From the Dean
The Dean Recommends: Why Should We Quote The Church Fathers?
Recently, on Beeson Divinity School's podcast, Timothy George and Matthew Emerson discussed the Center for Baptist Renewal -- a movement that intends to equip Baptist churches in retrieving "the Great Tradition of the historic church for the renewal of Baptist faith and practice.
Emerson and George encourage congregations to recite the creeds and incorporate some liturgical elements into Baptist worship. Thankfully, they do not push a one-size-fits-all liturgy. Instead, they find value in retrieving aspects of ancient Christian practice in order to renew and refresh our worship today.
I'm encouraged by this group's desire to emphasize the ancient roots of our beliefs and practices, and I share the heart of those who believe that more interaction with our forefathers and mothers in the faith will lead to a stronger witness today.
As I've written in This Is Our Time, church history is a treasure box, not a map. We err if we look to the past in order to chart the precise path of faithfulness for the future. We are marching to Zion, not retreating to Constantinople or Geneva. For this reason, we should look to the past in order to retrieve the resources we need in order to fortify and renew our faith in the present as we discern with wisdom and prudence the way forward. This is how we best honor those who have gone before us: learning from both their strengths and also their sins, and praying that we will be faithful today. Read the rest by Trevin Wax at the Center for Baptist Renewal.
The Dean Recommends: Friendly Theological Liberalism - A Threat in Every Age
For centuries, liberal theologians have believed it their task to make Christianity palatable to “modern man.” In most cases, the modern man in question is anyone who shares the liberal theologian’s heritage and social status. The liberal theologian’s goal is to rescue Christianity by excising the elements that seem most offensive in that day.
In one era, the doctrine of sin is unacceptable; in another, it’s miracles; in another, it’s the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, or biblical sex ethics. But the theme is the same: In order to make Christianity believable, certain doctrines must be abandoned.
Two Types of Liberals
Let’s define theological liberalism as Bible interpretation unconstrained by orthodox creeds or doctrines. But we can distinguish two kinds of liberalism.
The first, the hostile liberal, hates Christianity and wants to replace it with a better religion. The second—the focus of this article—is more friendly. It hopes to rescue the faith and win its “cultured despisers.” Unfortunately, as friendly liberals attempt to save Christianity they destroy it, for their first allegiance is to culture, not Scripture. Read the rest by Dan Doriani at The Gospel Coalition.
The Dean Recommends: Evangelism, Iranian Style
When I first met Hormoz Shariat in 2016, I expected the president and founder of Iran Alive Ministries to be a larger-than-life figure who matched the legendary stories of his sacrificial and protective love for Iran’s underground church. I was instead greeted with warmth and humility by him and the staff of his prominent television and evangelism ministry. Though Shariat is constantly in danger, his eyes sparkled with excitement as we talked.
As recent US foreign policy decisions about Iran made news headlines, I caught up with Shariat by email to hear his thoughts about this year’s travel bans, Iran’s next generation of Christian leaders, and the work of Iran Alive. Read the rest by K.A. Ellis at Christianity Today.
The Dean Recommends: Do Copts Have a Future in Egypt?
On the morning of May 26, Mohsen Morkous, a 60-year-old Egyptian-American Christian from the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, was traveling with his two sons, a grandson, and dozens of others to a religious retreat. Their bus convoy was ambushed by Islamic State (also known as ISIS) jihadists in Egypt’s rural Minya Province. The men and boys were separated from the women, forced off the bus, and commanded to recite the shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith. When they refused, 28 of them, including Morkous and seven family members, were shot in the head at point-blank range.
Despite Morkous being an American citizen, the attack was a one-day news story in the United States. In part that may be because it was overshadowed by the ISIS attacks in Manchester and London, which occurred around the same time. But there is also the disturbing possibility that attacks on Coptic Christians have become so commonplace in Egypt over recent months that they are losing the interest of Western audiences.
It would be a mistake, however, to overlook the slaughter of these pilgrims in Egypt and the slaughter of Christians by ISIS in general. Nor should one ignore how such attacks might affect U.S. national interests in the Middle East. Egyptian Copts, numbering about nine million, form the region’s largest Christian population and largest non-Muslim population of any kind. If Islamist extremists are allowed to proceed with the systematic destruction of the Coptic community—as they did with the Christian and Yazidi communities in Iraq—the region will be fundamentally altered and Egypt and its neighbors will be destabilized for decades to come. Read the rest by Nina Shea at Hudson Institute.