series, Harry Potter. So I invite you to sit back and take a listen to this fascinating conversation. Well, for those of you who don't know the series, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by the way, it sounds so much better when you say Harry Potter with that deep Southern Alabama accent. That's right. I'm actually reading the books to my 10-year-old and eight-year-old right now, and we're just in between the setup for this story and the reversal.

So it's kind of an exciting moment for me. So in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, you have Dumbledore, who's always been the hero of the series. He's kind of like the Gandalf of the Harry Potter series. He's the only man whose power for good can really match Lord Voldemort's evil. And yet in book six, he's standing at the top of the astronomy tower.

He's weakened already. He's surrounded by his enemies, and he appeals to Harry's teacher nemesis, Severus Snape, for help. He says, Severus, please. And Snape kills him. And it's a completely devastating moment because we've never really liked Professor Snape, but we've hoped beyond hope that he was actually on Dumbledore's side, and now his betrayal of his mentor is complete.

It's only been in the last book of the series that we see how wrong we were when Harry dives into the Pensieve, the magical ball where you can see into other people's memories. And now we discover that everything that Snape has done has been driven by his passionate, hopeless, unrequited love for Harry's mother. We see Snape's anguish when Lily Potter is murdered by Voldemort. We see how he events forth, commits himself to Dumbledore. We hear Dumbledore telling Snape that he is dying from the slow workings of an irreversible curse and actually makes Snape promise to kill him when the moment comes.

And suddenly the meaning of Severus, please, is reversed. And right now in our cultural moment, when our non-Christian friends glance over at the Christian faith, they see a lot of things that look like Snape killing Dumbledore. They see a white-scented religion with a history of racism and scriptures that condone slavery. They see an anti-intellectual mindset and a contradictory Bible that's been disproved by science again and again.

They see homophobia and the denigration of women and a refusal to acknowledge that love is love. But I think just as when we understand more of Snape's story, we find that it's not a story of hate but a story of love, I think when we look more closely at each of these seemingly kind of devastating roadblocks to faith in Jesus, they actually become a signpost to Christ. And I should probably add, those are statements that you think are misperceptions about what, right? Yeah, I think they're misperceptions but they're ones that our non-Christian friends have, you know, some valid reasons for concluding that about Christians.

Yeah. But I think when they actually, if we can help them to look more closely, they'll find that things which they thought were reasons to not be followers of Jesus actually become reasons to be followers of Jesus. To be followers of Jesus.

Yeah, so let's spend a little time there. How has like defending the faith in our generation, how has that changed? Because I felt like when I was, you know, in high school and college, just three or four years ago, it was all about, you know, like proving the resurrection or proving that the Bible's contradictions weren't really contradictions.

How has it changed in our culture now? I think today, whereas a decade or a couple of decades ago, Christians would often not find themselves in conversations feeling like they were being judges sort of done for believing Christianity or deluded maybe, as Richard Dawkins wrote his famous book coming out of my country, The God Delusion. I think today Christians more often feel like they're seen as immoral by their non-Christian friends. So as you say, rather than the questions being mostly around, you know, is Christianity true or did Jesus really rise from the dead? Can I take the Bible seriously? Hasn't science disproved Christianity?

I think those those reasons are all still there and important, but actually that the front fill of conversations is often more, well, what about the history of racism? What about how Christians treat LGBT people? What about Christian views on sexual ethics, which today are seen as not only misguided, but actually harmful and morally dangerous? So I think that's where the conversations are more often at and where we as Christians need to have a more compelling apologetic. So one of the things I feel like we hear a lot is that Christianity is a white man's religion and basically it's attempting to colonize or it's trying to just reinforce cultural norms everywhere.

How do you respond to that? I think there are two major problems with the statement that Christianity is a white man's religion. One is that Christianity has actually always been majority female from the very first to the present day. The other is that Christianity has always been from the scriptures onwards a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multicultural movement. We see that in Jesus's own life. We see that when he commissions his disciples to make disciples of all nations.

We meet the first black Christian in the book of Acts, the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts chapter 8. We see in the book of Revelation that people from every tribe and tongue and nation worshiping Jesus together. So actually a core Christian ethic is love across racial and ethnic and cultural difference. And we see that played out in the global church today. People often associate Christianity with white westerners but actually today Christianity is not only the largest but also the most diverse belief system in the world with a essentially even spread of people from Europe, North America, South America and Africa. And with the church in China growing so fast right now that while it's currently the global center of atheism, experts think that by 2030 there'll be more Christians in China than in America and some experts even think that by 2060 China could be a majority Christian country. What's more by 2060 people expect that about 40% of the world's Christians will be living in sub-saharan Africa. So the global level it's indefensible to say Christianity is a white man's religion.

From the scriptures it's indefensible and actually if we look at America as well we find that black people in America are almost 10 percentage points more likely to identify as Christians than their white peers, more likely to go to church every week, to read the bible, to pray and to hold core evangelical beliefs. One of the experiences I've had, I moved here 13 years ago from the UK and in the UK evangelical Christians are a very sort of small, strange group from a cultural perspective. And you know married a guy from Oklahoma moved over here nearly 13.

I just want to make sure everybody caught that. Married a guy from a cowboy from Oklahoma. I married a guy from Oklahoma State University so an actual cowboy, legitimately a cowboy. And as I got to know, hear from him, his experiences growing up you know in a white church in Oklahoma and as I got to understand a little bit more of American history I found myself in a position a little bit like Harry Potter at one point in the series where he has always seen his father as a hero. So his parents died when he was a baby and in his mind his father is this total hero figure and his teacher Severus Snape who he hates and who hates him is always kind of guessing at Harry about his father and telling him that his father was really kind of a jerk and Harry just doesn't believe it at all. And then at one point in the series Harry ends up in Snape's memories and he sees his father actually bullying Snape horribly when they were both teenagers and he has this disorienting moment when he realizes that his his father legitimately was a jerk. He wasn't only a jerk he also did good things as well but his father really was a jerk and did do many of the things that he's been accused of doing and and I as a a white evangelical of getting my bearings here it's occurred to me that in many ways our forebears were jerks when it when it comes to race and that's just that's a sobering and a sad reality but I love this this other moment in in Harry Potter when he is is watching the the evil dementors like literally sucking the soul out of his godfather Sirius Black and completely out of nowhere from across the lake he sees this this guy casting the Patronus spell like expecto Patronum and this amazing Patronus charges across the lake and scares off the dementors and in the course of the story Harry comes to think that that was his dad because he looks like he can't really see the guy but it really looks like his dad so he thinks well there's somehow my dad has been able to conjure this Patronus and as the story progresses we find it wasn't Harry's dad it was actually Harry himself he had to go and cast that spell and do that thing that his dad couldn't have done and I think that the reason I feel hopeful for us is even as a white evangelical today is I think we have the opportunity to do what our parents and grandparents and great grandparents didn't do I think we have the opportunity to really model a consistently biblical ethic I think we have the opportunity to pursue racial justice love across racial and ethnic difference at the same time as we are upholding the the good biblical values in all sorts of other domains the good biblical values that we inherited from our forefathers but then being honest about the mistakes and where they were to use your terms where they were a jerk yeah yeah and say we want to redo that and do that in a way that that that really puts the cross on this yeah so Rebecca one of the things we hear about is being on the right side of history and tragically we look back in church history in the United States and we see that the church was on I don't say the wrong side of history but the wrong side of scripture when it came to racial discussions but you hear that now applied to the transgender and the LGBTQ plus revolutions and that sort of thing how would you counsel Christians in just this perception of you know hey we weren't saying what we should be saying in the in the civil rights movement and that's the same thing happening yeah yeah yeah well first as you point out the the problem with white Christian segregationists in the 60s and before wasn't that they were on the wrong side of history it was that they were on the wrong side of the scriptures the problem was that not that they were being too biblical but then they weren't being half biblical enough and I think that's created real problems for us here today both in terms of the the direct injustice that that has caused in American history with you know white evangelicals using the Bible to justify their racism but it's also actually contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now where folks will say the gay rights movement is the new civil rights movement and just as the the 60s segregationists used the the Bible to justify their racism and to oppose the integration of schools to oppose mixed-race marriages etc etc so Christians today are using the Bible to justify their homophobia this is sort of the logic yeah one of the things I remember from confronting Christianity is that while we as Christians believe the Bible teaches that same-sex romance same-sex marriage is is wrong we are pro same-sex friendship and we believe that there's non-romantic non-sexual friendships between people the same sex is an essential part of the of the Christian experience yeah I think honestly this is one of the the primary ways that we really need to go back to the scriptures because too often we have celebrated Christian marriage at the expense of Christian singleness now Christian marriage is a wonderful thing and Paul writes so beautifully about Christian marriage has been this this little picture of Jesus's love for his church so he has an incredibly high view of Christian marriage but he also as a single man has an even higher view of singleness I think often in in church culture we've acted like well marriage is really the ideal and then there are some sort of unfortunate people who for one reason or another don't end up getting married and that's okay but it's not the best and I think this can particularly be a message that the women in the church receive that you know your highest calling as a Christian woman is to be a wife and a mother but I think we need to reckon with the fact that the Bible also tells us that the singleness is a wonderful way to live as a Christian and that single Christians shouldn't be sort of outside the family unit but they actually should be intrinsic to the family unit because in New Testament terms the primary family unit is not the nuclear family it's the local church and I think one of the ways in which we need to have a cultural change within our churches that will benefit married people that will benefit single people that will benefit same sex attracted people that will benefit heterosexual people who who long for marriage and aren't married it will benefit those who've been widowed it will benefit those who've who've suffered who've suffered divorce all of these folks basically all of us whichever of those categories you're in we will benefit and we try to reclaim what the New Testament calls us to it gives us these this picture of us as one body not a whole bunch of different bodies but one body together it says we're like brothers and sisters it says we're like comrades in arms um Paul says he was among the Thessalonians like a nursing mother with her children he calls his friend Aneesa Mrs very heart we need to reclaim the the real intimacy that can occur and and should occur between Christians that isn't sexual isn't erotic isn't romantic but is is nonetheless a place of real intimacy when it comes to that issue of sexuality um that's very I mean one of the most poignant parts of confronting Christianity that was your own personal story in this how you reckoned with this and and how you felt in the church and if you're comfortable with it as as comfortable as you are I'd love for you to just share some of that story and what that process was like if you understand how the gospel spoke to you sure yeah yeah yeah so I as long as I can remember I've been a follower of Jesus and as long as I can remember I've been attracted to women primarily rather than men and so growing up this was something honestly that I thought I would grow out of I was like oh you know this is probably a phase that I'm going through not really sure what to make of it but like hopefully something that I'll grow out of someday um went off to college thought you know this is the time I'm going to start being attracted to the guys rather than girls uh immediately found that that wasn't the case um got into grad school and at that point I was like okay I can't really tell myself I'm just going to grow out of this anymore I'm like kind of a proper grown-up at this point and for a long time it just felt honestly like a a sad waste um it was something of which I was ashamed and it didn't seem to be doing anything useful in the world the fact that you know I'd find myself just falling in love with women and not with men um I ended up doing it somewhat to my surprise marrying a wonderful Christian man um and whereas I'd been very open with him about my um my struggles with same-sex attraction I hadn't actually talked about this to some even my closest Christian friends um so we moved over here 13 years ago and even for several years after that I wasn't talking with my friends it was only after gay marriage was legalized across America in 2015 and I felt a real it's like burning on my heart for wanting a better articulation of the the beautiful story of biblical sexual ethics to be told and it seemed to me that often churches weren't actually doing a good job of telling that story so folks were either saying you know what we're going to completely throw out what the Bible says about same-sex sexuality and we're going to affirm same-sex sexual relationships or they were saying you know what we're kind of going to double down on a culture wars mentality and double down on the ways in which Christians have have often like honestly acted sort of hatefully towards LGBT people and it broke my heart to see this and so I I felt like I wanted to be a tiny little part of the public conversation here but I hadn't even had those conversations with my closest Christian friends and the reason that I hadn't was that I was afraid that if if I was honest about my experiences of same-sex attraction that my my female friends would take just like a half step away from me and and that was a terrifying prospect for me as someone who you know longs for that connection and and I think for all of us whatever our struggles with sin are we'll find that if if our legitimate needs are not being met in healthy ways that's often one we're sort of most tempted to reach for for things that aren't unhealthy for us so I was afraid of that that sense of stepping half a step back what I came to realize was that actually by not talking about this issue for me I was actually taking half a step back away from my friends I wasn't giving them an opportunity to to meet me in this I wasn't giving them an opportunity to you know to be my my sisters to be able to speak truth and love into my life and I think one of satan's best weapons against us is convincing each of us that whatever our struggle with sin is that it's not something we can talk about to our close christian friends rebecca let me ask this how can evangelical churches be safe places for people that find themselves where you were those years ago I think it's really easy for us as christians to talk about the lgbt community out there and the church here as if these are completely separate communities when the reality is if we if we look at the statistics around the patterns of same-sex attraction it seems like about 14% of women and about seven percent of men experience some significant degree of same-sex attraction now interestingly only two two percent of men and one percent of women are exclusively attracted to those of their same sex so there's the category of folks like me women who are attracted to other women but not to the extent that they they couldn't be happily married to a man is actually the largest group of lgbt people by far and and we need to recognize that in our churches that means that a significant number of the folks who show up on a sunday or in your cell phone or in your home a significant number of the folks who show up on a sunday or in your small group or in your youth group or community this will be part of their experience and so i rather than always talking as if this is kind of an issue out there we need to normalize the fact this is probably an issue for many of my brothers and sisters in here and that i as an individual and we as a group need to be a place where where folks feel comfortable sharing their struggles um i think in in many churches it's easier to confess a pornography addiction than same-sex attraction now don't get me wrong i think it's really important that people are able to talk about their pornography addiction and get help from their brothers and sisters in christ but i think we've got things really messed up if we've sort of allowed that to be a conversation but we actually haven't created space for people who are struggling with same-sex attraction what do you say specifically to people because this is we hear this a lot that well you are asking me to deny myself when you know like god made me and i've got to love me as me the way that that i am how do you respond to that i would want to say yes jesus says that anyone who wants to follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him i think the call on same-sex attracted christians is to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow jesus i think that's actually also the call on heterosexual christians and if we've created church culture as a place where only same-sex attracted folk are making real sacrifices to follow jesus we've got some major problems on our hands right this is being a christian should be an experience of denying yourself but not in a way that ultimately means you lose out it's almost like you're saying that we've in general so dumbed down the call to repentance yeah it's like clean up a few habits when it really is for any of us heterosexual homosexual or anywhere on that spectrum you got to deny yourself and lay it all down yeah and you lay it down because jesus is giving you something better and by that i don't mean i think sometimes we can have a almost a prosperity gospel way of thinking where for example we might bring up our kids and say you know if you're a really good girl or boy and like don't mess around sexually then one day god's going to provide you with this perfect spouse and you have this like amazing you know sexually romantically fulfilled life for the rest of you know for the rest of your your days that's not a promise that we're given in the scriptures the promise that we are given in the scriptures is that anything we give up for jesus we will get the reward of jesus and that will be so much better than the thing that we could have had and we get we get tangible glimpses of how what it means to be close to jesus in his body today i love the biblical metaphor of the church as jesus's body because it means that when i feel the like physical embrace of a sister in christ if i'm going through a season of suffering in my life that's like in a tangible way that's the arms of jesus around me and if we're providing for and helping each other and listening to each other and caring for each other in the church we're experiencing jesus and and that's one of the things that i think all all of us need but i think especially those who are turning away from their own sexual romantic fulfillment to follow jesus i think those folks in particular need to feel the arms of jesus around them in the local church what would you say rebecca about um what does a faithful christian witness look like in a politically polarized time right now because um i know you're not a citizen of the united states that can vote but we just came through a pretty contentious election and it remains politically divided what's faithful christian witness look like now gosh so many so many thoughts on that one is i think we need to do what christians should be really good at doing and that's repenting i think that that's true when it comes as we've already talked about to the the treatment of black americans historically and even recently i think it's true when it comes to the ways that we've often failed to live up to biblical ethics and how we've treated lgbt folk so i think we need to have a a front foot of repentance but i i don't think it's the it's the kind of repentance that some people go for which is a repentance that actually ends up throwing the scriptures out i think it needs to be a repentance that that laps the scriptures up and one of the ways in which i see this sort of playing out tangibly is in the yard signs that people are sticking up around the place in my area and i think down down here as well where they'll say things like um in this house we believe that black lives matter love is love women's rights are human rights and then there are usually sort of two or three other claims that depend on the specific sign i think as christians we've often gone one of two ways with signs like that you know there are some fake who will look at that sign and they'll say i i know that it is an absolute like truth straight out of the scriptures that the lives of black people matter and that racial justice is super important and i've been told that these other claims are intrinsically tied up with that idea and so i want to take their yard sign and i want to hammer it into my own yard and embrace all of these things together i believe in science and i want to support rights women's rights or human rights and yeah exactly um and there are other folks who will look at those signs and say okay there are some things on that sign that i know the bible doesn't affirm and so i'm just going to knock it down i'm going to throw it all out and i don't know here anybody who has anything to say about any of these questions because i know you're like none of this is what christians should be saying yeah you're describing people in our church i feel like that's safe to say that we all kind of find ourselves gravitating toward one of those yeah we're sort of pulled one way or the other i think actually i don't want to say like let's get out a marker or a sharpie and instead of sort of hammering that that sign in or knocking it over let's let's think okay if we take the scriptures seriously what do christians affirm what do they not affirm within these no to be clear you're not suggesting they go into their neighbor's yard and i'm not suggesting that i'm using this sort of more as more as a metaphor and what we'll find when we do that is a that there are um fruitful ways in which we can actually build relationship with with folks um outside the church by saying you know what we may disagree about these things but actually i really agree with you on this and let's like build on that foundation and start a conversation there which will build trust and relationship on things that we we share we'll find other things we need to repent of and we'll we'll actually find as well that the very kind of moral soil in which these signs are planted is christian soil because the the idea that human beings are equally morally valuable the idea that the historically oppressed should be cared for rather than trampled on the idea that men and women are equal and the idea that unborn babies should matter and the idea of racial justice and equality and and unity all of these things actually supporting the sciences i mean you know right all of these come through us actually out of the bible and and if we take christianity out we're not left with a firmer secular foundation for the belief that all human beings are equally morally valuable we're actually left with an abyss you know when you're playing jenga and you you you pull that little block out you carefully sort of inch that block out from the bottom and then you can build a higher tower people think that you can sort of just let's like pull jesus out and then we'll make a taller sort of secular moral tower actually if we pull christianity out it's more like pulling the pin on a grenade the whole thing goes up in smoke there's a an atheist israeli historian called you will know harari he wrote this global bestseller called sapiens a brief history of humankind and one of the things he's clear about in that book is that christianity is the reason we think that human beings are equally morally valuable and he says when you look at something like human rights that is a figment of our fertile imaginations he says that homo sapiens have no natural rights just as chimpanzees hyenas and spiders have no natural rights so so when you come to the sign the vinyl sign that says women's rights are human rights well actually there's no such thing as human rights if we pull the ideas that christianity has given us out from underneath the the edifice we don't know that humans are made in the image of god anymore we don't know that women are equal in in value to men that wasn't a self-evident truth in the world into which christianity was born and then when we get to the the last claim that i look at in the book which is that the transgender women are women we find that actually if that statement is true if somebody who is a biological male but identifies as a woman is as much of a woman as i am we actually don't know what a woman is we have completely removed the essential definition of a woman from the term and all we're really left with is stereotypes so it's it's fascinating to me the ways in which especially the transgender thinking today is actually undermining many of many of the things that even are you know perhaps you have sort of secular feminist friends or even traditional gay and lesbian friends who would see some of the things that are being said by transgender activists today as actually quite undermining of of things that they've held on to and worked to build up and certainly from a christian perspective we need to recognize the ways in which some of the current conversations are kind of turning back on themselves and so i think it's going to be very interesting in the coming years to see how these conversations play out even amongst our our secular friends and how we as christians can speak helpfully into that heard a guy say one time that um back in the 80s um that really when he came to defending the faith the questions that we all dealt with was is christianity true what's the evidence that demands a verdict what what's the proof that jesus rose from the dead um the next kind of era was this this burden in the in the late 90s and early 2000s of showing that christianity was useful that it worked that it gave you purpose that it gave you fulfillment um more recently uh a lot of the when it comes to defending the faith the questions are is christianity just does it promote justice and even a little bit what of what you're getting at is it beautiful yeah and one of the things that in both confronting christianity and the new book that i had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of but the name i can't remember the secular creed the secular creed is that it showed that that christianity is not only just true it's also the answer to our longings for justice and beauty and meaning and purpose yeah yeah and so i just want to um i want to thank you rebecca because i i know that you know i was telling you this earlier that um god wrote the apostle paul's story in a very specific way so that he could could speak truth into the church of his generation at a particular time and i know you didn't have a damascus road experience per se but when i when i read your story and i read the struggles that god has allowed you to go through and the opportunities you have you know it is just very clear that god has raised you up as not just a witness to our generation but somebody that is supposed to teach a lot of us how we can relate and engage relate and engage with our culture and showing that the gospel is not just true it's the answer for our longings for meaning and purpose and fulfillment and beauty and justice so i'm in church you put your hands together and thank rebecca for being here with us hey you didn't know harry peter harry potter was going to be required reading for this message did you and by the way let me just acknowledge this i know that there are christians out there who are not big fans of harry potter are feeling uncomfortable with the curses and some of the imagery and we respect that here we really do but she regards it as a work of fantasy like the chronicles of narnia or lord of the rings both of of which were written by christian authors and utilized many of the same imaginative elements so we're going to try to respect that also okay and i urge you not to get hung up on that that is not the big point of all this confronting christianity is available at all of our in-person locations at the next steps area at least it was for a time i'm not sure when we will sell out of it but um if you can't get it there um all of her books can be found um on amazon or barnes and noble or anywhere that that books are sold um here's how i want to close this time together i think appropriately and that is by praying together um either by yourself or with the people that you came with this uh this morning um i imagine every single one of you at some point in that in that discussion we're thinking man i wish that was so and so we're here to hear that hear all of this why don't you spend the next few minutes praying for that person um why don't you pray you know for them specifically and ask god to empower you to be a witness and and to grant you the boldness to go through that door when god opens it not if he opens it but when he opens it um maybe maybe that door is going to be to invite them to to watch this interview with you later this week and then you take them out to to or something to discuss it so the question is who do you know that you want to pray for right now and if there's nobody in your life like that ask god to send you to somebody maybe you want to say god help me to speak more with truth and grace in fact let me just ask you to reflect which of those two comes more easily for you are you a speak with truth person or a speak with grace person if you're a grace person then ask god to give you the courage to speak truth because you know that you're not doing people any favors if you're not speaking truth i don't care how nice you are or maybe you're the opposite maybe you're good at the truth but i don't say you're kind of a jerk i know a lot of christians like that we always say they have they have um theological bo they may say the right things but they just smell bad um maybe the sense god needs to work love in your heart and patience for the people that you're concerned about it does you no good to repeat the words of christ if they come out with the spirit of satan um the greatest thing you can communicate about jesus is his tender love so maybe right now what you can do is ask god for either the courage to be truthful or the love to be graceful or let me just say this last thing maybe you're confused maybe a lot of that stuff in there is like and then those are the questions that i have why don't you this is bold why don't you ask jesus in these next few moments ask him right now say if you are real if you're real would you reveal yourself to me he's not offended by that i i'm not offended as the pastor of the church by you praying that in this place if you're real would you reveal yourself to me one thing i know deuteronomy 429 says if you will seek me and you will find me if you seek me with all your heart and soul let that process begin this morning okay so those are the things i want you to pray about over the next two to three minutes here again you can pray by yourself or maybe you can pray the people that you came with that would be better but if you're just uncomfortable with that then then pray by yourself okay so in the next two or three minutes praying and then i'll i'll um come up and i'll close us
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-07 13:25:34 / 2023-09-07 13:42:24 / 17

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