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What Do You Need to Know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam?

What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.

To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent’s lectures – Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam – at Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.

Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the […]

Climate Change: Which Kind Are We Fighting For?

“Environmentalists say ‘Don’t use it.’ Conservationists say ‘Use it wisely.’” This maxim from my youth stuck; it was a favorite of the leader of my county’s soil and water conservation district. This week, when the pope visits Washington, D.C., you will no doubt hear many pleas to battle man-made global warming by limiting the use of fossil fuels. Christians who know their Bibles should be leery when leaders like President Obama and the pope endorse forced restrictions on the use of the earth’s resources – especially when more people will go hungry and perish as a result. God has not called us to embrace a “Don’t use it” or even a simply “Use it less” mindset.

God called Adam and Eve to the wise use of creation for the good of mankind and the glory of God when he said,

‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with […]

The Scriptural Reverse-Trajectory of the Sexual Revolution

A fascinating trajectory of the sexual revolution has become obvious this summer in these United States. The trajectory moves backward through Scripture. The pages of God’s design for humanity have been peeled back, as it were, to the first chapter of Genesis.

In a host of ways and over many years, we as a culture have defied God’s design for sexual desire and activity as outlined in his law and summarized in the seventh commandment.
Next, we reached back to Genesis chapter two and redefined marriage through the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Now, we are reaching back to Genesis 1:26-28 to redefine the nature of humanity by erasing God-ordained distinctions between male and female through the “gender identity” movement. Bruce Jenner brought the movement to the front page. The University of Tennessee’s now-withdrawn suggested use of newly-created gender-neutral pronouns is one example of the effort to institutionalize the erasure such distinctions. The accelerating push for new SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) laws captures the move to codify and enforce the rejection of the God-ordained male and female distinction.

Having reached the hand of defiance against the Creator back through the pages of Scripture to redefine right […]

Will I Be Forgiven For Abortion?

If you are asking “Will I be forgiven for abortion I had?” then you already feel the guilt of your sin. Perhaps you feel your guilt afresh as a result of the videos exposing the work of Planned Parenthood. What do you do with your guilt?

One young man I met on the street a few years ago knew this guilt. He had grown up in an evangelical Christian home. About twenty years old, he had rejected the God of the Bible and argued vehemently with me against the Lord’s very existence. Our discussion somehow moved to the moral argument for God. Why is murder wrong? What about abortion? At that point, most unexpectedly, the hardened young man burst into tears. He buried his head in his hands and blurted out, “I don’t need any God to know abortion is wrong!” He rapidly recounted impregnating his girlfriend, taking her to the abortion clinic, paying for the abortion, and the guilt he had carried ever since – all while repeating. “I knew it was wrong!”

After a few moments, he gathered himself and looked up. He was as surprised at what he had confessed as I was; we both knew he had said […]

Ashes to Ashes

Does a little sin in my life matter? What harm can it really do, especially if it is invisible to others? God sometimes places powerful illustrations before us that we cannot miss to help teach us about the enormous impact of little forces.

Presently, dead ash trees loom over tree lines of the Midwestern United States. The hulking brown carcasses speak of death against the backdrop of the lush green life of the other well-watered trees and vegetation. Every time I look out the window from my desk, I see the tree pictured above reminding me of destruction. The impact can be measured in millions and probably billions of dollars, and it can be measured in the sorrow of individual owners. One neighbor had twenty-six ash trees on her lot – and no other trees. All were lost. Understandably, she broke down in tears as each trunk faced the bite of the roaring chainsaw.

Why are they all dead? The cause of death is now well known; it is the emerald ash borer. The larvae of this invasive green beetle from Asia bore through the outer bark of even the stateliest ash trees and then invisibly feed on the phloem and cambium […]

Where Does the Journey End?

In April, when Indiana Governor Mike Pence and legislators called for a “fix” to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to exempt discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Scott McCorkle, a LGBT activist said, “Today is a positive first step, but it is a first step in a larger discussion [to] acknowledge the importance of equal rights for all, and I am excited about what will come in the next step of our journey.”

Indiana seems poised to consider the next step in providing protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Both democrats and republicans claim to be hard at work crafting legislation for the next legislative session which begins in January. The discussion of an anti-discrimination law is heating up at a federal level. But the Hoosier State may well be first in the spotlight this coming winter, and the media which profited greatly from the RFRA debate will eagerly cover the ensuing discussion. In other words, Hoosiers can expect the issue to dominate headlines again with everyone talking about it.

If this is the next step in the journey, then all Hoosiers ought to be asking where the journey leads and […]

No Nest on 73rd Street

The release of video footage of Dr. Deborah Nucatola speaking of harvesting and selling body parts of aborted babies is horrendous. Yet, the yawn in response on the part of many is unsurprising. The video exposure caused me to think, “We’ve shown these kinds of things before. Yet, people have not been shaken.”

The event caused me to dig through my files for a speech I delivered in the 1995 Right to Life Oratory Contest. That speech which was delivered twenty years ago is copied below. It invoked the horror of a particular abortion incident twenty years before that. But, our culture was desensitized in 1975. It was desensitized in 1995. It remains desensitized in 2015. Sadly, bare knowledge of murderous practices and realities does not convict the heart of sin or move the soul to pursue justice.

That is not to say that we should cease from exposing the evil deeds of darkness; we must not cease. But, only the powerful work of the Holy Spirit will turn hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. To this end we must pray until we say as a nation with David of old, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, […]

A Fresh Approach to Political Involvement

It is Independence Day in these United States. Many are questioning the way forward in light of recent political upheaval. The following is a guest post by Matthew Barnes charting at least one part of the way forward for Christians. He is a good friend and fellow servant of Christ. He minsters with Capital Commission Indiana and Public Servants’ Prayer. Though he writes for an Indiana audience, the principles can be applied across these United States.

I have been ministering in the Indiana Statehouse for more than 10 years. God has opened more doors than I would have ever imagined, and it all started with God impressing on my heart to pray for leaders. I found that it is impossible to hate someone for whom you earnestly pray. I can honestly say that I love politicians! Politicians are simply people who hurt, feel and bleed the same as you and I.  Some of them know Christ, others do not. The political arena has a vacuum of pastoral care.

Many people want to influence politics and politicians. Every time there is a perceived political loss for people of faith, there are passionate calls for pastors and churches to engage. This is true of churches […]

Rainbow Theology

Rainbows seem to be popping up everywhere in our area. Some have been resulted from storms that have produced record June rainfall and flooding in Midwestern communities. Others have been displayed in celebrations over the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The prevalence of the rainbow makes us ask afresh, “what does the rainbow mean?” God established the rainbow as the sign of his covenant with Noah after the global flood in Genesis 9. God’s promise gives us great hope in the midst of trouble. His promise to Noah and to us is posted below followed the words of four theologians who apply these truths to our hearts:

Genesis 9:11-17 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  14 When I bring clouds over the […]

ECHOing Across Generations

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison said. But not by John Hanson. John is a ruling elder at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and has worked as an educator. For over two decades, he has hauled teams of young people from our presbytery each summer to North Fort Myers, Florida to serve at ECHO.

ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a Christian organization with a vision to “Honor God through sustainable hunger solutions.” From the farm in Florida, it equips people, most often missionaries, with “agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.” They serve workers in more than 165 countries and are being used to change the lives of millions of people.

In 1989, Rich Johnston, another elder in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, took the first team of young people from our presbytery to serve at ECHO. He and others had known ECHO’s director, Dr. Martin Price, and his wife Bonnie from their years in Indianapolis, at Geneva College, and at Purdue University. The Prices had begun their work at ECHO in 1981, and the work was still […]