2009 Photo by Lambert Wolterbeek Muller, flickr

Written by Steve Taylor Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00

The current issue of Christianity Today reveals that its editors have taken a bold stand. After devoting prime space within the issue to an interview with a leader of the “insider movement” and two position pieces, CT’s editors confess themselves to be “cautiously optimistic about this deep insider strategy” (Christianity Today [January/February, 2013], p. 69). They explain their optimism:

[W]e believe this is an effective way to introduce large numbers of Muslims or Hindus, for example, to Christ – especially when their cultural and religious setting makes it nearly impossible to hear the gospel as good news, rather than a foreign religion or an American import.

And even though CT editors go on to explain their “cautious” concern for the dangers of syncretism and to suggest a policy of interconnectedness to minimize the dangers, the reaction to this editorial is likely, sadly, to be immediate and negative in many quarters. If the experience of Wycliffe Bible Translators on the closely related topic of Muslim context translations is any guide, CT will lose readers and supporters because of their stand.

Fearful Worries of the Faithful

The initial worries of the faithful are at least understandable. Foundational truths of the Christian faith, some of them directly related to the gospel message itself, seem to be jeopardized. But when the cries of alarm persist — after patient explanations have been given — and even grow into charges of heresy and base motives, one has to suspect some deeper factors at work.

The cycle of rising fear in these controversies seems to be fed by an interplay between two different Christian communities: the American (or Western) evangelical community intent on insuring that the gospel be preached and embodied in precisely the same terms as it itself has experienced it; and the historic indigenous Christians communities in the Muslim world who have eked out a precarious coexistence in Muslim -dominated contexts by embracing clear — and sometimes impenetrable — theological and cultural boundary markers. The former group is alarmed that massive missionary dollars are not immediately producing duplicate fruit, and the latter is threatened by the all-too-real challenge of navigating a hostile world without familiar boundary markers and populated by hybrid creatures who worship and pray to Jesus but who still act and think like Muslims (or Hindus) in other areas of life. In our global village, these two groups talk, reinforcing fears.

These fears are not equal, however. Western evangelicals are frequently blind to how acculturated and syncretized our gospel really is. Whether that Western Christian be a Baptist minister who insists that every Christian have a certain conversion experience, or a Reformed theologian who insists that the mystery of the Three-in-One and the glories of the Five Points be an irreducible part of saving faith, or a Pentecostal preacher who insists on a certain experience of the Spirit, or simply the satisfied church member who sees no conflict between the gospel of salvation by grace through faith and American consumerist lifestyle, there is a tendency to forget God’s wonderful forbearance as he first calls us into fellowship with his dear Son and then brings us along to ever fuller and more faithful understandings of himself.

Christian communities in Muslim lands have weightier burdens: they have to contend with a long history that has divided Christians from their Muslim neighbors. The Muslim conquest, the Christian Crusades, centuries of strained relations capped by the mischief of (Christian) colonial powers, and Sharia Law have made direct evangelization impossible. For these Christians, Insider Movements present an unexpected and agonizing dilemma: embracing Jesus-believers who are still tainted by syncretism with the dominant culture means diluting a hard-won theological identity and risking the charge of subversive meddling in the religious-cultural identity of the dominant culture; yet denouncing these believers is to preemptively gag the mouths of those who, quite unexpectedly, are just beginning to lisp “Jesus is Lord!” The horns of this dilemma can only grow sharper; and Christians caught on them need our prayers, not our fearful warnings.

Creative Wisdom of the Faithful God

Perhaps we all need to be reminded of the fact that the Bible reveals a God who’s the ultimate Insider! Oh, yes, he is by nature on the Outside, “high and lifted up,” but he has chosen to become flesh and dwell among us—but not just as the universal “every-man” but rather born, quite particularly, “of a Jewish woman, under the law ” (Gal 4:4). And in that identification with us, he humbled himself further by becoming obedient to death, even to a law-cursed death on a cross. Once begun on the “Human Project,” God gives every indication of intending to see it through to the Inside, to its most desperate point (Rom 5:20). Though hinted at in the content and very shape of the Bible, the extent to which God was willing to go still caught every sentient being in the universe off guard. For had they been able to anticipate his creative wisdom, Paul reminds us, “they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory” (1 Cor 2:7-8).

This very pattern was played out in the arguments of the early church. Having already been surprised by the character and mission of God’s actual Messiah (in comparison to the expected one), they searched the scriptures in vain for clear, irrefragable indication that Gentiles could be saved as Gentiles (i.e., without conversion into the cultural-religious identity of Jews). Put another way, the question was “Can Gentiles be saved as Insiders, without leaving their cultures?” On the negative side, there were some apparently clear scriptures linking the Abrahamic promises and entrance into God’s eschatological sanctuary to circumcision (e.g., Gen 17:12-14, Ezek 44:6-9). When the church, almost twenty years after the resurrection of Jesus, finally took steps to officially welcome Gentiles as Gentiles in, they did so not on the basis of clear Old Testament teaching but on the basis of what God was surprisingly, but undeniably, doing in the ministries of Barnabas, Paul, and Peter (read Acts 15:1-21). James, the leader of the Jerusalem church did finally appeal to Scripture, but not for delimiting proof, but for corroboration (Acts 15:15 :“with this [i.e., God’s unanticipated work through Peter] the words of the prophets agree”; note further how James’ appeal is aided by the wording of the Septuagint [the Greek translation] over against the original Hebrew of Amos 9:11-12). But this official decision hardly settled the issue; the subsequent story in Acts and the Epistles reveals that the dangers of syncretism continued to be real—on both sides! Yet God seemed pleased to let his people struggle through this issue.

And perhaps he still is! Once again the unexpected is happening. In many parts of the world, Satan has constructed the almost perfect Maginot Line against the Outside: he has preemptively warned captive peoples about the errors of Christ-faith and anathematized language useful for description of that faith (such as “son of God”); he has promised safety to the Christian remnant only if they will repress their evangelistic impulses and he has drenched the entire history of relationship in tragedy and ambiguity. But Yahweh has dropped in behind the defenses, on the Inside, as if to say, “If my messengers can’t be heard, I will go and introduce myself personally.” And here is the beauty of it: God, once again, is not asking us to lead the charge; he is not even asking us to welcome these Christ-believers into the church (they do not even self-identify as Christians yet!); he’s just asking us to pray, remain connected, and to be ready to join his mission when appropriate.

Christianity Today has made the right choice, don't you think?

Stephen Taylor is Associate Professor of New Testament. He is a missionary kid fascinated with the question of the relationship between culture and understanding the Bible. Steve is married to Terri who is also intimately involved in global issues; and together they have five kids. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/stephen-taylor


Written by Charles Zimmerman Tuesday, 12 February 2013 00:00

Where have they gone & where are they now? 

For more than a year now, I have been issuing updates on the founding faculty members and then former faculty members of Biblical Seminary to see where they are today and what they are doing.  I hope you have enjoyed catching up with our former teachers. 

For the next few posts, I want to update you on a few alums.  I have been in contact with graduates from each of the decades of Biblical’s history, so you all should recognize some of the names if not the faces.  Even if you don’t recognize the names, get to know some of the Biblical graduates and learn what they have been doing since they left seminary. 

Out first alum update is actually a couple: Perry and Elaine Phillips! 

Perry and Elaine received their Master of Divinity degrees from Biblical Theological Seminary in 1976.  At the encouragement of Dr. Allan MacRae, they headed to Israel to study at the American Institute of Holy Land Studies, founded by Dr. G. Douglas Young who had also been a student of Dr. MacRae. Although Perry and Elaine intended to stay just one year, that year turned into three as they both earned Masters in Arts degrees in Hebrew. During that time, Perry taught countless students who came from around the world for a three week intensive study of the Physical Settings of the Bible. Elaine taught Biblical Hebrew and worked as program coordinator for the Physical Settings course.

Upon their return, they taught at Pinebrook Junior College, the denominational college of the Bible Fellowship Church, until it closed in 1992. During that time, Elaine earned her PhD in rabbinic literature from The Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning and also served for four years as Academic Dean at Pinebrook. Perry began working for Kutzner Manufacturing Company in Telford, PA, in 1991 as staff physicist.  The Pinebrook years were both challenging and invigorating as between them they taught Astronomy, Geology, Calculus, Christian Service, one semester of New Testament Greek (Perry);Old and New Testament Surveys (both); and Psychology, Music, and biblical studies electives (Elaine).

Both were active in the Bethany Bible Fellowship Church in Hatfield, PA.  Perry team-taught Sunday School with Bob Newman for a number of years and Elaine served as organist and choir director in addition to teaching Sunday School. 

When Pinebrook closed in May 1992, Elaine did some adjunct teaching at BTS the following year and then was hired to fill an Old Testament position at Gordon College in Wenham, MA.  They moved to the North Shore of the Boston area, and Perry began to work for Comverse Technology as a quality assurance engineer.  After the company downsized in 2002, Perry was available to serve as an adjunct instructor at Gordon College (various math classes, astronomy, biblical studies).  Elaine has taught in the Biblical Studies department at Gordon since 1993.  During that time, she has been granted the Distinguished Faculty award on two occasions.  

Elaine and Perry have continued regularly to take Gordon students back to Jerusalem University College (formerly the American Institute of Holy Land Studies), where they serve as adjunct faculty.  Elaine spent one sabbatical there (spring 1998) and has spent parts of two additional sabbaticals at Tyndale House in Cambridge, UK.  Elaine’s areas of interest and scholarly writing include the books of Exodus and Esther, biblical wisdom literature, and rabbinic midrash.  She also enjoys music and sang with Gordon’s symphonic chorale for the five seasons of its existence. 

Both serve as founding Board members of the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, and Perry is currently the director following the retirement of Dr. Robert Newman.  Perry’s interests range widely across scientific, theological, and political issues.  He has presented talks on various subjects in numerous venues. Lately he is concentrating on demonstrating that the current conversation on global warming is shaped more by politics than by good science.

Since the summer of 2010, Elaine’s mother has been living with Perry and Elaine.  She celebrated her 98thbirthday in June 2012.   It is indeed a privilege to “honor” her with daily care and it is a joy because her life is shaped by a continually thankful spirit.

Contact information: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology.  He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton.  He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan.


Written by Bryan Maier Monday, 11 February 2013 00:00

For those of you who are younger than 40, these words were worn as a lapel pin by prophecy-informed Evangelicals in the 1970’s. I found one such pin in my father’s drawer as I was helping my mother sort out his collection of sentimental possessions (my father went home to be with the Lord January 9, 2013). For my father, a 35 year victim of Parkinson’s disease, these words have been the longing of his heart for a long time.  For almost two decades he has been saying that he has his reservation in heaven and he is just waiting to be called.  A few days ago, the call finally came.

As I reflect on my father’s simple but solid faith, I cannot help but wonder how I have been impacted by watching his faith journey all these years.  Imagine being in your early 40’s and being informed that you have an incurable neurological disease that probably would not kill you but would greatly reduce your quality of life. My father responded by working full time for three more years. Then when he was forced into premature retirement, he went to work as a volunteer for the Christian school sponsored by our church. He stamped textbooks, kept time for soccer games, and served as chairman of the booster club for as long as he was able. During this time he began a pen pal relationship with over twenty different missionaries with whom he corresponded for years. He wrote to one family for so long that he eventually wrote to three different generations. I have had the wonderful experience of meeting some of these missionaries.  Although I have taught graduate school at two different seminaries, they greet me with “you must be Nelson’s son. I love his letters”.  My father was also quick to share his faith. All the neighbors knew we were Christians, not because of bumper stickers but because of my fathers’ loving attitude toward them.

What I treasure most from my father is that I have a role model for following Jesus even when life is tough. His simple answers to my complex theological questions were always along the lines of “it’s God’s will” and “God is good”. That was enough for him. He must have read his bible through over twenty times and while I would be parsing out the tense and mood of the Greek word for “run” my father was the type of disciple who would already be half way down the road.  As the years went by, I am sure my father got tired. I could see it in his face when he wanted to tell me something and the stiffness in his face just would not cooperate. I could see the tear in his eye as we sang old hymns to him.  I know many times he prayed that God would call him home. Just a few days ago, my father no longer had to wonder “perhaps today”. He heard the Lord that he loved call him home. Well done,  thou good and faithful servant.

Bryan Maier, Psy. D.  is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.



Written by Dave Lamb Monday, 04 February 2013 00:00

My son Nathan has a good memory.  Lately, he has delighted to display this ability by spouting a monologue from Hamlet at unsuspecting members of our family.  He recently decided to put this skill to use to memorize Scripture.  There was a prize being offered for students at church for Bible memory.  Nate chose Psalm 23.  I know I should be encouraged, but it seems like everyone has Psalm 23 already memorized. 

Why is this psalm so popular?  Because according to Psalm 23, God is our shepherd.  To illustrate what it means for us to be divinely shepherded, the psalmist uses language from the world of shepherding in the first four verses of Psalm 23: green pastures and still waters, paths and valleys, a rod and a staff. 

Psalm 23:1  A Psalm of David. 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

3 He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Many people speak about Psalm 23 as the shepherding psalm, as if that were the theme of all six verses.  But I’m not so sure.  Does the shepherd analogy continue into verse 5

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Can you imagine sheep eating a table, surrounded by wolves, drinking from a cup?  Sheep out to eat?

While the picture is cute in a children’s book (by the same author/artist team of Sheep in a Jeep…on a hill that’s steep), it doesn’t really work in Psalm 23.  I think the sheep analogy ends after verse four. 

But the new metaphor the psalm shifts to is just as powerful as the previous one.  God the divine shepherd becomes God the divine host (of people, not sheep). 

God is now a friend hosting us for a meal, with abundant food and drink.  God is inviting us to not just stay for a few days, but to move into his house permanently.  (Ben Franklin said fish and visitors both stink after three days.  Fortunately, God does not share Franklin’s attitude toward hospitality.)

While the psalmist is abiding in YHWH’s house, not only does he receive abundant provision, but goodness (tov) and mercy (hesed) pursue him while he’s there.  The Hebrew word radap, usually translated as “follow” is an aggressive verb, used in contexts of chasing and hunting (Deut. 19:6; Judg. 4:16; 1 Sam. 23:28).  I love the oxymoronic image of God’s goodness and mercy hunting me down

The reality is that we don’t always welcome God’s shepherding, hosting and providing.  But that’s OK.  Even when I’m doing all in my power to avoid God’s grace, mercy, love and forgiveness, it’s comforting to know that he continues to aggressively pursue me.  As I struggled with reflux, voice problems and sleeplessness this past fall, God was relentless in his pursuit of me. 

What does it mean for God’s goodness and mercy to hunt us down? 

If you’re interested here are my previous posts on Psalm 23 for Biblical’s faculty blog:


David Lamb is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical. He’s the husband of Shannon, father of Nathan and Noah, and the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?He blogs regularly at http://davidtlamb.com/. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/david-lamb.


Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Sheep-Out-Eat-Sandpiper-paperbacks/dp/0395720273/


Written by Ed Cyzewski Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00

I’ve had the same conversation over and over again with my friends who come from evangelical churches. It ends with my friend saying something like this: “I love Jesus and Christianity, but I’m just not sure that God exists.”

Perhaps this happens in other Christian denominations, but speaking from my spot in the evangelical camp, I’m hard pressed to ask why it is that so many evangelicals, who deeply desire to believe in God and to live as followers of Jesus, just can’t figure out what to believe about God.

Is there something about their experiences as evangelicals, or at least what evangelicals emphasize, that makes it hard for them to connect with God?

While we can’t say with precision why some have a hard time finding God while others don’t, I did hit my own wall with evangelicalism about eight years ago. I knew a lot about God, but there was a time when God didn’t seem real to me. After looking back at my own experience, I’d like to share some of my own struggles with evangelicalism and what helped me find God in the end.

Where I Struggled…

Focus on Conversion

I knew what it looks like to be “saved,” but I didn’t have a clear picture of what it looks like to be in a “relationship” with an invisible God. In fact, the word “relationship” proved baffling to me at times when really the main focus was on accepting particular doctrines in order to be saved. Where did “meeting” God actually happen? I watched a video where John Wimber of the Vineyard movement asked, “Where is the stuff we read about in the Bible?” THAT was my question precisely.  

Focus on Victory Formulas

So much of the focus for evangelicals is how to live victoriously. Results are especially big for American evangelicals. We find formulas all over the place: “sing songs of praise and God will show up” or “believe these doctrines and your mind will be renewed with God’s presence.” Everything from books to prayers to worship songs is marketed as the solution that will really work this time.  

My question was: “What if that formula didn’t work for me?” I was surrounded by Christians who were struggling to live holy lives or doubting God. What hope did they have if God wasn’t showing up for them? 

Where I Found God… 

The Language for Experiencing God

The language about a “relationship with God” didn’t cut it for me. When I hit a low point with my faith, I struggled to understand why I felt so far from God. I was earnestly seeking him, and yet, he didn’t seem to show up. Finally, one day, a friend unexpectedly prayed for me and changed my life. God used him to heal me both mentally and physically. 

I didn’t have any language for a dark night of the soul or of a time when God simply seemed absent. The more I read the stories in the Bible, the clearer it is that God sometimes shows up and sometimes doesn’t. Sometimes people called out and God responded. Sometimes they called out, God did nothing, and they wrote Psalms of lament. 

In other words, I didn’t have a clear notion of what it meant to “fail” in the search for God without giving up—persevering in the midst of a dark night of the soul. God simply moves when he sees fit, and that was something I found hard to accept as an earnest seeker of him.

The Hard Places Where I Found God

The one pattern I’ve noticed in my own life and in the lives of others is that seeking God’s presence isn’t just about what I feel, but about receiving God’s direction. When people encountered God throughout the Bible, he gave them marching orders. From Abraham’s call to leave his home to Elijah’s experience on Mt. Sinai to Jesus’ call to his disciples, God meets his people and then sends them out. 

As Derek Cooper and I wrote our book Hazardous, one of the central points we wanted to make was that following Jesus often puts us in tough situations. We’ll have to depend on God to provide for us wherever he may lead us—which is not to be confused with taking risks on our own and asking God to bail us out.

However, as God leads us into ministry on the margins or into positions where we need to depend on him to provide financially, God’s presence will be there. God does not abandon his people if they are faithfully following his lead. As I served in prison ministry over the years, I regularly found God in our small prayer circles, praying for men who feared failing both God and their families after being released. Those drives home were some of my sweetest encounters with God.

A Matter of Emphasis

Evangelicalism has a lot of good things going for it. I feel at home with evangelical doctrine and its emphasis on conversion. As I look back, I think most of my struggles had to do more with what wasn’t discussed. 

I needed language to describe my season of longing and lament. I needed to know that the absence of God will one day give way to the presence of God, but it is something I can’t necessarily control—even if I can remain open to God showing up. I can obediently go where God sends me, and God will be present in those moments of obedient action. 

Everything listed in the above paragraph isn’t necessarily outside of evangelicalism. These are just things that many evangelicals fail to emphasize. If my experience is in any way common, I wonder if more evangelicals would have an easier time accepting the harder spiritual seasons in their lives and holding on until God breaks through.

Ed Cyzewski, a Biblical Seminary alumnus, shares imperfect and sometimes sarcastic thoughts about following Jesus at his blog www.inamirrordimly.com. He and Derek Cooper are co-authors of Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. Ed is also the author of Coffeehouse Theology (NavPress 2008) and he has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at Biblical.



Written by Larry Anderson Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:00

I just celebrated my 45th birthday, and by all the life expectancy statistics, I passed my mid-life mark ten years ago. According to various reports, the life expectancy of an African-American male is seventy years. However, at thirty five, mortality had not even crossed my mind, even though I knew Psalm 90 speaks about the length of life being seventy years and possibly eighty if we were blessed with the strength.

Mid-life crisis is said to occur between 40 and 60 years of age, where mortality is acknowledged and a thorough assessment of life is taken. Family, career, health, and personal goals are reevaluated and redefined based on your ‘guess-timated’ time remaining. Depression can set in knowing your parents are no longer living or slowly dying. Loneliness can consume you as your children become more independent and less available. Unhealthy results of this can manifest itself in addiction, adultery, and extreme self-inflicted stress, just to name a few perils. In a worldly sort of way this process can and normally is attempted to be overcome with a ‘bucket list’ of stuff to do or stuff to get. However, that’s not where I found myself.

I found myself on my 45th birthday praising God: praising Him for my wife, my children, and my salvation. I’m praising God for my education, my calling, and my career. When you are in the place God has called you to be, you do not need to wish you were somewhere else. Are there things I would like to accomplish prior to the Lord taking me away? Sure, but that does not depress me; it motivates me. Psalm 90 goes on to say in verse 12 "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." This verse reminds us to live on purpose.

I believe at 45 I’m not having a mid-life crisis, but I’m having something I have defined as a missional-life crisis. It is a discovery process designed to define and create a ministry legacy. In other words, I’m assessing how much of my life is centered on things that will last for Christ. Am I making my children disciples? Am I empowering the ministers under me to fulfill their calling? Am I training and teaching my students to think beyond themselves and their individual churches? Are there books I need to write, messages I need to preach, and lessons I need to learn to help me continue to vigorously pursue the mission of God? A missional-life crises does not need corvettes, trophy wives, or physical alterations to make you feel alive. Mid-life is about being half dead; missional life is about being fully alive. There is no greater feeling in the world than surrendering your life to the work of the Lord and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you in those endeavors.

Larry L. Anderson, Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.


Written by Sam Logan Tuesday, 29 January 2013 00:00

In my previous blog (published yesterday), I indicated that I would be making a few comments and asking a few questions about Nader Hashemi’s book,  Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy.

I concluded that blog by asking that readers write out their answer to this question: “What is the exact definition of democracy?”

I ask this question in the context of my increasing belief that there may be (I did say MAY be) an inherent contradiction in any attempt to create a democratic,  religious state.  And Hashemi raises this issue himself.  Early in his book, he cites the famous comment of Alexis de Tocqueville from 1831: “The organization and the establishment of democracy in Christendom is the great political problem of our time.”  Hashemi goes on to extrapolate from Tocqueville’s comment:  “This observation, although 178 years old, reminds us that the problem of religion’s relationship with democracy is not an exclusively Muslim phenomenon but one that other traditions – Christianity in particular – have had to struggle with. “

Why is the relationship of ANY religion with democracy a “problem?” That brings me back to my original question – what do we mean by “democracy?”

Of course, definitions of democracy abound.  Some are simple – democracy describes political authority which rests on “the consent of the governed.”  Immediately, the problem is obvious.  A nation may be established as “Christian,” but if its identity genuinely is democratically determined and if the population turns away from Christian belief, then it will no longer be Christian.  Conflict arises when those who remain Christian find the Christian identity of the nation being changed.  But that seems to be an inherent possibility if the nation is originally established as a Christian democracy.     

The January 19, 2013, issue of “The New York Times” contained a fascinating article which captured this kind of tension quite well.  The article was entitled “New Northern Ireland Violence May Be About More Than the British Flag” and it dealt with recently resumed “troubles” in that part of Great Britain.  As before, the conflict pits Protestants against Catholics, especially in terms of whether the province of Northern Ireland will remain part of Great Britain (regarded as Protestant) or will seek union with the Republic of Ireland (regarded as Catholic).  Here is the telling paragraph:

The most recent census results, released last year, showed that 48 percent listed themselves as Protestant or brought up Protestant, down 5 percentage points from the 2001 census, while 45 percent of the population listed themselves as Catholic or brought up Catholic.  In Belfast, many say, Catholics are already a majority or nearly so and could form a majority across the province within a decade. 

This presents a challenge because the “Good Friday Agreement,” which brought the earlier troubles to an end specified that the province would remain part of Britain “as long as a majority of the province’s people and the population of the whole of Ireland wished it to be,” a solidly democratic proviso.  So long as the majority remained Protestant, all seemed well . . . for the Protestants in Northern Ireland.  But now, precisely because of that democratic proviso, the fundamental religious identify of the province seems to be shifting and that is not acceptable to many Northern Ireland Protestants.

How different is this from the perception by many evangelical Christians of the direction being taken by the United States?  

And the question is, should we be surprised that the religious identity of our nation is changing when our nation seeks to be a democracy and the religious commitments of a majority of our citizens are themselves changing?  Is there ANY way to be sure that religious commitments are upheld if the fundamental identify of a nation is its democratic character?

And, to get back to the real subject of the book I mentioned above, should we in the West be at all surprised when committed Muslims in places like Egypt don’t jump at the chance to see democracy installed in their countries?     

But all of this is based on the "simple" definition of democracy which I suggested above. Are there any other possibilities?  More on this in my next blog.

Sam Logan is Special Counsel to the President and Professor of Church History at Biblical. He also serves as the International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship (www.wrfnet.org). He is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is President Emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia)..  He is married to Susan and they have two sons and two grandsons. See also  http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/samuel-logan    




Page 13 of 25

Blog Mission

The purpose of this blog will be to expand the influence of our faculty, maintain contact with our graduates, and invite other friends to think with us about important biblical and theological ideas.

Biblical's Faculty

Biblical’s Faculty:

We are committed to ongoing engagement with culture and the world for the sake of our witness to the Gospel, and to continual learning from Christians in other cultural settings.

Latest Blog Entries

Written on 19 December 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 17 December 2014 - by Philip Monroe
Written on 15 December 2014 - by David Lamb
Written on 12 December 2014 - by Dr. Kyuboem Lee
Written on 08 December 2014 - by Dr. David Dunbar
Written on 01 December 2014 - by Manuel Ortiz
Written on 25 November 2014 - by R. Todd Mangum
Written on 19 November 2014 - by Steve Taylor
Written on 17 November 2014 - by Stephen Taylor
Written on 14 November 2014 - by Charles Zimmerman

Previous Blog Entries

Follow Biblical

Follow us on the following sites and receive notifications on upcoming events and blog entries:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on Twitterg+_64_black

Contact Admissions

800.235.4021 x146

215.368.5000 x146

215.368.4913 (fax)



Stay Connected with Biblical

Follow us on the following sites:

Follow Biblical on facebookFollow Biblical on TwitterFollow Biblical on YouTubeg+_64_black
Or simply call us at...
800.235.4021 x146 or 215.368.5000 x146

Support Biblical by Giving

800.235.4021 x162

215.368.5000 x162

215.368.7002 (fax)