Pop Culture in the Bible

Here’s an interesting test for you.

We have Biblical truth, which should describe for us all that is important in our lives. We should be able to live within the bounds of Biblical revelation and be fully equipped for the moral, spiritual and personal challenges of life.

At the same time we are bombarded with Worldly ideas which are pressed upon us as if they have all the authority of holy writ.

Most Christians are so compromised on their Biblical worldview that they simply drink in the world’s concepts as if they were of equal, or even more value and relevance than Biblical truth. Many western Christians are better equipped to discuss worldly concepts than they are to expound Biblical truths.

To compound this problem many Christians keep the Biblical truths and Worldly ideas in separate baskets, never using one to critique the other. Or maybe more truthfully, holding the Worldly ideas above the Bible and assuming that the Bible either has nothing to say, or has missed this important truth.

All Truth is Not God’s Truth

One foolish idea that has been popularised to add to the confusion is that “all truth is God’s truth”. This is a ridiculous idea used to justify the ready embracing of Worldly ideas as if they have the same imprimatur as God’s truth.

The Bible clearly points out that just because something appears to be wisdom (truth is what we might call it) it can be nothing short of devilish deception.

“This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” James 3:15

God’s Biblical truth is truth. The Worldly ideas we have pressed upon us are very likely to be devilish wisdom. Many worldly ideas are deceptions, created by the devil to “steal, kill and destroy” the good things God has given us.

Try This Quiz

Here is a short list of worldly ideas which most of us have become very familiar with. Some of us have attended courses where these concepts have been central to the material. The terms crop up in many contexts.

You task is to take each of these and filter them through a few questions.

1. What does the Bible call it?

2. How does the Bible say it is to be dealt with?

3. How does the life and sacrifice of Jesus deal with it?

4. How do faith and the Christian life address it?

Here’s the List

Now that you have the questions, apply each one to the following items on this short list of worldly ideas.

Stress

Depression

Self-Esteem

Starter Thoughts

Stress is a term that picked up great impetus from about the 1980’s. Since then it has become a ready explanation for all manner of situations. Stress is seen as a medical indicator. It explains poor work performance. It justifies a person’s inappropriate behaviour. Just about everyone has their own personal load of the stuff and can refer to it to excuse their headaches, titchy attitude, lack of productivity and so on. I recently heard a radio report say “there were no injuries but one person was treated for stress”. Now, what was that supposed to mean?

People have been programmed to accept the nebulous diagnosis of ‘stress’ as if it really has meaning. This ill-defined, rubbery term is a huge basket into which all manner of things can be swept.

The technical definition focuses on the idea of people being in a situation where they do not have control over the outcome. No matter what they do they cannot change their vulnerability of take charge of their own destiny. A soldier on a battlefield cannot know when a bullet his heading toward him. An office worker cannot be sure that a whole bunch of new work won’t be dumped in their in-tray.

Biblical Stress

The Bible does not mention stress. Neither does it talk much about the concept of people not having control of their lives. Instead the Bible talks about such things as fear and faith.

David said that he dealt with fear by putting his trust in the Lord.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3

Jesus instructed a father who had just been told that his daughter had died to “keep on believing”, to “have faith”.

“But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: only believe, and she will be made whole.” Luke 8:50

Life is full of uncertainty. Those who have faith can put that uncertainty aside. They can get on with life, confident that God has everything under control and will watch over their affairs.

The Apostle Paul, in prison with a possible death sentence ahead of him, was able to be completely free from stress. He resolved the stress by knowing that either way, death or life, he was happy with the outcome. His faith sustained him.

The same was true for three young men threatened with death by King Nebuchadnezzar. They told the king that they were sure that God would save them, but even if God did not save them they would not worship the king’s idol.

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:17,18

Stress is a place of fear, where a person cannot find faith in God to hold them together.

Depression

Depression is another one of those rubbery terms we all know and think we have a good handle on. But finding a good working definition to “depression” is an interesting challenge.

A friend asked me recently if I could specify the difference between ‘depression’ and ‘grief’. His contention was that our understanding of depression is sufficiently shallow as to not be able to be sure that depression and grief are not the same thing.

Is a depressed person actually suffering grief? Or is it linked to “hope deferred” which we know makes the heart sick?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Self-Esteem

Now here we get into some really tricky business. It is said that low self-esteem is a major problem. Yet the Bible suggests otherwise. The Bible points to pride, too high an opinion of ourselves, as a major problem area for humans.

We are instructed not to think too highly of ourselves. We are warned against pride. We are told that God blesses the lowly. Jesus spoke highly of the “poor in spirit”.

Whose Truth?

So these notions of Stress, Depression and Self-Esteem, which have gained great currency in popular Western culture may not embody the “truth” which they are ascribed with.

So we need to question the various truths and expert opinions which are presented to us. We are told that God’s blessing rests on those who do not walk in the “counsel of the ungodly”.

“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

We are also warned that things which appear to be “wisdom” are in fact devilish ideas which will only steal, kill and destroy, rather than bring blessing and grace into people’s lives.

“This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” James 3:15

Out With Pop Culture

Christians know to be wary of pop culture, pop psychology, popular science, the latest breakthrough insights, the latest craze and concepts which simply do not stand on the authority of scripture.

Ahem….

Read that last sentence again and see if you agree with me. Do most Christians know how to be wary of those things? Is it not true that most Christians swallow the popular culture and popularly promoted ideas as if they are “God’s Truth”, when they may well be devilish ideas to harm them?

Next time you hear some concept being spouted as authoritative take the time to see if you can find it in the Bible. If you can’t, then be very wary of its deceptive and false messages.

Make sure you are Biblical, not a foolish product of popular culture.

George Blaurock Initiates Re-Baptism

This is the day that … George Blaurock was burned to death, in 1529.

Blaurock was born Jörg vom Hause Jakob, in 1492 in Bonaduz, a village in Grisons, Switzerland.

An ex-Roman Catholic priest, he had been converted to Protestantism when he was about 34 years of age.

That same year Conrad Grebel debated Ulrich Zwingli on the issue of infant baptism. Both were Protestant, but Grebel had become convinced that baptism was for believers only. Zwingli held to the belief that children of Christians were to be baptised as infants, on the same basis that the Old Testament required circumcision. Nothing was resolved by the debate.

Blaurock (so named because of a blue coat he wore on one occasion) went to Zurich to consult with Zwingli, but was disappointed in him. He then met with Grebel and Felix Manz and resonated with their commitment to Biblical truth.

Blaurock was already married at this time, so it appears that he had already abandoned the non-biblical practices of the Catholic church.

In a meeting in which the small group discoursed on their commitment to Biblical practice, rather than church tradition, they were deeply moved by this new conviction and Blaurock asked to be baptised as a believer, as the New Testament recorded. Once George was baptised the others asked him to baptize them.

Thus George Blaurock not only became an associate of Grebel but instigated the practice of re-baptism, becoming a vigorous preacher in the newly formed Anabaptist movement. At the time this rebaptism was performed by pouring, rather than total immersion.

There followed “tireless evangelism” around Switzerland, and clashes with the followers of Zwingli. Eventually Blaurock was arrested (on 8 October, 1525), escaped (on 21 March, 1526), re-arrested (in December, 1526) and sentenced to death (on 5 January, 1527). This sentence was, however, altered to a public flogging and exile from Zurich.

He maintained most of his ministry by dodging those who opposed him, preaching in a variety of places and using remote locations. His itinerant preaching ministry continued until he was arrested again in August, 1529. Death came at the age of 38.

A German historian identified Blaurock’s ideals as “freedom of religion, liberty of conscience, (and) the equality of all citizens before the law”. He also composed hymns which have endured in German worship to this day.

Georg Blaurock was one of the noblest martyrs of the Christian Church. For the brotherhood he helped to found he cheerfully sacrificed everything, honor and respect, freedom and comfort, property and goods, wife and child, body and life for the sake of his Lord and Saviour. Under the sign of adult baptism he gave the brotherhood its actual reason for existence in the world.

It was Blaurock’s falling away from the Catholic priesthood and from the Catholic Church, with his repudiation of the Mass, the confessional, and the adoration of Mary that marked him as a criminal worthy of death.

His biographer writes: “George Blaurock was a pioneer evangelist. His methods were sometimes crude and his remarks impolite. But he was sincere, untiring and courageous in spreading the gospel as he understood it. He was the apostle of the Anabaptists to the common people.”

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Bible Teaching In Melbourne

This post is to announce that Chris Field has commenced live Bible Teaching in Melbourne!

People who love the Bible and are keen to learn how to apply Biblical truth and wisdom to their life can now enjoy two live Bible Teaching sessions each week in Melbourne, Australia.

Sunday nights at 5pm Chris Field leads a Sunday Night Church service for Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne, at the YWAM base, 1 Kent Road, Surrey Hills.

Tuesday nights at 7pm Chris Field leads a mid-week Bible Study, at the Box Hill meeting rooms of Full Gospel Assembly Melbourne, 15 Ellingworth Parade, Box Hill.

For May and June the sessions are dedicated to Family topics, for which Chris is well known. This coming Sunday night, the evening of Mothers Day, Chris will teach from the Bible on “How To Treat A Woman”. On Tuesday night, next, May 13, Chris will present his “Straight Talk On Sex” material.

People looking for relevant and faith building Bible Teaching in Melbourne are invited to Surrey Hills 5pm Sunday Nights and Box Hill 7pm Tuesday Nights.

Please pass this notice on to your Melbourne contacts. You can email them the link to this notice, which is: http://chrisfieldblog.com/family/bible-teaching-in-melbourne