Monday, December 28, 2009

Update on the Scandal

The Scandal of The Evangelical Mind--15 Years Later

On Friday, October 2, Gordon hosted a day-long conference on the theme “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: 15 Years Later.” The keynote speaker was Mark Noll, a leading historian of American Evangelicalism and longtime professor at Wheaton College; more recently he has taught at the University of Notre Dame. Speakers from the Boston area joined Noll in taking stock, 15 years on, of his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994), a carefully reasoned case for why intellectual endeavor is a necessary component of our service to God. The conference sessions amounted to a report card on how Evangelicals are doing in this area, with results both sobering and inspiring. The impression made on this observer was simple: Noll’s book is as important and relevant as ever. Highlights from the conference suggest why this is so.

The morning session examined American Evangelicals’ longstanding faith in popular authority figures as opposed to scholars trained in elite centers of learning. Speakers presented examples of self-proclaimed experts who command outsized influence in today’s evangelical churches on subjects ranging from American history to the earth and biological sciences. Unfortunately, through books, lectures, and Internet websites, these Christian pundits often point their audiences away from the best available scholarship. Although amusing at times, these presentations were ultimately disturbing. A related point was made by David Hempton, an historian of British Methodism who teaches and maintains an evangelical presence at Harvard Divinity School. A native of Northern Ireland, Hempton noted the historic tendency on the part of American Christians to be activists, to turn compassion into practical ministry—a tendency that has earned respect even from extreme liberals. Yet Hempton also noted a discrepancy: Evangelicals have thus far had little influence on the theoretical analysis of major social problems.

Are there role models that illustrate what a Christian intellectual should look like? Several conference speakers pointed to the 18th-century American pastor Jonathan Edwards. Not only was Edwards the premier theologian of the Great Awakening—the revival that swept the American colonies in the 1740s—but he also grappled with the most advanced scientific and philosophical ideas of his day. Surely Edwards would be dismayed to see how his spiritual descendents have largely failed to engage with and contribute to learning in our own time. On a more hopeful note, the Canadian scholar James C. Wallace of Boston University’s Institute of Culture, Religion and World Affairs, spoke on the topic “American Evangelicals: Smarter than People Realize? The Growth of an Evangelical Intelligentsia.”

Mark Noll challenged the Gordon community as a whole at Friday convocation. Intellectual endeavor is necessary, he argued, if Christians as a body are to glorify God. Talented young people should be encouraged to consider dedicating themselves to this high calling. Surely Gordon College should continue its own dedication to helping prepare a new cohort of Christians to become cutting-edge scientists, scholars and social thinkers in addition to training activist “doers” in all walks of life and ministry. Thus we fulfill a key part of our vocation as a Christian liberal arts institution.

Watch an interview with Mark Noll, and his Nov. 6 Convocation address, "Faith Seeking Understanding: The Evangelical Imperative for Evangelical Intellectual Life," both on Gordon's Youtube channel.

Stephen Alter, Ph. D., is associate professor of history at Gordon, where he has taught for nine years. His courses focus on modern America and Britain, including the history of science and scholarship. His latest book is William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Laboring Together, Life!! Life!! Life!!

Last night (December 20) the Whiteriver Clinic was broken into and set on fire. We don’t know much. It was the work of more than one guy. Before they set it on fire, they opened the Fatherhood Store and took most everything out.The area around the clinic was strewn with things from inside. They also took T.V.’s, VCR’s and other items and threw them about outside. They then set fire in the back of the building in the Mommy Store. The fire did not bring down the building (why I will never know as it is so old) but it gutted the inside of the back area and caused extreme smoke and heat damage to the rest of the rooms. A.T.F. is investigating and they were bringing up a specialist from the valley to gather evidence. This is a Federal offense. The agent very gingerly asked if we were involved in “anything controversial” in our ministry. You can imagine what they hear about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, abortion clinic bombings and the like. I assured him that even though we are a CPC, our work was mostly pre-natal and parenting and that the culture in Whiteriver is very Pro-Life. One amazing thing that happened was after they started the fire and took off running someone living behind the clinic ran after them, tackled one and held him down until the police came. He is now in jail. This is amazing…people just don’t take those personal risks down there. It was a bright spot for us.

When we think of everything we had in there it is a bit overwhelming. We had just gotten two new computers. We had a new ultrasound machine a large (very large) screen T.V. and of course our beautiful, huge Mommy Store. But these are things that can be replaced. One greater challenge will be where do we go from here?

Available buildings in Whiteriver are very, very scarce. You have to go through the tribe to rent anything. This building was perfect (with the exception of the terrible plumbing and the inability to adequately heat such a huge area) and our program down there grew because we had so much area to expand into. Our staff of six are amazing. They have 400 to 600 visits a month and both our men and women go into the jail to teach parenting classes. We were really making an impact. And the devil could not tolerate that. Our staff will continue doing classes from the Assembly of God church but without a mommy store which provides so much needed assistance to the moms and dads.

As our staff stood outside the building, clients would come and cry as they looked at the devastation. This ministry is so loved by so many there. We are looking at our options, one which is to lease a large lot and build or place a modular on it. Whatever we do, build, remodel or use a modular, we feel strongly that the people of Whiteriver are the ones who should do it. As I stood there a man and wife came by and he said, “I’m a carpenter, what can I do to help?” The one thing they can’t do is raise funds so the ministry will be doing this. But the work will be done by the Apache people.

Please join us as we seek God’s plan in this. His plan was so evident when Whiteriver got started that we know He has many blessings to come out of these ashes. In the busyness of CHRISTmas, please say a prayer for this situation when you think of it. When I first heard I cried hard, but I do believe all will be not just well, but much better. We’ll keep ya posted! God bless you all.

Dinah Monahan

Kimberley Hash
Executive Director
Living Hope Women's Centers
(928) 537-9032 Office
(928) 205-5202 Cell
1000 E. Huning
Show Low, AZ 85901


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let's Keep Christmas

Let's Keep Christmas
A Sermon by Peter Marshall
Changes are everywhere. Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board. Yet there are few that abide, defying time and revolution.
The old message: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" is still the heart of Christmas. It can be nothing else. And this message can neither be changed - nor quite forgotten although there are many things that tend to make us forget.
The idea of Santa Claus coming in a helicopter does not ring true. No interior decorator with a fondness for yellow or blue could ever persuade me to forsake the Christmas colors of red and green.
I must confess that modernistic Christmas cards leave me cold. I cannot appreciate the dogs and cats the galloping horses the ships in full sail . . . or any of the cute designs that leave out the traditional symbols of the star . . . the manger . . . the wise men on their camels.
Angels there must be - but not modernistic angels in evening dress with peroxide permanents.
There is no need to search for stories new and different. There is only one after all - and no modern author can improve it:
" And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they where sore afraid.
"And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
We all fee the pressure of approaching Christmas. The traffic is terrible. You can't find a parking space . . . The stores are crowded . . . Mob scenes make shopping a nightmare.
You are thinking about presents - wondering what in the world to get for so-and-so. You can think of friends and loved ones who are so hard to shop for. You can't think of anything they need (which is rather strange when you take time to think of it).
Maybe there is nothing in the store that they need. But what about some token of love- what about love itself . . . and friendship . . . and understanding . . . and consideration . . . and a smile . . . and a prayer? You can't but these things in any store, and these are the very things people need. We all need them . . . Blessed will they be who receive them this Christmas or at any time.
Let's not permit the crowds and the rush to crowd Christmas out of our hearts . . . for that is where it belongs. Christmas is not in the stores - but in the hearts of people.
Let's not give way to cynicism and mutter that "Christmas has become commercialized." It never will be - unless you let it be. Your Christmas is not commercialized, unless you have commercialized it.
Let's not succumb to the sophistication that complains: "Christmas belongs only to the children." That shows that you have never understood Christmas at all, for the older you get, the more it means, if you know what it means. Christmas, though forever young, grows old with us.
Have you ever been saying, "I just can’t seem to feel the Christmas spirit this year"? That's too bad. As a confession of lack of faith, it is rather significant.
You are saying that you feel no joy that Jesus came into the world . . . You are confessing that His Presence in the world is not a reality to you . . . Maybe you need all the more to read the Christmas story all over again, need to sit down with the Gospel of Luke and think about it.
I thank God for Christmas. Would that it lasted all year. For on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, all the world is a better place, and men and women are more lovable. Love itself seeps into every heart, and miracles happen.
When Christmas doesn’t make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts . . . and fill your eyes with tears . . . and make you all soft and warm inside . . . then you'll know that something inside of you is dead.
We hope that there will be snow for Christmas. Why? It is not really important, but it is so nice, and old-fashioned, and appropriate, we think.
Isn’t it wonderful to think that nothing can really harm the joy of Christmas . . . Although your Christmas tree decorations will include many new gadgets, such as lights with bubbles in them . . . it's the old tree decorations that means the most . . . the ones you save carefully from year to year . . . the crooked star that you've been so careful with.
And you'll bring out the tiny manger, and the shed, and the little figures of the Holy Family . . . and lovingly arrange them on the mantel or in the middle of the dining room table. And getting the tree will be a family event, with great excitement for the children . . . And there will be a closet into which you will forbid your husband to look, and he will be moving through the house mysteriously with bundles under his coat, and you'll pretend not to notice . . .
There will be a fragrance of cookies baking spices and fruitcake . . . and the warmth of the house shall be melodious with the lilting strains of "Silent Night, Holy Night." And you'll listen to the wonderful Christmas music on the radio, some of the songs will be modern - good enough music perhaps - but it will be the old carols, the lovely old Christmas hymns that will mean the most.
And forests of fir trees will march right into our living rooms . . . There will be bells on our doors and holly wreaths in our windows . . .
And we shall sweep the Noel skies for their brightest colors and festoon our homes with stars.
There will be a chubby stocking hung by the fireplace . . . and with finger to lip you will whisper and ask me to tip-toe, for a little tousled head is asleep and must not be awakened.
And finally Christmas morning will come. Don't worry - you'll be ready for it - You'll catch the spirit all right, or it will catch you which is even better.
And then you will remember what Christmas means - the beginning of Christianity . . . the Second Chance for the world . . . the hope for peace . . . and the only way. The promise that the angels sang is the most wonderful music the world has ever heard. "Peace on earth and good will toward men"
It was not a pronouncement upon the state of the world then nor is it a reading of the international barometer of present time . . . but it is a promise - God's promise - of what will come to pass.
The years that are gone are graveyards in which all the persuasions of men have crumbled into dust. If history has any voice, it is to say that all these ways of men lead nowhere. There remains only one way - The Way - untried, untested, unexplored fully. . . the way of Him Who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.
In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same . . . with the same old greeting "Merry Christmas" and no other.
We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings . . . believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.
We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten son, that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
So we will not "spend" Christmas . . .nor "observe" Christmas.We will "keep" Christmas - keep it as it is . . .in all loveliness of its ancient traditions.May we keep it in our hearts,that we may be kept in its hope.
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

How contemptuous!!

Yes, Woods has fallen. Yes!! He has sinned.

The travesty of the sin committed in the Woods peccadilloes has been enormous, as pointed out by Albert Mohler. But, take note of the Media and their action in orchestrating the stoning. These Pharisees of the present hide behind their social self righteousness, personal agendas and hate. I have not read one article or heard one tube commentator who offered a cup of kindness, reconciliation efforts or forgiveness paths. The media passed out the stones and cheered the killing. How contemptuous!!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

UPDATED: Syncretism Rules the Day

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released their latest report on December 9. You might have caught a brief overview on ABC News on Thursday evening. Here's an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the report.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. . .Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts. (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths, 2009, p. 1)

Stephen Prothero is the chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books, including American Jesus: How the Son Of God Became a National Icon (2003) and the New York Times bestseller, Religious Literacy: What Americans Need To Know (2007). Prothero also sees the flexibility and wavering of Americans' beliefs:

Christians traditionally, as they've shaped Jesus, have been worried about getting it wrong. Americans today are not so worried. There isn't the sense that this is a life-and-death matter; that you don't want to mess with divinity. There's a freedom and even a playfulness that Americans have. The flexibility our Jesus exhibits is unprecedented. There's a Gumby-like quality to Jesus in the United States.

It's never safe to make specific predictions about the future, but back in 1994, Gene Edward Veith made a general statement of where worldviews and religions would be headed in the 21st century:
The next major new religion, however, will probably not be one of the old forms of overt paganism, but rather a [syncretistic] hybrid. In a postmodernist and increasingly consumer-oriented world in which truth is relative, people will pick and choose various aspects of the different faiths according to what they "like" (Veith, Postmodern Times, 1994, p. 200).
It looks as though Veith's prediction is coming true. That means it's more important than ever to be familiar with the various worldviews in our culture. The people you encounter in class, in your jobs – even in your own family – will most likely hold to some version of a worldview different from your own.

And of course, it's more important than ever to know your own worldview - and be able to explain and defend it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Age Cinema

Last Sunday night I caught most of the film, All of Me, starring Steve Martin and Lilly Tomlin, on TV - a film which I hadn't seen in several years. It's a very funny film, but I've learned a few things about competing worldviews since I last saw it.

In this 1984 comedy, one is never quite sure if the ideas of the New Age movement are being held up to ridicule or are being promoted in a humorous piece of propaganda.

Tomlin's character, who is on her death bed, believes basic New Age tenets such as "becoming one with the universe." Further, upon her death, she plans to have her soul transmigrated into another woman's body, who is perfectly willing to give up her own soul so as to join the cosmos.

Martin's character (and others) ask "you don't really believe that stuff, do you?" and refer to Tomlin's character Edwina as wacko and bananas.

But . . . the basic premise of the film is that transmigration works – it just doesn't work out the way that Edwina had planned.

So is All of Me promoting New Age mumbo-jumbo? Or making fun of it? I won't ruin the story for you; I'd just encourage you to find it and rent it to see for yourself. (You can watch the trailer here).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Islam and Liberties

This past week I reviewed two positions on the Islamic or Muslim intentions. One extended comment by Newt Gingrich concerning his concern about Islamic terrorism and the other a blog article by Albert Mohler concerning the Swiss vote to ban minarets. I believe each article centered on the subject of national and religious liberties.

“... a blunt and chilling answer to a serious question posed to Newt Gingrich on CNN. It's a clearly worded warning that I have not yet heard from any public figure concerning the state of world affairs. This is one the most powerful and articulates summaries of the dangers of our current situation that I have ever heard, and a mystery to me why this is not painfully aware to every American and a subject of constant discussion.”

“Though political correctness limits open discussion, citizens clearly fear the growing influence of the Muslim populations in their countries.”

“The Muslim minaret is the central architectural symbol of Islam, as recognizably Muslim as steeples with crosses are recognizably Christian. Any nation that is truly committed to religious liberty cannot sustain a ban on one religiously significant architectural symbol or structure in this manner.”

We in the United States stand true to the ideals of liberties and not violating those of others, especially religious liberty. Is there any foundation to think the Islamic movement will cause a problem now or in the future? Is Gingrich concerns justified and is Mohler position justified?

I would weigh in the view of Oriana Fallaci.

“I do not see Islamic terrorism as the main weapon of the war that the sons of Allah have unleashed upon us. Terrorism is only the bloodiest and most barbarous aspect of this war. The most pernicious and catastrophic aspect is the religious war,” are:

  1. “Immigration, not terrorism is the Trojan Horse that has penetrated and transformed Europe into Eurabia. Citing Bernard Lewis, she warns that by 2100, the whole of Europe will be numerically dominated by Muslims.”
  2. “Fallaci warns that multiculturalism will not moderate Islam and certainly not the fib of integration. In Europe-Eurabia, the other immigrants more or less integrate. Muslims don't. They don't even care to learn our languages. Glued to their mosques, to their Islamic Centers, to their hostility, better yet their abhorrence and contempt for the West, they only obey the rules and the laws of the Sharia (pp. 301-302).” {Imposed presence does not allow another view, p. 301 The Force of Reason}
  3. “Moderate Islam is another invention of ours. Another illusion fabricated by naivetor Quislingness or misplaced realpolitk. Moderate Islam does not exist.”

Reason is the key to human freedom and dignity. Although she fears that the force of reason in the West is succumbing to the force of unreason - Islam, her books are a precious legacy of the human spirit and therefore a promise that Reason will ultimately prevail.”

I am convinced of Fallaci’s insights into what the Muslim movement is doing are true. Being convinced I have to consider how to sustain the religious rights of the Muslim and the rights of the Christian.. Since the Muslim position is an imposed presence, what will be done? What should the defense of the Christian faith be? I believe that this is only the tip of the problem.

Will reason solve the problem?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Media has Spoken, Man is Made in the Image of God

The other night my wife and I watched the movie "My Sister's Keeper." Also, on a regular basis we watch extreme home makeover on Sunday evenings. What does the movie and the tv show have in common? They make no sense unless Genesis is correct and God created man in his image. A host of movies and shows could be added to the list. Any book, show or movie that dignifies mankind or considers mankind to be valuable, declares the truth of The Imago Dei (image of God).

When anyone has their emotions stirred up watching a family get a new house, they testify to themselves that they are watching something more than a product of an impersonal, directionless universe receiving something from other products of an impersonal directionless universe. That includes many Eastern religions that just believe in an impersonal force. A force, even a supernatural force, cannot have a direction because direction and purpose only come from a mind i.e. something personal. Furthermore, a force cannot bestow dignity on mankind no more than a powerful river could.

I would also contend that the emotional stirrings testify to something more than products of a universe formed and governed (I use that word loosely) by a multitude of gods who often times do not agree with each other and therefore are often seeking after very different purposes or goals.

I am thankful that most of the world's population assigns some kind of dignity to mankind, but I am struck that such dignity is often given without even an eye blinks worth of wonder where that dignity comes from. The Bible is right, man will suppress the truth of God until God rips out that heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh.

Things to consider from the Word of God.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; [fn] it was full of bones.
And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God , you know."
Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord .
"Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath
[fn] to enter you, and you shall live.
"And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord ."

Ezekiel 37:1-6

Then God said, "Let us make man [fn] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 1:26-28

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defence, and to commit ourselves to honouring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Shall Cesar prevail?