Evangelicals who have a one-dimensional view of the mission of the church are criticized roundly by non-evangelicals and by those evangelicals who declare that social action is an integral component of the gospel. This result springs from the failure to distinguish with care the difference between the mission of the church, which is world evangelization, and the work of individual Christians, who have a twofold relationship as members of the Kingdom of God and of Caesar’s kingdom. Jesus declared that His kingdom is not of this world, and the church, which is in the world and sent to witness to the world, is not of the world.
—Harold Lindsell in
The New Paganism
The “religious” bit
Along with much bad thinking that has come down to us from the last four hundred years, goes split living.… People who live compartmentalized lives worship God and go to church and do their “religious” bit on Sundays; then they switch that off and pursue their professions, weekday work, weekend hobbies, and all their relationships as though these were matters entirely separate from their Christian commitment. They don’t even try to see their lives as a whole in terms of God and his Word. Instead they slip into their religious compartment on Sundays and their secular compartment on the other days of the week and allow no communication between the two.
—J. I. Packer in
Your Father Loves You
Still a sinner
There is something terribly right about … realizing that our struggle with sin is in many ways similar to an alcoholic’s struggle with drinking. It’s never over.
How often I find myself talking about sin in the past tense as if being a sinner is something I’m beyond—a page turned in the book of my life. But sin is like alcoholism. Sinners are never cured; they simply decide to stop sinning … and it’s a daily decision.
—John Fischer in
Music (Sept. 1987)
Preaching that works
Words without deeds are empty, but deeds without words are dumb. It is stupid to set them against each other. It is, for example, stupid to say: “The one thing that matters is to go everywhere and preach the gospel; all other activities such as schools and hospitals and programmes for social action are at best merely auxiliary and at worst irrelevant.” …
On the other hand, it is equally stupid to say: “Preaching is a waste of time. Forget it and get on with tackling the real human problems of poverty, injustice and oppression.”
—Lesslie Newbigin in
Mission in Christ’s Way
Not “they” but “we”
I talked with Keith (Green) about a month before he died, and he told me, “You know, Steve, I finally realized that it’s not ‘they’ that have to get their lives together but it’s ‘we’ who have to get our lives together.” And I have to say that for myself. It’s been easy to stand on a platform the last few years and to point the finger at people and the inadequacies and shortcomings in their Christian lives. But when I finally slowed down enough to look at my own life, I realized that I couldn’t do that anymore. When I exhort, it’s from within now, but it’s got to always be with love.
—Steve Camp in Premiere
magazine (Vol. 1, No. 2)
Prayer and the dipsy-dumpster
Half the time the difficulty with daily prayer is not a lack of time, but assumptions about prayer that belong in the dipsy-dumpster. The other half of the time, neglect of daily prayer is due not to lack of time, but to being either a religious fraidy-cat or a spiritually lackadaisical Christian.
—Mitch Finley in
U.S. Catholic (Feb. 1987)
Many treatments of Jesus get bogged down in a discussion of the possibility of miracles; properly speaking, that is a philosophical rather than a historical or even a theological problem.… [A]ll that need be noted is that ancient Christian, Jewish and pagan sources all agreed that Jesus did extraordinary things not easily explained by human means. While Jesus’ disciples pointed to the Spirit of God as the source of His power, Jewish and pagan adversaries spoke of demonic or magical forces. It never occurred to any of the ancient polemicists to claim that nothing happened.
—John P. Meier in the New
York Times Book Review
(Dec. 21, 1986)
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