Faith in a "post-Christian" era: Wrestling with life's big questions, seeking answers in the Bible, and inviting objective critical discussion with everyone.
The Gospel of John provides a wonderful introduction to the Christian faith and its Jewish origins. John serves as a kind of "book jacket summary" of the New Testament, providing a lens through which we view the entire biblical story, introducing us to the One true God of all creation.
John provides traceability all the way back to "the beginning" with its opening reference to the creation narrative of Genesis (cf. John 1), and then proceeds to describe many of the feasts, festivals, prophecies and rituals that encapsulate Jewish culture and theology from the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament. John's reference to the Old Testament reminds us of the central biblical themes of love and reconciliation that were fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who is called "Christ" or "Messiah".
Devoted is a gathering that respects our busy modern lives– a place where we can learn about God's plan for humanity and discover God's purpose for each one of us. We want to tackle the "big questions" of life together, and demonstrate that the Bible has relevant answers even for modern times.
Devoted began with the "Basics" series to address some of the quitenssential questions of all time:
|Is there a God?|
|What can we know about God?|
|What is the Bible?|
|Is the Bible a reliable source about God and humanity?|
|What does the Bible say about God?|
Before even opening the Bible we looked at these questions, applying reason and logic, along with guidance from some of history's greatest thinkers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and even Darwin. Our goal is simply to establish the possibility, and even perhaps the probability, of the existence of God, stimulating our interest to discover more.
Devoted continues with the "Beginnings" series as we crack open the best-selling but least-read book of all time (the Bible) to learn more about God. Taking inspiration from Anselm of Canterbury who said, "I believe so that I might understand," we likewise take a small step of faith to believe that the Bible is what it claims to be– statements about the person and character of God revealed by God (self-revelation). In reading the Bible this way, expecting to learn more about God, we begin to formulate additional big questions, like:
|Who is Jesus?|
|Why did Jesus have to die?|
|What did Jesus' death accomplish?|
|What happens after I die?|
Our answers to these questions begin to form the foundation for how we see the world around us, how we interact with people, how we define cultural norms and moral values, and how we find meaning in our life's pursuits.
Sadly, fewer and fewer people are willing to turn to the Bible as a source for life's meaning.
The well-known Christian author and pastor Andy Stanley speaks of a "post-Christian" culture in which ‘nones’ (a growing segment of the population who characterize themselves as having a religious affiliation of "none") project a low tolerance for faith-based answers to fact-based questions. Part of the reason for this growing intolerance is the Church's failure to invite critical discussion about life's big questions, and failure to equip and prepare people to engage in objective dialog.
Devoted seeks to engage the big questions, to promote critical thinking and theological reflection, and to encourage objective, peaceful dialogue without leaving the Bible behind.
For inspiration, you might want to watch this short movie, Evolution versus God from Living Waters ministry. It is an example of critical thinking and objective discussion that invited college students and professors to consider the element of faith within the practice of science. Enjoy!