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Two experts on intercultural evangelism explore the challenge of sharing Christ in a climate of growing indifference.Christian evangelism entails a conversation with people of different beliefs. But those conversations are also often between people of different cultures. That’s where Effective Intercultural Evangelism, a new book from missiologists W. Jay Moon and W. Bud Simon, steps into the discussion. They want to help Christians share the good news of Jesus in a world of diverse cultural perspectives.Readers might assume such a resource would be aimed at those in cross-cultural missionary contexts. But the authors want us to realize that when we talk with the average non-Christian in our communities, they don’t just believe differently than we do. They often think, process, feel, appreciate, and evaluate differently than we do. They come to the conversation with different worldviews.Consider, for example, the category of human desires. The authors encourage believers to ask their friends, “If you could receive any one of the following four things, which would it be? Deliverance, restoration, forgiveness, or belonging?” It’s a helpful question. Is deliverance more appealing to you? What about restoration? Do you ultimately seek forgiveness and cleansing? Or does discovering a sense of belonging and a longing for home more accurately describe your desires?Moon and Simon believe that a person’s greatest desire is shaped by their worldview. The aim of their book is to help readers “discern various worldviews and how to continue God conversations that are relevant to each of these worldviews.” In other words, they want to equip evangelists to tap into the needs, desires, values, and assumptions of those around them. As Christians better understand the perspectives of their conversation partners, ...Continue reading...
Even as the front pages of newspapers have noticeably shifted away from focusing on Afghanistan, reports trickling in from that country are increasingly troubling.Recent reports tell us: Taliban fighters have hunted down and killed four elite Afghan counterterrorism agents from American and British-trained units. The Taliban’s new acting government is comprised of many of the same characters the United States and our allies kicked out of power in 2001. The United Nations has warned that one million Afghan children face possible starvation in a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.The effects of President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan are still unfolding. Biden would no doubt love for his role in the Afghanistan debacle to fade quietly into history. We cannot let that happen.Afghan women are perhaps the largest group of people to endure immense suffering in the fallout of the clumsy withdrawal and the subsequent Taliban takeover.Countless women and girls in Afghanistan are facing an impossible future, with reports surfacing that women must be segregated in universities, women may no longer work alongside men, and women may be prevented from playing sports. These are disastrous steps backward for women’s rights in a country that made a lot of progress in the past 20 years. And it’s happening under Biden’s watch.The Left has long styled themselves as the champions of women’s rights. So, what does the Biden administration have to say about the rights of Afghan women?When asked about the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan during a Senate hearing this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that ever since the Taliban takeover, the U.S. government has “worked to rally the international community to set very clear expectations going forward to include the expectation that it will uphold the rights of women and girls as well as minorities.”It’s unlikely that these lackluster diplomatic efforts will comfort the millions of women in Afghanistan who have just been sent back to the dark ages.Presumably, the “minorities” Blinken referred to include religious minorities, such as Christians, Hazara Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. Those who have not managed to flee are in great danger.Eric Patterson wrote in Providence that “Christians and other religious minorities are fearful of venturing out in public, despite their needs for groceries, medical assistance, and other basic necessities.” Patterson also heard reports that Taliban spies collected the names of possible Christians by infiltrating crowds of people outside the Kabul airport hoping to escape.Instead of working to help vulnerable Christians, the Biden administration made it more difficult for believers to flee. Private charities are still trying to help rescue vulnerable religious minorities and other at-risk Afghans with their own flights out of Afghanistan. Those involved in private rescue efforts say that the State Department has hindered efforts to rescue vulnerable Afghans.It’s a life-and-death situation for those on the ground; what justification could there possibly be for blocking private flights not even headed to the United States?In addition, the State Department also neglected to make religious minorities eligible for the Priority 2 (P-2) designation granting them access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, and Christian converts face almost certain death for their religious views. Even though there were only a small number of Afghan Christians to begin with (several thousand), they were not prioritized by the Biden administration.Biden’s disastrous withdrawal will also forever affect the families of the 13 U.S. military members who died in a suicide attack from ISIS-K at the Kabul airport in the chaotic last days of the evacuation. The grief of their families will not soon subside. Although they volunteered to serve our country knowing the risks, poor strategic decisions unnecessarily put them in harm’s way.Some commentators have noticed that the newsiness of the Afghanistan withdrawal is “over.” But not so for those whose lives have been forever changed. In his public comments, Biden seems to coldly evade that fact.Biden’s disaster in Afghanistan is not over by a long shot. The suffering of millions of people will far outlast the news cycle. And so should our collective memory.
Almost fifty years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains the moral issue in American public discourse and politics.There are very few profiles in courage in American politics. This seems especially true when it comes to the defense of unborn life. The political predicament of a pro-life politician is this – the political class and the New York-Hollywood-Silicon Valley axis reward those who abandon pro-life positions and condemn those who refuse to surrender.A particularly important profile in moral collapse now resides in the White House. The story of President Joe Biden’s slippery shape-shifting on the abortion issue is both revealing and horrifying.Brace yourself.In response to the law in Texas that outlaws abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, the fury of the Democratic Party and its national leadership has reached new levels of apoplexy.The fury has been predictable given the state of the Democratic Party and its commitment to abortion on demand. On Thursday and Friday of last week, President Joe Biden made comments condemning the law, calling it “un-American” and ambiguously described “whole of government” efforts to oppose the Texas legislation.The president, however, made another statement that deserves particular attention. For decades, Joe Biden rooted his views on abortion in his constantly repeated identity as a “devout Roman Catholic.” He routinely describes himself as Catholic, and has repeatedly affirmed his agreement with Catholic doctrine affirming the absolute sanctity of unborn human life. The central contradiction of Joe Biden’s public persona is that he has constantly claimed Catholic identity and “persona” [sic] pro-life convictions, while refusing to defend unborn life with any legislative consistency. From the beginning, he has opposed national efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade, which was handed down by the Supreme Court the very year that Joe Biden joined the United States Senate.This is important – Joe Biden has made clear, more than once, that he personally believes life begins at conception.Until last Friday, that is, when, in condemning the Texas law, President Biden said: “I respect those who believe that life begins at conception – I respect that. Don’t agree but I respect that.”With those words, President Biden, the “devout Roman Catholic,” threw the doctrine and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church out the window. Those of us who have been watching the moral collapse of Joe Biden knew this moment had to come. It came just days ago, but the story of Biden’s surrender to the radical pro-abortion position has been progressing over decades, slowly, and then suddenly.Tracing the “evolution” of President Biden’s view on abortion is vital for understanding our present moral crisis. The chronicle of his views on the sanctity of life encapsulates the trajectory of the Democratic Party. It tells us about the worldview divide in the United States. It tells us a great deal about where we are as a nation and how easily a politician’s convictions can evaporate in seconds.Consider this timeline:1972Joe Biden, who identified as a devout Roman Catholic, ran for the United States Senate from Delaware. Biden’s Roman Catholic identity largely shielded him from questions about abortion. His election to the Senate came a year before the moral convulsion of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.1976In the wake of Roe v. Wade in 1973, a bipartisan group of law makers gathered around what became known as the Hyde Amendment, which prevented the federal funding of abortions. The central issue was the understanding that American taxpayers, millions holding pro-life convictions, should not be forced by taxation to pay for abortions. Joe Biden supported this Amendment, voting for it in 1976. For context, the Hyde Amendment in 1976 did not carve out exemptions for rape or incest. He held this position supporting for forty-five years—that is until he didn’t. Biden bragged constantly about his principled defense of the Hyde Amendment. But, as we shall see, all that changed within 24 hours in June of 2019, when Biden knew he had to reverse his position if he had any chance of gaining the 2020 Democratic nomination.1977Senator Joe Biden voted against allowing Medicaid to fund abortions in the event of rape or incest.1981Joe Biden voted for a Constitutional amendment process that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He later described that vote as, “The single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a US Senator.” In that same year, he reaffirmed his opposition to federal funding of abortion in the cases of rape or incest. NPR News reported that Biden was “one of just two Democratic senators from the Northeast to vote to end federal funding for abortion for victims of rape and incest.”1982Joe Biden’s view shifted. A year after voting for the constitutional amendment that would have allowed states to overturn Roe, he reversed his vote. He cast a vote against the same constitutional amendment that he voted for in 1981.1983As a Senator, Joe Biden voted against allowing federal employees to use health insurance to pay for abortions.1986Senator Biden told the Catholic Diocese Newspaper, “Abortion is wrong from the moment of conception.” NBC News also reported that he “seemed to offer the National Conference of Catholic Bishops moral support in pushing for limits, noting that the most effective pro-life groups are those who keep trying to push back the frontier.” Speaking of that frontier, Senator Biden said, “I think medical science is moving the frontier back so that by the year 2000, we’re going to have more and more pressure, and rightfully so in my view, of moving back further and further the circumstances under which an abortion can be had.”1987After a scandal erupted over Biden’s use of a British politician’s speech, he withdrew from the race for the 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden orchestrates the effort to reject President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of a conservative legal scholar, Judge Robert Bork, to the Supreme Court. Biden facilitates the opposition to Bork, citing the need to defend abortion rights and other court precedents.1994Senator Biden wrote a letter to his constituents regarding a debate over the Clinton administration’s healthcare proposals. He bragged that on no fewer than “fifty occasions,” he voted against federal funding of abortion. He said, as a matter of principle, “Those of us who are opposed to abortion should not be compelled to pay for them.”2006Still in the United States Senate, Joe Biden told CNN that he was the odd man out among Democrats on the issue of abortion. He explained that he did support bans on abortion later in pregnancy, and he supported a ban on federal funding for abortions. He said, “I do not vote for federal funding for abortion. I voted against partial birth abortion to limit it, and I vote for no restrictions on a woman’s right to be able to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade. I made everybody angry. I made the right angry because I won’t support a Constitutional amendment or limitations on a woman’s right to exercise their Constitutional right as defined by Roe v. Wade, and I’ve made the women’s groups and others very angry because I won’t support public funding and I won’t support partial birth.”Here, we see then Senator Biden trying to situate himself as a thoughtful moderate—a middleman not beholden to either side in the abortion debate. Of course, this posture, cast as political courage, just serves to underline the contradictions in Biden’s position.2007Biden published his New York Times bestselling book, Promises to Keep, which anticipated his run for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2008. He described himself as personally opposed to abortion and middle-of-the-road. He stated, “I refuse to impose my beliefs on other people.” That language was the common moral evasion offered by politicians who supported abortion but claimed a religious identity that was pro-life. Figures such as Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and many others, repeated this argument constantly. Liberal Catholic politicians tried to thread the needle of remaining faithful to Catholic doctrine while, on the other hand, satisfying their political base. To do this, the refrain of “not imposing my personal beliefs” became constant. But where is the consistency in believing that abortion is a grave moral evil and yet defending it as a “constitutional right?”In Promises to Keep, Biden held to the belief that life is sacred and that abortion is wrong, but he said that he refuses to impose that view on others. He described, in his book, an exchange between himself and another senator in an elevator. Biden wrote of himself, “Well, my position is that I personally am opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have the right to impose my view on something I accept as a matter of faith on the rest of society. I’ve thought a lot about it and my position probably doesn’t please anyone. I think government should stay out completely.”The Senator responded to Biden, suggesting that Biden’s view was nonsensical and politically unhelpful, to which Biden quipped:“Well, I will not vote to overturn the court’s decision. I will not vote to curtail a woman’s right to choose abortion, but I will also not vote to use federal funds to fund abortion. . . . Yeah, everybody will be upset with me, except me. I’m intellectually and morally comfortable with my position. . . . I’ve made life difficult for myself by putting intellectual consistency and personal principles above expediency. I’m perfectly able to take the politically expedient way on issues that don’t seem fundamental, especially when a colleague I trust needs help, but by and large, I follow my own nose and I make no apologies for being difficult to pigeonhole.”In a way that should have been embarrassing, Biden presented himself in this autobiography as a paragon of moral courage—he claimed to live by intellectual consistency above political expediency. Nothing could have been further from the truth.2008When it comes to the abortion debate, the fundamental question everyone must answer is this: When does human life begin? The only consistent answer to that is from the moment of fertilization, and, in 2008, Joe Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life beings at the moment of conception.”Upon reflection, those words, however, meant something different than what many Catholics and virtually all evangelical Christians would mean. Biden rooted his belief regarding the sanctity of life in his own personal faith, not in any absolute truth. For Biden, as a matter of faith clearly meant not as a matter of policy.2015Now serving as vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden gave an interview to America Magazine, a prominent Catholic periodical. The interviewer, Matt Malone, asked the vice-president about positions that he held which collided with the bishops, especially on issues like abortion. Oddly, Malone asked, “Has that been hard for you?”Biden responded, “It has been, it’s been hard in one sense because I’m prepared to accept de fide doctrine on a whole range of issues as a Catholic, even though, as you know, Aquinas argued about in his Summa Theologica, about human life and being when it occurs. I’m prepared to accept as a matter of faith—my wife and I, my family—the issue of abortion, but what I’m not prepared to do is impose a precise view that is born out of my faith on other people who are equally God-fearing, equally as committed to life, equally as committed to the sanctity of life. I’m prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view.”This was quintessential Biden. Here, he continues to try to thread the political needle. He tries to affirm his belief in the de fide doctrine of his church regarding abortion and the sanctity of human life. De fide, by the way, means an absolute doctrine of faith. To disagree with de fide doctrine is oppose official doctrine. Thus, while Biden attempts to position himself as in line with his church’s teaching, he also states that he will not use public policy to defend that view, even when the issue at stake is nothing less than human life.2019At this point, things for Joe Biden move quickly as he tries to keep up with the pro-abortion progression of his own party. By 2016, the Democratic platform had called for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment and for opposition to any restriction on abortion.In a crucial 24-hour period, with Biden’s chance at the 2020 nomination slipping away, he reversed himself in a 180-degree turn. His supposed stand on conviction just evaporated. On June 5, 2019, Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the Hyde Amendment. Twenty-four hours later on June 6, Joe Biden did a complete turn. He said, “If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code.”In other words, even as Biden had claimed intellectual consistency over political expediency, he surrendered a nearly fifty-year-old core conviction—and he did so, to be clear, because he so desperately wanted the 2020 nomination. Once it became clear that he would not be allowed within 100 yards of the Democratic nomination for president while clinging to Hyde, he sang a different tune, coming out as aggressively opposed to the Hyde Amendment.2021Biden ran in the election on a radically pro-abortion agenda and has made good on his promises. In 2021, he issued a series of executive orders such as striking down the Mexico City Policy, which limited American funds used for abortions and abortion advocacy overseas. He reinstated Title X funding for Planned Parenthood. He seeks the repeal of they [sic] Hyde Amendment and fully supports a taxpayer funded system for abortions on demand. His presidential appointments, ranging across the government and the judiciary, have been predictably “progressive.”Then, last Friday, came Biden’s final act of surrender.On September 3rd, 2021, Joe Biden stated, “I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception. I respect that—don’t agree—but I respect that.”So much for courage and conviction. So much for resisting the headwinds of political expediency. A half-century career of stating that life begins at conception and that the American taxpayer should not be forced into paying for abortions is now gone. This was a spectacular reversal on a fundamental issue of morality.This sad story is not just about an American politician’s compromise. It is not even just the story of an American president and his political “evolution.”The story of Joe Biden raises important questions we all must answer: How will we define when human life begins? Will we stand upon that conviction, no matter the cost?Our answer to those questions is, make no mistake, a matter of life or death.Republished with permission from AlbertMohler.comR. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books including The Gathering Storm. His podcast The Briefing offers a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
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