Category Archive: Featured Blog

  1. Who Do You Say That I Am? Idols vs. the Real Jesus

    Leave a Comment

    October 19, 2017 – John Stonestreet   Who is Jesus? It’s a foundational question, and one many Christians struggle to answer.

    In Matthew 16, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

    “Some say John the Baptist,” they replied, “others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

    “But who do you say that I am?”

    These days, increasingly odd and just plain wrong answers to Jesus’ question seem to be floating around everywhere, and churches are one of the easiest places to find them. This shouldn’t surprise us, however. As we’ve said before, beliefs come in bunches. So when you see increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about sex, marriage, and the human person coming from religious leaders, you can bet they’re also entertaining increasingly unorthodox and innovative ideas about truth, the Bible, and even God Himself.

    For example, Dr. Karen Oliveto, the first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church, recently offered this message to her flock:

    “Too many folks want to box Jesus in,” she wrote, “carve him in stone, create an idol out of him. [But] the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting one, prince of peace, was as human as you and me. Like you and me, he didn’t have his life figured out.” Jesus had “bigotries and prejudices,” she added, even sins which He had to learn to overcome.

    Wait, Jesus can be an “idol?” As John Lomperis with the Institute on Religion and Democracy remarked,“[A]n idol is something other than God, usually something created by human hands, improperly worshipped as a god.” But Jesus is God. For Dr. Oliveto to suggest that it’s improper to worship God is like suggesting it’s improper to love your spouse.

    And a Jesus who sinned wouldn’t have been God, nor worthy of our worship. Ironically, this bishop’s imaginary Jesus would be the idol—along with the Jesus of the Arian and Unitarian heresies, which teach that Jesus was a good man but a created being, not God in human flesh.

    But before we give Dr. Oliveto too much grief, we ought to ask where our own theology is.

    A 2014 LifeWay Research survey of self-described evangelicals found that while nearly all profess belief in the Trinity, one in four say God the Father is “more divine” than Jesus. That’s similar to what the Arians believed, it’s the error the Nicene Creed was written to combat.

    In another survey conducted last year, LifeWay talked only with those who held core evangelical and conservative beliefs. Yet an astonishing seven in ten said Jesus was the first being created by God—again, a defining feature of Arianism. And more than a quarter held that the Holy Spirit is not equal with either the Father or the Son.

    This sad mess shouldn’t just bother theological eggheads. These errors strike at the heart of Christianity, giving fundamentally unscriptural answers to the question, “Who is Jesus?”

    Answering this question correctly is itself an act of worship. It’s a vital part of knowing and loving our God as He is. And it impacts Christians’ lives at the most basic level.

    For example, because Jesus is equal with the Father and fully God means He can truly pardon us. As the scribes in Mark 2 correctly observed, “Only God can forgive sins.”

    Yet Jesus is also fully human. In order to serve as our High Priest, He became like us in every respect, as Hebrews 2:17 says. In order to redeem Adam’s race, the Last Adam had to belong to it.

    This God-Man was not only sinless, He is entirely worthy of our worship. In reply to His question, “Who do you say that I am?” We should be able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and with Thomas, who fell on His knees before the risen Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God.”

  2. Many Atheists Aren’t So Sure, The Doubts Of Doubters

    Leave a Comment

    October 11, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   Sometimes, holding on to faith in God can be hard. But then again, so can holding on to faith in no God.

    One of the most persistent challenges of the Christian life is doubt. The most faithful, and spiritually mature believers experience it, especially in the midst of trials, temptations, or hard questions.

    Every one of us occasionally wonders whether God is really there, whether Christ really rose from the dead, or whether we really are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That’s natural.

    None other than John the Baptist, alone in Herod’s prison, sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus responded, “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”

    But Christians aren’t the only ones who suffer from doubt. It turns out that unbelievers, atheists, and agnostics all experience nagging uncertainties as well.

    A recent poll from Newman University and YouGov found that one in five British atheists and over a third of Canadian atheists agreed with the statement: “Evolutionary processes cannot explain the existence of human consciousness.”

    Of the non-religious—those who aren’t explicitly atheists but don’t identify with any faith—34 percent in Britain and 37 percent in Canada agreed that evolution cannot explain the mind.

    Twelve percent of British atheists and an astonishing 31 percent of Canadian atheists even agreed with the statement, “Animals evolve over time but evolutionary science cannot explain the origins of human beings.”

    Remember that atheists traditionally hold a naturalistic worldview. They believe that, as the late Carl Sagan put it, “the cosmos is all that is, all that was, and all that ever will be.” In other words, matter and energy are ultimate reality.

    These respondents are also living in some of the world’s most secular societies. The famed “new atheists,” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, have hailed from the U.K., where polls now show a majority of citizens identify as non-religious.

    Yet nearly a third of them suffer from a persistent sense that unguided natural processes alone cannot explain the miracle of human beings, who are profoundly different from everything else in creation.

    In his book, “The Reason for God,” Tim Keller invites skeptics to explore these suspicions. These folks, he writes, should “doubt their doubts,” reexamining their objections to Christianity and looking for the hidden beliefs underneath each.

    For example, those who reject belief in spirits, angels, and God should ask themselves: If only matter exists, where does morality come from? Or what about our sense of self? If the mind is merely the byproduct of chemical reactions inside our skulls, how can it be trusted to accurately understand the natural world?

    These kinds of doubts, argues Keller, can undermine doubt, itself, and lead skeptics to a new open-mindedness about God and the claims of Christianity.

    As C. S. Lewis might say, atheists really can’t be too careful. He argues in “Mere Christianity” that it’s normal for believers to sense that the Christian faith looks “very improbable.” But these moods aren’t unique to believers. “When I was an atheist,” he confesses, “I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”

    That’s why Lewis defined faith as “the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.” It’s also why Christians shouldn’t be afraid of reason or evidence. We should engage our doubts with confidence that our worldview—unlike the secular one—has the resources to explain both the natural and the supernatural aspects of the human experience.

    In both cases, doubt—counterintuitively—can lead to faith.

     

  3. Are Truth And Love In Conflict?

    Leave a Comment

    October 5, 2017 – John Stonestreet
    Living As Christians In A Deeply Divided Time

    For many Americans, the most crucial factor in their Thanksgiving plans is who they’ll have to talk to across the table. More on being Christian in a divided nation…

    In the wake of last year’s election, many Americans decided to spend Thanksgiving with friends instead of family. This year, I suspect it will be even worse. After all, once Uncle Bill starts talking about President Trump, or Aunt Sally weighs in on transgenders in the military, or Cousin Phil announces why a Christian baker should or shouldn’t decorate a cake for a gay wedding . . . well, who knows what might happen.

    I’m not that old, but I can’t remember a time when our country, our communities, and even our families have been so ideologically divided. Not only do we disagree but we tend to see others not only as wrong, but as our enemies. On news outlets, college campuses—certainly on Twitter—civility is out the window.

    It’s one thing to say “I disagree with you.” It’s another thing to say “I can’t even share a meal or stand the sight of you.”

    But it’s exactly here that Christians have something unique to offer.

    In my travels around the country, I see more and more that people—especially Christians—feel they have only one of two choices: to avoid important topics altogether, or to err on the side of not offending by compromising or burying the truth.

    But that’s a false choice. The stakes of our cultural debates right now are too high. Too many today, including within the Church, seem to believe that truth and love are somehow incompatible: that if we speak the truth, we’re somehow being unloving.

    But truth and love are not mutually exclusive concepts. Why? Because both are fully embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6). And, He is love incarnate (1 Jn 4:8).

    Christians must ground our arguments, in both substance and in style, on the firm foundation of Scriptural truth.

    First, Scripture is clear that each and every human being is made in the image of God and therefore has eternal dignity and value. As C. S. Lewis put it in “The Weight of Glory,” “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . .” And of course, we must treat every person with that kind of respect.

    Second, we know that God’s established laws include the moral law as well. Though our capacity to fully comprehend and live out what is true and good is bent by the fall, what is true and good remains. As Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a recent issue of First Things, “Truth exists, whether we like it or not. We don’t create truth; we find it, and we have no power to change it to our tastes. The truth may not make us comfortable, but it does make us free.”

    Exactly. And that is what we want for every human being—to be free to become all that God created them to be. This is what should motivate us in our interactions with everyone—even those who will hate what we stand for.

    This doesn’t mean our approach will always “work” in the sense of avoiding conflict or convincing those who see us as their enemies. But it’s the right thing to do. And so we must engage this moment with courage and conviction.

  4. CBMC Outreach In Mongolia

    Leave a Comment
    Peter Kling, Brian Harmon and John Stupar from CBMC Orange County California, returned in July, 2017 for a second visit to Mongolia. This year they took with them three men from Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton, Alan Bond, David Watson, and David Chang.
    The primary purpose of the trip was to mentor, counsel, train and disciple a small group of men who would constitute the leadership team of the first Mongolian Christian Men’s Group, which we pray and trust will become CBMC Mongolia.
    At our first mentoring meeting, 20 people attended and each gave a five-minute testimony. Peter Kling and Saina, our host, discussed with the group what we were planning to cover in the next seven days. They made some suggestions of topics they would like us to discuss with them. This was a great time of
    investing in the lives of these courageous Ambassadors, helping them catch the vision of reconciling and transforming their marketplace for Christ. 
    Steve Garrison also shared a talk on how business people can interact with customers and investors in a godly way. This was of great encouragement to these people.

    A few highlights below:

    Mentoring Around The Table

    We visited with Basankhuu Oktyabri in his office in Parliament to share the good news of becoming a Marketplace Ambassador.

    Courageous Marketplace Ambassadors from Mongolia and USA

  5. Where Is God In The Storms? Christ and the Problem of Natural Evil

    Leave a Comment

    September 28, 2017 – John Stonestreet   With so much devastation in the news, it’s hard not to ask God, “Why?” Here’s some help for responding to questions about natural disasters and God.

    Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, a massive earthquake in Mexico. The string of natural disasters in the last few weeks has left many wondering: Where is God in the midst of all this suffering, loss of life, and destruction?

    It’s a question nearly as old as time. As the Greek philosopher, Epicurus asked, Is God able to stop suffering but not willing? Then He isn’t all-good. Is He willing, but not able? Then He isn’t all-powerful. In both cases, He’s not really God.

    And Voltaire, the French philosopher, famously argued in a poem that the All Saints Day Earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 made believing in an all-good, all-powerful God untenable.

    Thankfully, many Christians have tackled this tough question. In fact, Colson Center Senior Fellow, J. Warner Wallace offers a few of his thoughts in an upcoming column.

    First, Wallace points out that “natural disasters” aren’t always entirely, well, natural. Human freedom and planning leads to homes and cities being built in places susceptible to earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. Sometimes corners are cut on building materials or construction in order to save money. These choices can put people in harm’s way when nature turns dangerous.

    And second, calamity often reveals the very best of human character, as opportunities abound to love those in need. In the early centuries of Christianity, pagan hearts were softened toward the Gospel when Christians ran toward great plagues and disasters, rather than away. In the same way Christians today provide the bulk of relief in the wake of the recent hurricanes. These disasters are terrible, but the displays of neighborly love are beautiful.

    And finally, our visceral reaction to the tragedy and suffering caused by natural disasters, far from disproving an all-powerful, all-loving God, is actually strong evidence for His existence. C. S. Lewis admitted in “Mere Christianity” that as an atheist, he thought the injustice in the world was an airtight argument against Christianity. But then he wondered: “How had I gotten this idea of just and unjust?”

    His argument depended on evil and suffering being objectively bad, not just inconvenient. But if we’re merely subatomic particles, then no arrangement of those particles can be morally better or worse than any other. Our hearts cry out that this world is not the way it’s supposed to be. And atheism can only reply, “Sure it is.”

    But we know better. The world is broken. It’s not functioning according to God’s original design, and Christianity places the blame on humanity’s rebellion against the Creator.

    But the Christian message doesn’t end there. God assures us that He’s with us in the hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires. In Jesus Christ, He entered the world’s brokenness and joined our suffering, crying out with a very human heart as He Himself tasted death on our behalf: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    The question that Jesus asked here points to the only answer to Epicurus’ question, because Jesus is the only God Who is all-good, all-loving, and knows what it means to feel the brunt of evil and suffering.

    As Edward Shillito wrote in his poem, “Jesus of the Scars:”

    The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;

    They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;

    But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,

    And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

    Remember that the Suffering Savior is now the enthroned King. Suffering and death do not have the last word. Sin is a defeated foe. All will be made new again.

    And so, in light of that Truth, or better yet because of the One who is Truth, we can give our best answer to the question of suffering by following the example of our Savior, and His Church throughout history, by running toward the disasters with love, with help, with grace, and with the Gospel.

    In the midst of disaster, destruction, and suffering, believers have the example of Jesus Christ. He identifies with our suffering, and we can trust Him never to leave us or forsake us.

  6. The Invisible Christians Of North Korea: Surviving By God’s Grace Alone

    Leave a Comment

    September 21, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   If you think North Korea’s dictators are bad for the world, just imagine what it’s like to be a Christian there.

    Anyone who knows anything about world missions and the global church knows about the Christians of South Korea. According to the Operation World prayer guide, “From the first Protestant church planted in 1884, South Korea now has possibly 50,000 Protestant congregations,” and 15 million Christians of all kinds. It’s also a missionary powerhouse, currently sending more than 21,000 missionaries to about 175 countries. Amazing!

    But the Christians of North Korea? They’re virtually invisible—though of course not in the eyes of the Lord Jesus! Operation World says that although no one really knows their true number, there could be as many as 350,000 underground Christians living in the slave state of 24 million people. When you consider that the government there—whether run by the Japanese occupiers during World War II, or the current cult-like, totalitarian leadership—has been trying to stamp out all vestiges of Christianity for about 70 years, that’s also amazing.

    Tragically, and infuriatingly, up to 100,000 of these brothers and sisters in Christ are locked up in harsh prisons or work camps.

    Where did they all come from, and how do they survive? Well, in answer to the first part, it’s a fascinating story. Did you know that from the late 19th century until 1942, Pyongyang, North Korea’s Orwellian capital city today, was known as the “Jerusalem of the East?”

    According to Providence journal, “a Presbyterian medical doctor named Horace Allen … became physician to the king of Korea and received royal permission to proselytize after saving the life of a royal family member severely wounded during an attempted coup. Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries from the United States followed, and along with Catholic and other Protestant missionaries from other countries, they found Koreans to be receptive to their message in large numbers. A quarter of a century later in 1910, Korean Christians numbered over 200,000, two thirds of them Presbyterians and Methodists, in a country of approximately 13 million people.”

    If the city of Seoul was receptive to the gospel, and it was, Pyongyang was even more so. Following a series of revivals in and around the “Jerusalem of the East,” by 1910 the region was the most heavily Christian in all of Korea.

    Of course, most of us know what happened next. After World War II, the communist regime of Kim Il-sung attempted to stamp out all foreign religions, especially Christianity, which was branded a tool of “Western imperialism.” Missionaries were thrown out, churches closed, and many Christians executed for their faith, with many more pouring into democratic South Korea at the end of the Korean War.

    So how do those who remain survive? As with all of us, by God’s grace. Today, Open Doors USA reports, North Korea is the most oppressive place in the world for Christians. “Due to ever-present surveillance,” the agency says, “many pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labor camps.”

    It’s no wonder that one North Korean Christian lady who escaped continues to pray a simple prayer she learned from her mother: “Lord, Lord, please help!”

    And the Lord, through agencies, is answering that prayer, providing Bibles and emergency relief inside the country as well as to fleeing North Korean Christians. They’re not invisible to Him—andnow, I hope, not to us, either.

  7. The Importance Of Good News: Headlines You’re Not Hearing

    Leave a Comment

    Does it seem like the world is going to heck in a handbasket? Then it may be time for a reality check.

    September 13, 2017 – Eric Metaxas   It’s been a summer of rough news. Racism, riots, and political violence. Communities on the Gulf Coast continue wading through the devastation of hurricane Harvey, and now another storm is bearing down on Florida. We have plenty of reasons to be praying and doing all we can to alleviate suffering. There’s cause for grief about the news—but not for pessimism.

    Writing at The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman suggests that despite a dragging civil war in Syria, heart-rending photos of drowned refugees, North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling, disasters, terrorist attacks, and racial violence, the world is objectively better now than it’s ever been.

    Hard to believe? Well, here are the facts: Swedish historian Mark Norberg breaks down global indicators of human flourishing into nine categories: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality, and the conditions of childhood. And in nearly all of these categories, we’ve seen vast improvement in my lifetime.

    Despite the fact that nine out of ten Americans say worldwide poverty is holding steady or worsening, the percentage of people on this planet who live on less than two dollars a day—what the United Nation’s defines as “extreme poverty”—has fallen below ten percent, which is the lowest it’s ever been.

    The scourge of child mortality is also at a record low. Fifty percent fewer children under five die today than did thirty years ago.

    Worldwide, 300,000 more people gain access to electricity every day. In 1900, global life expectancy was just 31 years. Today, it’s an impressive 71 years. And violent crime rates in the United States are the lowest they’ve been in half a century.

    Nicholas Kristof wasn’t too far afield when he called 2016 “the best year in the history of humanity.” This year may see even more progress.

    So why do these cheery pronouncements strike us as inaccurate—even outrageous? Why—according to a recent poll—do a vanishingly small six percent of Americans think the world as a whole is becoming a better place?

    Burkeman lays much of the blame on the press. Thanks to a 24-hour news cycle that actively seeks out and overplays the worst stories, our perception of the world is skewed. “We are not merely ignorant of the facts,” he writes. “We are actively convinced of depressing ‘facts’ that aren’t true.” And no wonder! It’s hard to sell papers and get Web traffic with good news. No one reports when a plane takes off. They only report when they crash.

    But a great deal of the blame for our unjustifiably gloomy view of the world also falls on our shoulders. Quite simply, we often enjoy being angry about the state of the world, especially when it allows us to blame someone else. We are addicted to news-induced anger.

    That’s why it’s so important—while acknowledging the desperate evil and suffering around us—to appreciate the good news, the progress, and the things we have to celebrate. After all, how can we truly comprehend what’s wrong with the world if we don’t recognize when something is going right?

    War, famine, disease, and hatred should all remind us that God’s world, which He created and pronounced “very good,” is broken, and it’s our fault. But here’s the real comfort: It’s still—as the hymn says—our Father’s world. Let us therefore never forget that “though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the ruler yet.”

    As Christians, we know where history is headed, and we know how the story ends—with the redemption and restoration of all things. We who have the good news should be the first to recognize all good news, not in spite of, but in the midst of the bad.

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

  8. The Reliability Of Scripture: “That Which We Have Seen With Our Eyes”

    Leave a Comment

    September 7, 2017 – John Stonestreet   What do a Greek-speaking Egyptian rebel and an ancient king of the Nabateans have in common? They both point to the reliability of the Bible.

    One of the most popular topics we cover at BreakPoint is the way that archaeology and related disciplines are continually confirming the biblical narrative.

    It’s easy to see why so many Christians respond to this topic: unlike other faiths, Christianity is rooted in real human history. It tells the story of God’s actions in the same world that you and I occupy, as opposed to some mythical “once upon a time.”

    The September/October issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) presents the latest entry in a series of articles listing biblical figures whose existence have been confirmed in extra-biblical historical sources and/or archaeology.

    The editors of BAR have told the author, Lawrence Mykytiuk of Purdue University, that his previous entries are among the most popular articles ever published in the magazine, whose readership is a combination of scholars and very well-read laymen. In his last entry, Mykytiuk focuses on political figures named in the New Testament. Some of them, like the four Roman emperors named in the New Testament, are obviously well-attested. Something similar can be said about the plague of the Herodians that feature prominently in the Gospels and the book of Acts.

    But the New Testament writers don’t stop at the obvious. They, especially Luke and Paul, provide details that only someone who lived through the events or spoke to an eye-witness could provide. One confirmed example is found in 2 Corinthians 11. Paul tells the Corinthians that “At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me.”

    Aretas, “a contemporary of Herod Antipas,” was a real person whose existence has been documented by both extra-biblical sources and archaeology. Coins and other artifacts bearing his name have been found from what’s now Jordan to Italy. What we know of his life and reign outside of the Bible argues for the historicity of Paul’s account.

    A more obscure example is found in Acts 21. Paul has returned to Jerusalem, where he knows that imprisonment and possibly death await him. He is attacked by a mob at the Temple and only survives because he is rescued by Roman soldiers. The commander, upon hearing Paul speak Greek, says “Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” Paul replied that no, he was a Jew from Tarsus, which he called “no mean city.”

    This exchange was a reference to a rebellion chronicled by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. There was an Egyptian, who would have spoken Greek, who lead a violent uprising involving thousands of men in the wilderness at around the same time as the events in Acts.

    While the Romans put down the insurrection, the Egyptian escaped and was believed to be in or near Jerusalem. Thus, what Luke records in Acts is exactly the kind of exchange that would have taken place at that time between Roman troops and suspicious Greek-speaking strangers.

    These are just two examples of many, written in both parchments and in the very ground of the Holy Land, that attest to the reliability of Scripture and the historical nature of Christian revelation. You see, instead of being myths and fables or even disembodied ideals, Christian proclamation is about, as 1 John says, that “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched . . .”

    So it shouldn’t surprise us that the list of biblical figures and places confirmed by archaeologists and other scholars continues to grow. It’s exactly what we should expect.

  9. Hundreds Of Muslims Converting To Christianity In Finland

    Leave a Comment

    August 23, 2017 – Finland has reportedly seen a flood of conversions from Islam to Christianity, with hundreds of asylum seekers from the Middle East turning to the Christian faith, officials in the Evangelical Lutheran community said.

    Evangelical Lutheran parishes have begun establishing confirmation classes for Muslim immigrants who want to become Christians. Exact figures on the number of recent Muslim converts aren’t available since such records aren’t kept – but conservative estimates on the number suggest several hundred in recent years within the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, according to the Finnish news source Yle Uutiset.

    Converts hail from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. As many as 20 Afghani men are enrolled in ‘pre-confirmation’ teaching on the Christian faith at the Tainionkoski parish centre in Imatra, Eastern Finland. Students are assisted by a New Testament in the Dari language, the variety of Persian spoken in Afghanistan. A Dari interpreter is also on hand via Skype to support the teaching given in English.

    ‘I haven’t been baptised yet, but I’m looking forward to it,’ said one convert, Aliraza Hussaini. Conversion from Islam is a divisive move however, one not readily accepted by many traditional Muslim families; some say that after conversion they are seen as ‘infidels’ in ‘exile’ by family in their home countries.

    ‘I haven’t been in contact with my family in Afghanistan for a very long time. If they find out I’ve converted, it would mean trouble for me,’ said another convert, Golamir Hossaini.

    Many of the Imatra confirmation students reportedly cited a disillusionment with the Islamic faith, and say they will probably never return to Afghanistan.

  10. Why The Global South Is The New Heart Of Christianity

    Leave a Comment

    August 17, 2017 – Joseph D’Souza has emerged as one of the leading Christian voices in India. As moderator bishop and the primate of the Good Shepherd Church of India as well as founding president of the ecumenical All India Christian Council, one of the largest interdenominational coalitions of Christians in India, he is primarily known for his work on religious freedom.

    This year he spoke at New Wine, a major evangelical festival in Somerset, primarily about his work with Dalits, a poor and marginalised group of people in India.

    D’Souza believes that the Church in the global South is the new centre ground for Christian thought. ‘I think very strongly that the Church of the global South now has the leadership, the theology and the practical experience of the past colonial era to speak into Western Christianity,’ he tells Christian Today.

    Speaking of the rise of modernity and rationalism and the decline in church attendance across Europe, he continues: ‘I believe Western Christianity is reaping the fruits of individualism. ‘They do not understand the place of the word of God in historical Christianity for over 2,000 years.’

    On the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, D’Souza says the job is only half complete. ‘I believe the full reformation of the Church is going on now with the insights the global south is bringing. The global south is much more in tune with how we believe God has made us to be.’

    As a traditionalist, the debate around sexuality is critical for D’Souza and this is where he really sees, from his perspective, the global south holding firm. ‘It understands the critical nature of the family unit,’ he says. ‘They are actually more modern and radical in that the south is saying, “Who are you to redefine marriage?”

    ‘We believe this issue is an immensely pastoral issue even as we hold to the Church’s historic definitions of the family as male and female. I have friends who are gay and I love them and accept them and believe they are no greater sinners who need the grace of God than me.’

    But it is not just the battleground of sexuality where D’Souza is unafraid to poke the Church in the West. ‘Christians have been nervous about entering the justice area,’ he said. ‘That has been a mistake of the Western Church.

    ‘If the church had grasped that justice and righteousness was at the heart of who God is, it would have taken a different stand in the apartheid area and in the whole issue of the civil rights in the US.’

    It is in this context that D’Souza sees his work for religious freedom in India. ‘Religious freedom is for me a justice issue. It is the work of justice,’ he says.

    Christian persecution is rapidly on the rise with Open Doors documenting a threefold increase in attacks. It is now estimated to be the 15th worst country in the world to be a Christian – worse than Egypt, Myanmar and Turkey.

Page 1 of 1212345...10...Last »