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Keep Calm you speak english

In terms of missions today there are many opportunities to reach people through the ministry of teaching English overseas.  Not to take away from this great opportunity, I think we must also be cautious to jump the gun and assume that “Any English speaker can teach English to speakers of other languages.”

First off, language is one of those things that we think we know it until we have to teach it–and then we discover that we might not really know it as we think we do.

Secondly, the state of our education today is that many English classes in our younger years and also in College do not emphasize much on Grammar anymore and I think this is a reason in of itself to be cautious in assuming that just being a mere English speaker means we can teach the English language.  I know this is a bit anecdotal, but I remember in Seminary many of those who grew up in the US and spoke English all the time might struggle more than those who were coming in from overseas concerning grammar, even things such as identifying the basics such as what is a preposition and participle, etc.

Thirdly, even those who teach English in the field already can further improve their skill of teaching English.

Fourthly, as in any area, I think teaching a skill require more than just being good in that skill; one must also be a good communicator in order to be an effective teacher.

Fifthly, related to the above, is the phenomenon that sometimes those who excel in something might not necessarily always be a good teacher of the very thing they are good at; personally, I feel this is especially true with those who are good at management but they are so good at it that they think it must be intuitive and struggle in passing on the skill to someone else.

Sixth, apparently the skill to teach English well is important enough that a major organization such as the Billy Graham Center has dedicated part of their mission to better equip those involved with teaching English as a mission.

Seventh, we must not forget that a missionary must not only be adept in language; he or she must also know the Gospel and know how to communicate it well.  This might be a good time to say that we must not forget the priority that the missionary or evangelist themselves must focus more on actually knowing the Gospel really well.

Given the above, I think we should be at a minimum be cautious with the thesis “Any English speaker can teach English to speakers of other languages.”

Missions Overseas

Missions

Dear Family, Friends, and The Domain for Truth Readers,

The journey that the Lord has charted for me does not cease to amaze me. After the many wonderful years of having served alongside the leaders in old church, as well as graduating from a wonderful seminary last May, I am now currently serving as one of the pastors at at a church in CA. God has been blessing me with many opportunities to serve Him and His people. At my church, I have been shepherding the people to grow in their faith, holiness, love for God and for one another. It is also my desire for the church to reach the lost and to make disciples through the use of the Gospel, which transcends all cultures. One way to do that is to cross into another foreign land. This October, I will be leading a very small team to Southeast Asia. After many years of contemplation, prayer, and preparation—by God’s grace, I will now be going there. I will not just be going to any land. I will be going to a land, my roots—where my parents lived; and also escaped from in 1980 due to the intense Communism take over in 1975-1979. As a nation, it has been decimated by idolatry, the Communist (where the ideology of Marxism with the extreme version of nationalism murdered over 2 million people), vice, corruption, and spiritual darkness. This nation has a population of about 15,206,000, with about 31 unreached people groups. About 96.4% are Buddhists and less than 2% are evangelical Christians.

My hope is that this mission trip to Southeast Asia will provide an opportunity where I can be transformed, become more sanctified in the Lord, develop a deeper love and burden for global missions, and to be in more prayer to God for direction concerning any future plans to serve Him. My desire is to make His name famous and magnified. I know that He cannot be honored unless the clarion call of the Gospel is clearly and boldly proclaimed to the unbeliever and believer.

We are well aware that the success of this trip is dependent on the Lord and your prayer support. Along with your prayers, if you would like to partner with us financially, please send an e-mail to us to Domainfortruth@gmail.com.  It is very rare that we would ask for financial support.  All of our resources here are free for the body of Christ.  But we understand that money at times can be an obstacle for ministries such as global missions.

In King Jesus,

EvangelZ

Jay Smith

Jay Smith, Christian apologist to Muslim, spoke in 2012 on the issue of the problem of the Insider Movement.  These two videos from Youtube are great resources given that Jay Smith has a master in Islamic Studies over at Fuller Seminary where many of the missiologists who were the forerunners and later leaders of the Insiders Movement taught at.

Here are the videos:

I am 42 minutes into the first video thus far and I found Jay Smith to be quite fair and knowledgeable of his description of the Insider Movement.  Jay Smith begins his 19 points of contention about 39 minutes into the video.

For those who might not have the time to read the PCA report against the Insider Movement and the essays I’ve written here thus far, these two talks might be helpful for you who are audio-visual learners.

identity

Can genuine followers of Christ (those Born Again) retain their previous “socio-religious identity”?  What are we to make of those who argue that a Born Again follower of Christ can retain their “socio-religious identity”?

The following is an interaction with an essay that was printed in Perspective on the World Christian Movement by Rebecca Lewis titled “Insider Movements: Retaining Identity and Preserving Community:”

My Thoughts

I can appreciate Lewis’ spirit of trying not to set our own obstacles against people coming to a salvific knowledge of Jesus Christ.  One thing I think that we can learn from her article is the fact that our church plant effort should take advantage of natural relations and association that already exist before our Gospel effort, rather than ignore them or worst, unnecessarily undermine them.

But I do have more problems with Lewis’ article and the Insider movement that overshadow what is helpful.

First is with Lewis’ talks about the difference between planting churches and implanting churches; the former she describe as bringing strangers together to become a new family of God in the church while the latter instead incorporates believers within their pre-existing family or community network that provide the spiritual fellowship for each other (Lewis, 674).  I have a hard time seeing that strong of a distinction between the two and don’t find as strong of a distinction between planting and implanting a church: I think Lewis here would be naïve to think that church plants are not trying to utilize pre-existing relationship for building a community of faith with those that are already part of one’s network such as family members, co-workers, friends, etc.  Moreover I believe she fail to take into account Jesus’ own teaching that the reality is that sometime those within one’s own family would reject the Gospel for Jesus Himself said “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53, NIV). It seems that when rubber meets the road even implanting a church would face the same difficulty as planting a church.

 

Secondly, she leaves the term “socio-religious identity” vague; and more importantly she does not define “religion.”  It is important for her to define her term especially when she says things such as the “insider movements affirm that people do not have to go through the religion of Christianity” while also saying “they only need to go through Jesus Christ to enter God’s family” (Lewis, 675).  Another example is her statement that “Paul warned that to add religious conversion to following Christ would nullify the Gospel” (Lewis, 675).  She believes “religion” is pit against the Gospel when she cited Ephesians 3:6 but the verse does not contrast Gospel with “religion.” (And remember since she didn’t define it, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint how exactly this verse is against “religion.”).

 

Thirdly, while she does try to give a theological argument to justify that we do not need to make people accept the “Christian religion,” I think her argument fail to account for unique instances of redemptive history.  Lewis raised the question “Does one have to go through Christianity to enter God’s family?  The New Testament addresses a nearly identifical question: ‘Do all believers in Jesus Christ have to go through Judaism in order to enter God’s family?’” (Lewis, 674).  But I think the parallel with whether one has to be a “Christian” and that of going through “Judaism” breaks down because biblically the Gospel message that we often describe with the term “Christianity” is God’s way of allowing people (specifically non-Jews, the Gentiles) to enter God’s family.  I also believe there is a leap in logic when she merely assumed that Christianity parallel Judaism as a religion that one can ignore as a passing relic of the pass because God is doing a new thing; I think it is question-begging.

 

PCA Report Insider Movement

Yesterday post I talked about how there are problems with some leading missionary strategists who pushes forth methods that are problematic.  This problematic movement that stresses contextualization is called the Insider Movement.  I’m glad to finally see that there are people who are responding to this biblically and exposing them.

One set of documents that are going to be important in the years to come is the report that the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) has adopted in the General Assembly meeting on June 17-19, 2014 concerning the Insider Movement.   While it is prepared for the PCA, nevertheless there will be many in other denominations that will find this report helpful.  The chairman of Study Committee on the Insider Movement is Dr. David Garner who is a professor at the Westminster Theological Seminary and someone who have extensively researched and critiqued the Insider Movement.

Both these documents are in English and are available as PDFs.

Part one of the report is titled “LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: DIVINE FAMILIAL LANGUAGE IN BIBLE TRANSLATION.

Part two of the report is titled “THEOLOGY, GOSPEL MISSIONS, AND INSIDER MOVEMENTS”

May the Lord use this to warn and equip God’s people of the Insider Movement

religions and mission method

Introduction

This is the kickoff post for what Lord-willing will be a week long series on “Missions, Culture and Being Biblical.”  What prompted this series is the concern that while modern Christian missionary endeavor have encouragingly made progress with the Gospel among unreached people group at an unprecedented scale in the history of Christianity, nevertheless some of the leaders and intellectuals of today’s missionary movements have a weak theology and a problematic view of culture that hinders the effort of biblically faithful missions work .  One such serious theological problem among some missiologist is a defective understanding of a “theology of world religion” that is contrary to what the Bible teaches.  Here in this post I want to document that such a problem does exists among prominent missiologist and examples will be cited from several essays found in the important anthology on missions titled Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (4th Edition).

Are there examples of bad theology of false religion in Contemporary Evangelical Missionary Thought?

The book Perspectives on the World Christian Movement was edited by Ralph D. Winters and Steven C. Hawthorne.  The fourth edition of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement was published in 2009, the same year that Ralph Winters died.  Ralph Winters was an important figure in the missions world.  According to the book Winters was “the General Director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship (FMF) in Pasadena, CA” whom “after serving ten years as a missionary among Mayan Indians in the highland of Guatemala, he was called to be a Professor of Missions at the School of World Missions at the School of World Mission (Winter and Koch, 531).

Winter coauthored an essay titled Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge with Bruce Koch.  Koch himself at the time of publication was the International Facilitator of the Perspectives Global Network (Winter and Koch, 531).  In this essay, Winter and Koch in the end-note gave the following definition for “Practicing Christians:”

Practicing Christian refers to Christians of all types and associations, including Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans, Independents and Marginals, who are not merely nominal (Winter and Koch, 546).

Based upon this definition of practicing Christians, Winter and Koch optimistically stated that “Today, there is one practicing Christian for every seven people worldwide who are either nominal or non-Christian” (Winter and Koch, 531).  One must be a bit more pessimistic about the numbers since both Winter and Koch believe without any qualification that Roman Catholics are Christians.  Since one of the driving motivation for missions is to declare the Good News so that sinners are reconciled to God by means of justification through faith, it is kind of hard to embrace the view of justification that Roman Catholics subscribe to as being the same thing as the Protestant view of justification.  They are antithetical to one another actually; and it’s as different as heaven and hell when it comes to matter of missions and eternity.

Ralph Winter’s lack of discernment between biblical and unbiblical groups that claim to be Christian can be further seen in his essay titled Finishing the Task: The Unreached Peoples Challenge.  Here he addresses directly the question of what are we to think about “cultic” religious movements and the answer is concerning:

The growing edge may more and more be the kind of thing we would call cultic or a least anomalous in this country.  Does our attitude towards ‘home grown’ aberrant forms of basically biblical faith in this country match what is needed in the rest of the world?  Can we trust the Bible to eventually balance out these thousands of new, ‘out of control’ movements?  Can we digest the the plain fact that the entire Islamic tradition is, like Roman Catholicism, full of ‘non-Christian elements which we despise, yet is clearly the product of the impact of the Bible (unlike Hindu culture)?  What do we do with such forms of qusai-biblical faith?  Rather than look at the bewildering varities of forms of religious faith–at the different ‘earthern vessels’ in which the faith is contained–let’s look at the extent that the will of God has taken hold.  That is the kingdom of God” (Winter, 394).

Sadly in the quote above and also in the rest of the essay Winter never address the issue of what does the Bible itself have to say about “anomalous” “qusai-biblical faith.”  This omission is inexcusable considering how much the Bible does talk about false teaching and false beliefs.  One might try to read the above charitably and try to say that Winters is referring to those in the West who can be uptight cherry pickers on secondary issues but then Winters’ discussion about Islam does not permit this interpretation.  It is sad to see that Winters confuses the fact that just because something has been “the product of the impact of the Bible” it must therefore mean it must be thoroughly biblical (one must not forget the possibility that a religious system can be the product of the impact of the Bible on the one hand concerning certain religious tenets while the system also pervert what the Bible teaches with other tenets).  Winter challenges the reader with the question “What do we do with such forms of qusai-biblical faith?” with the specific example of Islam and gives his answer that Christians must “look at the extent that the will of God has taken hold.  That is the kingdom of God.”  I think the reader must not let Ralph Winter get away with his naked assertion that we peer into a religion such as Islam and say that is the kingdom of God; Ralph Winter has the burden of proof to demonstrate that God is working through a non-Christian religion and that seeing something like Islam being used by God is the kingdom of God.  Winter’s attempt to suggest we accept Islam theologically by way of arguing from the analogy of Roman Catholicism also commit the complex question fallacy since Winter assumes that Roman Catholicism is going to be accepted by the audience despite it having flaws doctrinally–but that’s not a given, especially in light of Roman Catholicism’s inadequacy with soteriological matters.

Finally another such essay we want to look at is titled From Western Christendom to Global Christianity.  The authors of this essay are also important leaders in the missionary world.  Todd Johnson is the director of the Center for the study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell theological seminary and his co-author Sandra S.K. Leeis is a research assistant for the same center; Lee has also served as a research assistant to the Executive Chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization.  In their essay they talk about how God was breaking the mold of Christianity that was based upon conceptions of the West (the essay calls the West the “Northern hemisphere”).  Notice what they have to say in their essay:

Perhaps surprisingly for many Northerners (and perhaps for some Southerners as well), there are encouraging signs that people from these great religious systems may not have to entirely leave their tradition to become followers of Christ” (Johnson and Lee, 392).

Followers of Christ need not entirely leave their “traditions”?

Later this week I will be scrutinizing the arguments for the view that people can become followers of Christ without leaving their identity in their non-Christian religious system.

Conclusion

It is not enough for missiologist to know other religions (the academic study of which we may call Religious Studies).  Nor is it enough to know the superficial similarities between Christianity and other religions (Comparative religion).  Christian missiologist who desire to be faithful to God must also search the Scripture and also have their missional method be informed and shaped by a biblical theology of religion.  Space does not permit to give a fully developed exposition of what that looks like but I highly recommend the book that I have reviewed titled A God of Many Understandings? by Todd Miles.

Bibliography

Johnson, Todd and Sandi S. K. Lee. 2009. From Western Christendom to Global Christianity. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 387-389, 392.

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Here are links on Presuppositional apologetics’ from September 8th-14th, 2014.

1.) Twenty Ways to Answer A Fool [5]

2.)Conceptual Scheme or Worldview?!

3.) The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (4)

4.) The Problem Of Evil As Evidence For The Existence Of God

5.) A Conversation With an Unbeliever

Also don’t missed the mirror site of our previous round up: Early September 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links

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