Out now in the JUNE 2016 issue of Evangelicals Now…
• The EU referendum – A Christian minister is ‘for’ and a Christian MP is ‘against’
• The EU referendum – A Christian minister is ‘for’ and a Christian MP is ‘against’
Testing the calibre of those preparing to enter Christian ministry
During the days of the Cold War, Brother Andrew began what has become the work of Open Doors.
He felt the call of God to run Bibles secretly into Communist countries to beleaguered churches and Christian leaders for their encouragement. It is interesting to read in his famous book, God’s Smuggler, about how the ministry expanded and how he tended to select people to join the work.
‘It wasn’t that we couldn’t find volunteers – almost every time one of us spoke someone offered himself for our work. The problem was to know whether or not these were the people God was sending us. In an effort to weed out the novelty-seekers and the merely curious I often said: ‘As soon as your own ministry of encouragement is started behind the Iron Curtain, get in touch with us and let’s see if we can work together.’1
For those offering to join his ministry Brother Andrew’s approach was to set them a working test of initiative and discipleship…(to read more click here)
A much-reviewed book grabbed me recently.
It is The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment by Martin Ford*, a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur. His well-informed thesis is that any job which involves ‘routine’ can, with the astonishing advance in computer technology, be ‘learned’ by robots. They are set to become as available and as ordinary a sight as a motor car.
The idea that computers can only do what they are programmed to do is of course true at one level, but now computerised robots are programmed to learn. Things have moved on vastly since IBM’s ‘Deep Blue’ beat world champion Gary Kasparov at chess. The computer ‘Watson’ can win quizzes in which the answers are intuitive. ‘Eureqa’ has algorithms which can ‘do science’ – studying data and finding laws and equations. An artificial intelligence programme called ‘The Painting Fool’ can produce ‘original’ works of art.
So a House of Lords report from February 2015 estimated that 35% of UK jobs will fall victim to automation within 20 years. These jobs are not simply those of warehouse workers or those in service industries but the jobs of journalists, project managers, doctors, lawyers and more. Because of burgeoning technology, companies can make vast profits with far fewer staff. Whereas MacDonalds at present employs 1.8 million people worldwide, Google needs only 55,000. Robot factories have become so efficient as to undercut the lowest costs of Third World textile factory workers.
In coming months there will be much agonising over the referendum concerning whether Britain will stay in the European Union. Prime Minister Cameron is trumpeting the (debatable) concessions he has won from Brussels concerning benefits to which migrant workers might be entitled. But actually border controls and quotas might all be beside the point. Via computer technology…(to read more click here)
Does the Reformation matter?
It’s a question which is going to become increasingly crucial for evangelical churches in the coming year or so as the 500th anniversary in 2017 of Luther’s nailing his radical ideas to the Wittenberg church door draws ever closer. The church is under terrific pressure both from militant/political Islam and militant/political secularism and forgetting the Reformation, sinking our differences and standing together with anyone who calls themselves a Christian seems a good option to many.
Separatism simply looks seedy to many ordinary Christians…(to read more click here)
Edward Vines exposes the historical roots of the cultural shift in the Western world
In 1776 the group of men who would become known as America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
Thereby they informed King George that the American colonies would no longer subject themselves to the rule of the British Crown. At the close of the American Revolution, many of these same statesmen set about to design a government which was so unique in history that it has been called the Great American Experiment.
In order to fully understand the principles that underpin our founding documents and the philosophies that have led our nation to such incredible success, you must understand a few things about the authors. First, they were overwhelmingly Christian. Nearly all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of a recognised Christian denomination. Even such figures as Jefferson, Franklin and Madison, whose religious beliefs were rather unorthodox, had all attended the Episcopal Church at various times in their lives and all spoke favourably of the moral teachings of Jesus.
While today’s landscape abounds with historical revisionists who claim that the founders were indifferent to religion and were committed to creating a purely secular society, it is hard to explain away quotes from early American statesmen such as:.…(to read more click here)
The Honourable Edward B. Vines is a district judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, who hears domestic relations cases. He is a practicing Christian and an active member of Shades Crest Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Hoover, Alabama.
Graham Hooper asks if Christians should be competitive
‘The trouble with the rat race is that even when you win you’re still a rat.’ (Lily Tomlin)
Is competition God-given, and therefore fundamentally good? Or is it a result of the fall and therefore fundamentally bad. Or is it somewhere in-between? To what extent are you motivated by your competitive instincts in your workplace?
Like ambition, competitiveness can be a very positive Christian quality when it channels the drive to fulfil our God-given potential to be creative, to serve, to step out in faith. It can also be very bad when it leads to self-obsession, self-aggrandisement and self-promotion.
I have never heard a sermon or talk in a Christian context about competition. Maybe I have missed out somewhere. Maybe competition is not something Christians think they need to talk about, or want to talk about, in a church setting. I suspect it’s the latter.… (to read more click here)
Graham Hooper is an independent consultant and author of Undivided – closing the faith life gap, IVP 2013. He contributes regularly to the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, to Malyon Work and the Melbourne City Bible Forum.
We live in a time in the West which has become suspicious of all authority. It is generally seen as oppressive and demeaning of others.
This fuels the argument concerning the roles of men and women in the home and in the church. The battle over the legitimacy of authority, in matters such as male headship in the family has now led right back to God, with questions concerning the relationships between the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Pro-feminist, egalitarian theologians have recently tried to argue that any thought of the eternal submission of the Son to the Father inevitably undermines the true deity of the Son and leads towards the error of Arianism.
This book is a robust rebuttal of this charge. It is written by complementarians who believe that both the Scriptures and the fundamental creeds of the church have always taught that the Father, Son and Spirit are identical in essence and equal in status, but that there is a structure to their relationship. In particular they argue that the Son’s obedience to the Father during his incarnation is rooted in his eternal willing subordination to the Father.
The first chapter sees Wayne Grudem uncovering the doctrinal deviations into which evangelical feminists… (to read more click here)
Professor John Wyatt explains why Christians ought to be against this
In September, the MP Rob Marris will introduce a Private Members Bill into the House of Commons.
It is designed to allow doctors to assist in the suicide of patients with a terminal illness who have less than six months to live. Those in favour of this Bill argue that it will allow a small number of determined individuals who wish to kill themselves to be given a medically and legally approved method to achieve their wishes.
There is no doubt that there seems to be widespread public support for a change in the law, although in public surveys the percentage in favour changes dramatically depending on the wording of the question.
Lord Carey, former archbishop of the Church of England, has added his voice in favour of a change in the law. Speaking in a debate in the House of Lords in 2014, he said that he had changed his previous opposition to assisted suicide. ‘When suffering is so great that some patients, already knowing that they are at the end of life, make repeated pleas to die, it seems a denial of that loving compassion which is the hallmark of Christianity to refuse to allow them to fulfil their own clearly stated request– after, of course, a proper process of safeguards has been observed. If we truly love our neighbours as ourselves, how can we deny them the death that we would wish for ourselves in such a condition? That is what I would want… .’
Lord Carey and others are arguing that Christian believers have a duty to provide the option of a quick and painless suicide for those who request it at the end of life. The emotional power of Carey’s words are obvious. Both Christian teaching and common humanity demand that we respond with… (to read more click here)
John Wyatt is Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics at University College London. His book Matters of Life and Death is published by IVP. Finishing Line, a series of five Bible discussions for church groups or individuals, is published jointly by Keswick Resources and CARE. His new book ‘Right to Die – euthanasia, assisted suicide and end of life care’ was published by IVP in November 2015.
Half a lifetime ago, a good friend, David Porter, a gifted writer and editor, now with the Lord, spoke at our church on the subject of rock music and the Christian. It was a fascinating evening, illustrated by a number of rare recordings. What stuck in my mind was the similarity between the Stones’s 1965 hit The Last Time and an ancient tape of a US black church choir. The choruses seemed very alike, but the choir’s theme was the return of Christ. No one knows the day or the hour. This could be the last time we meet as a church. And similarly we could say this could be the last time we meet for prayer, or for a Christmas carol service. He comes at an unexpected hour (Matthew 24.44). ‘This could be the last time – I don’t know.’ Quite a thought! …(to read more click here)
A couple accused of child abuse had the charges against them dropped. They had taken their 6-week old baby to hospital worried about blood in the child’s mouth. Medical staff spotted what seemed to be bruises on the baby and X-rays appeared to show fractures. The couple were indicted. For three years they maintained their innocence. On 7 October, with the prosecution’s medical evidence proving consistent with rickets rather than violence, they were declared innocent.
However, meanwhile the local authorities had facilitated the baby’s adoption.
The couple, understandably, want their baby back. But legal experts believe it is extremely unlikely that such an appeal against the adoption would be successful. A Surrey County Council spokesperson said: ‘With any case like this we only have one thing in mind and that’s the welfare of the child.’ Imagine that. You take your baby to hospital out of parental concern and you end up having your child taken away from you.
But here’s the real sadness of the situation……(to read more click here)