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In our effort to serve you better, Midwest Christian Outreach Inc.’s website is growing again.

Give us a few more weeks, and we’ll have our revised print Journal archives, better-organized articles and a new online resource center in place to help equip Christians and challenge false teachings both within the Church and outside its borders.

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Ferguson, Factual Leaps & Fanciful Conclusions

by on August 21st, 2014

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Watching Lou Costello abandon definition and context in his math equations is a bit fun I have to admit. Those of us who laugh at the joke do so because we know the truth. But what if you lived in a time or culture that had become bereft of sound logical thinking and made decisions based primarily on emotion? A few factual leaps to fanciful conclusions and this sort of math might make perfect sense in that sort of world. In many respects, that is the world we live in both in culture and sadly in not too few churches. As Rod Serling might say in the beginning of an episode of The Twilight Zone “Enter the small town of Ferguson, MO…”

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Why is Sex is the Canary in the Coal Mine?

by on August 14th, 2014

canary

 

If you are not familiar, dear reader, the term “Canary in a coal mine” is an expression rooted in history. Coal miners would bring a canary down into the coal mine to detect dangerous levels of carbon monoxide or methane. The deadly gases would kill the canary before it would kill the miners, giving the humans time to retreat. Modern coal miners don’t use canaries much anymore. These days, to be a canary in a coal mine is to serve as a detector of something dangerous that is often unseen until it has done its damage. It is often an overused metaphor in the ongoing circus that is financial forecasting:

“I tend to look at financial markets as being the canary in the coal mine,” Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin said in a discussion about inflation, adding that “the canary has not keeled over.” “I don’t think the canary is wheezing,” New York Fed President Timothy Geithner chipped in. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had the final word: “I think the canary is still getting decent breath here.”

So what do I mean by “Sex is the canary in the coal mine”? I mean that if you want an indicator, a detector, of traditional Christianity in a post-modern culture, then sex is the canary in the coal mine. I don’t suggest that traditional Christianity is noxious but I sure do intend to make the connection that its dangerous. Traditional Christianity is as dangerous as a young man in Roman occupied Palestine talking about the coming of the kingdom of God and the end of the powers that be. As dangerous as saying “Jesus is Lord” with the unmistakable implication, “Caesar is not.”

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Bill Gothard and the Continuing Sex Scandal

by on August 7th, 2014

Bill's CabinWhen we first wrote our book, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life we chose to not spend much time on Bill’s behavior with staff secretaries. There were several reasons for this. First, we were and continue to be convinced that Bill and Steve’s behavior came from Bill’s bad hermeneutics . As I reviewed the transcript of a conference call this week between Dr. Earl Radmacher, Gary Smalley, Ruth and Larne Gabriel and others I realized that Dr. Radmacher expressed the same view in the 1983 conference call. Also, as I pointed out in Bill Gothard: Who knew what and when? A question of accountability that “We knew Ruth’s story but were asked to not make it public.” That request had been made by her husband, Larne Gabriel and we honored it until he decided to weigh in publicly. Even then we didn’t make any public statements that he did not see and approve of. The reasons are simple. Could we make our case without resorting to drawing on more lascivious stories to gain attention? We believed we could. Second, and perhaps more important, the women in question and these decades later their children, would be subjected to public scrutiny and probable attacks and further abuse by Bill Gothard.

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Faith – Happily Tossing Logic Out the Window

by on July 31st, 2014

I picked up a quote from author Stephen King a few years back. I don’t recall where I got it but thought it was interesting:

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window.”

A recent Huffington Post article, Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds seems to be an attempt to make a case that once religion is introduced to children they cannot distinguish between reality, fairy tales and religious claims.

In both studies, [children exposed to religion] were less likely to judge the characters in the fantastical stories as pretend, and in line with this equivocation, they made more appeals to reality and fewer appeals to impossibility than did secular children,” the study concluded.

On the surface this would seem to validate King’s claim. Atheist Richard Dawkin’s goes a bit further

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Our Burn Out Youth Group

by on July 24th, 2014

Burnout bowling
I recall years ago watching former pro football player, Rosey Grier on the Mike Douglas Show. Two things got my attention. The first was, this big, tough football player was knitting while they talked. Douglas asked if anyone made fun of him and with a gentle smile Rosey asked, “Would you?” I laughed. The other was a comment he made quoting from someone else whose name I do not remember. He said that five years from now you will be the same person you are today expect for the books you read and the people you meet. Interesting … and true.

Life often tends to lead in unanticipated directions. Not always ones you would have chosen to be sure and sometimes fraught with difficulty. We may meet and interact with people in ways that we would never have planned and are changed by the experience. Joy and I are involved in a mission to cults and false religious movements because she met some women who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and she began to care deeply about them. It is a mission that by definition has to happen outside the church. Jehovah’s Witnesses view the church as evil and so reaching out to them has to happen on more neutral ground which is where evangelism it supposed to happen anyway.

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Urban Apologetics: A Review

by on July 17th, 2014

We regularly receive books from publishers for possible reviews. Many of them are good and by authors we are familiar with on topics we know well and can commend the new resource. On rare occasions we receive a book that is something more. As I sat down to read Urban Apologetics: Answering Challenges to Faith for Urban Believers by Christopher W. Brooks (Kregel Publications, April 2014, 176 pages, $13.99) I have to admit, I was expecting something quite different than I discovered as I read. Apologetics tends to operate on the periphery of the church. It is, as I have written in the past, the ugly red-headed step child of the church. It is difficult to interest pastors in bringing apologetics into the life of the church and difficult to help those involved in apologetics to understand the plight of the pastor or recognize that apologetics is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Christopher Brooks is a pastor-apologist. It is not a long book. At 176 pages I was able to read it in a day. It is profound in its implications. There is nothing Christopher has said that we haven’t written about in our Journal or blog but it was carefully and soulfully written. Although it the target audience has with urban ministry in mind, it is applicable and adaptable in suburban ministry as well.

Not being a fan of Carl Ellis, Jr. who wrote the Introduction, I was somewhat apprehensive as I began reading.

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Apologetics for Your Obligatory Hobby Lobby Conversation Part 2

by on July 10th, 2014

By now you’ve probably had your fill of Hobby Lobby on your Facebook feed.  Last week I tried to deal with some of the more substantive objections to the Hobby Lobby decision. This week I want to take a look at some of the more irresponsible and irrational objections. Hold your snark however, because this is apologetics not whatever show Bill Maher is hosting on HBO. Each of these knee-jerk objections actually has a substantive disagreement underneath. If we can get below the irrational angst, we can actually have a substantive and hopefully Gospel oriented discussion. And lest we forget, that’s the point. Every single apologetic conversation either is designed to lead to or exemplify the Gospel. Otherwise we are just these guys.

I have to remind myself often:

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