September 2016

Clinton, Trump spar over race, personal ethics

September 28 2016 by David Roach, Baptist Press

Race relations, personal ethics and terrorism were among the topics discussed by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Sept. 26 in their first head-to-head presidential debate.

PBS screen capture from YouTube
Race relations, personal ethics and terrorism were among the topics discussed by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Sept. 26 in their first head-to-head presidential debate.


The 90-minute event hosted by Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., included no mention of abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism or religious liberty by either candidate and no specific mention of radical Islam during the discussion of terrorism.
 
More than 20 consecutive minutes were devoted to the subject of race relations. Clinton argued for criminal justice reform to counter systemic racial bias in America, and Trump said “law and order” is needed to increase the quality of life in minority communities.
 
“Too many young African American and Latino men,” Clinton said, have “ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses. And it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated.”
 
The former secretary of state advocated reducing mandatory minimum sentences, “which have put too many people away for too long for doing too little,” and increasing the number of “second chance programs” in America’s criminal justice system.
 
Trump said an aspect of maintaining law and order should be the use of “stop-and-frisk” procedures, under which police may question pedestrians then search them for weapons and other contraband. Although stop-and-frisk practices have been called racial profiling because they tend to affect blacks and Latinos disproportionately, as in New York City, Trump said such practices “take the guns away” from “bad people.”
 
“We need law and order in the inner cities,” Trump said, “because the people that are most affected by [urban violence and unrest] are African American and Hispanic people. And it’s very unfair to them what our politicians are allowing to happen.” He cited Charlotte, N.C., and Ferguson, Mo., as examples.
 
Clinton criticized Trump for painting “such a dire, negative picture of black communities,” citing “the vibrancy of the black church” among features of minority communities “we should we proud of.”
 
Later in the debate, moderator Lester Holt of NBC News asked Trump about his five-year perpetuation of “the false claim that the nation’s first black president [Barack Obama] was not a natural-born citizen.” Though Trump acknowledged this month Obama was born in the U.S., Holt asked what he would say to “people of color” who were concerned about his advocacy of the so-called birther argument.
 
“I say nothing,” Trump responded, “because I was able to get him to produce” his birth certificate. “He should have produced it a long time before.”
 
Trump added, “When you talk about [racial] healing, I think that I’ve developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African American community. I think you can see that.”
 
Clinton said Trump “started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen.” She went on to allege Trump “has a long record of engaging in racist behavior.”
 
As evidence for the claim, she cited his birther statements and a 1973 Department of Justice lawsuit for housing discrimination that Trump said also targeted “many, many other companies throughout the country” and “was settled ... with no admission of guilt.”
 
Trump said Clinton should not “act holier than thou” when it comes to criticizing Obama because she criticized him harshly during the 2008 presidential campaign and her campaign workers allegedly helped fuel the birther argument that year.
 
Regarding personal ethics, Clinton alleged Trump has made disrespectful statements about women and is “hiding” something by not releasing his federal income tax returns. Trump criticized Clinton for using a private email server as secretary of state and spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” on negative ads regarding Trump which are “absolutely untrue” and “not nice.”
 
When the discussion turned to terrorism, the candidates clashed over cyber security, the Iran nuclear deal and their past views on the Iraq war. They also addressed cooperation with Muslim nations to combat terrorism.
 
Clinton said Trump “has consistently insulted ... Muslims abroad [and] Muslims at home when we need to be cooperating with Muslim nations and with the American Muslim community. They’re on the frontlines. They can provide information to us that we might not get anywhere else.”
 
Trump retorted that “we’ve been working with [Muslim nations] for many years, and we have the greatest mess anyone’s ever seen. You look at the Middle East. It’s a total mess.”
 
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the debate made some followers of Jesus feel “a sense of homelessness” because “neither of these visions of America really speaks for” them.
 
“That is seen even in the things that weren’t talked about at all last night,” Moore said Sept. 27 in a live video feed on Facebook. He cited as noticeably absent from the conversation “the unborn” and “other vulnerable populations”; “what kind of character is necessary in order to lead this country”; and “the equality of all persons not only under the law, but also in terms of the image of God.”
 
Sadness over not identifying with either candidate’s vision, Moore said, “can be good for the church” because it reminds believers they are “resident aliens” in the world and not “a political interest group ... to be appealed to and negotiated with politically.”
 
The next presidential debate is slated for Oct. 9 in St. Louis. Vice presidential nominees Tim Kaine and Mike Pence will debate Oct. 4 in Farmville, Va.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

9/28/2016 8:41:01 AM by David Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Motherless, designer baby specter increases

September 28 2016 by

Two developing reproductive technologies – one that could facilitate motherless babies and another that could open the door to so-called designer babies – have drawn warnings from Christian ethicists.
 
In one experiment, researchers at the UK’s University of Bath altered unfertilized mouse eggs so they took on properties like “ordinary” cells, such as skin cells, the BBC reported. Then they created mouse embryos by fertilizing the altered eggs with sperm cells, leading scientists to speculate that two human men, or even one man, may one day be able to conceive a child with similar technology using sperm and another donated body cell.
 
A separate experiment in Sweden has achieved genetic modification of “healthy human embryos,” which were then destroyed, NPR reported. Lead researcher Fredrik Lanner said he is seeking to help treat infertility, prevent miscarriages and treat diseases. But critics say the research could lead to genetically made-to-order babies and the introduction of new diseases into the human genepool.
 
Both experiments have troubling ethical implications, Union University bioethicist C. Ben Mitchell said.
 
“The biblical ideal for procreation is one man, one woman, in a one-flesh relationship, in which children are received as a gift,” Mitchell told Baptist Press (BP) in written comments. “Every violation of that ideal results in human trauma and heartache, whether through adultery, divorce or death.
 
“The use of reproductive technologies that end up destroying unborn human beings is a clear harm. If we defy the procreative relationship by creating parentless babies, there is likewise clear harm. Even if we could justify the outcome, think of the human carnage on the way to the goal. Countless human beings – generated at the hands of researchers – would die in the process of trying to perfect the techniques. The end does not justify the means when the means are immoral,” said Mitchell, Union’s provost and Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy.
 

Conception without eggs?

The British experiment, reported Sept. 13 in the journal Nature Communications, is only a first step toward motherless human babies, with researcher Tony Perry calling such a prospect “speculative and fanciful” at present, according to the BBC.
 
Still, Charles Patrick, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary vice president who holds a Ph.D. in chemical and biomedical engineering, warned of skewing God’s plan for procreation described in Genesis 1-2.
 
“Just because we can develop a reproductive technology does not mandate that we must develop the technology,” Patrick told BP. “It seems unwise to develop reproductive technologies that preclude the use of sperm or eggs.”
 
“First, and to be scientifically honest, much of what occurs when a sperm and egg unite continues to be a mystery. There are potential errors with dangerous consequences that may occur when cells are ‘tricked’ into functioning in a manner not natural for them,” he said in written comments. “Second, reproductive technologies that remove either the egg or the sperm open the cultural door further to a genderless society.”
 
Additionally, creating babies without either egg or sperm cells “would provide childless couples yet another ‘extraordinary means’ distraction from adoption. Adoption is clearly espoused and modeled throughout Scripture,” Patrick said.
 
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the University of Bath research illustrates society’s quest to redefine “everything about sex and reproduction and marriage and gender.”
 
The sexual revolution, Mohler said Sept. 22 on his podcast The Briefing, has necessitated “a technological revolution” whose proponents seek reproduction “without marriage, and in this case ... without women.”
 

Genetically made to order?

The Swedish research uses a genetic engineering innovation to “edit” healthy embryos’ DNA for what NPR deemed the first time ever. British scientists have said they will begin similar experiments later this year.
 
Thus far, at least 12 embryos – which were donated by couples who generated them as part of the in vitro fertilization process – have been modified, and researchers have vowed to destroy all modified embryos no later than their 14th day of life.
 
Patrick called any “use and destruction of human embryos” unethical because it “does not preserve the worth, dignity and value of human life defined in Genesis 1-2.” Yet “even if there were not a sanctity of life issue, there are other issues to consider in opening the epigenetic black box.”
 
“For instance, although there is the promise of correcting devastating diseases, there is equally the specter of creating designer babies or other non-therapeutic modifications and of introducing unintended consequences in the human germline,” Patrick said.
 
“Man was mandated in Genesis to be a steward of creation, and emphasis throughout Scripture is placed on restoring what God originally purposed in His creation. Hence, there is a general biblical warrant for scientific advances and technologies that restore,” he said.
 
“However, there is not clear biblical permission to manipulate genes toward perfection. Gene editing cannot reverse what sin and resulting human depravity wrought to God’s perfected creation. There is a flesh-spirit aspect that gene editing does not and cannot incorporate,” Patrick said.
 
Mohler wondered aloud Sept. 23 in The Briefing, “How long will it be before the bumper sticker on the back of the SUV says, ‘My child is genetically enhanced?’ ... That day might after all not be so far in our future.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)
 

9/28/2016 8:39:34 AM by | with 0 comments



Scholars unwrap ancient biblical text

September 28 2016 by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service

When archeologists in the 1970s found a charred scroll in the Holy Ark in the Synagogue of Ein Gedi, an ancient Hebrew town burned in A.D. 600, they never imagined they might be able to read it.
 
But recent advancements in non-invasive imaging and even newer processing software allowed an international team of experts to “unwrap” five damaged, but legible layers of the animal skin to reveal Leviticus 1:1-9 and Leviticus 2:1-11.
 
The Ein-Gedi scroll is now the oldest known Pentateuchal scroll, apart from the Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
When the first letters came through on his computer screen, University of Kentucky professor Brent Seales was thrilled.
 
“We were laughing. We were just so happy,” he told me. “It was like, Okay, we've waited for this moment. We can do it.”
 
But that first moment was soon overawed, when partner researchers in Israel read the text and emailed him back.
 
“Knowing that it was a biblical scroll, a Torah scroll, previously undiscovered and unread, made it so much sweeter a discovery than just the technical part of, we can read writing,” said Seales, a computer scientist. “We're discovering a piece of biblical history that hasn't been seen before, for almost 2,000 years. So that moment was a lot more humbling, I have to say.”
 
Getting to that moment took years of painstaking process.
 
Seales had worked for years with his “virtual unwrapping” software on charred scrolls found at Herculaneum, a city buried by the Mount Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79. After learning about that project, Pnina Shor, head of the Dead Sea Scrolls Project at the Israel Antiquities Authority, had the Ein-Gedi scroll scanned with a three-dimensional micro-computed tomography and sent the data to Seales.
 
When he received the images, Seales said he and his colleagues “adopted it at first as sort of a side project.”
 
It wasn't easy.
 
“The layers with the writing on [scrolls] are rolled up. They're stacked, they're crushed, they're fused. It's totally unpredictable,” Seales said in a news conference Monday.
 
And the segments didn't align automatically. Seales had to work systematically on each one. By the summer of 2015, he had “unwrapped” just the first layer.
 
Now with five layers successfully laid out, Seales thinks the work is complete. He has another year of funding, and in that time hopes to crack the Herculaneum scrolls and get his software ready for release as open source code.
 
Once the Ein-Gedi scroll was available for biblical scholars to study, it proved highly significant: The text scholars can read is identical to the Hebrew Masoretic Text used today.
 
Radiocarbon results indicate scribes copied the scroll in the third or fourth century, but a report from paleographer Ada Yardeni, an authority on Hebrew text, states it likely dates back to the second half of the first century.
 
Either way, the scroll proves those 18 lines of God's law have not changed, one jot or tittle, in at least 1,700 years.
 
Regent University's Corné Bekker said this latest discovery is yet another score for biblical accuracy through the centuries.
 
“Every new discovery in biblical archeology has served to underscore the trustworthiness of the Bible,” Bekker said. “Science and faith are not enemies, but friends.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Samantha Gobba writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)
 
 

9/28/2016 8:39:14 AM by Samantha Gobba, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



IRS chief admits regret for targeting scandal response

September 28 2016 by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner John Koskinen admitted before the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21 he regrets some of his actions during the investigation into his agency’s targeting of conservative groups.
 
“The truth is that we did not succeed in preserving all of the information requested, and some of my testimony later proved mistaken,” Koskinen said. “I regret both of those failings.”
 
Several House Republicans have spearheaded a campaign to oust Koskinen for providing false testimony to Congress and allowing thousands of emails to get destroyed under his watch, despite duly issued subpoenas to preserve all evidence. Today Koskinen told the committee he made mistakes but never intentionally lied or mislead Congress during its investigation.
 
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Congress has an obligation to provide oversight to government agencies but that’s impossible if they don’t have all the information or those who provide it are not truthful.
 
“If I had known then what I know now, I would have testified differently,” Koskinen said.
 
In 2013, Congress subpoenaed the IRS to recover all documents and communication related to the targeting scandal and issued an order against destroying any relevant materials. Koskinen testified under oath that the IRS handed over all recoverable emails and documents to Congress and did not dump any evidence to obstruct the investigation. But the IRS inspector general later found two IRS employees in Martinsburg, W.Va., erased 422 backup tapes, destroying as many as 24,000 emails relevant to the investigation.
 
Koskinen said he did not lie because he told the truth to the best of his knowledge at the time. He later said the two employees who destroyed the evidence made an honest mistake. Neither suffered penalties.
 
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that’s not good enough.
 
“All we’re asking is this guy no longer hold this office,” Jordan said of Koskinen. “And in light of this fact pattern, I think that’s the least we can do.”
 
Jordan told the committee Koskinen is not held to the same standard as every other American. He said if the IRS asked any taxpayer to preserve evidence pursuant to an investigation, that taxpayer would be in serious trouble for destroying evidence before the IRS could look at it – intentionally or not.
 
“You issue 66,000 summonses and subpoenas each year, you can dish it out but you can’t take it,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, yelled at Koskinen. “Someone has to be held responsible.”
 
Democrats on the committee did not share Chaffetz’s passion. Only Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., was present at the start of the proceedings. His colleagues joined later, but only to complain the hearing was a waste of time.
 
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., ate Skittles during his question and answer time with Koskinen. He said he had extra bags to share with the commissioner afterward so he could taste something sweet after the “bitter” hearing.
 
“This is not a legitimate impeachment hearing, this is a political charade – a Hollywood-style production,” smirked Rep. Hakeem Jefferies, D-N.Y. “Hollywood always has to have a villain, and who better than the head of an agency [Republicans] don’t like.”
 
Throughout the hearing, Koskinen was apologetic about the mistakes the IRS has made regarding the targeting scandal. He said he accepts responsibility as the head of the agency but insisted impeaching him is improper.
 
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, asked why Congress needed to impeach Koskinen if he admitted his agency mishandled the investigation process. Why didn’t Koskinen just resign on his own?
 
Koskinen laughed off the idea: “If in fact every time an employee made an honest mistake in an agency, the expectation is that the head of that agency should resign? We’re not going to have any agency heads left.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Evan Wilt writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville. Used with permission.)
 

9/28/2016 8:38:42 AM by Evan Wilt, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Education consortium reaches 90 nations in 30 years

September 28 2016 by Trennis Henderson, Ouachita Baptist University

Entering the Consortium for Global Education’s (CGE) 30th year, participants from across the nation and around the world gathered at Ouachita Baptist University for the organization’s annual meeting.

Submitted photo
Ouachita hosts Consortium for Global Education as group celebrates 30th year of international impact.


The consortium, established in 1987 under the name Cooperative Services International Education Consortium, supports the development and programs of international education between member Baptist colleges and universities and partner institutions of higher education overseas, especially in restricted countries.
 
This year, CGE member schools from 44 campuses have been involved in academic opportunities in more than 90 nations and have hosted nearly 4,800 international students from more than 130 nations.
 
Keynote speakers, international presenters and special guests traveled from nations ranging from Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Thailand to Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia for the CGE’s Sept. 14-16 meeting at Ouachita’s campus in Arkadelphia, Ark.
 
“Ouachita is one of the founding members of CGE so it is particularly meaningful for us to host the group,” said Ian Cosh, Ouachita’s vice president for community and international engagement and director of the Grant Center for International Education.
 
“Three of Ouachita’s former presidents have served as leaders of the organization,” Cosh said. “Dr. Daniel Grant served as CGE president for a decade after his retirement as president of Ouachita. Dr. Ben Elrod and Dr. Andy Westmoreland each served as chairmen of CGE.”
 
Grant, president emeritus of Ouachita, and other founding members of the organization were honored during the meeting, including Bob Agee, president emeritus of Oklahoma Baptist University; John Belew, retired vice president of Baylor University; and Lewis Myers, retired vice president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
 
Grant volunteered for a decade as CGE’s founding president alongside his wife Betty Jo, who volunteered as secretary/treasurer. He said he and other early leaders of the organization spent two to three years getting the group organized and functioning. Affirming the significance of building international relationships, he described the organization as “an opportunity for relationships, exchange programs and strong global friendships” as well as “sharing of information and talents.”
 
Citing his personal and professional commitment to “academic excellence and Christian excellence,” Grant said CGE “tied in so well with that as an organization to help cultivate and develop involvement within each of our member Baptist colleges.”
 
Welcoming CGE participants to campus, Ouachita President Ben Sells noted numerous missions leaders over the years “who had the desire to take the gospel where Christ is not named.”
 
Sells challenged consortium members to continue to expand CGE’s international involvement and impact, asking, “What isn’t being done that needs to be done that, if it were done, would make a difference for the Kingdom?”
 
CGE officials presented two Global Leadership Awards during the annual meeting. Carolyn Bishop, CGE president, said the awards are “given to individuals who are not current members yet represent the goals of this organization and partner with the consortium members to engage in international education programs and mobilize others to be actively supportive of CGE’s global efforts.”
 
Bishop added that the recipients “represent both the spirit of CGE on our campuses and exhibit a tireless effort to be our partners overseas in building strategic and sustainable relationships.”
 
This year’s Global Leadership Award recipients were H.E. Nhem Thavy, a member of Parliament in Cambodia, and Larry Cox, president and CEO of Lifeshape Foundation, an international philanthropic organization affiliated with Chick-fil-A.
 
Bishop noted that Thavy, in his role in Parliament, “gave help and an umbrella of protection to early CGE colleagues associated with Oklahoma Baptist University and others.”
 
“As we have built educational partnerships with the University of Management in Phnom Penh and other schools,” Bishop added, “he hosted our teams and introduced us to rural Cambodia.”
 
Thavy, who also is president of the Cambodia Baseball Federation, “has a vision for education in Cambodia and meeting the many needs of students in rural schools,” including opening the door for baseball in Cambodia “as an avenue of a lifestyle and sharing witness.”
 
Thavy emphasized that a primary need in Cambodia is offering young people hope through educational opportunities. “Come and see what you can do, what you can share with the underprivileged,” he urged CGE members. “Your resources and education will help those kids.”
 
Cox has served with Chick-fil-A’s philanthropic organizations for the past 12 years. He previously served 23 years with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, including serving as a vice president and leading missionaries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
 
“Larry met early CGE teams overseas and helped them begin to build the models of partnership that so many of us have learned from,” Bishop said. “Most recently, as CGE has transitioned to new structures and new horizons, Larry has been a voice of wisdom and a reservoir of organizational perspective.”
 
Cox affirmed that CGE member schools “are not interested in just sending tourists and going on excursions or adventures. CGE member schools want to make a difference in the world.
 
“Working cross-culturally has a profound impact on the lives of your students, your faculty and your staff,” Cox said. “You are in the business of shaping young lives. It’s your responsibility to make sure that they leave your school with the kind of DNA that says ‘I care about people in other cultures, I care for the eternal significance.’”
 
During the consortium’s opening plenary session, Bishop highlighted the importance of Christian universities engaging global trust, emphasizing that “your global impact has increased educational development and has changed lives.”
 
CGE’s involvement in more than 90 countries, Bishop said, “illustrates the heart and trustworthiness of our organization” as member institutions “engage in a critical role of shining a light on educational opportunities that enrich and stretch the minds of students and faculty.”
 
Describing CGE campuses as “educational lighthouses,” Bishop said participants “partner with high government officials and community leaders to address global needs of schooling, curriculum, teaching, community service and assisting with schools for refugee students.”
 
Keynote speaker Joshua Walker, vice president of global programs for APCO Worldwide, an international strategic communications firm, spoke on “Engaging Globally as Christ’s Education Bridge-Builders.”
 
Walker, who previously served in the U.S. Department of State, noted that “without bridges, what are you left with? You’re left with islands, walls, barriers.”
 
By contrast, he said, “Education is probably the most powerful and the most basic of all human instincts. There are going to be times when you are persecuted. But if you go in there with the right spirit, it’s amazing to me the way we can find connections. They tend to give you grace when you come at them from a very genuine point of view.
 
“It’s hard to share with someone if you don’t have a relationship with them,” Walker said, adding that it also is “hard to hate your neighbor when you’re sitting across the table from them.”
 
Reflecting on CGE’s three-day annual meeting and the consortium’s ongoing global impact, Cosh said, “CGE provides a marketplace where ideas, needs and opportunities can be expressed to the leadership of the attending colleges and universities. Building relationships based on trust is the coin of the realm within CGE and providing access to the leadership involved in international education brings great value to all participants.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Trennis Henderson is vice president for communications at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.)
 

9/28/2016 8:38:12 AM by Trennis Henderson, Ouachita Baptist University | with 0 comments



‘Pockets of lostness’ become conference training ground

September 27 2016 by Harper McKay, SEBTS

Evangelism and disciple-making training was put into immediate practice during a three-day GO Engage conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Photo by Maria Estes
GO Engage conference participants work together during a breakout session in the SEBTS Center for Great Commission Studies to practice evangelism and Bible study methods they learned during training sessions.


The conference’s interactive training sessions and field practicum, capped at 100 participants at the campus in Wake Forest, N.C., was attended by seminary students, members of local churches and from as far away as Delaware and the Czech Republic.
 
Experienced trainers from around the United States taught on such topics as reproducing evangelism and disciple-making, starting Bible studies in homes to reach lost people and raising up leaders from the harvest.
 
For the field practicum, attendees engaged “pockets of lostness” in neighborhoods identified as the least evangelized in the Raleigh/Durham (RDU) area.
 
George Robinson, SEBTS associate professor of missions and evangelism, reported that conference attendees and trainers saw much fruit as they shared what they learned with people in more than 300 homes.
 
“In all, we engaged people from over two dozen ethnicities, sharing the gospel in each encounter,” Robinson said. “We are aware of eight people who repented and put their faith in Christ on the spot. ... Almost half of the homes engaged gave their contact information and asked to have someone come back and share more.”
 
Robinson coordinated GO Engage, a collaborative effort involving SEBTS’ Center for Great Commission Studies, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and the No Place Left evangelism movement’s RDU coalition.
 
Eight RDU-area churches partnered to connect with people who heard the gospel during the Sept. 8-10 GO Engage training. Already, a church in the area has followed up with two new believers who accepted Christ during the event and is helping them establish a Bible study group with others from their home country.
 
Particularly different for this training was that Robinson and other SEBTS professors attended the event as learners rather than teachers. A few of the trainers, in fact, once were SEBTS students under Robinson’s mentorship. As he trained and mentored them during their time at SEBTS, so they trained him and others on what they have learned about evangelism and disciple-making in the field.
 
“I intentionally did not have any SEBTS faculty training because I wanted to model for our students that we, too, are lifelong learners,” Robinson said.
 
Many attendees took what they learned home to train others. With the excitement and confidence generated from the teaching and practicum, one local church hosted a mini-training session where those who attended GO Engage joined other members to engage an additional 100 homes in Wake Forest.
 
“The ripple effects have already been shared with me related to students and church members intentionally engaging their own communities with the gospel,” Robinson said. “It is our hope and prayer that we can host a two-day training at the beginning of each academic year and a mini-training and practicum associated with the GO Conference course each February so that our students can walk alongside us in prayer, evangelism and disciple-making.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Harper McKay is Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s news and information specialist.)
 

9/27/2016 8:27:04 AM by Harper McKay, SEBTS | with 0 comments



Evangelical leaders gather for ‘solemn assembly’

September 27 2016 by Marc Ira Hooks, Collin Baptist Association

Some of the nation’s most recognizable evangelical leaders are rolling out a three-pronged plan designed to call Christians, across denominational and racial lines, to a new age of spiritual awakening.

Photo by Marc Ira Hooks
Dr. Tony Evans, organizer of The Gathering 2016 speaks to pastors in Dallas about a three-part plan to call the nation to repentance and to prepare the way for the next great spiritual awakening in America.


Nearly a dozen pastors and teachers stood shoulder to shoulder in Dallas Sept. 21 for The Gathering 2016 at GateWay Church, a non-denominational congregation, where several thousand assembled for “a national solemn assembly” – the initial step in their plan.
 
Organized by Tony Evans, senior pastor of the 10,000-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church in Dallas, the group has been meeting since the beginning of the year in an effort to bring a spirit of prayer and repentance to the U.S. The group organized this special prayer meeting to pray for forgiveness, wisdom and provision for the country.
 
“It just seems to be that God is raising up a mighty commitment to pray,” said Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 
“People are concerned about our country, and they are concerned about the condition of the church, and concerned about the brokenness in the lives of people.”
 
The concept of the solemn assembly is found in the Old Testament, according to event organizers, and is a special time of prayer and fasting. These meetings have been called by priests, prophets, and kings who led people to repent of their sins and passionately pursue the return of God’s presence in their midst.

Photo by Marc Ira Hook
Pastors and other Christian leaders from around the country gathered in Dallas last week for “a national solemn assembly” of prayer called by nearly a dozen of the most recognized Christian leaders in the country.


Organizers noted The Gathering is “the Body of Christ coming together one day to unite across racial, denominational and generational lines; lifting up the name of Jesus, and taking responsibility for the condition of our nation.”
 
A similar meeting for pastors and key leaders from around the country, a “gathering of the elders,” was held earlier this year in preparation for the larger meeting in Dallas, which included several thousand attending in person, and several dozen churches participating online.
 
During his message, Floyd said many Christians are often more desperate for their football teams during the weekend than they are for the touch of God on Sunday.
 
“Many of us as believers are more committed to some kind of political awakening,” Floyd said. “That’s not the answer to this nation. The answer to the nation is the next great awakening with the Holy Spirit of God and He wakes up the church and He shakes the church.”
 
International Bible teacher and leader of Precept Ministries Kay Arthur led the assembly in a prayer of repentance saying the United States of America is not united in God.
 
“We trust in man rather than in God. There is no knowledge of God in our land. There is no fear, or respect, or trust,” she prayed. “We’ve played church instead of sitting at Your feet, and knowing that every work is God-breathed, and You expect us to live by every word.”

Photo by Marc Ira Hook
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “The greatest way to pursue God in your life is to have days, or seasons, of fasting and prayer.” Floyd, along with other Christian leaders challenged those at The Gathering 2016 in Dallas to pray that God “wakes up the church, and shakes the church.”


With incidents of racial violence fresh on the minds of those attending, John Jenkins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland, spoke to the issue of racial reconciliation.
 
“These situations and circumstances are creating a mountain level of rage and discontent and worry,” Jenkins said. “The 11 o’clock hour of Sunday morning still remains the most segregated hour of the week. We are further apart from each other [than ever], and the church has stood silently with little or no action or comment.
 
“While the world accepts racial disharmony, the church must not accept racial disharmony,” he said. “We know how to interpret Greek and Hebrew, but we don’t know how to communicate in English to someone who doesn’t look just like us,” he said. “What God ultimately wants us to achieve is that we give value to all cultures and embrace and learn from one another.”
 
Evans described America as “desperate.”
 
“But God will not fix the White House by skipping the church house,” he said. “It will be this [the church] house that determines the well-being of that [the White] House. If He cannot get the attention of this house (the church), then that house (the government) will stay in trouble.”
 
Evans noted that every year on Sept. 11, we remember the terrorist attack on our nation.
 
“Nineteen men from around the world, in the name of their faith, shut down the most powerful nation in the world. If 19 men from around the world, in the name of their faith, can shut down the most powerful nation in the world, what do you think we can do in the name of our faith to redeem the most powerful nation in the world?”
 
Evans told a group of Dallas pastors who earlier in the day gathered for pray that Phase Two of the plan would be a call to greater discipleship. While Phase Three would focus on coordinating a massive, cross-denominational, interracial, service project where Christians from around the nation work together in their communities to demonstrate the love of Christ.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Marc Ira Hooks is associate director of missions/director of communication for the Collin Baptist Association in McKinney, Texas.)
 

9/27/2016 8:25:17 AM by Marc Ira Hooks, Collin Baptist Association | with 0 comments



Stop raunchy Kraft Heinz ads, moms’ group urges

September 27 2016 by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press

Two television commercials using graphic and raunchy sexual innuendo to sell frozen food dinners are inappropriate for family viewing and should be discontinued, One Million Moms is urging the Kraft Heinz Company.

Screen capture from YouTube
A television ad campaign from the Kraft Heinz Company uses innuendo and suggestive language to peddle a new line of frozen meals called Devour.


In protesting the Devour microwave meal ads that have become more visible this football season, One Million Moms Director Monica Cole said Kraft Heinz has gone too far and likely will lose loyal, conservative customers.
 
“The commercials [are] extremely perverted in nature [and are airing] during family viewing times,” Cole said. “The vulgarity is extremely unnecessary and these sleazy type commercials are turning off parents from buying their products – not just Devour, but the entire line of … the Kraft Heinz Company products.”
 
The Devour campaign includes two commercials using innuendo and suggestive language to insinuate a wife having sexual relations with a scantily clad pool boy, and an employee engaged in apparent sadomasochistic relations in the office break room, all in efforts to sell microwaveable frozen entrees. The campaign continues on Facebook with a sexually suggestive hashtag supposedly describing the food.
 
“We don’t want to give our hard-earned dollars to companies that cannot just advertise the food and the quality of the food,” Cole said. “They have to pretty much hit the rock bottom and use these indecent ads to sell their food products.”
 
The advocacy group has been successful in many campaigns, including one that helped lead to the cancellation of ABC’s “The Muppets” 2015 series that used characters attractive to children to promote adult storylines, and a campaign that led McDonald’s to install Wi-Fi filters in its corporate-owned restaurants and to the technology available to franchises, One Million Moms said.
 
Among other victories are campaigns against Abercrombie & Fitch, a company once known for using printed advertising that One Million Moms and others said bordered on pornography, and for using shirtless male sales clerks in its New York stores, among other tactics.
 
“One in particular, [Abercrombie & Fitch] had swimwear with padded bikini tops for children 6 to 11 years old,” Cole said. “So for little girls as young as 6 years old they had these swim tops … attempting to sexualize little girls. Those bikinis were pulled off the shelves fairly promptly,” she said, after One Million Moms encouraged supporters to contact the retailer.
 
Today, the clothing company has rebranded itself and uses fully clothed models.
 
“Because of the fact of us reaching out and letting our voice be heard, Abercrombie & Fitch has changed,” Cole said. “I’m sure sales and the bottom line, their bottom line was suffering, and we know that money talks. But they know why their sales were dropping, because so many families were speaking out [about] how offended they were.”
 
One Million Moms, a 250,000-strong group organized 12 years ago by the American Family Association, is asking parents and others to protest the Devour food commercials by contacting Kraft Heinz through links at onemillionmoms.com/current-campaigns/devour-has-succumbed-to-tasteless-advertising.
 
“There has not been success with this particular campaign. The commercials are still airing, and we know that the cultural change and shift has a lot to do with who’s producing these commercials and who they feel like is viewing these types of commercials,” Cole said. “But there are still conservative families and wholesome families that will not buy into this type of advertising. They’re not going to buy into these commercials that have innuendos and suggestive language. If anything, it’s going to push them farther away.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)
 

9/27/2016 8:24:53 AM by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press | with 0 comments



Climate model snubbed for politically incorrect origins

September 27 2016 by Julie Borg, WORLD News Service

Science is defined as knowledge about, or study of, the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation, according to the dictionary. But apparently those facts are only worthy of publication in scientific journals if they agree with the political agenda of the day. At least that’s what two scientists who don’t believe in man-made climate change discovered recently.
 
The researchers, physicist Ned Nikolov and retired meteorologist Karl Zeller, developed a mathematical model that accurately predicts the surface temperature of a rocky planet using only two factors – electromagnetic radiation beamed into a planet’s atmosphere by the sun and the atmospheric pressure on the surface. The model worked for known temperatures of celestial bodies such as Mars, the moon, and Venus.
 
If it worked for Earth as well – and the scientists claim it does – the model would indicate any warming our planet may experience is not man-made but the result of solar radiation.
 
Despite their interesting hypothesis, Nikolov and Zeller had a problem: Over time, their research landed them on the politically wrong side of the climate change debate.
 
For years, Nikolov believed in global warming and humans’ culpability. But in the midst of information that came out of the 2009 “Climategate” scandal, he decided to investigate further. Climategate refers to an incident in which someone hacked into a British research center’s emails and found global warming researchers discussing flaws in their own scientific data and appearing to scheme to keep the data out of the hands of those who doubt manmade climate change. U.S. National Science Foundation investigators later cleared the researchers of wrongdoing.
 
Nikolov’s investigation of the data led him to conclude global warming is the product of our sun’s radiation and not man-made carbon emissions.
 
In 2011, Nikolov and Zeller’s work hit the blogosphere and their names became associated with those who doubt manmade climate change. Their notoriety became a death knell for publishing their work in peer-reviewed journals.
 
“Journal editors and reviewers would reject our manuscripts outright after Googling our names and reading the online discussion,” Nikolov wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “There is no doubt that trying to publish research results, which do not conform to accepted theories or mainstream beliefs, poses a challenge in today’s world of academic political correctness,” he added.
 
The researchers decided to submit their latest work under pseudonyms – spelling their names backward. The plan worked. Their article passed peer review, and on Aug. 18, 2015, the journal Advances in Space Research published the study online under the names Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez.
 
When the journal editors found out about the pseudonyms, they quickly withdrew the article from their site. The scientific community erupted in a debate over the ethics of publishing under a pseudonym. David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist, told The Washington Post the “sneaky” approach of using pseudonyms doesn’t promote a collegiate exchange of ideas.
 
But researchers did not seem interested in scrutinizing the ethics of refusing to publish work not deemed politically correct.
 
“Rejecting articles, not because they’re wrong but because their authors hold politically incorrect views, doesn’t promote any exchange of ideas,” said Calvin Beisner, a Christian theologian and founder of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. “If the article was worthy of publication under pseudonyms, it was worthy of publication under real names; withdrawing it once the real names were known reveals anti-scientific, anti-logical, bias. This is a travesty of which every honest scientist should be ashamed for the profession.”
 
Nikolov and Zeller told The Washington Post another scientific journal is reviewing their work for possible republication.
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Julie Borg writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based out of Asheville.  Used with permission.)

 

9/27/2016 8:24:23 AM by Julie Borg, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



Navy to train sailors on transgender acceptance

September 27 2016 by Michael Cochrane, WORLD News Service

The U.S. Navy has announced its plan for training all personnel on the Pentagon’s new policy allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
 
The announcement, delivered by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke, outlines the service’s strategy to prepare both senior leaders and rank-and-file sailors for the changes, according to Military.com.
 
“This training will emphasize policies and expectations of personal behavior,” the all-Navy message stated.
 
The first phase of the training starts Nov. 1. Mobile training teams will present face-to-face briefings to senior Navy officers and enlisted leaders – the “command triad” of commanders, executive officers, and command master chiefs, according to Military.com. The training teams will include Navy fleet representatives as well as subject matter experts.
 
Commanders will then be responsible for administering the training to the rest of the fleet.
 
The Navy announcement comes just before the Oct. 1 deadline set by Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the Pentagon to “issue a training handbook for commanders, transgender service members, and the force,” according to a department fact sheet.
 
The policy on which the training will be based, DOD Instruction 1300.28, takes effect Oct. 1 and lays out procedures “by which transgender service members may transition gender while serving,” as well as specifying medical treatment provisions and “procedures for changing a service member’s gender marker in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).”
 
The training, which all service members must complete by July 1, 2017, likely will include instruction on what the services deem mistreatment of individuals who identify as transgendered.
 
“We do not tolerate harassment of any kind,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Jessica Anderson told Military.com. “Treating all service members with dignity and respect is something we take extremely seriously, and when there are any indications that those values are not being followed, we will conduct appropriate investigations and take action as necessary.”
 
But some military readiness advocates are concerned the yearlong training effort is simply an ideological indoctrination taking advantage of a captive audience.
 
“Yes, they are implementing a social experiment. And they are doing so at high risk,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness. “It is going to have an impact on morale and discipline to varying degrees,” she added, noting only a small number of people claim to be transgendered.
 
“The problem is, in order to accommodate … those few, you’ve got to change the culture of the many,” she said.
 
Donnelly doesn’t believe that culture change will be limited to the training but will become part of the curriculum in all military schools, including schools and daycare centers attended by service members’ children.
 
“You have to have instruction from the lowest ranks on up,” she told me. “And since this is a Department of Defense policy, that would have to affect the other schools as well. And we’re talking every school or institution from the military service academies right down to the elementary schools in the DoD school system … the largest school system in the world.”
 
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Michael Cochrane writes for WORLD News Service, a division of WORLD Magazine, worldmag.com, based in Asheville, N.C. Used by permission.)

 

9/27/2016 8:23:42 AM by Michael Cochrane, WORLD News Service | with 0 comments



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