Monday, August 11, 2014

All Around the Web - August 11, 2014

Albert Mohler - Are Christian Missionaries Narcissistic Idiots? — A Response to Ann Coulter
In an ominous development Wednesday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest level alert for a response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, even as reports came in indicating that the crisis may now not be limited to West Africa. Centers for Disease Control Chief Tom Frieden posted on Twitter: “Ops Center moved to Level 1 response given the extension to Nigeria & the potential to affect many lives.”

According to Doug Stanglin of USA Today, Level I means that increased staff and resources will be devoted to the outbreak. He also said it is the first time the agency has invoked its highest level alert since 2009, then over a deadly influenza outbreak. Meanwhile, reports come in indicating that a Nigerian nurse, who had treated the country’s first fatality from Ebola two weeks ago, has herself now died from the virus that has claimed 932 lives as of last night in the latest outbreak.

To put this into perspective, Ebola has been recognized as a disease only since the first outbreak was identified 40 years ago. One third of the total fatalities caused by Ebola have occurred in the most recent outbreak—and the toll is rising. Health authorities in Nigeria have said that five other Nigerian health workers, who also had treated AIDS patients, have been diagnosed with the disease. One American, Patrick Sawyer, a financial expert of Liberian descent, died on July 25 arriving in Lagos on a flight from Liberia. Meanwhile, according to USA Today, a Saudi man being tested for the disease has died in Jeddah. If indeed it turns out that he died of the disease, it will be the first fatality outside West Africa during the latest outbreak. Every medical authority on the planet is on the alert.

John StonestreetParent Consumers, Baby Commodities
Anyone who frequents Starbucks knows that the order you’re least likely to hear in a shop is for “a cup of coffee.” There is no end to the elaborate combinations of flavorings and variations that we caffeine addicts can and have come up with.

Now, this kind of choice is harmless enough. But for Westerners choice has become a way of life, and our self-imagined autonomy over any and every area of life—even life itself—has its victims, as a recent story from the Sydney Herald demonstrates.

Last year, an Australian couple offered a financially-strapped woman in Thailand the equivalent of $11,000 to act as a surrogate to bear their baby. Hundreds of Australians make similar arrangements with Thai women each year, because it’s much cheaper than hiring an Australian woman as a surrogate. In fact, this type of “medical tourism,” or what you might call “bargain hunting for babies,” is common in many western countries.

Four months into the pregnancy, however, the Australian couple learned that one of the twins the Thai woman was carrying on their behalf had Down Syndrome.

Thom Rainer - Eleven Observations about Church Transfer Growth
  1. In the recent past (15 to 20 years), transfer growth was rewarded. Churches and church leaders were recognized for the total number of new members who joined their churches. Thus, at least implicitly, transfer growth was seen as important as conversion growth (where a non-Christian becomes a believer and joins the church).
  2. The pendulum has swung, and transfer growth is viewed more negatively today. The Millennials specifically seem to have an aversion to this type of church growth.
  3. Much of transfer growth has been the result of the consumer mentality creeping into churches. Many Christians have become church hoppers and shoppers to find the right church that meets their needs and preferences. They view a local congregation as a country club with perks for the members.
  4. It has not been uncommon for pastors to become competitive and antagonistic about members transferring from one church to another. This attitude is less common today than it was over a decade ago.
  5. Transfer growth can mask sickness in a church. Churches can be lauded for their fast growth, even if the growth includes very few new Christians. So it is possible for a church to be held in high regard even though its members are disobedient to the Great Commission.
  6. Transfer growth has been easy in many churches because of low membership standards. If churches truly communicate and expect members to be fully functioning in the congregation, fewer would transfer with a consumer mindset.
  7. The decline of cultural Christianity has slowed the flow of church transfer growth. Many persons, including some non-Christians, used to transfer into the “popular” church in town because church membership was a cultural expectation. That is no longer true in most areas of our country.
  8. More pastors and other church leaders are actually contacting the church from which a person desires to transfer. They are attempting to confirm that the person has been a member in good standing, and that he or she is not transferring unresolved problems with their membership.
  9. Despite obvious issues concerning transfer growth, we should not assume all transfer growth is bad. It’s a bad metaphor, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
  10. Some church members seek to transfer because of major doctrinal aberrations in their churches. I recently spoke to someone who left her church because the leadership denied the exclusivity of salvation through Christ.
  11. The fastest growing category of transfer growth today takes place when a person moves out of his or her community. We should be thankful for Christians who seek a church home when they move to a new community. This category of transfer growth is becoming the most common because of the mobile nature of our culture.

Christianity Today - Acts 29 Removes Mars Hill, Asks Mark Driscoll To Step Down and Seek Help
Hoping that "the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored," the notable Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.

“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.

Acts 29 came to the drastic decision "with deep sorrow," according to the statement. "In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."

Mars Hill is no longer listed on the Acts 29 church directory page for Washington state. Acts 29 declined to comment further to CT, pointing to the statement on its website.

Wall Street Journal - Of Hobbits, Narnia and Postwar Belief
This month marks the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I, the conflict that introduced industrial-scale slaughter to the world. Never before had science and technology—the mortars, machine guns, tanks, barbed wire and poison gas—conspired so effectively to destroy man and nature. The Great War savaged popular beliefs about progress, morality and religion.

Yet for two extraordinary authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the war deepened their moral and spiritual convictions. Both fought in the...

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