Archive for the apologetics Category

Authentic Relationships!

Posted in apologetics, relationships with tags , , on August 15, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

How many times in your life could you say that you have felt a genuine sense of oneness and unity in your relationships?

Unfortunately, when it comes to the church, there are too many people who carry with them a negative report of broken relationships and wounded souls. Yet, the church is called to be the greatest apologetic of the gospel the world has ever seen.

Why is it the Church struggles to cultivate authentic relationships at times? Let me suggest 4 reasons among others:

  1. Reality of Spiritual Warfare – We have an enemy who hates the church and all it stands for.
  2. Our Sinful Nature – When our flesh can’t get what it wants it pollutes our relationships.
  3. Pressure to Perform – Salvation by works manifests as pharisaical moralism.
  4. Busyness of life in western culture – Busyness skims through life and produces shallow relationships.

Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17:1-26 has some incredible insight into the source of unity, the benefits of unity and why unity is important. We will unpack the insights in this passage over the next week.

Lead the Change!

Unhelpful Fruits of Postmodernism

Posted in apologetics with tags on August 2, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

There are 5 unhelpful fruits that postmodernism has produced. They are:

  1. Death of the META-NARRATIVE = Postmodernism puts to death any ultimate truth. The bible is the ultimate universal truth, which includes: Creation, fall of mankind, redemption of sinners and promise of eternal life for the saved or death for the unsaved.
  2. Demise of the TEXT = If meta-narratives are dead then the bible is dead. Because the bible represents a threat to feminists, liberationists and the homosexual community then the truth of the bible must be deconstructed  to fit their ideology.
  3. Dominated by THERAPY = Categorising some human behaviour as SIN is rejected as oppressive and harmful to self-esteem. We want people to feel good about themselves’ and sign up to the kingdom of God without repenting of their sin.
  4. Decline of AUTHORITY = All authority is to be rejected as oppressive and limiting self-expression. Preaching is tolerated as long as it doesn’t inject divine authority into it and preachers are to be more like Dr Phil and Oprah than the Apostle Paul or John the Baptist.
  5. Displacement of Morality = Postmodernism not only permits but celebrates alternative lifestyles. There is a reversal of morals that has taken place.

Tomorrow we will explore how some contemporary preaching is accommodating postmodern culture rather than challenging it.

Lead the Change!

Preaching & Postmodernism Pt2

Posted in apologetics, Preaching with tags , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

In my last blog post we looked at the demise of preaching in light of the influences of postmodernism. Today I want to share with you further insight into how we are to approach preaching the Bible in a postmodern culture.

Firstly, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment begins with a provoked spirit of concern. In Acts 17:16 Paul’s spirit was provoked within him when he saw the Athenians worshipping the many gods and idols, littered around the city. Our commitment to preaching the bible must begin with a spiritual burden for the broken state of people’s lives, not intellectual snobbery or elitism.

Secondly, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment is centered on the Gospel. In Acts 17:17 Paul went to the synagogue and the marketplace and preached the gospel, presenting the death and resurrection of Christ and his teachings as the central theme of his ministry. Our preaching should take on an apologetic approach in a plural society (Defending the Gospel and building a case for faith). The goal of apologetic preaching should be to win souls and not just arguments.

Thirdly, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment assumes spiritual confusion in culture. Confusion reigns supreme in western culture about everything. I believe a tactic of Satan is to introduce so many different ideologies in our culture so that people can be trapped in confusion. God is not a god of confusion but of truth, order and peace.

Fourthly, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment is directed to people’s spiritual hunger. Secularism has left people’s souls deprived of true spiritual nourishment. We must turn the spiritual hunger of people towards the food of the Gospel. God has put eternity into the hearts of man and filled lost people with a hunger for truth.

Fifth, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment begins with God. In Acts 17:24-28, Paul begins with God as creator before he moves to God as redeemer. People must first understand who God is as their maker before they begin to understand their need for God as their redeemer.

Sixth, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment confronts error. I would like to do a series one time called ‘War on Error’. One of the signs of the last days church is that we will be rife with false teaching and false teachers. Error and heresy must be confronted and opposed. Gospel Truth is the branch we are all sitting on and cutting that off leaves us with nothing.

Seventh, Bible preaching in a postmodern environment calls people to repent and warns them of judgment to come. Albert Mohler says, “It is not enough to preach Christ without calling for belief and repentance. It is not enough to promise the blessings of heaven without warning of the threat of hell. It is not enough to preach salvation without pointing to judgment.”

Lead the Change!

Preaching & Postmodernism Part 1

Posted in apologetics, Bible, Theology with tags , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

There are many happenings within our culture that falls under the banner of postmodernism and it’s something I think is important for us to talk about within the Body of Christ because the radical relativism in our culture is a direct challenge to the Christian Gospel.

Albert Mohler Jr in giving a definition of postmodernism suggests, “We might best describe postmodernism as a mood (rather than a movement or a methodology) that sets itself apart from the certainties of the modern age.” (He is not Silent pg116)

Postmodernism argues that truth is socially constructed, plural and innacessible to universal reason. But Christianity says that truth is established by God, known to us through God’s self-revelation in Scripture, it’s eternal, fixed and universal.

There are 5 key elements to why postmodernism is what it is, that we need to be aware of:

  1. Death of the Metanarrative – The Gospel is the ultimate metanarrative (Universal truth). Since postmodernists believe truth is socially constructed then absolute truth must be resisted at all costs. Christianity has at the core the metanarrative of redemption. The Biblical account includes creation, the fall of mankind, the redemption of sinners through the substitutionary work of Christ and finally the promise of eternal destiny with God forever in glory as well as the eternal punishment of the unsaved.
  2. Demise of the TextIf the great metanarratives are dead then the great texts behind these metanarratives must be dead as well, including the bible. Because the Bible represents a threat to the rise of the feminist, liberation, homosexual and other like-interest groups then the the bible’s truths must be deconstructed to fit their ideology. Albert Mohler says, “The Bible too is subjected to radical interpretation, often with little or no regard for the plain meaning of the text or the clear intention of the human author. Texts that are not pleasing to the postmodern mind are rejected as oppressive, patriarchal, heterosexist, homophobic, or deformed by some other political or ideological bias. The authority of the text is denied in the name of liberation, and the most fanciful and ridiculous interpretations are celebrated as “affirming” and thus “authentic”.
  3. Dominion of Therapy – Categories such as ‘sin’ are rejected as oppressive and harmful to self-esteem so preachers don’t talk about sin in such a way that will convict people to acknowledge their sin. More and more preachers are hoping their therapeutic approach to ministry will enable people to feel so good about themselves that they will want to sign up to wholeness without passing through the twin towers of repentance and redemption.
  4. Decline of Authority – Doctrines, traditions, creeds, and confessions – all these are to be rejected and charged with limiting self-expression and representing oppressive authority. Preachers are tolerated so long as we don’t inject divine authority and claims of absolute truth into our sermons. Preachers have to be more like Dr Phil then the Apostle Paul.
  5. Displacement of Morality – In postmodernism everything is permitted and alternative lifestyles are celebrated. There is a reversal of morals which sees homosexuality as liberation and homophobia a ‘sin’.

How is the Gospel Preacher to respond to the challenges of postmodernism? Check out tomorrows blog on the role of Bible preaching in a postmodern environment.

Lead the Change!

Church for the Unchurched!

Posted in activate church, apologetics, church with tags , on May 25, 2010 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

Too many of our churches are for the churched and not for the unchurched!

4 years on since starting Activate Church, I realise that while my heart and words reflected a passion for engaging with people who don’t know Christ, in the first 2 years of our church, my style, ministry expression and language was more relevant for churched people than unchurched people.

Over the last 4 years God has been taking me on a journey to embrace not only a heart for people but also discovering an expression that engages more unchurched people. This is a challenging process and requires a willingness to kill sacred cows once highly esteemed by believers raised in the church.

Some people think to be a church to the unchurched you have to ‘dumb’ down the theology of your sermons but in fact what we are discovering is people who don’t know Christ not only want theological meat but they want to understand the biblical terminology we use as well. Preaching God’s Word in todays culture requires a rediscovery of apologetics (defense of the gospel) and engagement with the power of the Spirit in a very real and authentic way.

Building with Christ a church for the unchurched is an experiment and an adventure. Sometimes what you try works and sometimes it doesn’t have the impact you were aiming for. I have decided to lead a church that serves Christ first and people second. The church belongs to Jesus and we must be faithful to Christ before we be relevant to people. It’s out of a heart to follow Christ that we catch a passion for connecting with people who don’t know Christ and for whom Christ deeply cares for. When God’s Word is in its rightful place and Jesus Christ is worshipped as the head of the Church, we can then innovate our methods to love and serve people.

I am on a journey and the Church I lead is on a journey to discover what a church for the unchurched looks like. Why is this important? Because many people still need to hear the Gospel message and many people are still living in sin.

I recently was alarmed to hear of a growing trend in the Church across Victoria where we are seeing approximately 170 people per fortnight leaving the church throughout the state. Also 1 church a week is closing down in Victoria and the church growth that’s being measured is take-over growth, where churches are taking over existing and struggling churches.

This trend has to change and to do so we must build the church for the unchurched.

Lead the change!

How to know God?

Posted in apologetics, Theology with tags , on July 24, 2009 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

30611184_63df274dd1_mTo answer this question, I am going to interact with some excerpts from the book “Total Church”.

God is known through what is contrary. He is known in a hidden way. God’s invisible attributes are revealed in suffering and the cross – glory in shame, wisdom in folly, power in weakness, victory in defeat. God is known through the message of the cross. God’s justice is revealed in the opposite of justice – in the justification of sinners” (who don’t deserve to be justified).

“If knowledge of God could be obtained from what is visible (creation, spiritual experiences, miracles) that would lead to pride. So God determined to be known through suffering so that he would be hidden from all those who exalt themselves. Only someone who has had all the spirit taken out of him and has been broken can know God.”

Some have said that humility is the precondition for knowing God. My observation has been that only those who are humbled or crushed before God can truly know him. Those who pursue personal glory pursue wisdom, experience and miracles but often say that suffering is bad. But those who pursue the cross values suffering as that through which God is revealed. “Knowledge of God is not found through human wisdom, powers, or achievements but in the foolishness of the cross.” We come to God on his terms, dependent on God to disclose himself.

“It requires faith to recognize God in the absence of God, to recognize victory in defeat, to recognize glory in shame. God is known only be faith. And because this requires faith, it is an act of grace. We do not contribute to our salvation – it is all God’s doing. It is the same for our knowledge of God. We do not contribute to our knowledge of God – It is all God’s doing. God reveals himself in a hidden way in order to safeguard the graciousness of revelation”

We don’t know God because we are more clever or have greater insight or are more disciplined in prayer than the next person. We only know God because He has graciously revealed himself to us in the reality of the bloody cross. God is only known through what he reveals about himself and his greatest self-disclosure is the message of the cross – power in weakness, glory in shame and wisdom in folly.

How do we know God? “Not primarily through mystical insight or theological wisdom or supernatural visions or words of knowledge or the beauty of creation. We know God through the message of the cross.”

Lead the Change!

Movie – ‘Doubt’

Posted in apologetics, faith, Theology with tags , , , on June 26, 2009 by Corey Turner #ironprophet

imp_doubt_ver2I recently saw the movie, ‘Doubt’ with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was nominated for 5 academy awards and overall I thought it was a dark, depressing, bleak and  yet clever film about the tension between faith and doubt. I won’t give away the story line but what the film does is ask questions about certainty and doubt.

Many people struggle with doubt about God, the Scriptures, the church, biblical creationism and the evidence of the supernatural power of God. It’s so easy to become skeptical when our expectations aren’t met and people let us down. If we were honest we all have reasons to become bitter and skeptical and allow doubt to cripple our faith in God because of the negative experiences of our lives. But this is where faith comes in.

Faith isn’t the absence of unanswered questions. There are some questions we have that will not be answered in this life but will become clear in the light of eternal life. If you can’t live with this tension then you are going to be a very miserable person. The Book of James 1:5-8 speaks to this issue of faith and doubt. It says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

You may feel very lost and confused about your life and what on is going on with you, the world and everything within it. Lots of people are, but there are some things you can be certain of that have become foundational in my life. In Matthew 7:24-27 we read of Jesus calling us to hear his words and obey them. If we do we will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock and when the rain fell and the storms came, his house did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. But the person who hears the words of Jesus and doesn’t obey them is like a man who built his house on the sand and when the winds and waves blew against the house, great was the fall and crash of the house.

This is a simple analogy to point out to us that if our lives aren’t founded on the truth of Jesus Christ than when the storms of life hit us we will crumble. You may think they will never hit you but the storms of life always hit, whether you are intelligent, famous, rich, poor, educated or inept. Wrestle with your questions and live with the tension of some of them being unanswered but don’t be stupid and ignore your most fundamental need – forgiveness of sins and faith in Jesus Christ. Get over yourself and take your doubts to Jesus. He alone is the one who knows what to do with them.

Lead the Change!