Thursday, May 15, 2014

All Around the Web - May 15, 2014

Bible Gateway - Why Creeds are Still a Big Deal: An Interview with Justin Holcomb
Are there any creeds in the Bible or did they develop later?
Dr. Holcolmb: The earliest creeds are arguably to be found in Scripture. In the Old Testament, what is known as the Shema (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” Deut. 6:4) is a creedlike statement. While there are no official, full-blown creeds in the New Testament, some scholars have suggested that the beginnings of creeds are already present in the New Testament and were developed by early Christians to defend against subtle pagan influences and to establish key beliefs.

Thom Rainer - Whatever Happened to Sunday Evening Services?
While the history of this service is largely unverifiable, the decline in its attendance, and the reduction in the number of churches offering are clearly evident. Let’s look at six possible reasons for its decline or demise.
  • The advent of Sunday evening services in many churches was a cultural adaptation for its time. Its decline or demise is thus a cultural response.
  • The disappearance of blue laws (mandatory Sunday closings) allowed many alternatives to Sunday evening worship, and many church members chose those options.
  • There has been an increasing emphasis on family time. Families with children at home particularly viewed one worship service on Sundays to be sufficient for them.
  • Many pastors simply do not have the desire, energy, or commitment to prepare a second and different sermon. Their lack of emphasis was thus reflected in the congregation’s lack of interest.
  • When many churches began offering services on alternative days, such as Fridays or Saturdays, there was neither the desire nor the resources to keep Sunday evening services going.
  • A number of churches, particularly new church starts, are in leased facilities. They do not have the option of returning on Sunday evenings.

Tim Challies - The Bestsellers: The Treasure Principle
Randy Alcorn was born on June 23, 1954, in Portland, Oregon. His father owned a tavern and supplied amusement machines to other local taverns while his mother chose to stay home with the children. Randy grew up without any Christian background and first attended church as a teenager, primarily to pursue a young lady. It was at that church and at its youth group that he first heard the gospel. He became a Christian in 1969 and later married the girl he had followed to church. Very quickly he knew that he wanted to go to Bible college to study God’s Word and then to become a missionary. However, he soon found himself co-founding and pastoring Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon, the church he continues to attend today. He pastored for thirteen years before an event that forever changed his life and ministry.

In 1989 Alcorn participated in some nonviolent rescues at abortion clinics. Like many others, he was arrested a number of times and spent a few days in jail. But one of those clinics won a judgment against him that required him to pay a hefty fine. Alcorn told the judge he would pay anything he owed, but he would not give a penny to people who would use that money to abort babies. In early 1990 he learned that his church would be forced to pay one forth of his wages each month to that abortion clinic. He immediately resigned his position. In fact, the only way he could avoid paying money to that clinic was to ensure that he did not earn more than minimum wage. It was at this point that he founded Eternal Perspectives Ministries. (Consider reading the full story.)

Since that day Alcorn has never earned more than minimum wage. All of his book royalties have gone to Eternal Perspectives Ministries and used to support missions, pro-life work, and other Christian causes.

Since 1985 Alcorn has written many books, but none have been more popular than The Treasure Principle which was published in 2001. Released with little fanfare and with only three brief endorsements (including John Piper’s who says, “Supercharged with stunning, divine truth! Lightning struck over and over as I read it.”) the book claims to “unlock the secret of joyful giving.” The “treasure principle” is this: You can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead. Alcorn says, “If we give instead of keep, if we invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, we store up treasures in heaven that will never stop paying dividends. Whatever we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. Whatever treasures we store up in heaven will be waiting for us when we arrive.”

Think Theology - What’re They Reading?
Have you ever wondered what your favorite authors, speakers, pastors, and scholars are reading? What influences them? Which books do they re-read?

What’re They Reading? will make you privy to what’s being read by those you admire.
I corresponded with Doug Wilson, pastor, bloggerauthor, documentary contributor, and sometimes controversial figure, about what’s on his bedside table, influential biographies, and more.

What’s on your bedside table?

They are not exactly on my bedside table, but the books I am currently working through are: James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson; Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers; H. L. Mencken’s My Life as Author and Editor; Al Mohler’s Desire and Deceit; and The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats.

What books do you regularly re-read and why?

I reread John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress because it has depths that repay rereading. I reread C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength because it is such a great novel. I also return to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings periodically.

Catholic Herald - Descendant of Charles Darwin becomes a Catholic apologist
A direct descendant of Charles Darwin has become a Catholic apologist.

Laura Keynes, a great-great-great-granddaughter of the English naturalist, has joined Catholic Voices, the project set up to speak up for the Church in the media

She writes in this week’s Catholic Herald about how she returned to her childhood Catholic faith after a period of agnosticism.

The daughter of an atheist father and a mother who had converted to Catholicism but later became a Buddhist, she was baptised Catholic. But she says she drifted into agnosticism in her teens and “away from any contact with the Church”.

When she began studying for a doctorate in philosophy at Oxford she started to “reassess those values. Relationships, feminism, moral relativism, the sanctity and dignity of human life”.

NPR - Not-So-Social Media: Why People Have Stopped Talking On Phones
Emma Wisniewski felt exposed. The New York-based actress had moments where she had to open up in a way that made her feel particularly vulnerable.

She had to talk on the phone. In front of people — her fellow actors and the audience.

"I've done several plays now that required talking on landlines, and what always strikes me is the relatively public nature of it," she says.

The desire to communicate privately is one reason people have largely abandoned talking on the phone as a social medium. What was once a major indoor sport, taking up hours of many people's days, is now not only more limited but may be going the way of mailed letters and express telegrams.
"Now, calling on a phone is almost like a violation," says Scott Campbell, a professor of telecommunications at the University of Michigan. "It's very greedy for your social presence, and texting is not."

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