Saturday, 26 January 2008

Does Christian Counseling Promote Privatized Religion?

ETS Paper Presentation
Conference Theme: Evangelical Christianity and Other Religions
Nov 20-22, 2002 @ Toronto
by Stephen P. Greggo

As Evangelical Christianity defines its theological relationship with other religions, it must also address the contemporary trend of individuals creating a self-defined religion. Christian counseling is typically a one-on-one encounter that may promote autonomy and greater self-direction. In this post-modern culture, the very factors that make this relational process effective may also promote the formation and practice of a private, personal spirituality. Recent trends in counseling such as spiritual direction or coaching may increase the individualistic orientation of Christian counseling and thus increase the risk of promoting privatized religion. The purpose of this paper will be to identify critical theological principles that can guide Christian counseling and address this current concern.

(read more)

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Saturday, 19 January 2008

Evangelical - Definition and Discussion

National Association of Evangelicals

NAE Statement of Faith
• We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
• We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
• We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
• We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
• We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
• We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

NAE Values
1. Growing Biblical Faith
2. Witness to Society
3. Attending to Human Concerns
4. Maximizing resources
5. Fostering Cooperation
6. Ministry to the poor
7. Nurturing Communications
8. Cross-Cultural Involvement

Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

1. First, we are “evangelicals,” because of the priority we place on the biblical evangel (or “good news”), and because “evangelical” was the first nickname used by the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century to describe their commitments to recovering the gospel in the Church and proclaiming it to the world.

2. Second, we are “confessing” because we warmly embrace the rich biblical teaching articulated in both great ecumenical creeds of the Church, and reformed confessions and catechisms. Further, we believe the Church must not only assent to her confessions but confess the gospel afresh in protest against the spirit of this age. Like the Lutheran and Reformed evangelicals who formed the Confessing Movement against the Nazi party in the 1920s and ‘30s, we recognize that we must be in a “state of confession”— especially because accommodation to the spirit of the age has sapped the Church of her strength and caused her to divide her loyalties between the lordship of Christ and the lordship of this age’s “principalities and powers.”

3. Third, we are an “alliance” because we have banded together to further this, our common cause.

See also
Cambridge Declaration

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Friday, 18 January 2008

Christianity vs. Jesusanity -- The Postmodern Temptation
Albert Mohler
18 Jan 2008

The most hard-core forms of postmodern thought are generally limited to academic campuses, but the postmodern worldview is trickling down in various forms to the popular level. While postmodern literary theorists debate the meaning of "totalizing metanarratives," at the level of popular piety we see the widespread substitution of "spirituality" for biblical Christianity.

In this sense, spirituality is a project centered in the self and constantly negotiable -- more about "meaning" than truth. Where does Jesus Christ fit in all this? Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace argue that popular culture is on a quest "to unseat the biblical Christ." They make their case in Dethroning Jesus [Thomas Nelson].

(read more)

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Thursday, 17 January 2008

Why churches struggle to make disciples
by Bill Hull (17 Jan 2008)

Hull makes 2 important observations of why churches struggle to make disciples,
  1. The church continues to try and reach the world without making disciples.
  2. Being a disciple is much more important than creating a plan to make other disciples.
(read more)

See related article
It is more important to be a disciple than to have a plan to make disciples (Bill Hull, 19 Nov 07)


Christian tribe sues Malaysian Government for destroying church
by Szeleng Chan

17 Jan 2008

Christian indigenous villagers are suing Malaysia's sole Islamic state government for destroying their church, claiming it was an illegal act since they owned land the church was built on.

Members of the Temiar tribe, one of some 18 ethnic tribes known as the Orang Asli ("Original People"), had built the church in their remote jungle village, said N Subramaniyan, the villagers’ lawyer. Shortly after completion, authorities demolished the church last June.

The Kelantan state government said it was illegally built on state land and that the villagers ignored notices to stop construction. Azlan Abdul Halim, the counsel representing the Kelantan government, said the demolition did not have to do with religion.

(read more)

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Singaporean receives Outstanding Young Persons International award
16 Jan 2008

SINGAPORE: Singaporean rock musician turned youth counsellor Glenn Lim has won global recognition for his personal improvement and achievement.

He was among 10 individuals to receive The Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) International Award for 2007. The ceremony was held in November last year at the Junior Chamber International (JCI) World Congress in Antalya, Turkey.

Lim was given the TOYP Singapore award in April last year for helping spread positive and constructive messages to the youths in the community.

In September, he was selected by an international panel of judges to be one of the Top 10 Honorees for the International Award. 157 entries from 42 national organisations and countries were received by the JCI for the TOYP programme. The award honours young individuals who excel in their chosen fields and exemplify the best attributes of the world's youth. It also recognises their contributions to the welfare of their communities, their countries and the world.

In Singapore, Lim is well known as a rock musician who turned his back on drugs to become a youth counsellor and later a conference speaker. He had also received the Singapore Youth Award for Community and Youth Services and the ASEAN Youth Award.

The Orchid Jayceettes, which is affiliated to Junior Chamber International, says it will work with Lim on projects and activities aimed at inspiring Singapore youths to seek excellence and serve the community.

Green Grass - The Movie (, 27 Mar 06)

For his daring to change (S'pore Youth Awards 2005)

Back on the right track (Today, 22 Mar 05)

Interview: Sonic Movement: Glenn Lim (CreateLeVoyage, 01 Jan 04)

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Jesus 'Tomb' Controversy Reopened,8599,1704299,00.html?cnn=yes
by Tim McGirk

16 Jan 2008

When the Discovery Channel aired a TV documentary last year raising the possibility that archeologists had found the family tomb of Jesus Christ in the hills behind Jerusalem, it caused a huge backlash among Christians. The claim, after all, challenged one of the cornerstones of Christian faith — that Jesus, after his crucifixion, rose bodily to heaven in his physical form.

The Lost Tomb of Jesus, made by Hollywood director James Cameron and Canadian investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici, was shown only once on Discovery. Britain's Channel 4 canceled its own plans to air the documentary, which reexamines an archeological find from 1980 in which a crypt was found containing what were said to be the ossuaries of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the son of Joseph, Mariamne (possibly Mary Magdalene, say the filmmakers) and Judah, son of Jesus. Given the highly explosive nature of its conclusion and its slapdash sleuthing, it was no surprise that the film was panned by some academics and many Christian clerics.

Still, even after the furor over the film faded, the questions it raised about the tomb unearthed in 1980 continued to make waves among archeologists and Biblical scholars. A leading New Testament expert from Princeton Theological Seminary, Prof. James Charlesworth, was intrigued enough to organize a conference in Jerusalem this week, bringing together over 50 archeologists, statisticians and experts in DNA, ceramics and ancient languages, to give evidence as to whether or not the crypt of Christ had been found. Their task was complicated by the fact that since the tomb was opened in 1980, the bones of the various ossuaries had gone missing through a mishap of Israeli bureaucracy. Also gone were diagrams made by excavators that showed where each stone sarcophagus lay inside the tomb, and what the family relationships might have been, say, between Jesus and Mary Magdelene, who some speculate may have been his wife.

(read more)

Jesus' Tomb entries (Bock's Blog)

Hollywood Hype: The Oscars and Jesus' Family Tomb, What do they share? (Bock's Blog, 26 Feb 07)

'My husband knew it was Jesus' tomb' (Jerusalem Post, 17 Jan 08)

The View from Jerusalem - One more nail in the Ossuary (Stephen Pfann, 17 Jan 08)

What Kind of Resurrection? 3 blogs to examine the revival of the Jesus Tomb Discussion (Bock's Blog, 18 Jan 08)

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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Chinese believers targeted as Olympics creep nearer
15 Jan 2008, Christianity Today

The director of Open Doors China summed up Christian persecution in the country in 2007 by saying that most Chinese still cannot practise their religion openly.

The Chinese Communist Party waged a secret campaign against unregistered house churches from mid-June until the end of November, according to Open Doors USA. During this time, the government police investigated "the content of sermons, personal history of house church evangelists and the sources of their funds".

On November 18, authorities detained 40 church leaders from China Gospel Fellowship in Xiancheng County in Henan Province.

The director, who cannot be named for security reasons, said many house church Christians are told they must stop their meetings. Some are fined. Some pastors are also locked up for a few days or sent to labor camps.

For Christians living in the countryside, it often is difficult to obtain study Bibles and Christian books or attend a Bible school.

The Chinese Government "is carefully crafting an image of religious tolerance leading up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing", which start August 8, Open Doors USA said. "But the facts tell a different story," it added.

(read more)

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Monday, 14 January 2008

Malaysian Christians disappointed over government flip-flop on 'Allah' ban
by Szeleng Chan
CT, 14 Jan 2008

Malaysian Christians have expressed deep disappointment after the Malaysian Government appeared to backtrack on an earlier decision to allow non-Muslims to use the word “Allah”.

The dispute over the use of “Allah” started when the Malaysian Government threatened to revoke a local Catholic tabloid’s permit to publish. In response, The Herald weekly newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia filed a lawsuit last month against the government, claiming that the ban was unconstitutional and violates freedom of religion.

Not long after The Herald filed its suit, the government back-tracked, however, stating in a fax to The Herald's editor that the newspaper would receive its 2008 permit with no conditions attached.

The government’s position appeared to change again, however, when the de-facto minister for Islamic affairs, Abdullah Zin, told reporters that the Cabinet had agreed that the term should only be used by Muslims.

Zin said the Cabinet was of the view that "Allah" refers to the Muslim God and can only be used by Muslims, who comprise about 60 per cent of Malaysia's population.

Earlier this month, Zin had explained that the use of the word “Allah” by other religions “may arouse sensitivity and create confusion among Muslims".

In a statement to the media, Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing, the head of the Malaysian Christian Federation, reiterated the fact that the term ”Allah” was used by Arab Christians before the founding of Islam. He said that the ban was contravening the right to freedom of religion as outlined in the constitution.

"The word 'Allah' is a pre-Islamic word used by Arab Christians before Islam came into being," Bishop Ing stated.

"We maintain and we have always told the government that we have the right to use the word 'Allah' whether in our Bahasa Malaysia publications or otherwise."

See also my previous entry:
Malaysian row over word for 'God' (28 Dec 07)

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Saturday, 12 January 2008

Influential theologian troubled by Christian-Muslim dialogue
12 Jan 2008
by Michelle A. Vu

A prominent theologian expressed concerns this week about the recent Christian response to a historic Muslim letter in which signers appeared unclear about their Christian identity and different beliefs of God.

The letter, titled “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to a Common Word Between Us and You,” failed to clearly define the Christian understanding of God as the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, pointed out R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on his national radio program Tuesday.

Mohler explained that Muslims also believe in Jesus but only as a prophet, not as the son of God. Therefore, Christians must distinguish what kind of God they believe in when responding to the Muslim letter, which emphasized love for a common God.

“We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is our hero. We don’t believe that Jesus Christ is merely our prophet. He is Prophet and Priest and King,” Mohler said, according to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Towers news service. “He is the incarnate Son of God. He is the second person of the Trinity. He is the Lord over all. Any minimization of that is a huge problem.”

The high-profile Southern Baptist theologian was responding to a full-page letter endorsed by nearly 300 Christian leaders that appeared in a December issue of The New York Times. The letter was drafted by scholars at Yale Divinity School’s Center for Faith and Culture in response to an October letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and leaders that encouraged Muslims and Christians to work more closely for world peace.

At the heart of the Muslim letter was the “common ground” that believers of both faiths share – love for God and love for neighbors.

Signers of the Christian letter included Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose Driven Life; Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.; Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and David Neff, editor-in-chief and vice-president of “Christianity Today” Media Group.

Mohler did not sign the letter.

(read more)

See also:
Christian Scholars Apologize for Crusades (Islam Online, 27 Nov 07)

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Friday, 11 January 2008

Theology matters ... It always matters
by Albert Mohler
11 Jan 2008

Ideas drive history. Any significant conflict comes down, however eventually, to ideas, beliefs, and convictions. Take that analysis to the next level and it becomes clear that the most significant human conflicts we encounter are the most significantly tied to ideas -- and to beliefs about God. In other words, theology matters.

This is especially clear when the conflict between Islam and the West comes into view. The deeply and inescapably theological character of this collision should be apparent to all. Those most ardently determined to ignore this dimension are those who are convinced that the West has now entered a secular and post-theological age in which basic convictions and belief about God no longer matter.

This conveniently, but dangerously, ignores the obvious -- that the West is based upon a certain understanding of order, rationality, human dignity, and human responsibility that emerged out of the Christian worldview, informed by both the Old and New Testaments. Rival civilizations are based in different belief systems that produce very different understandings and moral actions. Students in most American high schools study the stories of those understood to be champions of freedom. Students in far too many madrassahs throughout much of the Islamic world are taught to celebrate martyrs to Islam -- even teenage suicide bombers.

In his new book, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, George Weigel takes theology seriously as he considers the threat of jihadism.

(read more)

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Saturday, 5 January 2008

Malaysia court halts Islamic burial in religious row
5 Jan 2008

A Malaysian court gave an ethnic Chinese man a temporary order to prevent an Islamic affairs council from taking his wife's body for burial, in a dispute over whether she converted to Islam, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The row over the body of 53-year old Mong Sau Lan is the latest in a series of racial and religious incidents that could hurt support for the government ahead of expected snap elections in the coming months.

In the burial matter, snooker centre manager Ngiam Tee Kong was informed by a hospital which had his wife's remains that he could claim the body to perform Christian rituals but must hand it over to the Islamic council for a Muslim burial.

The 52-year old Ngiam said he had received a letter informing him that his wife had converted to Islam and this had been authorised by a religious affairs official, according to the report published in the Star newspaper.

But Ngiam said his wife was a Christian before her death on Dec. 30, and asked that her body be handed to him as the legal husband.

The court has set Jan. 18 to hear the application.

Disputes over religious conversions and complaints about the authorities' demolition of churches and Hindu temples have fuelled worries about a rise in hardline Islam in mostly Muslim Malaysia.

Politically dominant ethnic Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population of roughly 26 million, while the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities include Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

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