What We Believe
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March 2017 New Horizons

Engaging the Skeptics

 

Contents

Engaging the Skeptics

Observations and Lessons

The Reformation of Pastoral Ministry

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Engaging the Skeptics

“Hi. My name is Brad. I’m about to be ordained as a Presbyterian minister, and I really enjoy talking with young, thinking unbelievers. Do you think it would be OK if I started attending your meetings?” This was my introduction to the student Freethought group at our local state university. I had approached two members of the group at their table in the student commons. One of them smiled and said, “We’re open to people of all viewpoints, and you’d be welcome to join us.” I thanked them, wondering what I had gotten myself into. My plan to remain a quiet wallflower that first evening disintegrated in about five minutes. Among the dozen students in the room, I was an obvious misfit, especially after introductions were made and I explained my purpose for being there. My presence naturally directed the discussion toward the rationality of theism and the Christian faith. And being the only Christian there, I did a great deal more of the talking than I had intended. The conversation was intense... Read more

Observations and Lessons

About two years ago, Laurie and I made the difficult decision to leave the Karamoja region of Uganda and take up life and work here in the U.S. We believe in the work of our Uganda Mission—one we served for eleven years. Yet, we believed the time had come to serve the kingdom differently and to be closer to our expanding family. Karamoja is a beautiful place, and we loved living there. We do not so much miss the triple-digit temperatures, muddy roads, snakes, and termites. But we do miss our mission team and being part of a unique gospel work. And we miss the people. Our Karimojong friends are special, and we learned much from them. They are hospitable, joyful, and resilient in the face of unspeakable hardship. They are committed to friends in ways that are not known so much to us. They are able to enjoy their shared life in the midst of the darkness. I have seen these things, appreciated them, and told the people so. I have come to believe that looking for ways to praise and thank people, and then... Read more

The Reformation of Pastoral Ministry

Under the banner of sola Scriptura , the Protestant Reformation brought about much-needed reform in doctrine, worship, and preaching. These have been studied and developed extensively since that time. Less attention has been given to the equally important changes in pastoral ministry that developed from this recovery of biblical Christianity. One Reformer whose contributions have often been overlooked was Martin Bucer (1491–1551). While Calvin resided in Strasbourg from 1538 to 1541, he sat under Bucer’s preaching and pastoral ministry and learned from him. This would become Calvin’s preparation for his return to Geneva, where he would labor until his death in 1564. Under Bucer, Calvin’s view of pastoral ministry, both by ministers and by elders, developed and took organizational form in the “consistory” of ministers and elders who would gather weekly in Geneva for the oversight and administration of ministry. Bucer published the Reformation’s first primer for pastoral care, entitled ... Read more

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