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Counseling

Counseling: Depression, Part 3

STEP FOUR: Memorize God’s word.

Introduction:

Memorizing God’s word is imperative. I believe that the psalmist in Psalm 119:11 understood it. He says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” He knew that to treasure His word, would empower him to not strive after ungodliness.

Action:

  • Have you memorized Psalm 119:25-32?
  • If you have memorized Psalm 119:25-32, were there any changes in your behavior?

Reflection:

  • Are there any other resources outside the Bible that is anti-Christianity that you love to memorize?  If you are able to memorize those resources, why not the Word of God?
  • What is your desire, reason, or motive to memorize God’s words?

STEP FIVE: Mediate on God’s word.

Introduction:

1 Timothy 4:5 says, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.” Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

Action:

  • Do you have a passion to memorize God’s word?
  • Do you hunger for His word?
  • If you have no passion or desire to memorize God’s Word, please explain why.

Reflection:

  • What does the word meditate mean? Please provide your answers. We can discuss this word further in the counseling session.
  • With meditation and with all the other major timeless truths mentioned in the other parts, will you have a desire to obey God (see James 1:22; 4:17).

ADDITIONAL ASSIGNMENTS:

  • Share with your counselor and another godly and mature leader in your local church about what God has been teaching you.
  • After having finished the all five steps of this homework assignment, please fellowship with a godly Christian in your local church. Trying doing this  at church, coffee shops, a restaurant, or at any other comfortable environment during the week. This will be beneficial for your spiritual growth.
  • Have you repented (2 Cor. 7:10) from all sin and trusted in Christ for forgiveness? For a further understanding of repentance, please read 2 Corinthians 7:9-13 carefully.

 

The Secrets of the FBI

Ronald Kessler. The Secrets of the FBI. New York: Crown Forum, 2012. 304 pp.

I started reading this book after I first read the author’s book on the Secret Service which made a passing comment on how the FBI holds itself to a higher standard than the Secret Service in terms of leadership structure and accountability.  The book is written in a journalistic style and filled with interesting information about the FBI and fascinating stories, some of which has been told publicly for the first time in this book.  Prior to the book I have never heard of the FBI’s TacOps, which is the group that does a lot of secretive break-ins and planting of bugs.  I was surprised with how much the book revealed in terms of the methodology of TacOps from staying on elevators for hours, customize sleeping pills for pets and taking photos of everything so that they would be able to put everything back in place.  The book shares stories of close-calls and quicking thinking on the feet by agents.  Beginning with the book’s first chapter on TacOps I was hooked!

The book was more than a collection of stories and gossip of the FBI—I really appreciated the serious discussion about the FBI’s leadership.  The author discusses how different the old FBI was under J. Edgar Hoover and today’s FBI.  The author pulls no punch in describing the bad leadership that the FBI had in their history; in particular, the book zooms in on William Sessions and Louis Freeh.  Sessions was a former judge whom many felt was arrogant and incompetent.  He was the director of the FBI during Ruby Ridge and was strongly disliked by agents below him and the Attorney Generals above him.  He was also accused of abusing his privilege as Director, taking FBI plane rides to visit family and friends, allowing his wife to access floors in FBI headquarters that was suppose to be for agents with clearance, etc.  Sessions never learned his job and was eventually dismissed by Bill Clinton.  The book revealed that Sessions was in denial that he was fired and even delayed leaving his office.  The other incompetent director that the book focuses on was Freeh, whom the author described more as self-serving for his reputation at the risk of the FBI’s own reputation.  Freeh was against modernizing the FBI technologically during his stint which hampered the agency when the FBI’s own computer system was out of date and so slow that agents used their own personal computers and even developed their own system instead.  This was later identified as being a problem that contributed to the inability of the US to process intelligence efficiently prior to 9/11.  The author wasn’t just out to slam bad leadership; he also focused on the good leadership of FBI director Robert Mueller.  Like Sessions, Mueller’s background wasn’t as an agent but in law; however, this is where the similarities end for Mueller was willing to learn about the agency while Sessions wasn’t and simply thought he knew it all.  Mueller was also a no nonsense leader, being a decorated former Marine officer who knows how to lead from the front and set the example.  Mueller helped modernized the FBI technologically and was able to know how to manage people.  Under his leadership the FBI’s morale improved and had a better sense of direction.

The most fascinating part of the book for me was the discussion of how the FBI changed in the Post 9/11 world.  Counter-terrorism has become a big part of the FBI and now there is an exponential growth of joint-counter terrorism centers working in coordination with other Federal and local agencies all across.  In today’s FBI the goalpost have shifted from investigating a terrorist activity to preventing a terrorist activity from happening in the first place.  Prior to 9/11 the FBI would have been happy with the objective of capturing and preventing a terrorist from carrying out his mission but today the goal is not just to go after one terrorist but to know everything else about that terrorist’s network.  This means that the FBI isn’t just only about going after one terrorist and arresting them but to the point that it is safe it means that the FBI will not move right away to arrest a suspect but will continue to monitor him to find others and any other support structures for the terrorist.

I also appreciated the fact that the author was not blind towards the concern for civil liberties and in the discussion of the FBI’s future the author attacked the idea that some push for the FBI to be less about law enforcement and more about intelligence along the lines of the British MI5.  The problem the author pointed out is that the lack of law enforcement capability will hinder counter-terrorism in a day and age that recognize the problem of multi-agencies being unable to coordinate a meaningful response.  The British MI5 is severely hindered because they are now a law enforcement agency who can make arrests, etc.  Furthermore, critics of this model also note that with a law enforcement background those agents involved with counter-terrorism would easily abuse civil liberties, something that is still important for those whose mentality is driven by law enforcement and investigations rather than mere paramilitary or intelligence background.

I think people will enjoy this book.  I do recommend it!

 

Purchase: Amazon

federico-del-vecchio--irrationality2

These are links on Presuppositional Apologetics between December 15th-21st, 2014.

1.) CSI Apologetics

2.) God Fearing Apologetics

3.) Ridley Scott is Wrong: There is interesting evidence for Moses and the Exodus

4.) Psycho Assertionism and the Modern Schizophrenic Epistemic Epidemic

5.) Does Van Tillianism Lead to the Federal Vision?

Mirror site of Last Installment: Mid-December 2014 Presuppositional Apologetics’ Links

world map missions

I thought I post an update of our posts dealing with Missions, Culture and being Biblical.  Many of the posts dealt with the Insider Movement although we also touch on different things.  The reason I posted this update is because I wrote a significant amount of more posts after our series was completed.

Enjoy!

Essays by SlimJim

Quick Thoughts on Question of those who never Heard

A Bad Theology of False Religions in Contemporary Evangelical Missionary Thought?

Missionary Contextualization understood in light of the relationship between Culture and the Bible

Messianic Mosques and Messianic Muslims? Taking on Shah Ali’s South Asia Report  NEW

Faulty Ecclesiology in two Insider Movement Case Studies NEW

Insider Movement’s John Travis view of Apologetics and Islam  NEW

Concerns for C. Peter Wagner on the Cutting Edge of Missions Strategy  NEW

  NEW

Is it True Anyone Can be a Missionary if they Speak English?

Missions: Distinguishing between Relief and Transformational Development

Reviews

Book Review: The Road to Reality

Review: Conquer Your Fear, Share Your Faith by Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort

  NEW

Other Online Resources

Reformed Forum Critique of the Insider Movement and resources recommended

PCA General Assembly Report on the Insider Movement

David B.

Garner’s 5 Part Series on Insider Movement over at Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Video: Piper Responds to the Insider Movement | The Domain for Truth

True Sons of Heaven David Marshall

David Marshall. The True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture. Seattle, WA: Kuai Mu Press, 2002. 216 pp.

This book has far too many problems that can’t be ignored.  I will begin looking at the problems first and then what’s good with the book; but the weakness far outweighs its strength and I hesitate suggesting this work to anyone else.

The first problem is rather minor but everything else that follows concerns with the content of the book.  This book has bad editing.  The book has three sections but the numbering of the section is off; for instance, part one is labeled as part two, and part two is labeled as part three, etc.    In the first chapter the endnotes are missing.  I think the editors were asleep on the wheel and honestly I think if they did a better job scrutinizing the content of the book, I think the book wouldn’t have been published in the first place because I think it does not even fulfill the expectation of an undergraduate essay.

The author David Marhsall did quote various sources but there were many times I wished he explained better what it was or who it was that he was quoting—and why was it significant.  It is not helpful for the general reader when the sources of these quotes are not explained.

The book’s thesis is that “many important symbols and ideas within Chinese culture points to Jesus” (7).  Some of his evidences of how Chinese culture points towards Jesus and Christianity does not seem to logically follow.  For instance, on page five Marshall talked about how Beijing’s Temple of Heaven had twelve red outer pillars and that the number twelve and the color red pointed to the apostles.  I don’t know how the color red necessitate that it is the apostles’ blood in view.  We must also not forget that the Apostle John was not martyred so it is hard to see 12 red pillars.  Later in the book Marshall would argue that the Forbidden Palace’s three layer roof is proof of the Trinity but this seems somewhat of a stretch.

Another of his evidence that Chinese culture points towards Christianity is Confucius.  For instance on page 9-10 Marshall claims about Confucius that he “did more than anyone in China to point people to this way.”  I would say that is a bold claim.  I have reservation with Marshall’s claim about Confucius when Marshall in the book also admitted that Confucius “did not know how to approach heaven” on page 41, that “one thing Confucius lacked: closeness to Heaven” on page 56 and also how “he did not know how to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, or fully understand why it needed to be bridged” on page 57. How can one point to the way when he is ignorant of all the essentials of the Way?  Marshall also believed that Confucius’ talk about Sheng Ren (Holy Man) anticipates the Messiah and one of his defense of this is that “Confucius never said the Sheng Ren would be Chinese” (42).  But Marshall here is making a fallacious argument from silence.  There are so much question begging assertions that the book makes about Confucius and Jesus that it is hard to keep track of them; for instance on page 68 the author claims that both Jesus and Confucius and Jesus “are going the same direction” except Jesus makes it “a dangerous adventure” (68).

Marshall also tried to argue that in the past Chinese thinkers did know the God of Christianity.  I think he failed to interact with the strongest arguments of those who disagreed and instead Marshall engaged in a defense the Chinese concept of God is personal.  While I do believe that Chinese does have some conception of a personal God that hardly makes it the Christian God.  He also failed to account for the silence of Chinese intellectual figureheads with the concept of the Trinity, something that is distinctively Christian.  Marshall’s discussion about God’s transcendence and imminence is misplaced in the debate.  Added to his confusion is Marshall’s statement that “there are passages in the Bible where the boundary between God and man appear a bit fudged, too, such as Paul’s famous ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’” (24).  When one look up Acts 17, we do see the passages affirm God’s transcendence and immanence but it does not present it as being muddled.  God is indeed transcendent but also His presence is everywhere though that does not mean God is His creature or creation.

It does not help Marshall’s cause when he is theologically weak that affects his discernment and presentation.  For instance, he talks about Nestorians as “the first Christians in China” (25) without acknowledging their heretical status.  There is the danger of syncretism in Marshall’s theology.  He claims on page 68 that “Jesus and Lao Zi were ‘spiritual brothers.’”  I wished the book was more pronounce and clear concerning sin, Jesus’ death and salvation.  Even when he does talk about those subject towards the end of the book, he doesn’t connect the relationship of sin to justification and Jesus’ work on the cross which I see as essential for one’s Gospel presentation.

His methodology is problematic because everything points to Jesus Christ, even Mao’s rebellion is something Jesus took to make part of His Way (64-65).  Marshall thinks Jesus was speaking about Mao’s regime when He said brothers will be against brothers, etc (168).  It is a bit of a stretch.  It must also be said that the same method the author use can also be used to demonstrate how Chinese culture points to say Marxism, Islam, etc.  It is a flawed and speculative method.  Plus, I don’t think Mao is a good “bridge” to Chinese culture for Christianity, given how he is a tyrant and also someone who is not necessarily held in high regards among everyone in the Chinese community.

I thought it was ironic that the author could point out “Chinese Buddhism” is “very Chinese, but not very Buddhist” (81).  At times I felt Marshall’s work ended up being more Chinese than Christian.

I think any reference to historical and political realities that the book make must be double checked.  For instance, on page 82-83 the book claims “A symbol of both Mao’s success and his failure is that under socialism, the poor learned to waste this precious grain,” with the grain referring to rice.  Supposedly, “the communists alleviated China’s chronic food shortage” (83).   I had a hard time with this personally since it goes against what history tells us of the man made famine that Mao’s economic policies produced.  In fact, Mao’s policies followed that of Stalin and Mao didn’t change it even with the Russians warning him that it wasn’t going to work since they have done it already themselves.  Given the historical inaccuracy of the statement we must ask what is the basis for Marshall to assert such a horrendous claim and he tells us following the above quote when he go on to say “When I walked by student dorms in China in the mid 1980s, I learned to keep an eye out for uneaten rice thrown through a window” (83).  Assuming this to be true, we must remember that the author’s experience in the mid-1980s was the reign of Deng Xiao Ping and not Chairman Mao.  Chairman Mao has been dead for a decade so the basis for his evidence of Mao’s economic success does not support his conclusion.

There was too many times throughout the book that the author wrote flowery descriptions that didn’t have to do with anything.  There’s a travelogue small talk feel to the book that was not appropriate for a book that was going to rigorously argue how Jesus fulfills Chinese culture.  There were pictures in the book that one has to wonder what did it have to do with anything with the chapter and pictures that made one ask the question: who is this guy?  What is going on?

As I said before the bad outweighs the good in the book.  What I did appreciate from the book is his chapter on how Buddhism cannot fulfill the expectation and longing of Chinese culture.  Of course, one might ask why must Chinese Culture be the standard to judge one’s religion in the first place and if consistent it is also detrimental to the Christian cause since not everything in Chinese culture is right and compatible with Christianity.  It seems as if this didn’t occur to the author giving his silence on the issue.

I also enjoyed it whenever the author discussed Chinese character and how it points to some profound truth or confirm Biblical truths and this is probably the strongest evidence he presents in the book.  Sadly when it comes to the characters pointing to Genesis he shares in the appendix that he is skeptical of it; but if he is skeptical of the strongest evidence in his book, that doesn’t speak a whole lot for the rest of his superficial look at how Chinese culture points towards Christ.

Purchase: Amazon

love-4

Yesterday I posted a critical look at two Fuller Seminary’s professors’ argument that Jesus was not for carefully reasoned arguments.  I want to balance that by saying that just because I argue that reasoning is important that does not mean it is okay to be rigorous with our reasoning and not have love.  Both logic and love are compatible.  In fact if we love others it require us to adhere to and use the laws of logic appropriately!  And when we use the laws of logic, as Christians we ought to use it lovingly for the other person.

Here’s John Frame’s quote from the Doctrine of the Knowledge of God that reflect one way there is an inter-relationship between love and the laws of logic:

Perhaps you are beginning to see what a practical science logic is or at least should be!  Love for our brethren requires careful thought.  Unfortunately, we often leap recklessly to conclusions precisely on these matters that are most important, matters that require the most careful analysis .  We jump to conclusions on those matters because we are passionate about them.  The passion may be appropriate, but it ought to be channeled in a healthier direction.  Our passion ought to give us a greater zeal for truth and for the means of attaining truth” (John Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 293).

If we don’t want to miscommunicate and have problem in our relationship with others, it require us to be diligent in how we accurately understand what people are saying, and the right implication rather than the wrong ones of what their words mean.  We need to also make sure our words to others are coherent.

Loving thoughts need to logical thoughts, etc.

I hope you catch the irony with the title of today’s post.Perspective on the Worldwide Christian Movement

For a few months now I have been blogging about my concern with some of the disturbing trends with recent Christian missionary methodology.  One such concern I have is the fact that some seem to be against good reasoning.

An example of this can be seen in the case of C. Peter Wagner.  He is a former professor at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Missions (it has since been renamed the School of Intercultural Studies).  In a previous post I looked at some of the problem found in Wagner’s essay “On the Cutting Edge of Mission Strategy.

One of the things that Wagner said that I didn’t get to unpack in my previous post is Wagner’s view that Jesus prefer a demonstration of miraculous power rather than a”carefully reasoned argument” which he sees as a sign of Western “secularizing influence.”  I quote Wagner in his own words:

One of the more disturbing things we are beginning to discover is that, in more cases than we would care to think, our missionary messsage in the Third World has been having a secularizing influence.  I first realized this when I read an article by my colleague, Paul G. Hiebert, called ‘The Flaw of the Excluded Middle’ in 1982.  He begins the article by citing the question that John the Baptist had his disciples ask Jesus: ‘Are you the Coming One, or do we look for another?’ (Luke 7:20).  Hiebert emphasized that Jesus’ reply was not a carefully reasoned argument, but rather a demonstration of power in healing the sick and casting out of evil spirits” (Wagner, 581).

As one can see, Wagner came to his position through the writing of another professor at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Mission: Paul Hiebert.  The relevant quote that Wagner read is quoted below:

The disciples of Jesus asked Jesus, ‘Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ (Luke 7:20 RSV).  Jesus answered, not with logical proofs, but by a demonstration of power in curing the sick and casting out evil spirits.   This much is clear.  Yet when I once read the passage from my perspective as a missionary in India and sought to apply it to missions in my day, I felt a sense of uneasiness.  As a Westerner, I was used to presenting Christ on the basis of rational arguments, but by evidences of his power in the lives of people who were sick, possessed and destitute” (Hiebert, 407).

Note how both Wagner and Hibert appealed to Luke 7:20.  Here is Luke 7:20-23 in context:

20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the[o]Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” 21 At that [p]very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, thepoor have the gospel preached to them. 23 Blessed is he [q]who does not take offense at Me.”

There are problems with what these two Professors of Fuller Seminary has to say against “reason:”

  1. Wagner’s and Hiebert’s position is self-refuting in that they are both against carefully reasoned argument, and yet they end up trying to present what they think is a carefully reasoned argument for their position when they invoke Luke 7:20.  On the one hand they don’t think carefully reasoned arguments are legitimate but they inevitably presuppose the endeavor is legitimate when they try to set forth their reason against carefully reasoned argument.
  2. Wagner believes “carefully reasoned argument” is an example of Western missionary’s secularizing influence upon the Third World.  But this does not logically follow.  Wagner commit the logical fallacy of slippery slope when he thinks that carefully reasoned argument is going to lead one to become secularized.  This is not the case and portray a misunderstanding of what reasoning is on the part of Wagner; if one’s premises is not secularized but Biblically informed and “sanctified” then one will not become secularized in their conclusion.  Again, Wagner’s concern does not logically follow.
  3. It is important to exegete Luke 7:20-23 accurately.  Nowhere in the passage does Jesus condemn “presenting Christ on the basis of rational arguments” (to use Hiebert’s own words).
  4. In light of point 3, it must be pointed out that both Hiebert and Wagner commit the logical fallacy of a false dilemma when they present the option as either we accept Christ’s miracle as having evidential value or we accept rational arguments as having evidential value.  Why must a Christian accept either/or instead of both/and?
  5. We can agree with Hiebert and Wagner that Jesus’ purpose of performing miracles was to confirm the truth about the claims of Jesus Christ for as Hebrews 2:3-4 attests on the nature of signs, wonders and miracles: “how will we escape if we neglect so great asalvation?[d]After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various [e]miracles and by [f]gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:3-4)  But notice Jesus expected the right extrapolation of what the miracles mean and this proper interpretation of what does the evidence mean is act of engaging in reasoning.
  6. Point 5 enjoy further support from the immediate context in Luke 7 if one examine verse 22.  What Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptist is very significant since this is an echo of Isaiah 61:1 as presented in Luke 4:18.  Jesus description of what He is doing also should make His hearers think of Isaiah 26:19, 35:5-6.  This heavy use of Isaiah’s terms and phrases indicate that Jesus wants John to think Biblically in interpreting the evidence of Jesus’ miracles.  He is making an argument!  He is not merely arguing from miracles alone but bringing in Scripture to show that His miracles fulfill Messianic Prophecies.
  7. The most ironic thing about Wagner’s complaint that missionaries who use carefully reasoned arguments are “secularizing Third World Nations” is that it is those who are like him who are secularizing Third World Nations and not the ones who believed in the Sanctified Use of reason and argumentation, etc.  Note how Wagner thinks the performance of miracles are sanctified for the Christian but reasoning is not.  This is the same paradigm that secularists adopt when they separate the domain of God and the miraculous from the domain of “reason.”  Contrary to his claim, it is the Christian who do employ sanctified reasoning that is consistent in rejecting the dualism of secular/sacred.

Bibliography

Hiebert, Paul. 2009. “THe Flaw of the Excluded Middle.”Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 407-414.

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.

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