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Civilwarbuff

What is the purpose of a 'Christian Forum"?

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Well, I'm not going to share only our site's focus or mission, but to iterate why they exists from my perspective. Throughout the course of a day the difference between me going to a secular website or social media platforms and discussing current events etc and a Christian forum is to direct my thoughts on God and His word. A Christian community should help not only edify but to build up each other in the faith. Sometimes I find Christian support and other times I find questionable challenges.

 

I am continually challenged on Christian boards, not only by theology but my own worldview is challenged in its application to current events. Numerous times throughout the day I am enticed to research and to open the Scriptures in support of or in opposition to what is shared.

 

I haven't television subscription nor do I listen to the radio. Therefore, what is said here, there, etc are the only things that are absorbed into my mind. Sometimes these discussions touch my sub-conscious and I even dream about these debates, and on occasion awake with a different perspective:

 

Psalm 1:

  1. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
  2. but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

I am thankful that some online communities exists, especially the ones that do not subject me to secular media, ads, etc which may distract me from God's word.

 

God bless,

William
 

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1 hour ago, Civilwarbuff said:

Anyone may reply.  Please don't be overly verbose......

What is your purpose in being a member? 

 

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2 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

That was not the OP Becky......

First off my question was not meant to be a challenge of any sort. Maybe if i post an answer that will be more clear.

People have always found ways to communicate, sharing their thoughts and beliefs. From pictures on the wall of caves, scrolls, tablets, letters, books. Sharing 'tapes' in the 70s was the thing to do.   I see Christian forums in the same frame work. A place where, some what like minded folks, can converse, share thoughts, blessing ideals etc. We can share Scripture explaining how this one or that touched our hearts/spirits. We can request unity of prayer.  With the illness, in our home , of this last year the Forums have been a place to gather strength. A place that sends me into the Scriptures. 

 

We have the opportunity to learn  from one another, for example you are knowledgeable  on the civil war. I would be interested in learning some of what you know. What do you see of God's hand in that war?  We can see/read folks who are blessed in knowledge Greek/Hebrew. Folks  most likely we would never meet in the local coffee shop.  

For me the "Purpose of a Christian Forum" is to give that place.

 

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On 8/18/2018 at 9:06 AM, Becky said:

First off my question was not meant to be a challenge of any sort. Maybe if i post an answer that will be more clear.

People have always found ways to communicate, sharing their thoughts and beliefs. From pictures on the wall of caves, scrolls, tablets, letters, books. Sharing 'tapes' in the 70s was the thing to do.   I see Christian forums in the same frame work. A place where, some what like minded folks, can converse, share thoughts, blessing ideals etc. We can share Scripture explaining how this one or that touched our hearts/spirits. We can request unity of prayer.  With the illness, in our home , of this last year the Forums have been a place to gather strength. A place that sends me into the Scriptures. 

 

We have the opportunity to learn  from one another, for example you are knowledgeable  on the civil war. I would be interested in learning some of what you know. What do you see of God's hand in that war?  We can see/read folks who are blessed in knowledge Greek/Hebrew. Folks  most likely we would never meet in the local coffee shop.  

For me the "Purpose of a Christian Forum" is to give that place.

 

I found the question to be Socratic in nature (i.e. "Know thyself").  Your question, in my opinion, was meant to be self Illuminating.  That is, if one knows why they are a member of a forum, then they can understand what the purpose is.

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4 minutes ago, Civilwarbuff said:

Not attempting to be Socratic, just looking for what people think a Christian Forum is for.  

Never thought you were.  I was addressing MY understanding of Becky's question and how it fit the context of this thread.

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3 hours ago, Becky said:

I would be interested in learning some of what you know. What do you see of God's hand in that war? 

Lincoln said it best (as he usually did):

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."  2nd Inaugural Address

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3 hours ago, Becky said:

I would be interested in learning some of what you know. What do you see of God's hand in that war?

And Lincoln once more:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.[2]

1st Inaugural Address

In some ways Lincoln's appeal to the South reminds me of Paul's appeal to the Corinthian Church:

1Co 1:10  I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1Co 1:11  For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
1Co 1:12  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1Co 1:14  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1Co 1:15  so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
1Co 1:16  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
1Co 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.     ESV

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2 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

In some ways Lincoln's appeal to the South reminds me of Paul's appeal to the Corinthian Church:

1Co 1:10  I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
1Co 1:11  For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
1Co 1:12  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
1Co 1:14  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
1Co 1:15  so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.
1Co 1:16  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
1Co 1:17  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.     ESV

 

Hope nobody minds,  I'll address our site's focus and the reason for some of our rules now. If you haven't noticed, there are sliders with site information on them. They are viewable to guests or members when signed out of the forum. They can also be viewed in the TOS. This is a "fenced" community that utilizes the ecumenical creeds which filter out cultist and unbelievers that are by definition not Christian. A lot of people identify as Christian, matter of fact I recently read an article which reported on a push by Mormon elders for Mormon members not to identify as Mormon anymore but Christian. The essentials of the faith are clearly emphasized in their historical context in the early ecumenical creeds, they can be read in our TOS.

 

When you take the Scriptures which you presented Civilwarbuff into consideration and the context of what is said then we do understand that Paul was directing these instructions to the Corinthian church, a Christian church. Paul was addressing a division in the congregation, perhaps between the "intellectuals" and other followers of not so "eloquent" teachers. Other Scriptures of interest which one may wish to ponder upon are 1 Corinthians 11:19. We are Christian and of one body, one faith, and one spirit etc here on this board, that is, those that have been strained by the filter of the ecumenical creeds though of different "denominations" can come together in fellowship. In consideration of 2 John 1:10 this community is fenced to those that may attempt to use this board as a missionary soap box platform to oppose the Christian faith.

Lastly, our board is open to those sincerely inquiring about the Christian Protestant faith. They may not be Christian, but they are invited onto the board as our guests, they are expected to demonstrate Christian discipline and consideration while they are here.

Just thought I'd define who makes up this particular "Christian" community forum.

 

God bless,

William

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35 minutes ago, William said:

 

Hope nobody minds,  I'll address our site's focus and the reason for some of our rules now. If you haven't noticed, there are sliders with site information on them. They are viewable to guests or members when signed out of the forum. They can also be viewed in the TOS. This is a "fenced" community that utilizes the ecumenical creeds which filter out cultist and unbelievers that are by definition not Christian. A lot of people identify as Christian, matter of fact I recently read an article which reported on a push by Mormon elders for Mormon members not to identify as Mormon anymore but Christian. The essentials of the faith are clearly emphasized in their historical context in the early ecumenical creeds, they can be read in our TOS.

 

When you take the Scriptures which you presented Civilwarbuff into consideration and the context of what is said then we do understand that Paul was directing these instructions to the Corinthian church, a Christian church. Paul was addressing a division of the congregation, perhaps between the "intellectuals" and other not so followers of "eloquent" teachers. Other Scriptures of interest which one may wish to ponder upon are 1 Corinthians 11:19. We are Christian and of one body, one faith, and one spirit etc here on this board, that is, those that have been strained by the filter of the ecumenical creeds though of different "denominations" can come together in fellowship. In consideration of 2 John 1:10 this community is fenced to those that may attempt to use this board as a missionary soap box platform to oppose the Christian faith.

Lastly, our board is open to those sincerely inquiring about the Christian Protestant faith. They may not be Christian, but they are invited onto the board as our guests, they are expected to demonstrate Christian discipline and consideration while they are here.

Just thought I'd define who makes up this particular "Christian" community forum.

 

God bless,

William

No idea what this has to do with my answer to Becky's particular question.  And I also have no idea what this has to do with the OP. 

BTW, if we always look at scripture by who it is addressed to as if it has no application to the Church as a whole, past or present, then we may as well discard most of the NT since it is a primarily a collection of letters addressed to churches and individuals.  And if we are really and truly "of one body, one faith, and one spirit etc here on this board" then maybe we should conduct ourselves in such a way as to represent that claim.

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13 minutes ago, Civilwarbuff said:

No idea what this has to do with my answer to Becky's particular question.  And I also have no idea what this has to do with the OP. 

BTW, if we always look at scripture by who it is addressed to as if it has no application to the Church as a whole, past or present, then we may as well discard most of the NT since it is a primarily a collection of letters addressed to churches and individuals.  And if we are really and truly "of one body, one faith, and one spirit etc here on this board" then maybe we should conduct ourselves in such a way as to represent that claim.

I was merely defining this particular "Christian forum" and distinguishing it from just any "forum". You asked the purpose of a Christian forum, and I'm defining a Christian forum. In other forums, you'll find JWs, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals and other cultist that reject the essentials of the Christian faith. Having said that, technically, they are not a "Christian" forum.

 

When you say "we" may as well discard most of the NT because of who they are addressed to it appears that you're stating this from outside the body? The Scriptures were written, in that particular case to a certain body, that is, to them for us.

 

Then you state that "we" should conduct ourselves in such way as to represent that claim. Perhaps you can give examples instead of making a general blanket statement which leaves the imagination to run?

 

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But the OP is about 'a' Christian Forum not this Christian Forum; it was meant to be generic and not specific which is why I purposely worded it that way.  I was simply responding to your statements which were about my statements which was a response to Becky's particular question.

I will answer your questions but then prefer to get back to the OP.

8 minutes ago, William said:

When you say "we" may as well discard most of the NT because of who they are addressed to it appears that you're stating this from outside the body?

I have no idea where you get such an idea unless it is your opinion that I am outside "the Body" and if that is truly your opinion I should have been gone a long time ago as a masquerader in Christianity

10 minutes ago, William said:

Then you state that "we" should conduct ourselves in such way as to represent that claim. Perhaps you can give examples instead of making a general blanket statement which leaves the imagination to run?

I believe we should refrain from ridiculing other denominations simply because their beliefs don't exactly coincide with our own (note: the current or ongoing attack on Arminian beliefs).  We certainly won't win many to Messiah if we spend much of our time feuding with each other.  And don't get me wrong, I don't even know or care what Arminians believe; I believe that God gave man the ability to freely chose or reject His plan of salvation and I see that freedom to chose Him throughout the Bible.  I follow no man's theology except for that Man from Galilee.....to the best of my ability.  

Now, I am sure you will reply to this but I won't go any farther.  I will try to stick to the OP though I have to admit the number of people responding is disappointing but it is still early in the game so to speak.

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@Civilwarbuff

What is the purpose of a 'Christian Forum"?

In reading some of the replies i will have to ask What do you mean with the phrase 'Christian Forum"

IMO... Some denominations are not Christian even if they say they are. 

William laid out his views on his site very clearly.  My reply was much more general. 

Just as some 'preachers' use the label Christian to make money i woud guess some so called Christian Forums do the same. 

We SHOULD be using the internet to spread/share the Gospel of Jesus Christ . 

 

Act 17:2  And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 
Act 17:3  Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 
 

 

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14 hours ago, Becky said:

IMO... Some denominations are not Christian even if they say they are.

Liberal "denominations" reject the essentials as conveyed in the ecumenical creeds, therefore, they aren't actually a denomination or Christian. All denominations are by definition Christian. I brought this up because they do claim to be denominational. When we define Christianity according to the essentials of the faith we can boldly say they are nothing more than a "book club".

 

18 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

I believe we should refrain from ridiculing other denominations simply because their beliefs don't exactly coincide with our own (note: the current or ongoing attack on Arminian beliefs).

Arminianism isn't a denomination. It is an area of theology pertaining to Soteriology. Calvinism exists in the Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and other denominations which are predominately Arminian. Though Soteriology is essential doctrine we don't strictly enforce it. What we (staff) are mainly enforcing in the ecumenical creeds are Trinitarian doctrines as well as the Hypostatic Union. We have 5 staff members, only 2 are self proclaimed Calvinist.

 

18 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

And don't get me wrong, I don't even know or care what Arminians believe; I believe that God gave man the ability to freely chose or reject His plan of salvation and I see that freedom to chose Him throughout the Bible.  I follow no man's theology except for that Man from Galilee.....to the best of my ability.  

But it is amazing that you're seemingly taking debate on this site, as well as the memes personally when they are directed to Arminianism. They are meant to challenge people and entice them to think more deeply about what they believe. Look, I'm not the only one which is allowed to pick and upload memes on the site. If you wish to post or upload things with a contrary view then by all means please feel free to! I'm not promising that I or others are going to say Amen to what is shared, your content may be even challenged.

 

18 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

I believe that God gave man the ability to freely chose or reject His plan of salvation and I see that freedom to chose Him throughout the Bible. 

 

God did give "some" men the ability to choose Him, they are what we call born again, born from above, received a "new birth", or more theologically termed regenerated. God not only gives the ability to choose Him but also plants the desire and the conviction to choose Him in the Elect's hearts. If you think that Calvinist argue against choice then you're either missing the point or are running into people which misrepresent the doctrine of Grace (Calvinism). Calvinist should not oppose your choice, but they should emphasize the natural man's decision, as they are not only responsible for their choices but also accountable (the doctrine of the Perseverance of the saints). If you're conveying that all men without exception (the natural man) has the ability to choose God, then you're ignoring a vast amount of Scriptures to the contrary and are conveying Pelagianism. That is, the doctrine of Original Sin contrasts Pelagianism.  Therefore, there is little difference as to your belief (if this be the case) and that of Atheists and Romanist. Look, Civilwarbuff, I'm holding back as much as I can, what I am writing is not meant to attack you personally but meant to convey as gently as I can an explanation of certain behavior and the reason why certain theological perspectives are challenged.

 

18 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

Now, I am sure you will reply to this but I won't go any farther.

Shame that the topics or memes which are meant to spark dialogue go unchallenged. I can't help but notice that most Arminians that come onto the board cry for tolerance towards their theological understanding or beliefs, and yet they won't fellowship with other members in the forum. I think staff which includes myself are demonstrating patience in these areas towards members.  You shouldn't be hounded on CF across the entire board, but if you're challenged in pertinent topics then you'll have to decide for yourself whether you should even engage in them. I recommend not carrying around a disgruntle attitude elsewhere on the board (if you feel negatively afterwards) when enjoying the other topics such as the lounge, political categories or sub-forums etc.

 

18 hours ago, Civilwarbuff said:

I will try to stick to the OP though I have to admit the number of people responding is disappointing but it is still early in the game so to speak.

I wouldn't doubt if you do not receive much dialogue at this time. We are currently suffering a traffic loss after Google launched another algorithm change at the beginning of this month. We were hit pretty hard and are trying to recover. Hopefully the changes will result in a positive outcome in the following weeks.

The best way to attract others to the forum which may share your understanding or theological perspective is to write about it. The search engines will index your content and others researching the topics will hopefully find your writings interesting enough to register and sign up so that they may respond in support or opposition.

 

God bless,

William

 

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The purpose of a Christian Message Board is for people to get on it and argue about the Bible; er, uh -- I mean -- to DISCUSS the Bible and Christianity...

 

As said above, however, "Christian message boards" are often frequented by non-Trinnies and not-godders and cultists, so a deep purpose is promoting sound doctrine on essential issues.

 

Crush the heretics -- see them driven before you -- and hear the lamentation of their squeaking snowflakes.

Edited by Anto9us
left out a word

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For me the Christforums is a place much like a church. I can ask for prayer, pray for those who are needing healing, have marriage problems, seeking Gods direction on all kinds od issues. I know others will pray when I ask for it, and I have a responsibility to pray when other ask for our prayers. 

 

I find that posts about the Bible, Theology and how our different denominations differ very interesting. Sometimes I get challenged by a post I have made, by other that think differently. I am a knife that is sharpened by by the sharpening stones of others that see Scripture different than I think.  On the same token when I see a post that attacks the Word of God I stand firm but kind and respectful in admonishing with a solid Biblical response. I deeply appreciate the fact, that not being a Calvinists, I am accepted, loved and challenged in my thinking. What a true picture of what heaven willbe like.

 

I have dear brothers and sisters here that have become like family. Some live way down under, others in Europe or Africa. We may never see one another here but someday we shall meet at the feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

This is what the Christforums is to me. God bless ya all.

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In "real life", I am not very CONFRONTATIONAL.  I do not necessarily respond when someone says something in person that I don't agree with.  There is DISTANCE on a message board, and I am more likely to confront something I don't agree with.

 

I choose not to argue every time someone posits some doctrine I disagree with, whether in person or online.

 

As for "Christians on message boards being so unchristian to each other that it may turn non-believers away from Christ", well - come on.  Does anyone actually KNOW of someone that would say "I was just about to accept Christ, but I saw Christians arguing on a message board, so I didn't accept Him" ?

 

No one can come to Him anyway except the Father draws them.

 

We may disagree on whether that DRAWING is an irresistible dragging against their will, but we all know the DRAWING is real.

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Well, I think the above posts kinda show what a "Christian Forum" is for . . . for me it is an opportunity to "check up" on the health of the Body in a kind of subjective way. This forum has given me a bit more insight into why "things" are the way they are. And perhaps, after a spell here, I may get a bit of a glimpse of where "things" are going, and maybe, just maybe some of my comments may be helpful or encouraging.

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Christians face discrimination and pressure—multiple church buildings were demolished in 2017 and 2018, leaving some Christians without a place to worship. Christian converts from Islam are especially targeted for persecution.’” Prayer point: “Pray for converts to Christianity, that they would be able to stand strong in the face of accusations of betrayal.” 7. Eritrea Persecution type: Dictatorial paranoia Estimated number of Christians: 2,474,000 How Christians are suffering: “Since 1993, President Afwerki has overseen a brutal authoritarian regime that rests on massive human rights violations. In 2018, there were raids on churches, and hundreds of Christians were imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Additionally, there are estimates that other Christians are currently in Eritrea’s vast prison network, but no one knows how many there are or if they are still alive.” Prayer point: “Thousands of Christians have been imprisoned in Eritrea over the last decade. Pray for endurance for brothers and sisters detained in horrific conditions, and ask God to give them perseverance in their faith.” 8. Yemen Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: A few thousand How Christians are suffering: “An ongoing civil war in Yemen has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, making an already difficult nation for Christians even harder. The chaos of war has enabled radical groups to take control over some regions of Yemen, and they have increased persecution against Christians. Even private worship is risky in some parts of the country. Converts to Christianity from Islam face additional persecution from family and society.” Prayer point: “The instability in Yemen has created a refugee, food, and health-care crisis. Ask God to help provide food, clean water and safety to the people of Yemen.” 9. Iran Persecution type: Islamic oppression Estimated number of Christians: 800,000 How Christians are suffering: “Christians are forbidden from sharing their faith with non-Christians. Therefore, church services in Persian, the national language, are not allowed. Converts from Islam face persecution from the government; if they attend an underground house church, they face the constant threat of arrest. Iranian society is governed by Islamic law, which means the rights and professional possibilities for Christians are heavily restricted.” Prayer point: “Any Muslim who leaves Islam faces a charge of apostasy and can be thrown in jail or worse. Pray that the laws will change, allowing for freedom of religion.” 10. India Persecution type: Religious nationalism Estimated number of Christians: 65,061,000 How Christians are suffering: “Christians have been targeted by Hindu nationalist extremists more each year. Since the current ruling party took power in 2014, attacks have increased, and Hindu radicals believe they can attack Christians with no consequences. The view of the nationalists is that to be Indian is to be Hindu, so any other faith— including Christianity—is viewed as non-Indian. Additionally, in some regions of the country, converts to Christianity from Hinduism experience extreme persecution, discrimination, and violence.’” Prayer point: “Pray for Christian converts from Hinduism who are forcefully pressured to return to their national religion.” View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • LifeWay Christian Store Announces They Are Closing Several Locations

      Popular Christian book store, LifeWay Christian Store announced Wednesday that would be closing several of its store locations due to a significant decline in sales. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • 'Criticism of Christian Education in America Should Stop,' Vice President Pence Defends His Wife amid Media Backlash

      Vice President Mike Pence’s wife was the target of criticism this week after she announced that she would be teaching art at a private conservative Christian school, and the Vice President is stepping up to defend her. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Gnostic Christian

      I am a Gnostic Christian and tend to not last long in Christian sites.   I guess that the reason for that is the same as it was when the early Christian church decimated us and burned our scripture.   They could not take criticism well or argue against us in a reasonable way and chose to kill us instead.   Can those here, including the mods handle criticism?   I do try to be as civil as possible but know that even civil criticism is not tolerated well in many Christian sites   Thoughts?   Regards DL

      in Exploring Christianity

    • How to Form a Christian Mind in a Digital World

      Many have rightly warned that evangelicals are losing “a Christian mind” by neglecting the Bible and indiscriminately consuming secular materials informed by non-Christian ideas. But what if it’s not just the content we consume but also the medium in which we read it that poses a danger to our minds? In Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, Maryanne Wolf makes a compelling case that our use of digital devices is changing the way we read, which in turn is profoundly altering the way we think—a chilling prospect for Christians, who believe that through his written Word, God renews our minds, enabling us to think in sanctified ways. Digital Challenges Although Wolf—a Tufts University professor who has studied the neurological processes involved in the act of reading—has no such spiritual concerns, she believes the stakes in our transition from a print to a digital culture are incredibly high. Again and again she confronts her readers with sobering questions: “Will new readers develop the more time-demanding cognitive processes nurtured by print-based mediums as they absorb and acquire new cognitive capacities emphasized by digital media?” “Will our youth develop such a passive response to knowledge that eventually the store of what they know and their ability to connect it through analogy and inference will be depleted?” “Will the combination of reading on digital formats and daily immersion in a variety of digital experiences . . . impede the formation of the slower cognitive processes such as critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy that are part of deep reading?” “Will the quality of our attention change as we read on mediums that advantage immediacy, dart-quick task switching, and continuous monitoring of distraction . . . ?” Wolf obviously sees a strong possibility that the answers to these questions might be yes. The reason? In her early research, she studied what happens within the brain when we read. Eventually she became concerned about “how the circuitry of the reading brain would be altered by the unique characteristics of the digital medium, particularly in the young.” Her conclusion is that since the advent of the digital age, “we have already begun to change how we read—with all of its many implications for how we think.” Reading Brain On the opening page of the book, Wolf declares provocatively that “human beings were never born to read,” by which she means that reading isn’t something our brains are hardwired to do, such as seeing or communicating. Rather, reading is “an unnatural cultural invention” that we must learn. This we’re able to do since our brain cells can make myriad connections, leading to the formation in each emerging reader of a “reading circuit” that links centers of the brain concerned with such crucial tasks as vision, language, cognition, motor functions, and affective functions. However, she warns that digital devices pose a threat to the development of this mental circuitry—not because digital reading is fundamentally different from print reading, but because the digital medium deluges us with information in byte-sized chunks, promoting information overload and distraction. As evidence, Wolf notes that students today are demonstrating “diminishing familiarity with conceptually demanding prose.” Wolf sees numerous dangers here: shrinking attention spans that preclude “deep reading” (her term for focused, thoughtful reading), which in turn leads to failure to gain the empathy for others that reading engenders and the kind of personal store of knowledge that enables inference, deduction, and analogical thinking. Christians might perceive an overarching danger: a reduction in our ability to grasp God’s truth through deep reading of his Word. Clearly God created us with the capacity to learn the complex process of reading so that we might benefit from his written revelation, the Bible. But the Word of God is a challenging book, a prime example of “conceptually demanding prose” that requires attentive, reflective reading. Are we willing to let our digital pottage make us poorer students of this treasure? Reader Recommendations What is to be done? Wolf’s recommendation isn’t simply that young readers be denied exposure to digital devices—indeed, she is surprisingly open to their use—but that such exposure be meted out in careful doses. She urges parents of children up to age 5 to read to them often, giving them little access to digital devices. “Human interaction and physical interaction with books and print are the best entry into the world of oral and written language and internalized knowledge, the building blocks of the later reading circuit,” she writes. As for children 5 to 10 years of age, Wolf wants them develop a “biliterate brain” by learning in both print and digital mediums. Physical books are her preferred tool for reading instruction, while digital devices might be used to teach coding, programming, and creative skills such as graphic arts and musical composition. In other words, she envisions a two-track learning approach, with the understanding that students can safely combine print and digital media only when their mental reading circuits are firmly established around fourth grade. Thereafter, the goal is to prevent those circuits from atrophying. Digital Wisdom Whether many schools would agree to adopt such an approach, there is wisdom here for Christian parents, who must always be their children’s prime educators. If you’re a parent, read the Bible to your children from an early age, along with age-appropriate Bible storybooks and well-written (and well-illustrated) children’s books. As they grow, introduce them to classic literary works. Let them hear both biblical truth and also beautiful language. Through the exhausting early years of child-rearing, fight the terrible temptation to let a smartphone or tablet serve as a babysitter, much as parents a generation ago had to resist the siren song of TV. Keep books in your home for this purpose, whether owned or borrowed from the local library. Don’t let down your guard as your children acquire the ability to read for themselves. Help them find books that appeal to their expanding interests. When the time is right, these might include eBooks, but as much as possible help them use digital devices as tools for specific purposes, not as toys for relieving boredom. Hopefully by these means, we can raise up children who will be able to read and appreciate challenging texts, especially the Scriptures, which unfold the gospel of salvation through Christ. Meanwhile, we adults will do well to guard our own minds from the degenerative effects of the digital world. If Wolf is right—and her research seems sound and well-attested—such digital discipline is crucial for Christians who want to grow in their knowledge of God and his truth. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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