Do we simply share the gospel? Not really.
We present the gospel in a way that is understandable to the person we are speaking to; we take their background understanding about God into account. In the book of Acts we see the apostle Paul do this. To the Jews he presented Jesus as the fulfilment of the promises God made through the prophets. To the Gentiles he proclaims that God is the creator, idols do not represent him, and that his true representative is Jesus who he raised from the dead. (more…)
Should Australians be upset that one of the new ministers in the Federal Cabinet swore his oath on a Qur’an?
This week as the Governor General swore in the new cabinet, Mr Ed Husic, chose to swear on the Qur’an rather than the Bible or make an affirmation. A ‘non-practising’ Muslim from Bosnia, Mr Husic was sworn in as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband.
Swearing is a strange symbolism, by which we persuade and reassure people of our integrity in making promises. Christians should not need to swear for we should be people of our word. As Jesus said in response to pharisaic hypocrisy, “Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”; anything more than this comes from evil (Matt 5:37, cf. Jas 5:12). (more…)
[This article is an edited and compressed version of the Marching for Allah series originally published here in September 2012. This version appeared in the print edition of the magazine, and is published here for the sake of completeness. – Ed.] (more…)
There is an Evangelist at our church. His name is Ed. I have never really had a concrete position on whether Scripture prescribes an “office” of Evangelist at the local church. The reason I am thinking it through now is that I never encountered such a person at the four previous churches I worked at or attended. So I assumed nothing—positive or negative. Even when I preached through Ephesians 4, I somewhat glossed over the issue in verse 11. (more…)
The theologian and social critic David Wells suggests that we have seen a significant rise in the language of victimhood in both society and the church. He suggests ‘playing the victim’ comes from being overly sensitive to individual rights. We often excuse our behaviour by noticing every insult or injustice that comes from others. Wells warns that when everyone is a victim—as it seems many feel—it trivialises real victims. (more…)
The Universe Next Door (5th edition)
James W Sire
IVP Academic, Downers Grove, 2009. 293 pp.
I first read The Universe Next Door while I was at university. We were running an evangelistic event where students lined up to take a quiz to discover what world view would suit them best. We would then give them a pamphlet that explained their likely world view, along with any weaknesses it had and relevant Christian viewpoints they ought to consider. It was my job to write these handouts, and the Christian survey of various world views, The Universe Next Door, was my main source (in combination with Wikipedia, of course). I pored over it for a week, reading and re-reading, and got the pamphlets done in the nick of time. Then, in true student style, I ejected every piece of information out of my brain and moved on to my next assignment. (more…)
As a Christian, suffering can be awful. We cry out to God from the depths of our pain. Yet what if you had no God to cry out to? What if you weren’t sure that there was anyone listening to your pleas? What if you didn’t know for certain that there was someone out there with things under control? You may suspect that a higher being exists, but they seem to be either too weak or too evil to stop the pain and suffering you see around you. What if you had no guarantee that in the end everything would be set right? This is how non-Christians have to endure suffering. (more…)
(Read Peter Bolt’s last post in this series.)
In some missiological circles, if ‘evangelism’ is a ‘boo word’, then ‘interfaith dialogue’ is a ‘hooray word’. Evangelism is so one-way, so high-and-mighty, so two centuries ago. Interfaith dialogue doesn’t assume one ‘faith’ is better or more enlightened than another; nor does it mean that one is telling the other, for it is an attempt at a two-way mutual sharing, and its aim of ‘mutual understanding’ sounds so much better than the ‘conversion’ of another.
I guess Elijah’s encounter on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal wouldn’t be a ‘prooftext’ for such dialogues, nor would Jesus’ uncomfortable words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
My family and I have just returned from two weeks in Utah and Idaho—the areas in the USA (and possibly in the world) with the highest concentration of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). While their theology is completely graceless and works-based, it was interesting to observe the way they do things. Perhaps there are things we can learn from them.
Now that we’ve had a look at judging others, discernment and what the two entail, how do you put these things into practice? For example, how do you figure out whether or not you can work with someone? Guan Un finds some answers in the Gospel of Luke. (more…)
Who is a Jew? And why does this distinction still matter? Martin Pakula investigates. (more…)
A bit like speaking English to an American: the words are familiar, but the planet is different. That’s the way people describe the experience of trying to discuss Christianity with a Mormon. John Bracht, a former Mormon and now Baptist pastor, explains why some of their teachings can sound so familiar, and yet so foreign. He offers a guide to how we can have fruitful discussion with Mormons rather than angry arguments.
Our community is both fascinated and repulsed by the cults, but what should our attitude be? Should Evangelicals be persecuting and seeking to eradicate the cults? Or is religious freedom a more important principle? The Briefing examines the issues.