Sometimes we face real moral dilemmas—doing one thing we ought to do means doing something else we ought not do. What are we to do when we are in these hard spots? Last week I discussed one solution that won’t work. This week I’ll look at a second option that is better than the first, but still not a good solution. Then I’ll offer what I believe to be the best ways to solve these moral dilemmas.
We all want to “do the right thing.” But sometimes that is much easier said than done. What do we do when choosing one right thing also means doing one wrong thing? What do we do when moral duties truly collide? There are three answers offered, but I only think one is realistic in our day-to-day lives.
I’m convinced that pre-evangelism is essential for reaching people with the gospel in postmodern settings today. But perhaps I need to make my case a bit more persuasively. After all, isn’t the gospel self-authenticating and powerful enough on its own? Do we really need to appeal to fallen people’s inadequate reasoning in proclaiming a message about rebirth? Perhaps my quoting of Schaeffer, Moore, and Keller still leave you wanting input from a higher authority.
Fifty years ago, Francis Schaeffer, the one-of-a-kind preacher and evangelist in postmodern Europe (before most people ever heard the term postmodern) told us, “Pre-evangelism is no soft option.” More recently, Russell Moore awakened us to the reality that “we can stop counting on the culture to do pre-evangelism” for us.
From Unlikely Converts, pages 13 to 15:
“Don’t you just love stories? We sit on the edge of our seats to hear them. We download podcasts that feature them. We pay money to hear comedians tell funny ones. We wake up when a longwinded speaker breaks from explanations, elaborations, and emendations and says, “This reminds me of a story.”
“Randy Newman has done it again! His latest book on personal evangelism is so captivating and inspirational that I read it in one sitting.” So says Dr. Lyle Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University Randy’s latest book is Unlikely Converts, the result of his doctoral research on how we can help non-believers come to faith. I’ve asked Randy to write a series of four guest blogs here to share some of what he discovered (and hopefully entice you to buy his book!)
As I did last year, I am again re-posting the top three articles from last year. The third most-read article was “Announcing the Society of Christian Scholars” posted July 5 and having 432 readers.
This is a good time to repost this article—we are less than two months away from the establishment of the Society of Christian Scholars! If you know any Christian professors, graduate students/post docs, or campus ministers/campus pastors who serve Christian professors, please help us get the word out by inviting them to visit www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org.
We all want to be faithful to our Lord’s command to see the gospel permeate and change the world. As Christians, we see countless ways things are not as they should be—people alienated from God, one another, God’s good creation, and even themselves. As a result, they live and lead from non-Christian beliefs and values, which results in shattered lives, fractured families, human trafficking, oppressive regimes, and many other forms of alienation from God and one another.
Last Tuesday I lost one of my heroes. Christian speaker, author, and editor Jim Sire passed “from the land of the dying into the land of the living” to a great reward at age 84. He not only had a massive influence on me and countless others through his many books (such as The Universe Next Door, which is one of four books I suggest each parent read with their children before college), he was also a friend and mentor to me and so many others. We can learn at least three lessons from Jim’s life.
CEO Uzziah got it almost all right. He built a great company (country). He was well respected in his country and by the nations around him because he lived by the first three leadership best practices. He also apparently followed this fourth best practice for some time. However, he forgot this fourth principle after he was seasoned, and it cost him his position as a leader and more. What happened? And as we are successful how can we avoid this same fate?
CEO Uzziah is blessed by God and becomes an exceptional leader. But this is not only because he followed the first two leadership principles. He also understood and applied a third principle—trusting God is not enough. We must also work to be excellent at what we do. This is the secret of the “both/and” and makes all work a spiritual endeavor. Only understanding this can energize a leader to lead well for the long haul.
Uzziah became CEO at a very early age (at 16—II Chronicles 26:1)! He didn’t know much about running a country, and he probably was well aware of his ignorance! He needed others with wisdom, experience and “deeds done” to help him understand reality, see what he needed to see and do what he needed to do. A key factor to his success was that Uzziah learned from two mentors. This is another essential best practice for leaders.
I recently spoke on leadership from II Chronicles 26:1-21. King (CEO) Uzziah was an exceptional leader, due to four best practices he adopted. He also failed spectacularly because he forgot the fourth of these later in his career. All of us in leadership should know and apply these best practices to flourish both personally and professionally.
Does the world need North Americans to continue sending missionaries worldwide to finish the task of seeing all people hear the gospel? Or have we done our part, and now it is time for those in other nations to finish the task in their homelands? A recent article taking the first position was criticized in a response in another journal here, highlighting the two opposing views. I just finished a book that charts a helpful “middle course” between the two.
Can we hope to find common ground in “the public square” over the critically important social issues of our day? Over the past seven weeks I’ve illustrated how the three different answers to “What are we” determines our answer to this question. But our view of what we are also determines our view of whether abortion and euthanasia are ever justified, whether the gospel makes sense, how Christians best grow in their faith, what constitutes “ministry,” and so much more. Let me explain…
Artists are able to see beauty before it exists, and bring it into being, taking raw materials such as paint, canvas, clay, metal, fabric, notes, words or movement, and producing something of value. I believe this is what Christians are called to do in culture—take what God has created and produce something of value, which leads to human flourishing and the common good. As Ted Turnau puts it, “God commands us to develop his creation. It makes sense, then, that the Bible begins with a garden and ends with a city.” (Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective, p. 54)