Should we answer the questions people are asking?

Ed Stetzer’s most recent research found a significant change in the kinds of spiritual questions people are asking.

Very few are asking questions about heaven:

  • Just 8% say they wonder about heaven every day (down from 20% just five years ago)
  • While 46% say they never do

More are asking about meaning and purpose:

  • 18% say they wonder about meaning and purpose every day
  • Only 28% say they never do

Ed’s Conclusions
1. Christianity has the answer to the questions people are asking. Through Jesus Christ, people can have both meaning on earth and eternal life in heaven

2. As People are now more concerned about how to get happiness in this life than in the afterlife, the church should start at this point in evangelism.
As Ed says, “Knowing people’s questions and the gospel answer is a key part of clear evangelistic communication.”

My Question
While I appreciate Ed’s research, and I think the church should heed it and learn from it, I do wonder if unbelievers are really the best judges of the questions they should be asking? (I certainly wasn’t) Is it not a bit like asking an Inuit (an “Eskimo” for the non-politically correct) if they have any questions about gardening in the Sahara?

I’m not saying we should ignore the questions of unbelievers. As Ed says, they can be a starting point. But having answered them, perhaps we should go on to say, “Now these are important questions you’ve asked, and I’ve tried to give you serious answers. But there are even more important question you should be asking, like, “How can I get my sins forgiven? How can I get right with God? How can I be changed from within? How can I be born-again?” If an unbeliever isn’t interested in these questions, he/she has not begun to understand the seriousness of their state.

When the rich young ruler came with questions about the lack in his life and about how to gain eternal life, Jesus did not answer him directly. Instead, He started asking him about the commandments. It’s almost as if he was saying, “Wrong questions! Here, let me supply the ones you should be concerned about.”

Again with Nicodemus, Jesus interrupted Nicodemus’s introduction with a question that Nicodemus had clearly never even thought of before.

Sometimes we have to destroy the unbelievers’ bridges to nowhere, and start boring tunnels into their deepest problems.


Check out

2012 Predictions
John Mark Reynolds and CNN venture their guesses.

Family
Mentoring your grandchildren
Superb article by Clare DeGraaf, author of the Ten Second Rule

Danish attempt to eliminate Down Syndrome
As the writer points out, before we all jump on our high horses, the USA and the UK are already 90% of the way there.

Health
With depression, helping others may in turn help you 
Need help to get your emotions on an upward spiral? Help someone else.

Single best thing you can do for your health is take a 30 minute daily walk. Best of all, it’s free. And as a bonus, it also helps you sleep better.


“Politics is God”

Given the amount of column inches and air-time given to politics, one could be forgiven for thinking that politics is actually a religion, or even a deity with Sovereign and Savior-like qualities. But no one really believes that do they?

In the communist era maybe, but not today, right?

In Russia maybe, but not in the USA, right?

In the extreme left of the Democratic party maybe, but not among conservatives, right?

Think again, last week, in the USA, a highly respected conservative journalist revealed that politics is his god. Dr Charles Krauthammer (yes, I’m afraid so) used his Washington Post column as a call to worship with him:

For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics…Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction…

We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics — in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations — is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it…

Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day [he means heard by aliens – I’ll get to that!]

I find this so hard to believe, coming as it does from a man whose opinions I respect and whose character I’ve admired. “Everything depends on politics…politics is sovereign…politics is the driver of history…politics determines the length of our lives and of the earth’s existence.”

(By the way, if you substitute “Jesus Christ” for “politics” in these quotes, you come pretty close to an orthodox confession of faith. But that would never have got past the Washington Post censors, would it!)

I found it doubly hard to believe because it came in the same article that Krauthammer expressed the opinion that extra-terrestrial life exists and that it shall soon be discovered, even within the next few years!

At this point, my incredulity was so far off the scale that I double-checked to see if it was all written tongue in cheek. I wasn’t sure which claim was the most outlandish, that politics was God, or that ET was just around the corner. But I couldn’t find any evidence that Krauthammer had written with his tongue in his cheek or with a New Year’s dram in his mouth.

And people say believing in God is difficult! For all my interest in politics, I find it easier to believe that ET will phone us one day than that politics is our last best hope. If ever there was an opportune time to call everyone away from vain hopes of societal transformation via politics, it’s now. The problems are too huge, the people are too small, the proposed policies are too trivial.

While Christians should strongly support the political process and play an active role, we must do so with the base belief that neither the best personalities nor the best policies give us any hope of “saving” a nation. If we believe otherwise, we are dishonoring God by substituting an idol for Him, and risk  therefore forfeiting His all-too-necessary blessing. We are also doomed to despair.

We so desperately need politicians who recognize and confess the limitations of even the best politics and policitians, and who will say instead, “Everything depends on God…God is sovereign…God is the driver of history…God determines the length of our lives and of the earth’s existence…Therefore let’s seek His blessing by honoring Him in all we say and do.”

Alternatively, and more briefly: “In God we trust.”


Lunch Links

2012
How to end 2011 and begin 2012
May I wish all my blog readers a happy and holy 2012, and offer Doug Phillips’ post as a great way to start the new year.

The Year Ahead
Don Sweeting takes a “prophetic” look at 2012.

Books
Keeper of the great seal of heaven
As John Flavel is my favorite Puritan, and as Brian Croft’s recommendations are always worth listening to, this book has just been slotted in at #4 in the 2012 reading list.

Culture
The Tide is turning
Trevin Wax compiles a list of comments on a recent 37 week abortion to build hope that perhaps the tide is beginning to turn on the abortion issue.

Technology
Top 50 iPad Apps
Just in case you wanted to pour more money into Apple’s coffers.