• Church & Ministry •
September 27, 2005
America’s evangelical Christians are facing a critical testing-time in the twenty-first century. Among the most important of the tests we now face is the future of missions, and our faithfulness to the Great Commission. At a time of unprecedented opportunity, will our zeal for world missions slacken?
September 22, 2005
September 5, 2005
Dr. Philip Ryken, Senior Minister of Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church, offers a helpful theological analysis of how Christians should respond to Hurricane Katrina and the suffering left in the storm’s wake. The article offers wonderful pastoral advice on this question.
An excerpt: We respond with indignation, seeing that the poor have suffered even more than the rich. Hurricanes are indiscriminate in their destruction, raining destruction on everyone in their path. Almost no one on the Gulf Coast has gone unscathed. But more of the poor were left behind, in many cases because they did not have a vehicle that could get them out of town, or the money to get a seat on a bus or an airplane. The righteous see the structure of injustice behind the disproportionate suffering of the poor.
September 3, 2005
Hugh Hewitt gathered three theologians on his Friday show and led a discussion about a Christian understanding of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. I was glad to join John Mark Reynolds, director of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, and , Mark D. Robertspastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California, for the discussion.
The conversation was both interesting and sobering, given the issues at stake. Hugh Hewitt is a masterful interviewer, and he asked questions that prompted serious responses. Radioblogger has helpfully provided a transcript of the program. An excerpt:
Hugh Hewitt: Now, I would like to ask each of you, maybe starting with Dr. Mohler in the East and then moving West, the appropriate response for a believer. We’re all members of the Christian tradition, but I think it’s appropriate far beyond ours, but the appropriate response to a Christian looking at this mayhem, Al Mohler.
Albert Mohler: Well, I think the first thing we have to do is to weep with those who weep. And this is not a tragedy that is over. It continues to unfold. And so right now, there are people who do not know where their wives and husbands and children are. They have no idea what their future might be. They have no idea if there’s even a home to which they can return. Some of them already know they have lost loved ones, and some of them have not even been recovered, in terms of bodies. So there’s an appropriate Christian response to weep with those who weep. And then we have to be there to do what we possibly can do. To feed the hungry and to clothe those who are naked, and to give water, and all these things, by the way, are not just metaphorical needs. These are dramatic, physical needs of the present. And then we as Christians have to be there to speak, not so much on behalf of God like Job’s friends, but to speak as Christians. To speak of the hope that is within us, and to speak to those who right now have no hope.
RECOMMENDED FOR DISASTER RELIEF DONATIONS: The North American Mission Board Disaster Relief, now on the ground, feeding at least 500,000 meals a day in the Gulf region.
“People are weeping, they want to help desperately. And we have a tremendous opportunity. We all don’t have to go to the affected area–we all can’t go to the coast. Many of the unfortunate people are being relocated throughout the country. We don’t have to go to them, they are coming to us. Everyone can give and everyone can collect. The diapers, the formula, the canned goods, the clothes, the bottled water–all of it can be collected and sent to the evacuation centers.”
— Gerald Peters, Southern Baptist disaster relief
volunteer from Oklahoma
August 30, 2005
“It came on Mississippi like a ton of bricks,” said Gov. Haley Barbour. The Governor was not exaggerating. Hurricane Katrina has left a path of death and destruction that reaches from Alabama to Louisiana, and the full extent of the devastation will be unknown for some time. Communications are still out in most of the region, and emergency personnel have been unable to reach most of the effected areas.
The Associated Press is reporting at least 55 deaths due to the storm — thirty in a single Biloxi apartment complex. The death toll is almost certain to rise as rescue teams spread through the region. Millions are without power and thousands have been left homeless. Families are grieving and many souls are suffering. This is a time to weep with those who weep — and to both pray and help.
HOW TO HELP: I recommend the disaster relief program of the North American Mission Board [SBC]. NAMB is the nation’s third-largest disaster relief agency, and their disaster relief ministries are both effective and trustworthy. NAMB and its teams have been asked to provide 300,000 meals a day by mid-week, and up to 500,000 per day by the end of the week. Here is a link for information and donations.
THE UNFOLDING TRAGEDY: The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel, The Times-Picayune [New Orleans], The Washington Post, The Sun Herald [Biloxi, Mississippi], The Clarion-Ledger [Jackson, Mississippi].
August 29, 2005
Hurricane Katrina spared the city of New Orleans her worst, but the city has suffered a great deal. The same is true for cites like Mobile, Alabama. The worst has been experienced by the Mississippi Gulf coast, where the city of Biloxi took a direct hit from the storm, which was a Category Four hurricane when it landed.
We need to pray for those on the ground in effected areas, and for their family members and loved ones who have yet to hear of their condition.
My guest on The Albert Mohler Program today will be our friend and guest host Dr. Russell Moore, a native of Biloxi. He is among those waiting to hear from family. We’ll be talking about how Christians should be thinking about this powerful storm.
HURRICANE KATRINA UPDATE: The Weather Channel News Coverage, Projected Path of the Storm [The Weather Channel], CNN Hurricane Coverage.
TO HELP: North American Mission Board Disaster Relief Update. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is preparing for a 300,000-meal response within 24 hours of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. This comes at the request of the American Red Cross. The Disaster Operation Center at NAMB opened this morning, and an Incident Command Team (onsite command post) has been activated. Currently, 25 Southern Baptist feeding units have been requested by Red Cross and four by Salvation Army. Preliminary site locations have been identified in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and each feeding unit has been asked to bring clean-up/recovery, shower, and communication units with them.
August 28, 2005
Hurricane Katrina is now a Category Five storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, threatening to bring massive destruction to a region ranging from Alabama to Louisiana. We need to pray for those in the path of this dangerous storm.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.
Psalm 46:1-7, English Standard Version
HURRICANE LINKS: National Hurricane Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Weather Channel, CNN Weather, Fox News Weather, The Times-Picayune [New Orleans], North American Mission Board Disaster Relief [SBC], New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Google News on Hurricane Katrina.
August 25, 2005
Once again, I had the honor of preaching the Opening Convocation address for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College. I preached from 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. The message, “By the Mercy of God: Why Would God Call People Like Us to a Ministry Like This?,” is now available on-line as an audio file.
August 23, 2005
August 19, 2005
August 18, 2005
I had to hear this one for myself. Presiding Bishop Mark Hansen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has called for an ecumenical council to convene in order to resolve the question of biblical interpretation in the church. Calling for the global council, Bishop Hansen called upon Pope Benedict XVI, leaders of the Eastern Orthodox churches, and mainline Protestant leaders to convene the council in order to stem the tide of what he called “fundamentalist” readings of Scripture.
“Christianity is in the midst of a global identity crisis because we have not addressed ecumenically the questions of authority and interpretation of scripture,” Hanson told the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly last week. Religion News Service reported that the bishop also “called for Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran churches to come together to combat a ‘fundamentalist-millennialist-apocalypticist reading of Scripture.’”
Christianity certainly is “in the midst of a global identity crisis,” but that crisis is the result of theological accommodation and confusion — not biblical literalism. In this context, biblical literalism is code language for any assertion of biblical authority or biblical inerrancy.
The RNS report also included this: “Although Hanson did not elaborate, mainline churches traditionally are uneasy with literal readings of Scripture, particularly in fundamentalist churches, regarding the end of the world and political unrest in the Middle East. In addition, mainline churches have been divided over what the Bible says about hot-button issues such as homosexuality and women’s ordination.”
The claim that the ELCA, along with most other liberal Protestant denominations, is deeply divided over issues like homosexuality is truly an understatement. The liberal denominations long ago liberated themselves from anything close to a literal interpretation of Scripture. Over the past half-century, various heresies, aberrant beliefs systems, and theological movements have found a safe home under the umbrella of the “mainline” denominations. Now, Bishop Hansen want to convene a global council to combat literalist interpretations of the Bible.
There once was a time when the great councils of the church defended theological orthodoxy. Whatever happened to Nicaea, Chalcedon, and Ephesus? We can only imagine where this bizarre council might meet. The Council of Greenwich Village? Harvard Yard? Riverside Drive? I suggest the Council of Laodicea. The possibilities are endless.
SEEING IS BELIEVING: Hanson’s address is available in video format, courtesy of the ELCA.