Daily Archives: December 18, 2014

(CT) Louis Markos–The Dangers of Door-to-Door Evangelism

Though I respected, and continue to respect, both groups [IVCF and Campus Crusade] equally, I eventually chose IVCF because it put more focus on friendship evangelism and less on door-to-door evangelism. Whereas the door-to-door method follows a sales model, with the evangelist approaching a stranger and then taking him through a carefully scripted gospel presentation (the booklet of choice in my day was “The Four Spiritual Laws”), the friendship model attempts first to cultivate a relationship with a non-believer (who might live in your dorm or attend classes with you) and then introduce the gospel in a more casual and natural way.

At the time, I did not possess any theories about the most effective or most biblical method of evangelism. I gravitated toward friendship evangelism because it better suited my personality and because, well, it “felt” right. Like many other Americans, I’ve always hated the “hard sell” and have quickly (if politely) closed the door or hung up the phone whenever a solicitor has tried to sell me something. If I was going to share the message of grace with my fellow students, I did not want it to sound like a sales pitch. I wanted it to rise up organically from our friendship, or at least from a sense of shared interests and passions.

Jonathan Dodson, founding pastor of City Life church in Austin, Texas, has practiced, and clearly respects, both forms of evangelism. However, in his new book, The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing (a 2015 CT Book Awards winner), he argues that our current social-cultural moment has made the door-to-door model not only less effective, but potentially counter-productive. “Wave after wave of rationalistic, rehearsed (and at times coerced and confrontational) evangelism,” he writes in his preface, “has inoculated, if not antagonized, the broader culture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

(NPR) 'Restorative Justice' A New Approach To Discipline At School (Pt. I)

This school and the Oakland Unified School District are at the forefront of a new approach to school misconduct and discipline. Instead of suspending or expelling students who get into fights or act out, restorative justice seeks to resolve conflicts and build school community through talking and group dialogue.

Its proponents say it could be an answer to the cycle of disruption and suspension, especially in minority communities where expulsion rates are higher than in predominantly white schools.

Oakland Unified, one of California’s largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students.

At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead ”” that so many want to be part of this effort ”” shows that it’s starting to take root.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Thursday December 18th

Awaiting the results of litigation. Please pray for Her Honor Judge Diane S. Goodstein

Proverbs 30:5 (ESV)

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Our Father in heaven,

We thank You that You are worthy of trust, Your words true and Your presence secure. Stay close to the Diocese of South Carolina, we pray. Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(WSJ) Global Life Expectancy Increases by About Six Years

Global life expectancy for men and women has increased by about six years over the past two decades, according to the one of the most comprehensive studies of global health done so far.

The rise in global life expectancy is mainly the result of dramatic advances in health care. In richer countries longer lifespans are spurred by a big drop in deaths related to heart disease, while poorer countries have seen big declines in the death of children from ailments such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

But there are worrying signs, too. While global deaths from infectious disease dropped by about 25% over the past two decades, the number of deaths linked to noncommunicable diseases has jumped by about 40%. Noncommunicable maladies, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, tend to be chronic in nature and often more expensive to treat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

(BBC) Boko Haram unrest: Nigerian militants 'kidnap 100 villagers'

Militants have stormed a remote village in north-eastern Nigeria, killing at least 33 people and kidnapping at least 100, a survivor has told the BBC.

He said that suspected Boko Haram militants had seized young men, women and children from Gumsuri village.

The attack happened on Sunday but news has only just emerged, after survivors reached the city of Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, Cameroon’s army says it has killed 116 Nigerian militants who had attacked one of its bases, AFP reports.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Telegraph) Parents boycott church after Parish curate says Santa is not real

Parents have spoken of their disgust after a clergywoman told children that Father Christmas is not real.

Rev Margaret McPhee made the mistake during a choir concert for primary school children from Stalham Academy, in Norfolk.

During the service at St Mary’s Church in the town, the curate asked pupils what they thought Christmas was about.

When one child said “Father Christmas”, she replied that he was make-believe and not real.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(V Sun) Univ of BC scientists may have accidentally discovered the secret to wrinkle-free skin

Scientists at the University of British Columbia searching for ways to slow the deterioration of blood vessels may have stumbled on to the key to youthful skin.

While exploring the effects of the protein-degrading enzyme Granzyme B on blood vessels during heart attacks, professor David Granville couldn’t help but notice that mice engineered to lack the enzyme had beautiful skin at the end of the experiment, while normal mice showed signs of age.

“This is one of those moments that we live for in science,” said Granville, a researcher for Providence Health Care.” We were interested in the effects of aging on blood vessels; we had no idea (the absence of this enzyme) would have any effect on their skin.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

(Spectator) Meet Libby Lane ”“ the first interview with the first woman bishop

When we meet in the Crewe YMCA, she has just been touring the building surrounded by a small cloud of cameras and journalists and is preparing to say goodbye to her congregation at a party this evening. They only found out this morning that she would be leaving them to become a bishop. When we talk about the church at St Peter’s Hale, Lane seems a little emotional as she is clearly sad to be leaving them behind, but for the rest of the interview, she is as polished as any politician I’ve ever interviewed.

The first ever woman bishop, appointed after years of campaigning and fighting in the Church of England, is so keen not to cause any more fights that she tries to avoid saying anything particularly striking during the interview. She refuses to put herself on one side or another when I ask whether she sees herself as a liberal, a conservative, an evangelical, or something else. Speaking in that special Anglican way ”“ a slightly slower-than-usual pace of words that linger a little longer over vowels, especially ”˜God’, which becomes ”˜Go-od’, and thoughtful-sounding pauses ”“ she says:

”˜I would describe myself as a Christian and as a passionate Anglican and that’s how I would describe myself. I have been formed and shaped by a whole breadth of the Church of England’s tradition and experience and been really enriched by that and I want to hold onto that breadth and the richness that I have got in Christ and all the traditions of the Church.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

([London] Times) Britain’s first female bishop is greeted by a Yippee!

The Rev Libby Lane supports Manchester United and does a mean line in solving cryptic crosswords. And, as of January, she will be consecrated to the highest office in the Church of England yet held by a woman.

Yesterday Mrs Lane, 48, was named as the first female bishop only weeks after the church voted to clear the way with one of the most significant reforms in its history.

The Oxford graduate and her husband were one of the first couples to be ordained together in 1994 when the church lifted its ban on women entering the ministry after 70 years of theological and political controversy. She is also the dean of women in ministry for the diocese of Chester, and has spent the vast majority of her 20-year church career serving in the northwest.

Read it all (requires a subscription) and the Times also has an accompanying editorial on this news ‘The first female bishop is long overdue, but the greater battle lies ahead’.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

(Bloomberg) Boko Haram Leader Threatens Nigeria’s Kano Emir Sanusi in Video

Nigeria’s Emir of Kano Muhammad Sanusi II, the second highest Muslim leader in the country, was threatened by Boko Haram after he called on people to defend themselves against the Islamist militant group.

“You Sanusi I am talking to you, it is too late for you the Emir of Kano and the Emir of bank,” a man dressed in combat fatigues and claiming to be the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in an unverified 19 minute video posted on YouTube Inc. Sanusi, the former central bank governor, told Nigerians last month to fight back against Boko Haram.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Eternal Light, illuminate us; O eternal Power, strengthen us; O eternal Wisdom, instruct us; O eternal Mercy, have pity upon us; and grant us with all our hearts and minds to seek thy face, and to love thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–William Bright

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

–Psalm 50:14-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Addiction experiments now recommending drugs to combat alcohol addition

New understanding of how alcohol affects the brain is prompting addiction experts to make a push for using medications to help people quit or cut down on excessive drinking.

For years, treatment has meant 28 days of rehab or a 12-step program. Success meant total abstinence. Only 1 in 10 of the 17 million Americans with a drinking problem ever tried.

There is also growing recognition that alcohol problems come in wide varieties, driven by a complex mix of genetics, life experiences and differences in how the brain handles stress and seeks rewards. As a result, experts say, the most effective treatments are highly individualized.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Alcoholism, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

Philip Jenkins on a recent book on Gnosticism–Seth and the Alien God

The origins of Gnosticism are normally discussed in terms of debates within Christianity. However, one richly informative conflict occurred beyond the familiar realm of church history.

One of the great minds of Late Antiquity was the Egyptian-born philosopher Plotinus, the leading figure of Neoplatonism, and a younger contemporary of Origen. Around the year 263, in Rome, Plotinus engaged in a furious debate with some Gnostic thinkers. Although the two sides shared many assumptions and terminology, Plotinus condemned his enemies for what he saw as their gross misunderstanding of Platonic philosophy. Among other complaints, he warned that their radical elitism would lead them into misconduct and immorality. Effectively, he expelled these Gnostics from the mainstream philosophical world of the time, after a long period in which Platonists and Gnostics had coexisted and debated together.

That story is quite well known, but recent work has shed major light on just who these Gnostics were. I am referring to Dylan M. Burns’s excellent recent book Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014). This ambitious and wide-ranging work identifies Plotinus’s Gnostic foes as Sethians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, History, Philosophy, Theology

Pres. Obama moves to normalize relations with Cuba as American is released by Havana

President Obama announced sweeping changes to U.S. policy with Cuba on Wednesday, moving to normalize relations with the island nation and tear down the last remaining pillar of the Cold War.

Under the new measures, the United States plans to reopen its embassy in Havana and significantly ease restrictions on travel and commerce within the next several weeks and months, Obama said. Speaking from the White House, he declared that a half-century of isolation of the communist country “has not worked.”

“It’s time for a new approach,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Caribbean, Cuba, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Theology