Archive - August, 2010

God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck.JPGRussell Moore provides an excellent corrective to the disturbing trend of Christians undiscerningly jumping on the bandwagon of Beck’s recent God-and-country “revival.” An excerpt:

Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.
It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement………Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Do read the whole thing.
Photo credit: The Atlantic

The Value of Brevity

Adriel Ifland, Executive Assistant to the President of Acts 29 (Scott Thomas), lists 6 common reasons for lack of brevity in communication (or correspondence), and one caveat. His point is well made.

Wallis Admits That Sojourners Has Received Soros Funding

Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Christianity Today has a good run-down on the Olasky-Wallis exchange over whether Sojourners has received funding from liberal billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Here’s a quick summary:
1. Last month, Marvin Olasky openly invited Jim Wallis to admit that his organization, Sojouners, had received financial support from the Open Society Institute (an organization that has financed groups promoting abortion, atheism, and same-sex marriage). Olasky attributed a more than tripling of Sojourners’ revenues over the last decade to secular leftists learning “to use the religious left to elect Obama and others.”
2. Wallis denied receiving funds from Soros and accused Olasky of lying.
3. Olasky responded, providing more evidence that Sojourners had received funding from Soros.
4. Wallis admitted that Sojourners has received Soros funding, but says that the “three grants received over 10 years from the Open Society Institute…made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade — so small that I hadn’t remembered them.”

Ideological Indoctrination On College Campuses

With the next academic year about to kick-off, Dr. Mohler has a timely word on a pair of disturbing articles which make plain the ideological indoctrination that happens on many secular college and university campuses, particularly, as Dr. Mohler notes, “in elite institutions and within the liberal arts faculties.”
Mohler writes:

Even as most professors see themselves as stewards of the teaching profession and fellow learners with their students, others see their role in very different terms — as agents of ideological indoctrination. All teaching involves ideology and intellectual commitments. There is no position of authentic objectivity. Every teacher, as well as every student, comes into the classroom with certain intellectual commitments. Some professors set as their aim the indoctrination of students into their own worldview, and many of these worldviews are both noxious and deeply troubling. A professor who acts as such an agent of indoctrination abuses the stewardship of teaching and the professorial calling, but this abuse is more widespread and dangerous than many students and their parents understand.
For Christian parents and students, this should be a matter of deep concern and active awareness. The secularization of most educational institutions is an accomplished fact. Indeed, many college and university campuses are deeply antagonistic to Christian truth claims and the beliefs held by millions of students and their families. Furthermore, the leftist bent of most faculty is well-documented, especially in elite institutions and within the liberal arts faculties. On many campuses, a significant number of faculty members are representatives of what has been called the “adversary culture.” They see their role as political and ideological, and they define their teaching role in these terms. Their agenda is nothing less than to separate students from their Christian beliefs and their intellectual and moral commitments.

Read the whole thing.

What one thing would you change about seminary?

Collin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition poses this question to Albert Mohler, D.A. Carson, Jeff Louie, and Richard Pratt.

Blog Vacation

No blogging this week as my family and I are visiting with extended family in the Chicago area.

State Debt and the 2008 Presidential Vote

CNN, together with Moody’s Investor Services, published a map of the U.S. showing per capita state debt. There’s an interesting correlation: The 28 states that went for Obama in 2008 have more than twice the per capita state debt ($1,728) as the 22 states that voted for McCain ($749). The Obama states seem to possess not only a political preference for big government, but an inherent incentive for it. Or perhaps the two go hand-in-hand?

Debt Map - 2008 Vote Map.JPG

HT: Chuck DeVore, who has more details.

Declining Study Time Signals Falling Standards

I previously wrote a pair of posts about grade inflation and student performance. Yesterday, The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote:

The amount of time spent studying has fallen drastically among full-time students in all demographic groups, whether they work or not, at all types of four-year colleges, according to a report released on Thursday by the American Enterprise Institute. The report, “Leisure College, USA,” cites data from various national surveys to show that the average student studied 24 hours a week in 1961 and 14 hours a week in 2003. Colleges’ “standards for effort have plummeted” as they cater to students’ preferences for leisure, the report says, a shift that may slow economic growth. But there’s good news: “College is cheaper than most people think.” Modern college students’ time savings, the report says, more than compensate for increased tuition.

The last couple of lines here are a bit misleading, in my view. I’m not sure it is “good news” that students today pay more in college tuition, but gain degrees that are essentially worth less (since academic standards are now lower). Should there be any comfort in the fact that it takes them less (overall) time to earn such degrees?

Why the Proposition 8 Decision Matters

Yesterday, Judge Vaughn R Walker struck down Proposition 8, which the CA voters had passed in 2008. In an article carried by Christianity Today, Dr. Albert Mohler gives some perspective as to why it’s a big deal, even if this decision is later overturned, and even if this ruling was anticipated (which it was):

The importance of the decision handed down yesterday by U. S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker in California’s Proposition 8 trial will be difficult to exaggerate. Proponents of same-sex marriage immediately declared a major victory—and for good reason. The editorial board of The New York Times declared the verdict “an instant landmark in American legal history,” and so it is, even if later reversed upon appeal.
Judge Walker’s decision is sweeping and comprehensive, basically affirming every argument and claim put forth by those demanding that California’s Proposition 8 be declared unconstitutional. That proposition, affirmed by a clear majority of California voters, amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In one brazen act of judicial energy, California’s voters were told that they had no right to define marriage, and thousands of years of human wisdom were discarded as irrational.

Read the whole thing.

To Every Tribe Ministries – Interview with David Sitton – Part 4

Dts 10-08.JPGDavid Sitton is the President of To Every Tribe, a ministry which has been planting churches among unreached people groups of Papua New Guinea and Mexico for many years now. The ministry is led by a distinguished board of directors and three executive officers. As it happens, they are seeking to hire a Director for their Center for Pioneer Church Planting.
To Every Tribe is hosting a conference this October 22-23 entitled Reckless Abandon: For Jesus and The Nations. In light of this conference, and as a means of spreading the word about To Every Tribe, I’ll be posting a four part interview with David Sitton. Part 3 was posted last week, Part 2 the week before that, and Part 1 the previous week. Here’s Part 4 (and the final installment):

There is a lot of buzz in the news lately about Mexico and the escalating drug lord violence? What’s going on in Mexico? Has Mexico gotten more dangerous in recent months in the areas where To Every Tribe is working?

David: I’m passing this question off to A.J. Gibson (To Every Tribe’s Mexico Field Director and Assistant Director of The Center for Pioneer Church Planting). A.J. has spent much of his life in Mexico as an MK and as a missionary himself.
AJ: Up until the last few months, most of the drug-related violence has kept to the west of where To Every Tribe works in the extreme north-eastern corner of Mexico. But a recent turf war between two major drug cartels has brought the war closer to home. The Gulf Cartel, based in Matamoros, Mexico, just a few miles from the To Every Tribe headquarters in south Texas, has controlled the drug trafficking routes along the Mexican gulf coast for over a decade. But in recent months, the Zetas, a mercenary army made up of former elite military commandos has begun to encroach upon the Gulf Cartel’s territory. As the war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas has escalated, the battle has drawn nearer to the Gulf Cartel’s home city of Matamoros—the city that we at To Every Tribe pass through every time we enter Mexico. Shootouts between the Mexican military and the cartels as well as between members of the two cartels have made this area increasingly dangerous and unstable. Road blockades, kidnappings, and execution-style murders have become increasingly common. In the last month there have been several major shootouts along the highway that we travel to access the villages where we’re church planting. Just two weeks ago an ambush was set up by the Zetas for the Gulf cartel at an intersection that we pass through on a regular basis. The result was a major gun and grenade battle just a few miles from a small fishing village where we do much of our work. When I passed through two days after the battle, I could see clear evidence of the fight—a pickup riddled with bullet holes.
At this point we haven’t decreased our activity in northern Mexico, primarily because the cartels haven’t primarily been targeting civilians. But things have certainly become much more dangerous and we’ve been forced to take more careful precautions as we travel and work south of the border. Unfortunately the violence in Mexico is not limited to the drug wars, nor is it limited to northern Mexico. Local and regional gangs and criminal organizations involved in all kinds of extortion-related crime have run rampant throughout all of Mexico for decades—even centuries. And it seems that the increased activity of the drug cartels has served to embolden these other smaller gangs and organizations. Kidnappings, assassinations, robbery, police corruption, and many other kinds of violent criminal activity is a normal part of life for almost the whole country. When my family and I lived in Monterrey, Mexico, we had several close friends and many friends-of-friends who were victims of kidnappings and robberies. This kind of violence will always be a threat for missionaries in Mexico. And it’s not limited to northern Mexico. A couple of months ago international news organizations reported an ambush and assault on a caravan of human rights observers on a major highway in the state of Oaxaca, just a few miles south of where To Every Tribe bases its southern Mexico church planting operations. The caravan of journalists and activists was headed to a nearby village that had been held hostage and terrorized by a local crime organization. That organization made sure the rescuers never reached the village.
So how do we react to all of this? Well, we certainly don’t stop our mission. We take precautions (like avoiding travel at night and keeping away from known centers of violence), but at the end of the day we continue to make disciples of Mexico’s unreached people groups while leaving our safety in the hands of God. Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That’s our great comfort.
David: Exactly! We will never “not go” into a place for Christ simply because of the danger. Like the apostle Paul, I “consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
Thanks again, for spending some time with us. It’s been fun talking to you again, Alex.

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