India Gospel Outreach (Update)
Before I share an update, I would strongly encourage you to watch the following video:
The first of my four ministry trips to India took place in 1987. Though each of the trips only lasted around 3 weeks, God used those seasons of ministry to plant a very deep love in my heart for the precious people of India. There are tears in my eyes as I recall the faces of young boys and girls as well as many adults making a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus for the first time. Over the years I have been privileged to see thousands do this exact thing.
I am very aware that my part in it all was simply the final link in a long chain of people - those who had prayed for, given towards and sacrificed in ways only heaven will reveal, so that the people of Kerala, India might know salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, all these years later, a new opportunity is before us. One missionary can do only so much and go to only so many places by himself; but a tract can go to places a missionary would never get to on his own. A tract is like a trained armed soldier, standing on guard, always ready to be used in the hand of God.
One testimony I heard recently was from a gentleman who kept a tract in his wallet for 3 years, "almost" throwing it away many different times, only to keep it, thinking he might read it "one day" when he had time... Then finally, alone in a hotel room, while fumbling through his wallet, he came across the tract and finally decided to read it. As he did so, he understood the gospel, was immediately convicted of his sin, and right there on the spot, the Holy Spirit brought the miracle of conversion as he trusted in Christ to save him.
You may remember we provided 10,000 copies of the Gospel tract I wrote "The Thief on the Cross" in the Malayalam language which were handed out to people in the state of Kerala at Easter time. I have learnt through my friend Pastor Pappy Daniel, that the response and feedback to this very clear gospel presentation has been extremely encouraging. So much so that we made a tentative inquiry to find out how much it would cost for 100,000 tracts to be printed.
Whereas the cost for 10,000 tracts was approximately $400 USA Dollars, the cost for 100,000 tracts will be $2,600.00. This is the full cost, which includes paper, printing, shipping and distribution handling costs. As you can see, there is a substantial savings (per tract) when there is a larger quantity being printed.
Perhaps this Gospel outreach is something you or your church might like to get behind and support. If so, just write to me at this contact address and I will give you further details.
Amount received (as of 8/5/11): $330.00
Thank you D.B. and T.G. for your sacrificial gifts for this project. May many others be inspired to do the same.
What is the Gospel?
The gospel is not behavior modification, becoming a better person or learning to become more moral. it is not taking the life of Jesus as a model way to live or transforming/redeeming the secular realm. It is not living highly communal lives with others and sharing generously in communities who practice the way of Jesus in local culture.
These may all be good things, but they are not to be confused with the gospel. Did you notice the one characteristic of all of the above activities has nothing to do with what Christ has done for us, but all about what we do for him. The true gospel, rather, is news about what Christ the Saviour, has already done for us (in his life, death and resurrection) rather than instruction and advice about what you are to do for God. Christ's accomplishment, not ours, is the essence of the gospel. Above all the gospel of Christ brings good news, rather than instruction. The gospel of not about what we do, but our acts inevitably follow in thanksgiving because of what Christ has done for us. ... more>>>
Outreach to India
Two opportunities are before us to impact the people and churches in the state of Kerala, India. I would covet your prayers. Details here. JS
There are times when it is entirely appropriate to weep. I just experienced such a time. Here's why. - JS
Desiring God Launches Chinese Website
Minneapolis, MN (DesiringGod.org) April 16, 2010 â€” Desiring God has launched a new Chinese-language website to serve and equip an estimated 100+ million Chinese Christians. The new site can be found at http://www.kemushen.org.
Each week, Desiring God will post one sermon and one article that have been translated into Simplified Chinese characters. The sermons were all preached by John Piper, Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA (www.hopeingod.org).
The first five weeks will be a series on suffering, from the book of Job. The articles are drawn from the archives of weekly letters that Pastor John has written to the congregation at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
â€œDesiring God International Outreach is working to alleviate â€˜Theological Famineâ€™ around the world by providing God-centered resources in as many formats and languages as possible," Bill Walsh, Director of International Outreach says. "Several years ago, we began dreaming about new projects to make resources available in Simplified Script Chinese for mainland China. The Chinese website is a huge first step in that direction.â€
Desiring God and John Piper see this as a strategic opportunity to serve the Church in China. According to some estimates, there are roughly 130 million Christians and 300 million Internet users in China. With the launch of this new site, Desiring God resources can be easily accessed and used to equip Chinese Christians throughout the country.
Desiring God (www.desiringgod.org) exists to produce and distribute resources that spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. The Desiring God website contains 30 years worth of theological teaching from John Piper, a prominent Christian blog, and web store.
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If you would like more information about Desiring God International Outreach or to schedule an interview, please contact Bill Walsh, Director of International Outreach (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Eric Johnson, Director of Marketing and Internet (email@example.com).
The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Source of the Christian Mission
Finally, we must notice that the doctrine of the trinity is the source from which the Christian mission flows. We have already observed that mankind was created to show forth the image of the triune God, as a diverse and yet unified covenant people, reflective of the diverse and complementary persons of the trinity. But just as our ontological existence as the people of God has its source in the nature of the ontological trinity, so our economical function as the people who are responsible to fulfill the Great Commission has its source in the economical trinity, by which the various persons of the Godhead undertook to accomplish the work of redemption.
In his high priestly prayer, Jesus explicitly relates the mission of the disciples to the mission that he himself had undertaken in pursuit of our redemption. Just as the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus has sent us. Just as the Son sanctified himself for his own mission, so he sanctifies us for our mission (see John 17:18-19). In other words, the economical functioning of the trinity is the source of the economical functioning of the Church of Christ, as she pursues the fulfillment of the Great Commission. This understanding may be fleshed out with a couple of further observations.
First, the redemptive role of the Son is the pattern for the economical functioning of the Church. Just as Christ suffered in his physical body to accomplish redemption, so now he is suffering in his mystical body to spread the effects of that redemption. In Colossians 1:24, Paul makes the stunning statement, â€œI am filling up in my flesh that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, in behalf of his body, which is the Church.â€ Just as Christ had to suffer in the flesh for the purchase of redemption, so now it remains for his mystical body to suffer for the spread of redemption. According to Paul, there is something lacking in the sufferings of Christ: it cannot be that any more sufferings are necessary to provide redemption; but there are more sufferings necessary to apply the redemption which has already been bought. It is necessary for the mystical body of Christ to suffer, or else redemption will not spread to all the people whom the Father has chosen.
The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Means of the Christian Mission
Not only does trinitarian theology shape the goal toward which the Christian mission is striving; it also clarifies the means which are to be used in the pursuit of that goal. Redemption is ultimately an accomplishment of the triune God; he alone is the doer of the work, and therefore, any human activity must flow from his prior activity, and be directed and empowered by him. The mission that God left his people with is ultimately his mission, and advances on the basis of his eternal, immutable design; and so, any human activity which fails to take into account Godâ€™s redemptive plan as he has made it known is bound to be frustrated. Human mission endeavors are likely to be successful only as they understand the divine agenda and lean upon divine strength. This means that a first qualification for any missionary is a knowledge of the triune God; an awareness of the role of the persons of the Godhead in the work of redemption, as revealed in the scriptures; and a heart-attitude of faith in those joint operations of the persons of the Trinity.
For example, take the scriptural revelation of the work of the Father in the plan of redemption: he is the ultimate planner, the source from whom the whole work flows and is governed. We see throughout the gospel of John that the Son, in the fulfillment of his part of the redemptive work, acts in an unceasing obedience to the Fatherâ€™s will (e.g. John 5:17-19, 30; 8:28-29; 10:17-18; 14:31; 17:4). Likewise the Spirit, when he comes, speaks not on his own, but only what he has heard from the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). This role of the Father in planning out the work of redemption is seen with special clarity in the aspect of his choosing its subjects. We have already observed that the Father has chosen a specific people to give to the Son, and that the Son has purposed to redeem these alone (e.g. John 6:37-40; 10:29; 17:1-2, 6, 10); we may add to this testimony the witness of the epistles, which speaks of the Fatherâ€™s choice of a certain people to be redeemed in no uncertain terms (e.g. Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Peter 1:1-2). We may learn further from the revelation of scripture that this people is chosen out of every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation (e.g. Revelation 5:9), and that it will be called out only when the gospel is proclaimed in all the world (e.g. Matthew 24:14).
So how does this truth affect the task of the Christian missionary? First, it gives him a clear directive in the pursuit of the task: as the Church continues to spread across the world, believers may know that in their missionary endeavors they ought to target the kindreds, tribes, tongues, and nations which are yet unreached, because they know that the conversion of representatives from these peoples is the Fatherâ€™s will. Their task remains undone as long as there is any people group that has not heard the gospel, or that has not yet seen fruit from the proclamation of the gospel. Second, this understanding gives hope to missionaries laboring in the most difficult places. When Paul was experiencing opposition in Corinth, he was comforted by the realization that the Father had many people in that city, chosen for a redemption which had not yet been applied (see Acts 18:9-11). In the same way, the missionary who understands the biblical representation of the Fatherâ€™s role in redemption has a strong hope that his labor will not be in vain, and has cause to cry out to God in faith for the success which has been promised. Because God has chosen a people, our ultimate success is guaranteed. This foundational awareness of the Fatherâ€™s revealed role in the work of redemption drives a faithfulness which would otherwise wilt under the discouragement of unfavorable circumstances.
The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Goal of the Christian Mission
The most basic application of the doctrine of the trinity to the goal of Christian mission is simply this: if the inter-relationships of the ontological trinity are indeed covenantal, then the goal of Christian mission must also be covenantal. When God first created man, it was explicitly for the purpose of showing his own image. Man was different from all the creatures in the garden because he alone was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). When man fell and marred that image, Godâ€™s purpose was not frustrated: just as he had planned to show his image in creation, so he had planned to show his image even more fully in redemption. Not only did he create all things for his glory, he also engaged in all of his redemptive tasks for his own glory (see Isaiah 43:5-7); which is simply shorthand for the display of his own nature, which is eminently glorious.
What this means for the Christian mission is that, its ultimate goal is not simply to get as many individuals as possible off of the course of destruction, and into the bliss of heaven (as vital as that work of mercy is for displaying the character of a merciful God). On the contrary, it is all about reforming a new mankind, that will display Godâ€™s image in covenantal unity, even as the trinity exists in a covenantal love and unity. This is why, throughout the history of the Old Testament, Godâ€™s dealings with mankind were ever enacted on the basis of the covenants that he had inaugurated with them (see Genesis 9:8-17; 17:1-8; Exodus 19:3-6; 2 Samuel 7:12-16), and they ever involved the formation of an indissoluble and unified people of grace, and not merely a composite collection of persons of grace. God chose and saved the nation of Israel, not one person in ten from every nation of the world. And even now that he is expanding his kingdom to include every nation, he is still doing so by bringing representatives of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation into one new people, his own kingdom of priests (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22; 3:6; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 5:9-10).
This concept has at least three applications to the goal of missions: first, a Christian missionaryâ€™s task, when dealing with any unbeliever, is not just to get him a ticket to heaven, but to bring him into a covenantal relationship with God. Christ died, not so that we might sit on clouds with halos and strum our harps, but to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). The ultimate expression of the blessings of redemption is being brought into a covenantal relationship with God himself, which is substantially similar to the inter-relationship of the eternal persons of the trinity. Jesus died, by his own confession, to keep believers â€œin the nameâ€ of God (John 17:11-12). What that means precisely becomes clearer a little later when Jesus prays that they would â€œbe one in usâ€ (that is, in the Father and the Son â€“ John 17:21), and that he himself would be â€œin themâ€ (John 17:23, 26). The final goal of the Christian mission is to bring believers into a personal relationship with God which precisely expresses the personal relationships within the eternal trinity.
Second, the task of Christian missions is to bring believers into a mutual relationship with each other which in itself reflects the inter-relationships within the trinity. Throughout the epistles the virtue of Christian unity is espoused and urged more than almost any other virtue (e.g. Ephesians 4:1-6; Philippians 1:27; 2:1-5). Believers show forth the divine, inter-trinitarian image when they are united in a diverse, loving, and mutually-honoring covenantal relationship.
Third, the goal of the Christian mission is ultimately to glorify God. If believers are to be perfectly happy, it is only to be by entering into a state similar to that of the perfectly blessed (i.e. happy) Godhead (e.g. 1 Tim. 1:11; 6:15). True Christian joy reflects the state of unruffled blessedness that has always existed in the trinity, the persons of which bring constant and illimitable joy to each other unceasingly. Therefore, it is a joy which is primarily designed to glorify God, that is, to display the nature of God. In other words, as great as are the blessings which God has given to followers of Jesus, those blessings themselves serve the greater purpose of glorifying God. God accomplished his work of redemption in order â€œto showâ€¦the riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesusâ€ (Ephesians 2:7). It was â€œto make known the riches of his glory in vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand unto gloryâ€ (Romans 9:23). Thus, any expression of the goal of the Christian mission which stops short with the needs of the unbeliever is essentially inadequate. Missions exists to bring eternal joy and life to sinners, but only because that will bring eternal glory to God, by displaying his nature in those whom he saves. -- from How the Doctrine of the Trinity Shapes the Christian Mission
The Sovereignty of God and the Christian Mission
The doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God, particularly as it finds expression in his predetermination of the events concerning redemption, and his unconditional election of men to salvation, has often encountered the objection that it is a deterrent to evangelism and missions. Unfortunately, this objection has sometimes been legitimate: Christians holding to a Calvinistic or predeterministic theology have sometimes drawn the inappropriate conclusion that personal evangelism is unnecessary because the elect will certainly come to Christ in any case. Consider, for example, the well-known story of how John Ryland is said to have responded to William Carey's desire to bring the gospel to the heathen in India with the quip, â€œSit down, young man; when God wants to convert the heathen, he'll do it without your help and mineâ€[i]. Of course, this attitude is inconsistent with the true biblical understanding of God's sovereignty as predetermining the means of gospel proclamation as well as the end of the conversion of the elect, and completely ignores the major biblical motif of the obligation of Christians to take the gospel message to the ends of the earth. The common Calvinistic response to this objection against predeterminism is formulated along these lines, that is, by showing how the hyper-Calvinistic disavowal of missions does not follow from the biblical teaching on God's absolute sovereignty, and demonstrating that the bible both demands the means of evangelism and promises the end of the conversion of the elect[ii]. This article, however, will take another tack, and attempt to show from a fuller-orbed perspective how the absolute sovereignty of God is so far from being a hindrance to the cause of the Christian mission that it is actually its non-negotiable foundation, both in its ultimate goal and its mediate accomplishment. To do this, I will first propose some preliminary considerations on the purpose of redemption and, by extension, the purpose of the Christian mission; second, discuss the display of God's sovereignty in redemptive history at large; third, discuss God's sovereignty in the climax of redemptive history, at the cross; and finally, draw some conclusions concerning the sovereignty of God and the Christian mission.
There may be More Active Christians in China than in Any other Country
Christianity in China
Sons of heaven
Oct 2nd 2008 | BEIJING AND SHANGHAI
From The Economist print edition
Inside Chinaâ€™s fastest-growing non-governmental organisation
ZHAO XIAO, a former Communist Party official and convert to Christianity, smiles over a cup of tea and says he thinks there are up to 130m Christians in China. This is far larger than previous estimates. The government says there are 21m (16m Protestants, 5m Catholics). Unofficial figures, such as one given by the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in Massachusetts, put the number at about 70m. But Mr Zhao is not alone in his reckoning. A study of China by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, an American think-tank, says indirect survey evidence suggests many unaffiliated Christians are not in the official figures. And according to China Aid Association (CAA), a Texas-based lobby group, the director of the government body which supervises all religions in China said privately that the figure was indeed as much as 130m in early 2008.
If so, it would mean China contains more Christians than Communists (party membership is 74m) and there may be more active Christians in China than in any other country. In 1949, when the Communists took power, less than 1% of the population had been baptised, most of them Catholics. Now the largest, fastest-growing number of Christians belong to Protestant â€œhouse churchesâ€.
No Substitute for Hard Work
People who are without the gospel around you live in great vexation and torment. Sin has caused brokenness, alienation and mass personal and social problems in our world. But having been mercifully delivered from the bondage to corruption, God has granted you a sphere of influence, a â€˜plot of landâ€™ to cultivate (so to speak) and until you become an instrument of redemption for Christ in the workplace, the persons in your life will continue to look for solutions to problems in all the wrong places. God has prepared good works for you and because the gospel is the only hope for the world, God has made you indispensable to the well being of the people around you.
The kingdom of the age to come has broken into the current age in Jesus Christ. All those who are now united to Christ, the true Israel, are made partakers of kingdom of the age to come and are called in Christ to exhibit the resurrected kingdom life. Although weak in ourselves, God has made us ambassadors and granted us power to demonstrate to those in our midst a foretaste of life of the age to come. Christ commands us to go and promote the kingdom in every sphere, not to sit idly in our sanctuaries. In fact, God has given each of us specific gifts and a calling and we are to use the gifts and position God has given us to wield influence by redeeming the people and the institutions in our sphere for his kingdom. The gospel is our 'weapon' to take every thought captive for Christ advancing Godâ€™s kingdom and force darkness to retreat.
A Call to Revolution
It is the year 2008. The gospel has been spreading and the Kingdom of Christ has been growing for nearly two thousand years. But not without setbacks. For almost a thousand years, in the middle ages, the gospel was slowly obscured by the corruptions of a satanically-influenced medieval church. The light was almost entirely extinguished. But then God raised up a man, shaken to the core by a sudden insight into the inexpressably glorious truth proclaimed in Romans 1:17, â€œThe just shall live by faith,â€ and the whole world was again turned upside down with the divine power of the gospel. Two hundred years later, when hypocrisy and self-motivated will-religion had nearly swallowed up the good effects of the Reformation, a diverse and unlikely group of men, including John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and even John and Charles Wesley trumpeted the joyful news that once again shook up the sleeping world, and fueled a missions movement that has reached across the globe for the sake of the Name. And now, more than two hundred years later, the gospel that has once more been attacked and suppressed, and has given way on many fronts to the false gospels of prosperity, self-esteem, inclusivism, and tolerance, is on the rise again. The heavenly insights of Edwards, Owen, and others on the sovereignty of God, his unconquerable grace, and the joy which his glory produces in those who are his has fueled another generation of outnumbered but unfailingly victorious men and women ready to give up their lives for the King. A last, great missions-minded movement is preparing for a final thrust into the heart of unconquered territories, and the trumpet sound which announces that the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our Savior can almost be heard.
Kingdom Expansion in SE Asia
The following is a recent enounter my missionary friends had in SE Asia.
"I have been healed so many times by the Buddhist monks, but the demon
spirits keep coming back. It doesn't really work like I thought. I don't
care who I pray to, I just need healing. "
These were the desperate words I heard 1 month ago from my next door
neighbor, Ihsan. After praying for she and her family for 4 + years, I knew
the time was finally right to introduce her to Jesus, and that only He had
the power to heal what was plaguing her.
Did Christianity Spread Due of the Promise of Power?
Question from Visitor: Religions that tend to spread the best are those that have the promise of power looming behind them, most often the kind of power that comes either from the promise of associating oneself with a powerful outside culture, or else the power that comes from giving one hope against oppression. Notice that neither of these has anything to do intrinsically with the actual message of any given religion-- these are the function of most any religion. I look at the victory of the West in the Cold War and see this as a major explanatory factor behind the spread of Christianity in the so-called Third World: victory over Communism provides a model of a strong, self-confident society associated with a particular religion, and the adherents of that religion can point to its values and the successes of the liberal, democratic West and know that the desired convert will see that the religious values of the West probably play better because of these successes in real-politik terms.
Moreover, missionaries from developed countries coming into Third World countries to seek converts bring with them wealth and social services. I find it impossible that you should ignore the power differentials in this equation. If a poor refugee from a civil war in Uganda or Rwanda or Burundi or Cambodia is met by a US or Korean minister offering food, education, and a job, and oh by the way here's a copy of the King James Bible, don't you think there's a better chance of that refugee probably converting to Christianity than to, say, the Baha'i faith? And why? Because of the inherent truth of Christianity? No. Not to deny the possibility of the Christian faith being true, but it is not because of its truth that the refugee in this case would convert. It is because of two things, and two alone. First, there is a power differential; the minister and the refugee are not meeting on an equal playing field. The power transaction is all one-way: here are my money, my learning, and my power. To get them, all you have to do is allow me to expose you to mybelief system. The refugee is not going to say no. I am not saying that missionaries simplistically require anyone to agree to convert just to get social services, but rather that the provision of social services sets up an expectation that the receiver will take a look at the faith. Many convert as a result of exposure, exposure they might not have had if they had been safe, secure, and well-provisioned-for members of a stable community. Notice that more conversions occur among refugee and Third World communities that need services than among prospering 1st world countries. Missionaries just don't go into areas where people are rich, white, and not in need of social assistance. Why? Because if they do they are more likely to have doors shut in their face, be asked to leave, or be regarded as an annoyance. And that's because those richer people don't need the social services that the missionaries use to attract those poorer converts mentioned earlier.
Response:That is really quite an interesting theory and might even be persuasive if I were sitting in a classroom. But even if it were true in some cases that a person would convert because of "wealth and social services", and not due to the truth of the message, the spread of Christianity would most certainly die out as soon as such assistance were withdrawn. This is because the "convert" had no true root, but only believed in order to get something out of it. And it further would not explain the zeal with which indigenous peoples have spread the news of Christianity to their own people. But most of all, I would argue that this viewpoint simply shows complete ignorance of Christian history and how it has spread in various countries. The first three hundred years of Christianity, the love of Christ spread to multiple ethnic groups under the constant threat of death. Christians were crucfied, beheaded, made into candles and lit on fire and thrown to the lions. There was no "bait" hung over them whatsoever. In fact, Christianity has historically spread the most under the harshest of conditions. For a more recent example, in mainland China there were less than one million Chrisitans in 1949 when the communists took control. Missionaries tried for hundreds of years and had almost no fruit to speak of. The influence of the missionaries was obviously a small drop in the bucket compared to the enormous population. But under the rule of Mao, and beyond, when Christianity was outlawed and leaders were tortured and killed (and without the help of missionaries offering social servces) Christianities growth has exploded to around 100 million in a 50 year period in that country. The biggest revival of Christianity in human history under the leadership of a dictator. This completely blows the above argument out of the water and shows really how silly it is. It may sound good and persuasive in a sociology classroom but when you get on the ground and see what happens in real life, the truth is the opposite and even counter-intuitive. I would encourage you to do your research rather than be taken in by the latest postmodern argument coming out of Columbia University.
Free Downloadable Chinese Reformed Christian Material
In the previous post that announced the grand opening of our Chinese bookstore, a commenter asked if we planned on having any of the books in free downloadable format for Chinese as well. Well, for those of you who do not know, we have had this already available for quite some time. Here is a website we developed quite some time ago that is like Monergism.com in Chinese but on a much smaller scale:
How the Doctrine of the Trinity Shapes the Christian Mission
In any discussion of Christian theology, it is virtually axiomatic that the doctrine of the trinity is the foundational doctrine which distinguishes a peculiarly Christian theology from the theology of any other religion, especially of the other great monotheistic religions. Likewise, in any discussion of Christian missiology, it is virtually axiomatic that the core pursuit of the Christian mission is to make good on the commission with which Christ left his Church, to make disciples of all the nations, as recorded in Matthew 28:18-20. But consider: if the doctrine of the trinity is the foundation of Christian theology and the Great Commission to make disciples is the foundation of the Christian mission, then that acknowledgment must have a necessary formative effect on the ultimate goal of missions. A major component of the Christian mission is to teach the doctrine which Christ left the disciples; a major part of that doctrine (or rather, all of it) is trinitarian. Therefore, the doctrine of the trinity must shape the way in which we go about our task as Christian missionaries. I am not sure that all of the ramifications of this concept have been well enough thought out in typical works on missiology. In order to pursue this idea further, this article will reflect briefly on the nature of the trinity, and then explore how those trinitarian truths must shape the goal, means, and source of the Christian mission.
Praying for Muslims Today
Next time you pray today, please remember to pray for the worldwide community of Muslims.
December 20 begins Eid-al-Adha or "Sacrifice Day," the three-day holiday in which Muslims celebrate Abraham's sacrifice of his son, Ishmael, to Allah. Believing that Allah supplied a ram in Ishmael's place, Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice a sheep, ram, goat, camel, water buffalo or cow and donate one third of the meat to the poor, one third to relatives and friends, and one third is kept for them. Distributing meat among people is considered an essential part of the festival during this period, as well as chanting Takbir out loud before the Eid prayer on the first day and after prayers through out the four days of Eid.
Ask God to open eyes on this holiday and turn souls from darkness to light. Pray the Lord illumine and open their hearts, breaking from all form of bondage that they may turn to Christ.
Bible Translation for a Muslim Audience
It is virtually indisputable that the last great frontier of the world missions movement involves the various unreached peoples of Islam. It is equally clear that a necessary part of the labor involved in reaching these Muslim peoples is the translation of the bible into their own languages, so that they may read and understand it. But this is a much more complicated task than it might appear at first glance; for a typical Muslim is so conditioned by his culture and worldview that the merest hint of a variety of seemingly innocuous terms will immediately prevent him from even opening a book in which they may be found, let alone giving it an unbiased reading. Unfortunately, many of these terms have a well-established tradition in the Christian history of the major languages used by Muslims; and even in the smaller languages, the task of finding an equivalent for the terms of the original languages of the scriptures that is not needlessly offensive, but nevertheless communicates the proper idea, is quite a difficult one. These problems may not just be ignored. If Christ is ever going to have his worshipers among those people groups that are even today almost entirely Muslim, they must have access to an accurate and understandable version of the Bible. This involves both the revision or retranslation of the bible for a specifically Muslim audience in the major languages, and entirely new translations in the smaller languages.
New Missions Blog
When our Savior ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, he left his church with a very specific task: to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, calling out from every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation the worshipers for whom he died. In the two thousand years of history which followed, the reigning Lord has been in the process of spreading his Kingdom throughout the world in his mystical body, the Church; but the task is not done. There are still unreached people groups in existence across the globe, and the full reward of the Redeemer's sacrifice has yet to be realized. As we strive to labor in the fields to which Jesus has sent us, we need to keep the â€œbig pictureâ€ in mind. We need to remember the greatest motivation for our service, the worthiness of the Lamb to be worshiped by representatives of every people on earth. And we need to prioritize our efforts, focusing specifically on those peoples that have not been brought into the Savior's eternal kingdom. For these reasons, I am excited about a new team missions blog, which may prove a useful tool for keeping the present status of the Great Commission before us, and providing suggestions for how we might engage the task in a more meaningful way. The contributors all have a Reformed perspective and a focus on the remaining unreached people groups of the world. If anyone is interested, please check it out at Kingdom Surge
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!
Red Flowers for Him
The following is a piece written by a good friend of mine who is currently training native Chinese missionaries entering into missionary service to the largely unreached Islamic world. All names have been removed for obvious reasons.
Red Flowers for Him
The restaurant decor consists of garish red roses sweeping across the wallpaper, menus and chairs. A front door opens and a gust of winter air pushes in as another burst of arrivals noisily inquires where the large party of 40 is to be seated. In the increasingly crowded private room, expectant faces appear to be waiting the arrival of food Âbut something muchweightier than food looms ahead.
The details behind each individual in the room must wait for another day for the telling. It is enough to say that ten young Chinese individuals in the room had come to very separate and differently arrived at conclusions that God wanted to send each one westward to some unknown destination in the Middle East. Their paths had led them to this new place of equipping for a three month session of training in spiritual warfare, ministry among Muslims, cross-cultural training, and the list goes on.
Exposition of Revelation 5:9 - Particular Redemption
"Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
The scope of Christ's work of redemption is both universal and particular: universal because it includes people of every ethnicity and nation; particular because Christ redeems a people for Himself from out of these nations, having had an eye for a remnant of mankind from every tribe. Here is the climax of God's redemptive purpose, fulfilling God's covenant to Abraham to bless the children of promise through his seed (Gen 12:2; Rom 9:6-13). This is why God has commanded the church to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18, 19) that He might gather those he has set apart for Himself in every city and town (Acts 18:10; John 17:9, 20)
The great, ultimate, and final exodus is here (Rev 5) being declared in song. There are three (3) reasons which define the lamb's worthiness to open the scroll
1) you were slain,
2) with your blood your purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (That is the meaning of the event). and
3) v10. You have made them to be a kingdom of priests and to reign on the earth. (That is the consequence of the event).
What is actually in view here? It is the final exodus and the ultimate, eternal establishment of a covenantal relationship between God and His people. It is what we see at the end of the Revelation. "Now I will be their God and they will be my people..." This event also uses language similar to the Exodus of the Jews. It not only points forward to the final consummation but also points back to that Passover event. This passage actually lifts language from the Book of Exodus, interpreting its ultimate meaning. What actually took place on the evening of the first Passover? A lamb was slain and painted on the doorposts of every Jewish home. That was the event. But what was the meaning of that event?. The Text is clear. The purchase of the firstborn for God. The firstborn in Israel were just as guilty as any Egyptian. The Jews were not saved because they were more righteous than anyone else. They were saved because God made them a provision of atonement. They too were liable to the death blow of the angel, but were purchased by the blood of an unblemished sacrifice that pointed to the ultimate sacrifice. To what end, and with what final consequence in mind? In their language: "That out of all the nations of the world they would become the personal possession of God, purchased out of Egypt to be made a kingdom and priests" (Ex 19).
Reflecting on our Distinctives
Our recent move into new and larger facilities, with the addition of two new employees has, to some degree, hindered me from writing as much as I would like to. The move has been intense and stressful but it has also given me time to reflect again on what we think Monergism.com is all about.
The continued emphasis at Monergism.com surrounds a handful of distinctives: (1) the exclusive sufficiency of Jesus Christ, that is, a Christ-centered and grace-driven gospel; (2) faithfulness to the Text of Scripture; (3) a covenantal (or Reformed) understanding of redemption history; (4) a monergistic view of the Holy Spiritâ€™s work in effecting all salvific blessings â€“ regeneration, justification and sanctification â€“ flowing from the believerâ€™s union with Christ; and (5) equipping, training and disciplining the saints in the knowledge of the Person and work of Jesus Christ so our readership and their disciples might be prepared to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
John Piper on How We Might Respond to Muslim Anger over the Pope's Comments
John Piper suggesting How Christians Might Respond to Muslim Outrage at the Pope's Regensburg Message About Violence and Reason.
Here is an outline of his ten points:
1. Admit that the Christian church has often been too entangled with civil governments, with the result that violence has been endorsed by the church as a way of accomplishing religious, and not just civil, goals.
2. Make clear that the use of God-sanctioned violence between Israel and the nations in the Old Testament is no longer Godâ€™s will for his people.
3. Admit that there are many Muslims today who do not approve of violence in the spread of Islam.
4. Point out how Islam, in its most sacred writings and authoritative teachings, belittles Jesus Christ, not just occasionally in the news, but constantly by its dominant claims.
5. Point out that, in response to this constant defamation of Jesus Christ, there are no public threats or demands for apologies.
David Wells on "Churchless Christianity"
"...This attitude which diminishes the significance of being in church and which will not tolerate any inconvenience has had a strange incarnation overseas, if I can use that word. American missiologists like Ralph Winter have been strenuously advocating â€œchurchless Christianityâ€ as a new and exciting strategy. Their thought is that believers in other religious contexts need not separate themselves from those contexts but can remain in them as private believers, thereby preserving themselves from any kind of harm. This, of course, is easier to do in a Hindu context in which one is allowed to choose oneâ€™s own god from among the many that are worshipped. Christians, quietly and privately, are simply choosing to worship Jesus and ignoring the other gods and goddesses in the temple. They are never baptized, never make a public declaration of their faith, and never become part of a church. This arrangement is, of course, much harder to carry off in Islam. Nevertheless, Winter and others now estimate that there are millions of these â€œchurchlessâ€ believers concealed in other religions. And is this not where American evangelicalism is headed? In fact, there are already millions of believers concealed in their own living rooms whose only â€œchurchâ€ experience is what is had from one of the television preachers. Is it really a coincidence, then, that it is American evangelicals who are energetically arguing for the wisdom of a comparable strategy in the mission field in respect to their religious contexts? I think not!
Here we have an unholy alliance between raw pragmatism, a Christianity without doctrinal shape, one that in fact separates between having Christ as savior and Christ as Lord (an option that the N.T. never holds out to us!), and a lost understanding of the necessary role which the local church should have.
A Biblical Theology of Christian Mission
Several days ago, I posted a brief article on Christian mission, in which I deplored the lack of a thoroughly biblical-theological treatment of the theme and proposed to develop several posts with the goal of laying out some groundwork for a biblical theology of mission. Shortly after posting that initial article, I came across a self-styled â€œbiblical theology of missionâ€, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, by Kostenberger and Oâ€™Brien; and I determined to defer my own development of the topic until I had obtained a copy of their work. I have now read this biblical theology, and I am pleased to announce that it was written along much the same lines as that which I had hoped to develop â€“ and furthermore, it has been much more meticulously researched and thought-through than my own musings would have been. In light of this discovery, I have purposed to discontinue my incondite designs, and have chosen instead to post a short review of the volume I found so helpful. If anyone else is likewise searching for a well-crafted biblical theological treatment of Christian mission, I can do no better than to recommend to him the research of Kostenberger and Oâ€™Brien. The book may be purchased here.
The Conversion and Preaching of (St) Patrick in Ireland
An extract from the â€œHistory of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Centuryâ€ by J. H. Merle dâ€™AubignÃ© (1794-1872)
On the picturesque banks of the Clyde, not far from Glasgow, in the Christian village of Bonavern, now Kilpatrick, a little boy, of tender heart, lively temperament, and indefatigable activity, passed the earlier days of his life. He was born about the year 372 A. D., of a British family, and was named Succat.1 His father, Calpurnius, deacon of the church of Bonavern, a simple-hearted pious man, and his mother, Conchessa, sister to the celebrated Martin, archbishop of Tours,2 and a woman superior to the majority of her sex, had endeavoured to instil into his heart the doctrines of Christianity; but Succat did not understand them. He was fond of pleasure, and delighted to be the leader of his youthful companions. In the midst of his frivolities, he committed a serious fault.
Some few years later, his parents having quitted Scotland and settled in Armorica (Bretagne), a terrible calamity befell them. One day as Succat was playing near the seashore with two of his sisters, some Irish pirates, commanded by Oâ€™ Neal, carried them all three off to their boats, and sold them in Ireland to the petty chieftain of some pagan clan. Succat was sent into the fields to keep swine.3 It was while alone in these solitary pastures, without priest and without temple, that the young slave called to mind the divine lessons which his pious mother had so often read to him. The fault which he had committed pressed heavily night and day upon his soul: he groaned in heart, and wept. He turned repenting towards that meek Saviour of whom Conchessa had so often spoken; he fell at His knees in that heathen land, and imagined he felt the arms of a father uplifting the prodigal son. Succat was then born from on high, but by an agent so spiritual, so internal, that he knew not â€œwhence it cometh or whither it goeth.â€ The gospel was written with the finger of God on the tablets of his heart. â€œI was sixteen years old,â€ said he, â€œand knew not the true God; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and, although late, I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children.â€4
Praying for a People Group
1. Give thanks to the Lord that â€œa people for His Nameâ€ will be established from among every people. (Rev. 7:9-10)
2. Ask the Lord to to demolish spiritual strongholds and human philosophies or arguments raised up against the knowledge of God which produce barriers of resistance to the gospel. (II Cor. 10:4-5)
3. Pray that willing, skillful workers would be sent to reach this people group. (Matt. 9:38)
4. Believe God to enlighten the minds of the people about their worship of false gods. (Psalm 115:4-8)
5. Plead for the opening of eyes to the revelation of the Creator God and His Son, Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:17-18)
6. Ask God to give understanding, sensitivity, a considerate disposition and discernment to those who communicate truth that it may be clearly understood. (I Peter 1:18-19)
7. Intercede for people to come to faith in Christ, repenting from their sin and from their own good works. (Eph. 2:8-9). Only God can grant faith (John 6:63) and repentance (2 Tim 2:25). Since God requires faith in His Son that the lost may be saved, ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life a willing heart, and that He would open their blind eyes they may see the beauty and excellency of Christ and thus believe the Word of the Gospel we bring.
8. Ask that new believers will share the gospel as bold witnesses. (Acts 4:29-31)
Adapted from Dr. Alex Smith
The Christian Mission: An Overview
As we approach the point which marks a two-thousand year lapse of time since our Savior left us on earth with a great task to accomplish, namely, the evangelism of the nations, it is imperative that we pause to consider what precisely we are striving to accomplish; how far we have advanced on our goal; and what strategies we have in place for the continuation and ultimate completion of our mission. Is it possible that, in all our zeal for the work of the Kingdom, we are hindered at points by a lack of essential clarity on exactly what that work entails, and how we might best go about it? It would seem, simply by the fact of the overwhelming diversity of ways in which various Christian churches and organizations would answer these questions, that the answer must at least in some cases be yes. If this lack of unity and vision in the worldwide Church poses certain obstacles to the accomplishment of the great commission, then how might we take a definite step towards overcoming those obstacles, and equipping the Church to pour out her energies in a united effort to reach the world? I would propose that we must first acknowledge the problems which inhere in our current situation, and then construct a full-orbed biblical theology of Christian mission; by which we may hope to address those problems which we have already recognized to be detrimental to our evangelistic efforts. This series of posts does not presume to be that biblical theology of mission; but it is my desire that they may at least serve to highlight a need for more extensive work in that area, as well as provide a few rough ideas for a direction to pursue toward that end.
Engagement with Secular People
by Tim Keller
The gospel removes any sense of superiority toward those who donâ€™t share our beliefs. We respect and remember what it is like to seriously doubt Christianity. We therefore expect not-yet-believers in almost every facet of Redeemerâ€™s ministry and life, and we make every effort to engage and address their questions and concerns. One of the main ways we do this is with the missional mindset that makes worship and small groups a place where Christians and non-Christians grow together.
In general the churchâ€™s communication and preaching must continually chip away at the main â€œdefeaters,â€ the main, widely held objections to Christianity that form an â€œimplausibility structureâ€ keeping most people from solid faith thought because â€œall the smart people I know donâ€™t believe Christianity.â€
Ex-Muslims Attracted to Western Secularism
By Rev. Bassam M. Madany
From my earliest days, I noticed a certain fascination with Western secularism that was exhibited by Arab authors who dealt with modern history. For example, they showed a high regard and admiration for the French Revolution of 1789, notwithstanding the unbelievable bloodshed and turmoil that resulted from it.
During the past century, that attraction has manifested itself specifically in the rapid spread of Marxist ideology throughout the Middle East. In the 1960s, a Muslim professor at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Sadeq Jalal al-Adhm, published, â€œA Critique of Religious Thought.â€(Naqd al-Fikr Al-Deeni.) This book was critical, not only of the Qurâ€™an, but of all theistic religions. His approach and methodology were thoroughly Marxist. He got into trouble with the Lebanese authorities, but was exonerated from the charge of inciting divisions among the Lebanese religious communities. Al-Adhm stuck tenaciously to his secular ideology. The last sentence in a revised and expanded version of his â€œCritiqueâ€ was this: â€œIt is beyond doubt that Dialectical Materialism is the best known attempt to formulate a complete and universal worldview that can be reconciled with the spirit of this age and its sciences. I believe that this is exactly what Jean-Paul Sartre meant when he said: â€˜Marxism is the philosophy for our times.â€™â€
Hospitality in a Cold World
Be kindly affectionate to one another . . . , given to hospitality. â€”Romans 12:10,13
The word for hospitality in the Scripture means â€œa love of strangers.â€ Something that does not really come naturally to me. I know it is my own tendency to avoid taking the initiative to meet and befriend others. My heart naturally can be cold and unreceiving. But by prayer through the word of God, hospitality, I have witnessed, breaks down barriers and build bridges to other people. It can make strangers and stragglers feel welcome.
Inviting someone to your home is an ideal way to start serving in this way. I have appreciated it when people have done this for me in the past, especially when I was new to an area. And when you invite new friends into your home, use your culinary skill and eat with them (Acts 2:46, 20:11; 1 Cor 16:19) and then take the time to pray with them before they depart. They will appreciate it more than you know. Show appreciation to leaders, hurting families and teachers by inviting them into your home. There are many wandering, isolated persons who need this ministry of hospitality. Consider how much you appreciate it when, perhaps in those rare occassions, others have done this for you. I think human beings all appreciate this and it is a means God uses to minister the gospel through you. When living overseas, I was especially struck with the natural tendency of Chinese people to be hospitible to people. Many Christians could learn from them.
Monergism.com Reformation T-Shirt
Monergism.com Reformation T-Shirts now available for preorder. Shipping on June 14th, 2006
By popular demand Monergism.com is making the Monergism.com Reformation T-shirt available so long-time visitors have a way to help promote the Reformation doctrines of grace highlighted on Monergism.com. With the recent resurgence of Reformation theology, many adhering to the Doctrines of Grace search for ways to expose the world to their beliefs. This shirt peaks the interest of onlookers and provides an excellent bridge for introducing the Biblical beliefs that those who uphold the Reformation hold so dear.
The front of the shirt bears a likeness of the symbol of the 16th Century Protestant Reformation - a â€œburning bushâ€ with the Latin phrase â€œPost Tenebras Luxâ€ translated into the English meansâ€¦.. â€œAfter Darkness, Light.â€
The back of the shirt bears the names and likenesses of four of the best-known Protestant Reformers: Luther, Calvin, Edwards and Spurgeon. Surrounding them is the text of the five solas of the Reformation: Sola Fide ~ Faith Alone; Sola Gratia ~ Grace Alone; Solus Christus ~ Christ Alone; Sola Scriptura ~ Scripture Alone; Soli Deo Gloria ~ Glory to God Alone. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.
These shirts are pre-shrunk and WILL NOT SHRINK! They are Haynes Beefy-Ts. These shirts last for years of wear - not a few months. The shirt is printed with high quality graphics and uses a total of 5 different colors to obtain its primary look. This shirt is not a â€œblack and whiteâ€ shirt â€” it is professionally designed and crafted. The quality of our shirt is he best constructed and heaviest weight of cotton on the market. It is 100% Cotton PRESHRUNK (i.e. does not shrink). Design by David Jacks at Theological Pursuits
The Blood of the Martyrs
The famous observation of Tertullian that, â€œthe blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,â€ has a depth of insight which is all too often lost on believers today. We have no trouble thinking of persecution and martyrdom as a great obstacle to the spread of the gospel which will not, however, be successful in hindering Church growth. We would have no problem affirming that the blood of the martyrs is a hurdle which, by Godâ€™s grace, can be overcome. But to say that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church is an altogether different concept. If martyrdom is a surmountable obstacle to the growth of the Church, then the Church might advance just as well, even better, without it. But if the blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church, then without it, the Church does not grow. Without martyrdom, the Church would never have taken root in the world of Tertullian. Without martyrdom, the Church would not have spread to the Auca Indians in South America, or to China or Burma or the islands of the South Seas. The blood of the martyrs is a necessary means for the worldwide application of Christâ€™s great redemptive accomplishment. This is the full force of Tertullianâ€™s insight; and understanding the full extent of his meaning must leave us confronted with two great questions: is this understanding scriptural? And if so, what practical effects ought this scriptural truth to have upon the actions, goals, and designs of the Church as she approaches her task of global evangelism in the twenty-first century? By Godâ€™s grace, we will address those two questions in the remainder of this post.
The Wisdom of God in our Afflictions
The Lord has wisely and sovereignly determined each one of our lots in this life. Even in our afflictions the sovereignty and wisdom of God is displayed. But how often do we complain against them? How often do we murmur and demand our rights? Does the American Christian's unceasing demand for his rights reflect Christ as it ought, or would yielding to God's sovereign hand in glad submission to those God has placed us under have a greater effect and use by God? When we are sinned against, do we complain, plot revenge, or do we bless? and humbly desire the good of the other?
We might do well to recognize and live as missionaries here in the U.S. (or wherever you are from), and not get too comfortable here, that is, live as if we had no rights ourselves willingly living as servants ... taking opportunity to escape affliction when it offers itself (in the course of God's Providence), but instead of complaining, we humbly bear up under affliction and, in fact, go out of our way to serve and love those who treat us contemptuously. God will make all things right in HIS time. This He has promised and thus let us believe. Even if this means giving up some of our rights during this short time we have on earth. In the meantime, we need to submit to God's Providence in our lot and work for the good, but without complaint and without cursing those who work against us ... for our battle is not with flesh and blood. Take note that the first century Jews wanted a political messiah, and some worked against God by their attempts to forcibly take the political reigns... let us not make the same mistake and think that the purpose God has given us is to attempt to take over the political realm, as if this would solve the world's problems. If God places us in a position in the political realm as our lot in life, great; work for the good, for justice and redeem as much as God uses you to, but do not put your hope in it. Our hope is in Christ... Remember that Jesus is "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come." Jesus reigns now over all creation and over every name that is named. This means what is occurring in your life, even that which may make you bitter, is under his sovereign and wise hand. Take comfort in that whatever your circumstance the Lord has a distinct purpose in it. Complaining and murmuring is a complaint against the Lord. He has promised in the age to come that these temporary afflictions will turn to eternal glory, as if our time here were but for a moment, the blink of an eye.
See what the Puritan divine Thomas Boston in his classic The Crook in the Lot, said about yielding to God's providence under afflictions:
The Universal Scope of God's Redemptive Purpose
We can only glory in such a big-hearted Psalm coming from such a small-minded people. The Jews who were, like us, bigoted and narrowly focused on their own small and insignificant tribe, yet God broke into their history and small-mindedness by revealing Himself to them (and to us) as the God of compassion for all nations. YHWH, the covenant God, revealed that His compassion did not merely end with them. He placed before them a vision.. an all encompassing vision, which would eventually see His reign over the world and God's redemptive purpose for all peoples, that they too might delight in Him.
When we speak of the universal scope of God's purpose in redeeming the world to himself, of course, we do not speak of all persons without exception. No, we speak (as the Bible does) of all without distinction. All nations, not merely Jews are encompassed into God's plan of redemption. That is why the twenty-four elders in heaven say of Christ:
"...You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." (Rev. 5:9)
Christ's blood purchased, not all, but people from out of all nations, tribes and tongues. At this we can only marvel and worship. Psalm 67 is a forward looking vision only which was accomplished when Christ fulfilled the covenant, breaking down the dividing wall (Eph 2:14), bringing not only Jews, but persons from all nations, into his redemption. The church in the New Testament was not a parenthesis or a "Plan B" but the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose in Christ, the ultimate end and climax of the covenant. Here, all nations, Jews and Gentiles, are brought into the house of God. Jesus, the remnant of one, the faithful True Israelite deserves all the glory, honor and praise for bringing this plan, which man would never have fathomed, to fruition. Oh that God might bless us that we might make known the riches of His glory to all nations.
Pauline Missiology Parts I & II
Rev. Bassam M. Madany Discusses Islam and weighs the modern contextualization movement in missiology against Paulâ€™s teachings about the role of Gospel proclamation in the fulfillment of the Great Commission
Pauline Missiology Part I
Rev. Bassam M. Madany
My theological training took place during the 1950s; first at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1950-1953), and later on at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan (1957-1958). Between these two periods, I was engaged in mission work in Syria, and in church work in Manitoba, Canada.
At the RPTS, my training was in the old Princeton Seminary tradition. Emphasis was placed on the basic theological disciplines: OT & NT studies, Systematic Theology, Church History, Homiletics, and Church Government. In the area of practical theology, we covered Reformed Evangelism and a study of the major cults. I audited a course at Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary on Dispensationalism under Dr. John Gerstner. At CTS, beside the courses that introduced me to the Christian Reformed Church, I took courses in Ethics, Biblical Theology, The Theology of John Calvin (Study of the Institutes), and missions.
I should not forget to give credit as well to the following men who contributed to my theological formation: O. T. Allis with whom I had the privilege of a very fruitful discussion on the hermeneutics of Dispensationalism; Samuel Zwemer, the great authority on Islam, and Pierre Marcel, of the Calvinist Society of France.