May 1 2012
MAYAN CALENDAR DRAWS SPOTLIGHT
Baptist Press, 4/2/12: Mayan Calendar Draws Spotlight, A Troubled Culture Struggles —Because the ancient 5,125-year Mayan calendar will end on Dec. 21, 2012, global interest in Mayans has skyrocketed in recent years.
Some New Age philosophers predict the beginning of a new era of enlightenment for mankind. Others say it’s a countdown to the end of the world. Although many scholars dismiss these claims, tourists from around the globe are flocking to Mayan ruins in Latin America.
But most Mayans aren’t concerned about the ancient calendar, according to International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries who work among Mayan people groups. In fact, the real Mayan story isn’t about the calendar at all, they say. It’s about the Mayan people.
Jeronimo is one of nearly 5 million Mayan descendants living throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. He was an alcoholic before IMB workers with Guatemala’s Tajumulco Mam people group came with a message that changed his life. Jeronimo accepted Christ as his Savior, and soon his wife and children did the same. Then he began sharing Christ and planting churches in other villages. He also translated parts of the Bible and other Bible story materials into the local language so others could hear the Gospel.
The traditions that give Mayan groups their unique identity often are a barrier to the Gospel, missionaries say....“The primary religion is animism with a veneer of Catholicism overlaying it,” said Alan Lyons, a [mission] strategy leader for work among Mayans. “There are obvious examples of animistic, indigenous practices, like sacrificing chickens on the steps of the church....and in times of crisis, they often revert back to animistic practices instead of trusting Jesus.”
“Pray God will break down the walls of tradition that keep so many Mayan peoples from knowing Him,” one missionary said. “Pray that He will raise up local [Mayan] pastors, church planters and missionaries to other Mayan groups who have yet to hear [the Gospel].”
THEY WANT YOUR CHILDREN
Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity Conference —On May 7-10 2012, in Washington, DC, Brian McLaren will be a speaker at the CYNKC Conference. Other speakers include Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Samir Selmanovic, Jim Wallis, and Jeremiah Wright. Brian McLaren: “I’ve been saying again and again that we need a creative revolution in spiritual formation and Christian education for children and youth, and this is the gathering that I think will bring the right people together.”
Shane Claiborne adds, “What I like about [CYNKC] is that the fine folks throwing this party are trying to figure out how we approach spirituality with young people in a post-flannelgraph-Sunday-School world.”
“The exciting ministry provided by Children, Youth and a New Kind of Christianity embodies the teaching of Jesus Christ in a new and refreshing way. The next generation is encouraged to see, appreciate and embrace other children of God as equals—all made in the image of God,” concludes Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., President Obama’s pastor.
[TBC: This is the Emerging Church merging with the Christian Left at the expense of our next generation.]
PETER SINGER HAS NO RIGHT TO JUDGE
Daily Caller, 3/2/12: Peter Singer Has No Right to Judge Anyone’s Ethics [Excerpts] —Only The New York Times would hold an essay contest about “ethics” and make the most unethical “ethicist” in the country a judge. Here’s the story: “The Ethicist”—a feature that runs weekly in the Sunday Magazine —announced a contest challenging meat eaters to defend the ethics of their diet. Needless to say, the essays will be judged by anti-meat eaters, described by the paper as “a veritable murderer’s row.”
That is an ironic turn of phrase given that Peter Singer is one of the judges. Singer is a radical utilitarian who denies that human lives necessarily have greater value than those of animals. Singer believes that some human beings aren’t “persons” and thus have no right to life. He even believes that these human beings can be used instrumentally—in medical experiments, for example. But rather than describe his advocacy, I will let Singer speak for himself.
Singer is pro-infanticide: On page 186 of his book “Practical Ethics,” Singer opines that infants are “replaceable” and that a disabled baby can be killed to pave the way for a happier life for a sibling:
When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed. The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the hemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him.
Singer supports using the disabled in medical experiments: For example, when asked by Psychology Today (PT) about the benefits that chimps provided in developing the hepatitis vaccine, Singer said disabled humans should be used in such research instead:
PT : Let’s take a specific case. Research on chimpanzees led to the hepatitis B vaccine, which has saved many human lives. Would you stop it?
PS: I’m not comfortable with any invasive research on chimps. I would ask, Is there no other way? And I think there are other ways. I would say, What about getting the consent of relatives of people in vegetative states?
This line of thinking would open the door for using all human “non-persons” as lab rats, including the unborn, infants and people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease—perhaps even in place of the monkeys used in the Parkinson’s experiments.
CITY BANISHES BIBLES DURING GAY FESTIVAL
WorldNetDaily, 4/2/12: City Banishes Bibles During Gay Festival [Excerpts] —For over a decade, Brian Johnson has peaceably passed out Bibles during Minneapolis’ Twin Cities Pride Festival, but if he tries it again this year, he fears, he could be arrested.
Through some clever legal wrangling, Twin Cities Pride, the organizers of the annual festival celebrating homosexuality, have convinced the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to allow them to exile anyone attempting to distribute Bibles or communicate unapproved messages at the event to a “no pride zone” far away from the festivities.
Now Johnson is filing a federal lawsuit against the Board, claiming it can’t banish First Amendment free speech rights to a 10 x 10 square off the beaten path, especially during a major public event in which organizers have a non-exclusive permit to use the park.
The next Pride Fest is scheduled for June 23 and 24, 2012
EVANGELICALS' COLLAPSING CULTURAL INFLUENCE
Evangelicals’ Collapsing Cultural Influence [Excerpts] by David French (March 14, 2012)
[TBC: Here is a valid critique from a conservative (not Christian) publication. The evangelical writer offers a pertinent analysis and rebuke of decades of evangelical activism and social gospel marketing.]
On a day when many evangelicals are perhaps flexing their political muscles in the aftermath of their decisive votes in Alabama and Mississippi, it’s worth pondering whether evangelicals’ actual cultural (rather than political) influence is waxing or waning. I came across insightful and disturbing discussions by Yuval Levin and Ross Douthat. Surveying the devastating decline in marriage and other critical social markers in the working class, [Political Analyst and Academic] Levin notes the failure of social conservatism outside the political sphere:
In our time, American social conservatism has much to be proud of as a movement for justice: Social conservatives devote themselves to the pro-life cause, to human rights, and to the plight of the poor abroad. But American social conservatism has almost entirely lost interest in the cause of order—in standing up for clean living, for self-discipline and restraint, for resisting temptation and meeting basic responsibilities. The institutions of American Christianity—some of which would actually stand a chance of being taken seriously by the emerging lower class—are falling down on the job, as their attention is directed to more exciting causes, in no small part because the welfare state has overtaken some of their key social functions.
As a lifelong evangelical, let me add my whole-hearted agreement. During my years in the pews, I’ve witnessed a moral collapse—and a corresponding collapse in positive influence over the real lives not just of our fellow congregants but also of our fellow citizens in need. Of course it’s difficult to present a compelling witness when our own practices and lifestyle are often indistinguishable from the larger culture, but the problems get more specific. Here are three:
1. We are more focused on meeting the material needs of the poor than their spiritual needs. Spend much time in the evangelical community, and you’ll soon learn that the old-fashioned Gospel-focused mission trip is largely a thing of the past. Now, you go build schools. Now, you go dig water wells. Now, you repair houses. These are worthy goals, all, but service projects by themselves don’t change hearts and minds, they often make (frequently) self-inflicted misery more bearable. Service must be accompanied by intentional, vocal evangelism and discipling.
2. We go on sinning so that grace may abound. The secular stereotype of the modern evangelical—as a judgmental moralizer—is so wrong as to be laughable. Everywhere you go, preachers reject this model entirely, emphasizing, for example, “divorce recovery,” therapy, and treatment for the consequences of sin. Again, these are worthy things, but Christ and the Apostle Paul also emphasized holiness and discipline. How often has your church actually disciplined adulterers? How often have you intervened in the life of a friend before they made devastating mistakes? Our desire to be liked trumps all, and suffering is the result.
3. We church-shop, seeking to meet our needs rather than serving the church. Church-switching is pernicious. Not only does the church “market” breed selfishness, it also makes pastors market-oriented. As you survey church after church, each doing things their own way, ask yourself, which of these church institutions will still be present and viable in 50 years? Or 100 years? Or 1,000?
I once heard it said that following the social and political disruptions of the 1960s and early 1970s, religious conservatives decided that they had to win elections, while secular leftists decided to win the culture—and both groups succeeded. So now here we are, enjoying unprecedented influence on presidential outcomes even as our cultural foundation rots away beneath our feet. Not even the best presidential candidate will fix the family, nor will our most generous service project save a soul.
©2012 National Review, Inc. Reprinted by permission