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Friday, November 6, 2015

Unanswered Prayers of the Bible

November 06, 2014    

Unanswered Prayers of the Bible
Philip Yancey is the master at identifying (a) moods and moments that prompt us to doubt, and (b) biblical realities that encourage us to believe. In a piece called "Boomerang Prayers," he describes supposedly unanswered prayers in the Bible (one of Jesus himself no less) and then, in the words of the late Paul Harvey, continues more or less with, "And now for the rest of the story."
Will the Real Billy Graham Stand Up
The godfather of the modern evangelical movement (now 97) has been saying and writing things that don't click with the Graham of earlier decades. Many are suspicious that someone is using him for their own agenda. The latest example is what is supposedly Billy Graham's latest book, Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond. Pseudepigrapha is the technical word for what is going on here: written in his name by another. At least, that is the conclusion of historian Elisha Coffman, whose judgment in such matters I tend to respect. (She worked closely with me for a few years at Christian History before she went off to get her Ph.D. at Duke—she's not one to trifle with when it comes to historical reasoning).
Her evidence is telling—like the book's inference that Graham reads the blogosphere regularly when he can barely read a 72-point personal Bible (most newspapers use 10-12 points in their copy). But it's the book's emphasis on hell that may be the give-away. Apparently the book spends a lot of ink on hell. But during his ministry, the mature Graham was hesitant to say much more than this:
"I've heard some preachers preach on hell as though they were glad there was a hell and glad that people were going there. But I'm not. I don't like to preach on it. I do it only because I'm commanded in Scripture to preach the word. And it's against the backdrop of God's love, mercy, and grace that I must preach it."
You be the judge whether Professor Coffman has made her case.
Blurry Snapshot of Christianity in England
The article begins, "The Church of England is set to signal to members that speaking openly about their faith could do more harm than good when it comes to spreading Christianity."
It's not a good sign when church leaders tell members to not evangelize. I'm glad St. Paul begged to differ in his day, otherwise it is doubtful very many of us would know Christ today.
Then again, one can also say, "Of course." We've all run into Christians whom we wish would please just shut up. So yes, talking can do more harm than good.
But some talking seems necessary when
Only 60 percent believed that Jesus even existed with 22 percent describing him as a "mythical or fictional character" and another 18 percent unsure. Among under-35s, the proportion viewing Jesus as a fictional character rises to 25 percent.
Read the summary of the C of E report here to get a glimpse of the challenges the church faces in post-Christian England.
Moon Rise
Not sure why I found this short video of the moon rising in Australia so moving. I'd suggest shutting the door and getting quiet before you watch. For me, it brought to mind Genesis 1:16, 18: "God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.... And God saw that it was good." (HT to Sue Isaac.)
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor, Christianity Today

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