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October 23, 2012Culture

Morning Roundup 10/23/12: Stem Cell Nobel Prize Winners; Simple Church Planting; Family Planning; Philosophy

I remember the overwhelming criticism that President Bush received when he decided to stop using human embryonic stem cells. He was decried as uncaring and unaware of the issues, particularly when he called for using adult stem cells instead. Well... he was right.

Adult Stem Cell Researchers Win Nobel Medicine Prize -- Christianity Today

The Nobel Assembly has awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, researchers who discovered a way to develop stem cells from adult skin cells--thus removing the need to use and destroy human embryos.

The Nobel Assembly states that Gurdon and Yamanaka's discovery revolutionizes "the dogma" that stem cells could only be derived from immature cells, such as those of human embryos.

The pair jointly received the prize for their "discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent." These pluripotent cells are able to develop into any tissue of the human body.

Embryonic stem-cell research "has long been controversial--which is one reason why Yamanaka's discovery of an alternate way to obtain human stem cells, without the use of embryos, is so important."

Pro-life groups such as National Right to Life are trumpeting the award, lauding the discovery as the "ethically acceptable (and far more promising) alternative to harvesting stem cells from human embryos."

But the "paradigm-shifting discovery" is almost 40 years in the making. In 1962, Gurdon, a British researcher, discovered that mature "specialized" cells can reverse themselves, still containing all the necessary information to develop all immature cells. In 2006, Yamanaka, a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes, reprogrammed the first adult cells to become immature human stem cells.

In 2007, Yamanaka told the New York Times he was inspired to pursue alternatives to embryonic stem-cell research when he was invited to view a stored human embryo during a visit to a friend's fertility clinic.

"I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research," he said. "There must be another way."

So far, no one has apologized to President Bush, to my recollection.

My friend Daryl Dash gives some simple, but profound, advice.

A Simple Church Planting Strategy -- Darryl Dash

Acts gives us a lot of great examples of church planting. Here's a simple church planting strategy from Acts 17:1-9:

1. Move into the city (v. 1) - Thessalonica was capital of Macedonia, the most populated city of the region. Paul's whole strategy was to go to cities. There are at least 25 examples of ministry to the city in the Bible. Every place with people is important, but we need city churches. That is where the majority of the people are, and where people are moving all the time.

2. Connect with people on their turf (v. 2) - Paul began in the synagogue. He went to where the people are. Although Acts mentions three Sabbaths, we know from 1 Thessalonians that he spent longer there after his synagogue ministry was over. Don't wait for them to come to you. Go to where they already are.

3. Focus on Jesus (v. 3) - Paul reasoned, explained, proved, persuaded. He focused on the Scriptures. His great subject was Christ. We have nothing of value to offer except for Him.

4. Build a church with those who believe (v. 4) - Those who were persuaded became the nucleus of the church. Church planting is not just gathering existing believers; it's building a church through evangelism.

5. Partner with other churches (Phil. 4:16) - Paul received financial support from other churches. He writes, "Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again" (Philippians 4:16). Paul even argues that his reception of their gifts is for their benefit (Philippians 4:17). Financial partnership in the planting of churches benefits both the giver and the church plant.

The result (vv. 5-9): Persecution, but also a church that is part of turning the world upside-down. The kingship of Jesus has a world-changing effect. Church planting is about more than starting a new church. It's about taking a world that's been turned upside-down by sin, and setting it right again.

May God raise up people who follow Paul's church planting strategy, and are part of turning the world upside-down.

An alliance of "new evangelicals" is calling for access and provision of contraception in order to reduce abortion. It creates an interesting quandary, I think. Christians don't believe in sex outside of marriage but, I think that many have struggle with how to advise people who are having sex outside marriage.

Christians Should Support Family Planning Programs, Evangelical Group Urges -- Christian Post

Family planning strengthens families, enhances the health of women and children, and reduces abortions, The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good (NEP) argues in a new document. The liberal evangelical group urges fellow evangelicals to support programs that provide family planning services for the poor both in the United States and abroad.

The document, called "A Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning, and Maternal, and Children's Health," was announced Monday at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

The reason for the document, Richard Cizik, president of NEP, explained, is "we believe in a new kind of engagement," "we believe the Church has not been as actively associated with this issue and with the concern ... as it should be," and "we believe strongly in a compassion agenda."

The NEP document defines family planning as "the freely and mutually chosen use of a variety of contraceptive methods to prevent or postpone pregnancy," but does not, like some family planning advocates, include abortion.

Indeed, the document argues that the association that Christians ascribe between family planning and abortion hinders support for non-abortion family planning services.

The document affirms the common Christian teaching that sexual intercourse was intended for a man and woman bound in marriage, but also recognizes that people do engage in sex outside of the marriage covenant.

An update from The Exchange.

Why is Philosophy Important?

From a recent episode of The Exchange, Greg Thornbury explains why philosophy is important. You can see the full episode here.

Be sure to watch The Exchange every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. CDT, right here at EdStetzer.com.

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