Alex Crain

Editor, Christianity.com

bible_dusty600x300

“Jesus was always around people. He had a life full of relationships… What is fascinating
is that these relationships were not based on these people holding to the same theology
and doctrines as Jesus did. In fact, it's safe to say that
none of them believed like Jesus did.”
Mick Mooney: Jesus Didn't Care About Correct Doctrine, and Neither Should We

At HuffPost’s Religion Blog, author Mick Mooney recently posted a popular article with the intriguing title “Jesus Didn’t Care About Correct Doctrine, and Neither Should We.” Mooney’s title hardly squares with the actual… well, Bible, but he does make a valid point: Christians need to befriend people in every social sphere.

Christians who constantly isolate themselves from non-Christians are—plain and simple—not following Jesus. Maybe Mooney had this kind of self-centered, unfaithful-to-Jesus sort of Christian in mind when he wrote his article. Perhaps, Mooney has had a few bad experiences with dead or dying churches. That wouldn’t be surprising. Healthy churches are rare. But throwing out Christ’s vision of His church (which includes belonging to a local church) doesn’t solve the problem.

Yes, Jesus enjoyed people from all walks of life. He healed them, hung out with them, and—lest we forget—He also taught them. He knew His beliefs were 100% true. So, He invited everyone to join Him in His accurate view of God, man, sin, salvation, angels, the church, and last things—that’s doctrine. Doctrine has the unfortunate reputation of being dry, dusty, and divisive. But when Jesus said “The Scripture cannot be broken” in John 10:35, He was expressing His commitment to the foundational doctrine of Scripture’s inerrancy. When Jesus stood before Pilate and summarized His life’s mission, He didn’t say He came to befriend everyone. He said: “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

It’s tempting to take a few bits of information here and there that we like about Jesus and make Him into someone we want. But it’s far better and more authentic to embrace the record Jesus left about Himself in the New Testament.

Your Turn: Why do you think it's tempting to believe "Jesus didn’t care about correct doctrine?" Why do people fall so easily for statements like this?

Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com.You can follow him on Twitter @alex_crain.

What Does “Amen” Really Mean?

Jesus_stainedglass600x300

Over at the Ligonier Ministries Blog recently, R.C. Sproul posted a challenging little article on the word “amen.

We know it as a word commonly found at the end of prayer and during times of singing praises, but do we really understand what “amen” means when we say it? Most think it means something like “I agree.” But they do not associate the idea of authority or submission to the truth with the word.

Consider this quote from the article summarizing the point Sproul makes using a combination of biblical and historical proofs:

“This little word is one that is centered on the idea of the truth of God.
The expression “amen” is not simply an acknowledgment
of personal agreement with what has been stated;
it is an expression of willingness to submit to
the implications of that word, to indeed be bound by it,
as if the Word of God would put ropes around us
not to strangle or retard us but to hold us firmly in place.”
—R.C. Sproul What Does Amen Mean?

Related to Sproul’s focus on “amen” being a truth-oriented word, Sproul’s ministry (Ligonier) recently conducted an in-depth study of American beliefs. This study called “The State of Theology” has been assessed by Albert Mohler as profoundly important, showing clearly that Americans are deeply confused on what is true about God, the Bible, and just about everything Christian they profess to believe. For example, only 43% of those surveyed agree with the idea that the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches. This is an astounding departure from the words of Jesus Christ in John 10:35 “The Scripture cannot be broken.”

Recovering the true meaning of “amen” just may be one step in the right direction of restoring the high view of Scripture that all genuine Christians have had throughout history and ought to maintain.

Your Turn: Do you say “amen” with its true biblical and historical meaning in mind? Do American Christians seem unclear about what “amen” means?

Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com.You can follow him on Twitter @alex_crain.

MarsHillChurch600x300__Area_Map

Last Friday (Oct. 31, 2014), news broke that the multi-campus entity known as Mars Hill Church Seattle formerly led by Mark Driscoll would be de-centralized and ultimately dissolved. The official statement from Mars Hill leadership came from Pastor Dave Bruskas:

“Following much prayer and lengthy discussion with Mars Hill’s leadership, the board of Mars Hill has concluded that rather than remaining a centralized multi-site church with video-led teaching distributed to multiple locations, the best future for each of our existing local churches is for them to become autonomous self-governed entities. This means that each of our locations has an opportunity to become a new church, rooted in the best of what Mars Hill has been in the past, and independently led and run by its own local elder teams… our goal is to have the process completed by January 1st, 2015.”

“All of Mars Hill’s existing church properties will either be sold, or the loans on the individual properties will be assumed by the independent churches, subject to approval by the lender; all central staff will be compensated for their work, and then released from their employment; if any funds remain after the winding down and satisfaction of Mars Hill business affairs, they will be gifted as seed money to the newly independent churches, then, the existing Mars Hill Church organization will be dissolved.” (Read the entire statement here.)

Amid the typical negative comments buzzing about on various social media, it’s encouraging to see many interpret this turn of events as a positive move that will carry the mission of Christ forward. The departure of Mars Hill's lead teacher, Mark Driscoll, has obviously contributed to the breakup of the ministry. But for years, the multi-site model model of ministry has been eyed with suspicion as inherently flawed—a novelty lacking in both biblical support and historical precedent.

One pastor, Mark Dever, actually pled with Mark Driscoll in this video conversation demonstrating that NT churches are meant to be independent and autonomous, not multi-site. Driscoll argued back not a little. Does the Mars Hill breakup validate the correctness of Dever’s view? Well-known pastor and author John MacArthur also echoed Dever’s critique of the multi-site “video church” model and implored Christians not to support it in our 2011 Skype interview with him on Christianity.com.

Recently, a multi-site pastor in Raleigh, J.D. Greear, offered an interesting counterpoint to Dever and MacArthur in his 4-part defense of the multi-site church model. “The multi-site model can be messy,” Greear writes.“As with all large churches, size creates lots of cracks that people can fall through. Growth from evangelism always invites chaos and disorder into the church. Is the alternative to just “not grow?” How is that a better alternative?”

Your Turn: What do you think? Does the dissolution of Mars Hill signal the breakup of more multi-site churches? Is the multi-site model a patently unbiblical approach to church ministry?


Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com.You can follow him on Twitter @alex_crain.

trial-of-the-apostle-paul600x300-nikolai-k-bodarevski

“While we certainly must turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love our enemies when faced with personal offenses (Matt. 5:38-48), we must not assume that defending ourselves—strenuously and sometimes even defiantly—before the governing authorities is inconsistent with being a follower of Jesus or antithetical to the propagation of the gospel.”
– Kevin DeYoung, “Is It Wrong for Christians to Defend Their Rights?

“The times, they are a changing,” Bob Dylan sang nearly 50 years ago. But where the times have ended up is that pastors in Houston are now being subpoenaed to surrender their sermons to the mayor’s office and wedding chapels are forced to conduct same-sex services under legal threat.

In light of the changing times, Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition calls upon Christians to embrace the Apostle Paul’s approach to using the courts in his day to demonstrate and defend the social good of following Christ. Regardless of whether our defense effectively prevails, we should seize every opportunity to proclaim the gospel.

Based in the book of Acts, here are 4 points about Paul’s defense that DeYoung calls us to consider (summaries & quotes included after each point):

1. Paul had reason to give a defense. Much of the opposition to Paul was due to slander and misinformation. People were ready to believe the worst about Paul (or ready to make up the worst about him). Paul saw no problem with taking advantage of opportunities to clear up wrong ideas held by others.

2. Paul was eager to give a defense. – While it’s true that no one should, or even can, defend himself against every opponent, every injustice, or every hurt, “every” is not the same as none.

3. Paul’s defense was often ineffective. Yes, he had truth on his side, but truth doesn’t always win out in a court of law, let alone in mob rule. This should be acknowledged in advance.

4. Paul used his defense as an opportunity to preach Christ. Time after time, when put on trial, Paul found a way to talk about the resurrection of Christ, about faith and repentance.

Finally, consider this noteworthy quote from Kevin DeYoung’s article:

Paul was willing for his life to be cut short if the work of the gospel could go on. But so long as the gospel itself was maligned, misrepresented, and unfairly marginalized, he wasn’t about to submit himself to slander or surrender a single civic right. He would keep preaching the Christian gospel. He would keep on defending the religious and legal legitimacy of the Christian faith. And he would not believe for a moment that the two tasks were aimed at different ends.

Related to this topic, pastor Eric Redmond addresses the timely question on the minds of many in this short video: "Should Christians be invovled in politics?"

Your turn: Are you and your church prepared to defend your rights as a way to proclaim the gospel? Join the discussion in the comments below.


Alex Crain is the editor of Christianity.com

  • Editors' Picks

    Humanum Conference at The Vatican
    Humanum Conference at The Vatican
  • Why the Church Must Start Talking about Domestic Violence
    Why the Church Must Start Talking about Domestic Violence
  • Don't Think of Church as Your Own Spiritual Power Bar
    Don't Think of Church as Your Own Spiritual Power Bar
;