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Tears now, joy then, joy coming

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 17:49
We’re sharing our reflections about this transition in our lives, and hopefully our thoughts can be windows into the life of a missionary, what it means to move and move and move again as God...

Apartment: D's room

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 17:21
Bummer: Lost about half the photos I had been storing up for this post. :/ It would have been cool to see the transformation, but I've got a few from when we first bought our apartment, so we'll...

Cruz's 5th Birthday

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:53
This has been a big week in our home.  On the 26th Cruz turned 5 years old.  I have always made a big deal about their birthdays.  It is the one day out of the year that I go all out...

The Thiessen Talk'O - My 2015

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:37
                              Sharing The Love of God in La Paz, BCS, Mexico       Missionaries To...

Transition mantras

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:17
I'm periodically feeling overwhelmed at all we've got to do before we leave in four weeks and two days. Contrary to what you might think, packing is only a small concern. We're doing things...

Every Last Drop

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 12:03
One thing that I love to do for my family in the winter is make fresh squeezed orange juice. In January, when oranges are in abundance and you can buy them at a great price, I love to get bags and...

More on C.S. Lewis from Alister McGrath

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 02:00
[This is a repost by kind permission of Professor McGrath of an article he wrote that appeared in a Keble College website.....BW3] An Unknown Photograph of C. S. Lewis By Professor Alister McGrath C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) is one of the best-known Oxford dons of all time. He gained a “Triple First” while an undergraduate [Read More...]

The Girls' Room Redone ~ An Updated House Tour

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 21:21
So about a million years ago {or so it feels!}, I started giving a tour of our home here in Ghana!We started with the outside, including our porch.From there we moved to our front room, where we eat...

When God Closes A Chicken Factory

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 20:00
back-translating a story--photo from The PNG Experience One day Kosseck, James and the rest of the team of the Kamano-Kafe translators were sitting at the table with Rich, their translation...

Liberty University

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 16:21

Trinity and translation

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 12:00
I once heard a pastor joke about he and other pastors at a church trying to pass the buck as to which one of them would preach on the trinity as Trinity Sunday was approaching. I thought that was a...

A Smoky Drive

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 10:48

May flowers

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 09:42
Woo-hoo, a new post. Naptime is going by fast, though. I'm still working on getting my energy back, and unfortunately Andrei has been under the weather. :/ When I last wrote an update, he was...

Staying {here}

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 05:48
Farewell to Silja (far left)Transition. It never gets easier. And it doesn't necessarily have to be you who is leaving in order to feel the effects of transition. Two families on our team are heading...

Philip Jenkins on Lost Gospels– Or Don’t Be So Open Minded that Your Brains Fall Out

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 02:55
[The Next Few Blog posts come courtesy my friend and colleague Philip Jenkins. See what you think. BW3] I Want to Believe May 4, 2015 by Philip Jenkins Last year, Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson published an impressively dreadful book called The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’s Marriage to Mary the [Read More...]

Falsehoods Christians believe about non-Christians

Simon Cozen's Blog - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 01:05
Language Undefined

“How can people be good without knowing God?” It’s a surprisingly common apologetic gambit, but I think it’s time that we put that canard to rest.

It sounds like a theological question, but I don’t think it is. If it were a theological question, it could be dealt with in theological terms: in fact, there’s an answer right there in the Bible. How can people be good without knowing God? “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them.” Next question.

But it’s not a theological question. It’s a statement phrased as a question—I can’t think of a way that people can be good if they don’t know God—and that’s more of a statement about worldview than it is about theology. Specifically, it’s an admission of a failure to understand how non-Christians tick.

You won’t hear this question in places where Christians are a small minority. This is because in those places, Christians know enough non-Christians, meet them and interact with them on a daily basis, to know full well that non-Christians are capable of doing good without God. They work with them. They live with them. They marry them. They’re perfectly aware that non-Christians are not all horrendous evildoers who would be killing and raping if they knew they could get away with it. Here in Japan, let’s face it, the majority of people are nice, kind, considerate and honest. How can people be good without knowing God? Who cares—they are, so your argument is invalid.

So it’s really only in those situations where Christians have enough critical mass to form a self-contained echo chamber that such questions arise. People form their Christian communities, spend most of their time with Christian friends, eventually lose contact with the non-Christian worldview. At this point they fail to understand how people work, and so need to invent just-so stories to explain other people’s behavior from inside their own worldview.

In other words, what looks like an apologetic argument is actually the result of failing to interact evangelistically on a meaningful basis. Pretty ironic, huh?

And it’s not just about morality. There are a whole bunch of falsehoods that Christians tell each other about non-Christians.

One of the best sessions that I went to at a New Wine conference many years ago was run by an evangelist working within universities. I can’t remember who it was, because it was a long time ago now, but there are a lot of advantages to being an evangelist; you get to spend the majority of your time with non-Christians, who can often be more considerate and more pleasant to be around than many Christians can.

And because you spend the majority of time with non-Christians, you can’t so easy make sloppy assumptions about their worldview. The conference session ran through a few of the things that Christians think: that non-Christians are plagued by feelings of guilt, emptiness and incompleteness; that they are continually aware of their own sin and subconsciously seeking a solution to it; that they feel a “God-shaped hole” in their life; that if they appear to be happy, it’s only at a surface level in which they’ve managed to shut out their deeper feelings; and so on.

For any non-Christians reading, this is pretty common currency within the Evangelical world, because that’s what that worldview implies. But it’s clearly not true—and, you can argue, rather insulting too—and the evangelist patiently explained to us that it’s not true, and you are unlikely to make any headway in evangelism if you start with untrue assumptions about the feelings of the person you’re talking to. So these falsehoods may make us feel better about our own salvation, but they’re actively harmful when it comes to interacting with the rest of the world.

And yet, of course, it’s not just us. Any group which prefers its own company, preferences its own discourse and worldview over everyone else’s, and ends up only talking to itself about the rest of the world tends to make sloppy assumptions about how the rest of that world works. So if you ever hear a bunch of atheists complaining that all Christians just uncritically accept whatever they’re taught about their own personal Sky Fairy, you can say, yeah, I’ve seen that line of argument before.

Subject tags: theologyevangelicalism

Planting, Watering, Believing

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 01:00
Don't have any pictures and won't mention names, but Tuesday we went to Kiev and met with a couple of pastors and church workers. We're hoping to be able to use INSTE in their churches or churches...

Mad Max– Furiosa’s Road

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 21:31
Having seen the previous Mad Max movies, I decided, reluctantly, to go see the most recent installment of that franchise, coming many years after ‘Beyond Thunderdome’. I was reluctant because I don’t like extremely violent movies anyway, or movies that glorify violence, and the previews I had seen didn’t encourage me to think this movie [Read More...]
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