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Book Notes ~ March 2016

I have begun to get serious about coming up with a good research question to apply for a Ph.D program, so you'll notice that books about Thai church history and missions will come up more frequently in coming months.  But it is good to have diversity too, so Scotland and Vikings also feature in this month's book round-up. 

Khrischak Muang Nua: A Study in Northern Thai Church History

Khrischak Muang Nua book cover

When I opened this book, I anticipated a simple summary of the activities of 19th missionaries in Northern Thailand, bravely overcoming difficulties, and planting the first churches in the region. Instead, I discovered a scathing critique of the early American Presbyterian missionaries of the Laos Mission (present-day Northern Thailand), showing how they failed to 1) provide pastoral leadership and 2) train pastors for the church. They failed to do these things because they overemphasized evangelism / expansion, poured a lot of time into building schools and hospitals, and thought that local Christians were childlike and not ready for leadership. I found page after page of disturbing things about these early missionaries that made me shake my head. I wish many of them were not true but author Herb Swanson has done a thorough job of scouring the archives of Payap University, providing copious primary source documentation for his critique, which I found myself largely agreeing with. From the outset, the author is honest about his particular perspective (which could be fairly called "theologically liberal") and this perspective certainly influences his evaluation of the missionaries' policy of "expansionism" (as he calls it) and their attitude towards Buddhism. However, he has done his homework and his critique should be read and seriously considered by all missionaries in Thailand today.

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ภาพรวมของการประชุมฟื้นฟู Revive Asia

บทความนี้ถูกแปลจาก Revive Asia: An Overview เขียนโดย T. Gorden และถูกโปสต์โดยรับอนุญาต

เมื่อวันที่ 8-10 มกราคม (2016) ได้มีการจัดการประชุมฟื้นฟู Revive Asia ขึ้นที่กรุงเทพมหานคร โดยมีตัวแทนจากประเทศต่างๆเข้าร่วมมากกว่า 25 ประเทศ แต่ผู้เข้าร่วมประชุมส่วนมากคือคนไทย ผมเองได้มีโอกาสเข้าร่วมประชุมในครั้งนี้ด้วย โดยผมหวังว่าผมจะสามารถสรุปสิ่งสำคัญต่างๆที่วิทยากรที่มาในประชุมฟื้นฟูครั้งนี้ได้สอนไว้

ตลอดทั้งการประชุม  มีหัวข้อหลัก ๆ 3 หัวข้อที่ถูกกล่าวถึงตลอด หัวข้อแรกคือ การรับการถ่ายทอดจากพระวิญญาณบริสุทธิ์ ซึ่งคือการที่พระวิญญาณบริสุทธิ์ทรงสถิตอยู่และฤทธิ์อำนาจของพระวิญญาณบริสุทธิ์ หัวข้อที่ 2 คือ การประกาศว่าเรากำลังอยู่ใน “ยุคสุดท้าย” และหัวข้อที่ 3 คือ “การปฏิรูปทางศาสนา” ครั้งที่ 3 เพิ่งจะเริ่มต้นขึ้น วิทยากรเกือบทุกคนจะพูดถึงหัวข้อเหล่านี้หนึ่งหรือสองหัวข้อในคำสอนหรือ”คำเทศนา”ของพวกเขา

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Sola Scriptura vs Sola Experientia

Horace Vernet, Jeremiah on the ruins of Jerusalem (1844)
Many Christians today use human reason to determine the meaning of their personal experiences more than they use the Bible.  Many who do so would deny that they are doing so, and often times they are aided in that claim by pastors and preachers who have torn some Bible verses out-of-context in order to “prove” that a certain experience should be validly interpreted in a certain way.  In response to this trend towards forming beliefs based on experience rather than Scripture, some other Christians raise the cry of “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone), harkening back to the return to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible which was championed at the time of the Protestant Reformation.

But sadly, this call to “Sola Scriptura” is often misunderstood to mean that experience has no place in the Christian life.  That is blatantly false.  Both today and in the Scripture, experience is an essential and valid part of the Christian life.  But the value and meaning of experience all depends on what we use to interpret our experience. 

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Book Notes ~ February 2016

I am continuing on in my attempt to read 50 books this year. This month I read books on miracles, marriage, a famous medical anomoly (I think you have heard of them), and J.I. Packer (sorry, I couldn't come up with another "M).

The Two: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins

the two siamese twins book cover

This was a very long, but very interesting and detailed story of Chang and Eng, a very famous pair of co-joined twins, from which the expression “Siamese twins” originates.  I was interested to read this book because of the Thai connection (I live in Thailand) but only the first chapter deals with their early years in Siam (now Thailand).  The rest of the book chronicles their life in the United States, painting a vivid picture of both their unique circumstances and claim to fame, and also rich descriptions of daily life in mid-19th century America.  After touring for a number of years, the twins settled down in North Carolina and married two sisters (who were not twins) and had numerous children.  The authors did a massive amount of  research, and the book is filled with tons of excerpts from primary sources, which gives a nice historical feel to the book.  The authors say very little about the twins' religious faith, although it seems that they were nominal Buddhists as young men in Thailand, and became nominal Christians as a result of living in the United States