A Preaching and Teaching Church

Welcome! As we prepare this issue, we are in the process of moving to the new PCA office building. By the time you receive the magazine, we are hopeful that we will have made the transition and will be getting settled in a way that will enable us to continue the ministry of the CE&P bookstore, video library, training, consulting, and other services.

We live at an extremely crucial moment in history. If historians and sociologists like Sorokin, Strauss, and Howe are correct that there are identifiable cyclical patterns in history, then we are obviously at a low point morally and spiritually. They generally concur that in the past when things have bottomed out, there has been a return to a more stable conservative period. While we hold to a linear view of history, there are obvious cyclical patterns. If we are bottoming out, then we could be hopeful about the future.

The rising generation of young people is showing a definite interest in a more conservative approach to life and a greater interest in spirituality; yet their interest in spirituality is not necessarily connected with Christianity. While this is a both good news and bad news, it is a great opportunity to set forth the Christian faith.

I have been reading a collection of articles by men in reformed circles. While I appreciate the many good things in the book, I was extremely disappointed by one article that states that the only way we are going to change things is by “the preaching of the gospel.” The author’s point is that education does not really change anything. This is disappointing because in the Reformed family we have always combined preaching the gospel with Christian education. The tragedy of today’s younger generation, even those who have professed to believe in Jesus, is that they have not always been trained to think, act, and live biblically. Often they have been given a faith without substance. We see the fallout as we look at families, churches, and culture in general. Teens are dropping out of church in alarming numbers.

Recently a mother shared with me the difficulty her family is experiencing with their older teenage son who had dropped out of church. She asked, “What can we do?” My first response to her was that she should not assume that by dropping out of church he has turned his back on God. There was a time when that might have been the case, and still may be in some situations; however, many teenagers simply are not convinced that the church is that relevant, necessary, or important to them. We are faced with a tremendous challenge and simplistic answers will not suffice.

Dr. William Larkin, a PCA teaching elder and professor at Columbia International University, recently worked with our regional trainer/consultants. He has written an article on the postmodern philosophical world view, and we have condensed his material to use as the lead article in this issue. Do not fail to read it! He has some valuable insights. His point is well taken, and it is clearly demonstrable that we are immersed in this postmodern culture. It forms the setting or environment in which we live, especially in North America. We see its effects in every phase of our lives, and we need to understand it and its results.

While we believe strongly in the providence of God, we know that postmodernism is not an accident of history to be taken lightly. It can and will serve a purpose; but we must understand what it is and how to take a system so obviously anti-Christian (because it is anti-truth) and know how to use it to build God’s Kingdom.

We must preach the Gospel, but we must not create a dichotomy between preaching the Gospel and teaching all things whatsoever the Lord has commanded. That is God’s way of making disciples. We have not improved the process by divorcing one from the other. One thing that disappointed me about the article in the collection mentioned earlier was that the author is known as a church historian and has written some good things. How does the study of history relate to preaching the Gospel? Should we not study church history? Isn’t that a part of the education process? We must be students of the Word and of the world in order to serve God’s purpose of communicating his Word to this generation. The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel, but he preached it to his audience and in their context. So must we.

This issue also includes reviews of several books that are valuable in the education process. And if you would like to study the topic of philosophical worldview shift further, our staff can recommend helpful books. Let us not miss this moment of opportunity by being unconcerned or unprepared for the challenge.

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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