It’s here in the U.S., in the Western world more generally, where so much less is at stake that we offer up such pathetic reasons (at least I suspect God considers them pathetic) for not joining together with fellow believers on a regular, weekly basis. And almost all of the excuses are anthropocentric rather than Christocentric.
Paul gathers together three key terms here that most people don’t naturally think of as belonging with each other. Any one of them by itself is usually not enough. Two of them together are much better. But all three are necessary for a full-orbed personality of godly leadership.
The fairly newly coined term for such abandonment of apparent faith that seems to be most popular among those traveling that road is “deconversion.” Studies of deconversions find three fairly consistent factors or kinds of experiences that trigger such rejection of Christianity.
It is an amazing story. Before the fall of the iron curtain, only twenty years ago, there were no known Christians of any kind--Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox--in the little Soviet bloc country of Albania.
The NKJV said that in one of John’s visions he heard an angel flying through the middle of heaven crying out woes over the earth. But the NIV said it was an eagle that was flying, not an angel. How can this be?
Not long ago an unsolicited e-mail asked me to comment on a skeptic’s blogsite that had posted a list of about twenty “historians” from the Jewish, Greek or Roman worlds of around the time of Christ. Here are my thoughts.
If one can use Allah and explain what one means by it and this is a bridge for sharing Christian beliefs, by all means use it. If among a different group of people, it is inextricable from distinctively Islamic tenets, one may have to abandon it.
If we knew who those people were who had so hardened their hearts that they had committed what Jesus calls blasphemy against the Spirit (Matt. 12:32) so that God gives them over to their depravity (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28), we could stop praying for them, knowing it was pointless. But we don't have such knowledge.