#16 Unexamined Faith is Not Worth Having

THIS CHAPTER IS THE FIRST of the second half of the book. The first fifteen chapters have been about various “true things” mostly related to theological concerns. We turn now to matters of a more personal nature. What we think about theological matters affects our actions, so it was important for us to look at the fifteen “true things” we have considered up to this point. But now let’s look at some more personal, “close-to-home” issues.

In May 1957 I graduated from Southwest Baptist College, a junior college then but a university now, and that fall I transferred to William Jewell College. One of my courses that first semester was Philosophy of Religion and the textbook was a new work by the Quaker scholar David Elton Trueblood.[1] In the first chapter of his book, Trueblood declares, “Unexamined faith is not worth having.”[2] My professor, for good reason, emphasized that statement repeatedly, and I gradually came to realize that it was, indeed, not only an important statement but also expressed something that I badly needed to do.

That autumn was an uncomfortable time for me. My junior college sweetheart and I were married in the same month we had graduated. During the fall of that year, I was not only taking a full college course load, I was also working from 6:00 to 10:00 each evening in downtown Kansas City as well as serving as pastor of a small “mission” church ninety miles away. But all of that was not particularly a problem for me; having to examine or question my faith was.

Nevertheless, going through that period of doubt, reflection, and examination was an extremely valuable experience. As a result of that process, I came to embrace what seemed then, and still seems to me now, an examined faith very much worth having. And, of course, it has been necessary at various times through the decades since then, to re-examine various aspects of my faith.

How Could Faith Be Not Worth Having?

If faith is always good, as asserted in the previous chapter, how could any faith ever not be worth having? Well, faith is always good, but it is not always stable. Sometimes it is weak, easily shaken, and even so fragile it is sometimes broken by adversity. In that sense alone it is not worth having. If it cannot withstand challenges, both those from within and those from without, how can it be of great value?

Sometimes our faith is challenged by difficult personal experiences. Serious illness, tragic accidents, or the untimely death of a loved one are all reasons many people suddenly, or even gradually, question the reality of their faith and sometimes end up jettisoning it. But if faith is the result of an encounter with God and such faith is always good, why would people ever question such faith? Well, faith in God is, truly, always good, but people often have insufficient or an erroneous understanding of God. Lack of an understanding the true nature of God can produce a flawed faith.

If God is considered to be a supernatural power that always protects the believer from harm and unhappiness, then what does that person do at the time of a catastrophic accident or, say, when the loss of a friendship causes great mental pain? If God is thought of as the Almighty who can prevent tragedies in the natural world or the world of human relationships, what do those people do when a tornado destroys their home or when they are betrayed by their best friend? If God is touted to be the answer to all of life’s questions, what does one do, for example, when new scientific discoveries or societal changes brings to light new issues that most Christians hadn’t even thought about and for which there is no accepted or acceptable answer?

An unexamined faith is likely not to withstand the sorts of problems or issues just mentioned. Thus, such a faith is “not worth having,” for it is too unstable to withstand the challenges that come from an inadequate understanding of the God in whom one has placed his or her faith.

A Jesuit priest writes in a recent book about how he grew up with the idea of God as “the Great Problem Solver.” As he grew older, that view of God collapsed when he realized that “God didn’t seem interested” in solving all his problems. So, he writes, “My adolescent narcissism led to some serious doubts, which led me to consider the possibility that God didn’t exist.” And then after one of his closest friends was killed in an automobile accident he decided not to believe in God.[3]

Considering the same matter from another angle, there are many challenges to faith hurled at believers by aggressive atheist or anti-theistic writers. Far more than at the time that Trueblood (or Adams) wrote about unexamined faith not being worth having, in recent years there have been several popular, widely-known authors who strenuously attack faith in God and tout an unabashed atheism. The four most widely known of these “New Atheists,” as they are often called, are Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.[4] And although he is not an author, perhaps the popular TV personality Bill Maher should be added to this list.[5]

These New Atheists represent a belief system which actively opposes faith in God. In writing about them, Chris Hedges titles his book When Atheism Becomes Religion and he refers to them as “America’s new fundamentalists.”[6] And Frank Schaeffer explains that what makes these atheists new is that they are “especially aggressive, political, and evangelistic.”[7]

This is my point: if a person of unexamined faith is confronted by people like the New Atheists, and there are certainly a sizeable number of people who are their ardent supporters or who agree with their militant atheism, will that faith be strong enough to withstand the attack? Possibly not. So, again, that is part of what I mean by emphasizing that unexamined faith is not worth having.

How Does One Examine One’s Faith?

The process of examining one’s faith is not easy, though. Objects in the physical world can usually be examined by direct observation and checking hypotheses by experimentation. The physical world can be examined in the laboratory, often by microscopes, or the world of space by telescopes. That sort of thing is often referred to as the empirical method, generally taken to mean the collection of data on which to base a theory or derive a conclusion in science. But faith can’t be examined in that way. Philosophical thinking rather than the empirical or scientific method must be used.

It has often been said that philosophy is about questioning answers rather than answering questions, so it was natural that my Philosophy of Religion course with Trueblood’s Philosophy of Religion as the text was a valuable place to begin questioning a lot of the “answers” I had accepted by my religious upbringing. When I was in high school, I used to wear a pin clipped on my shirt pocket as an attempt to witness to my faith. The pin said, “Jesus is the Answer.” And I still believe that—or maybe I should say I believe that again. But in spite of my bold claim back then, I certainly didn’t know yet what all of the questions were (and maybe still don’t). And I also wouldn’t have known back then how Jesus was the answer to many perplexing questions.

Studying Trueblood’s book in which the early chapters dealt with issues such as the necessity of philosophy, faith and reason, the possibility of truth, the mystery of knowledge, and the nature of evidence helped me to examine my very sincere, but also very unexamined, faith. That study, and that process of faith-examination, was a most valuable experience for me, so much so that my main academic interest in seminary and then in graduate school was Christian philosophy and apologetics.

Roger E. Olson is a seminary professor at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary and is also a prolific writer. One of his recent books is Questions for All Your Answers: A Journey from Folk Religion to Examined Faith.[8] That book is on the very subject of this chapter, and the title of his third chapter is even “Jesus is the Answer: So What’s the Question?” (Actually, I hadn’t even seen a copy of Olson’s book until after I had written about the pin I wore in high school proclaiming Jesus to be the answer.)

Just as Trueblood wrote about the importance of both faith and reason, so Olson emphasizes that people of faith should not be “gullible, credulous, irrational, or uncritical. God gave us minds and expects us to use them.” So he calls for an “examined, reflective faith” and goes on to aver that reflective Christianity “knows that many of the simplistic answers often touted by folk Christianity are too shallow to do justice to the great mysteries and depths of the faith.” [9]

One of the best explanations about the meaning of theology is that it is “faith seeking understanding.”[10] Thus, there is considerable overlap between Christian theology and Christian philosophy, and people of faith need to study theology to some degree as well as to engage in philosophical thinking. It is sad, though, that so many people who would never be content with their childhood knowledge of, say, politics, economics, or psychology, never go much beyond their earlier years of religious education in often rather “hit or miss” Sunday School classes. Serious theological (and philosophical) study is important for every person of faith, not just for those going into the Christian ministry.

Further, serious doubting is also a necessary part of the process. In examining one’s faith, then, one could profit from In Praise of Doubt, a rather recent book by the eminent religious sociologist Peter Berger.[11] Actually, decades before, Trueblood had declared that “we should never, in pursuing the philosophy of religion, stifle doubt, because doubt, as Galileo taught, is the father of discovery.”[12] And Berger avers that doubt and uncertainty “pave the road to knowledge and indubitable truth.”[13]

So, questioning and doubting are necessary components for examining one’s faith. These components lead to serious thinking, reflecting, analyzing, studying, and, yes, praying. The main danger is that one quits the process too soon. But for those who persevere, the time comes when one can exclaim, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Faith Examined in Community

Examining one’s faith is not something one can do alone. Just as it is sometimes said that one cannot be a Christian by oneself, neither can people adequately examine their faith by themselves. It takes a community for faith to be thoroughly examined. Serious dialogue with other believers, thoughtful discussions with those who have already been through the process, joint worship, hearing testimonies about faith that proved fruitful: these and other communal activities are a necessary part of examining one’s faith.

Too often there has been an over-abundance of individualism in Christianity, especially as practiced in American society. Faith has generally been understood as a private matter. Of course, it is the individual person who has, or who does not have, faith. But that faith is not something that can sprout, bud, and blossom in isolation from a community of faith.

So if you come to recognize that unexamined faith is not worth having, I hope you will also recognize that in addition to the personal efforts you must make to examine your faith by your own study, thought, and prayer you need also to be a part of a faith community, which may be large or small but which can give you invaluable help in the examination process.

Moreover, while what has been written in this chapter is mostly for those in a Christian context, the same sort of thing is true for adherents of any religion—or for those who profess the worldview/faith known as atheism.

[1] Philosophy of Religion (Harper, 1957). Trueblood (1900-94) was for decades a professor at Earlham College and was the founder of the Earlham School of Theology.

[2] P. 14. The Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams (1901-94) also is often quoted as saying, “An unexamined faith is not worth having,” and I can find no evidence that Trueblood or Adams either cited each other. (And I can’t find that statement in print under Adams’ name, although it is attributed to him at the beginning of the Introduction, by George K. Beach, in An Examined Faith: Social Context and Religious Commitment, Beacon Press, 1991). Also, even though not acknowledged, these words hark back to those well-known words spoken by Socrates in Plato’s Apology: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

[3] James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (HarperOne, 2010), p. 37. Martin (b. 1960) is now a widely known advocate for the Christian faith.

[4] Dawkins (b. 1941) is the author of The God Delusion, Dennett (b. 1942) of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon , Harris (b. 1967) of The End of Faith (2004), and Hitchens (1949-2011) of God Is Not Great (2007).

[5] Maher (b. 1956) was the writer, producer and star of the movie “Religulous” (2008), a documentary which examines and mocks organized religion and religious belief. The title is derived from the words religion and ridiculous.

[6] (Free Press, 2008). Hedges (b. 1956) uses America’s New Fundamentalists for the subtitle of his book and “The New Fundamentalism” is the title of the fourth chapter.

[7] Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism) (Da Capo Press, 2009), p. 9. Schaeffer (b. 1952) is the son of the late Francis Schaeffer, the widely-known leader of the Christian Right. The younger Schaeffer is also the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back (Da Capo Press, 2007).

[8] (Zondervan, 2007). Olson (b.1952) is Professor of Theology at Baylor University’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary. In the Introduction, Olson declares that “the unexamined faith is not worth believing,” but I think Trueblood’s statement is better: faith is something one has, holds, or lives by, not just something one believes.

[9] The first quote is on p. 13, the short quote is the title of the subsection on pp. 18-23, and the last quote is on p. 23. In the part on “Examined, Reflective Faith,” Olson emphasizes that reflective Christianity is the opposite of what he calls folk religion, which is what most people grow up with.

[10] That was the motto of the scholastic theologian Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109). In recent years, a major theology textbook is Daniel L. Migliore’s Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Eerdmans, 1980; second ed., 2004). Migliore (b. 1935) retired as Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2009.

[11] (HarperOne, 2009). Berger (1929-2017) was not only a sociologist but also a Lutheran theologian, and he is best known for The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (1966), which he co-authored with Thomas Luckmann. In Praise of Doubt was co-authored by Aton Zijderveld, and the subtitle is How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic.

[12] P. 20. Later on Trueblood contends that doubt “shows an overriding concern for the truth. Those who do not care tremendously about the truth do not bother to doubt, for doubt entails work” (p. 45).

[13] P. 101. Berger’s assertion is made with reference to Sebastian Castellio, author of a treatise on “The Art of Doubt, Faith, Ignorance and Knowledge” (1563).


#15  Faith and Religion are Not the Same, and Faith Is Far More Important

FOR MANY LEGITIMATE REASONS, religion is often seen in bad light by contemporary people. Partly for that reason, in this chapter I contend that faith and religion are not the same and that faith is far more important than religion. Faith (in God, by whatever name God is known) is always good, but religion has been and continues to be infiltrated by much that is not good and sometimes by that which is just plain bad. This is another “true thing” that everyone needs to know now.  Continue reading “#15  Faith and Religion are Not the Same, and Faith Is Far More Important”

#14  The Goal of Missions is the Kingdom of God

HAVING CONSIDERED IN THE previous chapter some legitimate reasons for Christians to engage in, and to support, global evangelistic missionary activity today, it is fitting that we now think seriously about what the real goal of missions is. I wrote that one of my goals was to lead individuals to faith in Christ, baptism, and church membership. But that was not my only goal; in fact, through the years on the “mission field,” I came more and more to see the goal of missions to be much more than simply encouraging individuals to accept Jesus as their personal Savior, although the latter was never completely discarded. Continue reading “#14  The Goal of Missions is the Kingdom of God”

#13  Missionary Activity is Still Legitimate and Important

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER CLOSED with a section on the Holy Spirit and mission, and in this new chapter I invite readers to think more about the missionary activity of the past, present, and future. Here I am thinking particularly of what previously was usually called foreign missions but which is now more commonly dubbed international or global missions.

Continue reading “#13  Missionary Activity is Still Legitimate and Important”

#12  God’s Spirit is Aways with Us Whether We Realize It or Not

THE PREVIOUS THREE CHAPTERS have been about Jesus, especially about the lordship of Jesus. But more needs to be said about the Holy Spirit. In the long history of Christianity, there has been the tendency for far more to be thought and said about the Creator God and about Jesus Christ than about the Holy Spirit. Yet, in the creeds of the Church from A.D. 381 to the present, the divinity of the Spirit has been duly acknowledged.

Continue reading “#12  God’s Spirit is Aways with Us Whether We Realize It or Not”

#11 For Christians, Jesus Must Be Lord Of All If He Is Lord At All

THE PREVIOUS TWO CHAPTERS have been about the lordship of Jesus, and there is one more important thing that everyone needs to know about the significance of that lordship: For Christians, Jesus must be Lord of all, or he is not Lord at all. That is, to be sure, an assertion that has been around for a long time, but I don’t get the impression many Christians think in those terms much anymore.

It was probably during my freshman year of college that I first heard the assertion that Jesus must be Lord of all if he is Lord at all. And, if I remember correctly, I wrote those words inside the front cover of the pocket New Testament that I regularly carried then. I certainly can’t claim that I have completely, or even mostly, lived by the meaning of those words—but I have been challenged by those words often.

So that there will be no misunderstanding, in light of what I wrote in the ninth chapter, the affirmation I am making here is not about Jesus being Lord over all the world. It is about Jesus being Lord over the totality of an individual believer’s life. These are two completely separate issues.

The previous chapter dealt some with the problem of compartmentalization, making religious faith just one of several different parts of a person’s life rather than the foundation of all the other aspects of his or her existence. The idea of Jesus being Lord of all is a closely related concept.

If Jesus is Lord of all, then for the individual Christian believer every area of their life —their personal life, their family relationships, their financial decisions, their recreational activities, and every other sphere of their existence—must be subject to Jesus, their Lord.

Some people, no doubt, have serious questions regarding the total lordship of Jesus. Let’s consider a couple of those.

Is Confessing Jesus as Lord an Enslaving Act?

Talk about total lordship is met with resistance by some, especially in this country, because of the great emphasis on an individual being freed from all external constraints. “Give me liberty or give me death!” were not just the famous words of Patrick Henry in 1775, that exclamation has been a recurrent theme in U.S. history and culture ever since.

This chapter was initially written just a few months after the release of the movie “Invictus,” the stirring film about Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The title of that movie comes from a poem by the same name, a poem ending with these words: “I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul.”[1] To a large extent, this now seems to be the prevailing attitude of multitudes of people around the world.

So, what is the reaction of Christians who are expected to acknowledge Jesus as Lord—or of those who are not Christians but who encounter the Christian message? For some of the former, it often means compartmentalization, about which I wrote in the previous chapter. “Jesus is Lord,” some seem to think, is a statement that applies only to one’s religious life, not to every aspect of one’s thoughts and actions. The desire for personal freedom causes some to reject, usually in an unconscious manner, the total lordship of Jesus over every area of life.

For some those who are not Christians, talk about the lordship of Jesus is off-putting. Those who pride themselves on their independence, their self-reliance, and, above all, their freedom as one who is captain of their own soul, why would they possibly want to acknowledge Jesus as Lord? That sort of response may not often be expressed, but, whether recognized or not, it is likely one of the most basic reasons for some people not wanting to become a follower of Jesus.

But can people ever have complete freedom? Jesus once declared: “. . . you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Some of his listeners demurred, stating that they had never been slaves to anyone, and they asked Jesus, “What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free?’” Jesus reply was straightforward: “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:32-34).

So, as many evangelical preachers have often explained, everyone is either a “slave” of Jesus or a slave of someone or something else that is far inferior to Jesus. If the choice is to be either a “slave” of Jesus or a slave to sin, it seems obvious that allowing Jesus to be Lord is the far wiser position.

Although it may seem like a conundrum, real human freedom is possible only for those who allow Jesus to be Lord. True freedom is possible through Jesus, the one who saves us from our sins. I have long linked salvation to liberation, for I am convinced that confessing Jesus as Lord is liberating rather than enslaving. Submission to Christ makes it possible for us to be what God created us to be, to be what some call “fully human.”

But there is another problem which much be addressed.

Is Confessing Jesus as Lord an “Ensmalling” Act?

I get the impression that some Christians now think that we need a much broader view of the world than is possible through Christianity or through Jesus Christ. Talk about the lordship of Jesus is for them, it seems, an outmoded idea that we need to move beyond. But I strongly disagree that commitment to the lordship of Jesus is an “ensmalling” act. Rightly understood, it is an enlarging one.

Without question, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish man who grew up in a small town in a small nation around two thousand years ago. Jesus traveled little, wrote nothing (so far as we know), and died a criminal’s death at an early age. That doesn’t sound like much of a résumé for one who would be considered Lord.

The credentials of Jesus, though,  are based not just on his humanity but also upon his divinity, and we looked at that important matter some in the second chapter. The same New Testament that tells of Jesus’ humble birth and lowly life—with nowhere to lay his head (Luke 9:58)—also says that Jesus was

the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . . For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:15-17, 19).

If this is a correct description of the true nature of Jesus as the Christ, and that has been a central affirmation of Christians through the centuries, how could allegiance to Jesus possibly make one’s understanding of the world narrower or more limited? If the fullness of God dwells in Jesus, then the more we grasp the true nature of Jesus, the more we grasp the true nature of God and the world in its totality.

In spite of the tragic misunderstanding of Jesus and his teachings by so many professing Christians through the centuries, even coming close to comprehending the nature of Jesus and his teaching helps one gain a much greater understanding of the world than most people have. Just as I emphasized in the first chapter that God is greater than we think, or even can think, perhaps the same can be said about Jesus Christ.

Thus, far from causing people to have a narrower, more parochial, smaller view of the world, commitment to Jesus as Lord actually expands one’s vision, enlarges their viewpoint, and stretches their capacity to understand the world that Jesus came to redeem.

The Idea of Jesus’ Total Lordship is Not New, Just Neglected

In a previous chapter I wrote how my boyhood faith was mainly due to the desire for salvation after death and had little to do with the idea of Jesus’ lordship or the significance of the Kingdom of God in this present world. But that does not mean I never heard about the need for commitment to Christ. In fact, during my early teen years, I made a rededication of my life to Christ on more than one occasion, usually in response to powerful preaching in what were then called “revival meetings.”

In those formative adolescent years, my home church often sang such Gospel songs as “Take My Life, and Let It Be,” which, unfortunately, the Broadman Hymnal gave as the title that can be read with the nuance of “let it be as it is” or even “let it alone.” But the words of that old hymn are quite good:

Take my life, and let it be / Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands and let them move / At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let it be / Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice, and let me sing, / Always, only, for my King.
Take my silver and my gold, / Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my moments and my days, / Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my will, and make it Thine, / It shall be no longer mine;
Take my heart, it is Thine own, / It shall be Thy royal throne.[2]

There is not room here to introduce in detail other old hymns of the church with a similar theme, but let me just mention two or three others. These are all hymns that I sang regularly in my home church as a boy: “I Surrender All,” which begins, “All to Jesus I surrender; / All to Him I freely give”;[3] “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” with the words “Hold o’er my being / Absolute sway”; [4] and “Living for Jesus,” which begins with the words, “Living for Jesus a life that is true, / Striving to please Him in all that I do.”[5]

Perhaps I was later able to realize the truth of the statement “Jesus must be Lord of all if he is to be Lord at all” because of singing hymns like those during my boyhood. But, sadly, I am afraid that I often have not lived up to the ideals I sang about, and the same seems true for perhaps the majority of Christians in this country. Confessing Jesus as Lord has implications that are not often recognized, and all who claim to be Christians need to think through what it really means for Jesus to be Lord.

So, What are the Implications?

If Jesus is Lord, then one’s life must be lived with the desire to follow Jesus and his will for their life rather than to follow their own selfish desires. For so many people, their human existence centers on the thought, “I want . . . .” But if Jesus is Lord, one’s life is not primarily about them. That is an important point made by Rick Warren, author of the extremely popular book The Purpose Driven Life.[6] He begins the chapter for the first day of his forty-day plan with these words:

It’s not about you.

The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.

Warren wasn’t writing about the lordship of Jesus as such, but his words apply to that also. God’s purpose is about a society characterized by shalom, as I emphasized in an earlier chapter. Thus, when Jesus is truly Lord of one’s life, that person’s purpose for living is focused on the kingdom of God, on the whole human society, and even upon the world of nature. Instead of thinking primarily about what one wants, a person living under the lordship of Jesus must think about what the needs of the whole human family are and what is necessary for the natural order to be sustained.

The New Testament quotes Jesus as saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” and the same words are quoted exactly in two later New Testament passages. Similar words are found in three other places.[7] Those who live with Jesus as Lord of all, therefore, means that in every aspect of their lives they must seek to practice neighbor-love. For that reason, their purpose for living can’t be just about themselves and their personal desires.

How people spend their time, how they spend their money, the type of work they do, the type of recreation they engage in, the way they relate to family, the way they relate to others—all of these things must be under the Lordship of Jesus. It is not enough that they give a tenth of their income (a tithe) or a seventh of their time (the “Sabbath”) to God. If Jesus is Lord, 100% of their money rather than 10% and 100% of their time rather than 1/7 comes under his control.

As we saw earlier in this chapter, this kind of thinking seems to some, or perhaps to many, to be highly oppressive. It seems to fly in the face of the kind of freedom and independence that most of us prize.

But this is about the lordship of one who is perfect and who loves everyone perfectly. This is about the one who died to redeem everyone. This is about the Savior who seeks to reconcile everyone to God and to one another. Thus, the lordship of Jesus is not about some earthly potentate who lords it over his subjects for his own selfish enjoyment. No, it is about one whose main characteristic is love, one who seeks to transform this world into a realm of peace and justice for all.

Yes, Christians must seek to allow Jesus be Lord of all if he is to be Lord at all. And looking at this matter from the standpoint of Christian faith, what more fulfilling, what more thrilling, what more meaningful life could one possibly have than that lived under the lordship of Jesus Christ!

[1] William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), a British poet, wrote this poem in 1875 and it was first published in 1888. Mandela, who was a political prisoner for twenty-seven years, is said to have had “Invictus” on a piece of paper in his cell.

[2] This hymn was written by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-79) in 1874. The original poem seems to have been slightly different from the hymn published in The Broadman Hymnal and subsequent hymnbooks.

[3] Judson W. Van DeVenter (1855-1939) wrote this hymn in 1896.

[4] Adelaide Addison Pollard (1862-1937) wrote over a hundred hymns and Gospel songs; her best-known work is “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!” written in 1907.

[5] This hymn was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960) in 1917.

[6] (Zondervan, 2002). By 2007 it had sold over 30,000,000 copies and according to Publisher’s Weekly, it is the bestselling hardback book in American history.

[7] In the New Revised Standard Version, the words “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” are found in Matthew 19:19 and 22:39, Mark 12:31, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8. The passages with the same meaning but different wording are Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27, and Romans 13:9.

#10 For Christians, Jesus Must be Lord as Well as Savior

IN THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER, I emphasized that Christians need to be careful when they call Jesus “Lord,” but this chapter emphasizes what seems to be just the opposite: Christians must be careful to call Jesus “Lord” and to mean it. In other words, if people are to be true Christians, Jesus must be their Lord as well as their Savior.

[The entire chapter can be accessed by clicking this link.]


#9  Christians Must Be Careful When They Call Jesus “Lord”

“JESUS IS LORD’ IS the first and oldest confession of faith for Christians. In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (10:9). And then in his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul declared that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (12:3).

[Please click here to read the remainder of this chapter.]


#7 The Kingdom of God is More about Society than about Individuals

WESTERN CHRISTIANITY, AND IN in many ways Western thought in general since the time of the Enlightenment, has generally focused more on individuals than on society. Christians, especially in Protestant and even more in evangelical Protestant forms of the faith, have primarily interpreted the message of the Bible in individual terms.

[To read the remainder of this chapter, please click here.]