This post is for my Christian brothers and sisters. I want to get you to think about what you believe. Are you an evangellyfish? Well I guess that all depends on what I mean by that. Think with me about the characteristics of jellyfish. They are soft, squishy, not a whole ton of substance to them. They drift along with the current, even to their own peril. Sure they sting but most of them don’t hurt all that bad. They are usually translucent or transparent. They group up with other jellyfish in big packs. So now that we know a bit more about Jellyfish what’s the evangel in there for? It’s a dig at evangelical Christians. Many evangelicals don’t take time to wrestle with tough topics in scripture. I am an evangelical Christian, so don’t get too crazy on me. I grew up in an evangelical free church and then switched to a nondenominational church so I think I have a right to use the term evangellyfish. I’ve been one for most of my life. My definition of an evangellyfish is a Christian with no spine. No substance. Someone who has no convictions and doesn’t know their Bible very well. That was me for most of my life, I had a lot of assumptions but I had little to no basis for them. I had strong convictions but I didn’t know why I held them and I had no justification to give when I was challenged on them. I was an evangellyfish, I’m not perfect now but by God’s grace I’m growing in my faith and my knowledge of God every day. My burden is to challenge my generation in the same areas I was challenged in.
A lot of times you can tell an evangellyfish by the expressions we use. “Christianity is a relationship not a religion”… Except when James describes our faith as pure religion. “Discipleship is just doing life”… Except that Jesus tells us to teach. “I took some time and just dated Jesus”…. Ummm… No that’s the worst, Jesus is not your boyfriend. We say “just” probably 100 to 200 times each prayer. We say things liked “oh you’re into that theology stuff, I’m just into loving on people”. Well, to take Matt Chandler’s lead, if you open your mouth to talk about God you are being theological. You are doing theology every time you talk about God but if you haven’t thought through your convictions you might be speaking heresy and blaspheming the Lord. This is my burden, I want to speak rightly about God. And I want to challenge you to be transformed in the renewal of your minds with me.
This post is not meant to just be offensive, maybe some of you need to be offended, but really it’s a challenge, it’s a call to action. Wake up!! Look around, things aren’t going our way. We need to know what we believe and we need to know why we believe it. There is some debate over who said “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” but the truth of that statement is not debated. I want to spend the rest of this post bringing up questions that you may have never considered and point you to some answers.
The Bible. How did we get our Bible? Who wrote it? Does it have errors? Does it matter if it has errors? Are it’s teachings true? What you believe about the Bible has ramifications for your whole life, Christian or not. If you are a Christian, do you read your Bible daily? Does that matter? What is your ultimate standard of truth? Is the Bible subject to our human reason or is our human reason subject to the Bible? What does it mean to have a biblical view of knowledge (Revelational Epistemology)? What Bible translation do you read? Do you know why you read it? Do you have a good reason for choosing the translation your read? For further reading check out Introduction to the New Testament by D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo, and Doctrine of the Word of God by John Frame.
Faith and Reason. Is faith opposed to reason? Is reason opposed to faith? Do you believe in Jesus against the rational evidence or because of it? Are there such things as brute facts? Is every fact in relation to God. Should we do apologetics? Do you know what apologetics means? Should we defend our faith? Can we defend our faith? Are there limits to human reason? Can we know things in the same way that God knows them? Is the Christian Faith a blind faith? Do we have to take a blind leap? Is all of creation truly testifying to it’s Maker? For further reading check out Apologetics By John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame, Logic by Vern Poythress, Expository Apologetics by Voddie Bauchem, Reason for God by Tim Keller, Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen.
Salvation. Who did Jesus die for? Did he die for everyone’s sins? Did he die for the sins of the elect? Can you lose your salvation? Did you choose God or did God choose you? Are you a synergist or a monergist? Are you an Arminian? Are you a Calvinist? Do you know the difference? Does it matter? Do you intentionally not choose sides because you are “too biblical”? Do you know the difference between Arminians and Armenians? Do we have a libertarian free will? Are you a determinist? Is God’s sovereignty in conflict with our human choices? Can you mess up God’s plans? Are you a compatibilist? Who are the elect? Is it a people group? Are the elect specific people? Can you elect yourself? Is Jesus the elect and we can choose him thus making us the elect? How great are the noetic effects of sin? What the heck do any of these words mean? For further reading check out For Calvinism by Michael Horton, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her by Jonathan Gibson, Proof by Daniel Montgomery, Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson.
Women and Men. Are we completely equal? Is a man more important than a woman? Is a woman more important than a man? Do we have different roles in the family? Do we have different roles in the church? Are we made to compliment one another? Are we interchangeable? Do you believe women can be elders and pastors? Why or why not? What does the Bible say about our roles? Is the instruction on roles merely cultural or do they apply to our church today? For further reading check out Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood John Piper and Wayne Grudem, 50 Crucial Questions by John Piper.
Baptism. Who is supposed to be baptized? Children of believers? Covenant children? believers only? Should we be sprinkled with water? Should we be dunked in a take or river? Does it matter where we get dunked? What is the difference between baby dedications and infant baptism? If you become a Christian and die on your way to baptism Sunday are you saved? Is baptism just an outward expression of what happened to the believer internally? Does baptism wash away sins? Does baptism regenerate you? What do you think? How do you know? Maybe just check out the great commission ;). But you should probably read Wayne Grudem’s and John Frame’s Systematic Theology books.
Theological systems. Do you hold to Covenant Theology? Are all the Covenants just different administrations of the same overarching covenant? Do you hold to Dispensational Theology? Are there different “ages”? Are we living in the “Church Age”? Do you hold to New Covenant Theology? Is everything about Jesus? Are we living in an actual New Covenant? Do you have any idea what any of those mean? Should you? Are you justified in holding to any of them? Can you demonstrate from Scripture why you believe what you believe? For further reading check out What is Reformed Theology By R.C. Sproul, New Covenant Theology by Tom Wells and What is New Covenant Theology? An Introduction by Blake White.
End Times. Are you pre-mil, pre-mil Dispensational, Amil, post-mil? Do you know what any of that means? This is one I’d say isn’t as big of a deal but it’s still important to have a belief on when Jesus will come back? Do you think he can come back today? Do you think things will get worse before he comes back? Will they get better? Will they stay the same? For further reading check out Kingdom Come by Sam storms.
Creation account. Is Genesis literal? Is it metaphorical? Are they stories God used to teach a lesson? Are they actual historical events? Are they both historical space-time events and stories that God uses to teach us? Do you believe in an old earth? Is the earth billions of years old? Is the earth young? Is it merely thousands of years old? Do you believe in theistic evolution? Did God use macro evolution to bring the world as we know it to the point at which we know it? Was the earth made with an appearance of age? Did God create the earth as formless matter a long time ago but only shape it and prepare it for human life within the last several thousand years? For further reading check out The Confessions by St. Augustine (the penguin classics edition, last couple of chapters) Also check out Al Mohlers YouTube videos as well as John Lennox.
Heaven. Is heaven a cloudy place where we play the harp all day? Is it a beach? Is it what ever is subjectively best for us? Or is heaven a place of waiting with God until He’s ready to judge the living and the dead? What about the new heavens and the new earth? What does that mean? Who gets eternal life? Good people? Bad people? Everyone? For further reading check out Heaven by Randy Alcorn, The Glory of Heaven by John MacArthur.
Spiritual Gifts. Is speaking in tongues legit? What about prophecy today? Does the gift of healing still exist? Should we still pursue the spiritual gifts? Do they continue? Have they ceased? For Further reading check out Strange Fire by John MacArthur and Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? By Wayne Grudem.
There are tons of tough topics to consider as we grow in our faith. My goal is not to cause division in the Church, but rather to challenge you to wrestle with your convictions. Paul tells us to be convinced in our convictions, but not to come together only to quarrel. I really love apologetics and the more I’ve studied the more I’ve realized that apologetics starts by answering your own questions and doubts. It’s so much easier to give answers to others when you’ve already wrestled with your own questions and found satisfying answers. Ultimately the best book on these topics is the Bible so learn your Bible well, but check out some of those resources I’ve mentioned and check their claims with your Bible. Some of us should be teachers by now but we’re still chilling in the spiritual nurseries listening to a certain positive encouraging radio station instead of opening the Word and eating meat. Let’s grow in our faith and properly handle the Word of God, learning sound doctrine, defending our faith, contending for our faith and commending our faith with gentleness and respect, taking every thought captive to obey Christ, letting all that we do be done in love and for the fame of His great name.