What Denoms Can Do
Thanks for Ed Stetzer's recent essay on denominations' continued value ["Life in Those Old Bones," June]. I agree with him that doing missionary work outside a denomination is difficult; I've lost individual support, gone into debt, and at times worked while on furlough in the States. But had I gone through a denomination, I likely would not have been sent out at age 19, and wouldn't have been free to serve where God led.
Although denominational missionaries have retirement plans, savings, and insurance, many are deeply frustrated by the centralized control of how and where they serve. In my experience, the denominational missionaries accomplish much less than the "I hope I have enough money this month" nondenoms.
I appreciated Stetzer's take on "proto-denominations." The rise of these missional networks indicates that God's people still want to work together for the kingdom's sake. If denominations' current challenges move the church away from outreach and ministry, God's people will invariably look for other outlets to join Jesus' mission. My question is, will the proto-denominations eventually replace existing denominations and in essence become the new ones? And, will this be a good thing?
It's a false dichotomy to suggest one is either in a denomination and thus cooperative or is nondenominational and thus uncooperative. Totally independent churches can cooperate as much as they want, and many do in missions. We can have missional cooperation without denominational control.
More important, as a Christian it is incumbent upon me to work and pray for the answer to Jesus' prayer for church unity (John 17). Can we ever argue against that?
Pastor, First Christian Church
It's sad to see believers resort to humiliation techniques because they disagree with rts. In response to Waltke's statements on evolution, the seminary is seemingly trying to be consistent with the faith it professes. In this ever-compromising world, its leaders ought to be highly commended for this—even by Christians who disagree with the school over how old the earth is.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Evangelicalism has featured too many dualisms. Science versus the Bible is one of them. President Milton said, "We begin and end with revelation at RTS," but so do Waltke and many other conservative evangelicals who see some version of theistic evolution as the best way to connect our current understandings of Scripture and science. Driving a wedge here only replants the obscurantist flag—the same one the church planted centuries ago over heliocentrism—in a different knowledge Zip Code.
David A. Fraser
I was disappointed to read in "Adamant on Adam" [Briefing, June] that Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) president Michael Milton accepted my resignation because of my "mainline evolutionary" views and "uncharitable and surely regrettable characterizations" of those who disagree with me.
As for my views on evolution, I am incompetent to endorse evolution. My point is that the scientific consensus endorses it, and, like B. B. Warfield, as an exegete and biblical theologian I see no need to interpret natural selection for the origin of species within an atheist worldview. Natural selection can be accepted within a framework of trusting Scripture as inerrant as to its source and infallible as to its authority for faith and practice; the Bible does not prescribe how God created the cosmos.
As for Milton's second reason, in an open letter to RTS, I apologized for unwittingly marginalizing in my impromptu, unvetted video other attempts to harmonize science with the Bible. In spite of these misunderstandings, President Milton remains my dear and trusted brother in Christ.
Bruce K. Waltke
Professor of Old Testament,
Knox Theological Seminary
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
God Is Not 'Scarce'
In June's Village Green, Cal Beisner seems to dissuade Christians from creation care by imposing the scarcity principle. Creation care is simply not every person's gift, Beisner says, so each one should do only what he or she has the time and resources to do.
Does God call some to follow only the first commandment and others only the third? Or some believers to do justly, others to love mercy, and a few gifted ones to walk humbly? The God of the Bible doesn't operate out of scarcity. Instead, he comes in the fullness of time and fills us to overflowing. Creation care is not just for those gifted with leisure time and spare resources. It's for all Christians desiring to serve the Creator.
Regarding CT's recent report on religious hiring ["Faith-Based Fracas," June], religious and nonreligious people are equal in the eyes of the law. When government gives funding to an organization, it's reasonable to require the organization to demonstrate the same sense of equality. World Vision gets federal grants funded by all citizens' taxes—not just Christians'—to administer social services. If everyone's money is supporting an organization, then everyone should be able to benefit from it and be employed by it.
In a country that prides itself on equal opportunities and separation of church and state, the government simply cannot fund an organization that can fire people for not being Christian enough.
Executive Director, American Humanist
Association, Washington, D.C.
What got the most comments in June's CT
35%Adamant on Adam by Charles Honey
9%Life in Those Old Bones by Ed Stetzer
"Unlike many thinkers who refuse to take atheism to its logical conclusions, Peter Singer shows consistency in his work—which drives him to such radical, wrong conclusions. We should pray for him but also be grateful that he's willing to be honest."
Andy Williams, on bioethicist Singer's controversial question, "Why don't we make ourselves the last generation on earth?"
Theology in the News: "Peter Singer's Swan Song," by Collin Hansen
"Wetlands, oceans, and the natural resources in them are gifts from God to be treated with reverence. Our hearts grieve when we see that humanity has clearly abused his gifts."
Tracy L., on the Gulf Coast oil spill.
Speaking Out: "The Cry of the Oil-Soaked Pelican," by Katelyn Beaty
"If most people in this country consider it a joke, then it hasn't really served its purpose. Why rebuild?"
Basil, on the "Touchdown Jesus" statue in Monroe, Ohio, that burned down after being hit by lightning in June.
Liveblog: "Famous Jesus Statue Struck by Lightning," by Trevor Persaud
"Lady Gaga glamorizes many incorrect ideas, but parents should engage older children in discussions of the ideas rather than relying on prohibition."
Andrew, on how parents should talk about controversial pop culture phenomena with children.
Women's Blog: "Ooh La La over Lady Gaga," by Jennifer C. Grant
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