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2 Ways to Combat False Teaching

When you think about combating false teaching, what comes to mind?  A book about cults?  A discernment blogger exposing the latest heresy?  That guy who devotes all his free time to apologetics? In the mind of many, combating false teaching is mostly about saying somebody or something is wrong.  But that's not the whole picture.  In this post, I want to talk about 2 very different, but essential ways to address false teaching in the church today.  Both are needed, but they don't deserve equal time and priority in the teaching and preaching of churches.

1) The Negative Approach: "That's Wrong!"

The first way to combat false teaching is the one that most people are familiar with, but few people enjoy (though some people probably enjoy it too much).  It is the act of holding up a particular teaching or teacher and saying, "This is wrong" or "He is wrong" and then comparing that teacher and his teaching to Scripture to show where he (or she) has got it wrong.

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Is the Bible Alone Really Enough for Christian Life and Faith?

Today, if you walk into any evangelical or pentecostal church, you are unlikely to find a pastor or church leader who will deny the authority of the Bible.  The authority of the Bible has been a firmly held belief in Protestant churches since the 16th century, when Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin reaffirmed the authority of the Bible over the teaching of the Pope and church traditions.  They believed in Sola Scriptura, a Latin phrase that means Scripture Alone.  The Bible alone is authoritative and sufficient for teaching and leading the Christian life.

Many people equate "Sola Scriptura" with the inerrancy and authority of the Bible.  However, another important part of Sola Scriptura is the sufficiency of Scripture.  Churches today may affirm the authority of the Bible, but if you look at the content of preaching in many places, the Bible is not front and center.  Anecdotal stories, pop psychology, managerial techniques, tips for living, the latest prophecy or word of knowledge, or whatever good idea the preacher came up with on Saturday night is the main attraction.  The Bible is only perfunctorily consulted and used to support main ideas that come from someplace else.  For many preachers, the Bible serves as merely a source of inspiration and a launching pad to get started in preaching, but does not set the direction and content of what is preached.  No one comes out and says it, but it is implicitly affirmed that just teaching the Bible isn’t really enough to help people grow in Christ and face the challenges of modern life. The unspoken message in many places is that the Bible may be sufficient for getting saved, but to really grow in the Christian life, what we need is….. [fill in latest trendy idea or technique here].

So is the Bible really sufficient?  Is it enough?  Or do we need to heavily supplement from elsewhere in order for God’s people to know God and know what he wants us to do?

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Operation Auca (January 8, 1956) – Sixty Years Later

guest post by Larry Dinkins

Map of the area where Operation Auca took place, in EcuadorThis week, 60 years ago, five missionaries made contact with the Auca (literally “savage”) tribal group in the Ecuadorian jungle. Previously, no one had ever engaged this tribe without being killed. The previous year, gifts had been exchanged paving the way for this encounter. On January 3rd, the five married men, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Peter Fleming, Nate Saint (oldest at 32), and Ed McCully established a camp at “Palm Beach” along the Curaray River and waited. On January 6, two naked women and a man emerged from the jungle and made friendly contact, even agreeing to take a ride in the yellow Piper. By January 8, the anxious wives got word that all five of the missionaries had been slaughtered on that lonely beach. The coverage of the event by Life Magazine and its photo essay broadcast the news around the world culminating in what has become one of the most inspirational missionary stories of the 20th century. 

Two years later,  Rachel Saint (Nate’s sister) and Elisabeth Elliot with her 3-year-old daughter went to live among the Auca for a period of three years. Eventually most of the village, including six in the murder party, turned to Christ.  Elisabeth returned to the states as a writer and speaker, producing a total of 28 books over the next fifty years, including Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty and The Savage, My Kinsmen.

In 1969 Elisabeth married Addison Leitch, a professor of theology at Gordon Conwell Seminary. He died of cancer in 1973. After his death, she married yet again in 1977 to a hospital chaplain named Lars Glen, a former lodger at the rented room at her home. That marriage lasted until her death at 88 in June, 2015.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot have stepped “Through Gates of Splendor” into their reward, yet their words and influence remain six decades later. Elisabeth is a particular inspiration to me, especially how she handled suffering at multiple points in her life, first through the high risks of ministry in Ecuador and the wrenching experience of seeing cancer take her second spouse within only four years. Her last decade was a constant battle with dementia, a condition that she endured with godly acceptance as she had previously done with the passing of her husbands.

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10 Ways to Promote Missionary Attrition

Overall missionary attrition may not be sky rocketing, but it sure seems like it.   Every time I turn around, there is someone else packing up and going home.

Some attrition is normal as people enter different stages of life, and family or ministry circumstances / callings change.

But some attrition is unfortunate and preventable.

Although it is sometimes the missionaries themselves who have issues, other times it is their mission agency and/or supporting church(es) who have failed them. And in the messiness of real life, sometimes it is a combination of both missionary and agency, of uncontrollable and controllable factors.

In the past, I have written some positive posts about language study, the importance of friends, pre-field training, etc. But in the current post, I want to approach missionary attrition a bit more negatively, in hopes that a bit of cynicism might help us consider how to prevent attrition. So, without any further ado, here are 10 ways that mission agencies, churches, and others (including missionaries themselves) can speed up unanticipated departures from the mission field.

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7 Reasons For Christians to Retire in Thailand

amazing thailand 400pxguest post by Larry Dinkins

How can you make the most of your retirement? I recently read an article by Evan Tarver listing “7 Reasons Why Americans Retire in Thailand" and it got me thinking.  Tarver started his article about the benefits of retiring in Thailand by saying, "If retiring Americans are looking to maximize their retirement, it's a good strategy to retire to Southeast Asia ..."  The maximization of retirement from Tarver's viewpoint related primarily to economic, dietary, exotic location, transportation, language and visas factors.  His 7 reasons included, 1) Low Cost of Living, 2) Delicious Food, 3) Tropical Climate and Exotic Setting, 4) Central Travel Location, 5) Availability of Retirement Visas, 6) High Number of Expats and Foreigners, and 7) Low Language Barrier. You can read full article here.  My official retirement year is on the horizon, so I began to think of how I could entice others (particularly Christians) of retirement age to "maximize their retirement" here in Siam.

1. Need of Seasoned Coaches

My co-worker is 83 years old and is fully involved in both the Thai church and seminary he founded. Dr. Henry Breidenthal is an invaluable source of wisdom for ministry to Thai Buddhists as well as a coach to the hundreds he mentored over his 51 years in this country. There are precious few experienced coaches/mentors for the large numbers of new workers who arrive on Thailand's shore every year.  Retirees with ministry or business experience can make a significant contribution to both expats and Thai alike.

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Don’t Expect a Seminary to Do the Church’s Job

As a graduate of two seminaries and as a current seminary instructor, I have often internally cringed at statements like, “Seminary classes need to be more practical” or “The seminary isn’t doing enough to care for the students’ spiritual needs.” On the one hand, a theological education should not be impractical, not should it ignore the spiritual formation of students. After all, the primary purpose of most seminaries is to train people to serve the local church in various capacities. But in the same breath, I fear that statements like those above betray a misunderstanding of the respective roles of both seminaries and the local church.

Many churches (but not all churches!) seem to believe that it is the seminary’s job to train, mentor, educate, and evaluate future ministers, evangelists, church planters, etc. But the seminary is being given an impossible task. Churches often perfunctorily sign-off on a recommendation form, and hand over people who are immature in their faith, expecting the seminary to single-handedly transform them into pastors. The seminary is seen as a pastor factory that should churn out graduates who are academically and practically prepared for full-time ministry, with the requisite personal spiritual maturity and godly character.