A faithful five for Sunday
A few faith-oriented links for your Sunday reading:
Catholic Seminarian Dennis Schenkel is back from his intensive language course in Guatemala. Browse back through his archives for accounts and photos of his travels. There's an entry from a couple of weeks ago about why Evangelicals are having success in Central America at the expense of Catholicism, which has been the predominant religion in the region going back to its colonization by Spain. It's interesting to read about this phenomenon from the perspective of "the other side". The most persuasive explanation came from one of the commenters: It's a matter of spiritual vitality. Success in evangelization depends on knowing and loving Christ.
More than this, I will be about the work of the LORD - serving my family in the most loving way I know: by bearing witness to the Truth, giving reasons for the Hope that I know, and fighting for my grandfather’s Soul with all that I am capable. Though his Salvation is my desire, I know the battle is the LORD's - and it is by the Grace of GOD that one comes to Faith, not my clumsy speech.
Now at his life's twilight, my dear grandfather is clinging so fearfully to his life - under the horrible distress of a great dread that he can scarcely understand in total, but still knows well enough within his heart. Despite a long life lived without knowing Christ, he knows that beyond the veil lays something he does not wish to face.
Please remember Matthew and his grandfather in your prayers.
Steve Camp has recently been added to my blogroll. He's a contemporary Christian musician, which might lead you to expect little of substance, but you'll find a great deal of depth. He's a Calvinistic Baptist, and he takes a contrarian view of Christian political involvement, saying that "evangelical co-belligerence" amounts to watering down the gospel for the sake of building alliances to fight temporal political battles. He writes today:
People who champion evangelical co-belligerence will never win the culture wars, though they might improve them some. But they will have failed miserably by sacrificing the gospel message, sound doctrine, theology, the church, and the biblical duties that the Lord has called us to all along “for a piece of political pie” with the reward of temporary fame, increased fortune and the still unrealized fantasy of a moral Christianized world without Christ and His truth at the core.
I'd like to believe that Camp is working with outdated information about the aims of Christian leaders who are engaged politically. 20 years ago, it seemed that some Christian political leaders believed that political victories could transform society. I think Christian engagement in the culture war today is aimed at protecting the innocent, particularly the unborn, and protecting religious liberty, not at achieving the transformation of society through legislation. You may not agree with Camp, but you'll find what he has to say worth your attention.
Continuing with the topic of Christian political involvement, George Grant has a fascinating and lengthy biographical sketch of William Wilberforce, the Member of Parliament who strove for 50 years to pass legislation abolishing the slave trade. One of those who encouraged him to remain in politics and persevere in pursuit of this goal was his pastor, former slavetrader John Newton.
Finally, David Bayly has banned the use of historical pejoratives in his church office. He says that calling someone a "Donatist" or a "gnostic" doesn't engage the issues at stake and doesn't win arguments.