November 30, 2007

Weekly Round-Up: Uganda, AIDS, Mormonism, and Lausanne

There are several articles that I want to point out this week:

1) "LRA Rifts Worry Bishops," in the New Vision newspaper (Uganda). The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is often in the news today, and understanding this group is an essential aspect of getting to know Uganda. Let us pray that this recent development does not hinder the search for peace!

2) "Kigali crusade," in the Sunday Vision newspaper (Uganda). This news story reports on a major charismatic crusade in Rwanda, which featured well-known Ugandan charismatic Robert Kayanja (think of an African Benny Hinn). Africa is filled with these miracle preachers and events. With high unemployment throughout the continent and many people too poor to afford medical treatment, the prosperity gospel provides them with hope. How they need the true hope that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ!

3) "Baptist ministry in Africa offers physical, spiritual lifelines for people living with AIDS" and "Ugandan pastor carries message of hope as a minister to those living with AIDS" in Baptist Press. Many of us recognize the serious challenge that AIDS has become through much of Africa, and Uganda is no exception. Here are two articles reporting on ways that Baptists have been involved in the country.

4) Rob Bowman, "Do Mormons believe 'that Jesus was fully God'?" and "Christianity Today, Mormons, and the Deity of Christ" on the Parchment and Pen blog. Simply must-reads (including the comment sections). Bowman posts his review of the new book by Robert Millet (a Mormon) and Gerald McDermott (an evangelical), Claiming Christ: A Mormon—Evangelical Debate. Why did he post it on a blog? Because Christianity Today rejected it for publication. His next post explains why. Startling stuff! But wait, there's more disturbing news--Craig Blomberg and Paul Owen chime in on the comment section of these posts making some very problematic statements. These are two posts that you won't want to miss!

5) Chris Wright, "Theology Working Group Focuses on Lausanne Core Slogan," in the Lausanne Connecting Point, November 2007. In preparation for Lausanne 2010 in South Africa, the Lausanne Theology Working Group is focusing on the core "slogan." Chris Wright makes some incredibly informative insights. Here's a quote:

Indeed, my hope for Cape Town 2010 is that it would launch and foster nothing less than a 21st Century Reformation – among evangelicals, who need it as much as any other Christian bloc.

For there are scandals and abuses in the world-wide evangelical community that are reminiscent of the worst features of the pre-reformation medieval church in Europe.
• There are some mega leaders, like ancient prelates, wielding vast wealth, power and control – unaccountable, unattractive and unChristlike
• There are multitudes of ordinary Christians going to so-called evangelical churches, where they never hear the Bible preached or taught. They live in scandalous biblical ignorance.
• Instead they are offered, in the ‘prosperity gospel’ a form of 21st century indulgences, except that you pay your money not for release from pains after death, but for receipt of material ‘blessings’ here and now.
• And there are evangelicals parading ungodly alliances with secular power – political, economic and military – identifying themselves (and the gospel they claim to preach) with agendas and ideologies that reflect human empire not the kingdom of God in Christ.

Will we have the courage to identify and renounce such scandals and to seek a reformation of heart, mind and practice?

I can't wait to hear more reflections as Lausanne 2010 draws near!

November 28, 2007

Ask Anything Wednesday: What Do You Believe?

One of the new weekly features on this blog is Ask Anything Wednesday. Every Wednesday I will answer a question that someone asks. With this in mind, feel free to leave a question in the comments section or e-mail me and I'll consider posting it. To begin this series, I want to start with a question that I recently received.

"Do you have a 'statement of faith' or 'core beliefs' that I may peruse?"

My Response:
Thank you for asking! To fully answer your question, I have to make some important distinctions. First, organizationally I am being sent through the Centers for Apologetics Research (CFAR). I have included CFAR's statement of faith below.

Second, congregationally I am being sent by my local church, Parkwood Southern Baptist Church. Our church members covenant together using the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as our doctrinal statement.

Third, personally I am a confessional Reformed Baptist. I fully subscribe to the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

As you can see, I recognize the importance of a solid and thorough doctrinal foundation. At the same time, I am open to working and ministering with those who differ with me on non-essential issues. I want as many fellow believers as possible to join with me in glorifying God through defending His truth!

I hope this answers your question and welcome any follow-up thoughts or questions.

The Centers for Apologetics Research Doctrinal Statement

Because of our desire to uphold and teach the truth of Holy Scripture, the Centers for Apologetics Research set forth the following statement of faith.

We believe that:

1. The Holy Scriptures, composed of the Old and New Testaments, are fully inspired by God, infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts and completely trustworthy in all areas in which they speak, the supreme and final authority in faith and practice.

2. There is one almighty and perfect God, Creator and Sustainer of all things, eternally existing in three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — undivided in essence and co-eternal in power and glory.

3. Jesus Christ, begotten by a direct creative act of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, true God and true Man, is the only mediator between God and man. He alone was perfect in nature, teaching, and obedience.

4. The Holy Spirit is the Regenerator and Sanctifier of the redeemed, the Bestower of spiritual fruit and gifts, and the abiding Comforter and Teacher of the Church.

5. In Adam the human race was created in the image and likeness of God. Through the fall of Adam man became radically corrupt, alienated from God, and disintegrated at the heart of his being. The desperate need of man is restoration to fellowship with his Creator; yet without God's help, man remains totally unable to restore himself.

6. Eternal salvation is provided for man solely by God's grace through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Man is justified through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. The believer is saved unto good works; therefore the believer's obedience to God is an essential component of his progressive sanctification.

7. Jesus Christ was resurrected bodily from the dead; ascended into heaven; and will return at the consummation of the age to both resurrect and judge the just and the unjust.

8. Eternal, conscious punishment, including separation and loss of fellowship with God, is the ultimate destiny of unregenerate man, along with Satan and all his hosts.

November 26, 2007

Spread the Vision!

Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time working on improving the web site for the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). From changing some of the graphics and layout to adding new features (such as online donations and a blog), the ACFAR site has really been enhanced. Be sure to check it out—and don't forget to add the blog's feed to your feed reader!

To celebrate ACFAR's expanded presence online, I am asking all bloggers to join me in promoting the web site together on Monday, December 3rd. After checking out the site, please consider posting an entry on your blog with a link to ACFAR. Your post can be about whatever you like: the need for apologetics worldwide, a summary of ACFAR's plans, your interests in East Africa, etc. Be creative (and if you need help, don't be afraid to ask)! The goal is to help others discover a ministry in Uganda that seeks to glorify Christ through defending His truth.

At the same time, by getting involved with raising awareness, you will be entered into a random drawing for a free autographed copy of Tim Challies' new book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (sent to the winner as soon as it is released). Additionally, your blog will be featured here as a friend of the Africa Center for Apologetics Research.

So what are you waiting for? Start making plans now! And if you plan on joining, please let me know with a comment on this post. Your comment will be your ticket for the drawing. To help you out some more, below are a couple of graphics that you can use in your blog post. I look forward to seeing what God can accomplish through us!

The Africa Center for Apologetics Research

The Africa Center for Apologetics Research

November 23, 2007

Weekly Round-Up

While I've been incredibly busy during this Thanksgiving week, I wanted to start off my weekly round-up with two important articles that were recently posted online:

1) "Africa Unbound: God may be clearing the stage for the next act in his redemptive drama" in Christianity Today (November 2007). A helpful introduction to Christianity in Africa, both its advancement and its challenges. In many ways, Africa may be the future of the Christian faith, but believers continue to have many serious struggles as well.

2) "The New Face of Global Mormonism: Tech-Savvy Missionary Church Thrives as Far Afield as Africa" in the Washington Post (November 19, 2007). The very fact that the WP published a story on Mormonism's international growth while focusing on Africa demonstrates its global presence. I highly recommend reading the entire article, but find this quote especially troubling:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it is formally known, now has more members outside the United States than inside it. The church's rise from its roots in Utah to a steadily growing global faith in 176 countries and territories has been aided by the Internet, including the popular Web site, which seeks to dispel the mystery that still surrounds the religion; by a satellite system linking 6,000 of its churches worldwide with the Salt Lake City headquarters; and by tens of thousands of missionaries knocking on doors from Lagos to Lapland.

As the world's largest faiths -- Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Hinduism -- expand across the developing world, smaller faiths such as Mormonism are also gaining strength. The Mormon Church, which did not permit blacks to become priests until 1978, says it now has more than 250,000 members in Africa, including almost 80,000 in Nigeria.

As a former Mormon preparing for ministry in East Africa, I continue to see the incredible importance of biblical discernment throughout the continent. Articles like these further confirm the need. By God's grace and through His strength, we can make a difference!

November 21, 2007

Introduction to the ACFAR Blog

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to Africa Center for Apologetics Research's home in the blogosphere. Why have we begun yet another blog? Because we believe it will be a great place to keep you up-to-date on everything related to the Christian faith in East Africa. Whether it is the sociopolitical climate, the presence of cults, or our ministry plans, we will strive to keep you informed. Additionally, we believe that a blog is a great way to interact and work together with you as we seek to defend the faith in Uganda and beyond.

What can you look forward to? I plan to have at least three posts a week:

1) Book Smarts Monday. As my family is preparing to enter the international mission field, I am continually reading and studying for our ministry. From book reviews to chapter analyses, you can be involved in our preparation.

2) Ask Anything Wednesday. Do you have a question regarding ACFAR? My life? Anything else? I'm setting aside one day a week to answer whatever is on your mind.

3) Weekly Round-Up Friday. What is going on on East Africa? I'm always trying to keep up with the latest developments. Fridays will be your "one-stop-shop" for relevant news and other important information.

Of course, I reserve the right to make others posts throughout the week as well. So be sure to subscribe to this blog's feed and check in often. May we glorify God by our faithful service to Him!