Just finished a newish book, In Christ Alone, by Sinclair Ferguson, Sr. Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina. The foreword, written by Alistair Begg, Sr. Pastor, Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, sets the tone of the book nicely. Here’s a snip of Begg’s framing of the context and questions – note, though, that while Begg mentions the current generation and begins with a critique of younger Christians, he expands his critique to incorporate the larger modern church.
Is it wrong to suggest that earlier generations were more thoroughly grounded in the gospel, better versed in the Scriptures, and more convinced that a new life in Christ is lived on the pathway of joyful obedience? How can we possibly tell?
First of all, listen to the present generation talk. I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of addressing students at Christian colleges throughout the country. Their enthusiasm and creativity spur me on, but an accompanying uncertainty and lack of definition in basic Christian doctrine are causes for genuine concern. Some, cannot, for example, explain why Mormonism is not Christian because they are unsure of the doctrine of the Trinity. Many appear to be uncertain about the exclusive claims of Jesus, and with the prevailing emphasis on ecology and poverty, many would be hard-pressed to agree with George Smeaton that “to convert one sinner from his way, is an event of greater importance, than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil.”
Second, consider what is being read by this generation. If the best sellers tell the story, we are preoccupied with imaginative descriptions of end-time phenomena while searching for ways to live up to our human potential. Books on self-improvement and “how-to” texts on all matters earthly sell in abundance. We are reading about our bodies to the neglect of our souls as we measure success by achievement in the “here and now,” having lost sight of the “then and there.”
Third, hear our loss of focus on the gospel in our songs. This is no comment on musical style and tastes, but simply an observation about the lyrical content of much that is being sung in churches today. In many cases, congregations unwittingly have begun to sing about themselves and how they are feeling rather than about God and His glory.
What, then, is the antidote to theological vagueness in our students, our books, an our songs?
What’s the antidote? Read the book – available at discount in Common Grounds. Download the Foreword and first three chapters here for free.