Category Archives: World

Engaging Contemporary Culture

Series of four lectures by Jerram Barrs:

1)Friday Night Session I: Cooperating with God’s Testimony in the Lives of Unbelievers

2) Echoes of Eden in Literature, Legend and Myth

3) The Evangelism of Jesus: Parables for a Mixed Gathering

4) Acts 17: Paul and the Athenians

[HT: Living in Skin]

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Filed under Books & Media, Culture, Evangelism, Post-Modernity, Resources, World

Winterize Your View of Missions

I am typically dissatisfied with the quality of articles that I find in the Perspectives mailer I get once a month. I took the Perspectives mission class a couple of years ago at The Bethlehem Institute and was challenged as several viewpoints were presented – of which I was supposed to choose (or remain agnostic!). Ralph Winter is the mastermind behind the Perspectives course.

 This morning I was pleasantly surprised as I worked through Winter’s article tracing the history of evangelicalism and its relationship to social change. He divided the history into four ‘influences.’ The first was the First and Second Great Awakening. During this time there was a sense of coupling the gospel with social action due to a post-millenial view of the last days. That is, biblical interpreters believed the world would get better and better before Jesus returned to reign on earth. Christians would usher in the millennium through social change.

The second influence was spawned by DL Moody’s ministry and dispensationalism. Due to the view of the last days, Christians believed that Christ’s return was immanent and that the world would progressively get worse. Since there was an emphasis on the unkown time when Christ  would come, there was a fervency in decision-like evangelism. That is, people were pressed to make a decision before the end of the world came.

The third influence is related to the resurgence of Kingdom of God language by such men as John Stott and Arthur Glassner. This phase in evangelical mission gives a holistic understanding of Gospel proclamation. The Kingdom of God is intended to spread to all corners of the earth. This includes teaching and healing. ((By the way, an excellent ministry that is doing this in a God-honoring way is a ministry I have supported in the past. I knew the, then, president (he was my landlord). Mission: Moving Mountains. )) Winter calls this the “Recovering of the First Influence.” He lables it (rather interestingly) the 4th Great Awakening. While this may seem a little over the top, is it?

After all, there are large movements of people converting to Christ in Africa. Much of this movement is related to humanitarian effort coupled with Good News. This will lead to the Fourth Influence. Winter writes:

I yearn to see Evangelical missions be able to give
more direct, credible credit to Jesus Christ for the impetus
behind the social transformation that they have
been doing, are doing and should be doing. Practically
none of the major religions, by comparison, has any
similar contribution to good works, small or large.

In order for this renewed resurgence, and perhaps Great Awakening, we must see social change linked to Gospel teaching. May God’s Kingdom come through Christians spreading light through giving cups of cold water and their tunic.

!! If you would like a copy of this article, let me know and I will send one to you.

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Filed under Evangelism, Missions, Social Justice, World

Islam: Religion of Peace

Is this true? Kim Riddlebarger points to this article and claims otherwise. I have oft raised the question as it seems that the Muslim you meet next door is friendly enough for our culture to say, “If it works for them…” But I have constantly been thinking, are these Muslims consistent with their teaching? If an imam tells them that it is righteous to kill, and they do not kill, can we legitimately say that Islam is a religion of peace? Here is a great excerpt from Riddlebarger’s post:

The irony is that twenty years ago this threat was not even on the radar.  Who would have thought that American evangelicalism would become so doctrinally wimpy as to be helpless against Islamic growth and ideology?  Seeker-centered worship and vapid felt-need oriented preaching are quickly exposed for what they are in the face of a threat like Islamic expansion.  Islam is growing and expanding in most communities in the United States, probably yours.  And what are you doing about it?

After traveling to the Middle East, I can say that all Muslims are not terrorists. It is foolish to think so. That would be like assuming everyone who goes to church in the United States is a Christ-follower. Just because people who call themselves Christians aren’t living consistently with Christ’s teaching, does this mean we make value judgments on the religion? No. We point to the teachings and show the person that he is inconsistent and he should get his knee bowed to Jesus’ lordship. How long will it take until the imams do the same with their inconsistent parishioners?

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Filed under Apologetics, Church, Culture, Evangelism, Islam, Politics, World

Does Poverty in the USA Eliminate Action Elsewhere?

One more thing to add:

Someone may protest that we dare not go somewhere to stop a tyrannical ruler when thousands of people are starving here in the USA. I’m not so sure I buy this logic. Should we only take part in universal campaigns against wrong when the house is in order? When would that be? We better lock up our ports and hold off on international travel, then, so that we can focus our attention to our problems here.

Thoughts? Rebuttals? Rebukes?

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Filed under Culture, Finances, Social Justice, World

A Political Rant

Okay, more of a question. I like to throw out some political stuff every now and then because I figure by doing so I can:
1) Learn more humility by revealing my inability to discuss such matters
2) Get some feedback from others to see where my thinking is off
3) Hopefully get at some essential issue to theology and its place in this matter
4) Learn more humility

I was listening to Anderson Cooper tonight as he interviewed a Republican from Georgia (not very articulate, but passionate) and Kucinich from Ohio. Kucinich made a pretty good point in the fact that Iraq made no attack on the United States. Therefore, according to international law, the USA should not have initiated war with Iraq.

With that said, my question has to do with the fact that don’t we (as an able-bodied people) have some obligation to right wrongs in other countries. That is, it is a known fact that Saddam Hussein was tyrannical and torturous to his own people. A horrible dictator. It reminds me of Nazi Germany in many ways. They were exterminating people within their own political boundaries. World governments were criticized for not doing something earlier than they had.

Does this not fit the same mold? Some may say: Why not go after North Korea? Why not a number of other countries? The United States just wants oil?

First, the third question delves into the area of motives. Who are you to judge a man’s motives. You have to deal with what is actually done and said. It is thin rationale, indeed, to say that you “know” that the reason for x is based on someone’s motive (when that has not been stated…ever). Second, who is to say that other countries will not be held accountable by the other world governments. Third, granted, I do not like the fact that the troops in the Middle East are predominantly from the USA. But does the fact that a few countries are pushing this ahead preclude the necessity of those with the means to do something about it?

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Filed under Culture, Middle East, Politics, World

Ungrateful Expatriates

For the record, these reflections aren’t necessarily reflections on individuals in the group I went with; but they are reflections from the empty spaces in my head. Observations I made and further thoughts regarding life experience in general will contribute to some of these reflections. Others will be directly related to the trip (these I believe will be obvious).

When you first travel overseas and fall in love with a culture you begin to degrade the culture and place that formed you as a person. That is, one of the things I loved in Syria and Lebanon was the amazing hospitality of the folks we met. Knowing us for a few minutes, the locals offered us into their homes and offered tea. Not many people in the States would do this.

However when we travel overseas we shouldn’t quickly buy into our romanticized vision of the way things are. For instance, while the people are hospitable there are plenty of other walls to relationship that are present. Don’t speak wrongly of the government. While my time on an interpersonal level was limited, I know that if I had spent a couple of weeks in the countries I enjoyed I would soon find issues that I would change.

The United States has definitely got its issues, but I will take them over any other country at this point. The freedom of speech and ability to move up a socio-economic ladder make it more palatable than others I have known in my short existence.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture, Politics, World

Islam Wants to Control the West?

The following is another segment out of an interview with Sookhdeo.
EXCERPT:
Are you implying that there is a sense in which Islamic communities in the West wish to take control in the West?
Yes I am. Islam is based on power. It does not separate the sacred from the secular, and it has never really had an understanding of being a minority. It must exist within a majority context.
The issue for the West is ‘how will Islam express itself?’ Will it accept that it is a minority? Will it embrace the traditions of the country in which it finds itself and be loyal to it absolutely (whilst of course, keeping aspects of its own religion and culture)?
Or will it, in order to retain control of all religion and culture, set up alternative communities, which then want power for themselves in each geographical area, as well as wanting to be protected further afield by the law. I think this is the tension.
No doubt you are following the position in Australia where there have been about twelve churches burned. I gather four mosques have also been burned. The question increasingly is how Muslims in the West see the countries that they live in. What are their loyalty systems?
When they are a tiny minority, their response to their countries is ‘we are loyal to you’. But as that minority increases and gains strength and self confidence, so it begins to change its allegiance. You can’t just see it on the basis of what it is today, you have to think of what it will be five years from now.
And then you have to look at who is feeding that community: what are the ideological and theological and religious influences that come from the Middle East, from Pakistan, from other countries? Where do the mullahs stand? What is their training and what are their influences? You’ve got to look at a number of factors.
So what should our response be?
I think that as Christians we have to retain what I would call a society built on Judeo-Christian values. Modernity is not all bad, it allows for pluralism to occur. I believe that we should be arguing for the continuing development of a plural society. We need to say to Muslim communities: “we cannot give way to your demands”. In Britain they are now asking for legal protection for their religion and their culture. We have to say no to that, they have to accept a common citizenship based upon individual equality, and not community-religious equality.
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Filed under Apologetics, Islam, Missions, Politics, World