The July 2007 PNEUMA INFORMER
In this issue
What's New at www.PneumaFoundation.orgNew Online Articles
New Links and Content Worth Noticing
- Numerous articles are available on the Online Articles index. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/web_article_archive.jsp
- Book Review: Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., The Holy Spirit in the Third Millennium. Reviewed by John R. Miller. As appearing in the Fall 2006 issue of the Pneuma Review and now available online. Added July 13, 2007. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=SLinzey-HolySpiritThirdMill-JMiller.xml
- Book Review: Don Finto, God's Promise and the Future of Israel Reviewed by H. Murray Hohns. Added July 13, 2007. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/article.jsp?article=DFinto-GodsPromise-HMHohns.xml
- Added to the Guest Article index: What Is Driving Your Behavior: A Thinking Man's Guide, by Rev. Don Allen, Jr. Added July 13, 2007. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/resources/articles/DAllen-WhatIsDrivingYourBehavior.pdf
- The Pneuma Foundation is pleased to add content to our website as a resource to our members and friends around the world. We also add links to content that we are not able to republish ourselves, but may be of interest. Here are some examples of links added recently to "Links to Articles & Books" www.pneumafoundation.org/links_articles.jsp and from "Links to Study Resources" www.pneumafoundation.org/links_study.jsp
- The largest list of Pentecostal/charismatic Bible Schools available online anywhere. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links_schools.jsp
Add your school: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links.jsp#link
- "I Love, Therefore You Are" by Mark Galli. Why the modern search for self ends in despair. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/juneweb-only/126-42.0.html
- Why We Believe: "Virtue That Counts" Why justification by faith alone in Christ Jesus alone is still the defining doctrine of Evangelical Christians (Christianity Today, July 2007). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/july/19.20.html
- "How to teach with parables (like Jesus did)" by D. Bruce Seymour (Pastors.com). http://www.pastors.com/rwmt/article.asp?ArtID=10673
- Worship: "Think About God" An interview with pioneer Brian Doerksen on what's wrong with worship music (Christian Music Today). http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/interviews/2007/briandoerksen-0407.html
Reports from Around the World
Iraq: Christians in immeasurable suffering
On 25 July the Rev. Canon Andrew White addressed the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Until forced to flee for his life, Canon White (who is British) was vicar of the 1300 member St George's Anglican Church in Baghdad which has been under sustained attack from militants linked to al-Qaeda. Describing the situation for Christians in Iraq as 'desperate' he said, "The Coalition has failed the Christians. We have done nothing to support the Christian community or address the increased Christian suffering." Canon White told the USCIRF that 36 of his own congregation have been kidnapped over the past month with only one returned after payment of ransom. The Christians of Iraq need our prayers: for strength, faith, protection and intervention.
Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 440 | July 07 Update
Church destroyed in Malaysia
(MNN) - Government authorities in Malaysia demolished a church belonging to an indigenous tribe of newly converted Christians. The demolition happened a few weeks ago. Authorities claimed it was built without state permission. Local leaders dispute that, saying the land was theirs and they can use the land for their own purposes. Local Christians intend to rebuild the church. Only about 9 percent of Malaysia's almost 25 million people are Christians.
Source: Mission Network News, 2 July, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10080
China: Momentum for change is building
China's economic reform has not only brought wealth but also some scandalous corruption. Economists, intellectuals and Communist Party members are increasingly advocating openly for political and social reform. One government economist has called for 'cultural transformation' and publicly linked successful market economies to Christianity as providing ethics and enabling self-restraint. The dynamism of the open debate is remarkable. The Communist Party has now publicly acknowledged China has some 130 million Christians.
This momentum for change in China has not yet reached neighboring North Korea, attributed with the world's worst corruption and most intensive repression. Please pray that God will continue preparing China for liberty and will intervene in North Korea so news, ideas and the gospel of life may flow in (Psalm 24:7).
Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 438 | China: Momentum for Change (but not yet in North Korea)
China expels foreign missionaries
(MNN) - Under the guise of visa problems, more than a hundred foreign Christian workers have reportedly been expelled from China. Citizens from six countries working in Xinjiang, Beijing and Tibet were targeted. Words Of Hope's Lee DeYoung says while open to Gospel radio programs, Tibetans have sometimes been reported to resent missionary activity. But DeYoung says that's not what they saw. "We had the opportunity to go along with one of the Tibetan men who is involved in follow-up. There are thousands of responses that come every year to these broadcasts." More surprising, he says is the unlikely place where interest broadened to asking questions and openness. "These contacts include people in monasteries who are listening, who are open to the things of God, and who listen with interest to this Gospel broadcast." Voice of the Martyrs estimates Tibet has only a few hundred Christians. Pray they would be equipped to respond to the interest. Pray, too, that the Gospel broadcasts would continue to penetrate Tibet.
Source: Mission Network News, 16 July, 2007 Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10129
Laos: Christianity Recognized in Attapeu Province
This year proved a turning point for native Christians living in Attapeu Province of southern Laos. After years of struggle, believers rejoiced as the government now recognizes Christianity as a legitimate religion.
Only five years ago the persecution was severe. Local authorities ordered believers in Attapeu to renounce their faith or be exiled from their villages. Christians were prohibited from using common wells, rice mills and other public facilities. At the beginning of the year 2002, 73 people professed faith in Christ. But by the end of the year, after heavy persecution, only 30 believers remained steadfast.
The following year was no easier. Villagers in Attapeu Province continued to withhold basic resources from Christians. Believers were forced to walk two hours to the nearest city to buy food and supplies. Local officials marked the homes of Christians throughout the province by attaching posters to their front doors. Persecutors poisoned the believers' animals and threw rocks at their homes.
The village authorities finally ordered 12 Christian families to leave their village, threatening to burn down their homes if they refused to comply.
In 2004 several missionaries were arrested and imprisoned for one year. Their livestock was confiscated by the village chief. Each missionary was also forced to pay a hefty fine. If they did not pay, the authorities threatened to burn their homes and take over their land.
"Our rice fields and our orchard fields have been taken from us," reported one native believer. "We are constantly being chased out of our village. We are about to be without homes or a way to earn a living.
The authorities threatened to kill our son. They accused him of being a spy."
This year, however, the prayers of many were answered when local authorities officially recognized Christianity in Attapeu. For the first time, Christians are able to legally worship together in churches.
An indigenous ministry assisted by Christian Aid plans to construct one church in each of five villages. With the freedom to assemble and openly share the gospel, believers are optimistic that the number of Christians in Attapeu will sharply increase. Today, 336 believers gather for worship in the province. Lao believers ask that fellow believers join them in praying for means to build these five church buildings ($5,000 each).
Source: Missions Insider 8:7 July 20, 2007. Used with permission.
India: Persecution not expected to be an issue for Christian retailers
News and Headlines
(MNN) - International Bible Society/Send the Light ministry is partnering with Operation Mobilization India Books. Through this, they can offer Christian literature in bookstores throughout India. PLN Murty says this partnership will help Indian churches. "It's for the purpose of evangelism and discipleship so that we can provide God's Word to churches in their own areas at an affordable price. People not only read them in English but in the local languages." Despite persecution, their vision is for the Christian stores to be something everyone visits. "The bookstores are open for everyone, not just for Christians alone. The idea is to have non-Christian community walk in and browse through the books of their liking and take them. It helps in evangelism because they purchase it at their own free will." They plan to have 50 bookstores in the coming years. Pray that God will keep them focused on the Great Commission.
Source: Mission Network News, July 11, 2007. Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10114
for Current News and Links
- "A Significant Meeting Between Muslims and Christians" American Christians and Arab Muslims discuss desire for a change of perceptions and increased freedom of religion. Suggested by KW. http://www.moralmajority.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52
- USA: Prisons remove hundreds of religious books from libraries In an effort to prevent Islamic radicalization, the US Deptarment of Justice has culled hundreds of religious texts from libraries across the country. But has the DOJ gone too far? (ChristianityTodayOnline) http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/julyweb-only/128-22.0.html
- Biblical Archaeology: Herod the Great's tomb found (National Geographic) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/05/070508-herod-tomb.html | To read coverage from Christianity Today, visit: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/july/5.14.html
- Roman Catholicism reaffirms that non-Catholics are not part of the Church http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html | Rebuttal from International Reformed Leader http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070711/28400_Reformed_Church_Head_Rebuts_Vatican's_'One_True_Church'_Claim.htm | Recommended by Dr. William D. Taylor, "I have been following the discussion in light of Benedict XVI's statement on the other Christian churches. The press has not accurately reported this in good part. There is really nothing totally new here, for the official RC teaching has always seen these other groups as not the fully Christian Church. However, that he would come out with this statement is rather striking."
- Meditation: "Faith Perfected" Recent martyrdoms in Turkey sadden us but cannot make us despair (Christianity Today July 2007). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/july/17.21.html
- Biblical Archaeology: Nebuchadnezzar official mentioned on newly deciphered cuneiform tablet Tablet hailed as "proof" of Jeremiah passage (ChristianityTodayWeblog). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/julyweb-only/128-41.0.html
- Uganda: Pastor arrested for having "miracle" machine | Electric shock device implicates pastor in suspected fraud (SundayMonitorOnline). Link not correct as of July 23, 2007: http://www.monitor.co.ug/sunday/news/news07085.php
- India: Persecution cannot stop Christians from telling the story of Jesus Three separate attacks on Christians by Hundu militants in Karnataka, India are proof that persecution is escalating in the area (MNN). http://www.mnnonline.org/article/10135
- USA: Students of Christian university denied state aid for being 'Too Sectarian' If this ruling stands, what precedents are set for K-12 vouchers? (ChristianitytodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/august/2.13.html
- India: Dalit Christians apprehensive that justice will not be done Unprovoked attack on pastor was videotaped attack and triggers protests as Dalit Christians head to Supreme Court (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/august/3.16.html
- USA: Southern Baptists continue to disagree over enforcing policy against glossolalia The Baptist Faith and Message has done little to resolve mounting issues regarding hiring and firing of missionaries and employee agencies over beliefs such as Calvinism and speaking in tongues (ChristianityTodayOnline). http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/august/4.14.html
- Obituary: "Tammy Faye [Bakker], 65, Emotive Evangelist, Dies" (New York Times). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/us/22bakker.html
- Afganistan: Korean Missionaries kidnapped http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/julyweb-only/130-41.0.html#news
See other news to pray and praise God about in the Prayer Requests department below.
Report the News
We are looking for stories about what God is doing in the world, reports about the persecution of Christians, and information about significant trends and ministry opportunities. If you have a news item to report, please send an email to the PNEUMA INFORMER. http://www.pneumafoundation.org/contactus.jsp
Christian Origins and 'New School' Historical Scepticism
By Rob Haskell
Last March the world was subjected to yet another incredible revelation that challenged the foundations of Christianity. In a documentary aired by the Discovery channel, Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici presented his 'discovery' of the family tomb of Jesus, in which he claimed not only to have found the Lord's ossuary, but also that of his father, mother, brother, son, wife (you guessed it: Mary Magdalene) and disciple.
The theory was a little too incredible and was quickly dismissed by archaeologists (Jonathan Reed called it "archeoporn") and minimized by the Discovery channel. But although it really was a ludicrous presentation, it would be a mistake to just roll our eyes and laugh it off, for it is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Let us not make a Titanic mistake.
Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code unleashed a new kind of historical scepticism on the world that popularized a whole range of criticisms of the orthodox story of Christian origins. Some were quack theories from books like Michael Baigent, et al.'s Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but others drew on the work of real scholars such as Elaine Pagels. The net effect of Brown's thriller was to fertilize the ground for the growth of a new scholarly cottage industry that specializes in reinterpreting Christian origins in the most radical way possible. Darrel Bock calls this the 'new school' and according to Craig Evans it makes old school sceptics Robert Funk and James Robinson look overly optimistic. Scholarly adherents like Marvin Meyer (The Gnostic Discoveries), Robert Price (Incredible Shrinking Son of Man) and Bart Ehrman (Misquoting Jesus) are busy putting out a healthy stream of publications, some of which make it to the best seller list.
According to Bock the tenets of this school are that (1) Christian history needs rewriting because of the discovery of new texts, especially the Nag Hammadi Gnostic writings. (2) Early Christianity was a range of expressions, all of which had equal claims to orthodoxy. This then becomes an implied polemic for religious diversity contra contemporary orthodox inflexibility. (3) History is written by the winners, and the winners were the orthodox only because they were the first to rise to political power under Constantine. (4) Numerous alternative texts were suppressed by orthodoxy.
In The Missing Gospels: Unearthing the Truth behind Alternative Christianities, Bock makes the case that orthodoxy triumphed because it was consistent with the message of Jesus and the first Christians. In fact, the alternatives to orthodoxy in the second century were so different from the Jesus tradition of early Christianity that they never had a chance of becoming major influences in Christian communities - politics or no.
Other conservative scholars have also been making waves in these waters. Evans uses his considerable expertise in the area of the historical context of the New Testament to defend the reliability of the gospels in Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. But he also spends time pondering the personal sources of radical scepticism. Richard Baukham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses is more directed to the New Testament academy than to the refuting the 'new school,' but his argument is nevertheless a key piece that cuts to the core of the issues: that the gospels themselves bear the marks of eyewitness testimony and that the insertion of an anonymous transmission history is unwarranted. Ben Witherington takes a similar approach in his more popular level What Have They Done with Jesus? where he does a historical survey of the people who were closest to Jesus in the biblical accounts.
These four books were all published last year, so it is encouraging to see that the orthodox view is active, passionate and of substance. If current trends continue it seems possible that in the 21st century, history will take the place of philosophy and science as the primary front on which the battles and skirmishes of apologetics are fought. In any case, it is a happy irony to discover through these criticisms of Christian origins that many people do still think the past matters. That can't be all bad.
From Verbum: WEA Theological News (July 2007), used with permission.
Rob Haskell grew up in Argentina as the son of missionaries and he is now the director of Senderis, a ministry that promotes theological education in Latin America and Spain. He has two theology degrees and is currently completing a ThM degree in New Testament at Regent College in Canada. Rob lives with is family in Bellingham, Washington and also travels regularly to teach in Spanish speaking countries. www.senderis.com
Resources You Can Use
USA: Nationwide Bible drive planned for August
Millions of Christians around the world need Bibles. They would do just about anything to have God's Word in their hands.
Love Packages' Founder and President Steven Schmidt is doing something about it, and the help of the church is needed. "We're asking churches all across America to do a Bible drive. They'd set a time aside, maybe the whole month of August, and just tell everybody in the congregation to find the Bibles that are lying around their home, bring it, collect it, and send it to us. We're hoping to collect somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 Bibles in the month of August for shipment overseas." This project is Love Packages' first ever nationwide Bible drive. According to Schmidt, English Bibles can help a lot of people around the world. "Zambia is 100 percent English, so is Liberia. India is even 20-percent English. You've got a billion and a half people there, so that's a lot of people -- that's the population of the United States." If your church would like to participate, visit: http://lovepackages.org/collecting.htm.
Source: Mission Network News, 13 July, 2007. Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10128
Azusa Street Centennial Celebrations
Azusa Africa Ghana
Accra, Ghana West Africa
August 6-11, 2007
Azusa Africa Uganda
Kampala, Uganda, East Africa
November 6-10, 2007
For more information, visit: http://www.icfsr.org/events.cfm
Responses from Readers
Dear Friend in Christ,
Thank you for accepting me as a member of Pneuma Foundation. My name is Stephane. I have a big responsibility in my church. I have developed a program of formation for the ladies in the area of preaching the Gospel. I need your assistant in this matter. If you have simple method that adult can learn and apply easily, I would appreciate you share it with me. It is my desire to see the ladies preaching the Gospel, and I would like them to be equipped for.
Pray for me . I am married and my husband is a pastor. We have a son of 4 years old. We are Haitian. It is my pleasure to write you. My greetings to your congregation. May God bless you!
It would be our pleasure to recommend some resources to you. Studying to show ourselves approved by God is a good work. Spiritual formation with the goal of telling the story of Jesus is what being a Christian is all about. Teaching others these things is a tremendous blessing and opportunity.
You will find many resources on our website at www.PneumaFoundation.org and there are a number of pages that may be very useful to you. On-line Study Resources http://www.pneumafoundation.org/links_study.jsp is a great place to start.
Some specific recommendations:
* Excellent Study Resource: ChristianCourses.com Without-cost online learning from excellent Evangelical Bible teachers. Not accredited, teaching does not reflect a Pentecostal/charismatic perspective.
* Discipleship: Train & Multiply From the website: "a New Testament discipline that combines pastoral and leadership training with church planting and development." https://trainandmultiply.com
* Library of resources: Empowering Church Workers Numerous articles and other resources from Assemblies of God Online. http://empower.ag.org/empower/
* Kingdom of God Bible Study a Bible Study from Seeing the Bible Live Ministries, affiliated with Vineyard USA. http://www.sbl.org/wbs/
God's richest blessings upon your ministry.
- your friends at the Pneuma Foundation
I would like to first thank you for placing my previous submissions on your website, it has been a blessing to be involved with Pneuma Foundation. I have referred several friends to the website, and they have also been blessed.
Have a comment for us? Contact Us http://www.pneumafoundation.org/contactus.jsp
Excerpts from the PNEUMA REVIEW
The PNEUMA REVIEW is a quarterly printed journal of ministry resources and theology for Pentecostal and charismatic ministries and leaders. For more information about the PNEUMA REVIEW, and to learn how to subscribe, please visit: Introducing the PNEUMA REVIEW. www.pneumafoundation.org/intro_pr.jsp
Buy the PNEUMA REVIEW online at Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000D8CY9
Write a review online for the PNEUMA REVIEW!
For a full index of the contents of all Pneuma Review issues, visit: http://www.pneumafoundation.org/pr_archive.jsp.
In order to complete this issue of the INFORMER while it is still July, no excerpts from the journal will be included.
- "I am Bishnu from Nepal. 10 years back I started Lord's Ministry. Now I am in need of church planting training. Please pray that I will be able to receive this training. Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ, Pastor Bishnu" Reference Number: 90029096
- Bangladesh: Muslims threaten and assault Christians. (MNN) - Compass Direct reports that Muslims savagely beat 10 Christian converts in Northern Bangladesh and attempted to kick them out of the village. Police rejected the Christians' attempt to file a complaint, instead threatening to arrest them for "converting Muslims." The attack came after a baptism at a local river, weeks earlier. Within days, authorities at the mosque banned Christians from using the village's only source of potable water. Please pray that they'll maintain their testimony.
After getting no action from the police, local human rights advocates appealed to a retired government official. He used his contacts to get an investigation launched and security restored. Police are now stationed in the area and a senior constable met with Muslims and Christians to promote religious tolerance and liberty. Grass roots Muslim hostility remains so we ask God to protect his children, bless his servants, and soften and open Muslim hearts to the good news about Jesus.
Source: Mission Network News 3 July, 2007; Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 436 | Bangladesh: Grass Roots Hostility but a Hopeful Response.
- One of our members writes: "I am Saverio, an Italian pastor with a vision to plant churches in my nation. Please pray for me, my family and my church. Thank you! God Bless You! Romans 15:30." Reference Number: 90029204
- Christians in Lebanon facing perilous times. While Iraq is ground zero in the great Sunni versus Shiite Muslim struggle for dominance, Lebanon is a prime site for conflict. In the Levant the agenda of local Islamic militants - the Sunni Hamas in the Palestinian Territories and the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon - has converged with the regional agenda of the Iran-Syrian Shiite axis to destroy Israel. Hamas (though Sunni) backed by Shiite Syria and Iran has captured Gaza. The situation now in Lebanon is explosive. It is rumored that Shiite Hezbollah, also backed by Syria and Iran, will soon stage a coup against the Sunni-led, US- backed government. Whenever Sunnis and Shiites fight each other, Christians and Jews suffer as Islamic zeal boils. Furthermore, Christians are frequently exploited as human shields for strategic purposes. Please pray for the Church in Lebanon.
Source: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin - RLP 437 | Lebanon: Christians Facing Perilous Times
- A pastor in Malawi, Africa writes: "We baptized 4 girls who were Muslim. We need your prayers so that they can not be forced to go back to that religion. - Rev Joshua"
- Muslims need love, not condemnation following UK attacks. When several people were arrested in early July over a suspected al Qaeda plot to detonate three car bombs in the United Kingdom, tensions became heightened between Muslims and the rest of the world. Jack Shiflett of the Association of Baptist for World Evangelism is concerned that Christians will get caught up in it. "The believer has to develop a Great Commission mindset and ask the question, 'what is God doing in the world?' because after all we are a part of a Kingdom that is much greater than our own country. The church has to address, what is God doing [and] how can we contribute to that." According to Shiflett, while radical Islam is making the news every day, God is doing an incredible work. "Today with all of the radical Islam going on around the world, there are more Muslims coming to Christ than in any time in the history of Christian missions, especially in Europe. Those people in the exterior are asking the question, 'If this is Islam, I don't want anything to do with it.' Consequently, churches are being formed."
Source: Mission Network News, 5 July, 2007. Full story: http://mnn.gospelcom.net/article/10094
- This ministry prayer request was received by our volunteer prayer team: "My name is Sunil P., servant of Christ from India. We are doing the Lord's work, social work sincerely faithful in our areas with independently and regularly conducting Prayer meetings, small Pastors conferences and sharing Jesus with others who don't know His Power, love and Teaching Bible classes among children, and distrusting gospel tracks among rural areas and full time on going involvement in Christian works and social work in India.
I need appropriate encouragement and appeal to you as fellow believer in Christ. Could you please strengthen me in Him through your valuable prayers and holy suggestions. Please keep our prayer points in your family, church, friends and all of your brothers and sisters daily prayers:
1) Pray for God guidance in our ministry, church Work
2) Pray for our orphan's children and widows, leprosy
3) Pray for India, people safe and world peace
4) Pray for fellow Pastors/Gods people in India In His Great Service
We believe that prayer can change everything what we need." Reference Number: 90029129