Monday, 22 May 2017

a) READ ME FIRST

Read Me First

a) This blog has divided the themes of the book into 13 lessons.   The book, I believe, is best processed in group discussions.  Suggested conversation starters are listed for each lesson.  Small groups of truth seekers, church sponsored home study groups, would benefit from such discussions.   The book, and this blog, could also be a curriculum resource for Christian school’s Bible perspective classes.   

b) The book has consciously / deliberately made room for God to work.  Argument, logic will never move anyone closer to the heart change that is needed for a renewal of relationship with God.  Our group discussions should make room for God to work; a prayer, a heart turning to deity as best we know how, is recommended for each study.  Each study should end with a scripture reading: the foundational assumption being that God has revealed truth / himself in the Bible.

c) The purpose of this blog is to help develop the conversation.  A church that is losing such a large percentage of its youth / members needs to take a hard look at itself and its agenda.  What is needed to bring rootedness to believers, sufficient to withstand the onslaughts of an overwhelmingly atheistic culture?

d) Your contribution to this conversation, this blog is appreciated.   All constructive comment as well as wholesome critique will be placed on the blog.  (This blog will be moderated.)   All comments should have your name, location, and date attached.

e) Comments that are more general in nature, i.e. not with a focus on the specific session topic, should be placed on the Testimonial and General Comment blog page.

f) Personal letters to the author should be made to my dedicated email address jakewienspg@gmail.com

g) Befriending the book’s facebook page / post would be appreciated.  Nothing travels faster than “word of mouth”. 

h) Requests for multiple copies of the book (study groups / class sets) are available from the author at a reduced rate ($17.50) plus shipping and handling.   Send your request via the dedicated email address above.  Payment options will be sent upon ordering.  Single copies, ebooks seem to be cheapest when ordering through FriesenPress Online Bookstore directly.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

b) BLOG SUMMARY OF THEMES

Blog Summary of Themes

Session 1 – Read to page 18.
SPIRITUALITY – Life is about More than What We See

Session 2 – Read to page 54.
RELIGION PROVIDES THE AGENDA FOR ALL CULTURE-SHAPING

Session 3 – Read to page 80.
ATHEISM IS A RELIGION

Session 4 – Read to page 110.
EASTERN RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY

Session 5 – Read to page 129.
ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY

Session 6 – Read to page 151.
HUMANISM’S METASTORY – The Story that is Shaping Western Cultures

Session 7 – Read to page 168.
WHAT IS TRUTH – The Need to make Faith Assumptions

Session 8 – Read to page 188.
VALIDATING OUR ASSUMPTIONS – The Challenge of Circular Reasoning

Session 9 – Read to page 216.
THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN METASTORY – The Story with an Origin in Heaven itself.

Session 10 – Read to page 245.
APOLOGETCS - The Evidences that Strengthen Christianity’s Circular Reasoning

Session 11 – Read to page 260.
AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY – More than a Tradition, More than Simple Mental Assent

Session 12 –Read to page 274.
ATHEISM’S STRONGHOLDS – How Christianity’s Story was Pushed to the Margins.

Session 13 – Read to page 283, Reread Pages 19 – 32.
DISCIPLESHIP – Twelve Steps that Embed my Life-Story into His Kingdom Story.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

c) TESTIMONIAL AND GENERAL COMMENT PAGE

Testimonial and General Comment

Comments that do not have the specific focus of any of the session topics should be placed here.  

Personal messages to the author should be placed on the author’s email address - jakewienspg@gmail.com



Friday, 19 May 2017

d) Session 1 SPIRITUALITY – LIFE IS ABOUT MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE

SPIRITUALITY – Life is about More than What We See – Read from the beginning to page 18

1) Does everyone have a set of Ultimate Life Questions and Answers?  When do we have to wrestle with them?  Does such a set of questions and answers point to the reality of a deeper spiritual dimension? 

2) Discuss the list of spiritual characteristics provided (pg 7-10).  Agree / disagree / additions / deletions.

3) Psychology and Psychiatry study many of these characteristics.  The lack of these characteristics in individuals have become syndromes and have received labels.  Medicine and therapy seek to medicate and moderate these deficits.  How does this secular effort to understand and help impact our understanding of these characteristics in terms of them being spiritual characteristics at root?   If these syndromes do have a spiritual dimension, then what more is needed to bring long term healing at a deeper level?

4) Many non-religious people seem to have many of these wholesome spiritual characteristics.  Many religious people lack these characteristics.  How do we process this from a Biblical perspective?

Beginning thoughts:  
a) All blessings are from God, whether recognized or not. 

b) We need to compare ourselves not with others but with our own previous selves.  Are we personally becoming healthier spiritually?  The standard for true spirituality is ultimately Jesus. 

c) When life is easy we all seems well, when stresses come that is when the cracks appear.  A lot of these weaknesses can be muffled with a good public facade, a mask if you will.  Becoming personally honest with one's self is necessary for growth / healing in these areas.

d) A lot of westernized Christianity is anemic, as a result, provides little healing in these areas. There is nothing more dangerous than religion / spirituality gone bad, nothing more wholesome than religion / spirituality that is true.

5) How does our view of God impact our understanding of self, of life?

6) Bible passage to consider.  Luke 15 :11 ff   Restoring the relationship with the father was the key to the son’s wellbeing on so many different levels.



Thursday, 18 May 2017

e) Session 2 RELIGION PROVIDES THE AGENDA FOR ALL CULTURE-SHAPING

Session 2
RELIGION PROVIDES THE AGENDA FOR ALL CULTURE-SHAPING – Read pages 19 - 54.
                (Pages 19 – 32, read these as well but these pages are the topic for session 13)

1)Analyse our culture’s understandings and attitudes towards religion. To what degree have Christians bought into this same negative mind and heart-set?    What may have caused this negative attitude towards religion?

2)What is religion, what is spirituality? How are they related?  For a simple definition see page 2-3 again.

3)Does every person have a religion, a cosmic story?  Is every person religious at the core?  How did we develop our personal cosmic story, the story that shapes our understanding of self and life?

4) How is my personal life story (from birth to death) related to my adopted or inherited cosmic story?

5) How does our view of God impact our understanding of self, of life?

6) Bible passages to consider.  Romans 12 :1-2


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

f) Lesson 3 ATHEISM IS A RELIGION

Session 3
ATHEISM IS A RELIGION - Read pages 55 - 80.

1)How would atheism / humanism argue against, respond to the comparisons listed?

2) Where do we see atheism at work in our secular culture?  What impact is atheism / humanism having on our cultural psyche / soul?

3) Why / How has atheism gotten such a free ride in our culture?  Why has it been considered neutral in the struggle to understand religion?  (A preliminary discussion, more when we focus on the appendices.)

4) Can the terms fundamentalism and intolerance also apply to atheists?  How should we respond to such character traits in others?  How can we personally avoid such labels in our own lives?


5) Romans 1:18-32.  Do we see this moral slide in our “god - less” culture?  Analyse the stages of this slide as described in this passage.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

g) Lesson 4 EASTERN RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY

Session 4
EASTERN RELIGIONS AND CHRISTIANITY - Read pages 81 - 110

1) Discuss the cultural myth that all religions are really climbing up the same mountain, just from opposite sides.

2) What do all the traditional religions have in common, what makes each unique? How does each answer the question of evil and suffering?  How does each provide a solution to these existential dilemmas?

3) Is it possible to deduce that humanity will never find its way without a revelation from deity?  See the text box on page 167 for my reflections on this important question.

4) How have each of these religions shaped their respective cultures? 

5) What truths did each discover?   Do we have the tendency to think that the Evil One inspires all non-Christian religious searching?  (The Evil One can use this aspect of our humanity, just as he uses scripture to mislead.)  Is it correct and helpful to view this universal religious searching as simply humans struggling to find truth?  What difference would such a more neutral stance take in our approaches to non – Christians?

6) Discuss the seven characteristics of eastern religions (Page 93 -95).  Is there any wisdom here to help us understand spirituality from a Christian perspective? 

7) Process the observations and questions on pages 103 and 110.


8) Bible passage to consider Romans 2:1 – 16.  Is God’s moral law imprinted on the human heart?  Is this visible in the truths that other religions have discovered?