Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Matthew Effect

One of the big arguments between liberals and conservatives is around the issue of inequality, particularly as it relates to wealth. My understanding of the predominant conservative position is that those that gain wealth through their own efforts should be allowed to keep more of that wealth, and should not be taxed at significantly higher […]


The Pertinence of Nominalism to Religious and Philosophical Debates

I have written about nominalism quite a number of times, both here at the blog and in my books (most pertinently in Did God Create the Universe from Nothing? Countering William Lane Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument. For those of you unfamiliar with the topic, let me briefly explain: Abstract Objects Abstract objects are incredibly important aspects within the […]


Friday, 20 October 2017

Psalm 40:8

“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.””


Evangelism and the Marketplace: Four Stories of Evangelism on the Streets of Chicago

Evangelism professor talks to people while they're waiting for the train

Once a month I go out with Wheaton College students to share the gospel on the streets of Chicago. Many are intimidated by this kind of sharing. While I prefer ‘friendship evangelism’ most of all, marketplace evangelism is also a worthy enterprise.

In fact, the Gospels and the Book of Acts are full of examples of Jesus and Paul encountering anyone they happened to meet, making the most of each situation. If you think of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4) or Paul in Athens sharing at the Agora (Acts 17), your memory will be jogged and you can discover many other examples. This kind of witness has its own perimeters and unique features, but it is surprisingly fun and often fruitful.

Last Friday, I was out with about 25 students and 3 of us went together. We prayed, telling Jesus we were available to talk with those to whom his Holy Spirit would direct us. We asked that he would lead us to people whose hearts he was preparing that we might make explicit what he was doing implicitly in their lives already.

My approach is simply to ask people in environments where they may be waiting for something or someone (train stations, bus stops, park benches, etc.). I simply explain we are out talking with people about Jesus and ask if we can speak with them for a while as they are waiting. Sometimes people say they are not interested, and we thank them and move on. My experience is that about 50% of those I approach in this matter are interested in talking. And it’s fun!

This past Friday, I went with Maddy and Amanda to the food court at Ogilvie Transportation Center and we had four deep and engaging evangelistic conversations.

Story 1: Jewish Background

First, we spoke with a Jewish guy who initially didn’t want ...

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Thursday, 19 October 2017

Parent complaints force Church of England school to stop Christian group proselytising to children

Parents be vigilant! And this also is why groups like Humanists UK are so important, supporting such ideals. This is from them: A Church of England school in Kent has been forced to stop a Christian group from delivering assemblies and lessons to its pupils after parents complained about their children being exposed to ‘a […]


Women Should Remain Silent – Were Paul’s Words an Interpolation?

The Apostle Paul has some infamous words regarding the position of women. Here he is in 1 Corinthians 14: 34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at […]


The Unsettling Truth Behind the #MeToo Movement

Creating a safer world for women means talking about our vulnerability.

I was somewhere in the North Carolina mountains, driving down a long stretch of highway on a cold December night, when my predicament hit me. It was past midnight and I was alone, over a hundred miles from home. And of course, my cell phone was nearly dead. My mind began racing: What if my car breaks down? What if no one stops to help me? Or worse, what if the person who stops isn’t a good person?

Suddenly I was face to face with my own vulnerability.

Female vulnerability is not something women like to talk about much. In recent decades, we’ve preferred themes of empowerment and success. From female pioneers at NASA to Wonder Woman, women have been proving their worth in society and showing themselves just as brave and intelligent as men. But even as we affirm female agency and strength, we can miss an equally important, albeit unsettling, reality: Women are vulnerable in the world in ways that men, as a rule, aren’t.

This has never been made clearer than through the recent spate of revelations about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood sexual harassment and abuse. As powerful, successful women came forward with their own histories of assault, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply.” Her tweet, which popularized the #metoo campaign that activist Tarana Burke began over ten years ago, prompted more than 12 million Facebook reactions in 24 hours and a million tweets of the hashtag in 48 hours.

Both support and criticism flooded in, but perhaps the most telling reaction was the simple question: “What woman hasn’t?” Some communities use female vulnerability as an excuse to repress and control women. ...

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20 Truths from "Sing!"

When we sing we witness to the people in our church who are yet to believe

Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church

We are a singing people because it is how God has created us. It’s what we do. And when we do, we’re simply joining in with what the rest of the creation is doing. (8)

God has formed our hearts to be moved with depth of feeling and a whole range of emotion as the melody-carried texts sink in. Singing praise reaches your whole person—body moving, mind awake, heart moved, by the truth of Who God is and Whose we are. (8)

The true beauty of such a congregational choir is that our voices and our hearts are knit together in praise. It is exhilarating to be part of a body of believers breathing Truth together, harmonizing (however imperfectly) the message of the gospel together for the world to hear. (9)

Your voice may not be of professional standard, but it is of confessional standard. (9)

Singing together organizes notes and words in beautiful ways to shine God’s dazzling truths into the relativistic grays of our culture. We have been told the greatest story and been given the ability to retell it—to sing as well as to speak it to others in a way that they can understand too. (11)

We are created to sing because it leads us joyfully to the great Singer, Creator of the heavens and the earth. Our singing should sound like Him, look like Him, lead our hearts to Him. When the Psalmist sings ‘I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?’ (Psalm 21) his help does not come from the hills but He who made the hills. (12)

It is hard—impossible, in fact—to sing what you are excited about in your spirit and grateful for in your heart in a way that is tepid, tentative and withdrawn. Deeply felt thankfulness produces a ...

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Movie-Filtering Service Files for Bankruptcy to Pause Copyright Fight

Faith and family-friendly VidAngel turns to Chapter 11 protections.

VidAngel, a movie-filtering site backed by pro-family evangelical groups, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week so it can continue development during its ongoing copyright battle with Hollywood studios.

The company was forced to take down its customizable video rental service last December after Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, and 20th Century Fox sued it for illegally altering and streaming their content.

Despite crowdfunding a record-setting $10 million from pro-filtering supporters—including evangelicals and Mormons—to cover initial legal fees, the Utah-based platform has continued to lose its appeals and faces major penalties if the court ultimately sides with the studios.

The bankruptcy filing puts legal action against VidAngel on hold while the company reorganizes, Forbes reported.

“It’s an important step to protect our company—as well as its creditors, investors, and customers—from the plaintiffs’ efforts to deny families their legal right to watch filtered content on modern devices,” said CEO Neal Harmon. “It also gives us breathing room to reorganize our business around the new streaming platform, promote and perfect the new technology, and seek a legal determination that the new system is fully legal and not subject to the preliminary injunction entered in California.”

In June, VidAngel launched a new service that allows users to filter streaming TV through HBO, Netflix, and Amazon. The service will continue during the bankruptcy.

“VidAngel is not going anywhere. We have millions of dollars in the bank, and are now generating millions of dollars in revenue,” Harmon said. The company hopes to pause the lawsuit long enough to earn revenue to ...

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Christians Could Return to Middle East, Thanks to Trump (Deportations)

Emptied Arab churches prepare for a rare task: making room.

When Haitham Jazrawi started working at Kirkuk Presbyterian Church in Iraq in 1991, there were 72 families. Today, there are still 72 families—but only two of the originals remain. During his 26-year tenure as caretaker and then pastor, Jazrawi has seen a turnover of more than 300 families due to emigration.

Such an outward flow has been the norm in churches across the Middle East. In Iraq and Syria, countries ravaged by years of war and the terror of the Islamic State, roughly two-thirds of Christians have fled.

Among Jazrawi’s congregants, 50 percent are internally displaced from elsewhere in Iraq. “They come as refugees from inside our country,” said the Kirkuk pastor, “from the Nineveh Valley, from Nineveh, from other villages and cities.”

Soon, they may also come from outside of Iraq. With the Trump administration threatening to deport more than 1,400 Iraqis, hundreds of whom are Christians, a rare irony may present itself: the forced movement of Christians into the Middle East.

This summer, hundreds of Iraqis were behind bars in holding centers around the United States, slated for deportation to Iraq. The majority were Christians, and most were rounded up in Detroit in a massive June raid executed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Not only would they be breaking up families that have been here for decades,” said Nathan Kalasho, a local advocate for the detainees, “but they would be sending an already targeted minority to a country that no longer welcomes them.”

Pressured by politics, violence, and discrimination, the movement of Christians out of the Middle East is nothing new. But now a global surge in anti-immigrant sentiment puts Arab churches in ...

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International Adoptions Drop to New Low as Evangelical Funding Spikes

Churches continue to rally for orphan care while the State Department addresses global restrictions.

The number of international adoptions hit a historic low last year, despite growing attention toward orphan care among US evangelicals.

Americans adopted 5,372 children in the year ending September 2016, down from a 35-year low the 12 months before. The number of foreign adoptions annually has fallen to less than a quarter of the totals during peak years over a decade ago, with 22,884 adoptions recorded in 2004.

Last year, just over half of internally adopted children were boys (52%), making it the first time that more males than females were adopted into America, Pew Research Center reported this week. From 1999 to 2016, girls made up 61 percent of adoptees.

The shift can largely be traced to China; in 1999, 98 percent of the children adopted from China were girls. In 2016, it had flipped to 49 percent, partially due to China easing its one-child policy at the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) reported “eye-opening numbers” on how Christian investment in orphan care and adoption “continues to climb dramatically”:

Overall, charitable giving by Americans grew by a strong 4.1 percent in 2015, according to Giving USA. In that same period, support for Christian orphan care grew at more than three times that rate, rising 12.4 percent.

Christian giving to support adoption grew significantly as well, rising 8.4 percent over the prior year. Other investments in serving vulnerable children, including child sponsorships and children’s homes, also saw strong growth, with 7 percent and 9.8 percent increases respectively.

ECFA calculates that giving to Christian orphan ministries increased by more than 87 percent since 2010, while giving to Christian adoption ministries ...

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Open Letter to John Piper on White Evangelicalism and Multiethnic Relations

Lecrae, Truth's Table, and an Asian American ministry leader

Dear John Piper,

In your Desiring God article, you wrote how you didn’t know what Lecrae’s “loosening from ‘white evangelicalism’ means for multi-ethnic relations.” I’d like to attempt to address this.

Before I do, I’d like to offer up a definition of terms.

Evangelicalism: 1) a movement of gospel centrality, focused on the primacy of scripture and justification by faith that emerged from the reformation, 2) a modern movement within Protestantism marked by Bebbington’s quadrilateral of Biblicism, Crucicentrism, Conversionism, and Activism

White Evangelicalism: a segment of modern evangelicalism that is led and shaped by a cultural agenda defined by whiteness.

The reason people struggle to distinguish between evangelicalism and white evangelicalism is because evangelicalism was historically and consistently shaped by whiteness. It was because of this dominance and exclusion within evangelicalism that non-white populations formed their own evangelical organizations (National Black Evangelical Association, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, etc.). Essentially, blacks and Latinos found that their issues and needs weren’t being addressed by their white counterparts, so they started their own movements. It was because white evangelicals didn’t make room for non-white evangelicals that black evangelicalism and Latino American evangelicalism emerged. If they had, we wouldn’t have the need for adjectives before the term evangelical.

I fear that unless white evangelicalism changes in significant fashion, Lecrae is only going to be the beginning of the exodus, despite not being the first to depart.

A couple decades ago, Asian Americans witnessed something ...

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