Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Ephesians 3:7

Ephesians 3:7
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power.


"The Apostle is particularly concerned that the Ephesian Christians should realize that all the benefits which they were now enjoying as fellow-heirs with the Jews had come to them through the gospel which he had preached, and of which he was a minister. And here he gives a wonderful picture of the Christian ministry as a divine calling. Conceivably this is perhaps the first thing the Christian Church needs to recapture at this present time. That the Church counts for so little in the modern world is largely the result of her failure to realize the origin and character of the ministerial calling. The whole idea of the ministry has become debased. It has often been regarded as a profession. The eldest son in a family goes perhaps into the Navy, another son into the Army, another into Parliament; and then the remaining son ‘goes into’ the Christian ministry. Others think of a minister as a man who organizes games and pleasant entertainments for young people; one who visits and has a pleasant cup of tea with older people. Such conceptions of the Christian ministry have become far too current. But they are a travesty. The minister is a herald of the glad tidings, he is a preacher of the gospel. It is largely because the true conception of the work of a minister has become debased that the ministry has lost its authority and counts for so little at the present time. Pray God that at a time such as this men may be brought back to this old, this New Testament conception of the ministry. The world needs a Savonarola today. Men and women need to be shaken out of their lethargy, their sinfulness, their indulgence and their slackness. Ministers are called primarily to teach men and women God’s great revelation concerning Himself, concerning man, concerning the only way of reconciliation, concerning the kind of life mankind is meant to live."

Loving Muslims

John Piper list the following nine suggestions for loving your Muslim Neighbor


(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Business as Mission Opportunity in India

The Business as Mission Network recently highlighted the following opportunity in India:

Starting an international company is a difficult, time consuming and risky initiative. The Global CEO Network has determined that facilitating start-ups within existing BAM companies is a strategic way to move the Business as Mission movement forward – and we agree!

EC Group International is therefore seeking companies who would like to start a Business as Mission operation in Chennai, India. EC Group’s subsidiary, Sudyk Datasoft, has space available in its 10,000 square foot facility, high speed internet, human resource specialists, administrative and financial personnel available to help you get your company started. Current business of the company is Information Technology enabled services including: software development, medical transcription and business process outsourcing.

If you would like further information please contact Tom Sudyk at EC Group International, tsudyk@ecgroup-intl.com.


(HT: Business as Mission Network)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Urban Church Planting Conference

This upcoming conference on Urban Church Planting looks really good. Click here for more details.

Speakers Include:
Tim Keller
Mark Driscoll
C.J. Mahaney
Ed Stetzer
Darrin Patrick

(HT: Kevin Cawley)

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism

The entire article regarding the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) can now be viewed by clicking here. Feel free to give any critiques, concerns, or assessments in the comment section.

Philippians 2

Sam Storms offers the following reflection on Philippians 2

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism: Part 7

This is the conclusion to the series on the first American Foreign Mission Board (ABCFM). I will plan on posting a link to the entire article along with the footnotes and bibliography later this week for those that are interested.

Conclusion
The founding of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was a tremendous development in regards to American Christianity’s international influence. Its founding was a significant marker for the nation as a whole which helped further solidify the country’s political independence. The creation of the ABCFM helped funnel American Patriotism toward a common goal of reaching the unreached peoples and ushering in the millennium. There are many positive encouragements to be gained from the study of the history of the ABCFM. However, the purpose of this paper has been to establish the historical context for the founding of the ABCFM and then offer a brief critique. The main weakness of the ABCFM was the ethnocentrism that permeated the organization and the individual members. This ethnocentrism had far reaching affects and led to the perpetuation of American Slavery; as well as the denigration of the Hawaiian people by not transferring to them ecclesiastical leadership in a timely manner.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King day.  As a means of remembering and reflecting on his legacy might I suggest the following resources:



Or watch below:



4. Taken from MLK's last speech before he was assassinated (also known as the mountain top speech)

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism: Part 6

The following excerpt from my article on the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) focuses in on the missions to the Hawaiian Islands. (This is part 6 of 7 in a series on the first American foreign mission board)

ABCFM, Ethnocentrism, and the Mission to Hawaii

This ethnocentric worldview had a much broader effect than just perpetuating the institution of slavery. The ethnocentrism was so strong that it kept well-intentioned ABCFM missionaries from appointing Hawaiians to positions of authority in the church (and eventually the government). This “cultural superiority” is seen very clearly in Hiram Bingham—one of the first missionaries sent out by the ABCFM to Hawaii. Notice the condescending manner in which Bingham describes the Islanders in his first encounter with them:

On the 31st of March [1820], a considerable number of the natives came off to our vessel, from the shores of Kahal, to dispose of their little articles of barter...Their maneuvers in their canoes, some being propelled by short paddles, and some by small sails, attracted the attention of our little group...but the appearance of the destitution, degradation, and barbarism, among the chattering, and almost naked savages, whose heads and feet, and much of their sun burnt swarthy skins, were bare, was appalling.

Bingham’s words are shocking. Clearly, he views himself as superior in every way to the native Hawaiians. Not only was Bingham there to make the Islanders Christians, but he was also there to make them “civilized” like him. In spite of this ethnocentric mindset, the missionaries were welcomed by the Hawaiians and were very effective in propagating the gospel. When the Islands experienced their own “Great Awakening” it was still difficult for the missionaries to entrust the Hawaiians with the leadership in the churches. One of the members of the ABCFM was aware of the struggle that the missionaries were having and exhorted them in the following manner:

The Hawaiian people are in danger of being excluded from all important offices, both in church and state. Foreigners are occupying all the offices about the King, and in the civil government, because they deem themselves more competent to fill the offices than the natives, and would fain believe that the natives are incompetent to fill them...Better to have the duties performed imperfectly [by natives], than not done by them [natives]. I cannot help reasoning in a similar manner concerning the offices and duties of the native churches; and I feel bound to call your attention to the subject, because I believe that if the churches are officered by foreigners, the offices of the government will continue to have foreign occupants. Nothing will save the native government, but a native ministry placed over the native churches.

The significance of this exhortation is the implication that the missionaries, after more than twenty years, still had not given up control of the church because they felt they were “more competent” than the Hawaiians. Truly their ethnocentric worldview kept them from doing what was in the best interest of the gospel and the Hawaiian people.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Audio Lectures on the Gospel of John...

Jonathan Pennington recently gave a series of lectures on the Gospel of John. These can be listened to for free by

clicking here



(HT: Owen Strachan)

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism: Part 5

This is part five of the series on the first American Foreign Mission Board.

ABCFM and Slavery (continued)

The ABCFM was the product of a White-Protestant culture that felt as though it was at the top of the evolutionary chain. One of the main goals of missions was to help civilize the heathen. This meant, among other things, having them adopt the culture of White-Protestantism. Or to put it more bluntly, the goal of missions was to make the heathen culture exactly like the home culture of the missionary. If slavery was part of the White-Protestant culture then it must be a “Christian” institution. After all, the culture that the ABCFM grew out of had been Christian for hundreds of years. The millennial kingdom that was hoped for was, in many ways, merely an enhanced version of New England society.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism: Part 4

Critique of ABCFM continued:

Perhaps the clearest example of the ABCFM’s perpetuation of slavery is the failure of the missionaries who went to the Native Americans to speak against this evil. One example of this is how the missionaries dealt with the Cherokee Indians. “A considerable proportion of the Cherokee nation...had...adopted many of the customs and practices of civilized society, including the institution of Negro slavery.” Rather than speak out against the evil practice of slavery it appears that the missionaries were often the ones introducing or at least justifying the institution to the Cherokee. As certain Cherokee adopted these practices they became “more civilized.” As the Cherokee became “more civilized,” the white missionaries found it easier to relate to them. In fact, “it was from among this partly assimilated group that the missionaries received their first converts and firmest friends.” When the Indians converted, there was no preaching against the evil of slavery. And how could there be? For the person preaching was often the one who had earlier sought to justify the practice.

Why was the ABCFM so ambivalent and duplicitous in their talk with regards to slavery? Were they really seeking to justify a practice that they thought was wrong? If so, how does this correspond with a desire to take the gospel to all the nations? It is the contention of this author that the ABCFM was seeking to justify slavery because they were blinded by the fascination with their own White-Protestant Culture. This fascination, with their own culture, prohibited them from rightly assessing what were strengths and what were weaknesses. In other words, the theological impetus for seeking to reach all the nations with the gospel was primarily a non-biblical ethnocentrism.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism: Part 3

This is the third part of a series on the first American Foreign Mission Board:

Critique of ABCFM 
ABCFM and Slavery

There are no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of stories of how the ABCFM was used to propagate the gospel to the ends of the earth. Those who risked their lives for the sake of the gospel are to be admired and esteemed. However, they should not always be admired in an uncritical manner. One area in particular that is in need of a critical assessment is the perpetuation of slavery by the ABCFM.

There are numerous documents from the first several decades of the eighteenth century that point to the ABCFM’s complacent attitude toward slavery. One such document gives an account of the response of the ABCFM to those who complained that the institution of slavery in America was “a hindrance to their missionary work.” The missionaries desired for the ABCFM to take a firm stance against slavery and yet the Board responded by saying:

The Board cannot be expected to pass resolutions, or adopt measures against this system [slavery], any more than against other specific forms of evil existing in the community. For we are met at once with the question, why we should express and proclaim our opinion in regard to one particular evil, in distinction from others, which are equally obvious and prevalent?

The Board was claiming that if they began to focus on particular issues rather than the preaching of the gospel that their work would be compromised. However, as Charles Whipple observes, in previous Annual Reports the Board had passed resolutions prohibiting “the use of opium...against caste—in Siam...and against the smoking of tobacco.”   In other words, the Board was perfectly comfortable with passing resolutions against “specific forms of evil,” but with regards to American slavery they sought to be politically suave and remain silent.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The First American Foreign Missions Board: Part 2

This is part 2 of my series on The American Foreign Missions Board:

Origins
The ABCFM was formed in 1810 and was officially incorporated in 1812. However, like most organizations, there were numerous events that proceeded the official incorporation date. The main impetus that led to the founding of the ABCFM came when a group of students, from Andover Divinity School, requested the opportunity to address a “recently organized body of conservative Congregational ministers, representing the more evangelical wing of the denomination” known as the General Association of Massachusetts Proper.

These students were all part of a “secret fraternity called the ‘Brethren,’ whose members pledged themselves to undertake the work of foreign missions.” The students took full advantage of this opportunity to address the General Association and presented their request for the formation of an American missionary society to support the work of missionaries taking the gospel to foreign lands. The Association recommended that the request be evaluated more thoroughly by a subcommittee. After a short deliberation the subcommittee responded favorably to the request and on June 29, 1810, recommended to
the General Association:

That there be instituted by this association a Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, for the purpose of devising ways and means, and of adopting and prosecuting measures for promoting the spread of the gospel in heathen lands.

In addition to this, the Association encouraged the four students to continue to pursue their studies and “humbly to wait the openings and guidance of providence in respect to their great and excellent design.” The Association also moved forward by appointing nine men to the Board of Commissioners. However, it took almost two years before the first missionaries were sent out to the sub-continent. This sending of American missionaries by an American Board marked a new era in the influence of the American Church in the world. As the influence of the ABCFM began to spread in the world, one of its most glaring weaknesses became more and more noticeable. It is to this that we now turn our attention.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Great Awakening, Missions, Slavery, and Paternalism

Recently I wrote an article offering a critique of the first American Foreign Missions Organization. Rather than give a long introduction regarding the background of the organization I thought I would allow the paper to speak for itself and post it in its entirety over the next several days. I realize that for some my critique of the ABCFM may be shocking, so please feel free to leave your complaints, disagreements, and reflections in the comment section. Below is the introduction:

In the early part of the nineteenth century America was in the midst of the Second Great Awakening. This powerful move of God restored hope and fervor in the American Church for an imminent millennial kingdom. As people were caught up in the “belief that the years were hastening on toward the millennium” there was a direct impact on foreign missions. Preachers were exhorting their parishioners to be actively involved in the propagation of the gospel to the ends of the earth so that the millennium would begin.

It was in this historical context that the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was founded. The purposes of this paper are two fold as it relates to the ABCFM. The first purpose is to offer a brief historical sketch of the origins and founding of the ABCFM. After briefly examining the origins and founding, of the “first and most important" mission board in the United States, the second purpose is to offer a critique of the practices of the ABCFM. In specific, this critique will examine the policy of the ABCFM with regards to slavery and the failure to empower indigenous leadership in the Hawaiian Islands.

Quote of the Day

Joe Thorn recently posted the following helpful quote by Jerry Bridges:

Deep down in our souls we must get hold of the wonderful truth that our spiritual failures do not affect God’s love for us one iota - that his love for us does not fluctuate according to our experience. We must be gripped by the truth that we are accepted by God and loved by God for the sole reason that we are united to His beloved Son.
--Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness

Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Thomas McCall

Justin Taylor has posted an interview he recently conducted with an Arminian Theology Professor.  Click Below to read the interview:


Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Thomas McCall

Sunday, January 6, 2008

What is Hyper-Calvinism?

Sam Storms has written the following article addressing the nature of hyper-Calvinism.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Politically Involved

Joe Carter recently wrote this fascinating article about his experience working for the Huckabee presidential campaign. Click here to read the article.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)