Center for Christ & Culture - Truth in Culture Weeklyhttp://www.battlefortruth.orgS. Michael CravenThe Truth in Culture Weekly, authored by S. Michael Craven offers unique insight into today's most pressing cultural and moral issues and a rational Christian response.en-us2015 - Center for Christ & CultureFathers: Key to their Children�s FaithS. Michael CravenStudy 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).Mon, 13 Jun 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDisconnected from Your CallingS. Michael CravenWhen pastors and theologians speak of calling, most people think of some loftier spiritual work rather than trudging off to a business office, construction site, or retail store to labor. The same could be said for every mother who trudges off to the kitchen or laundry room each day to work for her family. This tendency reveals a bias among many Christians and clergy to think of full-time ministry as spiritual work while diminishing other forms of work under the rubric of secular. I submit this is a wholly unbiblical conception that emanates from a dichotomous view of the world, in which some erroneously regard areas of God’s creation as being beyond his authority, care, and concern.Mon, 23 May 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityRestoring the Social Good & Moral Potential of BusinessS. Michael Craven Two weeks ago I alluded to something new on the horizon. Well, here it is! Mon, 16 May 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityThe Glorious Power of the ResurrectionS. Michael CravenAs we begin this Holy Week there is no other issue, no other thought more demanding of our attention than that of the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On these facts—and most especially the resurrection—rest the whole Christian faith, mission, and message.Sun, 17 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDemocracy and the Role of America in the Middle EastS. Michael CravenIs 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? Fri, 8 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityBad News for Planned Parenthood, Good News for ParentsS. Michael CravenAccording 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...Fri, 8 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDISCIPLESHIP SERIES: Consumers or Creators: Being of the World or Being God’s PeopleS. Michael CravenAfter more than ten years of serious study and careful examination of culture—what it is, how it’s formed and its present influence on the church—I find that Americans generally flow in one of two directions. They either tend toward being consumers or being creators. Suffice it to say that of these two categories, Christians should be creators. But what does this mean? Am I speaking of creators in strictly an artistic sense? Not necessarily. I am speaking of Christian creators in the sense of bringing shalom into the world. Sun, 27 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICIPLESHIP SERIES: Empowered to Act: Why Christians Should Change the WorldS. Michael CravenThe idea that Christians are to bring healing into the world—the restoration of people and the reformation of systems that hinder them—seems reasonable enough (in thought, anyway). It is certainly biblical. Reality, however, is another story. The moment one ventures out into the world—either physically or through the lens of the media—you will no doubt be thrown back by the overwhelming suffering, injustice, and evil that frequently seems to rule the day. As a result, many of us may feel overwhelmed by a sense of despair and may think that improving these conditions is not only futile but also pointless. However... Mon, 14 Mar 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICISPLESHIP SERIES: What Does the Christian Do?S. Michael CravenIf “all the Law” hangs on loving God and loving others, then to love God is to obey him and to obey him is to love others. But what does it really mean to love others? Should you walk down the street hugging everyone you meet saying, “I love you”? Should loving others be accompanied by feelings of affection? Are these feelings essential to loving others and if absent does this mean you’re not being loving? Sun, 27 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICISPLESHIP SERIES: Why Knowing Yourself MattersS. Michael CravenContrary to a life of enforced austerity and the absence of pleasure, the denial of self is actually the means to true pleasure (joy) as one abides in Christ and discovers a new freedom from which one can truly enjoy life and the many and abundant gifts of God. How tragic that we resist the call of God because we foolishly listen to our deluded selves, believing that increased devotion will leave us in a lesser state, when in fact it is the path to unspeakable joy and enduring peace. Sun, 20 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDISCIPLESHIP SERIES: Knowing Thyself is Key to Knowing GodS. Michael CravenThe pursuit of accurate self-knowledge is an essential starting point in modern Christian discipleship. I believe this is made more so in our day due to the overwhelming disposition of our culture toward always making people feel good about themselves. Additionally, the increasingly secular milieu of the nation obscures any meaningful comparison to the one to whom there is no comparison: Jesus Christ. By emphasizing only the eternal benefits coupled with an inaccurate understanding of oneself, the gospel may end up being received and understood as nothing more than an addendum to already well-lived life. In other words, “I’m really okay, but I know I need Jesus to get into heaven.” Sun, 13 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICISPLESHIP SERIES: The Kingdom is Revealed through We not MeS. Michael Craven So, how do we express the gospel of the kingdom beyond its modern reductionist version? You know, the detached consumer-oriented, drive-by evangelism that often relies on tracts and rote presentations—often between strangers. Mon, 7 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICISPLESHIP SERIES: Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?S. Michael CravenPerhaps the best way to understand the goal of the kingdom and why Jesus came to earth is to recall more precisely what sin has ruined. In Genesis 3 we see a succession of four fundamental relationships that experience a break from God’s good design and intent. These four relationships are the building blocks for all human activity. Thus the effects of the fall extend far beyond the severance of man’s personal relationship with God...Mon, 31 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDICISPLESHIP SERIES: Is Jesus a King without a Kingdom?S. Michael CravenToday when evangelicals speak of the gospel, they almost always mean, simply, the personal plan of salvation. This is generally limited to an activity in which we present people with some facts about Jesus, ask them to agree with these facts, and if they do, instruct them to invite him into their lives or pray the sinner’s prayer. Once they do this, we tell them, “You are saved!” We’ve heard this version of the gospel so many times that we don’t even bother to question it—we simply accept it as “the gospel.” However, when we put aside our culturally induced conceptions and study the scriptures, we discover...Mon, 24 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDISCIPLESHIP SERIES: Working Out Our Salvation with Love and CharityS. Michael CravenIt appears, based on some of the reactions to last week’s commentary, that we need to further explore the subject of the gospel of the kingdom. Let’s face it: what we believe about Jesus’ mission—why he came to earth—is an essential starting point in discipleship. The slightest deviation at the beginning can result in dramatic differences in our conclusions, in much the same way that starting a few degrees off course can lead you far from your intended destination. Mon, 17 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityModern Discipleship: Preparing for Evacuation Rather Than OccupationS. Michael CravenAs we enter a new year, I want to begin with what I am calling the “Discipleship Series.” It is all too evident that biblical discipleship is either absent or woefully inadequate to producing any tangible fruit, much less real freedom in Christ. Thus too many within the body are mired in sin management rather than freedom from it, while others remain shackled by past wounds and sinful choices, and far too many are discouraged by the elusiveness of peace that Christ promised. There are a number of reasons why I think we have come to neglect disciple making. Foremost may be...Mon, 10 Jan 2011 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityWhere is the Church in the Midst of Our Crisis?S. Michael Craven In my last commentary, I argued that the prevailing lack of distinction between Christian and non-Christian marriage serves as a barometer indicating a serious lack of spiritual depth and theological understanding within the American church. Reaction to this article overwhelmingly confirmed this suspicion. Mon, 5 Oct 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityI Thought Jesus Came to Keep Me FROM Suffering!S. Michael Craven The issue of marriage within the church—namely the noticeable lack of distinction between Christian and non-Christian marriage, given our equal propensity to divorce—is not about the preservation of a tradition or institution. The reality of marriage and our apparent lack of respect for that which “God has joined together” ultimately reveals a gaping chasm between biblical Christianity and cultural Christianity that must be closed if the church wants to be faithful to its mission. Mon, 28 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDoes God Expect Me to Stay Married to a Jerk?S. Michael CravenYears ago, a family therapist was asked, “What are the top three causes of divorce?” to which he replied, “Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness!” Of course this is an oversimplification of the varied and many contributing factors to divorce but there is an element of truth in this statement that permeates each.Mon, 21 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityDiscipleship is Evangelism!S. Michael Craven In conclusion of my series, I now turn to the third and final aspect: proclamation of the gospel. How and what do we tell others about Jesus and this kingdom that has come into the world? The modern approach to this question seems to have gravitated, almost exclusively, toward highly simplistic and formulaic expressions of the gospel story. Tue, 1 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityThe Kingdom of God: Serving the World, Loving OthersS. Michael CravenNow I want to address the second way in which the church bears witness to the gospel: service to the world and loving those outside the church. No longer being our own, the church surrenders itself as a redemptive instrument in the hands of God to bring forth the fruits of the kingdom—justice, righteousness, and peace.Sun, 9 Aug 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityLove Believes All ThingsS. Michael CravenI now want to take up Paul’s 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.Mon, 20 Jul 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityThis Beautiful MessS. Michael CravenThis is the title of a compelling book by Rick McKinley—but 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 together—in essence our love for one another—is essential to the witness of the church and the proclamation of the gospel. Practically speaking, though, what does this love look like? Mon, 13 Jul 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityCommunity and EvangelismS. Michael CravenApparently some might have perceived that I was suggesting Christians abandon personal evangelism in last week’s 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. Mon, 6 Jul 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityReevangelizing the Church: The BodyS. Michael CravenSadly, over the course of the last century, we have reduced the gospel to simplistic formulas and programmatic appeals—appeals that are designed to produce “decisions,” whereas the gospel of the kingdom is conveyed in various and more demonstrative ways, reflecting the different gifts and diversity of the body. We do not all have the same function or ministry in the kingdom...Mon, 29 Jun 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityWhat is the Good news?S. Michael CravenNow that we are standing at the “crossroads” (having returned to the point of our departure from the truth), we can now look to the ancient paths: the Scriptures. In doing so, we can find the right path and recover the broader meaning of the “good news” or gospel.Mon, 22 Jun 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityWhere Did the Church Go Wrong?S. Michael CravenIf, in fact, we have departed from the truth of the gospel, then going back to the point of departure is the only reasonable course. As C. S. Lewis so aptly said, “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road." Mon, 15 Jun 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & Spirituality"If You Build It, They Will Come EcclesiologyS. Michael CravenIn 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. Mon, 18 May 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & SpiritualityThe Coming Collapse of EvangelicalismS. Michael CravenThis 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? Fri, 1 May 2009 00:00:00 -0600Religion & Spirituality