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Legalizing Marijuana: Should Christians Puff or Pass?  

June 30, 2014
by Matt Walker
 

TIME Magazine just published an article by Jack Linshi concerning the growing recreational use, legalization, and distribution of marijuana in America.

Linshi writes, “The World Drug Report found that as laws in the U.S. have relaxed toward marijuana, prices for the herb have dropped [and] far more people have begun to partake.” He continues, “Washington State and Colorado recently legalized pot for recreational use, numerous states allow it for medical use, and residents in other states — New York, Alaska and Kentucky, among others — are working to legalize various forms of marijuana use, and legalization has become a staple in youth discourse and liberal politics.”

So the question for us as believers is, “Do we puff or do we pass?”

 

 
Same-Sex Marriage Continues to Make Inroads into the Church  

June 22, 2014
by Matt Walker
 

The tsunami we know of as the same-sex marriage agenda that has swept across America redefining our culture’s traditional stance on marriage is beginning to barrel over the American Church. Indeed, we see this within a number of denominations including, but not limited to, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church of the USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and the list goes on.

 

 
Fathers and Their Children's Faith  

June 16, 2014
by S. Michael Craven
 

I am afraid that our culture in general has reduced the role of fatherhood to something nonessential or unnecessary. Even many men regard parenting as being primarily the mother’s role, especially when it comes to spiritual formation. However, a rather obscure but large and important study conducted by the Swiss government in 1994 and published in 2000 revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values.

 

 
The Transgender Tipping Point  

June 9, 2014
by Matt Walker
 

Those involved in the transgender movement are stridently working to systematically dismantle the concept of gender identity—to dismantle this self-sameness and internal cohesion. The Bible distinctly teaches that God created humans as holistic beings united as both body and spirit. Indeed, the Scriptures state that even in heaven believers will have gloriously redeemed physical bodies. In contrast, pro-transgender revisionists hold the pagan view that the body is a container that the soul is poured into. Therefore, they wrongly conclude that either God has mistakenly put an opposite-gendered spirit into the wrong body or that the body is not the real person—that only the spirit is real.

 

 
The Paradox of Emily Letts' Positive Abortion Story  

May 27, 2014
by Matt Walker
 

In recent weeks the story of Emily Letts’ abortion video, which was produced with the intention of relieving people of their moral guilt after choosing abortion, has gone viral.

Letts is an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, which is where she had her abortion. After her abortion video won the “Abortion Care Network’s Stigma Busting” video contest, it spread to news outlets nationwide.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Heather Wood Rudulph, Letts was asked why she filmed her abortion.

“I searched the Internet, and I couldn’t find a video of an actual surgical procedure in the clinic that focused on the woman’s experience. We talk about abortion so much and yet no one really knows what it actually looks like,” Letts said. “I could have taken the pill, but I wanted to do the one that women were most afraid of. I wanted to show it wasn’t scary – that there is such a thing as a positive abortion story.” She goes on to say that her abortion was the right thing to do because it was right for her.

Although Letts’ response sounds as though she is fully convinced that this was the “right thing” to do, other nuances within her response tell a different story.

 

 
Matt Walker to Join Battle for Truth!  

May 13, 2014
by S. Michael Craven
 

I am happy to announce the addition of Matt V. Walker to our staff. Matt is an insightful Christian thinker, social critic, theologian and cultural apologist who shares my commitment to intelligent and winsome engagement with the broader culture.  More importantly, Matt shares my passion for equipping the church to do the same. I believe our partnership in this ministry is providential and I earnestly hope that you will give Matt the same support and consideration (along with “challenging” feedback) that so many of you have faithfully given me over these last thirteen years.

 

 
Spending This Christmas or Spending It Well: Resisting Consumerism  

December 2, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Christmas season is once again upon us and with it overwhelming encouragement from Madison Avenue to spend what we have not earned to buy what we cannot afford. The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday (indicating the point at which retailers are in the black—or at least hope to be), signaled the start of the “holiday shopping season.” That very phrase reveals the commercialized emphasis that has come to define Christmas for many Americans. If that wasn’t enough, we now have “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday,” the latest allurements to the altar of consumerism.  The thrust of this consumerist message is that the holiday is most fully realized through the acquisition of “things.”

 

 
Giving Thanks to God: A National Good  

November 25, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we, once again, approach this national day of “thanksgiving” I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nation’s long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to the Almighty God. On October 3, 1789 George Washington issued the nation’s first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day for giving thanks to that “great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be….”

 

 
Would You Give Up Everything for the Kingdom?  

November 14, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is the question, of sorts, I recently posed to a local businessman. As I indicated in my previous commentary, I have embarked on an enterprise that I believe offers a modern example of what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to “seek first the kingdom” (Matt. 6:33).

 

 
What Does the Kingdom of God Actually Look Like?  

November 4, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

For years now, I have been writing about the kingdom of God—in theory—trying to challenge, teach, and encourage Christians to recover and live out this essential dimension of the gospel. By God’s grace, I believe the church is beginning to awaken and more and more Christians are beginning to understand that the “gospel” is less about going to heaven and more about the redemptive rule and reign of God coming to earth.

Recently, I have launched a joint-venture with an inner-city ministry in what may be my most ambitious project ever, and I believe it offers a powerful opportunity to display the kingdom in a visible, tangible way to God’s glory.

 

 
Christians in America: Out of Touch and Out of Reach  

August 26, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to a report produced in 2013—“Christianity in its Global Context, 1970–2020: Society, Religion, and Mission"—researchers at the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, offer a timely overview of the changing demographics of Christianity and Christians’ activities over the past forty years.

In summary, missiologist Todd M. Johnson and his team found that 20 percent of non-Christians in North America really do not “personally know” any Christians. Christianity Today points out, “that number includes atheists and agnostics, many of whom are former Christians themselves and more likely to have close Christian contacts. Without that group, 60 percent of the non-Christian population has no relationships with Christians” (Emphasis mine). This despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans self-identify as Christians.

 

 
Moral Insanity: California's Transgender-Student Bill  

August 19, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to Associated Press reports, “California has become the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.” Additionally, The new law gives students the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender” (Emphasis mine).

At first glance you might be compelled to respond in anger or even disgust but when filtered through the lens of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, I submit that we may want to respond differently.

 

 
The Russian Demographic Crisis: Resisting the Influence of a Sexualized Culture  

August 8, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past July, Russian president Vladimir Putin ignited outrage among the (primarily Western) pro-homosexual community by signing into law a ban on homosexual adoption. The new law also prohibits adoption by single parent households. Only a few days before, Putin also signed into law broad prohibitions against “gay propaganda,” which included provisions that allow “the government to arrest and detain gay (or ‘pro-gay’) foreigners for up to 14 days before they would then be expelled from Russia” (“Russia's Anti-Gay Law Will Impact Foreign Tourists, Possible Olympic Athletes: Report,” Huffington Post, 7/11/2013).

While these latter measures are no doubt draconian, they nonetheless represent a growing realization within Russian society, namely: sexual anarchy has proven devastating to the future of their civilization.

 

 
Why Is Christianity Losing in America: Living Out our Faith through the Cross  

June 17, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

If Jesus commands us to “seek first the kingdom” then it is imperative that we know more precisely what this means. If the kingdom is as the Bible describes, the rule and reign of God come to earth through Jesus the King over all other kings then this reality carries enormous implications for how we are to live and act as faithful followers of Christ.

 

 
Why Is Christianity Losing in America: Becoming Citizens of God's Kingdom  

June 12, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

When I write “Christianity is losing in America,” of course I don’t mean that God or, by extension, his kingdom is failing. The kingdom of God comes in force unlike anything else in creation. Every other kingdom, whether the kingdoms of men or the kingdom of darkness, inevitably fails—no matter how powerful they perceive themselves to be. But the kingdom of God continues to progress until the day of consummation when Christ returns.

It is the present form of Christianity—uniquely influenced by American culture—that is failing precisely because it has been enculturated with ideas foreign to the kingdom of God and the good news of the kingdom. In essence, the American church has succumbed to the lure of personal peace and affluence—elements of the American dream.

 

 
Why Is Christianity Losing in America?  

June 3, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is the question with which all serious Christians must wrestle. To think that Christianity is thriving in America simply ignores the obvious and overwhelming facts of our times. Much like the century preceding the Protestant Reformation and subsequently the Catholic Counter-Reformation, the church was in a dark and desperate period. In its general understanding and representation, Christianity had drifted from its mission and biblical foundations—and the results were devastating.

Similarly, the church in America today has also drifted from its biblical mission and the result has been a church largely divorced from its kingdom purposes and therefore increasingly irrelevant to people living in the real world. At the heart of our present dilemma is our diminished understanding of the gospel, namely the gospel of the kingdom.

 

 
Practical Unity: Living Out the Words of Jesus to 'Be One'  

May 13, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

It’s easy to talk about “unity within the church” as long as we’re talking in the abstract. However, what do you do when a Christian brother or sister offends you or sins against you? Do you “write them off” and go your separate ways? I submit this is often the easier choice, but Jesus and the standards of his kingdom rule do not permit us to do so.

 

 
God as Father  

March 4, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

Anyone who has been a Christian for almost any length of time understands God as “our Father.” Having received salvation at the age of twenty-one, I, too, understood the concept of God as Father but it wasn’t until last year—at the age of fifty-two—that I truly began to understand the fatherhood of God beyond the abstract.

 

 
How Institutionalism Breeds Division  

February 25, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

Every organization requires rules in support of order, discipline, and efficiency—and the church is no different. We, too, have rules that aid in the organization and operation of the church. (There is always some measure of institutionalization required in the church.) In addition, we have established other rules that aid in the understanding and practice of the faith such as creeds, confessions, statements of faith, doctrinal statements, and so on. These are helpful guides to what we believe. What they don’t say is what we don’t believe. These conclusions we may draw by implication.

 

 
How Institutionalism Inhibits our Expectation of the Supernatural  

February 18, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

By reducing our conceptions of the church to an institution or organization to be managed, there often follows a decreased expectation of the supernatural in the affairs and activities of the church and, by extension, the individual Christian. Rather than seeking results beyond our human schemes and expectations, we find ourselves managing the church as an enterprise in which results can be forecast and progress measured using metrics common to modern business. The watchword becomes “measurable results,” without which an activity is deemed unworthy of pursuit or, if implemented, unsuccessful. Lost is the concept of faithfulness to our Lord and the principles of his kingdom, which may not always yield success in terms visible to us.

 

 
What is Institutionalism and How Does it Affect the Church?  

February 12, 2013
by S. Michael Craven
 

Prior to Constantine, the church, although organized, was less institutional and more communal or organic. In other words, the outside world didn’t think of “the church” as that building on the corner. Instead they thought of a community of people who were distinct in both their conduct and character, the overarching characteristics being their love for others, compassion toward the needy, and joy-filled lives. The early Christians lived with hope and shared their hopeful vision of life and a world made better by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. These Christians saw the world through Jesus’s tearful eyes, seeing that things were not as they should be. This vision would shape their mission and purpose as they worked to bring the redemptive power of Christ and his kingdom to bear on every aspect of life and society. These Christians, through reliance upon God, would change the world!

 

 
Sandy Hook Elementary: Searching for Answers  

December 17, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

The brutal and senseless murder of twenty-seven people—including twenty children—at Sandy Hook Elementary has left the nation once again stunned and looking for answers. Beyond the obvious element of evil, we are all wondering, “What can possibly motivate someone to commit these heinous acts of violence?” “Why are such scenes becoming more and more frequent?” And, “What is the cause?” I would like to offer one plausible explanation, which reveals a growing social, psychological, and spiritual condition, the product of a determined worldview and its resulting culture. I would add this same worldview will leave its adherents wanting as they struggle to understand the horror of last Friday’s massacre. However, if addressed, I believe this social reality could be changed and hopefully inspire “meaningful action,” to use President Obama’s words, capable of actually reversing the conditions that may be breeding this growing number of deranged killers.

 

 
$pending This Christmas or Spending It Well  

December 3, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Christmas season is once again upon us and with it overwhelming encouragement from Madison Avenue to spend what we have not earned to buy what we cannot afford. The thrust of this consumerist message is that the holiday is best enjoyed or most fully realized through the acquisition of “things.” Advertisements bombard us with images of bountiful Christmas scenes in which beautiful packages surround the tree, and “happiness” is realized upon the receipt of this or that consumer product. Credit card issuers alone spend more than $150 million on holiday advertising and promotions. According to financial advisor Dave Ramsey, “over 50 percent of Christmas shoppers will spend well over what they planned to and will go further into debt.”

Of course this consumerist philosophy—rooted in the notion that making more money, which enables you to buy more things, will necessarily result in greater life satisfaction and happiness—is a pervasive message year-round in America. Recent studies show...

 

 
To Which Voice Are You Listening? � Part II  

November 19, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

One of the ways we can determine whether or not we are listening to the voice of God versus that other voice is to examine the four foundational relationships in our lives that the gospel is redeeming: our relationship with God, ourselves, others, and creation.

 

 
To Which Voice Are You Listening: Choosing Life or Choosing Death?  

November 12, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

Just recently I was teaching one of our Truth@Work groups on the topic of “Developing Your Personal Integrity Principles.” The goal was to lead our members in a process to determine and establish the principles by which they will respond to future challenges and opportunities. Of course, the principles being sought were those that best capture the biblical perspective.

In the course of this exercise it occurred to me that we are often planning and trying to choose a way that best aligns with biblical principles. On the surface this may seem easy but I submit that what we often perceive as the biblical way is often nothing more than the worldly way dressed up in piety and justified by familiarity and personal experience. What we often fail to do is listen for and hear the voice of God. Instead, we reason, evaluate, and decide based on what seems right but in fact may not be consistent with life lived under the rule and reign of God...

 

 
The Latest Pew Survey: Christianity Losing, Secularism Winning  

October 15, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is clearly the implication of the media reports following the latest Pew Research, “Nones on the Rise,” which shows a “steep decline” in the number of Americans who self-identify as Protestant, coupled with a “significant jump” in the number of those who now claim “no religion.” The secular devotees in the media seem hardly able to constrain their delight over the prospect that Christianity is disappearing in America.

Trying to spin this in such a way that the Christian faith appears culturally vital in the U.S. is a little like putting lipstick on a pig; but concluding that Christianity is losing and secularism is winning isn’t quite accurate either.

 

 
ANNOUNCING BIG CHANGES!  

October 8, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

As most of you are no doubt aware, I haven’t published a commentary for some time. The reasons for this are several. First, my son, who is a US Marine, has been fighting in Afghanistan for the last six months. This has taken a far greater toll on my family and me than I ever imagined possible; I personally found myself struggling to focus on anything other than his day-to-day safety. Thankfully and by God’s good grace he has left the battle zone and is safe and doing well.

Additionally, as I discussed last November, the Lord has led me to focus more on the intentional task of whole-life discipleship. This emphasis on discipleship has had a dramatic impact on the ministry choices I now make. However—and more significantly—this past summer has been one of tremendous change within the ministry itself, as we have seen the need to better clarify our identity and mission in light of this new emphasis. To begin with, we are changing the name of the ministry from the Center for Christ & Culture to Battle for Truth. Allow me to explain...

 

 
Have Christians Assumed a �Slacktivist� Approach to Their Faith?  

April 22, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

Slacktivism, a term coined in the mid 1990s, refers to the increasingly popular phenomenon of casual activism that is so easily accommodated by the Internet. Critics argue that slacktivists will eagerly click “like” on an issue or cause on Facebook and passionately promote it but do little or nothing in terms of meaningful activity that actually makes a difference. I wonder if this same passivity is not present in large order within the church today.

 

 
On Love and War: A Father's Struggle with Sending a Son to War  

March 19, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past Wednesday, I sent my twenty-year-old son to war. As a father I am filled with a multitude of emotions. On the one hand I am incredibly proud of the young man my son has become—a man committed to duty, honor, and country—but on the other I fear for his safety. While there is the potential to romanticize these virtues under the rubric of nationalism or militarism, this would be improper. The proper foundation for exalting these as true virtues lies in the biblical concept of love as revealed in Christ Jesus. 

 

 
Opiate of the Masses?  

January 23, 2012
by S. Michael Craven
 

Ever since Karl Marx penned his denunciatory statement on religion in 1843 (paraphrased above), secularists, social progressives, and other opponents of religion have worked to convince us that religious faith is an outdated relic of the past whose inexplicable (in their view) existence remains only by means of a stubborn, unenlightened, and uneducated lower class. However, recent studies seem to suggest that ignorance is the greatest factor in irreligiosity whereas the more educated tend to remain religious.

 

 
Women, Stop Submitting to Men  

January 9, 2012
by Russell D. Moore
 

Those of us who hold to so-called “traditional gender roles” are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true. Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive.

First of all, it just isn’t so that women are called to submit while men are not. In Scripture, every creature is called to submit, often in different ways and at different times. Children are to submit to their parents, although this is certainly a different sort of submission than that envisioned for marriage. Church members are to submit to faithful pastors (Heb. 13:17). All of us are to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). Of course, we are all to submit, as creatures, to our God (Jas. 4:7). And, yes, wives are called to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). But that’s just the point. In the Bible, it is not that women, generally, are to submit to men, generally. Instead, “wives” are to submit “to your own husbands” (1 Pet. 3:1).

 

 
Giving Thanks: A National Tradition  

November 21, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we, once again, approach this national day of “thanksgiving” I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nation’s long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to Almighty God.

On October 3, 1789 George Washington issued the nation’s first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day for giving thanks to that “great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be….”

President Washington gave under his official hand the following words...

 

 
My Ministry Dilemma  

November 14, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

I have been writing my weekly commentaries for nearly ten years now and I remain amazed and humbled by the scope and audience the Lord has granted. This has been and continues to be an important expression of my work and ministry and I pray God has used my simple words to encourage the faithful, challenge the backslidden, bring clarity to the confused, and equip the unprepared. However, for those of you who have been following my ministry for at least the last couple of years, you know that I have recently added a new ministry direction. I have felt for some time that the Lord was leading me to focus on the intentional task of whole-life discipleship. Therefore...

 

 
Are Christians Contributing to Unbelief?  

July 22, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

If Americans remain so staunchly religious (and research proves we are) then why do books such as Hitchens’s God is Not Great or Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, as well as many others challenging faith, seem to be gaining popularity? Why are so many Americans who evidently claim to believe in God and describe themselves as having religious faith buying books attacking the existence of God? These are important questions for the church to grapple with and not ignore.

 

 
Why Should We Redeem Society?  

July 15, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

It seems necessary to address why and even if Christians should be involved in redeeming society and culture. There are many who deride such activity as being a diversion from the “real” work of the church, which in their minds is nothing more than articulating the personal plan of salvation (or “gospel,” very narrowly understood). However, I would counter by saying that such a distinction is more accurately rooted in pagan dualism than scripture. Platonism divides reality into two spheres: the material and the nonmaterial—with the nonmaterial, or spiritual, being superior.

 

 
Fathers: Key to their Children's Faith  

June 13, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

Study Reveals: If a father does not go to church—no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions—only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper. If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). One of the reasons suggested for this distinction is that children tend to take their cues about domestic life from Mom while their conceptions of the world outside come from Dad. If Dad takes faith in God seriously then the message to their children is that God should be taken seriously.

 

 
The Myth of Over-Population  

June 6, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

Perhaps one of the most persistent and pervasive myths that have shaped the thinking of many people and, subsequently, public policy is the myth that the world’s population is spiraling out of control and that it will ultimately lead to catastrophic shortages of the essential resources necessary to sustain life.

 

 
Memorial Day Remembrance  

May 27, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is astounding to consider that the most powerful military force in the history of the world is comprised entirely of volunteers! These are men and women who have, by their own free choice, set aside their personal freedom and dedicated themselves to serving a higher purpose: justice and liberty.

 

 
For My Mother  

May 7, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

For those mothers who are discouraged by the spiritual state of their children, take heart; I bear witness to the fact that the Lord can and does respond to the prayers of a grieving mother!

 

 
The Glorious Power of the Resurrection  

April 17, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

For those mothers who are discouraged by the spiritual state of their children, take heart; I bear witness to the fact that the Lord can and does respond to the prayers of a grieving mother!

 

 
Bad News for Planned Parenthood, Good News for Parents  

April 11, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to a study released last month by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), sexual activity among teens has dropped dramatically. This information corroborates another CDC report released just last week showing that teen birth rates have reached their “lowest levels in nearly 70 years!” That's the good news, now the bad news...

 

 
Democracy and the Role of America in the Middle East  

April 4, 2011
by S. Michael Craven
 

Is our present foreign policy in the Middle East being driven by a naiveté that unwittingly identifies with “revolutionaries” and “rebels” as kindred spirits? Are these revolutionaries in search of the same thing sought by our founding fathers? Can Islamic societies even conceive of liberal democracy in terms of freedom for all? Are we even asking these questions and if not, how can we determine whether or not military intervention is appropriate?

 

 
With Thanksgiving...  

November 21, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Those who know me know I love this season above all others and that for me, this season begins with our annual trip to the family farm for Thanksgiving. This a beautiful place among the rolling hills outside Brenham, Texas, that has been in my wife’s family since the 1840s. Each Thanksgiving we gather to give thanks and celebrate, among other things, the wonderful gift of family. My children have never known a Thanksgiving apart from the farm. This year however we will not be making our annual pilgrimage. As I write this, my wife is with her mother in San Diego as she slowly passes from this life to the next. Compounding the grief associated with her passing is the absence of our oldest son, Tyler, as he is halfway around the world serving in the Marine Corps.

 

 
Political Reflections  

November 7, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Personally, I am delighted to see that the alarming shift toward European-style socialism has suffered some measure of arrest. Americans, in large majority, appear committed to the constitutional idea of limited government (at least for the moment). However, the results also reveal the very limited and temporal nature of politics. It was, after all, only two years ago that the nation went in the opposite direction. The Bush administration was a reaction to the Clinton administration. In 2006, Americans hired the Democrats in response to Republican policies. Before that, Republicans were given the Congress in 1994 in reply to the Democratic Party’s agenda and so on it goes. And through it all we have seen the slow and steady demise of our moral and spiritual values. In other words, the culture has remained unabated in its downward trajectory,

 

 
Stupid Is As Stupid Does  

October 4, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is said that the test of true ignorance is our inability to recognize our own ignorance. (Or, in the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.”) According to the latest Pew Research, it seems that American Christians not only lack basis knowledge essential to the Christian faith, they also don't seem to know what they don't know. As a result, the once robust historic Christian faith is being lost to "pop" Christianity, which has no serious theological distinctives and which none seem required.

 

 
Loving Your Neighbor ( Beyond Theory)  

September 17, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

For the past several weeks I have been attempting to outline a Christian response to Islam, Muslims, and the politically contentious issue of the “Ground Zero” mosque. I think—given the many critical responses to my series—that we easily embrace the love of neighbor in theory but struggle when it comes to actual practice, especially when that “neighbor” represents a social, cultural, or political offense. What I have heard repeatedly is concession to the biblical admonitions to love our neighbor followed by “but…” when it comes to Muslims. This is a conditional love that struggles to separate the abhorrent ideology of radicalized Islam from Muslim people and Jesus doesn't make his command to love, conditional.

 

 
Politicized and Polarized: Why Christians Don't Love One Another  

August 16, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Okay, I knew it was going to happen. I even prefaced last week’s commentary on public education by granting the fact that “this is a dicey issue that can get you into a lot of trouble very quickly.” However, my appeal was couched in terms of inviting examination of the issue from a thoughtful Christian perspective (given education’s enormous role in shaping our children) and “wrestling” with the answers—honestly and intelligently—because our faith demands serious self-examination when it comes to our engagement with the changing world around us. The reaction was disappointing. My concern is not so much with the fact that some folks assumed a different view of the topic but with the manner and content of their disagreement.

 

 
Revival: What it is and why we need it!  

July 16, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Revival is a seemingly old-fashioned word that conjures up numerous definitions, some of which have little to do with authentic revival, or “times of refreshing” sent from the Lord as described in Scripture. To aid in defining what I mean when I reference true, biblical revival I want to draw from one of the most important modern documents written on the topic, An Urgent Appeal—To Christian Leaders in America for Consensus and Collaboration on the Biblical Nature and Hope of Corporate Revival.

 

 
Thoughtless Faith  

July 7, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Do you sometimes struggle to engage with unbelievers? Do you feel ill-equipped to dialogue with those who reject faith in Jesus Christ? There is an important book that offers an excellent example of one such engagement, entitled Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? (InterVarsity Press, 2006). Coauthored by Preston Jones, assistant professor of history at John Brown University and a Christian, and Greg Graffin, an atheist punk rocker (Graffin also has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology), the book chronicles the discussions between these two disparate personalities as they wrestle with life’s most challenging questions from two opposing worldviews.

 

 
Study Reveals: Fathers are Key to Their Children's Faith  

June 16, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

A rather obscure but large and important study conducted by the Swiss government revealed some astonishing facts with regard to the generational transmission of faith and religious values. In short, the study reveals that “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.”

 

 
Memorial Day Remembrance  

May 28, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Each year, high school baseball players across the country who are homeschooled compete for a few coveted spots in the Homeschool World Series. Our son’s team made it all the way to the national championship game last year—his senior year—in Pensacola, Florida. It was a special end to a wonderful season in our life as a family. With the incredible growth of homeschooling, commensurate athletic programs have followed, providing homeschooled students an even richer educational experience. This is no “powder puff” program. The Homeschool World Series, which began in 2000, boasts an impressive alumni. Many former players have gone on to play at the collegiate level and some have even gone on to play in the Majors. However, there is one young man in particular, who stands above them all: Ryan Adam Miller from Pearland, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

 

 
Pluralistic Ignorance and the Need for Community  

May 21, 2010
by GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Carolyn McCulley
 

It's the oldest dialogue known to families: "But, Mom, everybody's doing it! Why can't I?" To which parents routinely reply with a variation of the common-sense retort: "Well, we're not everybody. And if everybody were jumping off a bridge, do you think I'd let you do it just because they were?!" Lemming behavior patterns call for wise guidance. A recent study of the social and sexual behavior of college students called this thinking "pluralistic ignorance."

 

 
Where Girls Are Men and Men Are Scared  

May 17, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

In my last commentary I stirred controversy by suggesting that we were losing our sense of duty and that this was reflected in a growing disdain for or indifference to self-sacrificial service, especially related to military service. Well, I want to continue to stir this pot, not because it gives me pleasure but because we’re beginning to scratch the surface of a significant problem that is adversely affecting our culture and, by extension, the church.

 

 
Losing Our Sense of Duty  

May 10, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Today, we live in a culture in which men (in particular) are no longer encouraged to “do their duty,” to serve something greater than themselves and certainly never at risk to themselves. So many today are so self-indulgent that to serve one’s country through military service is thought to be foolish—a task due only to the poor and uneducated among us, those poor souls who either can’t afford or lack the academic merits to go to college. This kind of elitism is alive and well in this country, especially among the more liberal who are all too happy to have someone else’s son or daughter defend their freedom. My wife and I have encountered it frequently, however I was shocked to encounter it from other Christians!

 

 
A Missionary to America  

May 2, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

In the late 1990s, while working as the president and CEO of a large company in Dallas, the Lord began to redirect the focus of my life into what would become this ministry that today consumes my being. I distinctly recall being so burdened by the state of the church and its growing irrelevance in American life and culture that I would find myself awakened in the middle of the night weeping! I must admit that I was perplexed, pleading, “Lord, what is happening to me?”

 

 
The Cowardice of Noncompassion and the Sin of Indifference  

April 26, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

In my last commentary I wrote about the tragic death of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old Massachusetts girl who hanged herself after months of relentless and cruel bullying. In that article, I addressed the mass indifference to Phoebe’s persecution, in which no one appeared willing to come to her defense or stand in opposition to her tormentors. I referred to this as the “cowardice of noncompassion.” Recently, I have encountered another kind of cowardice of noncompassion within the church, which hinders the church’s mission and undermines our witness in the world.

 

 
Bullied to Death - The Failure of Modern Moral Education  

April 12, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

God judged Israel on how they treated the poor and defenseless. Dick Keyes, the director of L’Abri Fellowship International and author of True Heroism, goes even farther by saying the way a nation treats the defenseless “is God’s barometer of the moral quality of a society." There are two issues at stake in the rise of bullying that reveal the “moral quality” of the forthcoming society: the brutality of those doing the bullying and the “cowardice of noncompassion” by those who stood by and did nothing to help the victim. 

 

 
Who Are The Poor?  

April 5, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

Last week I wrote how Israel’s neglect of the poor was a central offense against God that led to their Babylonian exile and that we, too, have neglected those in need in our own times. This neglect, I argued, has led to increased government intervention. However, we need to go further by asking, “Who are the poor among us?” While the Israelites were guilty of neglecting the materially poor—and we no doubt have done this as well—Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett make an important contribution that serves to expand our conceptions of poverty in their book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself.

 

 
Health Care Reform: The Beginning of Babylonian Captivity?  

March 26, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

With the passage of health care reform, we have initiated the largest expansion of government in the history of this nation. While the full implications of this law are not yet fully realized, we can be certain that America has crossed a critical boundary that promises to fundamentally change this nation forever—and not necessarily in a good way. At the moment, it may be easy to blame this condition entirely on the current political administration. However, as Christians we are compelled to examine ourselves individually and corporately. Asking, “Have we done anything (either by commission or omission) that might have contributed to the preconditions that led to such radical social and political change?”

 

 
Your Church is Too Small: Recovering a Biblical Ecumenism  

March 8, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

When the church, according to Jesus, is living in visible relationship with each other, it is then that the world will know that God the Father has sent the Son. Is this not the desire of every faithful, gospel-centered Christian? This why I recommend an important new book, Your Church is Too Small by Dr. John H. Armstrong. In doing so, I join with Dr. Packer in saying, I hope this book will not be ignored but will have the influence it deserves. Aspects of North Americas futureaspects, indeed, of the honor and glory of Christ in this centurymay well depend on whether or not it does. Click on the link above to learn more...

 

 
Blind Sided by the Gospel  

March 1, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

My family and I recently saw The Blind Side, the surprise blockbuster movie that tells the remarkable story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher. Michael’s story is a true-life tale of nearly hopeless beginnings, the generous love of neighbor, and redemption; it is a powerful representation of the gospel of the kingdom.

 

 
Kingdom Project: Ground-Level Application of the Christian Worldview  

January 25, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

After more than eight years of writing, teaching, and speaking on the subject of Christian worldview from an academic level, I now feel it is time to roll up my sleeves and personally begin to help others apply these principles so they can both experience personal transformation and become transforming agents themselves. Thus I am launching a new initiative called KINGDOM PROJECT, a discipleship/training program to help Christian business/institutional leaders discover how their vocational gifts and their enterprises can tangibly advance the kingdom of God.

 

 
American Idol: Distorted Dreams and Grand Illusions  

January 18, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

A poll by the Pew Research Center reveals that “eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds…said getting rich is their generation’s most important life goal.” The second most important, according to the survey: being famous.” Described as the “millennial” generation, 51 percent listed being famous as the second most important life goal! A Gallup Panel survey of 18- to 29-year-olds found that 55 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “You dream about getting rich.” Anecdotally, one only has to watch the latest season of the hit series American Idol, which began last week, to realize that many in this generation are obsessed with fame and fortune to the point of radical self-delusion. I’m not criticizing the show; I actually like it. I delight in seeing those who actually do have talent realize their dreams. However...

 

 

 
A New Year, Renewed Purpose  

January 11, 2010
by S. Michael Craven
 

The holidays have ended and it is time to once again leave behind the fun and fellowship so unique to this wonderful time of year. I confess that for me this is hard, especially this year when our oldest is away from home serving in the Marine Corps. However, as much as I may want to remain within this psychological and spiritual refuge I cannot nor can any of us. While the temptation may be to remain in permanent retreat or seclude ourselves from the world, we simply cannot if we love Christ. It is into this fallen world with its warring forces that we must return as soldiers in the Lords army.

 

 
The Case of Hannah Overton  

November 30, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

In Corpus Christi, Texas, where my parents live and worship, the Christian community was rocked two years ago by the shocking conviction of Hannah Overton. In an outrageous series of events, this gentle thirty-year-old Christ-follower, wife, and homeschooling mother of five was sentenced to life without parole in the death of Andrew Burd, the four-year-old child that she and her husband were adopting from the foster-care system. By every account, the justice system not only failed but also may have actually crossed the line into willful misconduct, resulting in an unimaginable nightmare for the Overtons.

 

 
Thanks Giving: A National Tradition  

November 23, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we, once again, approach this national day of thanksgiving I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nations long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to Almighty God. On October 3, 1789 George Washington issued the nations first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day for giving thanks to that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.

 

 
The Secret War Within the Church  

November 9, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

There are many factors that contribute to the demise of marriages within the church, but there is one in particular whose virulence and force is made worse by our isolation and indifference to community: pornography! This sin grows in its influence and effect through secrecy and there is perhaps no greater secret sin in the church than the habitual consumption of pornography.

 

 
Hope for the Future  

October 19, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

It has become all too easy for Christians to fall into a state of pessimismeven despairover the state of our culture today. This is understandable in light of the last fifty years. So, is there reason to hope that anything will change? Can the tide of immorality, paganism, and general debauchery that threatens to swamp us even be arrested, much less reversed? I believe history offers numerous examples where God, in his providence, has done so, in particular...

 

 
The Kingdom Comes Forcefully  

August 24, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

In response to my article regarding my son's departure for the Marine Corps, I heard from service members who were grateful for my article because they had long struggled with whether or not their military service was compatible with serving the kingdom of Christ. In response, I feel cannot let this pass without trying to assuage those concerns and encourage those men and women who serve in our armed forces as well police officers, firefighters and all first responders who confront and sometimes must employ violence in the service of humanity.

 

 
Sending Our Children  

August 17, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

The day I have long dreaded has finally arrived. My oldest and only son, Tyler, left for the Marine Corps this morning. For the next thirteen weeks, he will be going through basic training (boot camp) in San Diego. We will not be able to communicate with or see him until his graduation in November and then only for a few days until he ships out again. This will be a challenge for his mother, two sisters, and me, as he has always been an enormous personality and presence in our home.  

 

 
Proclaiming the Gospel by Caring for Our Elderly  

July 27, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

In an effort to answer the demand for practical steps by which the church can demonstrate its essential witness-bearing love for one another, there is perhaps no greater opportunity emerging than that of caring for the aging saints. 

 

 
Love Believes All Things  

July 20, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

I now want to take up Pauls charge that love believes all things. Once again, Paul is speaking about our relationships within the body of Christ. Paul is not calling for a foolish gullibility. However, being guarded against the possibility of being taken advantage of is not correct either. If love believes all things and love is our motivation, then suspicion has no place. If one has a need and we are able to meet that need, we do so without any expectation (see Matthew 5:41). You may be taken advantage of; you may suffer a loss. You may even look foolish to the world for doing so. So what? We serve one another without qualification in obedience to Christ. 

 

 
This Beautiful Mess  

July 9, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is the title of a compelling book by Rick McKinleybut it also describes the church quite well. It is here that we see the beautiful mess, albeit more mess than beauty today. The beauty emerges as a people once teetering on the edge of destruction are brought by grace into a new life together in Christ. As we have established, this life togetherin essence our love for one anotheris essential to the witness of the church and the proclamation of the gospel. Practically speaking, though, what does this love look like? 

 

 
Community and Evangelism  

July 6, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

Apparently some might have perceived that I was suggesting Christians abandon personal evangelism in last weeks article. Certainly not! Let me also say I am not offering absolutes here. I am, like Christians have throughout the ages, seeking to understand and best express the mission of the church in light of our changing cultural and social reality. 

 

 
To the Class of 2009  

June 1, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

The goal of learning, wrote the great Christian poet Milton, is to repair the ruins of our first parents. I challenge you to make this your goal as you pursue higher education. Use this time to gain wisdom, to better understand the culture in which you live, and form a consciously Christian understanding of life and reality so that you may serve Gods redemptive purposes in the world.

 

 
If You Build It, They Will Come Ecclesiology  

May 18, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

In our ongoing analysis of The Coming Evangelical Collapse we must inevitably examine what I call the new ecclesiology or doctrine of the church. I say new because there has been a shift in how we understand and define the church, so much so that the institution itself is being redesigned and much of its life reoriented. 

 

 
Generational Drift & Decay  

May 11, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

Over the last century the church in America has suffered serious generational drift and decay. In every subsequent generation over the last century, the faith has become more fragmented, watered-down, superficial, and irrelevant. We have drifted from a vibrant faith rooted in the historic confessions, coherent theological convictions, and intelligent cultural engagement to a privatized faith that is indifferent to the past, theologically ignorant, and culturally irrelevant.

 

 
The Coming Collapse of Evangelicalism  

May 4, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

This was the title of a recent article by popular blogger Michael Spencer (aka Internet Monk) published in the Christian Science Monitor. The article received widespread media coverage, resulting in a potential book deal and hundreds of speaking invitations for the author. Within hours of its online posting, I received dozens of e-mails generally asking, Have you seen this? In the weeks following, there were countless references to this article on radio and in print. I have rarely seen such a swift and sweeping reaction, which begs the question, What was it about this fatalistic statement that generated so much reaction? 

 

 
Discerning the Answers  

April 27, 2009
by John H. Armstrong
 

In John 1:3550 Jesus interacts with Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathaniel in calling each of them to follow him. This passage is full of importance for the modern apologist/evangelist. Each of these four men is at a very different place. The approach Jesus uses with each man, as he calls him to come into a community where they will begin following and trusting him as the Messiah, is quite unique in each case.

 

 
Doing Apologetics in a New Context  

April 20, 2009
by John H. Armstrong
 

I have argued that the cultural context in which we do apologetics and evangelism has radically changed and will likely continue to change even more with each passing year. The regnant position of modernism has been eclipsed by a new social and cultural reality, a reality that we call postmodernism or hyper-modernism. Along with this cultural change the role of the church within the culture is changing every year. The goal is to always be the same: to make obedient disciples of Christ who are true worshipers. The evidence for the change I am writing about is overwhelming. But many are still unaware, blissfully or otherwise.

 

 
Demonizing the Rich  

February 16, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

In the wake of our current financial crisis, the most popular scapegoat is quickly becoming the wealthy in America, inspiring class warfare reminiscent of Marxist socialism. The neo-Marxist philosophy that is emerging in the wake of our present economic crisis threatens to displace the best economic system for human flourishingfree market capitalism. 

 

 
ReThinking Evangelism: The Lessons from Grapevine Faith  

February 9, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

As you have probably heard, the Grapevine Faith football story continues to gain national attention and Kris Hogan, head coach of the Faith Lions, even received an invite to the Super Bowl from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. More importantly, the actions of the Grapevine Faith fans and players continue to reap kingdom rewards far beyond what anyone could have ever imagined. This is the transforming power of the gospel, properly expressed! This story challenges everything wemodern Christianshave come to accept about evangelism and the mission of the church in the world.

 

 
Uncompromised Faith is Here!  

February 2, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

I can hardly believe itUncompromised Faith is finally and officially published! In a process that began more than two years ago, it is frankly overwhelming to finally hold this book in my hand. I know that authors are supposed act like this is no big deal; after all, its what authors do: we write. But for me it is a big deal because this is my first book and more importantly it serves as a powerful reminder of Gods abundant grace and mercythat He might condescend to use me. It is humbling

 

 
Football Fans & Missional Christians  

January 26, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

Today, when we speak of recovering the missional purpose and nature of the church, we naturally draw upon the Bibles account of the first-century church. However, recovering the churchs missiological purpose should not be understood as an attempt to replicate first-century Christianity in our time. Our times are dramatically different, especially given Christianitys unrivaled influence over the last two thousand years. Thus our cultural context in no way compares to that of the Roman Empire. Our challenge, then, is to appropriate the mission of the church (which never changes) to our current cultural context. This is not an adaptation of the gospel message in order to be relevant but rather an adaptation of how we express the gospel relevant to the culture we are trying to reach.


I can think of no more radical example of this than that which took place this past fall on a Friday night in Texas...

 

 
What Missional Looks Like  

January 19, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

The fundamental distinction of the missional church is one that begins with a particular Christian community that is focused on and lives for Gods purpose in the world. On this point, some may say, Of course, arent all churches focused on Gods purpose in the world? Not necessarily.

 

 
What is the Missional Church?  

January 12, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

Recently, a reporter from a Christian journalwriting on the topic of the missional churchasked me What is your definition of the word missional? This seems to me a very important question, especially if, as some scholars suggest, a proper recovery of this concept may hold the solution to the crisis within the North American church. Its so important that its answer may provide the foundation for the reformation of the church in Americanamely who we are and the purpose for which we exist.

 

 
Let Us Resolve: A New Year, A Renewed Faith  

January 5, 2009
by S. Michael Craven
 

More than two millennia ago, the prophet Jeremiah warned the Israelites that the prophets and priests were falsely proclaiming that all is well saying, They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). We, very much like the Israelites have also been lulled into believing that all is well within the church.

 

 
Confusion & Compromise: Restoring the Next Generation  

November 17, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

I received many responses to last week’s article, Marriage Survives! Can it Endure? Some revealed the very problem I was addressing: the next generation, including many Christians, are either confused or compromised on the issue of homosexuality and, by implication, biblical authority. The following dialogue with a young Christian reveals a great deal about what this generation knows about Scripture and the diminishing authority of Scripture in their lives. This dialogue, I hope, models an effective way of engaging younger Evangelicals on this and other "hot-button" issues.

 

 
Marriage Survives! Can it Endure?  

November 10, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

In a momentous turn of events, Proposition 8 (California's Marriage Amendment) passed! Similar measures passed overwhelmingly in Florida and Arizona, bringing to 30 the total number of states that have amended their constitutions in order to protect marriage from special interest revisions. However, these political victories will be temporary if we do not strengthen the cultural understanding of and commitment to marriage. There is a distinct difference between politics and culture, .... Politics always follows and reflects cultureit does not create culture. So how do we create a culture that exalts marriage?

 

 
Have We Become Unfit for Democracy?  

November 3, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

John Adams warned more than two hundred years ago, We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (Emphasis mine.) In other words, it is moral knowledge informed by religion that best serves to restrain destructive human passions and enlighten the electorate, thus rendering them better equipped for governing themselves. Given the recent decline of this moral knowledge, the question must be asked: Have we grown unfit for democracy?

 

 
Being Light in the Midst of Financial Darkness  

October 27, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

As I discussed last week, the first step toward freedom from consumer debt and financial profligacy is a transfer of trust in financial security (a fallacy) to trust in the Sovereign God. Once freed from dependence upon temporal things, we togetherthe Body of Christcan seek first the kingdom (Matt. 6:33) rather than remain isolated in the illusory construction of our own individual enterprises that can crumble in an instant. Might the looming financial downturn (to be optimistic) or economic meltdown (to be extreme), offer the church a unique opportunity to bear witness to a watching world?


 

 
In God We Trust?  

October 20, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is an ironic fact that this phrase appears on our currency when so often it is money (or financial security) and not God that we trust in first. In these uncertain economic times, the tendency of our frail flesh is to be fearful. However, if the church is to be a faithful witness in such times this, fear must be replaced by confident faith in the sovereign God who causes all things to work together for good. It was only by Gods merciful grace and providence that I was delivered from this very same fear and dependence upon the things of this world and it is this story that I wish to share.

 

 
The Financial Crisis: Lessons on the virtue of thrift  

October 12, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

In the wake of an unprecedented $700 billion bailout plan passed by Congress, many are asking, How did this happen? While there is plenty of blame to go aroundmuch of which rests with reckless politicians and avaricious profiteersmany of us still dont fully comprehend exactly what has happened. All most of us know is that the stock markets are all over the place and there is real potential for a widening financial crisis. I dont claim to be a financial expert or economist; however, economics are not so much the source of this debacle as is a fundamental shift in values, namely, away from the historic Christian virtue of thrift.

 

 
Islam, Secularism and the Gospel - Conclusion  

October 6, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Last week I demonstrated how secular humanism as a worldview fails because it doesnt deal with reality. This manifested failure has ushered in the postmodern era, in which Westerners, having lost confidence in the secular story of the world, are floundering. Cynicism and relativism have followed (and often hopelessness), resulting in a careless approach to lifes great questions. Unfortunately, in the wake of this void comes Islam, which secularism can neither persuade nor resist. The predominant representation of the (reductionist) gospel we now see in the West is, I would argue, similarly ineffective. Through neglect, cultural accommodation, and historical indifference, the Christian faith in the West has been largely reduced to a few doctrines of self-interest.


 

 
Islam, Secularism and the Gospel - Part II  

September 29, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

In last weeks article, I pointed out how Great Britain, through incremental concessions to Muslim demands, is sowing the seeds of its own subjugation. As to the cause of this civilizational suicide, Europe rendered itself impotent long ago when it traded its Christian philosophical foundations for that of secularism.

 

 
Islam, Secularism and the Gospel  

September 22, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

While Britons may think of America as its juvenile and impetuous offspring, Great Britain has surely become our senile grandmother. Through repeated acts of self-condemnation and political correctness, the British are systematically capitulating to all things Islamic. In essence, our British forbearers are committing cultural suicide. In what may appear to be deferential considerations to their growing Muslim population, British authorities are slowly conforming to the demands of an increasingly outspoken and violent minority.

 

 
Higher Education: Excellence but no Soul  

September 15, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Another school year has begun and an estimated 15 million young men and women will be pursuing studies at the college and university levels. However, this may not be as beneficial as we have historically believed higher education to be.

 

 
Miss HIV: A Film to Change How the World Sees HIV/AIDS  

September 8, 2008
by John Jalsevac
 

Rarely do I feature a guest commentary, however John Jalsevacs review of the extraordinary documentary film, Miss HIV is so important that I thought I would be doing my readers a great service in sharing his insights. I have tried to edit Mr. Jalsevacs piece for brevitys sake without reducing its substance.

 

 
Contextualizing In and Not Of  

August 25, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Responding to the conclusion of my series In Defense of Marriage, there were some who expressed concern that I was advocating capitulation or withdrawal from the culture, which, of course, I am not. I appreciated the thoughtfulness with which many of you responded and the gracious manner in which you expressed your disagreements. This is healthy andlets be honestwere not dealing with essential doctrines of the Christian faith, so there should be room for disagreement, debate, and discussion. That is precisely what I hope to encourage. Otherwise, we can remain blindly entrenched in old patterns of thinking and conduct that render the church and its message irrelevant as the culture around us changes. The faithful Christian will always wrestle with the execution of his calling in a changing cultural context (see 1 Cor. 9:22).

 

 
From Political Pessimism to Gospel Hope  

June 30, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

I am amazed at the level of pessimism among so many Christians that I encounter. I think this may also be a product of too much reliance on politics. This is, after all, the pressing concern of the population whose frustrations center mostly on the failed expectations of their political leaders and government: the economy, the war, fuel prices, and so on. Add to that concerns over the moral direction of the nation, and the church often appears indifferent or defeated. There is a cure for this pessimism...

 

 
Christians, Politics, and the Fate of the Nation  

June 23, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

In this heightened political season, there are many, including some Christians, who believe the fate of the nation rises and falls on the outcome of Novembers presidential election. That is not to say that politics and elections are inconsequentialthe nation prospers from good leaders and suffers from the ineptbut are government and political leaders really the hope or ruin of a nation?

 

 
Being the Church in a Time of Troubles  

June 16, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

It was into the sexually immoral environment of the first century Roman world that Christians would bring forth a radically different sexual ethic. The concern for the Christian today is that unlike our early brothers and sisters, the church all too often appears similar to the surrounding culture. This is especially true among the forthcoming generation. Knowing this, what hope does the church have of restoring the dignity of marriage? We must reclaim the subject of sex by giving our young people a comprehensive theology of sex...

 

 
A Time of Troubles  

June 9, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

The famous historian, Arnold J. Toynbee observed that civilizations arose in response to some set of challenges of extreme difficulty prompting creative minorities to devise solutions that would reorient the entire society. When a civilization responds to challenges, it grows. Conversely civilizations declined when their leaders stopped responding creatively or with wisdom. Toynbee points out that in the wake of an inadequate response, the civilizations in question then sank owing to either nationalism, militarism or the tyranny of a despotic minority. It seems we, as a nation, have sunk to the level in which a despotic minority is in the process of reorienting our entire society, that minority being those who advocate a natural and now constitutional right to homosexual behavior. Recent decisions in California and New York demonstrate that the line in defense of traditional marriage continues to erode.

 

 
To the Class of 2008  

June 2, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Adolf Hitler once said, It is the luck of rulers when men do not think. The writer of Proverbs underscores this truth by saying, Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse. (2:12) This begs the question; what role does the intellect and scholarship have in our faith? What role does a consciously Christian education play in seeking first, the kingdom?

 

 
Expelled: Exposing the Darwinian Paradox  

May 12, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

The thing which most offended critics and reviewers of Ben Steins film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, was his attempt to link Darwinism to the Holocaust. It is here, in the area of moral philosophy, that the Darwinian paradox is revealed. On the one hand, modern Darwinians posit that the universe is the result of impersonal, amoral, natural forces while on the other denying this undermines objective moral standards. However, the Nazis understood what modern Darwinians do not; if you reject the Creator you cannot hope to live within the safety of the Creators rules. It is either Gods loving law or the law of the jungle.

 

 
Hope for a Christian Renaissance?  

May 5, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Two years ago I wrote that we may be seeing the first signs of what could be a new cultural renaissance in Italy. Recent events in Italy seem to indicate that this "renaissance," if you will, has not only continued but may be gathering momentum. Could this indicate the revival of Christian influence in Europe?

 

 
The High Cost of Immorality  

April 21, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

For more than five decades, self-proclaimed experts and so-called sexual reformers have worked to advance the belief that there are no public consequences to private sexual behavior. And Americans, for the most part, have bought into this notion, proving what Lenin said, A lie told often enough becomes the truth! However, first-ever research reveals the fallacy of this notion and quantifies the high cost of immorality in America to be more than $112 billion each year!

 

 
In Pursuit of Community: What Can We Do?  

April 14, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

If Christians living within a distinct community is an essential witness to the mission of God, and because so many of us seem unwilling to surrender the independent self, and since our present understanding and expression of this community falls painfully short; what can we do to remedy this situation? What hinders this community is NOT a weakness of the institutional church and its leadership but rather the radical individualism of its members. This is not simply a matter of concern over sporadic church attendance or mediocre participation in the church potluck dinner; this is a central underlying principle, which nullifies the witness of Gods people and opposes the redemptive mission of God! 

So, I am asking you: What practical steps can churches and individuals take to foster and promote a healthy, distinctively biblical, and witness-bearing community? Contribute your ideas at the end of this article.
 

 

 
The Church in Post-Christendom: Recovering the Mission of the Church  

March 31, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

As Americans, we enter the church with nearly overpowering individualistic inclinations. As a result, we are failing to fulfill an essential part of Gods mission because we fail to demonstrate the reign of God within the authenticating community of faith that is distinct from the world. If we dont get this right, our service will remain indistinguishable from any other and our proclamation of the risen Christ will appear shallow and without basis.

 

 
The Church in Post-Christendom: Understanding the Good News  

March 24, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

As I wrote in the first part of this series, the church of Jesus Christ is not the purpose or goal of the gospel, but rather its instrument and witness. This brings us to our second question: What exactly is the churchs mission?In order to answer this adequately, we must first accurately define the gospel or good news. I say accurately because I think many Christians, particularly in our highly individualized culture, have come to view the gospel as simply the personal plan of salvation. The modern emphasis tends toward fixing the sin problem in terms that are entirely personal. However, the Scriptures speak in a more comprehensive way that goes beyond the private version of the gospel that we know in the West.

 

 
The Church in Post-Christendom  

March 16, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

In the age of Christendom, the church occupied a central and influential place in society and the Western world considered itself both formally and officially Christian. So when we speak of post-Christendom, we are making the point that the church no longer occupies this central place of social and cultural hegemony and Western civilization no longer considers itself to be formally or officially Christian. This clearly represents an historic change in the cultural context into which the Western, and specifically American, church is now attempting to carry out its mission. This raises two fundamental questions: What does this new cultural context mean for the church and its mission? And, what exactly is the churchs mission?

 

 
The Unrelenting Culture of Life  

March 10, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is much talk today about the culture of death and certainly there are powerful forces emanating from competing worldviews that predictably foster such conditions. These worldviews have driven us as a culture to legitimize abortion, consider euthanasia, and proceed to cross a whole host of bio-ethical issues as technology advances. However, these worldviews, in which the value of life and human dignity are diminished, inevitably encounter a most formidable obstacle: natural revelation.

 

 
The "Oprahfication" of Eastern Mysticism  

March 3, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

As orthodox Christianity continues to ebb in the Western world there follows a spiritual vacuum and as it has been observed, nature abhors a vacuum. At present this spiritual void appears to have found its latest alternative to Jesus Christ in the convoluted and ambiguous world of New Age religion.While this may conjure up images of incense, crystals, and Shirley MacLaineor associations with flower haired hippiesthis new spiritual movement, which is anything but new, has acquired a most powerful and influential advocate: Oprah Winfrey.

 

 
Is Loving Our Neighbor Merely a Means to End?  

February 25, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

Do good works and loving our neighbor necessarily have to include a direct gospel proclamation to be worthy, or is it enough to love our neighbor as ourselves and trust the Lord to assign our part in His redemptive work? By not getting this right, we may inadvertently be creating obstacles to the missio dei.

 

 
They Love Jesus; They Don't Like the Church  

February 18, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

This appears to be a growing sentiment among many younger Christians in America today. They love Jesus but they want little to do with His Church. Its not that they dont like the their local church or even other Christiansits that they dont like how Christianity in America is frequently represented by many professing Evangelicals, which in their minds is often unloving, judgmental, arrogant, and hypocritical. What concerns me most is that this reaction among young evangelicals is fraught with peril as are all reactive movements.

 

 
The Culture War is Over: We Lost!  

February 11, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

I have come to face this possibility along with its implications, most recently while reading the new book by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why it Matters. In the book, Jud Wilhite, a pastor in Las Vegas says just that, In Las Vegas, where I live, the culture war is over. We lost. Let me repeat: WE LOST. Now our calling is to love and accept people one-on-one, caring for them where they are. Our role is subversive as we carry the light and love of Jesus into the casinos, clubs, and streets of our city.

 

 
Christianity & Islam: Two Worldviews and Why They Matter  

January 28, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Islamic worldview fails to correspond with reality at every point, producing less than adequate results in every standard by which we measure personal, social, and economic well-being. So, why does this matter? And, what is the Christian response?

 

 
Sex Ed: Education or Propaganda?  

January 21, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

The last four decades have seen a significant shift in the philosophy behind sex education in Americas public schools. Prior to the sexual revolution, human biology and reproduction, hygiene, and marriage were the focus of sex education. In essence, this approach was grounded in particular moral virtues, namely biblical. The new emphasis seeks to eliminate these traditional moral distinctions. Instead the students choice is given the supreme moral authority and the goal of these curriculums is to merely aid in the safest expression of the childs choice. However, more and more, modern sex education programs are becoming nothing more than publicly funded platforms for legitimizing homosexuality and other deviant and unsafe behaviorspro-homosexual propaganda presented under the guise of tolerance and diversity.

 

 
Chemical vs Spiritual  

January 14, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official diagnostic manual used by mental-health professionals, defines depression as two continuous weeks of such symptoms as despondency, diminished pleasure in life, and difficulties in sleeping and eating. In the manual, it doesnt matter why a person is despondent. If youve lost your job, or your romantic partner dumped you, or youve been given a diagnosis of cancer, youre still deemed clinically depressed if youre "sad" for two weeks or more. This might account for the recent 300 percent increase in Americans diagnosed with depression.

 

 
Art as Prophetic Proclamation  

January 7, 2008
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is the role of the Church to preach the gospel. What the Arts provide is a medium for cultural formation that can promote the plausibility of the gospel story. Literature and film, in particular, shape the stories of our culture and our stories help shape our conceptions of reality. If our literary traditions are dominated by nihilistic hopelessness then society becomes less hopeful. If however, our literature includes themes of redemption and messianic saviors then the story of the true Messiah rings true.

 

 
Willow Creek's Confession  

November 26, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Recently, Willow Creek published the results of their 2004 congregational survey entitled, Reveal: Where are You? The surprising results required the studys authors, including executive pastor Greg Hawkins, to tell senior pastor Bill Hybels that the church isnt as effective as wed thought.

 

 
Giving Thanks, Again  

November 19, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we, once again, approach this national day of thanksgiving I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nations long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to Almighty God.

 

 
Politics, Religion, and Evolution: The Three Don'ts  

November 12, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

I have written many articles over the years often addressing controversial issues, some of which have provoked strong reactions. However, no other subject so provokes as the suggestion that Darwins theory of evolution is false. In my recent article, James Watson is Not a Racist; Hes a Darwinist! I commented on the recent statements of noted scientist and evolutionist, James Watson. You may recall that Watson suggested that black people were inherently less intelligent due to their stunted evolutionary development. As I pointed out, Watson was simply speaking in a way that revealed the ethical dilemma of Darwinism in which morality as we understand it has no place. True to form, the evolutionists were outraged.

 

 
A More Excellent Way  

October 22, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

What does it mean when we call Christians to engage the culture? Is cultural engagement even necessary to the Christian life? And, if so, just exactly how do we engage culture?

 

 
Are Christians Contributing to Unbelief?  

October 8, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Could it be that our own actions are causing the religiously-inclined but nonetheless lost to doubt the existence of God? Is it possible that the Church is pushing people toward unbelief by virtue of its approach to culture and the world? Has Christianity become so politically defined that true faith and the person of Jesus Christ is obscured in the minds of many? Is it possible that Christians are conducting themselves in such a way that the spiritually seeking are looking anywhere but to Christ? I dont know for sure but I certainly think it is possible and that is enough to make me examine my self in light of these questions. It should cause us all to examine ourselves.

 

 
Can thinking Small Change the World?  

October 1, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to Mark J. Penn, author of Microtrends , "the most powerful forces in our society are the emerging, counterintuitive trends that are shaping tomorrow right before us In fact, the whole idea that there are a few huge trends that determine how and the world work is breaking down.

 

 
Between Two Extremes: Liberalism & Fundamentalism  

September 24, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The latter half of the 20th century has seen the emergence of two extremes in the and its relationship to the culture – liberal revisionism on the one side and conservative fundamentalism on the other. Both, I contend, have hindered the work and ministry of the Church. One renders the Christian faith meaningless while the other makes it irrelevant.

 

 
What is Normal?  

September 17, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is a subtle and sinister shift underway in our culture that is redefining the basis of humanity dignity and what it means to be human. The Judeo-Christian basis for human dignity rests on the belief that since all men are created by and equidistant from God they are therefore of equal worth before God. However, this aforementioned shift in thinking seeks to establish a new basis for human dignity that is cut off from this theological and religious foundation. Secular society still seeks to uphold human dignity however set adrift from its religious moorings there follows a serious crisis in the structure of societys beliefs and its ability to uphold an equitable and true basis for human dignity.

 

 
Redefining Heroism  

September 10, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Despite ample evidence that fame, fortune, and beauty fail to bring lasting peace and satisfactionin fact, often quite the contraryAmericans are more celebrity-obsessed than ever. Whereas we once prized honor, integrity, virtue, courage and the like; we now prize fame, fortune, and beauty and thus the celebrity serves as the ideal modern hero. Our values have changed, which in turn changed our heroes and how we define heroism. Subsequently our stories have changed as well. Instead of inspiring a generation to aspire to human excellence in the moral virtues, we are indoctrinating children in secular humanist propaganda over and against biblical truth. Perhaps telling schoolchildren the story of the Good Samaritan would better serve the needs of society than the story of Heather has Two Mommies.

 

 
Finding Community  

September 3, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

There has been a profound loss of community in American life, including within the Church. A study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona found that in 1985, every American had an average of nearly three close friends. Today, every American only has an average of two close friends they can confide in. Approximately a fourth of the people who were surveyed responded they had no close friends at all and the number of people who say they have no one to talk to about important matters has more than doubled. Americans, in general, are increasingly isolated and lonely. Herein lies a real and tangible opportunity for the Church to bear witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

 

 
NASAs Moral Failures: A Clue to Culture?  

August 20, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

There has been a rash of scandals, moral failures, human errors and the like coming out of NASA in the past year. Do these failures within our most ambitious human project ever conceived reveal something about our culture? I think they do. Is it possible that we as a society are losing our ambitious energy that has heretofore driven us as a nation to explore the great unknown and that this is the source of NASAs recent failures and the publics apathy for space exploration?

 

 
Crisis of Civilizational Morale  

August 13, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past week, in cities around the world, groups gathered to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings--Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. Included in the commemoration events were numerous groups and cities throughout the United States. This strikes me as rather strange. We would not, for example, commemorate the bombing of Berlin during World War II in sympathy to the Germans killed, as this was the home of a vicious enemy that had brought war upon itself and was unrelenting in its aggression. However, in an act of self-incrimination, Americans are beginning to revise history in such a way that we are the bad guys.

 

 
Girls Gone Wild, Boys Gone Mild  

August 6, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

In the wake of Madonna, Paris Hilton, and countless other role models encouraging young women to express their sexuality and drink deeply from the pool of promiscuity there comes a rare and refreshing voice of reason. Despite the fact that porn is mainstream, and despite the fact that those who to choose to delay sex are labeled prudes, Wendy Shalit argues in her latest book, Girls Gone Mild that a youth-led rebellion is challenging the status quo.

 

 
The European Church: A Lesson in Misplaced Dependence  

July 30, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Secularism has certainly done its worst over the last five decades to the point that most churches in Europe are either empty or aged. However, there are signs of new life within the European Church as well as indicators that Europeans are increasingly open to religion. Theories as to the cause of the European Church's near death and possible resurgence reveal potential warnings for the American Church.

 

 
Fellowship and Humility  

July 23, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Radicalized individualism, which hinders the fellowship of believers, might be one reason for the lackluster witness of the Church in which so many seem to never experience real spiritual transformation.

 

 
The Loss of Beauty  

July 16, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Earlier this year, the Washington Post conducted an unusual social experiment that reveals something disturbing about our culturesomething that should concern any person interested in the wellbeing and future of our society and the preservation of the true, the good, and the beautiful.


 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics' - Conclusion  

July 9, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

One quickly discovers that upon closer examination, there is a large and growing body of evidence demonstrating that global warming is simply a natural phenomenon, completely unrelated to human causation. I could literally spend the next several months recounting the data but I must bring this series to a conclusion and connect it to its theological considerationswhy does it matter to the Church and why should Christians be equipped to respond to green politics?

 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics' - Part V  

July 2, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to the proponents of man-made global warming, carbon dioxide emissions are the culprit in climate change. So what is the role of carbon dioxide if any and are there other, more plausible explanations for the half-degree centigrade temperature increase that is believed to have occurred over the last century?

 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics' - Part IV  

June 25, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The conflict between those who view humanity as an enemy of nature and those who view man as nature's steward culminates in the dispute over global warming. At odds in this debate is not the question of whether or not we are experiencing a period of warmer temperatures, we are. Rather, it is the competing theories relative to the causes of the present temperature increase and the implications thereof. However, let's first understand what is meant by "warming."

 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics' - Part III  

June 18, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we have previously examined, the idea that human population growth and presence is an affront to the earth and nature is grossly overstated and frankly, a myth. In a sad bit of irony, this myth and its resulting environmental extremism have their roots in the writings of an 18th century Anglican preacher named, Thomas Malthus. Malthus was the first to suggest that environmental catastrophe would be brought on by the unchecked growth of the human population.

 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics' - Part II  

June 11, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The global population is the highest in recorded history. However, does this necessarily mean that the earth is over-populated in the sense that the human population exceeds the resource capacity of the earth? This is certainly the implication of those who speak in terms of a population explosion or population bomb. Does the human population exceed the capacity of the earth and therefore place us in danger of destroying the planet?

 

 
Responding to 'Green Politics'  

June 4, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

One of the core commitments of this ministry has always been to demonstrate the truth and relevance of Christianity to all of life and culture. Toward that end I feel compelled to wade into the debate currently raging over the environment and environmentalism. On the one side we have those who would subordinate mankind to nature and on the otherwell, let me be honestChristians havent had a lot to say in the environmental debate. What we tend to do is withdraw from the issue altogether because we dont like those who seem to be dominating the topic or we act indifferent to the issue as if we dont care about the environment. And a few evangelical organizations have opted for a third alternative: capitulation to green politics. In this series I hope to offer a helpful response to this complex and important issue, again, all for the sake of demonstrating the truth and relevance of Christ and His kingdom to all of His creation.

 

 
Greater Love Hath No Man...  

May 28, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is an amazing fact when you consider that the most powerful military force in the history of the world is comprised entirely of volunteers! If we as a nation continue to neglect the cultivation of true virtue among young people and instead immerse them in a culture which only encourages their most sensate and base desires, we will, in time, see such noble men and women disappear.

 

 
Missional VS. Evangelical  

May 21, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

A California pediatrician reportedly refused to treat a baby girl because her mother had tattoos. The doctor said, says his Christian faith has inspired him to enforce certain standards in his medical practice, and that means no tattoos, no body piercings, and no gum chewing."...After taking one look at Tasha Childress, who has both tattoos and piercings, [the doctor] asked her and her daughter to leave. What concerns me most is what kind of culture has developed within the American Church to produce such legalistic thinking that it borders on the inhumane.

 

 
The Culture of Praise  

May 14, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story addressing the culture of praise that is becoming characteristic of the next generation of American workers. The articles author points out, Childhood in recent decades has been defined by such stroking by parents who see their job as building self-esteem, by soccer coaches who give every player a trophy, by schools who used to name one student of the month and these days name 40. What the article fails to identify is what produced this culture of superficial self-esteem building.

 

 
For My Mother  

May 7, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Matthew Henry, the early eighteenth century English preacher and author of the renowned commentary that bears his name, begins his examination of Proverbs 31 with the following words:

When children are under the mother's eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children.

This seems appropriate in light of this forthcoming Mother’s day and therefore I want to "call to mind the good teaching I received as a child" and pay tribute to my mother who has been the instrument of God’s saving grace in my life.

 

 
Christian Grit  

April 30, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past week, a heart-wrenching letter was circulated across the Internet from fellow Christians in Turkey, the details of which have been confirmed by numerous news reports. The letter gives account of the savage torture and murder, which occurred on April 18th of German missionary Tilman Geske, pastor Necati Aydin, and Ugur Yuksel in Malatya, a Turkish province 300 miles northeast of Antioch.

 

 
Abstinence Education has Failed!  

April 23, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is what the mainstream media and opponents of abstinence-centered education would like you to believe in the wake of the most recent study. The report, which was released by the Department of Health and Human Services and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. appears, on the surface, to live up to the headlines. However, here are the problems with concluding that abstinence education has failed.

 

 
Responding to a "Gay" Christian  

April 16, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

How do you respond to the person who on the one hand says they are gay and on the other says they are a follower of Christ? I quite often encounter this situation and the response, which seeks to be consistent with biblical Christianity, is not always as straightforward as one might think.

 

 
Smoking Bad - Homosexuality Good  

April 8, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Over the last several decades we have witnessed the increasing imposition of governmental regulations into the personal choices of citizens in the name of health and public safety. While there may be disagreement on the extent to which government should be allowed to do so, the generally accepted message is that government should do all it can to inhibit behaviors that have been shown to do harm to individuals and that increase the burden on the nations infrastructure and taxpayers. However, the government and many Americans seem somewhat schizophrenic in their application of this principle when it comes to the homosexual lifestyle. A recent study shows that engaging in homosexual behavior reduces lifespan by 24 years! Despite the risks intrinsic to homosexual acts, our nations schools are increasingly promoting this lifestyle in the name of diversity and tolerance.


 

 
Freedom for All Except...  

April 2, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

Legislators in the House of Representatives are pushing for a vote on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2001, H.R. 1592, another federal Hate Crimes bill that would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to current hate crimes law. This legislation will ban alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether actual or perceived. Thus it inhibits the rights of those who resist the imposition of homosexual morality to disagree and brings the power of the state to bear on those who do. Learn what you can do!

 

 
General Pace: Collision at the Crossroads of Morality  

March 26, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The reaction to General Paces comments reveal a critical shift in the moral consensus that the Church, in particular, but also everyone concerned with a free and healthy society should be concerned with. At issue is the basis upon which we as a society determine and enforce the moral order.

 

 
Competing Worldviews  

February 19, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is a struggle underway in American culture and it is ultimately a battle between two competing worldviews or explanations of reality. These two perspectives are the secular humanist explanation versus the biblical explanation of reality. The former is man-centered while the latter is God-centered.

 

 
Is Religion Bad?  

February 12, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

This seems to be becoming a popular argument: Religion is the source of all strife and conflict in the world and we would all be better off without it. However, one has to ask, "Is this true?" How do we answer the growing number of those who propose that this is in fact the case?

 

 
What Ever Happened to Discipleship?  

February 5, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The modern idea of church, or ecclesiology, it seems is that the church exists as a venue to attract the lost through dynamic programs, performances and events the more dynamic the better. What one pastor friend of mine referred to as theo-tainment. The problem with this approach exclusively is that a disproportionate amount of the churchs time and resources go into these efforts at the expense of discipleship and training the already saved. The result is the proverbial church that is a mile wide and inch deep. Yes the church grows in numbers but rarely in spiritual maturity and the witness of the Church is often rendered lackluster.

 

 
American Idol: Fame, Fortune and Self-Delusion  

January 29, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

One only has to watch an episode of American Idol to realize that many in this generation are obsessed with fame and fortune to the point of radical self-delusion. Convinced of their ability; many of these wanna-be stars seem oblivious to the fact that they have absolutely no singing talent whatsoever.

 

 
Love Sick  

January 22, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that counselors on the nations college campuses are seeing significant increases in severe psychological problems. Counselors reported seeing double the number of depression cases and triple the number of suicidal students. Sexual libertines have long argued that sexual morality was repressive resulting in negative psychological effects. This is the most sexually liberated generation in American history and yet they are suffering psychologically unlike any other.


 

 
Redeeming Society  

January 15, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

It seems necessary today to address why and even if Christians should be involved in redeeming society and culture. There are many who deride such activity as being a diversion from the real work of the Church, which in their minds is reduced to nothing more than articulating the plan of salvation, narrowly understood.  

 

 
Let Us Resolve  

January 8, 2007
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we begin this new year it is time to put these days of celebration behind us and once again return to the pressing issues of our day. While we may be tempted to convince ourselves that "all is well;" the fact is we are living in a world at war. There simply is no real peace, apart from Christ, in a world plagued by sin and suffering - a world where people live in wanton rebellion against the King of Kings.

 

 
My Struggle with Fundraising  

December 4, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

To be honest I find this whole notion of asking for money very difficult. Mine is a prophetic ministry that seeks to challenge, teach, and equip the Body of Christ and I am too often reluctant to insert the seemingly crass appeal for money into that context. However, this is a result my own failure to adequately embrace the spiritual implications and blessing of giving to the work of the Kingdom.


 

 
Giving Thanks  

November 20, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

As we approach this national day of thanksgiving I thought it necessary to reflect upon our nations long history of acknowledging and giving thanks to Almighty God.

 

 
What Are We To Do?  

November 13, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

By taking away the Churchs ability to rely on politics and government; perhaps the Lord wants us to recover pure religion. Maybe the Lord, in His mercy, has taken from us that which we have wrongly trusted in and to which we have made offerings. Maybe (because I do not presume to know the mind of God) the Lord wants us, like Hezekiah, to remove the Asherah poles in our contemporary American lives and trust the Lord, which means that we give ourselves to him as servants sent into the world to demonstrate the love of Christ, the King and ruler of heaven and earth!

 

 
Why You Must Vote!  

November 6, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

As Plato so aptly stated, One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. For many of us this mid-term election may leave us feeling as if our only choice is between inferiors. However, the fact remains: too much is at stake and not choosing at all, as some evangelicals suggest, is not an option.


 

 
From Graveyards to Starbucks  

October 30, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

The narcissistic culture through therapy and consumerism works desperately to distance death and suffering and to mollify those inner longings and emptiness that only reconciliation to God can satisfy. The modern obsession is to remove or conceal all of those unpleasant things that remind us that life is fleeting and full of trouble. In contrast, the church and her people serve as a sometimes unwelcome reminder of these facts in its effort to point people toward their only hope: Jesus Christ. This task remains and the Church must maintain its place in reminding the world that even though death and suffering comes to us all there is hope to be found only in Jesus.

 

 
The Death of Marriage?  

October 23, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Recently the US Census Bureau reported that for the first time in history, traditional marriage has ceased to be the preferred living arrangement for a majority of US households. American society stands at a crucial crossroads. We will either continue down the path of sexual anarchy redefining marriage and the natural family to accommodate our selfish sexual desires and in so doing destroy our civilization or we will return to a true understanding of human sexuality, marriage and parenting as revealed in Scripture and confirmed in nature.


 

 
The Domestication of Christianity  

October 16, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

A friend and dear brother whom I respect, David Bryant, challenged me with a number of questions in response to last weeks article on Rep. Mark Foley.

 

 
Moral Misdirection  

October 9, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is little distinction between homosexuals attracted to male children (homosexual pedophiles) and homosexuals attracted to male adults. I would add that once one has descended into perverse sexual practices; the degrees to which one is willing to venture become minor. Homosexual apologists insist on a rigid, narrow definition of the terms homosexual and pedophile that permits no overlap of the terms. They deny that homosexuals are attracted in inordinate numbers to boys. This article reveals the facts demonstrating the direct connection between homosexual behavior and the sexual molestation of boys.


 

 
Demonizing the Lost  

October 2, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is a disturbing trend among a segment of evangelical Christians - a tendency to publicly [or privately] demonize people with whom we disagree theologically, politically and in various other ways. I would argue that this results from the politicization of the Church coupled with a simplistic soteriology. In other words, I had the good sense to choose Jesus. As a result, many Christians think only in terms of Conservative vs. Liberal, Right vs. Left and ultimately us (believers) vs. them (unbelievers). They may not see themselves on mission in the world to reach the lost but rather only on opposite sides politically and ideologically. Where is the motivation to reach across those ideological lines in that scenario?

 

 
Rosie O' Donnell & Pope Benedict  

September 20, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

We need to cast off this mindless political correctness and realize we face an ideological force that is bent on our destruction. We also need to take more seriously our responsibilities within the Church to reach those Muslims that God, by His providence, has brought to our shores. Bad or false ideas must be met with Truth spoken in love; this is our hope against the spread of Islamic violence. But lets at least wake up to the self-evident threat of Islamic ideology.

 

 
Reviving the Doctrine of Revival  

September 14, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

The times in which we live bear striking resemblance to the periods preceding prior outpourings of Gods Spirit or awakenings. God still desires and providentially determines to bring glory to the Son through His Church. Our part is to earnestly seek the manifestation of Lords glory in our own lives and corporately in His Church regardless of what this may cost us. We beseech the Lord with hope that He will once again be merciful to us sinners. This is a call to the Church to recover a biblical understanding of true revival and seek the Lord in order that He may once again pour out His Spirit and be glorified in and through His Church in this generation!

 

 
Higher Education: Excellence without a Soul  

September 11, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

C.S. Lewis once wrote, Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. By exchanging the nobler virtues for consumerist ends,  the American university has become a setting for debauchery and hedonism virtually unparalleled.

 

 
Clueless in Seattle  

September 5, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Lawmakers in Washington State expanded their states anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation earlier this year. The new law which went into effect in July prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, lending and insurance. This, of course, has been a growing trend among both private and public entities for some time.  

However, the Washington law is presently facing a legal challenge that holds enormous implications for taxpayers, private employers and societys commitment to marriage and the traditional family in general.

 

 
Engaging Ideas  

August 23, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Too often, I encounter thoughtless Christians who frankly know little or nothing about what they believe and why they believe it and worse have little interest in changing that condition. Instead their faith, it seems, is often based on a common set of propositions called Christianity with which they agree. In other words they believe in God, Jesus, the Bible, etc. but they scarcely know or demonstrate how these beliefs should impact their lives. This is precisely the kind of faith that James is addressing in chapter two when he writes, You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.

 

 
Career vs Family: Is there a Choice?  

August 16, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

This is an area where Christians can demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to even the intellectual elite by joining in rational critique and rejection of consumerist values. Christians more so than anyone else should be the first to point out that material goods, temporal pleasures and the right “image” can never be the object of a truly human existence.

 

 
Postmodernism: A Kairos Moment?  

August 9, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is a great deal of consternation and, I might add, confusion over the nature and impact of postmodernism. Many Christians immediately assume that all things postmodern are the malicious source of moral relativism and that postmodernism is determined to destroy all truth. In short, most Christians tend to assume that postmodern philosophy is completely antithetical to Christian faith but I would argue that this is based more on a popular notion of postmodernity than on a critical analysis that seeks to truly understand the complexities of culture, namely postmodernism and its historical origins.

 

 
The 'Big Brother Link': More Pseudo-Science  

August 7, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Once again the media has thrown itself unreservedly behind the latest scientific claims of inborn homosexuality. Recently the media reported on a study (referred to as the Big Brother Link) by Canadian psychologist, Anthony Bogaert. Bogaert studied the family structures of more than 900 homosexual and heterosexual men claiming to find a correlation between the number of older brothers and sexual orientation.

 

 
A Body to Kill For  

July 17, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

The pursuit of beauty through alteration of physical appearance is a growing trend. Rates of cosmetic surgery have soared, suggesting that surgery is now a common and acceptable solution to self-improvement. Apparently this obsession has reached a point where some are willing to kill in order to achieve their dream of physical perfection and the life satisfaction that they assume it will bring. Consider the case of Cynthia Sommer, 32 of San Diego, who is accused of poisoning her Marine husband in order to use money from his life insurance policy to get her breasts enlarged.

 

 
Denominational Demise  

July 3, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

For those denominations that today think they are safe from those "liberal elements" that are presently tearing apart the mainline denominations think again. You may actually be growing the seeds of your denomination's own destruction right down the hall. What kind of theological influence do you suppose a generation with no theological and doctrinal knowledge will have? 

 

 
Pedophiles & Politics  

June 19, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Pedophiles in The Netherlands have launched their own political party, The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party. Their goal is to legitimize pedophilia through the political process and a sustained campaign of public persuasion. Now before you dismiss this outrageous and seemingly irrelevant event; I want you to read this and consider seriously the implications of what is actually happening.

 

 
...But Gives Grace to the Humble  

May 24, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

Scripture is full of admonitions to unity, love and peace among the Body of Christ and yet today we are more divided and sectarian than ever. There are Fundamentalists, Charismatics, Arminians, Calvinists, Dispensationalists, Covenantalists, Reformed, Evangelical, Protestant with nearly innumerable denominations, Catholic, and so on and so forth. Each with their own ideas or categories of what it means to be "Christian" and when we encounter those outside our own category we tend to be suspicious rather than open and charitable.

 

 
God Opposes the Proud  

May 22, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

The Lord has recently, and it seems repeatedly, called this passage (Proverbs 3:34) to my mind and I confess, with considerable discomfort. There is within me a deplorable tendency to think more highly of myself than I am ought. This is often a particular point of struggle for those who work in vocational ministry.

 

 
Adrift From Our Past  

April 17, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

The loss of community and civic virtue along with all of their deleterious effects; the inadequate transmission of values and beliefs from one generation to the next; the reduction of education to mere utilitarian purposes and the idealization of a superficial existence are symptomatic of a culture adrift from its past. The solution to these issues lies within the realm of a renewed Church that endeavors to recover historic Christianity and press these unchanging biblical values into contemporary public life and culture.

 

 
The Commencement & Vision of this Ministry  

April 3, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

I am pleased to share some exciting news relative to the growth of our ministry in the area of Cultural Apologetics. In an effort to promote and preserve the particular distinctiveness of my work and ministry; the National Coalition in agreement with myself have decided to establish a new organization named the Center for Christ & Culture that will serve to carry out the particular vision and ministry to which I have been called. The Center for Christ & Culture will function as an official ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families with me as its Founding Director.

 

 
Ideological Tyranny  

March 27, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past February the Ohio State Board of Education voted 11-4 to remove all language that was critical of evolution from its states science curriculum. Previously, s public school science guidelines said that students should be free to describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory. The decision by the State Board of Education effectively eliminates this freedom. This means that science teachers and students are no longer authorized to discuss scientific evidence that questions the claims of Darwin's theory.

 

 
A New Italian Renaissance?  

March 13, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

A report of little note appeared this past week when the Catholic News Agency reported that a significant number of Italian lawmakers, politicians and intellectuals, led by the president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera and including such individuals as Italys  Culture Minister, Rocco Buttiglione, presented a manifesto in which they attribute the confusion and fear in Europe over Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism to a moral and spiritual crisis that prevents the continent from finding the courage to react.


 

 
A Youth Revolution?  

January 30, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

There is an abundance of bad news today related to youth; however, there are also some emerging signs of hope, hope that there may be a revolution of sorts occurring among young people. By revolution I mean a rejection of liberal social and moral positions, the post-sixties sexual ethics, radical secularism, and even facile "feel good" theology.

 

 
The Culture of Celebrity  

January 23, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

What accounts for this obsession with celebrities and the exaltation of people to the status of "cultural elite" on the basis of celebrity alone? I believe that this celebrity obsession is yet one more example of rampant consumerism that dominates so much of American life and thinking.


 

 
Reflections on NBC's  

January 16, 2006
by S. Michael Craven
 

On January 6th NBC aired its controversial new drama, The Book of Daniel. Having already created a firestorm prior to its first airing among numerous evangelical Christian groups, the show certainly lived up to its outrageous depiction of a "typical Christian family."

 

 
Justin Martyr: A Man for Our Season  

December 12, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

It is important to recall those of the faith that have gone before us, to examine the history of the Church, and its profound influence in the world particularly in the area of thought. As J.R. Lowell said, "History is clarified experience." History can help us clarify and validate the truth claims of the Christian faith.


 

 
What to do in the Face of Tyranny?  

November 14, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

Every American knows that on July 4, 1776 the Founding Fathers of this nation were compelled by conscience to declare, under penalty of death, the independence of these colonies from the tyranny of King George III of Great Britain. We read that with some present appreciation for their courage and the noble virtues of liberty but I fear that we have lost any sense of just how fragile liberty is and the knowledge that we must remain vigilant against the imminence of tyranny.

 

 
Beyond Ideologies  

October 24, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

One of the unfortunate risks associated with speaking apologetically is that you can begin think that the Kingdom of God will advance on the weight of intellectual arguments. Scripture clearly teaches that we are to "be prepared to give answer for the hope that lies within us." However, I must continually be reminded of Christ's commandment to love my neighbor. If this genuine love of neighbor is not at the heart of my apologetic efforts then I am nothing more than a "clanging cymbal" - basically nothing more than an animated noise maker!

 

 
Utilitarianism goes Dutch  

October 10, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), "The Dutch government intends to expand its current euthanasia policy, setting guidelines for when doctors may end the lives of terminally ill newborns with the parents' consent."

 

 
The Face of Utilitarianism  

October 3, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

The September/October issue of Foreign Policy (FP), a publication of the influential Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, featured an article by the controversial Princeton philosopher and ethicist, Peter Singer.


 

 
The Myth of Overpopulation  

September 12, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

Perhaps one of the most persistent and pervasive myths that has shaped the thinking of many people and subsequently public policy is the myth that the world's population is spiraling out of control and ultimately leading to catastrophic shortages of the essential resources necessary to sustain life.

 

 
Parents: Do You Know WHAT Your Kids Think?  

August 29, 2005
by S. Michael Craven
 

This past week I had an opportunity to talk with two sixteen year-old skeptics - a friend of this ministry invited me to his and his wife's home to speak with their neighbor's daughter and her friend.This wonderful couple has been ministering to this young girl for the past nine years and now in the prime of her teen years she has come to ask some serious questions about life and faith. What followed over the course of our three-hour discussion was one of the most poignant examples of the failure of modern churches to treat ministry to youth seriously and the devastating reality of postmodern relativistic thinking.




 

 


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