Be careful about making snap judgements about John Chau’s mission

Missionary John Chau was killed only ten days ago, and yet there has been no shortage of Christians publicly criticizing the strategy he employed in order to reach the Sentinelese people with the gospel. I just read another such article today, this time in Religion News Service.

I have said before and will say again that mission strategy should be open for debate and reconsideration. Jesus himself taught us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in the midst of our mission (Matt. 10:16). I do not question the wisdom or the necessity of such conversations—although it does seem a little strange to hear Christians so quick to criticize a man who lost his life trying to spread the gospel. In any case, we can all agree that such conversations are necessary and right at some point. Continue Reading →

Slain missionary John Chau’s mission is not white colonialism; it’s the great commission.

Last night, I read the news of missionary John Chau’s death. He was killed last week by the very people he was trying to reach with the gospel. He knew the risks, and he went anyway. There are several items from Chau’s letters and journal that have pierced me to the soul, perhaps this one most of all:

“God, I don’t want to die. WHO WILL TAKE MY PLACE IF I DO?”

There is a common thread that runs through the voice of the martyrs going all the way back to Jesus. Here is a small sample. See if you can detect the common element. Continue Reading →

ETS Debate about the Continuation of Charismatic Gifts

Last week at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, there was a session about the continuation/cessation of charismatic gifts. This was a really stimulating discussion which I wrote about here. Unfortunately, the audio is not free, but you can purchase and download audio at the links below.

Thank you, Patrick Schreiner, for putting together a great session. Well done! Continue Reading →

Some reflections on the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society

I attended the 70th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in Denver, Colorado last week. For those of you who don’t know, ETS is a society of theologians and biblical scholars who are dedicated to biblical inerrancy and a belief in the Trinity. At the annual meeting, members come together to present academic papers, meet with publishers, and catch up with old friends. What follows are some reflections about this year’s meeting. Continue Reading →

Masculinity at the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California

ABC News reports on female survivors of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California. In the video above, you will see one woman describe what heroic young men did at the critical moment. She describes it this way:

There were multiple men that got on their knees and pretty much blocked all of us with their back towards the shooter, ready to take a bullet for any single one of us.

Abigail Shrier of The Wall Street Journal also writes about the men who helped others to safety during those terrifying and chaotic moments. She attributes their heroism to “masculinity.” She writes:

This is the masculinity we so often hear denigrated. It takes as its duty the physical protection of others, especially women. This masculinity doesn’t wait for verbal consent or invitation to push a person out of harm’s way. It sends hundreds of firefighters racing up the Twin Towers to save people they’ve never met. And it sent Sgt. Ron Helus of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office rushing into Borderline Bar and Grill, where the shooter was waiting for him. “I gotta go handle a call,” Helus had just told his wife over the phone. “I love you.”

The way so many women have a natural ease with caring for children, so, too, do many men have the instinct to protect and serve. We can harness it, but it doesn’t proceed automatically. It is a refined sort of masculinity that must be developed and praised. The military has done this for years. Police academies and fire departments do too. Only the educated classes have learned to sneer at it. Would that they never need it.

This is the kind of masculinity we can all get behind. Read the rest here.

“So be strong, act like a man.” –1 Kings 2:2

“Act like men, be strong.” –1 Cor. 16:13

Stan Lee wrote the stories of my youth

I just saw the news about the death of comic book mogul Stan Lee. I don’t know much about Stan Lee the man, but I do know something about the characters and worlds he created within Marvel comics. Lee’s stories and characters were a big part of my childhood. He didn’t create stereotypical superheroes. He humanized them in ways that a kid like me could relate to. The New York Times describes his work this way:

Under Mr. Lee, Marvel revolutionized the comic book world by imbuing its characters with the self-doubts and neuroses of average people, as well an awareness of trends and social causes and, often, a sense of humor.

In humanizing his heroes, giving them character flaws and insecurities that belied their supernatural strengths, Mr. Lee tried “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality,” he told The Washington Post in 1992.

“That’s what any story should have, but comics didn’t have until that point,” he said. “They were all cardboard figures.”

This is absolutely correct, and it is why Lee’s signature character Spider-Man captured my imagination when I was in the fourth grade. Continue Reading →

A Hope Not on Offer in the Gnostic Gospels

Yesterday, I finished Elaine Pagels’ moving memoir Why Religion? A Personal Story (Ecco, 2018). If Pagels’ name is unfamiliar to the general reader, it is not to scholars of the Bible and early Christianity. Pagels has been writing provocative books about early Christianity and its interface with Gnosticism since the 1970’s. Her 1979 book The Gnostic Gospels was a popular introduction to the Nag Hammadi library that became a publishing sensation. Her work in this book caught the attention of a popular readership and garnered numerous awards.

She has written many other books since then, so her scholarly work has been well-known for decades now. And yet, this latest book, Why Religion?, seems different. It is a deeply personal narrative of her life, not just as a scholar but as a wife and a mother. Her account reveals that her work as an author has been deeply impacted by her own personal search for meaning in the midst of suffering. And her suffering has indeed been profound. Continue Reading →

If you accept transgender, then why not trans-aged?

The Washington Post reports that a man wishes to self-identify as twenty years younger than he actually is. Not only that, he wants the change reflected on his birth certificate. From the report:

Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he’s in his 40s… is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, southeast of Amsterdam, to change his birth certificate so that it says he took his first breath on March 11, 1969, rather than on March 11, 1949. The judges heard his case on Monday and promised they would render a verdict in the next several weeks.

Ratelband sees his request as no different from a petition to change his name or the gender he was assigned at birth — and isn’t bothered that this comparison might offend transgender people, whose medical needs have been recognized by the American Medical Association. It comes down to free will, he maintains.

“Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”

Folks are already dismissing Ratebland’s request as different from and offensive to transgender people. But the obvious question is why? In what way is this different from transgenderism? A closer look reveals that there isn’t very much of a difference at all.

According to transgender ideology, when a person feels himself to be something other than his biological sex, then his psychological identity trumps his biological reality. Ratebland is requesting the same consideration with respect to age. He feels himself to be younger than his chronological age. He’s simply asking for his psychological identity to be recognized over his chronological reality. If it is wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the gender identity of the transgender, then why is it any less wrong and oppressive to refuse to recognize the chronological identity of the trans-aged?

Of course, I am not at all supporting Ratebland’s claim. I’m simply pointing out that the identity claim that he is making is no different than the one being made by a transgender person. If you accept one, consistency demands that you accept the other. To accept the one while refusing the other is… well… inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. Either a person’s self-identification trumps all other objective indications or it does not. You can’t have it both ways.

But there will be some who will try. Just watch. They will embrace transgender claims while rejecting out-of-hand trans-aged claims, and they will embrace the inconsistency without acknowledging it as such. How do we know? Because that is how they responded to the transracial claims of Rachel Dolezal. I expect nothing different here.

Transgender ideology is a black hole of illogic, sucking toward it all manner of unreasonableness and contradiction. It is a testimony to the power of LGBT propaganda that so few people in our culture detect the contradictions. But the contradictions are no less salient simply because so many people refuse to see them. The inconsistency is a real and obvious, and it serves no one to pretend otherwise.

Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right?

The American Academy of Pediatricians argues in a new policy statement that spanking is bad for children (see video above). NBC News describes the report this way:

Parents who hit their kids may believe that a swat “just gets their attention” or imposes old-fashioned discipline, but spanking in fact makes behavior worse than it was before and can cause long-term harm, pediatricians said Monday. Continue Reading →

John Piper on Pride, Social Media, and the Nashville Statement

Ten years ago, John Piper delivered an address at the founding of Bethlehem College and seminary. Today, he offers some reflections on the ten year anniversary of that address and expands and corrects some things from ten years ago. I think the whole thing is worth reading, but his comments about social media and pride are particularly pointed and needed. He writes: Continue Reading →

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