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Phil Sanders gives some insights into the problem of postmodern thought and how it affects the church of Christ in his book, Adrift. Sanders is an evangelist for the church of Christ. He has served churches in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas. He currently is a speaker for the television program, In Search of the Lord’s Way.
I have recently reviewed this book and posted a copy of the review on the page Book Reviews on this blog. Please take the time to read this review. Postmodernism is a worldview that embraces four main tenets: secularization, privatization, pluralization and relativization. Each of these concepts is explained in the book and then application is made to various religious groups including the church of Christ.
The reasons for unbelief are varied and complex. Whenever a person says that he or she does not believe in God, we wonder why? Jim Spiegel explored some of the reasons for atheism that are not generally considered by most in a recent article in Christianity Today titled, “Unreasonable Doubt” (Christianity Today, Jan. 2011, p. 48). Most of the time, atheists attempt to give rational explanations for their beliefs. But, what about those who make irrational claims? For instance, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow have written The Grand Design in which they affirm that the cosmos was spontaneously generated “from nothing” with no God (or gods) required to make sense of existence. This is the height of irrationality! It is irrational to affirm that everything in the universe came from nothing. Nothing produces nothing.
The apostle Paul states that these individuals are without excuse. In Romans 1:20, he writes, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” The phrase without excuse means that they have no defense (apologia). They cannot make a rational defense of rejecting belief in God. If it is irrational and indefensible to be an atheist, why be one?
In Psalm 14:1, the Holy Spirit declares, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Could the rejection of belief in God be rooted in corrupt and sinful behavior? Consider Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Some men suppress the truth by personal vices and immoral desires.
There is a cognitive consequence to sin! We emphasize that beliefs impact behavior, but behavior also impacts beliefs. Our conduct affects the way we think. Once we sin, we also attempt to justify our sin. We can develop a belief system that will exonerate why we do the things we do. The 20th century ethics philosopher Mortimer Adler (who was baptized when he was 81) confessed to rejecting religious commitment for most of his life because it “would require a radical change in my way of life, a basic alteration in the direction of my day-to-day choices as well as in the ultimate objectives to be sought or hoped for…The simple truth of the matter is that I did not wish to live up to being a genuinely religious person” (Christianity Today, p. 48).
Disobedience hardens the heart. Paul describes individuals who gave themselves over to work all manner of uncleanness because of the blindness of their heart. Hear his words in Ephesians 4:18-19, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” The more a person gives himself/herself over to vice, the less reliable his or her belief formation will be. Unbelief and disobedience go hand in hand.
Many atheists are such not because of sound rational arguments, but because they do not want to conform their lives to God’s Will. They are comfortable with conformity to this world. The truth can set any person free from the psychological, emotional and behavioral problems that produce unbelief. A powerful aspect of truth is the reality of God’s love for us and the sacrifice Jesus made to atone for our sins. Truth and love are powerful weapons against atheism or any false belief.
In II Tim. 2:2, Paul writes, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” To teach is to instruct. The content taught consisted of the apostolic doctrine or, in other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word spoken was confirmed by eyewitnesses. The persons to be taught were faithful men. Men who are true to God and to His Word. Men who are responsible, trustworthy and loyal to the truth. The work of teaching was to be passed on from generation to generation. Paul taught Timothy. Timothy was to find faithful men to instruct and enlist in this great work. Those men chosen were also to find others to enlist in this good work. In this manner, each generation would have teachers who would proclaim the truth.
Teaching God’s Word is an honorable and necessary profession. Below you will find several maxims for teachers gleaned from H. Leo Boles.
Motivation For Teaching.
Maxim # 1: Love of the work of teaching leads to faithfulness. Faithfulness leads to success. Love God, the truth and your students.
Maxim # 2: A teacher should teach for the salvation of souls and for the glory of God.
Preparation For Teaching.
Maxim # 3: Time should be taken to prepare every lesson before going before the class to teach. Preparation is important. You cannot teach what you do not know. Preparation builds confidence and solidifies convictions. Lack of preparation can lead to discipline problems in the classroom.
Maxim # 4: The bee gathers honey from every flower; the teacher should gather instruction for his class from every book and magazine and newspaper that he reads, and from every circumstance in life that he witnesses.
Maxim # 5: A successful teacher will study the character and imitate the conduct of Jesus, the Great Teacher. Imitation of Christ is the means of exemplifying Christ to your students.
The Focus of Teaching.
Maxim # 6: A good teacher will study the character, home surroundings, and habits of life of each student. Good teachers know their students. Teachers must learn to love each student for who they are without respect of persons.
Maxim # 7: Every teacher should learn to talk with each student personally about the welfare of the soul and the spiritual life.
Maxim # 8: Successful teachers are ever on the lookout for new members to enroll in the class.
The Rewards of Teaching.
Maxim # 9: The highest joy of the faithful teacher will be to say before the Judge of all, “Behold, me, and the children thou hast given me.” Teachers will have the fruit of their labors.
Maxim # 10: The rewards of a teacher are held in store for the future life; some rewards are received here. Rewards in this life include: witnessing the spiritual growth of a child and the gratitude and respect of your students. Rewards in the life to come involve eternal life (Titus 1:2) and the joy of thy Lord (Matt. 25:23).
Teaching God’s Word is a noble work. Heartfelt gratitude must be given to each dedicated and faithful teacher who touches the souls of our children for the purpose of bringing them to salvation which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.