Saturday, July 26, 2008

Charles Egolf

For thirteen years, Charles Egolf has been my next-door neighbor. He has been the best neighbor a fellow could ask for. He was far more than a neighbor. Often, he was like a father to me. He knew so much about so many things after more than 80 years of life. But even tonight his mind was sharp and his attitude full of love, joy, and hope.

Mr. Egolf, so I have always called him. Mrs. Egolf once got after me for not calling him Charlie; but I never could quite do that. In my mind, he was MR. Egolf. I respected him so. Mr. Egolf was a Marine, one of the most highly decorated officers in Williamson Co. for his service in World War II.

While his attitude was always superb, full of life and full of goodness, Mr. Egolf had only been a Christian for a couple of years. Tonight he told me that he never felt alone since he came into the church. (He lost his good wife a few years ago.) Mr. Egolf frequently went with me to Nashville School of Preaching. He loved Bible study and loved the other students at the school. I will always treasure the 20 minutes we had together in the car going up to the school and especially the twenty minutes we had coming home. We had marvelous conversations; he always encouraged me.

Mr. Egolf is in ICU at Williamson Medical Center with less than twenty percent lung capacity, and that is declining. He does not anticipate ever leaving the hospital.

Mr. Egolf saw things very clearly. He was exceptionally wise. An avid reader, he built three bookcases for all the books he'd read in recent years. He loved the Lord, loved the church, and loved people. He was the most loved man on our block. Everyone knew him and loved him. He knew everyone by their first name and looked out for all of us. He saw the love in Christ, and that helped him through the intellectual struggles of coming to faith. He saw the forgiveness in Christ and longed for unity among brothers.

Mr. Egolf, I love you.


Monday, July 21, 2008

The Emerging Church Movement

I encourage you to read my article in the July issue of the Gospel Advocate on the emerging church. I wanted to give you just one quote from the article.

Brian McLaren, an emerging church leader said,

I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts … rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on … To help Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and everyone else experience life to the full in the way of Jesus (while learning it better myself), I would gladly become one of them (whoever they are, to whatever degree I can, to embrace them, to join them, to enter into their world without judgment but with saving love as mine has been entered by the Lord (A Generous Orthodoxy, 260, 262, 264).

If McLaren believed that Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews were lost, he would lead them to Christ and not just try to improve their present religion. But you see, he doesn't think that what Jesus said in Scripture (Jn 14:6) is true or should be pressed on anyone. Emergents don't criticize, they connect. And how do they connect? By compromise, by disbelief in the one true way, and by accommodation to the world. There is "one faith" and only one faith. There is one Savior and only one Savior. To leave others in the domain of darkness is neither faithful to Christ nor loving to people.

Luke 9:23-24 says: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"

Christians who expect to be saved follow Christ and teach others to follow Christ. He is the way the truth and the life. There is no other way to heaven. Making a Buddhist a better Buddhist grants no access to the blood of Jesus. Jesus died for all, but he did not sacrifice himself to leave people in error.

Now, having said that, I must wonder why a Christian University associated with our brethren would invite Bruce McLaren to their campus to lecture to their students?

Amazed at how far some have drifted,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Division in the Church of England

This article appeared July 1, 2008, in The Times, published in England. Apparently, the Church of England is in the midst of a division over right and wrong. Religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill writes:

More than 1,300 clergy, including 11 serving bishops, have written to the archbishops of Canterbury and York to say that they will defect from the Church of England if women are consecrated bishops. As the wider Anglican Communion fragments over homosexuality, England’s established Church is moving towards its own crisis with a crucial vote on women bishops this weekend.

Of the 1,333 clergy who signed the protest letter, 60 per cent are serving clergy. Among the retired bishops is the former Bishop of Chichester, the Right Rev Eric Kemp. Some women deacons have also joined the protest. The traditionalists write: “We will inevitably be asking whether we can, in conscience, continue to minister as bishops, priests and deacons in the Church of England . . . We do not write this in a spirit of making threats or throwing down gauntlets. Rather, we believe that the time has come to make our concerns plain, so that the possible consequences of a failure to make provision which allows us to flourish and to grow are clear.”

Churches of Christ are not the only ones to be facing the great crisis of conviction. It seems that these battles are everywhere present as the culture of the world changes.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Conviction Crisis

“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)
“For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord
Jesus.” (Acts 21:13-14)
Jesus and Paul demonstrated their deep conviction and devotion to God by their willingness to suffer and die to do the will of God. Many early Christians like Stephen and James gave their lives for the cause of Christ. One wonders if American Christians today would sacrifice their lives for the Lord.

According to the U.S. Religious Landmark Survey published last week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, there are a number of puzzles about religious convictions in America and in the churches of Christ.

While 98% of members of churches of Christ and 88% of all Americans are certain or fairly certain of God’s existence, while 96% of members of churches of Christ and 82% of all Americans say their faith is very or somewhat important to them, and while 94% of members of churches of Christ and 81% of all Americans prayed to God at least a few times this month, far fewer showed strong convictions in their beliefs and practice. For instance, only 73% of members of the churches of Christ attended church at least once in the last month (compared to 54% of all Americans).

Only 39% of members of the church of Christ would say their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life, while 56% said many religions lead to eternal life. I read this fact broken-hearted. Do brethren doubt what Jesus said in John 14:6 and what Peter said in Acts 4:12? Are there not one gospel, one body, one faith, and one baptism?

Among members of the church of Christ 35 percent felt abortion should be legal in all or most cases (compared to 51% of all Americans). Among churches of Christ 31 percent felt homosexuality should be accepted (compared to 50% of all Americans). Why this lack of conviction? Why does our profession of faith in Christ not also pertain to beliefs and practice?

Among all Americans only 29% rely mainly on their religious beliefs for guidance regarding right and wrong. Most trust their personal experiences. Why do people inside and outside the church compromise their convictions? They do so because they are listening to man and the culture but not to God.

We need conviction if we are to pass our faith on to the next generation. We can no longer sit silently while the world succeeds in the decay of our faith and morals. Let us speak up for the Lord with love. Let’s help people to see that God’s way is the right way and the best way. Let’s not let a crisis of compromised convictions destroy us.