Issue #57

God's Love for Africa, Modeling our Faith, Rules of Online Engagement, and more...

Issue #57
Photo by Headway / Unsplash

Church History Corner ⛪️

The Long History of God’s Love for Africa | Jason DeRouchie 📃 →

In a previous question, John Piper addressed the question of the suffering of Africans. The questioner asked why God hates Africa so much. While Piper answered the question well, DeRouchie answers in even more depth.

DeRouchie’s plan of attack to answer the question is to look through scripture and church history at God’s providential love for Africa and the African people.

My own journey of discovery began when I, as an Old Testament professor, started studying the book of Zephaniah, who was likely a black Judean prophet. My journey has taken me from Genesis to Revelation, and I hope this brief survey will help Jason in Kampala (the original questioner) and others to recognize God’s love for Africa and to hope in God’s steadfast love toward all who are in Christ, whether from Africa or beyond.

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Jesus and John Wayne Book Review | Sean McDowell and Scott Rae 📽 →

How should Christians respond to the popularity of the book Jesus and John Wayne? What can we learn from it and where might it be critiqued? In this video, Sean and Scott Rae…discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

I will say upfront that I have not read this book, so I cannot say exactly how much I agree or disagree with McDowell and Rae’s praise and critiques of the book. They argue that some parts of the book are healthy pushback against unhealthy practices in the American conservative church, but they also see a bias that seems to cause the author, Kristen Du Mez, to make assertions not solidly backed by the evidence in her interpretation of historical data.

I’m interested in eventually reading the book and assessing it for myself, but I found the even-handed critique in the meantime.

Jesus and John Wayne: Book Review | Sean McDowell (YouTube)

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Family Focus 🏡

Modeling Our Faith to Our Kids as Both a Sinner and a Saint | Matt Chandler and Adam Griffen 📃 →

I really enjoyed Chandler and Griffen’s focus in this article—which is adapted from their book—on “reliability” as a parent.

If there is something that you would like to see formed in your children, pray that it would be formed in you to model for them. Be a reliable source of living knowledge concerning godliness. For example, if you want your kids to speak kindly, then seek to be the epitome of kindness. If you would like to see your kids grow in patience, then make every effort to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). All parents want to see their kids grow in self-control. Self-control is the emancipating fruit of the Spirit. It’s the strength and resolve to swim upstream against the current of temptation. In a moment of temptation, you want your child to be able to recognize and resist sin. If you want self-control for your family, find ways to share with your children how you personally are growing in self-control.

In order to be a model for your kids you must follow Christ in proximity to your children. Modeling requires a close, loving relationship with those you hope to lead and influence. Be relatable enough to let those close to you see who you really are. Be vulnerable enough to let someone see your life—how you make your choices, how you handle failure, and how you turn to God’s word to determine who you are and what you’re called to.

I've read their book (linked below) on family discipleship. It's a short and quick read, but quite good. The Chandler and Griffen guide you to disciple your family in three ways: time (a pattern of family worship), moments (recognizing teachable moments to draw your children to Jesus), and milestones (pre-planned celebrations of spiritual and natural growth).

For More:

Listen and Learn 🎧

Why Can’t Christians Agree on Doctrine? | Justin Brierley and N.T. Wright 🎧 →

How important is it to get our doctrine right? Why read the Bible if theologians can't agree on its interpretation? Whose books do you disagree with that you'd still recommend? NT Wright responds to questions about differences on doctrine and theology.
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Challenge Your Brain 🧠

Exodus Rediscovered: Documentary | Michael Jones 📽 →

Way back in Issue #2, I linked to a video documentary by Michael Jones on his Inspiring Philosophy YouTube channel called “Exodus Rediscovered.” It was clear that he had spent an enormous amount of time and research on the documentary, but he pulled it not long after. After talking to another egyptologist, he became convinced that the information contained in his documentary was incorrect.

He has now re-released the documentary with a revised hypothesis. Many skeptics assert that the lack of evidence for the Exodus shows that it is not a historical event. They argue that we would have evidence of the Exodus if it had actually happened. Even among Christians, there are arguments about how to date the Exodus. Jones provides his own theory in this lengthy and in-depth video.

Exodus Rediscovered: Documentary | Inspiring Philosophy (YouTube)

Explore the Scriptures 📖

1 Corinthians 14 on Theological Right Use in the Face of Misuse | Tim Shorey 📃 →

Just because one man hits his thumb with a hammer, that doesn’t mean hammers should be outlawed. Hammers are still useful for striking nails. We need not recall the world’s accelerators and return to Flintstone mobiles just because people use gas pedals to break the speed limit. And I wouldn’t decide to never eat again just because I’m 25 pounds overweight. In each case, misuse should lead to right use, not nonuse.

Early in ministry, I saw the miraculous gifts misused in Charismatic and Pentecostal contexts. In my view, health and wealth theology and an excessive elevation of tongues as a spiritual gauge were good reasons to discount the controversial gifts altogether. Better not to pursue the gifts than to misuse them and open the door to all manner of abuse, I thought. Why embrace what’s potentially distracting and perhaps dangerous? My fear of excess and failure inclined me toward nonuse.

As I studied 1 Corinthians 14, what arrested my attention was that for all the Corinthians’ guilt in misusing the gifts, it never occurred to Paul to tell them to cease and desist.

This is a good reminder. When humans come to reject a view, especially one that they previously believed was true, we often tend to run hard to the opposite camp. But this tendency can be dangerous and we can end up just as wrong, if not more so than we were at the beginning. Not all questions have only two answers, in fact, most do not.

This is the difference between deconstruction and reformation (though the former word can be muddy, so be sure to ask what people mean when they say it). Deconstruction tends to end up with a completely opposite view. Someone may deconstruct the Christian faith and end up an agnostic or may deconstruct a Charismatic theology and end up a Cessationist. A reformer, on the other hand, will question their views, but will carefully hold them up to the light of reason, tradition, Christian experience, and most of all, scripture, to determine what should be kept and what should be discarded.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Rules of Online Engagement | Brian Auten, Chad Gross, and Jacob Varghese 🎧 →

I am a part of several Christian groups on Facebook. I’m fully aware of the pitfalls and dangers of social media and how it distorts our spiritual sight and promotes tribalism. Nevertheless, sometimes it is helpful to ask and answer questions in a community.

I have been resoundingly disappointed with the behavior of some Christians in these groups and elsewhere on social media. This podcast came at the perfect time for me as it reinforced my wariness in some areas and challenged me in others.

In this episode, Brian Auten and Chad Gross are joined by Jacob Varghese (of SAFT Apologetics) to have a conversation about “Rules of Engagement.” How do we interact with gentleness and respect? How can we disagree without being divisive?

I especially enjoyed their discussion of memes and sarcasm online. They wrap up with a variety of principles that we much apply to our online engagement. I encourage you to listen to this podcast. It’s helpful if you engage offline, but it is essential if you engage with unbelievers or other believers online.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.
— Matthew 7:9–11 (CSB)

Joel Fischer