Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pastor in history

Bare­bones min­i­mum, yes?
Does the gospel need a $300,000 sound/lighting/video sys­tem to reach hearts?

Is the gospel rel­e­vant to the heart of some­one today, or must it be made rel­e­vant with pithy grit­ty angst, a rock-con­cert atmos­phere, and the Holy Spir­it rid­ing the back of the mega-church smoke machines?

I dis­cov­ered that I have a mail­box at church last week, or rather that the A/V Min­istry does. This is appar­ent­ly a fix­ture estab­lished for two rea­sons. The first is for the mem­ber [dear­ly loved] of the con­gre­ga­tion who reminds me near­ly every week that our 87dB wor­ship ser­vice is too loud and pro­hib­i­tive to wor­ship. I found a col­lec­tion of pho­to­copied jour­nal arti­cles and even jour­nals them­selves with bits cir­cled and notes paper-clipped to pages out­lin­ing the dan­gers of expo­sure to heavy sound pres­sure lev­els. *chuck­le* I feel bad because there were some con­tri­bu­tions that had sat there lan­guish­ing unread for a long while. The sec­ond pur­pose is to serve as a place to stick all the adverts and cat­a­logs from sound/lighting/video/production sup­pli­ers.

In perus­ing the pages of these full-col­or glossy tomes, I ran across tes­ti­mo­ni­als from church­es that had been helped by the catalog’s com­pa­ny. It was appar­ent that the answer to these ques­tions was indeed, ‘yes’. The pho­tos from these installs showed booths and stages that a pop-record­ing mega-artist and their sound-tech would feel quite at home with­in when per­form­ing.

I am a crea­ture of ADD extremes, flights of fan­cy, bursts of strong (some­times unwar­rant­ed, often­times inad­vis­able) emo­tion. I know this. God knows this. My friends and fam­i­ly bless me (Thank you. I love you. Thank you God) with an atti­tude sim­i­lar to that which we Mis­souri­ans express towards our capri­cious weath­er… “If you don’t like it, wait five min­utes.” That’s not to say that I’m an unteth­ered kite being blown by a storm with no emotional/intellectual anchor. Quite the con­trary… I just have a heart that rush­es on ahead and a mind that labors to catch it up and remind it that has again run away with­out a prayer con­sult, and left all the notes and lessons learned behind, sit­ting use­less­ly in a dis­card­ed back­pack. The teth­er and the anchor are there, there’s just a regret­table amount of slack in the line that usu­al­ly runs-out with a semi-painful ‘snap’.

I had a few hours of per­son­al cri­sis. Despair, dis­gust, sor­row. I just want­ed to turn in my mon­i­tor­ing phones along with my 2 weeks notice. This last­ed, for­tu­nate­ly, only a few hours, before rea­son reassert­ed itself and I was able to view my own goals to repair, expand, and oth­er­wise meet the mod­est ‘needs’ of our Sun­day ser­vice, with a peace­ful con­fi­dence that our answers to those ques­tions, if asked, would be a sim­ple, ‘no’, and if ever we stray into that men­tal­i­ty, we have only to reeval­u­ate and tell our­selves ‘no’.

It helped to have the clear words of Ravi Zacharais from a few days ear­li­er to remind me that the peo­ple that I turn to and trust for good teach­ing and insight into mat­ters of faith aren’t caught up in this trou­ble­some church mindset/trend:

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2″ @15:39 Pre­vi­ous Arti­cle

David Platt described his real­iza­tion thus in his book “Rad­i­cal: Tak­ing Back Your Faith from the Amer­i­can Dream”

The youngest megachurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.”

While I would dis­pute that claim it was nonethe­less the label giv­en to me when I went to pas­tor a large, thriv­ing church in the Deep South — the Church at Brook Hills in Birm­ing­ham, Alaba­ma. From the first day I was immersed in strate­gies for mak­ing the church big­ger and bet­ter. Authors I respect great­ly would make state­ments such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twen­ty thou­sand mem­bers.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pas­tors of the fastest-grow­ing U.S. church­es. There I was… liv­ing out the Amer­i­can church dream.

But I found myself becom­ing uneasy. For one thing, my mod­el in min­istry is a guy who spent the major­i­ty of his min­istry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 peo­ple who were actu­al­ly stick­ing around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, real­ly. Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.

So how was I to rec­on­cile the fact that I was now pas­tor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with the fact that my great­est exam­ple in min­istry was known for turn­ing away thou­sands of peo­ple? When­ev­er the crowd got big, he’d say some­thing such as “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Not exact­ly the sharpest church-growth tac­tic. I can almost pic­ture the looks on the dis­ci­ples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll nev­er get on the list of the fastest grow­ing move­ments if you keep ask­ing them to eat you.”

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus appar­ent­ly wasn’t inter­est­ed in mar­ket­ing him­self to the mass­es. His invi­ta­tions to poten­tial fol­low­ers were clear­ly more cost­ly than the crowds were ready to accept and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said rad­i­cal things. And through their rad­i­cal obe­di­ence to him, he turned the course of his­to­ry in a new direc­tion.

Soon I real­ized I was on a col­li­sion course with an Amer­i­can church cul­ture where suc­cess is defined by big­ger crowds, big­ger bud­gets, and big­ger build­ings. I was now con­front­ed with a star­tling real­i­ty: Jesus actu­al­ly spurned the things that my church cul­ture said were the most impor­tant. So what was I to do?

I’m still trou­bled, but I think that’s a good thing. As Lewis says in Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, “We have cause to be uneasy.” and ” And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­take. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”. I want to stay uneasy. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want, at the very least, when I get excit­ed and think, “This would be so cool for our sound sys­tem.” to ever have a voice that reminds me to ask myself (and God), if the Gospel needs my tech, or even my tech­nique. Am I help­ing, or would I help more just by get­ting out of the way?

The sin­gle great­est cause of athe­ism in the world today is Chris­tians, who acknowl­edge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbe­liev­ing world sim­ply finds unbe­liev­able” — Bren­nan Man­ning

What you win them .with. is what you win them .to.

Ravi Zacharias

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The Ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2” @15:39

Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 1 — Mp3
Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, Part 2 — Mp3

Pearls Before Swine

To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more mul­ti­plied rea­sons [plen­ti­ful mate­r­i­al] for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion.”

George Mac­Don­ald, Min­is­ter, poet, and nov­el­ist (1824 — 1905)

I am com­ing to believe that this quote suf­fers from the same symp­toms with which Jim Elliot’s “He is no fool” quote is beset, in that there are many vari­a­tions float­ing around out there and lit­tle to sug­gest which has greater verac­i­ty. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that the author may have com­mu­ni­cat­ed, in print or per­son, the same mean­ing­ful phrase mul­ti­ple times and per­haps not the same way every time. The first time I heard Ravi Zacharias relate this quo­ta­tion it was with the “more mul­ti­plied rea­sons” word­ing and that remains my favorite, but I’ve sub­se­quent­ly heard him quote it as “more plen­ti­ful rea­sons” and so I am left in doubt if one or the oth­er is real­ly more accu­rate. Search­ing the inter­webs I find both ver­sions in sim­i­lar abun­dance.

Words of a skeptic…

The char­ac­ter of Jesus has not only been the high­est pat­tern of virtue, but the strongest incen­tive in its prac­tice, and has exert­ed so deep an influ­ence, that it may be tru­ly said that the sim­ple record of three years of active life has done more to regen­er­ate and to soft­en mankind than all the dis­qui­si­tions of philoso­phers and all the exhor­ta­tions of moral­ists.”

— William E. H. Lecky, “The His­to­ry of Euro­pean Morals from Augus­tus to Charle­magne”.

Him­self not a believ­er (Ravi describes his as a skep­tic) but unable to draw any con­clu­sion but this.

~ “Let My Peo­ple Think: One God Among Many, Pt 2 of 2”, Ravi Zacharias, April 20, 2013

James 1–3 NASB

James 1

1James, a bond-ser­vant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dis­persed abroad: Greet­ings.

2Con­sid­er it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter var­i­ous tri­als, know­ing that the test­ing of your faith pro­duces endurance. And let endurance have its per­fect result, so that you may be per­fect and com­plete, lack­ing in noth­ing.

5But if any of you lacks wis­dom, let him ask of God, who gives to all gen­er­ous­ly and with­out reproach, and it will be giv­en to him. But he must ask in faith with­out any doubt­ing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, dri­ven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive any­thing from the Lord, being a dou­ble-mind­ed man, unsta­ble in all his ways.

But the broth­er of hum­ble cir­cum­stances is to glo­ry in his high posi­tion; 10 and the rich man is to glo­ry in his humil­i­a­tion, because like flow­er­ing grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun ris­es with a scorch­ing wind and with­ers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beau­ty of its appear­ance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pur­suits will fade away.

12 Blessed is a man who per­se­veres under tri­al; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempt­ed, “I am being tempt­ed by God”; for God can­not be tempt­ed by evil, and He Him­self does not tempt any­one. 14 But each one is tempt­ed when he is car­ried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has con­ceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accom­plished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing giv­en and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no vari­a­tion or shift­ing shad­ow. 18 In the exer­cise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His crea­tures.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But every­one must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the right­eous­ness of God. 21 There­fore, putting aside all filth­i­ness and all that remains of wicked­ness, in humil­i­ty receive the word implant­ed, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove your­selves doers of the word, and not mere­ly hear­ers who delude them­selves. 23 For if any­one is a hear­er of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his nat­ur­al face in a mir­ror; 24 for once he has looked at him­self and gone away, he has imme­di­ate­ly for­got­ten what kind of per­son he was. 25 But one who looks intent­ly at the per­fect law, the law of lib­er­ty, and abides by it, not hav­ing become a for­get­ful hear­er but an effec­tu­al doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

26 If any­one thinks him­self to be reli­gious, and yet does not bri­dle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s reli­gion is worth­less. 27 Pure and unde­filed reli­gion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to vis­it orphans and wid­ows in their dis­tress, and to keep one­self unstained by the world.

James 2

1My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glo­ri­ous Lord Jesus Christ with an atti­tude of per­son­al favoritism. 2For if a man comes into your assem­bly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3and you pay spe­cial atten­tion to the one who is wear­ing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my foot­stool,” 4have you not made dis­tinc­tions among your­selves, and become judges with evil motives? 5Lis­ten, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the king­dom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dis­hon­ored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and per­son­al­ly drag you into court? 7Do they not blas­pheme the fair name by which you have been called?

8If, how­ev­er, you are ful­fill­ing the roy­al law accord­ing to the Scrip­ture, “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self,” you are doing well. 9But if you show par­tial­i­ty, you are com­mit­ting sin and are con­vict­ed by the law as trans­gres­sors. 10For who­ev­er keeps the whole law and yet stum­bles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “Do not com­mit adul­tery,” also said, “Do not com­mit mur­der.” Now if you do not com­mit adul­tery, but do com­mit mur­der, you have become a trans­gres­sor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of lib­er­ty. 13For judg­ment will be mer­ci­less to one who has shown no mer­cy; mer­cy tri­umphs over judg­ment.

14What use is it, my brethren, if some­one says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a broth­er or sis­ter is with­out cloth­ing and in need of dai­ly food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is nec­es­sary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18But some­one may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith with­out the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shud­der. 20But are you will­ing to rec­og­nize, you fool­ish fel­low, that faith with­out works is use­less? 21Was not Abra­ham our father jus­ti­fied by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was work­ing with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was per­fect­ed; 23and the Scrip­ture was ful­filled which says, “And Abra­ham believed God, and it was reck­oned to him as right­eous­ness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is jus­ti­fied by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the har­lot also jus­ti­fied by works when she received the mes­sen­gers and sent them out by anoth­er way? 26For just as the body with­out the spir­it is dead, so also faith with­out works is dead.

James 3

1Let not many of you become teach­ers, my brethren, know­ing that as such we will incur a stricter judg­ment. 2For we all stum­ble in many ways. If any­one does not stum­ble in what he says, he is a per­fect man, able to bri­dle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the hors­es’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are dri­ven by strong winds, are still direct­ed by a very small rud­der wher­ev­er the incli­na­tion of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a for­est is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniq­ui­ty; the tongue is set among our mem­bers as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of rep­tiles and crea­tures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a rest­less evil and full of dead­ly poi­son. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the like­ness of God; 10from the same mouth come both bless­ing and curs­ing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a foun­tain send out from the same open­ing both fresh and bit­ter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, pro­duce olives, or a vine pro­duce figs? Nor can salt water pro­duce fresh.

13Who among you is wise and under­stand­ing? Let him show by his good behav­ior his deeds in the gen­tle­ness of wis­dom. 14But if you have bit­ter jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion in your heart, do not be arro­gant and so lie against the truth. 15This wis­dom is not that which comes down from above, but is earth­ly, nat­ur­al, demon­ic. 16For where jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion exist, there is dis­or­der and every evil thing. 17But the wis­dom from above is first pure, then peace­able, gen­tle, rea­son­able, full of mer­cy and good fruits, unwa­ver­ing, with­out hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is right­eous­ness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The Way of Wisdom-James MacDonald-WitW

Excel­lent ser­mon series that cov­ers the premise of “Deci­sion Mak­ing and the Will of God”.

These are the pod­casts, cre­at­ed of seg­ments of the orig­i­nal mes­sages, so there is a lot of rep­e­ti­tion.  I am mix­ing down a sin­gle cohe­sive resource.  To be added lat­er.

  1. WalkInThe­Word-20091127-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 1
  2. WalkInThe­Word-20091130-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 2
  3. WalkInThe­Word-20091201-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God Have a Will for Me Pt 3
  4. WalkInThe­Word-20091202-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 1
  5. WalkInThe­Word-20091203-Way­OfWis­dom-Does God’s Will for You Pt 2
  6. WalkInThe­Word-20091204-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 1
  7. WalkInThe­Word-20091207-Way­OfWis­dom-The Way of Wis­dom Pt 2
  8. WalkInThe­Word-20091208-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 1
  9. WalkInThe­Word-20091209-Way­OfWis­dom-Deci­sion Time Pt 2

Singleness, Marriage, and Wisdom

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Indeed, if the coun­sel sin­cere­ly offered by Pas­tor Thomp­son is cor­rect, the impli­ca­tions for Ted’s mar­riage deci­sion are very sober­ing:

  1. In all the world, there is either no per­son or only one per­son who is eli­gi­ble to be his wife.
  2. If God wants him to remain sin­gle and he mar­ries any­one at all, he is out of God’s will.
  3. If God has a par­tic­u­lar wife cho­sen and he mar­ries some­one else, he is out of God’s will.
  4. If the woman God has select­ed for him mar­ries some­one else, he can­not enjoy God’s will not mat­ter what he does.
  5. If either of the pair mar­ry out of God’s will there is noth­ing they can do to reverse the deci­sion and return to the cen­ter of His will.  They are per­ma­nent­ly strand­ed in the bar­ren ter­rain of God’s “sec­ond (third, fourth,…) best.”

 

Chap­ter 17: Sin­gle­ness, Mar­riage, and Wis­dom — Pg 283–284, Deci­sion Mak­ing and the Will of God, A Bib­li­cal Alter­na­tive to the Tra­di­tion­al View, 1980, Gar­ry Friesen with J. Robin Max­son.

Spiritualizing Words — “Who are you…?”

Clive Staples Lewis

Peo­ple ask: “Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Chris­t­ian?”: or “May not many a man who can­not believe these doc­trines be far more tru­ly a Chris­t­ian, far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ, than some who do?”

Now this objec­tion is in one sense very right, very char­i­ta­ble, very spir­i­tu­al, very sen­si­tive. It has every ami­able qual­i­ty except that of being use­ful. We sim­ply can­not, with­out dis­as­ter, use lan­guage as these objec­tors want us to use it. I will try to make this clear by the his­to­ry of anoth­er, and very much less impor­tant, word.

The word gen­tle­man orig­i­nal­ly meant some­thing recog­nis­able; one who had a coat of arms and some land­ed prop­er­ty. When you called some­one “a gen­tle­man” you were not pay­ing him a com­pli­ment, but mere­ly stat­ing a fact. If you said he was not “a gen­tle­man” you were not insult­ing him, but giv­ing infor­ma­tion. There was no con­tra­dic­tion in say­ing that John was a liar and a gen­tle­man; any more than there now is in say­ing that James is a fool and an M.A.

But then there came peo­ple who said — so right­ly, char­i­ta­bly, spir­i­tu­al­ly, sen­si­tive­ly, so any­thing but use­ful­ly — “Ah but sure­ly the impor­tant thing about a gen­tle­man is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behav­iour? Sure­ly he is the true gen­tle­man who behaves as a gen­tle­man should? Sure­ly in that sense Edward is far more tru­ly a gen­tle­man than John?” They meant well. To be hon­ourable and cour­te­ous and brave is of course a far bet­ter thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing every­one will agree about. To call a man “a gen­tle­man” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giv­ing infor­ma­tion about him, but a way of prais­ing him: to deny that he is “a gen­tle­man” becomes sim­ply a way of insult­ing him. When a word ceas­es to be a term of descrip­tion and becomes mere­ly a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s atti­tude to that object. (A ‘nice’ meal only means a meal the speak­er likes.) A gen­tle­man, once it has been spir­i­tu­alised and refined out of its old coarse, objec­tive sense, means hard­ly more than a man whom the speak­er likes.

As a result, gen­tle­man is now a use­less word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not need­ed for that use; on the oth­er hand if any­one (say, in a his­tor­i­cal work) wants to use it in its old sense, he can­not do so with­out expla­na­tions. It has been spoiled for that pur­pose. Now if once we allow peo­ple to start spir­i­tu­al­is­ing and refin­ing, or as they might say ‘deep­en­ing’, the sense of the word Chris­t­ian, it too will speed­i­ly become a use­less word. In the first place, Chris­tians them­selves will nev­er be able to apply it to any­one. It is not for us to say who, in the deep­est sense, is or is not close to the spir­it of Christ. We do not see into men’s hearts. We can­not judge, and are indeed for­bid­den to judge. It would be wicked arro­gance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Chris­t­ian in this refined sense. And obvi­ous­ly a word which we can nev­er apply is not going to he a very use­ful word. As for the unbe­liev­ers, they will no doubt cheer­ful­ly use the word in the refined sense. It will become in their mouths sim­ply a term of praise. In call­ing any­one a Chris­t­ian they will mean that they think him a good man. But that way of using the word will be no enrich­ment of the lan­guage, for we already have the word good. Mean­while, the word Chris­t­ian will have been spoiled for any real­ly use­ful pur­pose it might have served.

We must there­fore stick to the orig­i­nal, obvi­ous mean­ing. The name Chris­tians was first giv­en at Anti­och (Acts 11:26) to ‘the dis­ci­ples’, to those who accept­ed the teach­ing of the apos­tles. There is no ques­tion of its being restrict­ed to those who prof­it­ed by that teach­ing as much as they should have. There is no ques­tion of its being extend­ed to those who in some refined, spir­i­tu­al, inward fash­ion were ‘far clos­er to the spir­it of Christ’ than the less sat­is­fac­to­ry of the dis­ci­ples. The point is not a the­o­log­i­cal or moral one. It is only a ques­tion of using words so that we can all under­stand what is being said. When a man who accepts the Chris­t­ian doc­trine lives unworthi­ly of it, it is much clear­er to say he is a bad Chris­t­ian than to say he is not a Chris­t­ian.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, Pref­ace