The God I Won’t Believe In – Apologetics Conference

If you or someone you know has questions about God or the Bible that they feel makes it difficult or impossible for them to be a Christian, join me for a one-day apologetics conference in Pleasanton, California on August 27, 2022.

This free conference will be based on my book, The God I Won’t Believe In: Facing Nine Common Barriers to Embracing Christianity. At the event there will be three presentations, each looking at one of the 3 broad areas of struggle addressed in the book: Empirical questions, Moral issues, and Personal struggles – as well as a time for Q&A.

If you can’t make it to this event, but would like to host a similar event in your local area, contact me here.

Alex Jones, the Truth, and the Compelling Love of Christ

There was an interesting exchange that took place this week between Alex Jones and the judge overseeing his trial related to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In it, the judge insisted that Jones needed to tell the truth under oath. Jones then claimed that he believed that what he was saying was true, to which the judge responded that it did not matter if he believed what he said was true or not; either it was or it wasn’t.

“Just because you claim to think something is true, does not make it true.”

Finally, it came out through evidence that Jones had actually done something which he claimed he hadn’t done. Jones claims that this was an honest mistake, whereas others assert that he intentionally lied.

Here’s a recording of that exchange:

An Interesting Cultural Moment

Whatever your opinion of Alex Jones or this legal proceeding, this is an interesting moment in our culture, because – despite the attempts of some to relativize “the truth,” here we have an argument which acknowledges the existence of objective reality.

In recent history in the United States and the Western world, there has been a lot of debate over what makes something “true.” Phrases like “speak your truth,” or the idea that what is true for one person might not be true for others, make it seem like the truth is relative. Furthermore, the idea that what a person believes about themselves cannot be argued against, e.g. when it comes to gender identity, can make it seem like empirical evidence no longer matters in determining what is “true.”

Yet here is a conversation in our society about the importance of truth.

Note the words of the judge: “Just because you claim to think something is true, does not make it true.”

I wonder what would happen if we applied this same logic to other issues as well. Should this apply to how we think about gender and sexuality? How about how we believe about God, the Bible, and even the topics of sin and judgment?

What Does Truth Mean for Us as Christians?

As Christians, we believe in objective truth. We believe that God exists. We believe that some actions are sinful. We believe that there is a day coming when God will judge the living and the dead. We believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, come to do for us what we could not do for ourselves by living a life of perfect obedience to God, dying a sacrificial death to take the judgment we deserved in our place, and rising from the grave to everlasting life.

Knowledge of these truths – regarding sin, judgment, and the love and grace of God displayed in Jesus’ saving actions on our behalf – compels us, as Paul the Apostle explains in 2 Corinthians 5, to do two things: to persuade people of the truth of these matters (2 Corinthians 5:11), and to beseech them to receive the reconciling grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:20)!

Compelled to Persuade

The Bible tells us that because we know of God’s judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10), we are compelled to persuade people (2 Corinthians 5:11). To persuade, in this sense, means to remove intellectual barriers, to overcome prejudice and ignorance, to convince by argument and testimony, and by the straightforward proclamation of the gospel.

Compelled to Implore

Furthermore, Paul says that because we know of God’s grace and the offer of salvation, we are compelled to beseech people to receive the gift of what Jesus has done for them, so they can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul even uses the word “implore” to describe how we appeal to people in light of the truths of sin, judgment, and the possibility of redemption through Jesus. To implore, according to Lexico, means “to beg someone earnestly and desperately.”

It’s important to take note in this cultural moment that, no matter how much we might try to suppress it, we as human beings know there is such a thing as truth which is independent of our personal claims, opinions, or feelings. As the people of God we should be lovers of the truth.

Finally, if what the Bible says is true about God, sin, judgment, and redemption – and we have abundant evidence to believe it is (see here for more on that), then it behooves us to persuade and implore those around us of the veracity of these things and the need to be reconciled to God through the grace God has extended to us in Christ.

May God help us to be lovers of the truth, and may the Holy Spirit cause us to be compelled all the more by the love of Christ, to live not for ourselves, but for Him who for our sakes died and was raised (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15).

The Fairytale Twist & Why Karma is Not Your Friend

The Hindu and Buddhist concept of Karma is the belief that good deeds create positive karma, and bad ones create negative karma. Positive karma, it is believed, will lead to good fortune, whereas negative karma will lead to misfortune and suffering.

Belief in karma is popular amongst modern western people, but curiously – in my observation – it is only referenced when either bad things happen to other people, or when good things happen to an individual themselves.

For example, people tend to attribute misfortune to karma when something negative happens to someone else whom they deem deserving of suffering because of their bad behavior, or when something positive happens to them. In both cases, people tend to reference karma as the reason why the person in question “got what they deserved.”

Co-opting Karma in Part, but Not in Full

It has been noted how people in the West have a tendency to co-opt certain aspects of Eastern Religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. An example of this is the way yoga has been co-opted and transformed into something very different in the West than what it originally was as a Hindu practice.

Similarly, when Western people talk about karma, they often only think of it in terms of either 1) them getting the good things they believe they have earned through their “meritorious behavior,” or 2) other people getting the suffering that the person in question believes they deserve.

What they are forgetting is that karma is essentially a system which exists to explain why bad things and/or good things happen to people in life, and it basically chalks it all up to earning or deserving.

The Shadow Side of Karma

The “shadow side” of karma is that it says that if something bad happens to you, it is because you have done something (either in this life or a previous one) to deserve it.

Just think about what a terrible concept this is when it comes to serious issues, such as abuse. If you are the sufferer of abuse, karma essentially says: “That happened to you because you did something to deserve it!” In the end, karma says that you have no one to blame for suffering in your life than yourself.

The Fairytale Twist of the Gospel

In contrast to the message of karma, that says that you deserve whatever happens to you in this life, the message of the gospel is just the opposite: That every blessing you receive in life is an unmerited gift from a benevolent God who loves you, and that the reason tragedy happens is because we live in a broken world in which evil exists.

Not only does evil exist “out there” in the world, but this evil has bound itself around our very hearts. Yet, the good news of the gospel is that God is gracious to sinners like us, extending grace and mercy to the undeserving!

As my friend Pete Nelson likes to say, “The message of the gospel is like the movie where the ugly guy gets the girl!”

Malcom Gladwell on The Fairytale Twist

Author Malcom Gladwell had an interesting episode of his Revisionist History podcast, in which he talked about different types of stories, and the effects they have on people. What he points out, is that there are certain types of stories which seem to resonate with people universally, even from a very young age.

You can listen to the entire episode here, but I’ll summarize the main points below:

Little Mermaid Part 2: The Fairytale Twist Revisionist History

The quest to revise The Little Mermaid continues. This week, we call in the experts. Part two of three. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Malcom points out that most ancient fairy tales had an aspect in them which he calls “the fairytale twist,” in which good fortune befalls a person despite the fact that they are undeserving, or often straight up foolish. In these stories, good things happen to bad people who don’t deserve a good fate.

For example, he references a story in which a foolish girl wastes her family’s final money on trivial things, but then in a “fairytale twist,” her foolish decision ends up paying off and saving her family. The salvation of the family, in other words, wasn’t because of the girl’s intuition and good choices, but rather happened fortuitously, in spite of her foolish actions.

What made these stories attractive is that audiences wanted to believe that life could suddenly go from bad to good, regardless of a person’s worthiness.

The message of these stories was not just that there could be a sudden twist that could change everything, but that the twist would be unrelated to the disposition of the character in question. In other words, you don’t need to meet some qualification to be eligible for this sudden twist – rather, it could happen to anyone (even you!).

The Shift to Poetic Justice Stories

Malcom then identifies how a change took place in Western story telling in the 1700’s, when writer Charles Perot insisted that fairytales should teach the idea that good things only happen to good people, and bad things always happen to bad people. These are called “poetic justice” stories.

A good example of a poetic justice story is Disney’s version of Cinderella. In that story, Cinderella’s virtue is rewarded whereas the wickedness of the step-sisters and step-mother are punished. Everyone gets exactly what they deserved.

Measuring Visceral Responses to Different Kinds of Stories

Malcom points out that modern marketers have created a tool which can measure children’s reactions to different fairytale endings. Through their research, what they’ve found is that children prefer fairytale twist stories over poetic justice stories.

It’s not terribly hard to make sense of why this is: Every child, even at a young age, is aware of the fact that they have not always done the right thing, and that if what you get in life is determined by your actions, that is a losing proposition.

To put it in biblical terms, the point is that deep down inside, human beings are innately aware that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, i.e. the standard of what is right.

As the common trope goes, “Nobody’s perfect!” We all understand this deep down, even from a young age, and are aware that if we were to receive exactly what we deserve, we would all be in a heap of trouble.

What is hopeful, however, is the idea that somehow, people who are undeserving can receive good fortune, and not get the punishment or misfortune they might deserve.

The Hope of the Gospel is Engrained on Our Hearts

The message of the gospel is that, by God’s grace, good things can happen to bad people (like us!).

That hope is engrained in the heart of every human being. It’s the reason why we love fairytale endings, even from a young age. It’s the reason why “poetic justice” stories only make us feel good when the person receiving the poetic justice is someone else!

Deep down we all long for justice for wrongdoers and mercy and grace for ourselves.

The message of the gospel is that Jesus Christ received the justice of God, so that mercy and grace could be extended to the undeserving!

But that’s not all: along with the promise of mercy and grace, we also have the assurance that when we receive the gift of God’s grace, He will then begin a transforming work in our lives, called “sanctification” in which God begins to shape us into more virtuous, beautiful people, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.

Karma or the Gospel?

Karma says that, whatever happens to a person, they essentially earned it and deserved it. In contrast, the gospel says that there is a sovereign, benevolent God who entered into the brokenness of this fallen world in order to redeem it and make all things new. He, the only truly good and deserving person who ever lived, took the judgment that we deserved upon Himself, so that through Him we might receive grace and mercy. It’s the ultimate “ugly guy gets the girl” story!

Karma is not your friend. The hope of the gospel is what your heart ultimately longs for, because it’s the true story of the world, and our only hope in life and death.

Project Back to School 2022

Did you know that children in the foster system form an at-risk people group within our own communities?

In almost every case, the reason these children end up in foster care care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which may involve violence, neglect, drugs, crime, etc. These environments not only result in trauma many times, but they also tend to result in or be associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden.

Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. Children living in poverty have higher rates of absenteeism from school. Students who come from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school.  Adults without a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, which means raising their children in poverty, perpetuating a cycle of poverty which may persist for generations: poverty affects education which affects poverty. (source 1source 2)

One of the ways that we can help kids break out of this cycle of poverty is by encouraging them to stay in school – and one of the ways we can do that is by helping them have the things they need to be confident and excited about going to school, so they can succeed!

Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system, and six years ago we began a new ministry: Project Back to School.

We are working with Weld County Department of Human Services, and this year they have identified over 100 at-risk kids who need help with school supplies, clothes, and shoes. They have provided us with a list of needed items, which we will share with those who sign up to help.

We are trusting that God will raise up people to bless these families in the name of Jesus. It’s a way for us to love not only in words and in speech, but in action as well (1 John 3:18).

We will be taking sign-ups beginning Sunday, July 10 and asking items to be returned by Sunday, July 24.

How to Get Involved and Make a Difference

1. Sign up in-person

If you live in or near Longmont, visit White Fields Church on a Sunday morning this July and sign up to sponsor one or more children.

2. Sign up online

If you can’t make it on a Sunday morning, but are still local and could drop off items to us for delivery, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.

3. Contribute Financially

All monies that come in designated for Project Back to School will go directly towards buying school supplies for at risk children. You can make a tax-deductible donation on our church’s website here: whitefieldschurch.com/give/ (choose Project Back to School on the drop-down menu).

Join us in praying for these kids, and that God uses this initiative to bless them!

How is the Mission of God Progressing in the Midst of the War in Ukraine?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, Michael Payne and I speak with George and Sharon Markey, who are missionaries in Kyiv, Ukraine. George has been in Ukraine for 30 years now, and is able to give unique insight into what is happening there right now in the midst of the war.

Back in March, I posted an interview I recorded with George in Budapest, in which he talked about what was happening then, at the beginning of the war. You can listen to that interview here: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine: How to Pray & How to Help – with George Markey

In this discussion, recorded when George and Sharon visited us in Colorado in June of 2022, George tells the story of how his family moved to Ukraine in 1992, and Sharon tells her story of meeting George and joining him on the mission field.

They talk about their family’s experience in evacuating from Ukraine when the war began and how they are continuing to reach out with the love of Jesus to the Ukrainian people, and how the mission of God is progressing even in the midst of the current calamity.

Check out George and Sharon’s new website, mentioned in the episode: BridgeUA.org

This episode was originally recorded for the White Fields Community Church YouTube channel. Please visit and subscribe to that, and you can visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

How is the Mission of God Progressing in the Midst of the War in Ukraine? Theology for the People

In this episode, Michael Payne and Nick Cady speak with George and Sharon Markey, missionaries in Ukraine. George tells the story of how his family moved to Ukraine in 1992, and Sharon tells her story of meeting George and joining him on the mission field. They talk about their family's experience in evacuating from Ukraine when the war began and how they are continuing to reach out with the love of Jesus to the Ukrainian people, and how the mission of God is progressing even in the midst of the current calamity. Check out George and Sharon's new website, mentioned in the episode: BridgeUA.org This episode was originally recorded for the White Fields Community Church YouTube channel. Please visit and subscribe to that, and you can visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org

Are Christian Sexual Ethics Harmful or Helpful? Was ”Purity Culture” a Mistake?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Dean Inserra.

Dean Inserra is the author of the book, Pure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality Isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive. In this episode, we talk about “purity culture” and whether the recent pushback against it is warranted. We also discuss biblical sexual ethics and Dean gives advice for people in different life situations in regard to marriage, singleness, and dating.

Dean is the founding and lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a graduate of Liberty University and holds a MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a D.Min from Southern Seminary. Dean is an advisory member of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s Leadership Council with the Southern Baptist Convention and is a member of Baptist 21.

For more information about the Calvary Chapel / CGN international conference June 26-29, 2022, visit conference.calvarychapel.com

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

Are Christian Sexual Ethics Harmful or Helpful? Was "Purity Culture" a Mistake? – with Dean Inserra Theology for the People

Dean Inserra is the author of the book, Pure: Why the Bible's Plan for Sexuality Isn't Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive. In this episode, we talk about "purity culture" and whether the recent pushback against it is warranted. We also discuss biblical sexual ethics and Dean gives advice for people in different life situations in regard to marriage, singleness, and dating. Dean is the founding and lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida. He is a graduate of Liberty University and holds a MA in Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a D.Min from Southern Seminary. Dean is an advisory member of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission's Leadership Council with the Southern Baptist Convention and is a member of Baptist 21. For more information about the Calvary Chapel / CGN international conference June 26-29, 2022, visit conference.calvarychapel.com

What Is Gospel Culture and How is It Developed?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Tim Chaddick.

Tim is the Pastor for Preaching at Reality Ventura and Founding Pastor of Reality Church London and Reality LA. A native to California, Tim’s first ten years of church-planting ministry started as the Lead Pastor of Reality LA in 2006, a thriving church in the heart of Hollywood, before planting Reality London in the UK in 2016. In 2021, Tim returned to California to take up the Pastor for Preaching role at Reality Ventura.

In this episode we talk about culture in general, and “gospel culture” specifically. What is “gospel culture” and how is it developed amongst a group of people, whether that be a church, a family, a staff, or elsewhere? 

Tim’s first two books, Better: How Jesus Satisfies the Search for Meaning and The Truth about Lies, were projects which came from lessons learned while living and pastoring in urban areas. Pastor Tim and his wife Lindsey care deeply about the ministry of the local church and seek to devote themselves to helping churches begin and flourish in their mission to share and reflect the gospel.

Tim and I will both be speaking at the Calvary Chapel / CGN International Conference in Orange County, California, June 26-29. More information and registration can be found here at conference.calvarychapel.com

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

What is Gospel Culture and How is It Developed? Theology for the People

Tim Chaddick is the Pastor for Preaching at Reality Ventura and Founding Pastor of Reality Church London and Reality LA. A native to California, Tim's first ten years of church-planting ministry started as the Lead Pastor of Reality LA in 2006, a thriving church in the heart of Hollywood, before planting Reality London in the UK in 2016. In 2021, Tim returned to California to take up the Pastor for Preaching role at Reality Ventura. In this episode we talk about culture in general, and "gospel culture" specifically. What is "gospel culture" and how is it developed amongst a group of people, whether that be a church, a family, a staff, or elsewhere?  Tim and I will both be speaking at the Calvary Chapel / CGN International Conference in Orange County, California, June 26-29. More information and registration can be found here at conference.calvarychapel.com Tim's first two books, Better: How Jesus Satisfies the Search for Meaning and The Truth about Lies, were projects which came from lessons learned while living and pastoring in urban areas. Pastor Tim and his wife Lindsey care deeply about the ministry of the local church and seek to devote themselves to helping churches begin and flourish in their mission to share and reflect the gospel.

Do Miracles Create Faith?

In his 1986 book, Power Evangelism, John Wimber suggested that when people see miracles, they are more inclined to believe in Jesus and embrace the gospel.

But is that true? Is that actually what we see in the Bible?

There are verses like John 2:11, where it says that Jesus’ disciples, having seen the first of his signs by which he manifested his glory, believed in him. Furthermore, at the end of the Gospel of John, John says that he has told us about these particular signs that Jesus performed, so that we may believe in him.

However, another common theme in the Gospel of John is that many people in Jesus’ time saw him perform miracles, and although they were fascinated with and captivated by seeing miracles, it did not translate into genuine faith and devotion to Jesus.

Regarding the disciples and the verse in John 2:11 that they believed in Him after they saw the sign he performed, it should be remembered that at this point they were already his disciples – which means they already believed in him. What this miracle did was cause them to believe in a deeper way. It solidified their belief, in other words.

Something that always strikes me, is the fact that Jesus fed over 5000 people (on two occasions!), thousands of others saw him perform miracles, yet on the Day of Pentecost, there were only 120 committed followers in the upper room.

The question that must be asked is: WHY did Jesus perform miracles? Was it an evangelistic strategy (as Wimber supposes), or was it because those miracles were signs, pointing to something beyond themselves (as John tells us in his gospel)?

It would seem that if miracles were Jesus’ evangelistic strategy, they weren’t very effective in producing lasting, genuine faith. A good example is found in John 4, where there is a contrast made between the Samaritans, who believed in Jesus because of his word (John 4:41) – even though they never saw a miracle, and the Galileans, whom Jesus chastised because they were only willing to believe if they saw signs and wonders (John 4:48).

The message is that faith, rather than coming from seeing miracles, comes from hearing the Word of God and believing. This same message is repeated at the end of John’s Gospel in John 20:29, where Jesus tells Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

In a recent Sermon Extra, Michael and I discussed signs and wonders, whether miracles produce genuine faith:

What Is Your Soul, and How Can It Flourish?

In this week’s episode of the Theology for the People podcast, I speak with Dominic Done. We talk about what the Bible means when it talks about the “soul,” and what God’s vision is for how your soul can flourish.

Dominic is a pastor and author based out of Colorado Springs, where he leads a ministry called Pursuing Faith.

Dominic has served as Professor of Applied Theology at George Fox University, lead pastor of Westside: A Jesus Church in Portland, Oregon. He has a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Oxford and is currently working on his PhD at the University of Oxford under Alister McGrath. 

He has written two books. His first book, When Faith Fails: Finding God in the Shadow of Doubt, addresses the topics of doubt and deconstruction. His latest book, Your Longing Has a Name: Come Alive to the Story You Were Made For, was just released in April of this year.

Dominic was recently a guest on Unbelievable? in which he debated with an atheist philosopher on the origin of virtues. 

For more information about the Calvary Global Network (CGN) conference taking place in Costa Mesa, CA from June 26-29, at which Dominic will be speaking, visit conference.calvarychapel.com

If you find this episode interesting or helpful, please share it with others and leave a rating and review on your podcast app, as that helps other people discover this podcast and its content.

Click here to listen to the episode, or listen in the embedded player below.

What is Your Soul and How Can It Flourish? – with Dominic Done Theology for the People

Dominic Done is a pastor and author based out of Colorado Springs, where he leads a ministry called Pursuing Faith. Dominic has served as Professor of Applied Theology at George Fox University, lead pastor of Westside: A Jesus Church in Portland, Oregon. He has a Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Oxford and is currently working on his PhD at the University of Oxford under Alister McGrath.  He has written two books. His first book, When Faith Fails: Finding God in the Shadow of Doubt, addresses the topics of doubt and deconstruction. His latest book, Your Longing Has a Name: Come Alive to the Story You Were Made For, was just released this year. Dominic was recently a guest on Unbelievable? in which he debated with an atheist philosopher on the origin of virtues.  For more information about the Calvary Global Network (CGN) conference taking place in Costa Mesa, CA from June 26-29, at which Dominic will be speaking, visit conference.calvarychapel.com

Does Education Make You Less Dependent on the Holy Spirit?

My Crisis of Faith

I’m not sure exactly how it started, but at some point, I had began to struggle, and it had reached a point that felt like a crisis.

I was living in Hungary at the time, Rosemary and I had just had our first child, he was about 6 months old at the time. I was pastoring a church, and things were going well; people were coming and growing in their faith, others were coming to faith for the first time, and being baptized.

I was teaching the Bible twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays, and yet, I found myself struggling with feelings of doubt. I began to question whether the things I was saying about the Bible were actually true! I began having doubts about whether God even exists!

Up until that point, I had never struggled to believe, but now, all of a sudden, my mind was plagued with doubts. The things I was teaching, was I just parroting what I had heard from other people? Was I just taking their word for it, that the things they said about God and the Bible were true? I hadn’t actually researched and studied those things for myself… What if they were wrong?

My Journey to Formal Education

This crisis of faith led me on a journey, which involved enrolling in university, and studying Christianity, the Bible, and other religions, at the university level. And as a result of that journey, having studied these things for myself, I’m at a place today where I’m more confident than ever before that the Bible is trustworthy and the gospel message of Jesus Christ is true.

What the Bible has to Say about Pursuing Education

Here’s what Paul said to Timothy, a young pastor:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Here’s what Peter wrote in his “general epistle” (to all Christians):

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3,5-8

“Why Can’t You Just Be Self-Taught?”

I’ve heard people push back against formal education and insist that you can get just as good of an education on your own by reading books. My response is, you probably can – but there are some big benefits to studying in an institute of higher education.

One of the greatest benefits is that you will be forced to read things you disagree with, and you will be required to critically engage with the material, and with smart people who hold positions other than your own. This will make you sharper, and force you to examine the foundations of what you believe. If you navigate this well, it will lead to a stronger faith.

Furthermore, if you’re like me, the rigor and deadlines of a school program will help you to actually do your work, and think hard, since you know your work will be examined and critiqued by people who won’t let you get away with sloppy or lazy conclusions.

Does education make you less dependent on the Holy Spirit?

Having spent years in seminary, let me tell you that I have never met anyone who thinks that they no longer need the Holy Spirit now that they have learned more things. In fact, if anything – gaining education has the effect on a person of making them more aware of how much they don’t know.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is the phenomena that those who are less competent tend to be more self-confident because they don’t realize how much they don’t know, whereas those who are more competent tend to be more aware of just how much they don’t know.

This isn’t always the case, I’m sure. Probably there are some people out there who become proud because they think they know more than others, once they’ve received some amount of education.

“Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1)

I absolutely agree! However, I have also met some people who are proud of their lack of education, and look down on those who have pursued formal theological education, as if their choice to not go to seminary is more spiritual.

The key is to keep love (for God and for others, in response to God’s love for us) as the motivating factor, rather than pursuing knowledge just for the sake of knowledge – and we should certainly never seek knowledge in an attempt to assert superiority over others, rather view it as something to be used to help serve others.

Discussion On the CGN Mission & Methods Podcast

In the most recent episode of the CGN Mission & Methods Podcast, we discussed the power, presence, and work of the Holy Spirit, and this topic came up. Here’s a clip of our discussion:

You can listen to then entire episode here (or in the embedded player below): What Do CGN Leaders Believe about Charismatic Gifts and Their Use in the Church Today?

What Does CGN Believe about Charismatic Gifts and Their Use in the Church Today? The CGN Mission & Methods Podcast

What do CGN leaders believe about the charismatic gifts mentioned in the Bible — specifically, the spiritual gifts of prophecy, healing, and speaking in tongues? Are these gifts still in operation? Are they available to Christians today? — And if so, how should they be used practically, in our churches? In this episode of the CGN Mission & Methods podcast, I sit down with Brian Brodersen and Kellen Criswell to discuss on of the theological streams that we belong to as a network, which is: Continuationism. We believe that all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament are available for believers today. In this episode, we discuss the difference between the terms “Continuationist” and “Charismatic,” and we talk about the biblical reasons why we hold this position, and share some stories as examples of what this can look like in practice. Make sure to listen for a clip from Pastor Chuck Smith, in which he talks about a key passage for this discussion, found in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. New episodes are being released every two weeks! Make sure you subscribe to the podcast, so each episode will be delivered to your device as soon as they come out! We’d love to hear feedback from you on these episodes. You can email us at cgn@calvarychapel.com