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CHRISTIANITY IS A PROPOSAL NOT AN IMPOSAL

Chuck Colson’s Speech to Seminarians  |  Why Christianity is a rational and reasonable proposition  |  Why Christianity is not an imposition  |  How Christianity is not just a proposition

Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship

Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates.

Christianity is a proposal not an “imposal”. That is, Christianity is grounded is certain propositions that are rational, reasonable and evidential. Its propositions can then be either accepted or rejected. The notion that each person has the freedom to choose their response to a proposition is a biblical concept grounded in the teaching that every person has been created in the image of God with the God-given freedom to make their own choices and decisions. In one of Chuck Colson’s last speeches, he spoke to a group seminarians (theology students in training to become pastors) and reinforced this point to them. When you take up your pastorates, he told them, remember that Christianity is a proposition not an imposition. We cannot impose Christianity on anyone. Instead, he went on, we must give well reasoned propositions. This requires having the correct starting point for Christianity, Colson stated, and that starting point is the Bible and your unshakeable conviction that it is the very Word of God. Without this foundation we cannot offer the propositions that lead a person to meet with God and experience His forgiveness.

The sum of Your Word is truth,
and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
I rejoice at Your Word like one who finds great spoil.
Psalm 119:160, 162

 

THE PROPOSITIONS OF CHRISTIANITY ARE TRUE, RATIONAL, & REASONABLE 

All Scripture is God-breathed, Paul reminded Timothy, and is profitable for teaching (2Tim. 3:16-17). This is because it is true. It doesn’t just contain truths, it is truth. When Christian leaders stray from the truth of God’s Word regarding matters of human exceptionalism, gender distinction, or sexuality, they will invariably attempt to impose their views rather than offer testable, verifiable propositions. Sometimes this involves twisting Scriptures to impose distortions of the truth into the Scriptures. For example, in Jude 9, the apostle Jude compares the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (homosexuality) with the sin of the fallen watcher angels who took on human form and fornicated with human women (Gen. 6:2-5). In both instances, Jude declares, both the fallen angels who sexually sinned and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah who sexually sinned, did what was “unnatural” after “desiring different flesh” than what God had designed. In the case of those Watcher angels they were not designed to misuse their ability to materialise into human form, and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were not designed to commit fornication at all – let alone with those of the same gender. The Creator has created a design for all of His creatures – which includes men, women, and angels. God’s Word is consistent from cover to cover that sexuality is sacred and spiritual and is gifted to humankind as an expression of the image of God that men and women each bear which intrinsically involves and includes procreation (Matt. 15:19-20; 19:4-6).

Chuck Colson warned these seminarians over 12 years ago that the issue of human gender and sexuality was going to be an issue that culture would oppose Christianity on – and it seems that he was rather prophetic. 

The Bible invites testing and examination of its claims. Because the Bible asserts to be true, we can have great confidence that it can stand up to scrutiny and investigation. Often times the objections that people have with the Bible are because they do not like what it says – not because they are disputing that it actually says it.  

¶ This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things,
and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
John 21:24

The central claim of Christianity is the central claim of the Bible: The Creator became the Redeemer by becoming one of us and laying down His life as our substitute. He taught about God and God’s will for all people and this has been accurately and sufficiently recorded in the Scriptures. He then died an atoning death for the sins of mankind and was resurrected physically from the dead to be declared as Lord of all. He triumphed over the forces of darkness and ascended back to His Father where He was declared to be worthy of all creation’s worship. To live according to what He taught is to love God and others in word and deed. The historical impact of Christ’s atoning life has been well documented by J.Warner Wallace in his book, Person of Interest, where Wallace shows that all of the great social improvements in the world can be traced back to arrival of Christ. These are some of the reasons why we claim that the propositions of Christianity are not only reasonable, true, and evidentially verifiable, but are also good for the world and for each person. Living life the way Christ taught people to live can be shown to be beneficially physically, intellectually, spiritually, and mentally.

Because Christianity involves the acceptance of certain propositions such as the divine inspiration of the Bible, the Creator’s right to decree laws for our conduct, and foundation for true beliefs, Christianity has always been creedal. There are short creeds found in the Bible. These are statements of true beliefs. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo which means I believe. People who reject the Bible but still claim to be Christian sometimes spout, Christianity is about deeds not creeds! which itself sounds awful like a creed to me. Thus, Christianity is a set of propositions that are often presented as doctrines (“beliefs”), and theology (“how we understand God and is will”). In the apostle Paul’s last epistles, written to Timothy, his major themes in both epistles concerns sound doctrine. The basis of sound Christian doctrine is good theology!  

And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:27-40

 

WHY CHRISTIANITY IS NOT AN IMPOSITION 

“You can’t legislate morality” is a false claim because you can only legislate morality – the question is, Whose? But it is true that you can’t legislate for anyone to become a Christian. Christianity cannot be imposed. This is why we make ‘a case’ in the public square about how all people, Christians or otherwise, should treat people — especially the poor, the marginalised, and the vulnerable. We are not arguing for governments to impose legislation to Christianise our society. Rather, we have good reasons for believing that the teachings of Christ are beneficial for all of society. That’s why we argue that marriage is sacred and designed by God for human flourishing. It’s why we argue that a pre-born baby has been given a sacred life and should not be murdered. It’s why we argue that men and women are equal and that men should use their strength to protect, provide, and pastor those in their care not harm or intimidate them. It’s why we argue that Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS, or a host of other euphemisms) should not supplant palliative care which coincides with a dying person’s natural end. We argue we do not impose.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Second Corinthians 5:20

 

WHY CHRISTIANITY IS NOT JUST A PROPOSITION

I do not want to give anyone the impression that Christian is just a set of intellectually propositions. It is much more but it is certainly not less. One of the propositions that we Christians make is that Christianity is a spiritual transformation of a soul. While its propositions are true, they are not just true, they invoke a miraculous transformation in a human being. Jesus described this as being “born again” (John 3:3). The New Testament describes the moment this happens as being a transaction with God where we surrender our life and our sin to Him and He gives us His life and His pardon (1Jn. 1:8-9)! This transaction includes a hope that goes beyond the grave. God the Father adopts all those who turn to Him. It results a new way of seeing life and the world. The things that once troubled us no longer do, because we have a growing confidence that God has a plan and is currently outworking that plan. If you have never surrendered your life in a transaction with God, you can now. You are just one prayer away from peace with God and purpose for your life – both now and beyond the grave! The choice is yours. We can’t impose this offer from God on you, but I do have a proposition for you.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    Yes Andrew, you wrote “The notion that each person has the freedom to choose their response to a proposition is a biblical concept grounded in the teaching that every person has been created in the image of God with the God-given freedom to make their own choices and decisions”…end of quote.
    If two people stand at a cliff’s edge and one says to the other ‘jump’ than that individual has the ability to choose, one either jumps or one does not. You cannot blame the other person if you decide to jump. God being perfect, created Adam and Eve as spiritual beings in His image, He most definitely BTW did not create Adam and ‘Steve’, otherwise the rest of the human race would be non-existent. God in His counsel, before the foundation of the world already knew that there would be a Saviour to die for fallen man, meaning Adam and Eve’s sin of not choosing to obey and trust God implicitly, God Who communed with them daily, Who still came to them in love that day, knowing they needed a perfect Saviour as nothing else would do.
    So again mankind was allowed to choose. If this is not love what is it? Being God He knew where they were when He again ‘walked’, but He still called out to them none-the-less…That must have been a bit of a painful exercise. Innocence for ever changed, taking their eyes off the goal when the fruit was taken, trusting in a lie instead of the Truth – and Adam followed suit. The Image of God was destroyed. Hiding from the God Who knows all.
    Now, this is where the parting of the ways could occur. Some could say…”Ah ‘man’ cannot choose anymore”. I choose to differ too. Standing on that cliff’s edge tells me people can indeed make a decision. Scripture tells me that all people are without excuse. Yet it is true Andrew we cannot make any other person a Christian as much as we desire that they would give their life to Christ and be renewed by His Spirit. All people may choose and choosing has consequences, eternal consequences.
    A thought comes to mind. An Elizabeth – so many Elizabeths around! This beautiful elderly lady sat in her room in her chair way back in 2004, in the nursing home I had the privilege to work in, something God had planned for me, a rather tough learning curve. There she sat and told me in determined excitement that she was NOT eating that day. Well, OK, righto… So I asked her “Why not Elizabeth? ” “I am not eating today because I am going to heaven and in heaven you do not eat” she responded promptly.
    In a nutshell, each one will arrive at death’s door and each one before death closes our eyes, prior to crossing over into a new dimension, will face the same opportunity of life eternal forever with the God Who walked in the Garden right back in time, Who in love sacrificed His only Son, Jesus the Christ Who was perfect, or, the opposite, without Him and feel that loneliness that no one can measure. Till our last breath, that time will be up. The call was made and even today is still made. All we need to do is trust and say ‘Yes Lord’. The scales will fall off our eyes, we will see our sin, that sin paid for in full by our precious Saviour’s blood which no animal sacrifice could do perfectly, because, history tells me, and the Bible tells me too, that Jesus loves me.

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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