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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Ray Mehringer The Lost Disciplines of Watching and Waiting on God

Ray Mehringer is from The Master’s Seminary and is the Vice-President of Admissions and Placement.  In a chapel message on September 11th to the students and Professors at The Master’s Seminary Ray Mehringer spoke on the topic of “The Lost Disciplines of Watching and Waiting on God.”

It is a sobering message for Pastors and those in leadership in the church to be watchful and “keep” (that is, pay close attention) to one’s life.

Ray’s background before ministry was fifteen years in the Air Force as an officer.  I think he gives great illustrations from his background.

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Literature Faithful Learning Clifford Foreman

 Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This booklet articulates a Christian view of literature and argues that the academic study of literature is important and beneficial for the Christian.  It is a part of a series of booklets published by Presbyterian and Reformed called “The Faithful Learning Series” which covers various academic studies from a Christian worldview.  Clifford Foreman, the author of this booklet, is quite capable in addressing the topic of literature, having taught English literature at the college level for many years and is himself a Reformed Christian.  He begins in the booklet with an account of the time when he was a new Christian in a fundamentalist church there was another new Christian who told him that he has decided not to read anything but the Bible.  The author was at that time going to college and majoring in English and it didn’t sit comfortable with him then.  Many years later, the author is able to articulate more clearly and profoundly why reading literature outside the Bible is not necessarily wrong—rather if it is done right, it can be of great benefit for the Christian.  Fortunately for us, the author summarizes these reasons in this booklet.  I appreciated the author’s discussion about the importance of language and how language as a medium can give us “second order of beauty, meaning and creativity” beyond the more direct and immediate means of communicating about reality such as realistic painting, photography or a video clip.  It is amazing to think that God revealed Himself through language and not just compilation of brute un-interpreted data and as Foreman points out words such as in the context of poetic statement can touch not only a person’s mind but will and emotions.  As I read that I thought about how many times have the Psalms lifted me up or a promise in God’s  Word have gave me assurance and faith.  Language is a wonderful thing!  The reasons Foreman offered for the importance of literature can be divided into two, with the first being benefits for a Christian’s reading of the Bible and secondly the benefits for the Christian outside of the area of reading the Bible.  Concerning the first type of benefit Foreman tells us that the study of the mechanics of storytelling can make us more conscious of the mechanics used in the stories of Scripture which helps us understand God’s Word better.  Foreman warns the reader that as Christians we must hold to the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible must we must not let this make us “blind” (good word choice) to the human literary characteristic of the Bible.  The best part of this booklet was his discussion of the reasons to read literature outside of the benefits for our Scripture reading because he covers reasons beyond the obvious.  For instance, Foreman argues that a Christian who has learned to analyze literary works would be more capable of being freed from manipulation from powerful writers.  While acknowledging that there are literatures to avoid Foreman also argue that this does not mean we avoid all literature in the same way one’s fear of gluttony should not justify anorexia (what a word picture!).  I don’t want to give away all the reasons that Foreman puts forth but its worth purchasing the booklet.  I especially enjoyed how he gives us “samples” of literary analysis, especially his analysis of a poem by Frost since I would have never seen the many wonderful things in the poem that Foreman was able to draw out.  I can say this as someone who typically do not read works of fiction that this book has wetted my appetite.  I highly recommend this book.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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C Peter Wagner on the Cutting Edge of Missions Strategy

Charles Peter Wagner is probably best known as one of the leaders of the Church Growth movement that was a former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Seminary up until 2001.  He has also founded Global Harvest Ministries and Wagner Leadership Institute.  Wagner himself was a missionary in Bolivia from 1956 to 1971.

Wagner has an essay that appeared in an anthology on the Worldwide Christian Movement that I want to look at more closely:

Wagner, Charles Peter. 2009. “On the Cutting Edge of Missions Strategy.” Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 574-582.

What Wagner pushes forth in his essay is for Evangelicals to have a “fresh look” with incorporating “supernatural power” with missions.  Wagner states this in the conclusion of his essay:

I feel that one of the callings that God has given me is to be an encouragement to traditional Evangeical non-Pentecostal and non-Charismatic institutions so that they will begin to take a new look at mission power–ministering supernaturally as we encounter the enemy” (Wagner, 582).

And also in the middle of his essay:

I believe that we Evangelicals need a fresh look a supernatural power, a fresh awareness of worldview and a fresh examination of the theology of the Kingdom” (Wagner, 579).

By “supernatural power” Wagner has in mind the ministry of supernaturally healing the sick and casting out demons.  Wagner does admit in the essay that

We are still at the beginning stages of this, and we are not yet satisfied with the way we are doing the job, but we are trusting God to continue to teach us so that we can in turn teach others” (Wagner, 582).

The anthology does not say when Wagner wrote the essay but if the last few years is any indication with his institute providing leadership and training for the New Apostolic Reformation Movement, it isn’t heading in the right direction.  The following are my concern for Wagner’s “cutting edge” of missions strategy:

1.) First off, concerning the New Apostolic Reformation Movement, I don’t have the time or space to rehearse the theological problems and heresies spewing out from this group but my friend Lyndon Unger has done a good job describing it in his Primer on the NAR.  If NAR is the fruit of Wagner’s more mature stage of the “supernatural” that he talks about in his essay, we shouldn’t seek to merge it with missions since it is bad even for those within the church.  Why export it overseas?

2.) Second, it seems that Wagner’s cutting edge approach towards missions suffer from the problem of theological integrity.  Wagner is essentially a Charistmatic but doesn’t seem to own up to it.  Note what he says:

The third wave involves those of us–and I include myself–who, for one reason or another, do not personally wish to identify with either the Pentecostals or the Charismatics.  We love, respect and admire our friends in those movements, and we pray God’s blessing on them in all their work.  We recognize that currently they represent the most rapidly growing segment of the Body of Christ worldwide.  We have learned a great deal from them and desire to learn more  But our style is slightly different.  We minister in very similar ways, but explain what we do in alternate theological terminology” (Wagner, 579).

From the above, does Wagner distance himself from the Pentecostals and Charismatics over actual theological content?  Wagner says the difference is not of essence but of “style,” which incidentally “is slightly different.”  He even said “We minister in very similar ways.”  The other difference between him and Pentecostals and Charismatics is an “alternate theological terminology.”  I think his alternative terminology is much ado about nothing: We can have an alternative terminology for “horse” in Chinese (“ma”) but that doesn’t make it not a horse in essence.  He is a Charismatic and ought to own up to it.  Will God bless a strategy that does not uphold integrity?

3.) Third, the cutting edge of missions as described in Wagner’s essay has the spirit that sees doctrine as irrelevant in general and Reformed theology in particular.  Wagner agreeably quotes Richard De Ridder of Calvin Theological Seminary taking a swipe of Calvinism as being irrelevant for modern missionaries, saying

One thing deeply impressed me: how irrelevant so much of traditional Reformed Theology was to these people and their situation, and how seldom this theology spoke to their real needs.  The question that concern Satan, demons, angels, charms, etc., are not of great concern, nor do they receive much attention in the West

When the ‘Five Points of Calvinism’ were preached to these people, they often respond with the question, ‘What’s the issue?’  Missionaries and pastors were scratching where they didn’t itch” (Wagner, 580).

Now one does not have to be Reformed to see the problem with this attitude.  First off, the professor dismisses “traditional Reformed Theology” as not address the concerns that arise from “Satan, demons, angels, charms;” but historically it was Reformed Theology that liberated Medieval Europe from the shackles of “Satan, demons, angels, charms.”  It also rescued people from the shackles of superstitions.  This liberation of Reformation Europe was possible because once you have a Sovereign God who controls all things, with authority over all things including “Satan, demons, angels, charms” there is no need to be overly occupied with fear of them.  Also Reformed Theology is heavily Christ-Centered and a Christ-Centered Theology include the truth that Christ is the Creator and controller over everything including the forces of darkness:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

Rather then being irrelevant, Reformed Theology’s Christology and doctrine of God is an antidote to the problems and questions of “Satan, demons, angels, charms.”  Secondly, who made “Satan, demons, angels, charms” the litmus test of a missionary strategy that is relevant?  I think the professor here confuses felt needs with real needs.  God knows what man’s real need is and has revealed it in His Word.  If Calvinism’s and Reformed Theology’s proposition is true that man is under wrath from God because of man’s sin, then the discussion about man, sin, God, Jesus and the Gospel is more crucial and relevant than the discussion of “Satan, demons, angels, charms” per se.  It is more “relevant” even though the unbeliever “feels” “Satan, demons, angels, charms” are more important.  Thirdly, I have reservation with the claim that people’s response to the ‘Five Points of Calvinism’ is one of a question of ‘What’s the issue?’  The first point of Calvinism, Total Depravity, defines the issue: Sin.  A nonbeliever might not like the issue or disagree with the issue but surely if someone presents the five point of Calvinism correctly a nonbeliever will not say ‘What’s the issue?’  One has to wonder about how truly Reformed this professor from Calvin Theological Seminary is with his incompetence with Reformed Theology.

Conclusion

There will always be people coming forward saying this or that is the new cutting edge strategy for doing ministry, whether it’s missions, evangelism or growing members.  We must never forget to test them whether the method agrees with the Word of God and also whether it is logically sound and factually true.  I think a good example of a cutting edge strategy that suffer from all three defect is Wagner’s missions strategy.

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Here are links to Presuppositional apologetics articles and posts that were gathered between November 22-30th, 2014.

1.) Gospel This and Gospel That: Reflections on the Evangelical Response to Ferguson

2.) New Book: ‘Exodus God And The King of Kings The Case For God, Moses, And The Exodus’

3.) Is the argument from miracles circular?

4.) The argument from Biblical miracles

5.) Christmas Recommended Books on Presuppositional Apologetics for 2014

6.) Swimming with sharks

7.) Apologetics for the Average Christian: Asking Good Questions, Part 2

Mirror site of last round up: Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links: Third Week of November 2014

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Christmas gift on defocused lights background

This is the fifth year on our blog in which we post our recommendations of books as Christmas gifts on the subject of Presuppositional apologetics and the Christian worldview.  When I first began this I didn’t think it would be that popular.

Here are the past years’ recommendation:

This year list’s of recommended books on Presuppositional apologetics is below.  Each category has one book with a brief description, a link to my review and links to purchase the book.

For Nonbelievers

What’s Your Worldview? by James N. Anderson

What's Your Worldview James Anderson

Description: Dr. Anderson has written a book with a “Choose Your Own adventure” format that is great for non-Christians!

My Review can be found by clicking HERE.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

 

For Discipleship

Christian Answers to Hard Questions (9 Booklet Set)

Christian Answers to Hard Questions

Description: Booklet series that is perfect for discipleship discussion!

Video interviews and links to my review of individual books can be found by clicking HERE.

Purchase: Westminster 

 

For Beginners

Always Ready: Directions For Defending The Faith by Greg L. Bahnsen

Bahnsen Always Ready

Description: Many think this is the best introduction to Presuppositional apologetics!

My Review can be found by clicking HERE.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

 

For Intermediate and Advance Students

The Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship) by John Frame

Doctrine of Christian Life John Frame

Description: I feel many discussion in apologetics’ today touches on the area of ethics.  This book is more than helpful!

My Review can be found by clicking HERE.

 

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

 

For Those Who Probably Have Every Book on Presuppositional Apologetics

The Doctrine of the Christian Life (A Theology of Lordship) by John Frame

John Frame's Selected Shorter Writings Volume 1

Description: A more recent book that is probably not as well known at this time.  Good collection of essays from John Frame!

My Review can be found by clicking HERE.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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With the second night of protest with the Ferguson decision, there is a lot of heated rhetoric about race and injustice in America.

I think one thing missing in many of the mainstream discussion about race and victims surrounding Ferguson is another minority group that often gets overlooked if you want to look at it through the lens of racial paradigm: Asians.  And this is not the first time this has occurred.

You might have remembered the security camera footage months ago that recorded Michael Brown stealing some box of cigarettes at a Liquor store.

Ferguson Market and Liquor

That store was called Ferguson Market and Liquor.  According to CNN the store has been looted.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

 

I think there is something sad with this ordeal.

Here is an Asian man who is probably like many other Asian small business owner: he probably works incredible hours to run the place and invest much of his money, resource and life to keep the convenience store going all the while having a small profit margin.

Then you have Michael Brown step in one day who decides to shoplift at his store.  He tries to stop Michael Brown but was physically intimidated by the bigger man.

The store owner did not call the cops for fear of being a “rat” since being a snitch will bring more problem for his business (it was a bystander that called the Police).

Then Brown was killed by a police officer away from the store.  The police officer was acquitted of any wrongdoing, people got angry and they decide to protest.  When one thinks about it, all of this is really out of his control.  Then people decided to loot his store.

All the while the Asian store owner didn’t do anything against Michael Brown.

He is a victim.  And a victim of a racial conflict between two other races that’s not his own.

ferguson store owner

I stumbled upon a webpage that had some derogatory remarks against the man and his store; I am going to post only the last paragraph of the ignorant article:

Poor store owner? Sure. It sucks to have your place ransacked, and getting paid out on the insurance claim will probably take him a while. But at least he’s not dead.

I can’t believe that a website that report on things “hip” and “emerging” would post something like that.  There’s nothing cool or hip about it.  Especially when you logically dissect it.

First off, I think one can see from the article that the writer is taking out his frustration with the supporter of the police officer onto the store owner.  That’s not right.  That’s the same logic that is driving the rioting and looting.  It perpetuate more victims and create more racial problems.

Second, the writer’s perspective against this store owner is from the angle that if you support the police you will be for this store owner and if you are for Michael Brown you will be against him (or find that its acceptable to make fun of the store owner’s plight).  I think that’s logically fallacious and the writer commits an either/or fallacy.  It is logically possible to think Michael Brown has been unjustly killed and still say that what has happened to this man with his store being looted is wrong and wicked.  If one is campaigning against violence en toto, why not be consistent and be against both scenario?

Third, just because insurance covers the property (that’s a big assumption given how Asian small business owners often are trying to lessen overhead costs), that still doesn’t make it right.  Insurance, like insurance for many things in life, never cover the full cost of the actual damage.  With this twisted logic should we then say that it’s okay for people to destroy someone’s house, commit grand theft auto and beat someone senseless just because they have insurance to cover for those damages?

Fourth, I think the line “But at least he’s not dead” is really twisted.  Sure the store owner is not dead but that still doesn’t make what has happened to him as “right.”

Fifth, the line “But at least he’s not dead” cuts both ways: it is a dangerous line of thinking that goes against the very position of Michael Brown’s supporters.  If one wants to use the thinking of “but at least he’s not dead” to justify an evil done to a person short of death, our ignorant writer would have to ask why didn’t Michael Brown not beat the officer in the first place and just comply with the officer just to be alive?   Again, this is not my position but I am merely taking this ignorant writer’s twisted thinking to it’s logical conclusion with the writer’s own beliefs and position: “Sure, it sucks to undergo racial profiling and cops cussing you out but at least you are not dead if you comply.”  Again, what sick line of reasoning with the statement “But at least he’s not dead.”

I am not against Blacks.  I am not against Whites.  I am not against Asians.  I think racism is a sin including reverse discirmination.  I have seen racism among my own kind and also racism among other groups.  All of us are sinners who need to repent.  I think it is good for all of us to search our hearts, repent of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior from one’s sins.  God is merciful and only through Christ can there be unity with the plurality of various ethnicity because Christ is the greatest motivation for us to love others even when it is difficult and humanly impossible.

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James White

We have posted on our blog various debates by James White that his ministry has recently made available for free for viewing on Youtube.  About two weeks ago Dr. White’s ministry posted a video titled “James White and Tom Ascol – The Debate that Never Was.”  While technically this is not a debate, the context of this video was originally there was suppose to be a debate on the topic of Calvinism between James White teaming up with Tom Ascol between Ergun and Emir Caner.  That debate at Liberty University was cancelled and James White in another conference presented his discussion not too long after the cancellation.  For those of you guys that followed the controversy some years ago, you would probably remember things were pretty heated.  It is interesting to look back a few years later and see where Ergun Caner’s ministry and life has headed.

Here’s the video of the discussion between Reformed Baptists James White and Tom Ascol of the Founders’ Ministry:

May it be for the edification for God’s People in Sound and Biblical doctrine.

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