Monday, May 20, 2013

All Around the Web - May 20, 2013

HT: Washington Post

Tim Challies - The Boundaries of Evangelicalism | Some helpful insight into the rise of mysticism.

As I survey the contemporary church, one of my gravest concerns is the power and prevalence of mysticism. It appears in pulpits, books, and conversation. It is at the heart of Sarah Young’s bestselling Jesus Calling, it is in all the much-loved books by John Eldredge, it fills the pages of so many books on spiritual disciplines or spiritual formation, it is almost everywhere you look. Language that was once considered the distinguishing language of mysticism is now commonly used by Evangelicals.

Mysticism was once regarded as an alternative to Evangelical Christianity. You were Evangelical or you were a mystic, you heeded the doctrine of the Reformation and understood it to faithfully describe the doctrine laid out in Scripture or you heeded the doctrine of mysticism. Today, though, mysticism has wormed its way inside Evangelicalism so that the two have become integrated and almost inseparable. In an age of syncretism we fail to spot the contradiction and opposition.

Washington Post - Linguists identify 15,000-year-old ‘ultraconserved words’ | There might be some historic and even theological implications here. We'll have to wait and see.

You, hear me! Give this fire to that old man. Pull the black worm off the bark and give it to the mother. And no spitting in the ashes!
It’s an odd little speech. But if you went back 15,000 years and spoke these words to hunter-gatherers in Asia in any one of hundreds of modern languages, there is a chance they would understand at least some of what you were saying.

That’s because all of the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the four sentences are words that have descended largely unchanged from a language that died out as the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age. Those few words mean the same thing, and sound almost the same, as they did then. 

The traditional view is that words can’t survive for more than 8,000 to 9,000 years. Evolution, linguistic “weathering” and the adoption of replacements from other languages eventually drive ancient words to extinction, just like the dinosaurs of the Jurassic era.
A new study, however, suggests that’s not always true.

The Blaze - Biden Wants Pastors, Rabbis and Nuns to Tell Their Flocks: Enacting More Gun Control Is the Moral Thing to Do | The VP has it backwards. Government and its officials ought not to seek to shape the agenda of religious institutions. The religious are to seek to shape the agenda of religious institutions.

Vice President Joe Biden has a commandment for pastors, rabbis and nuns: He wants them to tell their flocks that enacting gun control is the moral thing to do. But another vote may have to wait until Congress wraps up work on an immigration overhaul.

Biden met for two-and-a-half hours Monday with more than a dozen leaders from various faith communities – Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh, to name a few. Both Biden and the faith leaders encouraged each other not to give up on what has been an arduous and thus far fruitless effort by Biden and President Barack Obama to pass new gun laws in the wake of December’s schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut.

Kevin DeYoung - What We Mean When We Say Amen |

The word amen is not Christianese for “prayer over.” It means something much more beautiful and significant. . . . 

More than that, the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us that “amen” is also an expression of confidence. “Amen” means “This is sure to be!” It reminds me of this good news: “It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer, than that I really desire what I pray for” (Question and Answer 129). God is gracious to hear our prayers much better than we pray them. “Amen” bears witness to our desire for God’s purposes to be done and to God’s promise that they will. Your style may be groovy, but your prayers deserve an “amen.”

Thom Rainer - Five Reasons Your Pastor Will Not Ask for a Raise |

First, the ministers are aware that a few bad examples in ministry have poisoned perceptions for many. The abuses have garnered much attention. Many ministers think that they will be associated with the small minority if they say a word.

Second, many ministers view money as an “earthly” issue. Their role is to focus on spiritual matters. They are to keep quiet when any discussion of their pay takes place. They certainly are not to ask for anything financially.

Third, there are always critics in the church looking for any issue to go after the pastor or other staff ministers. If ministers broach the subject of a pay increase, they give critics ammunition to attack the minister verbally and in writing. Ministers are keenly aware of such a risk.

Fourth, pastors know the hurts and needs of their church members and those in the community. They know that many are suffering worse than they are financially. They are therefore very sensitive to speak about their own needs. When one has ministered to three families in the past year that declared bankruptcy, that pastor feels terrible even hinting that his family is struggling financially. This reality has been especially vivid during and after the Great Recession.

Fifth, we found that a number of church members think that any mention of financial needs by their pastor demonstrates a lack of faith. The members freely quote out-of-context Bible verses to demonstrate the weak faith of the pastor who is courageous enough to mention this need.
Of course, most of the critics of a pastor’s pay would gladly accept a raise in their own jobs. It’s just different for their pastor, they surmise. And that is a very sad perception.

HT: 22 Words
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