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Some Christian leaders contend that we are divided and ineffective in our witness because the Western world has turned against us and the church has abandoned the truth of the gospel. Others see a hostile, hurting world and blame the church for failing ...

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Rick Dalbey

May 17, 2013  2:34pm

Then of course, I just read this morning about an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinan event put on by World Vision and Lynn Hybels (writer for Sojourners) at a Southern California Calvary Chapel. Called “Hope for the Holy Land,” the seminar program aims to present the Palestinian narrative to churches. What made the North Coast event such a flashpoint was the fact that, since its inception, Calvary Chapel has been staunchly pro-Israel. Chuck Smith, the president of the Calvary Chapel movement of 1500 evangelical churches rightly condemned the presentation. Chuck Smith, commented, “I'm really shocked," he said. "I understand that one of the Calvary Chapels down in the San Diego area is having these fellows who are really friendly to the Palestinian cause, and anti-Israel, and they’re having them to speak there at a church that is affiliated with the Calvary Chapels. I just have such a difficult time with that, to try to understand why a pastor would have an anti-Israel speaker, in these days.”

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Rick Dalbey

May 15, 2013  10:21am

JG, do I care that Jim Wallis was paid by the Democratic party to consult on attracting evangelicals into their party? Probably. Makes me suspicious of what he writes. Do I care that George Soros, the atheist Hungarian billionaire who made his money in currency trading and is a globalist promoting socialism as the answer for the world financed Wallis’s Sojourner magazine as CT reported here a few years ago? Again, makes my wonder why? Do I care that Wallis came out last month supporting Gay Marriage? I suppose. And then I see that Wallis and Lynn Hybels, another writer for Sojourners, publish ringing endorsements of this book on the flyleaf, makes me wonder why? If a right wing Christian author had published a book on Finishing the Great Commission and I discovered it was a thinly disguised advocacy for free market capitalism and that Rush Limbaugh and Paul Ryan endorsements appeared on the flyleaf I would conclude it was a false premise and I would long for the pure gospel as well.

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J G

May 15, 2013  9:16am

Rick D, I don't think you exaggerate. But are your objections innocent of the same thing -- injecting political positions into the gospel? Because it seems to me that you object more to what the positions are, and that they are liberal, than that political positions of any stripe are being injected.

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Rick Dalbey

May 15, 2013  12:37am

Lest you think I exaggerate, read to the end of the book where it has further action steps. Stearns urges you to log onto 4 websites, World Vision's Advocate Network, all about global poverty and social justice issues. They list about 30 projects you can do, not one of them related to distributing the word of God. Or you can go to www.bread.org, or www.results.org which has pictures of Washington DC, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and urges you to contact the legislature about not cutting SNAP and WIC or go to www.one.org devoted to ending extreme poverty. So James, if you thought this was about saving souls, read the book. Non of these sites mention bringing people into the knowledge of Christ. It is wonky politics. Stearns just wraps a good part of the book in Christianese to get us to the political action steps and his critique of capitalism. Sigh.

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J G

May 15, 2013  12:24am

Rick, I agree with your statement "I long for the pure gospel to be preached, free of political agendas. But read the second half of your first post on this board. Did you inject a political agenda by calling out what you perceive as an unworthy opposing political agenda in the article, and by inference the superiority of your own?

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Rick Dalbey

May 14, 2013  11:36pm

James, I'm with you 100%. If this book was about preaching the gospel and saving souls I'd be on board. But as I read through the chapters, in the action steps he was asking us to discuss what capitalism is, what poverty is and how we can alleviate it, etc., and the action steps were social works projects or supporting World Vision, his organization. It finally dawned on me when I read the endorsers, this is the who's who of the leftist social gospel movement. Stearns interjected politics. He even discusses his service for Obama and the political committees he served on. I was disappointed. I long for the pure gospel to be preached, free of political agendas.

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James Stevenson

May 14, 2013  8:57pm

I am always amazed how some people manage to bring their abject political views into a Christian discourse. Surely this is about saving souls and that through the alleviation of their sufferings we can bring them into knowledge of Christ.

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ARTHUR D VOLKMANN

May 14, 2013  8:02pm

An excellent book and review. Now will Mr. Stearns tell us his annual compensation and the amount he spends personally in his travel and varied ministries. And how much does World Vision spend on fund raising and what percentage of it gets to the people in need. Many of us want to help the needy without having a large percentage of it used for overhead. May God have mercy on us all.

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paul Shrier

May 14, 2013  7:54pm

I really appreciate Richard Stearn's concerns. I've used A Hole in Our Gospel in a university senior seminar class and our students really connected with his concern. A couple of comments: first, if you read Saving Souls and Serving Society you will see that to replace the volunteer services provided by churches in the greater Philadelphia area it would cost over $700 million annually. So we are doing a lot. Second, the missing threads that will lead us to serve others as Jesus did are not willpower or guilt. James K. A. Smith hit the nail on the head with what we need to do in his two books, Desiring the Kingdom and Imagining the kingdom. We need to change what we love, and that will change what we desire. When we learn to love our neighbor, we will desire to serve our neighbor. We change what we love by changing our daily actions, and turning new actions into habits. The habits have meaning beyond our intellect. Our whole being will desire to serve others, and then we will!

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Rick Dalbey

May 14, 2013  4:24pm

I am so tired of making everything Jesus did a metaphor. He preached, but he "healed". Which means we can preach BUT we must collect more taxes, distribute more welfare make healthcare free and build utopia on earth. What if Jesus healing the sick by the laying on of hands and casting out demons was just that, a model for us? What if we laid hands on the sick, what if miracles happened, what if revivals were the response? I have seen hundreds healed up close. In other words, the book of Acts instead of the book of Marx. And Kimberly, Matthew 25 refers to taking care of homeless Christians in the end times persecutions. It was to the least of those, his BROTHERS. Who are His brothers? He says in Matthew 12:49 a few chapters earlier "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” His brothers are disciples.

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Grady Walton

May 14, 2013  3:22pm

Jesus didn’t just preach, he also did a lot of healing and provided for physical needs. It worries me when I see Christians moving in the direction of a primarily social gospel just as much as it worries me when I see Christians who spend the lion’s share of their energy on preaching without much attention to social issues. I understand that Christ IS the solution to social issues, but it is risky for Christians to place too much faith in any man-made political and economic system. As evangelicals, we must face the fact that there are flaws in our sacred economic and political leanings. Wake up! The tentacles of corruption have infected our American experiment more than we realize. Ezekiel 16:49 (ESV) is one of the most sobering verses in the Bible and it gives us a glimpse of how important some of these social issues are to God.

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Roger McKinney

May 14, 2013  1:27pm

Stearns: "How can we hold in one hand the truth that Jesus loves the poor, the widow, and the orphan, yet hold in our other hand the tickets to our upcoming Disney vacation?" Easy! I give a portion of my wealth to the poor. No where does Christ ask us to live as paupers and never enjoy the good life he has given us. Stearns is judge another Pharisee who wants to dump a truck load of guilt on good Christians and steal their joy.

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Roger McKinney

May 14, 2013  1:25pm

Rick, I agree. Ending poverty was never part of the Church's charge. We are only charged with helping the poor. Stearns forgets Christ's words "The poor will always be with you." The poor to whom Christ spoke in the Beatitudes were the spiritually poor, not physically poor. Socialists want to make Christianity all about the poor and nothing else. That just distorts the gospel.

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Roger McKinney

May 14, 2013  1:23pm

Stearns’ reasoning goes something like this: Christians can end world poverty by simply giving more. Most of the world is still poor. Christians must be really evil. But Stearns is wrong on all but one point: most of the world is poor. Christians do not have the ability to end world poverty. We are too few and poor. We could give all we have to the poor and let ourselves starve to death and the poor would not notice. Stearns drastically underestimates the size of the problem. The only path to less poverty in the world is through freer markets, as China and India have done. China and India have reduced world poverty by 50% in the last generation. Stearns clearly doesn’t understand the problem or the solution.

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Kimberly Dawes

May 14, 2013  1:20pm

The tension exists because of multiple commands...We reach outside the Church, alongsides to fellow Church members, and inside ourselves....Matt 25:35ff to REACH OUT: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ To reach sideways: John 13:34ff- “ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” To become his disciples free of practice of sin: John 8: 31ff“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. Outside, alongsides, inside are marks of Christians. Inside is what the world does not understand.

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Rick Dalbey

May 14, 2013  12:27pm

Is this Stearns vision of the mission that needs to be finished? “Stearns remains optimistic that Christians can make a difference about global poverty and maybe even earn the world's respect and admiration in the process.” Is that what Jesus came to do, end global poverty? Is that what the first century church did? Where is this commission in scripture, when did Paul or Peter or Steven or Philip or anyone in the New testament ever enter into social welfare activism? We are commanded to preach the gospel, baptize and disciple and signs and wonders like healing and deliverance from demons would follow and...Oh, I see now, the endorsements by leftwing Democrat activist and gay marriage supporter Jim Wallis, Sojourner writer Lynn Hybels, Max Lucado...ahhh. Sojourners was financed by atheist globalist socailist activist George Soros who is committed to making the world over....ah.

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