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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

 

 

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Instructions for New Missionaries to Thailand (1846)

The letter replicated below is the first letter of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission to its out-going missionaries to Siam in 1846.  One other missionary from the American Presbyertian Mission had gone to Siam (now Thailland) previously, but he returned to the United States after only a few years because of his wife's health.  

It is interesting to note the priorities of the sending church (and its denominational agency) more than 150 years ago, and to compare those priorities to those of missionaries today.  Language study was prioritized, as was evangelism, although medical and publishing work were seen as useful primarily as a means to the evangelistic work.   While the world has changed greatly in 150 years, this letter reminds me of how much has basically stayed the same in the work of missions and evangelism over the years.

A print copy of this letter may be found in "Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions in Siam 1828-1928"Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions in Siam 1828-1928", edited by G.B. McFarland.

 

Mission House, New York, 10th July 1846 

Rev. S. Mattoon 

Dr. S. R. House, M. D 

 

Dear Brethren,

In going out to resume the Mission in Siam, it is proper that you take with you the instructions of the Executive Committee in reference to that field of Missionary labor.

  1. When you are permitted to enter upon your work, we shall be glad to hear from you once a month or as near these periods as you have an opportunity of sending. Letters by way of Canton will come with those of the brethren to China. Thin paper must be used for one letter a month via Canton overland. Other letters with your Journals, annual reports etc., sent by way of Canton will your reach us by ships from China.
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คริสเตียนแบบอีวานเจลิคัลคืออะไร? (What is an Evangelical?)

ถ้าดูข่าวต่างประเทศ  ท่านอาจจะได้ยินเรื่องคริสเตียนกลุ่มหนึ่งที่เรี่ยกว่า อีวานเจลิคัล (evangelical)  ผู้สมัครประธานาธิบดีของสหรัฐอเมริกา (โดยเฉพาะผู้สมัครพรรคริพับลิกัน) ทุ่มเทเวลามากในการหาเสียงจากกลุ่มนี้  แต่หลายคนอาจจะไม่รู้ว่าคริสเตียนแบบอีวานเจลิคัลคืออะไร  ในบทความนี้ผมอยากตอบคำถามนี้อย่างสั้นๆ

ศาสนาคริสต์มีสามนิกายใหญ่ๆ คือ 1) โรมันคาทอลิก  2) ออร์ธอดอกซ์ และ 3) โปรเตสแตนต์  ภายใต้นิกายโปรเตสแตนต์ มีคณะนิกายย่อยหลายกลุ่มด้วยกัน  คนที่เรียกตัวเองว่าอีวานเจลิคัลนั้น  ส่วนใหญ่เป็นชาวโปรเตสแตนต์ที่อยู่คณะนิกายย่อยต่างๆ  ต่างคนต่างมีความเข้าใจว่าอีวานเจลิคัลคืออะไร  แต่นักวิชาการส่วนใหญ่ยอมรับคำจำกัดความที่ ดร. David Bebbington เสนอคือ คริสเตียนแบบอีวานเจลิคัลเป็นคนที่เน้นหลักการ 4 ข้อดังต่อไปนี้