Monthly Archives: June 2011


Is Political Conservatism Rooted in Reality?

I do not generally write about partisan political issues or personal candidates. I do not believe, as I noted in a book review just last week, that politics is of primary importance in the public square. In fact, I think we have been lulled into thinking this is the case since 1976. Far too much of the church, on the political left and the political right, believes elections really determine our future. I profoundly disagree. In fact, as a historian I do not believe the best and most insightful history of a people, a nation, or a civilization, is told by recounting the lives and deeds of kings/queens or presidents/prime ministers.

Catholic writer George Weigel expresses my view well when he says: “History is driven, over the long haul, by culture — by what men and women honor, cherish, and worship; by what societies deem to be true and good, and by the expressions they give to those convictions in language, literature, and the arts; by what individuals and societies are willing to stake their lives on” (cited by Philip W. Eaton in Engaging the Culture,

By |June 30th, 2011|Categories: Politics|

A Reasonable Catholic and Evangelical Dialog

Joe Heschmeyer Blogger Joe Heschmeyer is a Roman Catholic and an attorney in Washington, D.C. He has been reading my blogs, and interacting with me via these blogs, for several years now. I have found Joe to always be a reasonable, intelligent and fair-minded apologist. He is a very conservative and devout Catholic. I disagree with a great deal of what he writes. But he, like me, is not a “read meat” fighter. He is a lover of all things related to Jesus and the church, especially the Catholic Church. His all roads lead to Rome stance is common among many young bloggers but it is unconvincing to me. Yet I find him often helpful and always fair. A Catholic friend, who is reader of Joe’s blog and of mine as well, sent me a link to an article that Joe wrote on June 15 about the movement of people (converts) between Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches. (I wrote about Catholic reasons for leaving their church

By |June 29th, 2011|Categories: Apologetics, Roman Catholicism|

Why Should You Give to ACT 3?

MeJoshuaMt I often consider why questions. Why should I pray? Why should I faithfully attend and support my church? Why should I give to Christian missions and specific workers? Today I want to answer the why question about my work and the mission of ACT 3. Why should you give (or consider giving) to ACT 3?

  • The vision of missional-ecumenism is profoundly important. Very few churches understand this message and even fewer actually do something about it. Almost none presently budget anything to support this important biblical vision. My best guess is less than 5% even think about this and less than 1% give to anything to nurture it.
  • Leaders need to be “equipped for unity in Christ’s mission.” This is what I do every day — intentionally and prayerfully “equip leaders for unity in Christ’s mission.” I do this by writing, teaching and mentoring. I do not limit this to young leaders but I specifically target them because I believe the future will require leaders who understand this
By |June 28th, 2011|Categories: ACT 3, Donors and Funding|

Donor Fatigue?

It is my intentional practice to rarely ask for donor support, through this blog or by any other means. We do not do donor meals, donor fund-raising specials or phone calling for support. I actually know most of our donors personally and most of them do not need to be reminded that we need their support. Historically ACT 3 has mailed only two appeals per year. One is the President’s Letter sent in May. The other is a Year End Appeal which is sometimes from me and more often from the chairman of our board. In the pre-Internet era we mailed our appeals via the postal service. Now we mail only one each year. This year I did not send the President’s Letter in May.

Recently I received an appeal from my friend Jim Kushiner, at Touchstone. He referred to what some have called donor “fatigue.” This is a real feeling that some have experienced in our present economic downturn. Jim noted that when he shared his concerns about "fatigue," a donor responded with the following comments:

–I work part-time as a Youth Director at a small church. 

By |June 27th, 2011|Categories: ACT 3, Donors and Funding|

“I Have Never Found Anyone in Israel with Such Faith” Part Two

Yesterday I showed how God coming into this world made this the “visited planet,” to quote one of my favorite lines from the late J. B. Phillips. Today I want to explain further what this means for true faith.

I begin by making a statement that I have come to understand over the last decade. Until I understood the incarnation as I now do I would have said what the evangelical Protestant church needs the most is a bigger view of God. I would now disagree with myself and say what we need even more, to the surprise of many who read these words perhaps, is a much bigger view of humankind. We have a radically deficient anthropology because we have a radically deficient view of both creation and incarnation.

So when Jesus says of the Centurion that he had never found such faith as that which he expressed in all of Israel it was more than an exaggerated statement for effect. He was saying that religion can never produce such great faith. Only faith in the person of Jesus – his wisdom, grace and love – can

By |June 26th, 2011|Categories: Faith, Incarnation|

“I Have Never Found Anyone in Israel with Such Faith” Part One

In Matthew 8 we have an astonishing account of true faith. I have heard many theological definitions of faith given over the years but none comes close to this story. (Have you ever noticed that Jesus did not give definitions of faith but stories that reveal what true faith looks like in a person’s actions?) This is such an account.

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such

By |June 25th, 2011|Categories: Faith, Incarnation|

The Hope of Future Life

I am amazed at how easily people speak of life after death with no real basis for what they think or say. It is apparent that Christian thought has so permeated our culture that even when Christian thought no longer holds prominence in morals, or in day-to-day decision making and living, people still cling to the Christian idea of life after death. Simply put, they believe they will go to heaven, whatever and wherever it is in the universe. Their views of heaven are undefined, or ill-defined, but they speak of it all the time at funerals and when they think of a deceased relative or friend. In fact, the requirement for going to heaven now seems to be simple: you die!

j.b.phillips An extremely important part of Christian faith is the hope of triumph over death. It is common to most people, even in other religions and systems, to believe that they will live again after this life is over. There is no evidence that any other creature

Jesus: The Central Theme of the Bible

Jesus_198 The central theme of the Bible is Jesus. The greatest and most humble of Christians have recognized this profound truth. Jesus came to call people to be his disciples from every tribe, nation and tongue (Revelation 14:6). He is the Shepherd and we are his sheep. He calls his sheep by his Spirit, through the good news of the gospel, into the communion of the church. P. T. Forsyth, a famous theologian more than a century ago, rightly said, “The unity of the church lies not in itself but in its message, in the unity of the gospel that made the church.”

The gospel that specifically called the church into existence is the gospel of the kingdom (cf. Matthew 4:23; 5:3; 6:10; Mark 1:14−15; 4:11. 26, 30; 9:47; Luke 4:42−43; 6:20; John 3:3, 5). This kingdom is God’s reign. What is promised to the church in the New Testament is not the kingdom but the Holy Spirit whose presence gives witness to the reign of God. The Spirit

By |June 23rd, 2011|Categories: Jesus, Kingdom of God|

A Lunch with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of spending some wonderful days in New York. Because of my friendship with Rev. Colleen Holby, chaplain at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry (Wheaton ‘55), I was introduced to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, who has been a friend of Colleen’s for many years. Fr. Groeschel has been a huge supporter of the ecumenical work done at Children’s Village, a residence for young teens since 1851.

Children's Village Home


The mission of The Children's Village has been to work in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities. The teen boys at Children’s Village often have this one last opportunity before they may go to prison. (I toured Children’s Village later on the same day that I had lunch for Fr. Benedict.) 05.05.11_DSTS.Holby There is a chapel program at

What is the Future of a Post 9-11 World for America?

iraq war The war in Iraq has been a disaster from almost every perspective worth considering. And the war in Afghanistan, combined with the severity of the Great Recession, have profoundly impacted the minds of most leaders on the need to rethink the role of American military might in the world. I welcome this new direction.

Consider that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has called the national debt the "biggest single threat to national security." (Read that again!) The Pentagon, which is often the last to admit that it should ask for cuts, actually proposed its own cuts several months ago. On April 13, weeks before the death of bin Laden, the president announced his proposal to reduce defense spending. He framed this proposal—cuts as great as $400 billion over ten years—not only as a response to the fiscal crisis but also as part of a "fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities and our role in a changing world." Only the most


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