The purpose of ethics is godward—to obey, honor, and glorify God. Indeed, even in a secular world, that which is ethical must point to what is good, beautiful, and true. The problem facing the secularist, however, is an unclear starting point: Where do ethics begin? What defines truth? How do we know if something is good or if something is wicked?
Though I’ll be addressing the question of Canaanite warfare at the next Shepherds 360 Conference in October and in my book Is God a Vindictive Bully (Baker Academic, Oct. 2022)—which also addresses this and many other Old Testament difficulties—I thought I would give a foretaste of things to come in this blog post.
Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, Bill Hybels, Ravi Zacharias, Catholic priests, numerous well-known Southern Baptist pastors. Never has more attention been given to the lack of integrity and virtue in those who are supposed to be spiritual protectors and nurturers. And the disqualifying sins run the gamut of sexual immorality to abuse of power to financial indiscretions.
Have you ever seen someone say online or heard someone say in person, “She’s a false teacher,” or “He’s a heretic?”
I’ve seen the claim made on social media about Christian leaders and Bible teachers more times than I can count over the last few years. I’ve always just chalked it up to evangelicalism’s “taking all sorts.” But occasionally, when I see a friend or acquaintance echo an accusation, I lean in.
Yes, Christians have their differences, but we also have greater differences between us and the world. Among the many differences, here is one we should not overlook: that is, we speak the truth of God’s Word and “We have renounced disgraceful and underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s Word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2).
Back in 1990, theologian J. I. Packer recounted what he called a "Thirty Years' War" over the inerrancy of the Bible. He traced his involvement in this war in its American context back to a conference held in Wenham, Massachusetts in 1966, when he confronted some professors from evangelical institutions who "now declined to affirm the full truth of Scripture." That was nearly fifty years ago, and the war over the truthfulness of the Bible is still not over—not by a long shot.
One of the qualifications for a shepherd-elder in Titus 1:6 causes a great deal of confusion and debate among commentators, and has real-life application issues. This is the qualification with regards to the shepherd-elder’s children:
For this year’s Shepherds 360 Conference a bold, yet relevant theme was decided upon for our gathering in October. Why not talk about our differences? The idea is not for us to squabble over controversial issues or to give a platform to false teaching. Rather, we are taking an intentional look at the areas where fellow believers who hold to a high view of Scripture come to different conclusions with regard to biblical theology and practice.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .”
— Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
For many years, I was a confessed “leadershipaholic.” With a desire to be as effective and influential as possible for Christ, I devoured all the latest and greatest expertise from Christian and non-Christian gurus. Naturally, I hoped to be more respected, productive, and validated as a “leader.”