The horrifying headlines hit the media worldwide this week. The USA Today report was typical: 'Islamophobia has reached a mass murder level in Norway as the confessed killer claims he sought to combat encroachment by Muslims into his country and Europe." One ABC news story filed on Sunday mentioned three times that Breivik as a 'Christian' and the media feels free to mention the faith of the killer again and again. But a true Christian does not live out his faith by shooting dozens of young people on a island.
Alex Crain, editor of Christianity.com, has posted this article "Is the Norwegian Terrorist a Christian? 4Tests" to address this issue. See below...
Another heartbreaking tragedy has hit. We've watched the reports from Norway with hands over our mouths, grieving at the awful destruction of life that occurred on Friday, July 22, 2011. Then, as if matters could be made worse, a baffling report has arisen from some in the press who say that Anders Behring Breivik's killing spree was motivated by his Christian beliefs. This was due to information allegedly seen on the terrorist's (now blocked) Facebook profile. Anders Breivik, who killed over 90 people including 80+ children allegedly self-identified as a Christian. So, is the Norwegian terrorist a Christian? How would we know? Did Breivik mean "Christian" in the nominal sense, as in "not Muslim?"
Apparently, Breivik's claim on Facebook serves as evidence enough in the minds of some to affirm that Christianity did motivate his bombing of a government center in Oslo as well as his ruthless gunning down of defenseless children at a youth camp. While such an appalling lack of discernment among the press is not excusable, it is somewhat understandable as reporters may have been breathing the "judge not" atmosphere of today's Christianity. Is a personal profession of Christian faith all that one needs to be considered a Christian? And is such blanket acceptance good practice? Is it the biblical or historical way to know who's in and who's out of the Christian community? Increasingly, over the past few decades, it has become standard fare in the broader Christian world to take a person's profession of faith at face value. Only rude, mean, or "legalistic" Christians question the personal faith of others. Notwithstanding this fad to twist Jesus's judge not statement beyond its intended meaning, Christianity.com has regularly posted articles stressing the need to be biblically discerning about what it truly means to be a Christian. The following are four biblical means that the Christian community has historically used to confirm the validity of professions of faith in Christ. Is the Norwegian terrorist a Christian? How would we know? Let us "examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). Four Biblical and Historic Tests to Examine the Validity of One's Claim to Christian Faith:
[The following four points are merely a summary. Please see the article links for detail.]
1) Do I believe the gospel message? (Do I trust Christ alone for salvation? Also see article by D.A. Carson)
2) Am I a member of a doctrinally sound local church where this gospel is preached and members
strive to confirm only professions of faith that are credible? (Please see article by Mark Dever)
3) Do I submit to church discipline, lovingly, graciously, and faithfully administered?
(Please see article by Jonathan Leeman)
4) Am I making continual progress toward inward godliness, fueled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, not legalism? (Please see article by Mark Driscoll)
Let us help, pray for, and grieve with the Norway attack victims and their families. At the same time, may we respond with gracious discernment to those who are quick to accept spurious claims to Christian faith.
Chuck Colson recently reviewed 'The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization,' recommending it as a 'must-read'. He reminds us that If Western civilization and our way of life are to survive, we must understand and re-embrace the biblical principles and values they were built on. Read his review of this book here.
Vishal Mangalwadi, a native of India and one of the great Christian worldview thinkers, believes that much of modern India, including its language, educational system, and political freedom, developed not out of Hinduism, but out of Christianity.
His newest work, The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization explores the Bible's impact, not only in leading the West to unparalleled liberty and prosperity, but in helping India and other nations to share in the West's success.
Mangalwadi carefully examines the intellectual roots of Western concepts of human dignity, reason, morality, science, liberty, and self-sacrificial heroism, explaining how each of these concepts grew out of Biblical principles. He then contrasts the biblical view of life with alternative worldviews like Secularism, Islam, and Hinduism. His own extensive experience doing relief work in rural India showed him the dehumanizing consequences of false worldviews. For instance, he tells how he and his wife tried to take care of a baby girl whose parents refused to provide her with medical care that she needed to digest food. As unbelievable as it sounds, the parents refused to let the Mangalwadis rescue their daughter because their fatalistic, karma-based worldview taught them that their daughter had no hope for a happy, successful life.
The tragic story illuminates the importance of the biblical worldview, which sees all people as valuable because they are made in the image of God. And because we are made in the image of Him who freely chose to create the world, we are free to work to change our lot in life, not bound by fate or karma to a life of misery.
A week of news headlines, outlining the government’s carbon tax package, the inevitable political machinations and even the reports of stress experienced by school children following doomsday teaching on climate change, all highlight the eminence, perhaps even the power, of science and the blind faith of many in its ability to dictate policy, influence governments, attempt to explain everything and guide our behaviour.
But, as Stan Guthrie commented earlier this year, science, as valuable as it is, is a limited and (especially when misused in the service of unscientific agendas) imperfect means of acquiring knowledge. Dallas Willard reflects, ‘The scientific understanding of nature yields no guidance for human life, including what to do with the knowledge science offers.’ It simply cannot answer all the questions we face or provide guidance and direction for our lives.
Read Stan Guthrie’s article here…..
Someone once said that an optimist is someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it's a cha-cha. Some days, when your rates notice arrives on the same day as your car rego, and your house insurance payment is due and your hours at work have just been cut, it's difficult to maintain that type of enthusiasm. Even so, it's important to remember that your attitude really is one of your most valuable assets! Read further in this article by Jan Coates.
Stanford Research Institute reports that only 12.5 percent of our success in life is determined by knowledge; the other 87.5 percent comes from attitude. More than skill, knowledge, or aptitude, our attitude dictates our success in life.
Did you know that? Perhaps you’ve never thought of it that way before. Chuck Swindoll, bestselling author, writes, “I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. The attitude I choose keeps me going or cripples my progress. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme.”
Most of us believe we possess a positive attitude. But what would happen if we asked our best friend or spouse for a no-holds-barred honest assessment of our attitude? Chances are high their comments might include:
*Not too bad after three cups of coffee
*Little things get blown out of proportion
*Irritable and moody
*Frets and worries over everything
*Unforgiving toward certain people
In the midst of foreclosure notices and layoffs and personal and professional pressures, it is hard to maintain a positive attitude 100 percent of the time. Why? Because we’ve become reliant on outside influences, such as friends, family, teachers, bosses, and media to color our perspective. We wrongly believe attitude is something we’re given or born with, rather than a choice we make.
How often do you run from problems? Or maybe you find yourself going out of your way to avoid problems or situations that are potentially uncomfortable or challenging? Steve Diggs (internationally acclaimed Chisitian life-skills presenter and author) points to these challenges as opportunities that God can use to grow and develop you. Read his following article:
One of the most human of all the things we do is try to avoid pain. No one wants to be hurt. For most of us, problems are the quicksand of life. They bog us down and stop our forward motion. Allowed to go unchecked, problems will kill our productivity, energy, passion, and optimism.
A recent survey indicated that nearly sixty percent of employees under age thirty-five want to be managers. But among employees over fifty-four, less than a third said they would accept the title of manager. As a guy who is in his fifties, who gives a Retooled and Refueled Seminar weekly, and who has managed a number of companies, I can tell you exactly why the seasoned pros responded the way they did: They don’t want the grief! Management seems prestigious and exciting to young, inexperienced workers. But as the years pass, reality and cynicism often set in.
However life is too short to spend our days running from its inevitable difficulties. I want to share some strategies that will help you view problems from a healthier and more productive perspective—and learn to “eat 'em for breakfast".
It was several decades ago when I began to realize that problems have the potential for good. I noticed that a friend of mine (who was in a pressure cooker job) rarely used the word “problem.” Instead, he chose the word “challenge.” When he hit a really rough patch of life waves, he would often say, “Let’s think about what God is trying to teach us through these challenges.” I noticed that he seemed to weather tough times better than most of the other people I knew. Life has taught me that problems (or challenges) can be the precursor to great blessings.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the