Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Posts Tagged ‘Missiology

Best Links of the Week

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The End of Church Planting?  Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title.  Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.

How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).

Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps.  The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf.  I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget.  If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them.  I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.

The Decline of the Nuclear Family.  Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.

Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)

Mortgage companies are still ‘robo-signing’

Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’

77 year old Congressman confronts gun wielding intruder

An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument

There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):

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Best Links of the Week

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"I believe that God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure..."

WSJ Article:  How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire and Why They Should Add the Gospel Back to Their Good Works.  In this vein Desiring God had a great series re-thinking short-term missions as well as the Chalmers Center.

White House Spent $23M of Taxpayers’ Money on Fight to Legalize Abortion in Kenya

Man squatting foreclosed home tells judge in his defense that he “bought it from Yahweh.”  You can’t make this stuff up.

Someone else has finally put into words the frustration of the script of the USPS mandatory upsell.

Man attempts to smuggle 18 monkeys through security and onto plane by hiding them under his shirt.

Ed Stetzer has an insightful post at Challies on “rockstar” pastors.

Black parents give birth to blond haired and blue-eyed baby.

How to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Some of the craziest pools in the world.

Old Spice Voicemail Generator.

The man claiming ownership of 84% of Facebook may actually have some merit.

ESPN mocks itself and the ridiculousness of the “Lebron Decision” special with the help of Steve Carell and Paul Rudd:

HT:  Kevin DeYoung

Tim Keller Responds to the Big 5 Questions Facing the Western Church

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Earlier, I posted on Tim Keller’s analysis of the “big 5 questions facing the Western church.”  To summarize Keller, those 5 issues identified were:

1.  The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S

2.  The rise of Islam

3.  The new non-western Global Christianity

4.  The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

5.  The end of prosperity?

Keller has followed up on these in an excellent little post well worth your reading.

Your thoughts?

Excellent Article from Tim Keller on Issues Facing the Western Church

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The Big Issues Facing the Western Church

1.  The opportunity for extensive culture-making in the U.S

2.  The rise of Islam

3.  The new non-western Global Christianity

4.  The growing cultural remoteness of the gospel

5.  The end of prosperity?

As usual, Keller has some prescient and keen cultural insight.  Your thoughts?

Best Links of the Week

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The Danger of an Unconverted Seminary

Which is your favorite?  Did I miss anything extraordinary?

1.  “The Danger of an Uncoverted Seminary” – a very worthwhile read, from a mainline perspective, on thedechristianization of the West and how seminaries ought to be adjusting to this shift.  We’ve never been more like the 1st/2nd centuries – pluralism, syncretism, and a world where the velocity of ideas was ever quicker due to new trade routes.

2.  Very disturbing Gallop Poll showing that 53% of democrat leaning voters think positively about “socialism.”  This is insanity.  People need to read history.  Also included in the poll were voters impressions of:  small business, free enterprise, entrepreneurs, capitalism, big business, and federal government.  Also, 63% of all polled (both democrat and republican) thought Barack Obama was a “socialist.”

3.  Google has been doing lots of stuff this week: “Is Google Planning to Add Storeviews to Google Maps?“;  “Google Creates Experimental Fiber Network…(capable of 1Gb/s)“; they also are launched an offensive on Facebook over their Gmail client – “Google wants to be Facebook and Facebook wants to be Gmail“.

4.  Ligonier has a huge compilation of links on the New Perspectives on Paul, from Turretin to present.

5.  Proposed Obama 2011 budget cuts could drastically reduce charitable giving from taking away line item deductions for those in 28% and higher tax brackets.

6.  A fascinating piece on First Things entitled, “Vampires and the Anthropic Principle.”

7.  First Things has an interesting info-graphic and analysis of the 210,000,000 Facebook profiles and friend networks:  “The Localism of Facebook Nation

8.  “The Government Has Your Babies’ DNA

9.  Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post writes on the fallout of the Amazon v. MacMillan.

10.  Only 4 men have been to all 44 Superbowls, here is their story.

11.  “Physicist Discovers How to Teleport Energy“:  infinite possibilities here.

12.  A very scary article from GQ about cell phone radiation and brain cancer.  The writer talked to several investment bankers in their late 30s/early 40s who have been using cell phones since the brick days… and have brain tumors.  This is not a tin foil hat, conspiracy theory article, it is cogently written.

13. Awkwardfamilyphotos.com – self-explanatory, hilarious, and definitely awkward.

14.  “The Beauty of Waves“:  series of photos from LIFE Magazine of beautiful waves.  Photography done by Clark Little.

15. Several people in the Philippines have been murdered by singing the triumphalist Frank Sinatra song, “My Way,” read the NY Times article.

16.  12 really random things you can buy on the internet (I fancy both the tanks and the giant floating hamster balls).

17. NY Times article on the ‘Shortage of Men on College Campuses.’

18.  Foxnews on proposed new government administration to study climate change.  File under:  big government and waste of money.

19.  NY Times Op-Ed chilling story on “The World Capital of Killing.”

20.  “Will the Baby Boomers Bankrupt Social Security” – CNBC article

21.  Ed Stetzer on potential upcoming shifts in pastoral ministry.

22.  Low intelligence second most important indicator (behind smoking) as predictor of heart disease.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Moving Forward, Part 7: No Cultural Center

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Is there really a cultural center to America?

Evangelicalism’s Strategy

Last time we examined how hasty evangelicals sought to lump an entire country into one philosophical category:  post-modernism.   Evangelicals like to do this – we like shortcuts, we like other people to think for us.  Evangelicals want someone to:

A.  tell them what is at the center of culture

B.  give them a brief definition of that thing

C.  give them some brief answers for why this thing is wrong

D.  make assembly line material on the wrong cultural belief

The Strategies Fundamental Flaw

The problem with this strategy is that it assumes that there is a center to American culture.  I wholeheartedly believe that there is no cultural center to the United States.  There may have been at some point in time, even so, that time is long gone.  In my view, there are at best several sub-cultures some of which overlap with other sub-cultures and some that do not.

Consider the following thought exercise:  Post in the comments section any adjectives that can describe all of American culture.  (I forbid the use of “consumer,” “sensate,” or “democratic.”)

We are not a melting pot, this would presume homogeneity.   We are at best a stew, and even this analogy seriously breaks down.

So What?

What are the consequences of America having no cultural center to the mission of the church?  Moving forward, evangelicalism needs to do what some missiologists have been saying for a little while:  Evangelicals need to acquire the skills of the cross-cultural missionary.  We need to be able to communicate the Gospel in ways that people understand and do it in a manner that does not compromise it’s message.

Every believer is sent by Jesus, with the message of the cross, from a community, to every culture, for the King and His Kingdom.

Moving forward, evangelicals need to avoid oversimplifying both individual people and the many (sub)culture(s) of America.  The evangelical strategy of trying to change America through politics alone is/was a dismal failure, as if politics was the center of an American mono-culture.  I have tried to show the fallacy of America also being a “post-modern” culture in the previous post.  I am trying to help us think beyond insulting misunderstanding in the evangelical mission to North America.

If we are to become more active in understanding the (sub)culture(s)-at-large we need to properly contextualize the Gospel.  Up next we will look at the twin dangers of over-contextualization and under-contextualization.

Thoughts on Evangelicalism Past, Present, and Future… Part 4b

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Suburbanization:  Evangelicalism's Physical Cultural Sequestering

Suburbanization: Evangelicalism's Physical Cultural Sequestering

So, Protestantism tore in two:  liberal and fundamentalist.

We must consider the affects of denying inerrancy on how we view the story of the Bible.  Recall that higher criticism read the Bible through rationalistic eyes.   The net result was the demythologization of the Bible.  Demythologization means exactly what it looks like – taking the supernatural and mythological elements out of the text.  So, liberal Protestants recast Jesus as a  more charitable/moral, kinder, gentler and better way to be human – rather than the substitionary sacrifice to save sinners from the wrath of God and an eternity in hell.  Jesus is boiled down to the moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount.  The concept of the Kingdom of God is not salvific but merely social in nature.  For the deconstructed liberals, Jesus’ mission statement was something to the effect of:  I came to make society better by showing an unselfish way of living.  Jesus’ vision statement would be something like:  By showing a better way to live, people will follow my example and gradually make the world a better place.

The tragic thing about the liberal social gospel is that there is truth to be found, the problem is that the truths are imbalanced by a lack of their necessary counterweights.  The reality is that the Gospel is both salvific and social in nature.  When God’s people take the Gospel to a new place, God’s rule/reign/authority comes along with it.  Where God’s rule/reign/authority is manifest, His blessing is also manifest.  That blessing is not full, final, and complete in the manner that it will be at the Second Coming of Christ – but it is present.  Unfortunately, the early fundamentalists did not fully embrace this consequence of the Gospel.

What happened was simple… the fundamentalists saw that the liberals were embracing and engaging culture because they had bought into a merely social gospel.  Hence, the fundamentalists reacted against the liberal engaging of culture and they decided they would disengage from culture and sequester themselves.  The core issue was the fundamentalists did not develop a positive identity, rather they defined themselves anegativa (the not-liberals and hence not-socially-engaged).  Fundamentalism became a negative term and eventually conservative Christians grew to self-identify as being “evangelicals” to avoid the negative connotations of the pejorative title of fundamentalist.  Recall that most evangelicals were already highly anti-intellectual at this point (with the notable exception of the Reformed Old Presbyterian folk), so a movement to disengage further from culture was devastating.  Conservative Christians receded from the world of academia, art, media, and other American cultural institutions.  A cursory look at the history of American Universities during this same period (first half of the 20th century) will show a rapid de-Christianization and the beginnings of secularization.  The receding of the conservative Christians from cultural interaction combined with the suburbanization and white flight of the mid-20th century created a huge void of Christian witness in America, particularly in city centers, the hub of cultural life.

Evangelicals have decried how godless/liberal our schools, Universities, media, art… etc. have become and are upset with urban decay.  The problem with this is that we are substantially culpable.  If only the Gospel brings God’s blessing on a society, and the people who still hold fast to that Gospel completely disconnect from society, we can only expect serious moral, intellectual, and social decay to follow.

Next, we shall look at the methodology of mid-late 20th century evangelicalism…

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