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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"God" Is A Republican?

Yep. It looks like "God" is a Republican - at least in Pennsylvania. Maybe that will boost Bush's morale before the State of the Union Address tonight.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Flight 93

My wife and I just finished watching Flight 93 on A&E, and it was quite a moving experience. I was wondering if anyone else happened to watch the movie. If so, what did you think? What were initial reaction/feelings after the movie? I don't know if there is some sort of synchronization going on, but has anybody else noticed that just today Ayman Al-Zawahiri came out with a video statement taunting Bush and the U.S., the movie Flight 93 aired, and tomorrow is Bush's "State of the Union" Address. Oh, and not to mention Iran's nukes and Hamas becoming the leading political party in Palestine. That's almost too much to take in! If you happened to miss the movie and would like to see it, it is being aired at the following times on A&E: Tuesday, Jan. 31 1:00 am 10:00 pm Wednesday, Feb. 1 2:00 am 9:00 pm

An Upper and a Downer

Upper: Desiring God has announced the line-up for the 2006 National Conference with the theme of "Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World" which will take place on September 29 through October 1, 2006. Here's the line-up of speakers: David Wells: "The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World" D.A. Carson: "The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World" Timothy Keller: "The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World" Mark Driscoll: "The Supremacy of Christ and the Church in a Postmodern World" Voddie Baucham: "The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World" John Piper: "The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World" I do not think I have seen a better line up with a better theme! If there are any weaknesses in this conference, it is that it is so far away (for me, that is)! Oh well, I've got time to save . . . (HT: Justin Taylor) Downer: The schedule for the 2006 Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference has been announced, and I was particularly interested in how their were going to present the "not-a-debate" deal with Drs. Mohler and Patterson. They have entitled it, "Reaching Today's World Through Differing Views of Election." Now isn't that nice. Is there an intentional toning down of the matter? I don't know, but I am disappointed nonetheless. I really don't think the point is "reaching today's world." The point is the growing ecclesiastical divide in the SBC over the doctrine of election and the intentional emphasis of denominational leaders to demonize those who believe in Reformed theology. What can't we just tell it like it is? I guess we just have to chalk this one up for being politically/theologically correct in the SBC. Before this announcement, there had already been a persistent downplaying of the event as an attempt to temper the enthusiasm that finally the Reformed view of election will be on even playing field in the SBC. I want to think that this is still the case, but I am beginning to have my doubts. This "deal" should not be a side-item in the convention, chiefly because it is not a side-item in the denomination. It is a big deal and deserves more than being a menu item in the shopping list for ministers at the convention. I mean, if I had to sit through an eight hour course on the Cooperative Program in order to graduate from Southern, then surely the SBC can work in similar fashion to deal with serious theological issues in the denomination. Calvinists have patiently sat through caricature after caricature, straw man after straw man and have been on the defensive for years. Since the conservative resurgence has won the battle of inerrancy, denominational leaders have, in the spirit of conspiracy, worked to eradicate Calvinism from the SBC by taking every advantage to blast the doctrines of grace. So what are we to expect from this break-out session? Do you think it will receive the same degree of attention it formally was expecting to have? Will the end result work towards a clarifcation of the doctrine of election as understood by Reformed theology and end in a greater respect, cooperation, and understanding among all Southern Baptists? (HT: Tom Ascol)

Jesus "On Trial" and the Tenets of Logical Positivism

I happened to catch this over the weekend, and it comes out of Viterbo, Italy. Luigi Cascioli, an athiest, has accused the priest of a small town parish and the Roman Catholic Church of "deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed" and that the priest, Rev. Enrico Righi, violated two Italian laws by asserting that claim. In 2002, Righi wrote in a church bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary and later lived in Nazareth. Cascioli, upset with the bulletin, filed a criminal complaint against Righi and argued that the merits of whether Jesus Christ ever existed must be proven in court. While Cascioli has little hopes of winning in Italy, it is his goal to make it to the European Court of Human Rights, where, according to the Associated Press, he intends to accuse the church of what he calls "religious racism." Cacscioli, continuing to assert that the matter warranted discussion in the court, stated, "When somebody states a wrong fact, abusing the ignorance of people, and gains from that, that is one of the gravest crimes." On his website, Cascioli says, "After the recent discovery of Essene documents at Kimberth Qumran (Palestine) it has been possible to prove that Jesus was only the result of an artificial construction operated by falsifiers in the second century." Oh really? He has also written a book entitled The Fable of Christ and has other articles which include "proofs" for the nonexistence of Jesus Christ. While it is almost comical what Cascioli has attempted to do, we must take the issue seriously because the philosophy which he is basing his ideology is a conflicting worldview which attacks the heart of Christian truth--and that philosophy is Logical Positivism. Logical Positivism is a school of philosophy that asserts that only two kinds of propositions have meaning, namely, meaningless tautologies and propositions that can be verfied by sense experience (empiricism). Positivists base their construct on what is known as the verifiability criterion of meaning, or verification principle. It states that if something cannot scientifically be proven true or false through constituent terms (analytic statements which must be necessarily true or false) and empirical or observable data in sense experience (synthetic statements), then it must be deemed meaningless. The results of this, is, if one were to make a statement like "God exists" and is not an analytic or synthetic statement, it must be meaningless. The goal is to have a clean and concise way of eliminating the realm of metaphysics, the school of theology, and ethics from the sphere of public thought and responsible discourse. The only problem with logical positivism is that it fails on its own criterion. The statement that a proposition must be either true or false through analytic or synthetic basis is not a meaningful statement because it fails to be either an analytic or synthetic statement! Embracing such a self-referentially absurd position as logical positivism is to wield an axe where the end result is the chopping off of your own head. Now back to the story at hand. Cascioli argues that it must be proven that Jesus never existed in the court of law. While I am confident with the historicity, archeology, and classical literature could alone prove that Jesus existed, why do you think he is trying to do this? Could any other religious system of beliefs hold in the court of law? I doubt it, but the fact of the matter is that Jesus has been on trial for 2,000 years. I believe it was Pontius Pilate who asked Jesus the question, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). And while Pilate found no fault in Jesus, they crucified him as a blasphemer and guilty of treason. Cacscioli says on his website, "He [Cascioli] does not resort to purely theoretical reasoning as was done in the past, but shows evidence, which taken from history, is evident and therefore irrefutable." About the purpose of his book, he adds, "The book, THE FABLE OF CHRIST, after having carefully demonstrated the NON-existence of Jesus Christ, ends with a denunciation against the ministers of the Church so that, following a court sentence, the great fraud of Christianity will be banned from society." He uses terms like "incontrovertible historical documentation" and "irrefutable evidence" and "irrational fairy-tales" to somehow give semantical intimidation for an argument devoid of substantive information. He believes that his book carries the empirical evidence that will once-and-for-all end Christanity and "destroy the figure of Christ." While I would like to think that Mr. Luigi has been playing Mario Bro.'s on Nintendo all his life, but the reality is that he has been able to take this ridiculous charge to the courts. Christians have answered in the past and should answer in the present. Cascioli's charges are baseless, blasphemous, and ridiculous--but if that is where we end, we have given him and his followers too much credit. ********************* To read more, check out: Luigi Cascioli's web-site and (English version) AP: Marta Falconi-- Judge to Rule on Merit of Christ Case Reuters: Phil Stewart--Jesus Goes 'On Trial' in Italian Court BBC News: Italy Judge Considers Jesus Case Wikipedia: Logical Positivism Wikipedia: Verification Principle

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Other End of the Spear

I guess that I should go on record and say that I did go see the movie. While I feel really tempted to write a review of the movie, I have declined thus far. Rather I thought I would say as much about the movie as it does about the gospel of Jesus Christ. So here it is: There you have it. My review. Now, on another note, let me take this post to share with you the other end of the spear - the rest of the story which was not told. I am going to quote from three HCJB missionaries - all who were there at Palm Beach for the 50th anniversary of the killing of the missionaries. Their comments and reflections provide a snippit of what made this story so powerful and so life-changing. I. Ralph Kurtenbach opens with his statement: Christian believers of the once-feared Waodani Indians were baptized in Ecuador’s Curaray River exactly 50 years after their forebears speared to death five missionaries attempting to reach the tribe with the gospel. The baptisms took place on the opposite shore near the beach where Jim Elliot, Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian were killed on Jan. 8, 1956, by the Waodani.

Isn't it amazing to see that the legacy of these five men who where killed in these waters is a legacy about Jesus Christ, about the transformative power of the gospel of God's grace? The very waters which their blood was shed is not the water on which Waodani are being baptized! Who can attest to this save the cross of Jesus Christ! Kurtenbach further shares about one of the ten Waodani who were baptized on the anniversary:

One baptismal candidate had received Christ through Tementa whose father, Nenquiwui “George,” had misinformed the tribe about the missionaries’ intentions, leading to their martyrdom. Tementa was later instrumental in helping translators produce the Waodani New Testament.

Ken Fleming, the brother of Pete Fleming (one of the five missionaries killed) was a missionary in South Africa at the time of his brother's death. Upon hearing the news, one would think that Ken would come off the field, but rather, he stayed and persevered for with same calling which his brother had received. Fleming had the opportunity to meet Kimo - the Waodani who had actually speared his brother. Listen to what Fleming had to say:

“Kimo, we now know, is the man who definitely speared my brother,” Fleming said later. “It’s just been an absolute delight for me to see the glow of Christ in his face. He and his wife, Dawa, are leaders in the church and have gone on well for the Lord.”

What an amazing story of redemption and reconciliation! And hear how Fleming spoke of the "glow of Christ on his face." What does he see? He sees the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, in the face of Kimo a murderer and now a man of God. Kurtenbach concludes, "Waodani came by canoe and on foot from half a dozen villages, some walking for three days. Conference speakers spoke pointedly to the third generation since Christianity entered the tribe, challenging teens about their lukewarm response to Jesus Christ." Let us pray for the younger generation of Waodani who have been not been exposed to the revenge killings but the sheer grace of God and that they would treasure Jesus Christ will kindred faith of their fathers!

II. Harold Foerzen, senior editor of HCJB World Radio, speaks about "Operation Auca" which tells about the real motivation of the missionaries to go and give their lives in Ecuador:

Operation Auca—the vision to introduce the gospel to the once-savage Auca (Waodani) Indians in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest region—brought together five outstanding young missionaries, all at the peak of their careers. At about 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, five of the powerful Waodani warriors speared the five missionaries to death and ransacked the plane on the beach. Although the missionaries had guns and could have defended themselves, they agreed together not to use them against the Indians, even if attacked. Although the five met a tragic death, their efforts would lead to introduction of the gospel to this once-violent tribe three years later. All five of the Waodani killers became believers, and many of the tribal members now follow Christ. The touching story would also inspire thousands to commit their lives to full-time missionary service, helping spread the gospel to unreached people groups around the world. (emphasis mine) Here Foerzen says plain and clear what was absent and at best vague in the movie. These men did not go because the government was going to intervene, not because social or political motivations; rather, they went for the sake of the gospel. They did "all things" for the sake of the gospel - all things including the giving of their lives. III. Finally, Nate Dell, a missionary to the Waodani, shares his personal experience and reflects on the events which took place: In ways deeper than most Christians understand, Jesus is truly the redeemer and savior of the Waodani, for his story defined a way out of their killing system—the Creator was a Father who allowed His Son to be killed and did not seek revenge. I believe the story of Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Nate Saint, Pete Fleming and Jim Elliot was used to impact the world. On the other hand, it’s the story of Jesus that impacted the Waodani. Just as the story of these five now-famous men has rippled down through history to impact generations of missionaries who went into the far reaches of the planet, the story of Jesus has rippled through generations of Waodani life as well. Unfortunately, the Chrisitans who don't understand are the ones making the films! "It's the story of Jesus that impacted the Waodani! Not just the fact that they are no longer killing. Not just the fact that they have become people of peace. No! Behind these facts is the Prince of Peace who was murdered so that peace could have been possible, not just for the Waodani, but all of us outside of Jesus Christ as enemies of God. As Dell spoke to Dyuwi, one of the killers on that fateful day, he reflects on his conversation with him:

I looked up at his face, startled. Yes, I had heard right—they went on a murdering raid! In my many interactions with this gentle, humble servant of a man, I had forgotten that he had been a killer. In fact, this man had at one time driven a spear into the body of one of those five famous missionaries. I had never felt so poignantly the extent of transformation possible through the message of Jesus and his love.

Dell follows up with a powerful statement about the continuing legacy of the gospel among the Waodani:

It is often said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. There is little doubt that this is the case amongst the Waodani. Yet in honoring those five men who gave their lives that day, we often forget there are others who came afterward and gave their lives in a different way—not by dying for the Waodani, but rather by living with the Waodani for Christ.

All three of these reports also spoke of the importance of having the New Testament in the mother tongue of Waodani and its impact on teaching and training future generations about Jesus Christ. Also, several Waodani have followed the example of the five missionaries by becoming missionaries themselves to other unreached indigenous peoples around them. Dell adds that Tomo, a Waodani Christian, "had just returned from a five-month journey downriver to preach and teach to some of the more remote villages. He is not alone in his efforts."

Tomo, you are not alone in your efforts. Brother, you are not alone. *************************************** To read the entire reports by HCJB World Radio, see the following links:

The Missionary Martyrs Operation Auca (Harold Goerzen) Personal Perspective on the Waodani Church (Nate Dell) Waodani Baptized Where Missionaries Were Slain 50 Years Ago (Ralph Kurtenbach)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

*** Quick Hits 01.25.06 ***

Because I have not done a "Random Stuff" post in a while, I thought I'd do a quick hit post, highlighting some posts I thought were interesting.

* Marc Heinrich (Purgatorio) has just produced a post which rivals two of his best ("You Might Be Emerging If . . ." and "Help! I'm Going Hyper!"). It is called "You Probably Shouldn't Leave Worship Anymore If . . .". What would our sanity be without the great stuff Marc puts out?

* Tom Ascol (Founders Ministries) has chimed in on the homsexual debate with his post "Homosexual Activism and the SBC." In his post, Ascol shows a true pastoral heart as he reminds us that we are all in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 somewhere. Thanks Tom! * Marty Duren (SBC Outpost) has a post entitled "White Paper" which has received quite a bit of attention (80 comments at this moment). It has to do with paper entitled "Vision Assessment" which was a critique of Jerry Rankin and the direction of the IMB.

* David Wayne (Jollyblogger) has recently written a post entitled "Some Thoughts on Godly Disputation or 'How to Have a Christ-Like Argument" in which he provides some helpful remarks about debating for the sake of the cause of Christ. I think this is an excellent post and should be read by anyone engaging in debate on the blogosphere. * C.J. Mahaney has encouraged Mark Dever to write about his reading habits and disciplines of study to which Dever has written in two posts thus far: 1. Evangelism & My Canon of Theologians 2. Church Membership, the Archbishop, and My Canon of Theologians I really appreciate Dever doing this as he provides a great example of balance between "then" and "now." Bloggers can be especially guilty of being "nowistic" and vacuous of great historical thought, and he has provided a reliable guide for those wanting to do something about that. * Shane Walker (IX Marks Ministries) has written a review of Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz which has received both praise and criticism. Michael Spencer goes on a rant against IX Marks while Tim Challies refers to it as "an excellent review." * Joe Carter has had it with Brian McLaren. He expresses his sentiments in his recent post "The Saltless Servant: Brian McLaren and the 'Homosexual Question.'" The instigation of this post by Carter stems from an article from Out of Ur (CT's blog) entitled "Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question: Finding a Pastoral Response." Also, Doug Wilson has written about this as well in his post "All About Sex." * Speaking of Brian McLaren, there have been three recent reviews of his book A Generous Orthodoxy. First, there is the long series of posts by Doug Wilson (find them here). Later came John Frame and his review. Finally, Doug Geivett came out with a short review of the book as well. * Michael Spencer (Internet Monk) has added a few thoughts on the Emerging Church with his post "More Thoughts on the Emerging Church." He speaks about the movement in flux, with varying transitions and terminology, which, if not understood, can cause oversimplications and broad accusations. Also, Spencer also just did a review of Mark Dever's recent book Promises Kept: The Message of the New Testament and highly recommends it. I find this a little humorous given that he just went on a rant against IX Marks review of the book Blue Like Jazz. I guess that's it. You know, it seems that the Christian blogosphere is really changing and growing as of late. I am excited to see what the potential of all this can become . . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Passion of Kanye West?

Kanye West has done and said some pretty obscene and offensive things in the past, but it looks like he can't get enough of his odious and abhorrent ways. He is on the cover of the upcoming issue of the Rolling Stone Magazine with a crown of thorns over his head in mockery of the recent movie The Passion of the Christ. According to AP article, West is quoted as saying: "If I was more complacent and I let things slide, my life would be easier, but you all wouldn't be as entertained," he says. "My misery is your pleasure." He also goes on a tangent in the interview where he talks about his addiction to pornography. He spoke of the first time he saw his father's copy of Playboy magazine when he was five years old and commented, saying: "Right then," West says, laughing, "it was like, 'Houston, we have a problem.'" Houston, we do have a problem . . . a problem far greater than you realize. ******* Update: MSNBC has also added an online poll to see what people's opinions were - interesting.

Hey Bloggers - I Need Your Help!

Here's the deal: While in Ecuador, I met Joselito Orellana who is a missionary and teacher in Quito. He is from Ecuador and serving as a missionary to his own people. Last week, he sent me an email asking for help in creating a new website, so I thought I would start with a blog. His previous website did not generate any traffic nor did it really serve the purpose for which it was created. Therefore, I have endeavored to help him out upon his request. Yet my help is limited. I have about a 1st grade knowledge on the technical/formatting side of blogging. I hardly know any HTML and know nothing about feeds such as RSS and XML. Bottom line: some of you (probably all of you) know more about this than I do, and I am asking for your help. I have created a simple blog thus far with a stat account with Sitemeter and a Flickr account as well. I haven't registered the blog with Technorati yet. I also have created categories on the side to organize his posts (i.e. "sermons", "updates", "newsletters", etc.). I would love to hear what can be done to make his blog better. So here are two specific requests: 1. What can be done in the formatting/technical side to make his blog better? Plugins? Feeds? Programs? 2. What do you think about the set-up as it is? Am I leaving anything out that would be beneficial to his blog? Any links? Categories? Here is his blog: Joselito and Family If anything, please go over there and check it out. If you or someone you know is interested in Ecuador, link to his blog, and let's give him some exposure. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this, and for helping me in this matter!

What?! Pyromaniac's Gone? No Way!

Phil Johnson began blogging shortly after I did (May 2005) and has amassed in this short period of time almost a half a million hits with hundreds of daily readers. However, as Johnson expresses, blogging has no longer been fun for him as he has the daily chore of keeping up with such a behemoth of a blog. Also, with such notoriety, Phil's blog has been the magnet for personal attacks and people with axes to grind. Yet another sad story of blogging gone bad. So here are Phil's comments in his own words: On top of that, blogging tempts me to write when I ought to be reading. It's virtually impossible to do any serious or in-depth study every day and also read all the blogs and blogcomments in my blogroll, while answering all the extra e-mail the blog generates. My blog has become more than I can handle by myself in my spare time. In order to maintain it by myself and achieve the standard of excellence I want, it would require full-time maintenance. I simply cannot do that, and I don't want it to be mediocre. If that all sounds like a convincing argument for the closure of PyroManiac, that's what I thought, too. So as of this morning, PyroManiac is officially closed. But that's not all. There is good news. Phil has started up a new group blog where he will be posting along with the likes of Frank Turk, Daniel J. Phillips, James Spurgeon, and Jonathan Johnson. The Teampyro blog looks much like Pyromaniac, and I am sure it will carry the same quality and excellence as previously experienced. Looking forward to the collective creativity and critical thought from these guys.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Told You I Would Do This

cherokeecreek, originally uploaded by snowedinsojourner.

Last week, we had our first decent snow, so Dan and I went out to take some photos after work (around 4:30 a.m.). Well, as I shared in my earlier post, all the images in my card were corrupted, so I have no images from that excursion. However, I told you that I would post one from Dan, so here you go. To view the rest of Dan's pictures, check out Snowedinsojourner.

Blog Beneficiaries and Groping for Gravitas

For some time now, I have heard and felt the pressure against blogging. Some think that bloggers are deviant and immature. Some calls us second-rate journalists or wanna-be scholars. Others think that this is nothing but a public forum for gossip, slander, and lies. While I think that there is some legitimacy to these charges, I believe in large part that blogging has been beneficial to Christianity. It is true that many have been turned off from blogging by what they have read (or more importantly the tone in which it was written), but at the same time people are being turned onto blogging at an exponential rate--which makes me wonder if those who do not blog feel that the influence blogging gets is unwarranted and deemed threatening to those who once controlled the airwaves. About three months ago, I drafted a post called "Kissing Judases" which I failed to post (needed editing) that was meant to be a follow-up to a post I called "Across the Theological Beltway." Sometime this week, I hope to publish the post. However, what has motivated me to do this was two posts I read that I think are a significant contribution to this subject matter. The first is a post by Mark Dever called "The Unbearable Lightness of Blogs." In his post, Dever says something worth considering, which I have written about earlier (see my post "Chronological Snobbery and Rootless Christianity"): One reason that I've been reluctant to enter the blogosphere is that I am concerned that blog-writing and reading only adds to a bad tendency that we today already have--a fascination with the newest, latest, and most recent. And the newest and latest also often means that which is of only immediate value, that which is passing. That is opposed to that which is enduring, and which has in fact endured and lasted. We write words here which crawl along electronically and leap out through your fingers and eyes to take precious minutes and hours that the Lord has entrusted to us. Could these small things we write really be that important? It is true that blogging right now is new, recent, and somewhat of a novelty. I must admit that I am invested in a trend if you want to call it that. And it is true that much of what is said is immediate (and I would add impulsive). Juxtapose this to the great literature of Christian history would be to compare a banqueting table of delights to Ramen noodles. So I agree. But . . . it seems to me that the immediate value can have long-term benefits/consequences. While blogging could be excessive and a waste of time, I think those who exercise discernment and balance could really make a difference - not just for today, but for tomorrow (and maybe the day after that and after that and . . .). While many blogs are very "light," I hope that we would not be contributing to the plague of levitas. The second post of the week is by Dr. Russell Moore called "The Spiritual Danger of Blogging." While stressing the spiritual dangers of gossip, slander, and the like, Moore makes the following comments: It goes without saying that gossip and paranoia deaden the heart. But even among those who flee such things, there's still temptations to fight in the blogosphere. Without question, the blogosphere gives a platform to those who wouldn't ordinarily have one. In many cases, that's a good thing. Some of the most insightful blogs I read are from young pastors and some of my students. But, let's be honest, blogs also tend to give a microphone to a kind of deadening cynicism and blind self-righteousness in the guise of taking on self-righteousness, legalism, and what-have-you. That's a temptation for everyone, computer-literate or not, but blogging seems to be the newest way to mask paranoia, cynicism, and just plain pugilism. Again, I share some of the same concerns with blogging (see my post "Does the Blogosphere Provide An Acceptable Medium For A Viable Apologetic?"). But can we focus on some of the benefits of blogging? For instance, I know of many scholars and students who have undertaken blogging to provide interaction, sharpening, and input on blogposts who could later turn into papers or articles. Other times, blogs have served the purpose of informing one another on matters of great importance which otherwise would go unnoticed. Even still there are bloggers who have engaged in intelligent, mature, and meaningful debate which has engaged more people to turn theology more into an intellectual exercise of abstraction to real life application. For the past couple of months, I have made specific attempts to talk to a few scholars and leaders on the conservative side of the evangelical camp about getting on board with blogging. The typical response is either 1) they don't have time, 2), blogging is of the devil (Momma Boucher complex), or 3), they do not know how or the benefits of blogging. Unfortunately, it appears the more conservative or orthodox you are, the less inclined you are to use contemporary means of accomplishing the same goals of yesteryear - with even greater impact. It is my hope that blogging will not be written off by the leaders in the conversative evangelical camp. We are already losing much ground because of our lack of connectedness on the frontlines of debate and interaction (and no, it is not JETS either). I am afraid if the only advertisement we hear that blogging is a spiritual danger, then we are shooting ourselves in the foot and incurring a backlash of backwardness that will effectively tune us out of the theological conversations going on today. Yes, we need gravitas, and I hope that one of the benefits of blogging can be to that end. If not, then let us fault none other than ourselves for that outcome. ****************************************** For extra reading, check out Bob Kauflin's posts: * Blogging to Worship God 1 - Content * Blogging to Worship God 2 - Attitudes * Blogging to Worship God 3 - Motives UPDATE: Tim Challies has picked up on Dever's post. Check out his post called "The Profound Blessings of Blogging." Also, Steve McCoy has written about Moore's post, believing that the post is in some way directed towards him. The post is called "Russ Moore, Blogging, and Revolution." Some interesting comments on this post as well you might want to check out.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Images from Shell Mera, Ecuador

Given the intense week of readings and postings about IMB, The End of the Spear, and the paedobaptism deal, I thought that I would post some pictures I took while in Ecuador related to Nate Saint. I short description is provided below the pick, and to see larger image, simply click on the image. For those interested in seeing more pictures of Ecuador, I have been and will continue to post pictures of Ecuador at SLC (my Flickr page). At this moment, I have 77 images uploaded, but eventually I should have several hundred online.

This is the home of Nate Saint, one of the five martyred missionaries, who gave his life for the Hourani people of Ecuador.

Across the street from Saint's home is the airstrip which he used to land his plane. Across this wall is the airstrip, which is still used today by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) although under government control.

This is the hospital located in Shell Mera and was founded by Nate Saint. It is now run by HCJB and serves as the hospital for the indigenous peoples in east Ecuador. You can actually go there to work as a guest worker and volunteer. It is truly a fascinating place, especially given its history. To read more about the Amazon Region of Ecuador, click here.

This is the helipad located across from the hospital.

The sign of the street the hospital is located.

I have other images I intended to upload on this post, but for some reason they are not showing up! Oh well, hope you enjoyed these, and for the rest, either see my Ecuador 2006 album or the Ecuador SBTS Group Photos.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

All for the Sake of the Gospel: Concluding Remarks About The End of the Spear

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel."
2 Timothy 2:8
Last night, I did not go see the movie but was able to listen to Dr. Mohler on his radio show (you can listen to the broadcast by clicking here). He reiterated something very important which should punctuate the discussion of the movie The End of the Spear. I am speaking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I believe that the issue of Chad Allen being casted as a lead role in the movie is a big problem (see previous posts), what is most important is the depiction, description, and illustration of the message of Jesus Christ. Before I talk about the gospel, let me touch on the issue between the message and the messenger. Justin Taylor argued that there is a distinction between the two--a distinction which is artificial in my opinion. The message does stand on its own truthfulness, but it also is authenticated by the bearer of that message. While the truths of the message are given in proclamation, the messenger is responsible for verifying those truths in demonstration. Lest why would Paul emphatically say, "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may be a fellow partaker of it" (1 Corinthians 9:23)? What we believe and profess and who we are is intrinsically connected and should not be dichotomized. Again, hear the missionary tell the Phillipian believers, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing frim in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). A manner of life worthy of the gospel--that is what is expected. For what? For the faith of the gospel. Mohler spoke of what he called "the stewardship of the story" in that the actual events are entrusted to the filmmakers to produce as accurately as possible the story as it really happened. Central to being goods stewards is providing characters who embody that trust, and ETE has tragically failed and failed big here. Tom Ascol recently posted his comments about the movie and its portrayal of the actual events. He writes, They have taken a great story and, with artistic liberties, have produced a not-very-good movie. I am still wondering just what the point of the movie is. Had I not been familiar with the events surrounding the deaths of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Peter Fleming, I might have enjoyed the movie more, but I still would be left wondering, "what is the point?" If what Ascol says is true, then this movie has much more problems that a homosexual playing the role of a Christian missionary. He continues, "the movie goes out of its way to downplay the very real Christianity that motivated these men--and their widows and Nate's sister after them--to take the Gospel to the Waodani people." This has been my greatest fear. Now, let's look at what how this movie has provided a platform for the gospel according to Chad Allen. Allen has spoken out on a number of occasions about God, the meaning of the movie, and homosexuality. What is good news according to Chad Allen. Let's see: Allen believes that homosexuality is not a sin and that if you are a homosexual you are "whole, perfect, and complete right now, exactly as you are." He believes that there is not one right way to understand God, but that there are many paths. Using the light on a stained-glass window illustration, he argues that however way you see the Light is good for you, but one may see the Light differently. It all depends on how you look through the stained-glass. Hence, Allen argues that the good news is that you can worship the god of your own understanding, a "higher power that works" for you. The gospel (main meaning) of the movie according to Allen is "the transformational spirit of love." This sounds great because it is entirely vague and carries no propositional content; therefore, it fits in every worldview, every religious paradigm or framework . . . except Christianity of course. So there you have it - the gospel according to Chad Allen. And this is the gospel the homosexuals are hearing and believing. And this is the gospel that overshadows the gospel of Jesus Christ. The platform this movie has provided has given Allen the evangelist unprecedented opportunity to share about the "god of his own understanding." Now let me say something about what Dr. Mohler say on his radio show. He stated that we should turn this controversy into a missiological opportunity, following in the train of the missionaries being depicted in the movie. Anyone who knows me knows that I am totally on board about being missional and seizing opportunities to take the gospel to people I meet in the world. But since when have we propped the gospel on entertainment and movie theaters? I have argued earlier that the missiological motive is desirable but naive. I would love to see people come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. I want to believe that this movie would work to that end, but I am not convinced that it will. On the contrary, I am saddened to see that the gospel they are really hearing is from Chad Allen and not from Nate Saint. Lest we forget, we must understand that "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness, folly, a stumbing block, an offense to the world without Jesus Christ. There is nothing syncretistic about the message of Jesus Christ. It cannot be diluted without being changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ was the passion of the missionaries and the power to changes the lives of the worst savages known on the face of the planet. Paul was "not ashamed of the gospel" (Romans 1:16), but unfortunately today it seems that many Christians are. As Christians we have been entrusted with the great treasure of the message of Jesus Christ. To change the message is to bring condemnation upon your own self (Galatians 1:6-9). We are called to be "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4:1). We are to "contend for the faith which has once and for all been delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). With all this said, I earnestly pray that the end result of this movie is that Christians will have a renewed passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ - a passion that would call us to become all things to all men. A passion that moved these five missionaries to leave the world behind and give their lives for the Hourani people. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, not because of them necessarily, but because of presentation of their God and His gospel. Paul was a man of great passion for the gospel, a passion that caused him to endure much pain. While in prision, he wrote to those in Philippi, saying, "I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel . . ." (Philippians 1:12). My only hope and desire is that what has happend to the five missionaries and the making of this movie will serve to advance the gospel. For fifty years, their legacy has proved this to be true, and I pray it continues. Finally, I want to testify to what the gospel of Jesus Christ has done in me. I am changed man. And because of the gospel I am a debtor to both the Greeks and to the barbarians (Romans 1:14), and I do not want to count my life as having any value or as precious to myself, but want to run the race and testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). This gospel is good new for sinners, of whom I am chief among. Whether you are a homosexual or heterosexual, Indian or American - there is salvation and true satisfaction in knowing Jesus Christ and tasting of His free grace. I implore you to consider Him and flee to the cross wherein eternal life is purchased by the atoning death of our Substitute. He took a spear too, you know, and by His blood outpoured, you can find forgiveness for your sins. For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of these five men and their legacy, for the sake of the glory of God in Jesus Christ, let us not fumble the faith which has so costly been handed to us! Let me conclude with these words:
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, and to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ."
2 Corinthians 2:14-17

*************************** Other recent posts and reviews: Tom Ascol: What I Saw in "End of the Spear" Joe Thorn: Mohler at the Movies Michael Spencer: Review: End fo the Spear Paleoevangelical: The End of the Spear Controversy: Cleaning Up Other People's Messes Alex Jordan: End of the Spear: Is the Real Message of Jim Elloit and Nate Saint Being Overshadowed? Ochuk: Chad Allen and the Kingdom of God Agent Tim: The End of the Spear - Movie Review Doxoblogy: End of the Spear, My Perspective Cal Thomas: End of the Spear Rick Holland: My Two Cents on The End of the Spear Christianity Today (Lisa Ann Cockrel): End of the Spear (Review) Village Voice (Mark Holcomb): 'End of the Spear' (Review) Entertainment Weekly (Owen Gleiberman): End of the Spear (Review) WorldNetDaily (Joseph Farah): 'End of the Spear' Gene Edward Veith: Still See "The End of the Spear" Theological Musings: Review: End of the Spear Blogger News Network (Stacy L. Harp): End of the Spear An Honest Review Blogs4God: True Spearituality - Christian Bloggers on End of the Spear, Again Hollywood Jesus (Greg Wright): End of the Spear (Review) About.com (Fred Topel): End of the Spear Movie Review Slant Magazine (Ed Gonzalez): Film Review--End of the Spear Splintered Light (Jimmy Sizemore): End of the Wait (Review) Marvin Olasky: Two Cheers for the End of the Spear Steve Camp: The Lack of Biblical Discernment: A Call for Prayer and Repentance Adrian Warnock: When Will We Learn? My Take on "The End of the Spear" Controversy and Driscoll vs. McLaren Frank Turk: The Business End of the Spear [1] Frank Turk: The Business End of the Spear [2] Frand Turk: The Business End of the Spear [3] Frank Turk: I Want a Blind Doctor Jason Janz: When We Say "Gospel": My Primary Concern with End of the Spear Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac): In Case You've Somehow Missed This . . . Bob Bixley (Pensees): Tyranny of Paranoia Bob Bixley (Pensees): Thank You, New York Times! Chris Anderson: My Two Cents on Randy Alcorn's Perspective on the "End of the Spear" Controversy Larry Rogier (Stuff Out Loud): Rhetoric Anyone? Jason Janz: Summary of the Movie Controversy Neela Banerjee (New York Times): Evangelical Filmmakers Criticized for Hiring Gay Actor Ochuk: End of the Spear and the Kingdom of God Jason Janz (Sharper Iron): Clarifications on the "End of the Spear" Article John Ferguson (Reformation 21): End of the Spear Points in the Right Direction Randy Alcorn: Perspectives on End of the Spear Randy Alcorn: The End of the Spear and Chad Allen Controversy Carla Rolfe: End of the Spear Shame ChoosingHome Blog: On Spears, Brotherly Love, and Being in the World (but not of It) Ingrid Schlueter (Slice of Laodicea): Every Tribe Entertainment: We Didn't Know He Was Gay . . . Jim Bublitz (Slice of Laodicea): Is Christ the Only Way? Not According to Chad Allen's Church Alexander Jordan (Jordan's View): End of the Spear - The Story Behind the Story Alexander Jordan: End of the Spear - A Review and Assessment Jason Janz (Sharper Iron): Responses from Mart Green and Steve Saint Rotten Tomatoes: End of the Spear (41 Reviews: 18 Fresh/23 Rotten) Mark Moring (Christianity Today): Christian Studio Explains Hiring Gay Actor Ardel Caneday: End of Carping About End of the Spear Slice of Laodicea (Ingrid Schlueter): Spear Does Not Mention the Name of Jesus Shaper Iron (Jason Janz): Mart Green Says He Would Hire Allen Again Even If He Knew About His Activism CT (Mark Moring): From Film Neophyte to Movie Mogul CT (Mark Moring): Death Worked Backwards End of the Spear Blog: An Article About Mart Green BOX OFFICE MOJO: End of the Spear Gross Income Note: With such different reviews (see Ascol and Spencer), one must wonder if we are all watching the same movie or it we are wearing different lenses.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The End of the Spear Meets the Press

I. As I was reviewing my thoughts over the continuing controversy, I received an email from a good friend that Baptist Press had produced an article online entitled 'End of the Spear': Missions Buffeted by U.S. Culture War by Art Toalston. In the article Toalston attempts to summarize two aspects of the movie: the enthusiasm of such a movie and its impact on unbelievers and the "culture war" waged by Christians online. Toalston quotes and interviews Jason Janz of Sharper Iron who has been foremost among Christian bloggers on the controversy and compromise at hand. Also towards the end of the article, Toalston writes about the question of the film's quality: Phil Boatwright, who provides film commentary for Baptist Press, lamented that the depiction of the tribesmen in End of the Spear "lacked much charisma, causing the story to be stilted...." The music, while "trying to capture the feel" of the Waodani, entailed "an endless drumbeat" and a chanting chorus "to the point of tedium." Overall, he said, the film had a "lack of emotional tug" and "little spiritual impetus." Also, it just so happens that one of the endorsers of the film is Gene B. Habecker who is the president of the American Bible Society. I find this funny and frustrating for this reason (of which I will write a separate post later): I desperately searched the Christian bookstores for a Hourani New Testament, even to the ABS headquarters in Quito, and to my surprise (and the surprise of the rest of the team, there was not a single translation of any of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador! When we asked the guys at the counter why there were no other translation than Spanish, they answered, "They are currently being printed." Please. Mr. Habecker, if you and the ABS are really supportive of the Hourani and this movie, then please produce the Bibles in their language and have it available for them. I will say more about this later. II. On another note, Agape Press has also produced an article entitled Saint Defends Casting of Homosexual Actor in Christian Missionary's Story. Alongside Janz's posts, this article also references the discussion over at Challies' blog and in particular what Tim argued ("the platform" argument). However, most telling in this article is what is reported about Steve Saint. Saint feels that "it was God's plan for the homosexual actor to be in the film." At first, Saint struggled with Allen's sexual orientation but later saw the actor's involvement as possibly "God-ordained." The reporters added the following paragraph: Although he realized many Christians might be offended by Allen's role in the film, the Christian co-producer says, "I thought, 'What happens if I stand before God someday and He says to me, "Steve, I went out of my way to orchestrate an opportunity for Chad Allen to see what it would be like to live as your father did.' And then I could picture Him looking at me and saying, 'Steve, why did you mess with my plan?'" I don't want to comment too much on this, but would it not seem more profitable to consider what God has already said in His Word to understand His plan rather than dream up a "what if?" scenario? God is there, and He is not silent. And we should not be confused about it. Interestingly enough, as many have attempted to argue that the movie screen would be a good medium to "evangelize" those watching it, Saint, co-producer of the film, argues differently. Explaining why the movie does not overtly present the gospel, Saint asserts, "The theater is not a good venue for doing that . . . People go into the theater and they open up their 'cultural heart'--and that's where new trends in our society start; they start in the theater." Cultural heart? What? Starting a new trend in society? Is that what this movie is about? Hmmm. I think we are getting closer to the truth here. Saint's final motif was the seeker-sensitive mantra. And just like the seeker-sensitive gospel is watered down and cheapened in the mega-church movement, so it is in the movie theater. III. This morning, Dr. Al Mohler writes in his commentary a post called What Were They Thinking? The Controversy Over The End of the Spear. Mohler gives four thoughts for Christians in responding to the controversy which are helpful for the discussion: 1. Christians must have the cultural maturity to know that many of the most famous and influential producers of cultural materials, whether in literature, art, or entertainment, have been homosexuals. 2. Christians must learn the discipline of cultural discernment based upon Christian truth. 3. We must avoid hypocrisy. 4. We must understand the nature of the art form and learn how to discriminate on the basis of an informed cultural understanding, not a knee-jerk reaction. Mohler later adds some insight and guidance for Christians in dealing with entertainment from a consistent Christian worldview, but concludes with his opinion of the movie and its making: So, what of The End of the Spear? Put bluntly, I believe that the makers of this movie made a very reckless decision in casting Chad Allen as Nate and Steve Saint. Given the publicity of Chad Allen's activism and the intensity of his mission to normalize homosexuality -- a mission clearly articulated on his Web site -- it is hard, if not impossible, to suspend belief and see him as a missionary martyr for the Gospel. The distance between Nate Saint and Chad Allen is just too great. This mistake is compounded by the fact that this activism is so well known and well documented -- it's what Chad Allen makes central to his own identity. IV. In the Windy City Times, Chad Allen is interviewed about the movie (dated 01.18.2006). While answering the question of the basic point of the movie, Allen responded: "I don't know much about marketing, but I do know that it's a film that has a simple message about the transformational spirit of love. You may come into it with politics or religion in mind, but the movie's story transcends all that. The film is about unity and love, which we all have the capability to give." So the movie is not about the gospel of Jesus Christ, not about the missionaries who gave their lives for the Hourani's of Ecuador, not about the transformation of a people from an animistic culture to a redeemed people by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. What is the movie about? "The transformational spirit of love." I guess Allen means to say that this movie transcends all that--"that" including the five missionaries, their Savior, the gospel, and the people whose lives were changed. Allen then goes on to say, "I've really been heartened by the number of Christians who have said that [ homosexuality ] is not a sin and that we should just love and respect each other." Who has Allen been talking to? Steve Saint? Probably, but he's not the only one. What kind of message are we sending? Saint told Allen that the very things he (Allen) spoke about in The Advocate (a homosexual/transgender magazine on which Allen has been on the cover) is the same things he fought his whole life for. What? I don't want to speculate, but more questions are raised than answers provided. Allen also provides a very ecumenical/pluralistic illustration of how he understands God (through a stained-glass window). V. Finally, two prominent bloggers have chimed in as well. Tom Ascol writes a post called Sad News about "End of the Spear." Ascol shares: "What is tragic, it seems to me, is that the implicit stamp of approval on homosexuality that the casting of Chad Allen inevitably gives, will now be associated with this story." Also, Michael Spencer was written a post called It Ought to Be a Parable. It's That Good. In his post, Spencer argues that this has shown where "culture warriors" are finding the sin of homosexuality the worst of all. Spencer writes: "I'm starting to believe that there is absolutely no way to say that the current crop of culture warriors is anywhere close to being as committed to the Gospel as they are to doing battle with homosexual activists. Listening to the culture warriors explain their latest bout of shock and outrage is quite revealing. I don't know how they feel about Jesus most of the time, but I sure know how they feel about homosexual activists and other political sinners." Spencer expresses his frustration that "culture warriors" have based their morality more on politics than the character of God. He also believes they are more concerned with "winning the hearts and minds of the culture" than the transformative power of the Gospel. Consequently, if this were a parable, the culture warriors would be the modern-day Pharisees and Jesus would be criticzing the Pharisees. He concludes by offering the advice of taking a homosexual in your community to the movie, take a picture of the two of you at the movie theater, and send it to the culture warrior near you. Update: Justin Taylor was written a second post on the matter called End of the Spear, Redux in which he does not say much except that he likes what Mohler says and makes some concessions to his original argument. I commented and asked him to speak a little more on the matter in regards to what Chad Allen has said, Steve Saint's association, and the ultimate outcome of the situation. I hope he replies. Also, Sharper Iron has written a great post Fifty Years Ago . . . Five Ordinary Fools which is a great read. They have included some excellent quotes from the five missionaries who "gave up what they could not keep to gain that which they could not lose." Here is a timely and piercing quote by Jim Elliot, one of those fools: Ah, tolerant generation, who pays the prophets and fondles them who are sent unto you--woe. How much better had it been for you and for them if only they had found death at your hands! Cursed be your Judas embrace. Damned be your friendliness--it speaks not well for you; it lays shattering condemnation on your prophets. - Jim Elliot Trackback: In the Shadow of the Spear In the Shadow of the Spear - My Response Mohler, Larry King, and Gays in America - Tonight Controvesy at the End of the Spear

Thursday, January 19, 2006

In the Shadow of the Spear - My Response

Earlier this morning, I tried to compile most of what is being said in response to Every Tribe Entertainment's choice of casting Chad Allen, an openly gay activist, as a leading role in the movie The End of the Spear which is to be released tomorrow. In this post, I hope to share some of my thoughts and responses to what some of the people are saying. Since I have several different thoughts, I will separate them in bullets. 1. Probably the most disappointing part of this movie is not so much the issue of Chad Allen's homosexuality as much as the toning down of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This movie is being produced by a "Christian" entertainment company, and one would think that if the movie is about five men who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel, one would emphasize the centrality of the gospel in the movie. However, from what has been said by those who have seen it, the gospel is glaringly absent. One of my favorite books is The Journals of Jim Elliot. As I read about he and the other missionaries, I realized that they were hard core when it came to the gospel and the call of missions. They were men of great conviction, great courage, and great character. It is sad to see that the makers of this movie, and those cast in it, are so diametrically opposed to what these men epitomized. 2. What I have heard from many Christians is something like, "It doesn't matter that he is homosexual. What matters is that he does a good job portraying Nate Saint." Basically, the main rationale is that he is the best man for the job. Really? Is Chad Allen the best actor Hollywood has to offer? Is performance all that really matters? This is the post-Clintonian ethic. While Bill Clinton had his pants down in the oval office, his ratings/job approval went up. America said, "As long as the economy is good, my stocks keep rising, and the country is safe, who cares if the President practices oral sex and infidelity in the White House? In other words, the President's private life and what he does should not be our concern. What should be our concern is the way he does his job and how that affects us (how anthropocentric!). " So we say, "As long as Allen's performance is good, who cares if he is a homosexual?" And this could not be more self-centered and contrary to the gospel. It does matter. It seems that in our postmodern context, the scandal of the evangelical conscience (a la Ron Sider) is becoming more evident than ever. 3. Another response which troubled me was the missiological motive as expressed by Gene Bridges. In his comment on Challies post, he said On the other hand, would gay men and lesbians, a hard-to-reach people group have gone to see this film without Chad Allen or another openly gay actor in it? Probably not, so I have to wonder if this isn't a providential working of God that will show our short-sightedness if we don't latch onto it. In my opinion, not to use this opportunity to reach a hard to reach people, which is what this film is essentially portraying would be as much a disservice to the memories of these men as Chad Allen's use of this role to promote his social and political agenda, if not moreso. Bridges makes some stretching equivocations here. First, he makes a comparison between the Hourani (Auca) tribe and the homosexuals of America. He says that both groups were/are among the least reached in the world, and the movie would honor these men if it was used to reach homosexuals for Christ. Nice idea, but wrong and naive. The Hourani and homosexuals cannot be equivocated. The Hourani's had no access to the gospel. And when they received the gospel, it changed their lives. Homosexuals in America have access to the gospel, but as Scripture says, are "suppressing the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18). They have heard the gospel (although probably won't get much of it in the movie) but have chosen to remain in the unnatural, depraved state of a homosexual lifestyle. Insert Chad Allen's comments on Larry King Live: KING: But did you choose it? In other words, did you sit down one day and say gay/straight, gay/straight I think I'll be gay? ALLEN: No. Larry, this is the way it is. From as early as I can possibly remember I was attracted to men and not to women. That's just the way that it goes. I didn't have somebody like me talking on TV about it. I didn't have gay influences in my family. It just is and I have come to accept that it is goodness and it's part of who I am. ALLEN: (midway through comment) I have a deep relationship with God in my understanding. It's very powerful, and it's taken its own shape and form. And I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love. CALLER: Chad, by whose standard do you think that it's right to live the way you have chosen to live? ALLEN: By the standard that I judge all of my actions. These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me. You know, I had to sit down with that same God today and say, "Do you want me to go on this show? Do you want me to speak the things that are in my heart? And if not, I'm happy not to go. Do you want me to make this movie?" It's the same God that I go to for every decision. KING: You play a Christian, right? ALLEN: I play a Christian, yes. And they're going to be saying, "This is the way you be Christian, there's only one way." Well you know what, there isn't. I'm a part of a wonderful community church here in Pasadena that has a very different interpretation of those same gospels that they are speaking of. There isn't just one way to do this, there are a lot of paths. KING: Chad Allen, being honest, do you ever wish you were straight? You wish you were straight? ALLEN: There have been times in my life when I've absolutely wished that I was straight, without question. Today in my life, the acceptance of my sexuality is a beautiful gift from God that I get to share with the world, and my partner has made me happier than anything. And I think it's so important to address, because they keep coming back and saying, if you follow this path then it's going to lead to darkness; you follow this path, and it's going to lead to dangerous... KING: Do you ever think you're doing something wrong? ALLEN: Listen, I question myself all the time to make sure that I'm operating in the right way and the way that I want to operate in the world. And this what I've come to, again and again and again. It's been where my heart has been brought. You are whole, perfect and complete right now, exactly as you are. (in conclusion) ALLEN: Thank you very much. And I appreciate that. I couldn't agree more. Steve Saint called me today, and he said, I need you to know that I'm sitting here with Mincayani. We'll be watching you tonight. We love you. We are on your side. And I know that we have those differences, but we are walking through this together. That's where we're going to go. Emphasis mine. Comments are taken directly out of Larry King Live transcript. Now, with all that Allen said, being that he is the spokesman and figurehead of the "least reached" homosexual people in America, do you think this movie will influence homosexuals for Christ? Allen says that he is "whole, perfect, and complete right now." He says that his homosexuality is a "beautiful gift from God." He has accepted his homosexuality "as goodness" and that he has a "deep and profound" relationship with the "God of my understanding" ("a higher power that works for me"). He also said, "I am very much at peace in the knowledge that in my heart God created this beautiful expression of my love." Allen believes he is a Christian. He does not believe he needs to be transformed by God's grace. If Allen, being the leader, figurehead, and spokesperson for many, if not all, of the homosexuals going to watch the movie thinks this way, then why in the world do we think that this movie is going to impact homosexuals for Christ, especially given the placation of the gospel? Finally, let me add that the five missionaries gave themselves for the truthfulness and integrity of the gospel. They were true missionaries with a true message to deliver. The medium was not a movie screen but their very lives. Nothing could be farther and more misguided than to think this movie will evangelize homosexuals. They have their own gospel (see Allen's reference to the "God of my own understanding"). Now they are getting they their own platform to promote their propaganda. 4. Challies said, "So here's the rub: these Hollywood stars and starlets would not have a platform if we did not provide it to them. We provide them a platform when we support their films. The more popular a film becomes, the greater the platform we provide for the actors. " I agree with Challies that this movie is providing yet another platform for the homosexual agenda. Had this movie not casted Allen, I dare say he would not have been on the Larry King Live show nor would this movie be given the criticism it has received. So next to the performance priority, there is the problem of the platform. And do you know who props this platform up? Gullible Christians who have no problem being pick-pocketed by Hollywood by enticing them with a movie of their liking. Christians are going ga-ga and salivating over the idea that Hollywood would make such a movie. Are we so captivated by the culture and entranced by their acceptance of us that we express a hollow head and empty conscience? I am even more saddened by the fact that some solid Christian leaders whom I have respect for are not seeing the effects of this movie as a tell-tale commentary on the current state of evangelical thinking. 5. Finally, my last comment is with regard to Steve Saint's endorsement of Chad Allen. More than an endorsement is the acceptance of Allen and his homosexuality. Allen wanted Saint to bless his homosexual lifestyle, and he got it. He believes anyone who doesn't accept it hates him and other homosexuals. Steve Saint is being either a disingenuous Christian or an inconsistent Christian. He also read about Chad Allen in a gay/lesbian/transgender magazine called The Advocate. Not only does Saint gloss over the differences regarding homosexuality, he follows suit with the movie and is permissive of "another gospel" which should be outrightly condemned. I cannot reconcile the beauty of the life of Nate Saint and Steve Saint's dealings with Chad Allen. There are other issues which I will comment on later, such as the actual quality of the movie (I heard it was still a "B" quality movie), the so-called witch hunt of evangelicals with homosexuals, the pluralistic and New Age influence on Christianity, and Christianity's response to the propaganda of the homosexual agenda as a "civil rights" movement. However, my last thoughts are simple questions like, "Could this not have all been avoided? Did ETE realize what they were doing when they chose Chad Allen as a lead actor in a movie which is intended to portray the lives of missionaries who believed the gospel enough to give their lives? When worldviews collide as they have in this movie, do they not expect Christians to point that out? I remember sitting in front of the house of Nate Saint in Shell Mera, Ecuador and thinking about the legacy he and the other four missionaries have left behind. I pray this movie doesn't diminish or taint that legacy. As they lived their lives in the shadow of the Almighty, let us not remember them in the shadow of the spear. NOTE: I just heard on The Albert Mohler Program that Dr. Mohler will be talking about this controversy tomorrow, January 20, 2006. For local listings, check here. To listen to the show at your convenience, click here. Dr. Mohler can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio channel 170 nationwide from 5-6 p.m. and 1-2 a.m.

In the Shadow of the Spear

Because of the significance of the five men who where killed in Ecuador 50 years ago, I believe that it is important to attempt to share what some are saying about the Chad Allen situation and provide some of my own remarks/responses to what is being said. These men's lives and impact on Christianity cannot be understated, and I fear that the controversy that is brought about by having a homosexual activist play a leading role has overshadowed the beauty of these men and their devotion to Jesus Christ. There are two main places where I find the discussion centered in the blogosphere. Tim Challies got it started when he posted Coming Soon: The End of the Spear (68 comments at this point) and followed with The End of the Spear - Further Thoughts (69 comments) and finally Dr. Mohler on Larry King Live (RECAP) (27 comments). The other place is Sharper Iron, specifically with Jason Janz. Janz's post are as follows: 1.12 Nate Saint Played by Gay Activist in "End of the Spear" (130 comments) 1.14 Update on "End of the Spear" Article 1.14 Weblog Watch (Addressing other relevant posts such as Justin Taylor's) 1.18 A Letter to Janet Parshall 1.18 Excerpts from Larry King Live with Mohler and Allen 1.18 Update on ETE Controversy 1.18 Over 100 Pastors Sign Letter of Protest to Mart Green and Every Tribe Entertainment Also, there are other post which should be included in the discussion: Justin Taylor: The End of the Spear: Is the Messenger the Message? (32 comments, good discussion between Alan Kurschner, Taylor, Steve Camp, and others) Kevin Bauder: No Way! (28 comments) Randy Brandt: Did They Fall on Their Own Spears? Gene Bridges: The Unregenerate and Gospel Art - Redux Slice of Laodicea: Gay Film Star "Accepted" by Saint Family Ingrid (of Slice): Chad Allen: Movie Was About Unity and Love Calvinist Gadfly: Are Homosexuals Acceptable in Christian Films? Phil Johnson: Does Anyone Even Remember When . . . (see 2nd Miscellany) Daniel Phillips: Chad Allen, Larry King, "End of the Spear"--Scoring My Prognostications Carla Rolfe: End of the Spear Shame Gene Edward Veith: How Murdered Missionaries Changed a Culture (not exactly about Allen) Evan May: The Unregenerate and "Gospel Art" Clint M: Is Homosexuality Becoming an Evangelical Witch Hunt? Michael Staires: Fundamentals Fundamentally Wrong About End of the Spear? Because I have spent a considerable time reading through the responses, I will add my response in a subsequent post to follow later today. For now, let me leave you with a couple of questions posed by Steve Camp and Alan Kurschner: Steve Camp poses this question to Justin Taylor (which Taylor has not responded to yet: "If Dr. Piper went home to be with the Lord say thirty years from now and a Christian based film company wanted to make a movie about his life and ministry, with the same choices that Steve Saint had in this scenario being afforded to you, would you want an actor who was also a gay-activist to play John's life story?" Alan Kurschner's question is as follows: Can someone affirm both of these statements at the same time? 1) Homosexuality is an abomination to God 2) Homosexual [actors] are acceptable in Christian films Let's put it in perspective. More later. Other Links: Every Tribe Entertainment The End of the Spear Larry King Live Transcript of Gay Marrriage Note: I have heard that Dr. Al Mohler will be commenting on his radio show today @ 5:00 p.m. EST about his part in the Larry King Live show. Another Note: For what its worth, don't forget that James White will be debating Bishop John Shelby Spong on homosexuality on November 3, 2006 with the Sovereign Grace Cruise deal.

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