New Biblical Papyri found

A fragment of Biblical Papyri has been found. A fragment of Ephesians and 1 Timothy, unfortunately it doesn’t contain 1 Timothy 3:16. Here is the link to the site.

http://www.bricecjones.com/blog/two-new-greek-new-testament-papyri-from-oxyrhynchus

 

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Why Public Schools Don’t Teach Critical Thinking

This was an article I came across that made me think. In todays society our kids are losing their critical thinking skills. They are blindly following some teachers, or college professors rhetoric. Instead they should be taught to think and research for them selves.

Here is the article:

The following warning should be affixed atop every computer in America’s schools:

Proceed at your own risk. Don’t accept as true what you’re about to read. Some of it is fact; some of it is opinion disguised as fact; and the rest is liberal, conservative, or mainstream propaganda. Make sure you know which is which before choosing to believe it.
Students are exposed to so many different viewpoints on- and offline and so prone to accepting whatever they read, that they run the very real risk of becoming brainwashed. If it’s on a computer screen, it becomes Holy Writ, sacrosanct, immutable, beyond question or doubt.

Teachers caution students constantly against taking what they read at face value, since some of these sites may be propaganda mills or recruiting grounds for the naïve and unwary. Not only egregious forms of indoctrination may target unsuspecting young minds, but also the more artfully contrived variety, whose insinuating soft-sell subtlety and silken appeals ingratiatingly weave their spell to lull the credulous into accepting their wares.

To prevent this from happening, every school in America should teach the arts of critical thinking and critical reading, so that a critical spirit becomes a permanent possession of every student and pervades the teaching of every course in America. This would be time well-spent in protecting students from the contagion of toxins on- or offline.

While ensuring students’ physical safety is a school’s first order of priority, the school should be no less vigilant in safeguarding them from propaganda that will assail them for the rest of their lives. Caveat emptor! Everyone wants to sell students a viewpoint, against which schools should teach them the art of protecting themselves.

Teaching students how to be their own persons by abandoning group-think and developing the courage to think for themselves should begin from the very first day of high school. More important than all the information they will learn during these four crucial years will be how they critically process that information to either accept or reject it.

***

It is a rare high-school graduate who can pinpoint 20 different kinds of fallacies in a line of argumentation while reading or listening; who knows how to distinguish between fact and opinion, objective account and specious polemic; who can tell the difference between value judgments, explanatory theories, and metaphysical claims, and knows how these three kinds of statement can or cannot be proven or disproven; who can argue both sides of a question, anticipate objections, and rebut them; and who can undermine arguments in various ways.

The essence of an education – the ability to think critically and protect oneself from falsehood and lies – may once have been taught in American schools, but, with few exceptions, is today a lost art. This is unfortunate for it is precisely this skill that is of transcendent importance for students in defending themselves. Computers are wonderful things, but, like everything else in this world, they must be approached with great caution. Their potential for good can suddenly become an angel of darkness that takes over their minds.

The school owes its students to teach them how to think, not what to think; to question whatever they read, and never to accept any claim blindly; to suspend judgment until they’ve heard all sides of a question, and interrogate whatever claims to be true, since the truth can withstand any scrutiny. Critical thinking is life’s indispensable survival skill, compared to which everything else is an educational frill!

***

While teachers do encourage critical thinking, there has never been a way of formally integrating this skill into existing curricula. Apart from a few teachers who do train their students in critical thinking, most teachers do not for one simple reason — there is no time. State education departments mandate that so much material has to be covered that critical thinking cannot be taught, nor can the courses themselves be critically presented. In order to cover the curriculum, courses must be taught quickly, superficially, and uncritically, the infallible way of boring students.

This is a great source of frustration to teachers, who would rather teach their courses in depth in order to give students an informed understanding of the issues involved, the controversies surrounding these issues, the social and political resistance their field of inquiry may have encountered, and its cultural impact upon society; in short, the splash and color of its unfolding drama. At the same time, teachers are forever having to keep one eye on the clock to finish their course by the end of the semester, when there is scarcely time to teach the “official” viewpoint, much less the controversy surrounding each question.

This omission of alternative theories and their attendant controversies leaves students with the mistaken impression that there is little if any disagreement among scholars about what they are taught, as though what is presented is self-evident truth. The problem, of course, is that it may not be the truth at all, but only one side of a raging decades-old debate that happens to be the “official” view of the moment, with other views unacknowledged, much less discussed.

Not that every discipline lends itself to controversy, but most subjects do, with key questions still fiercely debated. History, psychology, sociology, economics, the natural sciences, the arts and humanities are all teeming with conflicts, yet this is regrettably kept from students. Some teachers may make a glancing reference to specialist debates, provide as much critical commentary as possible on the bias of the class text, or cite alternative theories, but what is possible is not nearly enough.

The sheer bulk of material necessarily inhibits its critical treatment, which requires time to explore rival explanations so that students can grasp the excitement of learning and the contentious world of ongoing scholarship. Rather than partaking of a sumptuous banquet, students receive only a very thin gruel, insufficient nourishment for questing young minds.

Because students are usually taught only one viewpoint about everything, they simply accept the theory they learn on their teacher’s authority with perhaps little understanding of the reasons provided. However, were they taught a second and third theory, along with their respective pro and con arguments, students would be drawn into a more nuanced understanding of the problem, try to determine which theory was right, and discover their minds at a deeper level as they grappled with the question and experience the excitement of intellectual inquiry.

Such breakthroughs occur all too seldom in classrooms because only one “weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable” view is all they learn amidst the rapid pace of the course. Imagine the ongoing stimulus of cognitive dissonance were several theories routinely presented with no attempt at resolving the issue. Now that would be a course worth taking! It is this intellectual ferment that is missing in schools today, thanks to a state policy which fosters a climate of indoctrination by default by teaching one viewpoint.

The solution, naturally, lies in relaxing this mile-wide-inch-deep approach to curriculum, employed for generations to little effect. In its place, teachers would critically treat in depth as many of the course essentials as possible, omitting what couldn’t be taught in the time remaining. If we want to raise a more reflective generation, critical treatment of material trumps “material covered” every time.

This is a damning indictment of an educational policy that compels teachers to become unwillingly complicit in brainwashing students in a one-view understanding of everything. Teachers want to teach alternative views to avoid such mindlessness, but cannot for lack of time. This policy of haste and superficiality that trivializes learning instead of making it come alive in all its complexity is easily remedied. Government has only to alter its policy.

***

However, there has always been the perception that the last thing government wants is that the young should be trained in critical thinking, for then they would begin to take learning seriously, recognize its explosive power and real-life relevance, question everything, become more aware, hunger for college and, who knows, perhaps even want to remake the world. This would be terrifying to those in power. Even now government is cutting subsidies to state universities, causing higher tuitions and predatory student debt to discourage college attendance.

What better way to frustrate the burning idealism of youth intent on bettering their lives through higher education than by burdening them with crippling debt and sidelining them in securing an education that might later challenge the status quo.

Better to prevent future protests from even occurring by wearing down students in their middle-school years with the soul-numbing drudgery of standardized testing that cools their ardor about coming to school, let alone about going to college.

Better to smother their desire for learning by an eternal night of rigged testing lest the excitement of critical thinking prove contagious and challenges policies of social injustice against a government that wages economic warfare against its own people.

Imagine students conditioned by years of these tests that attempt to brainwash them into thinking that every question must have a right answer; trained to accept the framework they’re given rather than thinking outside it and resist the indoctrination of believing whatever they’re taught.

Imagine the effect on students of being deprived not only of critical thinking, but also of learning even one viewpoint because the curriculum that would have prepared them for high school is no longer taught — traditional subjects like science, history, literature, world languages, art, and music — because all they’re now doing is preparing for tests.

Governments have always tried to brainwash children not only by what was taught, but also, and more subtly, by what was omitted. This approach would deny students those areas of knowledge, experience, insight, and wisdom that would have enriched their understanding of themselves and the world. Instead, they were given only a circumscribed view of learning’s enormous riches that purposely lay beyond their grasp.

For centuries most children, as well as their parents, were forbidden even the opportunity to learn to read, so dangerous was its potential for self-liberation and questioning the way things were. When this became no longer possible, they tried to control which books they read, whereas now they simply distract them by mass culture that kills the very desire to read.

The minds of children need room to breathe, to be inspired by vision, and the health-bringing balm of many perspectives. They need exercise, play, and relaxation; in short, they need a sound body and spirit to have a sound mind. Rather than spending their magical years entombed in cram-school dungeons that prepare them for impossibly difficult tests, children need old-fashioned schools where every day they can learn something new in classrooms that echo with laughter and joy!

This would be the beginning of real educational reform, not a “reform” that is, among other things, but an assault on the mind that begins in elementary and middle school, continues through high school, and now seeks to limit the number of those who can afford college.

America’s state education officials today stand before a great ethical decision. They must choose whether to serve the long-term interests of public-school children or to sell their souls in a Faustian bargain of complicity with Pearson and other “reform” opportunists who are only too willing to sacrifice children to this Strange New God of Standardized Testing.

How Skipping Church Affects Your Children By Micah Anglo

In a Q&A, Carl Trueman was asked about why churches today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this question range from things like the temptations of this world or the irrelevance of the church—your typical answers. But Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection between our parenting and apostasy.
“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.” (Carl Trueman)
Now we know that artificially taking your kids to church neither bestows salvation nor guarantees it. God is obviously not honored by external religious acts without heart worship. This type of legalism is not the subject of this discussion. This is about parenting and the weight of the responsibility behind how they prioritize their time and lifestyle choices for their families.
Parents makes choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you.
Maybe the reason why our children have no love for Christ is due to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week. When television, sports, school, hobbies even family itself are elevated to a place of idolatry and replace the vital Christian responsibilities, then we tell our children that Christ is secondary to all these things. We tell our children that it is not necessary to take up your cross and die to yourself daily in order to follow Christ. We tell them that you only have to live for Christ when it’s convenient for you. We tell them it is okay to sacrifice time with your all-satisfying Savior if something “more fun” or “more important” comes along (sarcasm indicated by quotation marks if you didn’t catch that). And this sounds like a clear path to apostasy if you ask me.
Let’s evaluate where our hearts are by observing our choices. Do you prioritize the local church? Do you prioritize the worship of Christ in your home and on Sundays? Do you prioritize serving Him and worshiping Him in the contexts of school and work? This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever miss a Sunday or that you can’t have any extracurricular activities. Instead, it is a sobering reminder that we shouldn’t put the things of God at the bottom of the priority list, because it tells our children that Christ is at the bottom of our priority list. And the God of this universe does not belong there.
My prayer is that we all would improve in this area. But beware, maybe we don’t see this because Christ isn’t a priority in our lives. And if He isn’t a priority in our lives, then our children will know and follow suit. Watch.

Why Charismatics and Calvinists Need Each Other

Article by: Adam Mabry

White-haired, suit-wearing Presbyterian lawyers don’t typically garner the fandom of teenagers, but Mr. Z did. Each week dozens of us would gather in his home. He would feed us and let us trash his house, watch movies, and play basketball. Each gathering would culminate in a Bible study. I met Mr. Z in high school because I was invited to his home for just such a study. For a year I kept coming back. This unlikely mentor taught us Ephesians. Verse by verse, he explained this beautiful book to us. His love for the Bible was infectious, and I caught it. I didn’t know it until later, but I’d fully embraced the doctrines of grace—doctrines I hold dear to this day.

As I matured, I would always go back to Ephesians. Like one of those well-worn paths beloved by hikers, Ephesians became my favorite trail to trek when I wanted to encounter the sovereign majesty of God. But something stuck out to me that I never got—something Paul prayed. He prayed that the Ephesians might know the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (1:19). No matter how hard I studied, power was never the result. Not this kind of power. Not until I met Pastor J.

Pastor J was like Mr. Z in a lot of ways. Both older guys, both wise, both godly, both with a deep love for Scripture, and both with a sharp intellect. But Pastor J had a different set of gifts. Pastor J would pray for people, and the things he prayed would actually happen. Pastor J would speak to people and say things about them no one else knew. As I got to know Pastor J, I came to understand that these were spiritual gifts. Again, my life was changed, and I embraced the miracle-working God.

These two men—one deeply Reformed, one powerfully charismatic—personify two words that have come to describe me. I’m a Reformed charismatic. With one foot I’m firmly planted in the historic Reformed world. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, I sat under the feet of world-class professors like John Frame. Yet my other foot is planted elsewhere—in the world of the modern, global, charismatic movement. I admire the missionary zeal of the global south and east along with the spiritual power and miracle-producing faith they embody. Yes, it’s an odd space in the church world to occupy.

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After graduating college and getting married, my wife and I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to be part of a church-planting team. For five years we labored alongside some amazing people, and in that time I came to be exceedingly grateful for Mr. Z and Pastor J. I prayed for people, and miracles happened. The Spirit would move through my words, and people would come to faith. I would teach the gospel, adorned with all the doctrines of grace and watch my students cherish these doctrines the way I did when they were shown to me years earlier in Mr. Z’s house. It was exhilarating and illuminating. Then I moved to Boston to plant another church. Again, the mingled power of the doctrines of grace and the gifts of grace produced the fruits of grace that finally convinced me: these worlds, Reformed and charismatic, need each other.

Charismatics Need Teachers Around

In church history, bad things have happened when those with teaching gifts have been relationally or structurally separated from those with “miraculous” gifts. (My aim here, by the way, is not to convince anyone of the continuation of such gifts. Others have done so in this space.) This separation has never been more apparent than the present. It’s cause for concern when Pentecostals/charismatics get together in their conferences, read their books, remain in their churches, and never get out of their sandbox. Such tribalism is how some pretty egregious errors are birthed and nurtured—the prosperity gospel being the most obvious example. Numerous times I’ve listened to my Pentecostal/charismatic brethren and thought, If only they looked more closely into the Scriptures, they could have avoided this problem. As one of my mentors put it, “Charismatics love the fire of God’s power, but sometimes we burn things down with it.”

As has often been noticed, charismatic experience can lead honest, well-meaning Christians astray into terrible error. The God-always-only-ever-wants-to-bless-you-and-make-your-life-great nonsense that accounts for some louder voices destroys our ability to suffer well. The Word of Faith movement is sometimes indiscernible from sympathetic magic. But that’s where the profundity of the Reformed love for the Bible can come to help. That is, if we would come to help.

Calvinists Need Charismatics, Too

Just as concerning as it is when charismatics stay in their own sandbox, so it is with us Calvinists. I’m so grateful for the recent explosion of interest in Reformed theology. I was Reformed before it was cool enough to come with tattoos, plaid shirts, and beards, but it’s nice to be part of the in-crowd, I guess. But let’s not fool ourselves—the Reformed movement pales in size to the Modern Pentecostal/charismatic Movement (hereafter, MPCM). MPCM is the fastest-growing religious movement in the history of the human race. In 1900, there were statistically a meaningless number of such Christians. Presently, the number sits around 700 million (see Allan Anderson’s “Global Pentecostalism,” a paper presented at the Wheaton Theology Conference on April 3, 2015), or 1 out of every 3 believers. Just to put it into perspective, that’s more than the total number of Buddhists (around 500 million), Jews (around 14 million), and all folk religions (around 400 million) in the world. MPCM isn’t going away. Quite the opposite.

And it’s not growing because they’re all heretics (many are, to be sure, but not nearly all). They’re growing because they’re making disciples. For as much as we Calvinists talk, think, and teach well on the subject, the charismatics seem to be doing more of it. To use my mentor’s metaphor again, we Calvinists construct a beautiful fireplace, but sometimes we struggle to get the fire going. We might learn something from our charismatic brethren, if we knew any.

Love Means Listening, Learning, Leading

When I’m with my MPCM pals, I’ll often hear the bogeyman of the angry Calvinist doctrinal neat-nick who hates lost people. And when I’m with my Reformed friends, there’s often a ceremonial burning of the snake-handling, tongue-talking, money-grubbing Pentecostal straw man.

This mockery grieves me, and I think it grieves God, too.

If we’re to take Jesus seriously about the whole “they’ll know you are my disciples by your love for one another” thing, then we Calvinists must listen to our MPCM brothers. I’m not suggesting Benny Hinn as a conference speaker. I’m simply suggesting that we listen to what our orthodox MPCM friends are saying, not rebutting what they’re not saying. Love listens to our brother, even if we disagree with him. We’ve got to go deeper than blogs, Facebook rants, and drive-by comments on social media. God went out of his way to relate to people with whom he profoundly disagreed. We might consider doing the same.

Calvinist pastor, take your charismatic compadre out for lunch. Forge an unlikely friendship. I recognize that many TGC readers are not continuationists, and that’s fine. But if you have any room for the exercise of these gifts today I would encourage you to reach out. Pentecostal minister, call up your Presbyterian pal and go play a round of golf. It may be weird, but by the 9th hole the banter will likely be great.

Love also means that we commit to learn from each other. Can you imagine the exponential good that would happen if charismatics learned exegesis from the likes of Don Carson? What kingdom fruit would be born if Calvinists learned to exercise missional faith like our MPCM counterparts? I sometimes daydream about what could happen if the passion of the Pentecostal for the power of God and the passion of the Calvinist for the Word of God could be combined to accomplish the work of God. The world just might see the glory of God.

This purpose means we’re going to have to lead. The history of the Western Church, particularly since the Reformation, is so pot-marked with breakups, splits, and violent divisions over second- and third-tier doctrinal differences that it’s little wonder our culture thinks Christians are divisive. We who cherish the doctrines of grace must lead in practicing grace toward those with whom we differ. And we can because the gospel shows us that this is precisely how Christ treated us. We can because the Spirit is available to enable such grace in us. We can because God knows that accomplishing the mission is going to mean we must work together.

Charismatics and Calvinists need each other. We don’t have to agree to be agreeable. We don’t have to compromise our consciences to effect change. And we don’t have to sacrifice biblical faithfulness for spiritual power. We can have both, but to get both we’ll probably need to get around each other.

ON REACHING MEN – Moody Pastors Workshop — A Man from Issachar

Today I had the pleasure of speaking at the Moody Pastors’ Workshop on the campus of Moody Theological Seminary (MTS; MTS offers a fully-online, fully-accredited Master of Divinity degree [M.Div], and is one of only a few seminaries to do so). I presented two talks on reaching men in the church. The talks intended to […]

via ON REACHING MEN – Moody Pastors Workshop — A Man from Issachar

God’s Hall of Fame

 

Your name may not appear down here,
In this world’s hall of fame,
In fact you may be so unknown,
That no one knows your name!

The Oscars here may pass you by
And neon lights of blue,
But if you love and serve the Lord,
Then I have news for you.

This hall of fame is only good
As long as time shall be,
But keep in mind, God’s Hall of fame,
Is for eternity!

To have your name inscribed up there
Is greater yet by far,
Than all the Halls of Fame down here
And every man-made star.

This crowd on earth may soon forget
The heroes of the past,
They cheer like mad until you fall,
And that’s how long you last.

But God, He never does forget,
And in His Hall of Fame
By just believing in his Son,
Inscribed you’ll find your name.

I tell you, friend, I wouldn’t trade
My name however small,
That written there beyond the stars
In that celestial hall,

For any famous name on earth
Or glory that they share;
I’d rather be unknown here,
And have my name up there.