Join Advent Episcopal Church each Sunday at 11:30 AM as we explore how to make sense of the turmoil in our culture with “The Church in Babylon” Bible Study, based on the book by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer (Moody Publishers, 2018).
Session 1 – Sunday, February 3
Welcome to Babylon: Finding God in Enemy Territory
- What are some of the challenges facing us today in American Church?
- What similarities are there between America today and Babylon 2,600 years ago?
- What options did the Jew face? What options do we face?
- How do we impact the culture without being spiritually destroyed by it?
- What are some concrete actions we can takes as a church and as individuals?
Session 2 – Sunday, February 10
Conflicts of Conscience: Keeping the Faith in a Hostile Work Environment
- How far can we engage our culture without compromising our convictions? Where do we draw the line?
- How do we respond to conflicts of conscience when confronted by state and federal influences?
- Pressures from leaders and bosses? Peer pressures existing in our clubs, social activities – even our churches?
- There are seldom black and white answers, so what are some principles we can follow?
Session 3 – Sunday, February 24
When the State Becomes God, Standing Strong While Others Bow
This is the title of today’s session. Erwin Lutzer writes “I believe it’s the responsibility of the church to equip its members to withstand the heavy arm of the state and be obedient to God alone, despite the consequences.”
- How do 2019 believers choose between God and Caesar?
- What principles and strategies can we learn from the Jewish exiles in Babylon? How do we muster the courage to remain true to God’s convictions in our American culture today?
Come, learn, and contribute!
Session 4 – Sunday, March 3
The Church in Babylon – The Church, Technology, and Purity
Today’s session will stir your hear and give you practical steps to put into action. Erwin Lutzer writes “Technology can be used for either good or evil. But we make a mistake to emphasize the benefits of technology without confronting its dark and destructive influences. The church today has to go head-to-head with this issue and give families the tools they need to protect their children and grandchildren from these addictive influences – yes, technology is almost instantly addictive.” Come, share, and learn how as parents and grandparents we can support our kids and grandkids in their use of technology!
Session 5 – Sunday, March 17
The Church in Babylon – Transgenderism, Sexuality, and the Church
Today’s session confronts head-on certain lies in our culture. Erwin Lutzer writes “Let us weep for a nation that has lost its way in its understanding of sexuality. Let us pray for sensitivity and sanity; for help and healing. Let us join together in telling the truth to this generation. If we do not guard our hearts, a discussion of both homosexuality and the transgenderism debate can readily lead to a self-righteous attitude among those of us who have never had such aptitudes or desires. We’re all members of a fallen humanity and humbly grateful for God’s undeserved mercy toward us.” I need the conviction not to be judgmental and I need some suggestions as to how to be sensitive and sane. Come for our discussions.
Session 6 – Sunday, March 24
The Church in Babylon – Islam, Immigration and the Church: Balancing Compassion and Security
We can’t avoid the subject of Immigration in the news and current events. We are bombarded with polarizing claims on both extremes of the political spectrum. But, what are we as followers of Christ to think and do? We want to show compassion and want to feel secure. But how? Erwin Lutzer writes “In the matter of immigration as well as the entrance of refugees into the country, the role of the church is very different from the role of government. Our opinion of Islam should not stand in the way of our commitment to befriend Muslims in ways big and small and show them the love of Christ.” What do we need to know about the beliefs and practices of Islam? What is the role of government in immigration? And, what is the role of the church, and we as believers, in immigration? This is a subject that many of us may not have thought about deeply, so, come for Biblical passages and Dr. Lutzer’s wise inputs, and contribute to our discussions.
Session 7 – Sunday, March 31
The Church in Babylon – Five False Gospels Within the Evangelical Church, Part 1: The Gospel of Permissive Grace
There are many false teachers in mainline churches where the gospel is redefined, miracles are denied, and Christ is stripped of His deity and divinity. Did that get your attention? Erwin Lutzer laments: “The empty churches of Europe testify to what happens when the clear gospel witness becomes beholden to political correctness, submission to culture, and a willingness to unite with other religions under the banner of tolerance and love. The gospel of liberalism inspires people, but it saves no one from God’s coming judgment.” Talk about not pulling any punches! Does this apply just to Europe or to America also? We’ll explore the false gospel of permissive grace. What is it? How do we discern it? How do we combat it? Why should we care about it at Advent? Biblical grace fights against sin; permissive grace allows contentment with your sin. Dr. Lutzer hits another home run; come and join our discussions and let’s learn and reason together.
Session 8 – Sunday, April 7
The Church in Babylon – Five False Gospels Within the Evangelical Church, Part 2: The Gospel of Social Justice
Last week, this week, and next week we’re studying False Gospels within the Evangelical Church. But what is the “evangelical church”? Is Advent one? Is the Episcopal denomination one? Does it matter whether we are evangelicals or not? Is the portrayal of evangelicals in the media valid? In this week’s topic “The Gospel of Social Justice”, we’ll try to come to a common definition of “What is social justice?” Is it biblically sound? Is it a gospel issue? Erwin Lutzer says “We must tell this generation that social justice, even at its best, is not the gospel! Ouch! What does he mean? Is he saying we shouldn’t care about combating poverty, racism, and injustice? (Hint: NO) Come and join our discussion and let’s discern and reason together what the Holy Spirit reveals to us through Scripture.
Session 9 – Sunday, April 14
The Church in Babylon – Five False Gospels Within the Evangelical Church, Part 3: The Gospel of New Age Spirituality and The Gospel of Sexual Preference
Barna Research shows that practicing Christians find the lure of New Spirituality enticing, ‘perhaps because it holds a positive view of religion, emphasizes the supernatural and simultaneously feeds into a growing dissatisfaction with institutions.” What is New Age Spirituality? Why does Dr. Lutzer say it is a “false gospel”? What is so attractive about New Age spirituality? Dr. Lutzer says “At last people have a god who agrees with them about everything! They want a god who does not embarrass them; a god who thinks just like they do. They want a theology that diminishes the horror of sin and magnifies how good they as human beings actually are! We want a god who is a broadminded as we are.” God on our terms!
And in the 2nd half of our time together, the false gospel of sexual preference. “We must distinguish between homosexual inclinations and acting on them. We must distinguish between respect for people & agreeing with their behavior. We must counter the widespread notion that those who accept the LGBT lifestyle agenda have taken the high road; they, after all, are about ‘inclusion’ and not ‘exclusion’. They represent ‘love’ not ‘hate’.”
Two challenging topics. Two we must become more informed about so we can pro-actively be loving and compassionate “salt” and “light” in our culture – speaking the truth in love, but speaking the truth. Come and let’s see how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be “salt” and “light”.
Session 10 – Sunday, April 28
The Church in Babylon – Five False Gospels within the Evangelical Church, Part 4: The Gospel of Sexual Preference
“We must distinguish between homosexual inclinations and acting on them. We must distinguish between respect for people & agreeing with their behavior. We must counter the widespread notion that those who accept the LGBT lifestyle agenda have taken the high road; they, after all, are about ‘inclusion’ and not ‘exclusion’. They represent ‘love’ not ‘hate’.” Christians should care enough to get to know the whole person. If you think that identifying as LGBT is mainly about sex — that’s shallow. The theology of “whom we have sex with” might be black and white, but the person and related experiences aren’t. Care enough about a person not to reduce them to their sexual orientation.
A challenging topic. One we must become more informed about so we can pro-actively be loving and compassionate “salt” and “light” in our culture – speaking the truth in love, but speaking the truth. Come and let’s see how the Holy Spirit empowers us to be “salt” and “light”.
Session 11 – Sunday, May 5
The Church in Babylon – Taking the Cross into the World – Shamelessly Sharing the One Message That Can Save Us
How do you take the cross of Christ into the world? What does that even mean? How do you “be a witness”? Do you have to walk the streets of Westlake knocking on doors, confronting reluctant and perhaps offended neighbors who answer the door, and inviting them to come to Advent on Sunday? Are you a Billy Graham-type – an evangelist? Are you afraid of being branded a “Bible basher”? What are some practical and reasonable actions that each of us can do to “share the one message that can save someone”? I mean, practical and feasible that I could do! Come and let’s reason together after the 10:00 Service today.
Session 12 – Sunday, May 12
The Church in Babylon – Jesus at the Church Door – Prayerless Pulpits, Satisfied Saints and Spiritual Blindness
“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” Rev. 3:16. Wow! Talk about tough love. These words from Jesus speaking to the church in Laodicea are haunting. Do they apply just to that church? Or to churches today? Even to Advent? Why did Jesus find himself outside the Laodicean church door, knocking and asking to be invited back in? Is He outside our doors? Do we need to invite Him into Advent? If so, how? And what rewards does Jesus promise to those who take up His glorious invitation? This is Dr. Lutzer’s favorite chapter, and it’s one of the toughest to face. Come, let’s face it together in humility, repentance and hope.
Session 13 – Sunday, June 23
The Church in Babylon – The Church That Will Survive in Babylon – Prevailing in a Hostile Culture
“Many believe we are witnessing the most rapid transformation of a culture in all of history. The culture is changing faster than it typically ever has. 10 years from now it will be changing even faster, due to accelerating technology advancements. It is impossible to anticipate how quickly the US culture will quake and reshape during our lifetimes.” So says Dr. Erwin Lutzer. “This historic foundation on which our society was developed is facing some severe challenges. It’s not easy to be the kind of Christian that Jesus longs to have as His ambassadors in this place, at this time.” So says George Barna. What kind of a church will be able to face the unrelenting storms, the floods, and fires of this hostile culture? What are the pillars that we can erect when serious hardship comes? What should we believers at Advent do to survive in this hostile culture? We’ll grapple with these and other challenging issues during our last session in this Babylon series. Come to share in the joys and challenges of hearing the Holy Spirit speak to us.”
Let’s discover what God, Dr. Lutzer, and the Holy Spirit speaking through each of us has to say. Learn more, then come and see!