Person of the Year

Time’s Persons of the Year are the Ebola fighters.  I think that’s a pretty good choice.  A good many of them are missionaries, who, in the accompanying story, explain their faith and why they risk their lives to help those who are suffering.

Our custom at this blog is for commenters to propose other people for Person of the Year.  Who would be some good candidates? [Read more...]

Resenting Christian compassion

Ross Douthat has a rather brilliant essay in which he considers whether the church is facing a new pagan society, as in the first century.  He thinks not, but he notices that some of the hostility against Christianity is very similar to the resentment against the faith expressed by pagan Romans.  He cites a recent rant in Slate complaining that so many of the doctors battling Ebola are Christians and missionaries, and calling for a separation of religion and health care.  Douthat said  this is like Julian the Apostate’s frustration that “all men see that our people lack aid” from pagan sources, even as “the impious Galilaeans support not only their own poor but ours as well.” [Read more...]

Missionaries putting their lives on the line

In many places in the world, the only modern medical care available is provided by Christian missionaries.  Thus, the main people fighting the Ebola epidemic in Africa are missionaries and the hospitals they operate.  Some of these missionaries are themselves getting Ebola.  And yet  they don’t stop serving.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the service of other religions that present themselves as being compassionate–Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism–as well as atheists, with their benevolence and humanism.  Oh, wait.  They don’t do any of this.  It’s just the Christians.

UPDATE:  A thousand apologies to those of other religions and no religions who also have ministries of mercy of one kind or another!  Thank you commenters and Friendly Atheist for setting the record straight. [Read more...]

Converting the barbarians

Today we express our appreciation to the Irish for saving civilization.  St. Patrick converted the Irish, who copied books from classical literature through the Bible and kept alive the ability to read them, as the barbarians ravaged Europe after the Fall of Rome.  The consequent “Dark Ages” (not to be confused with the Middle Ages!) lasted until the Irish and others  converted the barbarians to Christianity.

No offense to the “barbarians”–as they were termed by the Greco-Romans–who did, actually, have civilizations of their own, but these pagan warlike tribes really did settle down, once they accepted Christianity, giving us the High Middle Ages and the various nations of Europe.  So let’s give credit to St. Patrick, but also to those other missionaries who brought the Gospel to the ancestors of us European-Americans: [Read more...]

The “Place of Jesus” Lutheran church & the LCMS

As we’ve blogged about earlier, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus has broken ties with its mother church in Sweden over gay marriage and related issues.  Now the 6 million-strong church–one of the fastest growing in the world (and the third largest Lutheran church in the world)–is seeking ties with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Here is a fascinating interview between Rev. Berhanu Ofgaa and Deaconness Pamela Nielsen that tells the story of Mekane Yesus, which means “Place of Jesus,” a name that confesses the real presence of Christ that all Lutherans should start using. [Read more...]

The latest mission strategy: “Insider Movements”

We’ve blogged about those translations of the Bible for Muslims that avoid little terms like “Son of God” in order, supposedly, to attract followers of Islam.  It turns out that such Bible translations are only one strategy in a whole new approach to mission work, one that encourages Christian converts to continue as members of their old religion!  Bill Nikides explains in Modern Reformation:

The most explosive issue in global missions within the evangelical church today is something called “Insider Movements.” . . .

It has become a go-to option for all sorts of traditional evangelicals working with ostensibly reputable missions organizations such as Navigators, Frontiers, Summer Institute of Linguistics (a branch of Wycliffe), Global Partners for Development, and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some embrace the Insider Movement label and identity; others prefer to remain low key. In many cases entire organizations—while in others, only some individual members—are committed to its core principles. Even worse, it appears that some missionaries and agencies are guilty of dissembling so as to maintain plausible deniability. . . .

Here are a couple of stock definitions to get us on our way. Insider Movements (IM) are variously defined as “popular movements to Christ that bypass both formal and explicit expressions of Christian religion” (Kevin Higgins, “The Key to Insider Movements,” Internal Journal of Frontier Missiology, Winter 2004). Another definition Higgins offers is that they are “movements to Jesus that remain to varying degrees inside the social fabric of Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, or other people groups.” In other words, as John Ridgeway of the Navigators relates, Insider Movements advocate “becoming faithful disciples of Jesus within the culture of their people group, including religious culture.”

Fundamentally, Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims. In many cases, I’m familiar with baptized Christians who are persuaded to re-enter the mosque after renouncing their Christian identities. . . .

There are, of course, major problems with such an approach to missions and evangelism. First, Insiders make the unbiblical assumption that such biblical passages teach that true believers can have a purely inward faith that can be manifested inside any faith system, including that of other non-Christian religions.

Second, practitioners and Insider missiologists (or scholars of the theology of missions) ignore the fact that the Bible is loaded with texts, even entire books, devoted to distinguishing truth from error and true religion from false religion. In other words, doctrine matters and has to be central in our theology of missions. Unfortunately, doctrine is surprisingly absent from much Insider literature, and rarely do their proponents address the twin topics of idolatry and false religion. Instead, Insiders suppose that religions are relatively harmless cultural creations, that they are man-made and therefore disposable. Even Christian articles of faith, such as the church and the sacraments, can be said to be cultural creations that can simply be replaced with other things in Muslim cultures.

via Modern Reformation – Articles [subscription required].

Never mind about what the Bible says about syncretism, idolatry, having no other Gods, Church, etc., etc.  But this approach helps missionaries rack up bigger numbers of converts!

Here is an objective, fair and balanced Wikipedia account that  confirms that description.

This is an example of the mindset that I’m seeing more and more that is at the root of a lot of church issues today:  Christianity is just about becoming a Christian–having a conversion in which a person “accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”–whereupon, since “once saved, always saved,” the Church and the Christian life don’t matter!

HT:  Jim Rademaker


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