Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Identity (#2) - Don't Let Your Sufferings Define You

(Lake Erie, Maumee Bay (Ohio) State Park)

Some people, even Christians, define themselves by sufferings they have undergone. They refuse to let go of their painful past, since to do so would be to lose their identity. They have become, they are, their sufferings. 

In this, they feel unique. No one really understands them. Howard Thurman writes: 

"There are many people who would feel cheated if suddenly they were deprived of the ego definition that their suffering gives them." (Howard Thurman: Essential Writings, 56)

Some are self-defined by their suffering. They are men and women of sorrows, and little more. To free them of their sufferings, to redeem them, would be to deprive them of their core identity.

Such people resist the redemptive activity of God. They need their sufferings. They will feel like a nobody should their being-abused cease. Prisonhood is their "normal"; freedom is abnormal and threatening to them.

Their chains define and delimit them. To escape this horrible life-condition requires a revelation of their true self, their true identity, as children of God and made in God's image. Only then will they be horrified by the chains and suffering and cry out for release and redemption.

If that happens, they will be free of the idea that no one understands them, and therefore free to understand and love others.

If you are a Jesus-follower and relate to this, read this and apply. 

IDENTITY #1 - I Find My Identity in Giving Myself to My Maker

(Rift Valley in Kenya)

Until you have given up your self to Him
you will not have a real self.

C.S. Lewis

Allow me to get hypothetical.

If...   there is a God..., and...

If...   God is a personal agent..., and

If...   God is the cause of us...,  and

If...   God has made us in His image..., then

My identity is: child of God.

If...   my identity is given to me...,  and

I am not left to create my own identity..., then

I will find my meaning and purpose in life in giving myself to my Maker.

(See, e.g., J. P. Moreland, The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Steve & Wendy Backlund at Redeemer - Sept. 20-21-22

Image result for johnpiippo steve wendy backlund september


Sept. 20-22

Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen
Monroe, MI

Go HERE for more on Steve and Wendy.

Converts to Unbelief Always Tell Subtraction Stories

Monroe County

(I'm re-posting this for someone.)

One of my favorite writers is theistic philosopher James K.A. Smith (Calvin College). Having read philosopher Charles Taylor's epic A Secular Age, Smith's book is a great follow-up: How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor

Taylor has a nice take on persons who "deconvert" from Christianity to atheism because of "science." These converts to unbelief "always tell subtraction stories," and the faith they have converted from "has usually been immature." 

For Taylor the subtraction story of the deconverted is that one becomes "rational" and "secular" by subtracting "religion" and "superstition." (How irrational.)This rings true in my experience of having deconverted students in my philosophy classes.

Smith writes: "If someone tells you that he or she has converted to unbelief because of science, don't believe them." I don't. Ever. Why not?

What usually captures the person is not scientific evidence per se, but the form of science. Smith writes: “Even where the conclusions of science seem to be doing the work of conversion, it is very often not the detailed findings so much as the form” (Taylor, p. 362). 

Indeed, “the appeal of scientific materialism is not so much the cogency of its detailed findings as that of the underlying epistemological stance, and that for ethical reasons. It is seen as the stance of maturity, of courage, of manliness, over against childish fears and sentimentality” (Taylor, p. 365)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1673-1677)

The convert to atheism wants to "give the impression that it was the scientific evidence that was doing the work." But not so. "Converts to unbelief always tell subtraction stories." (Ib., 1677-1678) "Subtraction stories explain that "secular" is the subtraction of religious belief.

The subtraction story-teller rejoices, shouting "I left religion, and now am free!"
As I meet deconverted "freethinkers" and ask them what they left behind, they always describe something like a fundamentalist "Christianity" (hence modernist, because there's no one more modernist than a fundamentalist) that is near-completely anachronistic and, hence, hermeneutically false. Smith writes:

"[T]he belief such persons have converted from has usually been an immature, Sunday -schoolish faith that could be easily toppled. So while such converts to unbelief tell themselves stories about “growing up” and “facing reality” — and thus paint belief as essentially immature and childish — their “testimony” betrays the simplistic shape of the faith they’ve abandoned. “If our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible” (p. 365). But, in fact, their conversion to unbelief was also a conversion to a new faith: “faith in science’s ability” (p. 366)." (Smith, Kindle Locations 1679-1684)

Persons who convert to atheism "because of science" are not so much convinced by data and reason, but are more moved by the form of the story that comes with it; viz., rationality = maturity. 

Taylor and Smith suggest that our response to unbelief "is not to have an argument about the data or “evidences” but rather to offer an alternative story that offers a more robust, complex understanding of the Christian faith. The goal of such witness would not be the minimal establishment of some vague theism but the invitation to historic, sacramental Christianity." (Ib., Kindle Locations 1687-1689)

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Why I Am Still A Christian

(Glen Arbor, Michigan)

At the end of one of my Philosophy of Religion classes a student asked me why I am a Christian. Why, among the world religions, would I choose Christianity? Why be religious at all? My answer went like this (I'm expanding on it here). 

My Christian faith is based on the following.

1. My Conversion Experience

2. My Subsequent Studies and Ongoing Experience

I came to believe because of a powerful experience that changed my life and worldview. The result of this experience included subsequent study and increasing experience. Credo (I believed); Intelligam (I grew in understanding).

Credo: My Conversion Experience

From ages 18-21 I was heavily into alcohol and drugs. I flunked out of college. A lot of things were falling apart as a result of my substance abuse. I was in a deep hole, dug by myself. I was afflicted, and didn’t know where to turn. And, I didn't think I needed help.

One day I hit a low. I thought, "I am screwed up." I prayed and said, “God if you are real and if Jesus is real, then help me. If you help me I’ll follow you.” Something unexpected happened: that was the last day I did drugs.

My worldview was rocked. My life has never been the same. This was my turning point. I attribute this to Jesus.

I see similarities between my conversion from godlessness to Christianity and C.S. Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity. Lewis wrote:

"As the dry bones shook and came together in that dreadful valley of Ezekiel's, so now a philosophical theorem, cerebrally entertained, began to stir and heave and throw off its grave cloths, and stood upright and became a living presence. I was to be allowed to play at philosophy no longer. It might, as I say, still be true that my "Spirit" differed in some way from "the God of popular religion." My Adversary waived the point. It sank into utter unimportance. He would not argue about it. He only said, "I am the Lord"; "I am that I am"; "I am." People who are naturally religious find difficulty in understanding the horror of such a revelation. Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about "man's search for God." To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse's search for the cat." (From Surprised By Joy)

The cat found the mouse. God found me. I was receptive. God exists. God loves me. (My conversion story is written in more detail in chapter 1 of my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church. You should be able to read chapter 1 for free at Google books here.)

Intelligam: Understanding What Happened to Me 

This didn't happen in a vacuum. The soil of my heart had been softening for some time. I was looking for help. Help came. My life forever changed. What shall I make of this?

  • If this event had not happened, I don't know that I would have become a Jesus-follower. I needed something experiential that could waken me. It happened. 
  • I agree with William James who, in his Varieties of Religious Experience, writes: "A mystical experience is authoritative for the one who experiences it. But a mystical experience that happens to one person need not be authoritative for other people." I'm good with that. (With the exception that the mystical-religious experiences of certain other persons have carried authority with me because of, to me, their credibility.)
  • My initial religious experience ripped me out of non-reflective deism into full-blown Christian theism. I now believed in God, and in Jesus. This experience-based belief had an evidential quality for me, propelling me to go after an understanding of what had happened. Now, forty-nine years later, this has not stopped. Today I am a deeper believer in God and Jesus than ever.
  • True religion (not the jeans - they are too expensive) includes experience. Theory without experience is empty. Hebrew-Christianity is essentially about a relationship with God; a mutual indwelling experiential reality. This includes prayer-as-dialogue with God, the sense of God's presence, being-led by God, and so on. And worship. Worship is experiential and logical in the sense that: If God is love, and God is real, and love is about relationship (love has an "other"), then it follows that one will know and be known by God. ("Know," in Hebrew, means experiential intimacy, and not Cartesian subject-object distance. For more see, e.g., the writings of James K.A. Smith. See also Notre Dame philosopher Alvin Plantinga's chapter of faith as knowledge, in Knowledge and Christian Belief. See Craig Keener's Miracles, and his Spirit Hermeneutics.)
  • I realize certain atheists claim to have no religious experience at all. John Allen Paulos, for example, in his Irreligion, claims not to have a religious bone in his body. I don't doubt this. This fact does not rationally deter me, just as I am certain C.S. Lewis's religious experiences don't budge Paulos from his atheism. (I'm now thinking of Antony Flew's conversion from atheism to deism. Flew was moved by the logic of the fine-tuning argument for God's existence. And, the case of the famous and brilliant British atheist A.J. Ayer who had a vision and began to be interested in God.)
  • I keep returning to my initial God-encounter. It functions, for me, as a raison d-etre. Philosophically, it's one of a number of "properly basic" experiences I've had, still have, and expect to have. (See, e.g., philosophers like William P. Alston.)
I began to study about Christianity. Is there any epistemic warrant for my God-encounter experience? To accelerate this I changed my major in college from music theory to philosophy (from one money-maker to another. And, I left engineering and math for this!)

My studies confirmed my initial act of faith. Here are some things I now believe to be cogent.

  • Good reasons can be given to believe in God. I believe it is more rational to believe in God than to disbelieve. (As a philosophy professor I have examined nearly every argument for and against the existence of God. And, I have something to say about "rationality," having taught logic in our community college for seventeen years.)
  • The New Testament documents are reliable in their witness to the historical person Jesus. (The recent minority Facebook claim that Jesus never existed is sheer unstudied goofiness.) (See, e.g., something like Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, or Craig Keener's The Historical Jesus of the Gospels. And, I am looking forward to Craig's forthcoming book, Christobiography: Memory, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels.)
  • A strong inductive argument can be made for the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (I shared briefly about this in my response to the student's question.)
  • Christianity is qualitatively distinct from the other major world religions. Only Christianity tells us that God loves us not for what we do or where we live but for who we are. The Christian word for this is “grace” and, to me, this is huge. The other major world religions are rule-based; Christianity is grace-based. And, in distinction from other religious alternatives, Christianity's claim is that God has come to us. These kind of things make Christianity more plausible than the other alternatives.
My initial life-changing encounter with God led to a lifetime of Jesus-following, God-knowing, and God-seeking. God did, and continues to, reveal himself to me. My faith is experiential, relational, and rational/reasonable. And life-giving, exhilarating! (Note: it's not without questions. Anyone who studies their own worldview will have intra-worldview puzzles. This includes me.)

For these reasons, and more I am sure, I became a follower of Jesus and remain one.

Prayer Is Relationship, Rather Than Something We Have to Do

Image result for john piippo solitude
Monroe county

Praying is being-in-relationship-with God, rather than a religious duty that one has to do. 

I communicate with Linda, not because I "have to," but because I love her. To only talk and listen to her out of duty would signify a strange, unsatisfying marriage.

Philip Yancey writes: "Prayer as transaction rather than relationship can decline into a practice more duty than joy, an occasional and awkward exercise with little connection to life." (Yancey, Prayer, Kindle Locations 844-845)

How I communicate with Linda when no one else is around is an indicator of how I view her and our marriage. In a similar way, how I pray shows how I view God. "Who one believes God to be is most accurately revealed not in any credo but in the way one speaks to God when no one else is listening." (Nancy Mairs, quoted in Ib., Kindle Locations 820-822)

Praying is not something we have to do. To pray is to be in relationship with God.  When you are in a loving relationship, you communicate.

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.

Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties?

(Kelleys Island, Ohio)

Many of my posts are intended just for myself. My blog has become a way of cataloguing ideas which I can later reference or develop further. This post is one of them. But if you are interested in a deep read, check this out.

One of the books I am slow-cooking in this summer is Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God: The Plantinga Project, by Jerry Walls and Trent Dougherty. This morning I am reading 
"The Argument from the Confluence of Proper Function and Reliability: Is God the Designer of our Cognitive Faculties? Evaluating Plantinga's Argument," by Alexander Arnold.

Alvin Plantinga is perhaps the greatest analytic philosopher alive today. If not the greatest, he's tied for #1. And, he is a Christian theist. I've long been interested in Plantinga's claim that, if non-theistic evolution is true, then we have no reason to trust our cognitive faculties, since evolution without God has nothing to do with truth. That is, the reliability of our cognitive functions is less likely on evolutionary naturalism.

The likelihood principle is this: given an event, and two competing explanations of that event, which explanation is more likely. So...

Where Pr abbreviates probability, R abbreviates reliability of our cognitive faculties, T abbreviates theism, and NTE abbreviates non-theistic evolutionism, here is argument (K) in likelihoodist terms: 

(K1) Pr R/T >>really small. (Premise)
(K2) Pr (R/NTE) = really small. (Premise)
(K3) Therefore, Pr (R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE). (From K1 & K2).
(K4) If Pr(R/T) >> Pr (R/NTE), then R favors T over NTE. (Law of Likelihood)
(K5) Therefore, R favors T over NTE.

While this may look similar to Bayesian reasoning, likelihoodism is different because it involves no speculation on prior probabilities.

Arnold writes:

"While (K5) is modest, if it’s correct, then (modulo some plausible assumptions connecting confirmation with rationality), it tells us M renders theism a bit more rational for us to believe than it does non-theistic evolutionary theory. That is an interesting claim, especially in light of the pronouncements of some atheists to the effect that theism has absolutely nothing going for it."

Arnold then goes on to examine the premises. If the premises are true, then the conclusions follow, since the argument is deductively valid. He examines difficulties he has with (K1).

Arnold concludes: "If (K2) is correct, then it naturalism faces a serious problem independent of whether argument (K) succeeds."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Sometimes You Have to Lose Something to Gain Something Greater

(Maumee Bay State Park)

(My friend Mike Ansel wrote this, and gave permission to post it here.)

Many times true strength comes through attrition. Sometimes you have to lose something in order to save yourself and others. 

Several years ago I was on a caribou hunt in Northern Quebec. We had a 19 year old Canadian camp helper. One day someone forgot to tie the boat up upon returning from the hunt. The boat was drifting out into the middle of the lake. 

The float plane was not due back for 5 days and the boat was our only means of transportation. Andy gingerly entered the frigid waters and started swimming toward the drifting boat. 

About half way there he turned and looked toward shore as if to say good by fellas I cant make it! My pastor friend (Bob Baltrip)and I started praying out loud for the Lord to save this young man. As we prayed he turned and resumed swimming toward the boat, but a sudden burst of wind came up and made the boat drift faster out of reach. It looked bleak, but a miracle took place, as God answered our prayers. 

A long rope that was attached to the bow of the boat suddenly came floating to the surface of the lake within reach of Andy. He grabbed on to it and proceeded to pull himself toward the boat. Because he was exhausted and his strength was zapped by the near freezing water, Andy had a hard time pulling himself into the boat. (More prayers!) 

We then saw that Andy was naked! When he had turned toward shore and we feared for his life he was discarding his socks, pants, and underwear that were saturated with water and holding him back. 

We had a rip roaring fire and warm blankets waiting for him when he finally got back to shore. We massaged his arms and legs and told him about the love of Christ and how God had heard our prayers and saved him physically. And then Andy stepped into the waters of rebirth and allowed Jesus to also save his soul. 

I believe this was all God ordained. Andy had to lose something in order to move forward and eventually save his life and soul!

- Michael Wade Ansel

Join Me and Craig Keener Sunday Night July 28

This is for pastors and Christian leaders who have been reading Craig Keener's book Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

What a helpful book this is! We will be privileged to have Craig with us, by phone, Sunday night at 8.

The reviews, and reviewers, are impressive.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Have You Been "Hurt By the Church?"

Tree, in my back yard

(I'm re-posting this, to keep it in play.)

I have met people who talk of being "hurt by the church." Here are some things I think about this.

1. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are the church. You have been placed within the community, not as an outsider. You are one of the church's body part. (See 1 Cor. 12:12-27) It is important to remember this in relation to what follows below. 

2. Some people who say they have been hurt by the church never give church leadership an opportunity to respond to their pain. They just leave. Some of them go and tell others, "I left that church because they hurt me." Some post this on social media. If you have been hurt, don't do that. That is unloving.

3. Never leave a church family because someone hurt you, unless you first try to correct the problem. Go to your pastor and share with them your situation. If that doesn't help, try this. If you choose not to do this, do not announce to the world that you've been hurt, because you never gave others a chance to listen and respond. That is not loving, and is a way of hurting back (vengeance).

4. Pay no attention to rumors, gossip, or slander. Be a person who follows this biblical counsel: "If you have something against someone, go to them." (Matthew 18:15)

5. Some who leave form a group, centered on the common denominator of being hurt by a church. This is a "hurt by the church" support group. If these people are Christians, they are forming another local church. This is because "church" is people, and wherever two or more Christians are gathered, that's "church." If they did not deal with their hurt properly, then eventually they will bring this to their new group. Then, the same thing will happen all over again (they will get hurt by someone in this group, leave, talk to others about it, etc.) Note also: healthy support groups not only share hurts, they provide solutions. A "hurt by the church" support group, if it is loving, should discern how it can help the church.

6. No church family is perfect. If you see something wrong in your church family, address it. And remember, you are not perfect or "above" others.  If you are part of any community it won't be long before you upset someone in that community. Search your own self and see whatever responsibility you may have. ("Search me O God, and know my heart. See if there is any wicked way in me." This applies to non-Christians, the non-religious, you name it, because hurting others, unfortunately, is part of the human condition. Just try to imagine, e.g., the number of people we have met with who were raised by atheist parents who hurt them.)

7. It is easier to tear down than build up. Anyone with a sledge hammer can demolish; it takes skill to construct. Your responsibility is to edify, not complain and destroy. Beware of coming off as the righteous one who stands in judgment of other church people.

8. Distinguish between being hurt by unkindness, and feeling hurt because someone does not affirm your particular theological beliefs. See here. If you do not affirm something I believe, I am not to respond to you by telling others how much you hurt me. To disagree is not to hurt; to be disagreed with is not to be hurt. But, sadly, some take it that way, probably because of unhealed wounds in their heart. (See, e.g., Jonathan Haidt on the American culture of "microaggressions," "safetyism," and the need to be "coddled.")

9. Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." Be one.

10. You have been given a ministry of reconciliation. Do it.

11. Our real battle is not against flesh and blood. Therefore, if it has flesh and blood, don't battle against it.

12. Sadly, some churches are toxic and abusive. Some Christians unknowingly get in these churches. If this is you, you can attempt to address it with leadership. Leave if you are not listened to, and corrections are not made. If it is a toxic church, the likelihood of this happening is slim. In some cases it might be best not to bring this to leadership, but just get out, because in the process you could get abused even more. Do not abuse in return, but pray for them. (For information on what a toxic church is, read this, or this.)

13. Some Christians get hurt by anything. These are unhealed hurting people who will leave church after church after church. They have a spirit of victimhood and, sadly, live off it. They bring their problems into whatever becomes the next church they go to. Every pastor has seen this.

14. Never post on social media your grievances about some particular church you were part of. Such behavior is destructive, immature, and not reconciling or peacemaking. If you have done this, contact leadership and ask for their forgiveness.

15. When you feel hurt by someone in the church, this can be an occasion for growth. It is mostly in darkness that faith is tested and strengthened. Read this book, and this book, to see how this is possible.

16. Finally, in my twenty-five years at Redeemer, I know I have said and done things that have hurt others. When I discover this, I am saddened. If you have been hurt by me and want to talk with me please call - 734-731-1709. 

One time I confessed to the entire church, asking forgiveness for something harsh I said in a sermon. (Thank you to those who forgave me!) I am so grateful for those who have loved me enough to come to me personally and share any grievance they may have against me. This has served to deepen our understanding of one another, and strengthen our friendship. I thank God for you! 

Letter to My Redeemer Family - July 26, 2019

(Me and Linda at the Biltmore, Ashville, NC)

July 26, 2019

Good afternoon Redeemer Family!

Here are some things I want to share with you.

         We continue to preach on revivalist themes.
Neil and Gayle McLeod are moving away from Monroe. We’ll say good-bye to them this Sunday, and pray for them and bless them.
1 PM – We walk for Jesus in the Fair Parade!
8 PM – New Testament scholar Craig Keener will join me on a phone conference call discussing his excellent book Spirit Hermeneutics. If you have read the book, or parts of it, and want to join please email me and I’ll send you the log-in details.

BOOK STUDY INVITATION – This is for Redeemer youth and those just out of high school. Purchase Kris Valotton’s book Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity. Read it. Then, sometime in late August or early September, please join me and Linda for pizza and discussion about the book – date and time TBA.
NOTE: Some adults are reading the book. We’ll have a pizza & discussion evening for you too!

FULL LIFE IN CHRIST IS COMING THIS FALL – dates, times, and details TBA.

JAKE AND KELLY GOINS are having a fundraiser luncheon Sunday August 4 right after church to cover moving expenses and tuition for Jake to attend Radiant School of Worship in Kalamazoo. Please join us in donating desserts to make this a successful time of fellowship and support for them. Please call or text Winnie Webb and let her know what you would like to bring. 734 243 3559. 

STEVE AND WENDY BACKLUND from Bethel Redding will be at Redeemer Sept. 20-21-22 (Fri. night; Sat. morning and evening; Sunday morning and evening).

VERTICAL MARRIAGES – Fifteen Redeemer couples read the book Vertical Marriage and met at our home for a picnic + discussion + praying. Linda and I are challenging Redeemer’s marital couples to Invest in Your Marriage. We will be recommending another book to read as couples, and have another get-together to eat and discuss and pray.

You can stay in touch with things I am thinking and writing about on my blog –

I am now working on my next book, Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart. I hope to have this book out by next summer.

Blessings to all of you – Linda and I love you all so much!


The Differences Between American Christianity and Biblical Christianity

(Sea of Galilee, Israel)

(I'm re-posting this, to keep it in play.) 


From Joseph Mattera's "13 Contrasts Between American and Biblical Christianity." The differences are:

  1. American Christianity focuses on individual destiny. The Bible focuses on corporate vision and destiny. Correct. It's the tribe, the community, and less the individual. American churchianity is individuated. Note that the apostle Paul's use of the pronoun "you" is overwhelmingly plural.
  2. American Christianity focuses on individual prosperity. The Bible focuses on stewardship. "Much American preaching today focuses on "our rights in Christ" to be blessed. However, in Scripture the emphasis regarding finances has to do with being blessed by God in order to be a blessing by bringing God's covenant to the Earth (Read Deut. 8:18; 2 Cor. 9:10-11). Jesus promised material blessing only in the context of seeking first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:33)."
  3.  American Christianity focuses on self-fulfillment and happiness. The Bible focuses on glorifying God and serving humanity. In contrast to the Bible "much of the focus from the American pulpit has to do with individual fulfillment and satisfaction."
  4. American Christianity appeals to using faith to attain stability and comfort. The Bible encourages believers to risk life and limb to advance the Kingdom. Read Hebrews 11, THE premier biblical text on the meaning of "faith," the kind of faith that, without which, it is impossible to please God.
  5. American Christianity usually focuses on individual salvation. The Bible deals with individual and systemic redemption.
  6. The American apologetic focuses on human reason. The Bible's apologetic focuses on the power of God and experience. "If the foundation of your faith is human reason, then the first person that has more knowledge than you in science could talk you out of being a Christ-follower. Truly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, not human reason (Prov. 9:10; 1 Cor. 1:17-23)." BTW - anyone who reads apologists like Bill Craig and J.P. Moreland (and even myself), and thinks our interest in rationally defending our faith is about the primacy of human reason over the God-encounter, has misunderstood us.
  7. American believers have a consumerist mentality regarding a home church. The biblical emphasis is being equipped for the ministry. See here, and here. Mattera notes: "Americans shop for a church today based on what meets their personal and family needs the best. It is almost like a supermarket mentality of one-stop shopping." The Consumer Church, as Eugene Peterson has said, is an Antichrist Church.
  8. American Christianity promotes a culture of entertainment. The Bible promotes the pursuit of God. See here.    
  9. American Christianity depends upon services within a building. The biblical model promotes a lifestyle of worship, community and Christ following. Mattera writes: "Most of the miracles in the book of Acts and the gospels took place outside a building in the context of people's homes and in the marketplace. In Acts 2 and 4, the churches met house-to-house, not just in the temple. The man at the gate was healed before he went into the temple (Acts 3), which caused an even greater revival to take place."
  10. American Christianity is about efficiency. The biblical model is about effectiveness. "Often, the American church is modeled more after the secular corporate model rather than the biblical model. The church is not an organization, but an organism that should be organized!"
  11. In American Christianity the pastor is elected. In the biblical model God calls the pastor. 
  12. In American Christianity the individual interprets the Bible. In the New Testament the hermeneutical community interprets the Bible.
  13. American Christianity trains its leaders in Bible colleges. Biblical Christianity nurtures leaders through personal mentoring. "Biblically, leaders were not sent outside of the context of a local church to be trained for the ministry. They were nurtured personally in the context of congregational life by church leaders acting as mentors (as the Apostle Paul did with Timothy; as Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos in Acts 19; and as Barnabas did with John Mark in Acts 15)."
This is going to be a tough one. Most people won't want the biblical model. They won't recognize it. 

Pastors - if you transition from the American Church to the Biblical Church you will lose some people, and gain some disciples.

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.