February 29, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: The Family in Uganda, a New Blog, Christian/Muslim Dialogue, and Grudem on Boundaries

Here's this week's round-up:

1) Esther Namugoji and Henry Lubega, "Living by the law of love" and "X-tian group worships Jesus with sex" in the Sunday Vision newspaper (Uganda). I have previously mentioned the activity of The Family cult in Uganda, but now one of Uganda’s leading newspapers has published two articles reporting on its presence in their country--with additional news stories promised in the future. These articles continue to demonstrate the error that exists throughout East Africa.

2) Paul Heidebrecht, The Listening to African Church Leaders blog. While this blog is new (with only two entries posted so far), it is already in my feed reader. Heidebrecht is serving with the ministry Christian Leaders for Africa, and I am always thrilled to find others promoting theological education in Africa.

3) Justin Taylor, "Do Muslims Worship the True God? A Bridge Too Far" on the Between Two Worlds blog. Taylor has posted the latest salvo into the current controversy surrounding Christian/Muslim dialogue. His response is definitely worth reading. And in case you haven't been able to keep up, he also provides links to the main entries in this online conversation so far.

4) Wayne Grudem, "When, Why & Where To Draw Boundaries" in the 9Marks eJournal (March/April 2008). While this entire issue is definitely worth downloading and reading, Grudem's article stresses the dangers of false teaching as well as how churches should respond.

February 27, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: Change is Coming

I really enjoy answering questions on Ask Anything Wednesday. However, at this point it seems best to change it from a weekly series to a monthly feature.

In any case, I still look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to submit your question--on anything!--in the comments section below. I will consider answering it next Wednesday.

Stay tuned for more changes to come!

February 25, 2008

The New Faces of Christianity 7: Women and Men

Today the ACFAR Network continues reading through The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. If you haven't bought the book or signed up yet, it is not too late to join! This week we are discussing chapter 7: "Women and Men."


Christianity in the Global South often causes a transformation in the roles and aspirations of women. As a result, Jenkins devotes a chapter to the changing status of women for Southern Christians. Given the central place of women in many of these churches, their growing influence and involvement cannot be overlooked.

Of course, we must not forget that biblical texts are sometimes used to reinforce traditional values in these societies. Often the Bible is read as limiting certain church leadership roles to men. In marriage, wives submitting to husbands is also emphasized. However, a great number of feminist Christians and scholars in the South offer a variety of viewpoints and opinions. Currently, these scholars are among the most well known figures in Bible interpretation globally.

In any case, even among the more traditional and conservative believers there have been dramatic changes in the relationships between men and women. Men are called to be faithful and loving--and married to one woman. Churches (especially charismatic ones) are allowing more and more options for women as individual spiritual gifts are emphasized. Some even become prophets or charismatic leaders themselves.

The Bible is regularly seen as advancing the value and rights of women. After all, who were the first followers of Jesus to see Him resurrected from the dead? But even more to the point, allowing women to read and study Scripture for themselves can begin a huge cultural shift. They can discuss issues of disease, rape, and sexual exploitation, usually areas considered inappropriate but which are clearly addressed in the Bible. Additionally, culturally relevant questions in the South dealing with widows and outsiders are treated in Scripture as well.

Consequently, Christianity is literally redefining what it means to be a woman and a man in the Global South. Far from simply being a repressive religion, it is transforming individuals and cultures.

My Thoughts

I have to say up front that I am a complementarian. While I believe that God created men and women equal and that we are all equal in Christ, I also believe that He has given us complementary roles. Thus, men and women have distinct responsibilities in the body of Christ. At the same time, I recognize that not all genuine Christians hold this view of gender roles. Good brothers and sisters in Christ disagree with each other. With this in mind, we need to respect one another as we turn to Scripture to understand what God has revealed about this controversial topic.

Nevertheless, many examples given by the author point to the need for responsible Bible interpretation. Some of the applications of Scripture for women were poor and wrong. More importantly, the regular mentioning of feminist theology and scholarship was deeply troubling. Much like liberation theology which was laid out in the previous chapter, feminist theology forsakes the true gospel for advancing the cause of women in this world.

Please do not misunderstand me: women are absolutely essential to our faith. And there are many ways in which their advancement in the Global South is a cause of celebration. At the same time, all believers must seek to live in light of what the Word of God teaches us. For me, this chapter reinforces the continuing need for growth in the Southern Christians proper handling of Scripture.

In any case, I still have many questions to think through. How can Christians who disagree with one another on gender roles work together to build the body of Christ? How do these views in the Global South impact defending our faith?

Your Turn

What do you think? Your thoughts do not have to be profound or anything. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion!

February 22, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Missionary Work in Africa, Seventh-Day Adventism, Benny Hinn, Mormonism, and the LRA

Here's this week's round-up:

1) Michelle Cantrell, "Why I Would Die for South Africa" (in PDF format) on the DesiringGod web site. Missionary and pastor's wife Michelle Cantrell passionately explains why they are ministering in South Africa. As one looking to serve our Lord in East Africa, I give a hearty "Amen"!

2) Elizabeth Tidwell, "Sabbath observance rooted in Africa, says Adventist historian" from the Adventist News Network. The news service of the Seventh-day Adventists (SDA) touts some of the research that has been done to show a supposed link between their teaching and traditional African beliefs. Yes, the errors of Ellen G. White and her followers are alive and well in Africa.

3) David Kuo, "Benny Hinn in Uganda" on the J-Walking blog. Kuo gives a report in pictures while in Uganda. What did he see? Benny Hinn Miracle Crusade posters in a cancer clinic. Talk about wolves looking for some easy prey--look no further than prosperity gospel peddlers in Africa! See the pictures for yourself; they will break your heart.

4) E.R.K. Dwemoh, "Why I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in the Accra Daily Mail newspaper (Ghana). Here is the testimony of an African explaining why he converted to Mormonism. The Latter-day Saints are continuing to grow throughout Africa.

5) "New breakthrough in Uganda talks" in the BBC News online. Here's some great news that just came out! The Ugandan government has reached a new agreement with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. May God bring justice, peace, and reconciliation to Uganda!

February 20, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: New Apostolic Church

Welcome to Ask Anything Wednesday. This week I am answering another great question. Please keep them rolling in! Just submit your question--on anything!--in the comments section below and I'll consider responding to it in our weekly feature.

What is the "new apostolic church" and is it a problem in Uganda?


Well, I think I know who asked this question, since he obviously knows about the situation of false teaching in East Africa. Nevertheless, it is an excellent question. The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is not a well-known group, but they have been remarkably successful around the world, especially in Africa. They can be rather secretive, but some good research has still come out. One example is a brief introductory series by Eryl Davies in the Evangelical Times. Since I see no need to recreate the wheel in this blog post, I highly recommend reading these articles for an informative overview: Part 1 and Part 2.

As far as answering whether it is in Uganda or not, I guess I'll simply say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
New Apostolic Church in Uganda
This picture was taken in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. What else needs to be said? We have a lot of work ahead of us to counter the errors produced by cults like this!

February 18, 2008

The New Faces of Christianity 6: Persecution and Vindication

Today the ACFAR Network continues reading through The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. If you haven't bought the book or signed up yet, it is not too late to join! This week we are discussing chapter 6: "Persecution and Vindication."


Being murdered or persecuted for the sake of the gospel is something that very few Christians in the West really have to be concerned about. However, these are very real dangers for many Christians in the Global South. How do these regular threats impact the faith of Southern Christians? Jenkins gives us the answer in this chapter.

With dictatorships and corruption all around them, believers usually expect interference from the powers that be. Chances are good that they will be hurt or even killed for their faith. As a result, they read biblical texts on persecution and martyrdom in a very personal way, having a relevance that usually escapes Christians in the West.

The resulting division between Southern Christianity and those in power over them has led to different responses from believers as they seek to apply the Bible to their own circumstances. One of the main developments in the twentieth century was the formulation of liberation theology. The goal of liberationists is to overcome unjust social and political powers, replacing them with just and fair societies.

However, as last century progressed, liberation theology became riddled with problems and contradictions. The coming of globalization as well as the growth of economic freedom and capitalism undermined the communism that many liberationists maintained. The result has been a loss of faith in states and secular power while churches have become more and more influential. Churches are now the ones struggling for reform and human rights; they are the ones denouncing injustice and tyranny.

Again, Southern Christians turn to Scripture in understanding how they should relate to society. Biblical passages dealing with the theme of shepherds provide insight into their political and cultural roles. At the same time, the most important and influential book of the Bible for living in a secular world is Revelation. It directs us to God's ultimate supremacy and triumph no matter how overwhelming the evil in this world seems.

Today, believers in the Global South continue to remain skeptical about their relationship to secular states. Christians must not accommodate or water down our faith to stay in line with the changing secular environment that we live in. Our first and foremost commitment must be to God.

My Thoughts

This chapter caused me to step back and remember how much I have to learn from my brothers and sisters in Christ in the Global South. My life is so easy compared to theirs. Persecution is not a regular part of my life. I am not worried about being murdered for my faith. With this in mind, how faithful would I be to Christ if I were really faced with the kinds of difficulties and challenges they experience? My ministry in Uganda will not be me going over with all of the answers to straighten everything out. Rather, my ministry will seek to use the gifts God has blessed me with to build His church and His kingdom while also growing and learning from fellow believers in East Africa. Isn't this a beautiful picture--the global body of Christ working together to glorify our Savior? I can't wait!

At the same time, this chapter also shows me some areas where growth in biblical discernment is badly needed. Liberation theology is nothing other than a false gospel, placing hope in political and social reform rather than in Jesus Christ. Additionally, the author refers to the Joshua Syndrome, where the legacy of colonialism and imperialism can distort how Christians interpret the Bible. Jenkins states, "In some ways, then, identifying with the biblical setting can pose real problems for understanding the narrative in the ways it was intended" (138). Developing the ability to study Scripture properly is crucial.

All of this causes me to ask: How can I balance helping fellow believers better understand biblical truth with recognizing that I need to learn from them as well? In what ways can you see yourself helping and/or being taught by Southern Christians?

Your Turn

What do you think? Your thoughts do not have to be profound or anything. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion!

February 15, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Debate Audio, MacArthur on the Trinity, and the Family in Uganda

Here's this week's round-up:

1) "'Theology Weekend' Audio Up" on the Karis blog. Dr. Tom Schreiner recently spent a weekend over at Karis Community Church in Columbia, Missouri. Schreiner was one of my favorite professors in seminary, and anything he says or writes is automatically worth checking out. Besides, who wouldn't want to hear a world-class evangelical scholar debate a Muslim and a Unitarian Universalist?

2) John MacArthur, "Our Triune God" on the Pulpit Magazine blog. The Trinity is a precious and essential truth for all Christians. MacArthur provides a helpful and understandable overview of our three-and-one God in this brief post.

3) Carolyne Nakazibwe, "Cult Activity in Uganda?" in the Weekly Observer newspaper (Uganda). This was a book review on a recent release by those formerly involved with the Children of God (aka The Family). Apparently, their father has moved to Uganda and is involved in spreading the false teaching of this cult in East Africa.

February 13, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: Returning Next Week

Just to let everyone know, our weekly feature Ask Anything Wednesday will return next week. If you want to submit a question for consideration as an upcoming post to this series, just add it as a comment below.

February 11, 2008

The New Faces of Christianity 5: Good and Evil

Today the ACFAR Network continues reading through The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. If you haven't bought the book or signed up yet, it is not too late to join! This week we are discussing chapter 5: "Good and Evil."


Now Jenkins turns to understand what Christians in the Global South believe about evil and sickness. These are not unrelated concepts to them--both realities intersect in our world. Their worldview begins with a firm recognition of the existence of evil and the devil. Demonic forces are always present in our world, causing natural disasters as well as sickness and misfortune. And while some Southern Christians have no problem connecting their faith to older religions, other believers reject these practices and all forms of paganism as nothing less than devil worship.

At the same time, their pagan religions have left an inheritance of needing to manipulate the spiritual forces people battle. Because they realized the presence of spiritual menaces, paganism provided them with ways to fight these enemies. Contemporary Christianity often responds to these concerns globally by the practice of spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry. Rather than being fringe beliefs of extreme charismatics as in the West, spiritual warfare and exorcism are regular elements of Christian practice throughout the South.

Given the centrality of spiritual warfare, the use of biblical texts on conquering spiritual powers is much more prominent in their lives. So are prayer vigils and all-night services, which ward off the dark forces in late hours. Witchcraft is also a very real danger, with human beings advancing evil and harming others. Thus Christians often fight against diviners and sorcery.

With evil all around, struggling against the spiritual powers is connected with the healing of the body and mind. Both are forms of deliverance, and this deliverance can be found in Christ. As a result, the gospel is not simply concerned with our souls; it brings victory to all areas of our life. Again, this focus can be seen in the traditions of these societies before Christianity was introduced, but Jesus' superiority to all other powers give these churches a weapon against their pagan backgrounds and traditional religions.

What we see in Southern Christianity is the development of responses to their own particular experiences. Whether overcoming beliefs in ancestral guilt and generational curses or controlling other cultural practices, the Global South's attention to spiritual forces and evil causes them to bring their faith to bear in all aspects of their lives.

My Thoughts

I continue to have mixed thoughts regarding Christianity in the Global South. On the one hand, their recognition of the spiritual realm is exhilarating. They are right to recognize that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Additionally, trusting in Christ to bring healing and restoration should be commended. After all, don't we all pray for God to give us health and healing, especially when we or others we know are going through difficult times?

On the other hand, the extent to which some believers seem to be devoted to these realities is problematic. Using Scripture passages as amulets (p. 108) and waiving handkerchiefs for an anointing of healing (p. 116) are two examples of many faulty practices found in this chapter. While Christians can debate the appropriateness of certain views regarding spiritual warfare and exorcism, focusing on them too much causes us to become self-focused and gives too much attention to Satan. The troubles raised by charismatic extremism in our country do not suddenly go away because these practices are taking place outside of the West.

Additionally, expecting God to heal us is never to be assumed by Christians. Can God heal us? Sure He can! But He is not some genie in the bottle that will produce whatever we want. We love God for who He is, not just for what He does for us. While I appreciate the author bringing out the fact that many churches do seek to control these expectations, physical healing is meant to point us to the ultimate spiritual restoration that comes in Christ. Healing is not central to the New Testament message, it directs us to the message--the gospel of Jesus Christ!

All of which makes me wonder, how do we bring the Bible more fully to bear on the spiritual realm that these Christians live in and are aware of? In what ways do these believers need to mature in their response to evil and suffering in this world?

Your Turn

What do you think? Your thoughts do not have to be profound or anything. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion!

February 8, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: Essential Beliefs, Mormonism, and Wheaton Change of Heart

Here's this week's round-up:

1) John MacArthur, "What Doctrines Are Essential?" Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 on the Pulpit Magazine blog. What must a person believe as a Christian? How do we differentiate between the foundational beliefs we must all share as Christians and the views we can disagree with one another on? This series helps us to answer these questions.

2) Suzanne Sataline, "Mormons Dismayed by Harsh Spotlight" in the Wall Street Journal. A front page story on Mormonism in a nationally renowned newspaper? This is definitely must reading, especially in light of Mitt Romney's bowing out of the race for the next United States President.

3) Ted Olsen, "Wheaton College Administrators Remove Names From Christian-Muslim Statement" on the Christianity Today Liveblog. I have previously mentioned the controversy surrounding a recent document by evangelicals written to Muslims called "Loving God and Neighbor Together." It seems as if some of the signers have had a change of heart. I appreciate their honesty and courage in removing their names. May we all remain faithful to Christ as we proclaim His good news to Muslims around the world!

February 6, 2008

Ask Anything Wednesday: Prayer for Upcoming Trip

Welcome to Ask Anything Wednesday. This week I am answering another great question. Please keep them rolling in! Just submit your question--on anything!--in the comments section below and I'll consider responding to it in our weekly feature.

How should we pray for your upcoming trip to Uganda?

For those of you who may not know, our ministry is currently planning an upcoming preparatory mission trip to Uganda in April. Since this visit will likely be the last time my wife and I will be able to go before moving our family over there, there are many ways that you can pray:

1) Please pray for our planning. There is so much to work through and coordinate in traveling half way around the world. From working out our schedule to connecting with our contacts, we have a lot to get through in the next couple of months!

2) Please pray that the Lord will provide for our needs. We still need financial support for some of our expenses. At the same time, we thank God for His continued provision and for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been very generous.

3) Please pray that we will be very productive during our brief stay. We have so many details to work out! Everything from our future living arrangements to the specifics of our ministry will need to be hammered out while we are in Uganda.

4) Please pray for my ministry opportunities. I always look forward to teaching and preaching the Word of God. While this may lead to a full calendar, I wouldn't have it any other way!

5) Please pray for God to be glorified. Obviously, this is the most important of all! We are not simply traveling to Uganda to keep ourselves busy serving God--we are serving Him for the advancement of His kingdom and for His glory!

I know that my wife and I are excited to see what our Lord will do through us on this upcoming trip. Thank you for your commitment to pray!

February 5, 2008

Book Review: Bridging the Divide

Robert L. Millet and Gregory C.V. Johnson, Bridging the Divide: The Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical (Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Publishing Company, 2007), 185 pp.

Can evangelical Christians and Mormons be friends? How should we relate to each other? And what about the differences between our faiths? This book was written to answer these and other questions, but in a distinct way--one author is a Mormon while the other is an evangelical. Robert Millet is the Mormon contributor and a professor at Brigham Young University. Gregory Johnson is an evangelical who began the ministry Standing Together. These two friends seek to understand one another and their differences, publicly sharing their ongoing conversation to help members of both faiths relate to each other.

The outcome of their discussions is Bridging the Divide, an edited transcript from one of their public presentations. This book is broken into four parts: 1) the background of both authors, 2) questions they ask each other, 3) questions they both answer from the audience, and 4) their conclusion. The result is an easy-to-read conversation between two knowledgeable friends of different faiths.

Let me begin with some words of appreciation. Developing relationships with people of other faiths is a good thing. All human beings are important to God, and Mormons are no exception. Personally, I welcome evangelicals building friendships with Mormons and seeking to understand what their LDS friends believe. Johnson and Millet give us a public example of this difficult but important process. If anything clearly comes through in this collaborative work, it is that these men genuinely care for and respect each other.

At the same time, I have some severe reservations about some of the conclusions they have drawn through their relationship. While I could devote a lot of time and space analyzing and critiquing many of the points made by both authors, I would rather deal with the foundational errors that Johnson makes in their book.

To begin, many of his statements of faith are couched in subjective terms. For example, as Johnson introduces this book, he states: "as one who used to primarily engage Latter-day Saint people with an 'apologetics only' mentality, seeking to prove them wrong by contrasting their claims with my understanding of biblical truth, that a dialogue approach is frankly more difficult but at the same time far more rewarding" (xxx, emphasis added). On the following page, he continues: "Thus, in frankness, it is really not my job, nor is it within my ability to make Bob Millet embrace the truth of Jesus Christ as I see it" (xxxi, emphasis added). We have been called by our Savior to proclaim His revealed truth, not simply to share our religious beliefs as best as we understand them. Johnson seems to miss this vital subjective / objective distinction, all too often leaving his arguments in the realm of his own personal religious opinion. Rather than recognizing the need to clearly proclaim God's truth, he is content to merely compare and contrast his beliefs with those of his Mormon friend.

Consequently, Johnson sees himself and Millet as truth seekers on a common journey to know God. He says: "my role is to love Bob Millet, be his friend, to pray for him, share life with him, and honor him as my fellow human being and fellow truth seeker" (xxxi). Later, he writes:
If we can imagine ourselves waling on a road, taking a long journey together, neither of us would be happy if the other one could not reach the final destination. Each of us might be happy that we made it but sad that our friend did not. Therefore the question you ask can never be answered in the spirit of "I'm right and you're wrong" or "I'm going to heaven while you're bound for hell," but rather that we both long to go to heaven together and must be willing to do whatever it would take to help each other discover the Truth (92).

And finally, he states: "It would be wrong to assume that neither Bob nor I are generally seeking truth and would be willing to embrace it wherever it might be found" (95). But is it really wrong to deny their common search? Biblically, no one seeks God unless he has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals and Mormons are not travelling down the same path together--we have reached our destination in Christ while Latter-day Saints are running away from Him by rejecting the essential truths of who He is and what He has done.

Where do Johnson's errors lead? "If you were to ask me if my friend Bob Millet is a saved Christian, I would have to answer that I do not know for sure. But I can say that it is entirely possible that he and other Mormons could be saved Christians in that they have a sincere and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ" (89). Millet and Johnson go on to say together in their conclusion: "But we also know, as C.S. Lewis once stated, that there are many people even outside the ranks of Christianity who are being led by God's 'secret influence' to focus on those aspects of their religion that are in agreement with Christianity and, as he said, 'who belong to Christ without knowing it'" (128-129). This is nothing other than an open endorsement of inclusivism, a dangerous and unbiblical belief that ultimately casts aside the necessity of evangelism. With such ambiguity in evaluating Millet's spiritual condition, it is no wonder that Johnson shuns a more confrontational approach.

Thus Millet and Johnson's book is an unsatisfying conversation. While all evangelicals should strive to foster healthy relationships with our Mormon neighbors, we must not compromise our commitment to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and His revealed truth. I pray that we will lovingly, patiently, and yet firmly proclaim the gospel of our Savior to Latter-day Saints.

February 4, 2008

The New Faces of Christianity 4: Poor and Rich

Today the ACFAR Network continues reading through The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins. If you haven't bought the book or signed up yet, it is not too late to join! This week we are discussing chapter 4: "Poor and Rich."


As with the last chapter, Jenkins draws out how Christians in the Global South understand and apply Scripture. While many Americans and others in the West find the biblical world as different and foreign, Southern Christians feel at home in its pages. Social problems like famine and plague, poverty and exile, clientelism and corruption are usually very familiar to those in the South. The result is a connectedness between Southern Christians and the stories they read in the Bible.

Therefore, the author analyzes some of the most common links that are found between today's global believers and Scripture. These include being poor, living in agricultural societies, having debt and seeking debt forgiveness, facing natural disasters, suffering through hunger and famine, struggling with plagues and diseases, having tribal rivalries, and living in exile or being displaced. Those in the West may also deal with some of these challenges, but Christians in the South are surrounded by these realities constantly. It gives them an immediate connection to the biblical world.

Another feature of Southern Christianity is often its status as a minority faith. They are usually living among Hindus, Buddhists, or Muslims and tend to make up a very small if not marginal minority. Thus, they think differently about their faith than those in the West whose societies have been rooted in Christianity for centuries. In the South, there are normally two opposite responses to how believers should coexist with other faiths: either they separate or they cooperate. Either way, these believers cannot avoid wrestling through how they should live among and treat those belonging to other religions.

With Christians in the minority and experiencing so many challenges, they are often looking for a gospel that deals with this life and is not just focused on the hereafter. As a result, we are seeing globally the rise of the prosperity gospel. This belief teaches that Christians have the right and responsibility to seek prosperity in this world, obtaining the health and wealth they desperately need in their lives. Often using the Bible to support their gospel, these preachers find promises of prosperity given throughout Scripture and give hope to those with nowhere else to turn.

My Thoughts

On the positive side, I came away from this chapter recognizing that we have a lot to learn from our Global South brothers and sisters in Christ regarding the Bible. I enjoyed reading the insights they often bring out from the Word of God. The parables connect with them in a way that I have not experienced. While I all too often become focused on my involvement in this world, they recognize the transience of our lives and our dependence upon God. I love seeing God bringing together His people from around the world, all bringing their unique contributions together to glorify our Savior!

At the same time, I recognized a negative side in what I was reading. Two issues really stuck out, the first of which involved the relationship between Christianity and other faiths. Jenkins wrote:
When modern Christian thinkers consider these [other] faiths, they find it difficult to believe that God was not in Asia before the missionaries brought the gospel. In various ways, it seems, perhaps the Spirit was working in other religions. . . . Practical issues of survival apart, it is tempting for Christians to see their own religion as one voice among many, to stress commonalities with the mainstream Asian religions. . . . Conversion need not mean abandoning one's old faith as false (85, 87).

It appears as if these Christians do not recognize the uniqueness of our faith or the exclusivity of our gospel. We need not deny that there is any truth in other religions to realize that they are indeed false and cannot reconcile us with our Creator.

Additionally, the growth of the prosperity gospel is troubling. While the author tries to downplay the problems of this false gospel, it is a soul-damning counterfeit. God does promise to take care of us, but the prosperity we should ultimately seek is spiritual (Matthew 6:25-33).

With this in mind, how can we balance the positive and the negative here? How can we both learn from our fellow believers in the Global South while at the same time help them grow in their understanding of the true gospel and its uniqueness?

Your Turn

What do you think? Your thoughts do not have to be profound or anything. Please feel free to contribute to the discussion!

February 1, 2008

Weekly Round-Up: African Christianity, New Resources, and Mormonism

Here's this week's round-up:

1) Malita Wamala, "We were perfected all right!" in the Weekly Observer newspaper (Uganda). An African Christian gives a strange mix of ideas that are largely divorced from biblical revelation.

2) Harriette Onyalla, "Take god at his word - Marilyn Hickey" in the Sunday Vision newspaper (Uganda). Yet another problematic American charismatic is visiting Uganda. Not only does Hickey preach the false prosperity gospel, but she also frequently speaks about the need for deliverance from generational curses.

3) CounterCultSearch.com. A new search engine that should prove to be a helpful resource for researching cults and other new religious movements.

4) Towards 2010. A new blog from the Lausanne Movement as they prepare for the next worldwide meeting in South Africa in 2010. This blog will be a must-read for any believer interested in missions and the global church.

5) "LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at age 97" in the Deseret Morning News nespaper (Salt Lake City). Given the leadership of the Mormon church, the President's death is always an important time of transition for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a former Mormon myself, I recognize the need for evangelicals to become more familiar with what is happening right now in the LDS church.

6) "As Mormon church goes global, a test to attract and keep new converts" in the International Herald Tribune. Another important piece on Mormonism, especially as the LDS church grows around the world. This article ends on a sobering note, especially in light of our ministry:
[LDS Church leader] Uchtdorf also said that in areas with fast growth potential, the church must grow "slowly and in a natural, healthy way" so that local congregational leaders are well grounded in doctrine.

"In some parts of Africa, we could baptize full villages," said Uchtdorf, 66. "We could immediately explode our membership. We're going slowly to have sufficient leadership."