The Thirteen Critical Problems Facing Contemporary Evangelicalism

Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) recently posted The Thirteen Critical Problems Facing Contemporary Evangelicalism. I think I agree with him (at least to some extent) on every single point. Here they are:

THE THIRTEEN CRITICAL PROBLEMS FACING CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICALISM.

  1. Vast evidence of a growing doctrinal deterioration on the essentials and implications of the Gospel.
  2. The expansion and influence of the “Prosperity Gospel” throughout evangelicalism.
  3. The loss of the concept of meaningful church membership and the rise of the “audience-only” model of church participation.
  4. The loss of the theological “center” in mainline churches at the precise time many evangelicals are open to reconsidering the mainline vision of worship, especially in Anglicanism.
  5. The triumph and glorification of unchecked pragmatic entrepreneurialism, especially in worship, but in all areas of evangelical life.
  6. The corrosive and compromised influence of Christian publishing in shaping evangelicalism, as exemplified in the rise of Joel Osteen, The Prayer of Jabez and the Prosperity Gospel.
  7. Growing chaos in the theological and practical preparation of pastors, especially in the “emerging” church.
  8. The failure of the “Seeker” model to use its vast resources and influence to produce a Christian counter-culture or challenge the “program centered/facilities centered” model of evangelicalism.
  9. The lack of rising “Billy Graham” quality new leaders for the larger evangelical movement.
  10. The failure of most evangelical denominations to broadly embrace and effectively mentor the current church planting movement.
  11. The demise of quality Biblical preaching at the hands of technology and entertainment.
  12. The apparently fatal infection of much of the emerging church movement with the failed theology of 20th century liberalism.
  13. The cannibalism of evangelicalism on issues related to theological, cultural, social and political diversity.

Grace and Peace

Happy Reformation Day

I wish you a happy Reformation Day!

I get excited about Reformation Day because I love the gospel, which had been obscured in the 1500s by the practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. Today in each of my science classes at Bucharest Christian Academy, I took a few minutes to draw out from my students what they could remember about the 95 Theses, and to tell them why I am far more excited about the gospel than I am about geology, biology, physics, and chemistry.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The 95 Theses were Luther’s 95 arguments against the selling of indulgences, which were documents declaring forgiveness of sins granted by the church as a result of some act of the repentant sinner. Indulgences were being aggressively marketed at this time–sold for cash–as a means of paying for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and so Luther’s opposition to the sale of indulgences not only had doctrinal implications, but also had financial repercussions.

Some Christians say that it is wrong to celebrate the Reformation. Because the Reformation led to the split of Western Christianity into Catholic and Protestant churches, to celebrate it is something like celebrating a divorce. It is indeed sad that Christianity is divided into Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant, and that the Protestant church is divided into thousands of denominations. But that does not mean that the Reformation wasn’t a good thing. What is sad isn’t that the Reformation occurred, but that it was necessary in the first place.

Here’s what Paul McCain has to say at Cyberbrethren:

Once a year I find myself feeling the need to apologize for Reformation Day messages that are not much more than apologetic hand-wringing wimpering, “Oh, we should all be so, so sad on this day that the Reformation happened. Isn’t it so sad? The church was divided.” Huh? What kind of drivel is this? If you are one who is afflicted with this kind of message on Reformation Day, I apologize for such apologies.

Let’s review:

(1) The Gospel had been obscured to the point of being lost in many ways.
(2) The Reformation had to take place.
(3) Rome could have prevented it by repenting of its damning error.
(4) Yes, it is sad that it had to happen, but not sad that it did happen.

But, don’t let me hear any of this sniveling, “Oh, boo-hoo, the Reformation happened” bunk on this day. Let me hear a glorious celebration of the great blessing and gift of the Reformation of the Church, a glorious celebration of the Gospel of Christ!

Repentance? Of course. Repent for our sin. Repent for our weak resignation. Repent of the sinful pride and arrogance that is always a present danger to a focus on Christ. But repent for the Reformation? Never. Of course not. How silly.

The latest broadcast of the White Horse Inn radio program is The 490th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, available for free as an MP3 file.

Grace and Peace

California Fires

These two images of the Los Angeles area were taken a little over three hours apart on October 21, 2007, showing the rapid growth of the fires that have already destroyed hundreds of structures and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people. The fires spread rapidly due to hot, dry Santa Ana winds, which blow out of the Mojave desert to the east, as can be clearly seen by following the smoke in the images.

cafire1.jpg

The images are from NASA’s Earth Observatory site, and I got the link from Geology News.

A description from the Earth Observatory:

Santa Ana winds are a California firefighter’s nightmare. These blustery, dry, and often hot winds blow out of the desert and race through canyons and passes in the mountains on their way toward the coast. The air is hot not because it is bringing heat from the desert, but because it is flowing downslope from higher elevations. As fall progresses, cold air begins to sink into the Great Basin deserts to the east of California. As the air piles up at the surface, high pressure builds, and the air begins to flow downslope toward the coast. When winds blow downslope, the air gets compressed, which causes it to warm and dry out. In fact, the air can warm at a rate of 10 degrees Celsius per kilometer of descent (29 degrees Fahrenheit per mile). Canyons and passes funnel the winds, which increases their speed. Not only do the winds spread the fire, but they also dry out vegetation, making it even more flammable.

Pray for the people affected by this natural disaster.

Grace and Peace

Kimberlite Pipe Animation

Diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle at a depth of 150 to 200 km, and brought to the surface rapidly in a volcanic vent that forms what is called a kimberlite pipe. No one has ever witnessed a kimberlite volcanic eruption, but it is believed that the magma travels at several hundred kilometers per hour as it moves through the Earth’s crust, and may be ejected at supersonic speeds. Kimberlite (named after Kimberley, South Africa, where it was first described) is a type of volcanic rock which comes directly from the Earth’s mantle.

I taught about kimberlites in my high school Earth Science class today, along with other ores formed by igneous processes. I found a good animation of a kimberlite eruption from Diamondex, a Canadian diamond mining company.

kimberlite.jpg

We know that the magma must come from a great depth, because diamonds form only at very high pressures. We know that the magma rises extremely rapidly because diamonds are very unstable when there is both a low pressure and high temperature. If the magma were to rise more slowly, the diamonds would recrystallize to graphite, which is what we make pencil lead out of. If this were to happen, the South Africans would mine for pencil lead instead of for diamonds, which of course is not nearly as profitable.

Grace and Peace

First Date

On October 14, 1977, my wife and I went out on our first date. Something clicked: we had a nice date, and have had a fantastic thirty years.

Thirty years is a good start. I look forward to the next 30+ years with my wonderful wife.

Grace and Peace

2007 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded (“For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK”):

MEDICINE: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.”

PHYSICS: L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.

BIOLOGY: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night.

CHEMISTRY: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin — vanilla fragrance and flavoring — from cow dung.

LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.

Go to the link above for more, and for winners of the Ig Nobel prizes for previous years.

Grace and Peace