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  FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
THE WHITE'S ITINERARY

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For all his greatness, we should most seek to imitate the late pastor’s humility and indifference to fame.

In spring of last year, many of us saw a photo of the late Timothy Keller sitting on a park bench. The photo was used on the cover of Collin Hansen’s biography of Keller, and it circulated around the internet in May when he passed away—on social media, blogs, and even Keller’s personal website.

What most of us didn’t see, however, was the banana peel lying on the bench only a couple feet from Keller. The peel has been cropped from most versions of the photo, and understandably so. Who wants to see an ugly brown bit of organic waste in an author’s photograph?

I confess that if I were a world-famous pastor and best-selling author having my picture taken by a professional photographer, I would most certainly have moved the banana peel before someone took my picture. Who wouldn’t? But Keller didn’t seem to care.

I believe this points to a deeper character trait of Keller’s, which many observed during his lifetime of ministry: an indifference to fame and to curating an image—something many of us struggle with in the social media era. This is also part of why, I believe, he finished his race so well.

Finishing well in life and ministry has been historically difficult for believers, especially for those in positions of leadership. Think of Gideon or Solomon in the Old Testament, Demas in the New Testament, or, of course, the many church leaders today who have infamously failed to persevere.

The esteem that leaders receive from the Christian community can allow for hidden flaws to grow like rust on the hull of a ship, unnoticed and unaddressed at first. But as these leaders reach greater influence, greater weight is placed on these flaws—which can reach ...

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The wager only scratches the surface of his relevance to a post-Christian era.

It is a common lament that we live in a post-Christian era. This fact raises challenges to our witness to the world. Most of our audience thinks that, in G. K. Chesterton’s words, Christianity has been tried and found wanting (rather than found wanting and left untried). It is not considered a live option. How do we bear witness well in this cultural context? We might do well to reconsider one of the most enigmatic thinkers in Christian history, Blaise Pascal.

Pascal suffers from a public relations problem. As the source of Pascal’s wager, he is often considered a gambling man. He urges the non-believer to bet that God exists. What does one have to lose? In Beyond the Wager: The Christian Brilliance of Blaise Pascal, philosopher Douglas Groothuis shows that there is more to Pascal’s life and thought than his most famous argument. Groothuis demonstrates that we have much to learn from this brilliant thinker. Pascal, he argues, is a crucial thinker for our time.

Essential writings

Pascal came on the scene in the 17th century, during the early years of the Scientific Revolution. Several of his works contributed to this movement, including treatises on the geometry of conic sections, theories of probability, and conclusions to extensive experiments he had done to test the possibility of a vacuum. He invented the first functional calculator, which he had built to help his father with his work of assessing taxes.

His best-known works, however, focus on Christianity. In the Provincial Letters, Pascal defends the Jansenist movement, which was condemned by the Catholic church, against the Jesuits. The Jansenists emphasized that the depth of human sinfulness required a work of God for our salvation. The Christian life ...

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For seven seasons, the show has offered a clichéd (and nostalgic) vision of how atheists and believers relate to each other.

My mom was the one who told me to watch The Big Bang Theory. It was a show about nerds—and I was a nerd. She thought I’d enjoy it. A friend had already mentioned that the main character, Sheldon Cooper, was “exactly like” me. After I watched the show, at Mom’s encouragement, I joked that I had mixed feelings about the comparison.

The Big Bang Theory was extremely popular and not just with my mom; at its height, it averaged 20 million viewers a night. But it never really resonated with actual dweebs. Its audience was largely Gen X women—not people who were Sheldon but people who “knew a Sheldon,” not the geeks themselves but their mothers and friends.

It’s fitting, then, that the even-more-popular Big Bang spinoff would be Young Sheldon, a prequel about the title character’s childhood in East Texas—and that Sheldon’s relationship with his mom, Mary, would be at the heart of the show. Young Sheldon sits at the top of the prime-time rankings; one recent week, the show (which streams on Netflix, Max, and Paramount+) topped all streamed content across US household televisions.

As Young Sheldon comes to an end (its series finale airs May 16; a spinoff starring two breakout characters—Georgie and Mandy—has already been announced), so too does the onscreen dynamic between Sheldon and Mary. So too does a nostalgic vision for how the “science vs. religion” debate plays out in our families.

Mary is Sheldon’s opposite in nearly every way. He’s a logical atheist physicist with no people skills; Mary is a warm, folksy conservative Christian. In many ways, she serves as an audience surrogate. (For what it’s worth, Mary was my ...

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Māori Christians in New Zealand bristle at newly translated portions of the Bible that use the names of local deities.

Last year, Bible Society New Zealand (BSNZ) released a 109-page booklet with 10 Bible passages published in a contemporary Māori translation for the first time. The version used the names of atua Māori, or Māori gods and deities, in place of words like heaven, earth, land, and sea. Genesis 1:1, for example, says that in the beginning, God made Rangi-nui (Sky Father) and Papatūānuku (Earth Mother) instead of rangi and whenua respectively.

The changes, meant to appeal to younger Māori, stirred debate. While some readers praised the changes (“The terms are more relatable,” wrote one respondent in a BSNZ survey), many, including Māori theologians and church leaders, decried the use of atua Māori in the Scriptures as “twisted” and “blasphemous.”

The aim of publishing He Tīmatanga (A Beginning) was not to present a final translation but to offer a draft for feedback, said Clare Knowles, translation coordinator at BSNZ. Publishing these passages was part of an effort that began in 2008 to “retranslate the entire Bible into Māori [in] today’s language.”

While Māori speakers in New Zealand have a Bible translation in their language, it was last revised in 1952. The most recent edition in 2012 mainly focused on reformatting the text with updated paragraphs, spelling, and punctuation, but the content has largely remained the same since missionaries first translated the Bible into Māori in the 19th century.

“Imagine if the only English translation we had was the King James Version. … This is a bit like the situation with Te Paipera Tapu, the Māori Bible,” Knowles wrote in an article promoting He Tīmatanga.

In New Zealand, about 8 percent of the population speak Māori, ...

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Asian Christians must navigate ethical dilemmas in everyday life. This recent book can help.

There are rules to follow in every culture, particularly in Asia, where many children must bear the responsibility of maintaining harmony within the home and familial structure. To deviate from the norms or traditions of any Asian society requires a bold willingness to try to demonstrate to one’s fellow citizens what is and is not working in their culture. As a Christian living or ministering in an Asian context, how can one manage these complex situations?

The contributors to Asian Christian Ethics, an anthology published in 2022, grapple with the challenges Asian Christians face in their particular social contexts, often characterized by strictly defined societal ranking and hierarchy, religious violence against Christians, or suffering among marginalized groups. The theologians, pastors, and missiologists who authored this volume come from the Philippines, Malaysia, China/Hong Kong, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Korea, plus one perspective from Palestine. The writers, many of whom studied in the West and are familiar with Western ways of thinking, provide valuable insight into Asian mindsets.

Each chapter begins by examining what Scripture teaches on a particular social issue. Then the writers draw on their expertise to address the ethical challenges surrounding that issue within a specific cultural context.

Marriage and divorce

In “Water Is Thicker Than Blood,” Bernard Wong offers insights on the changing views of traditional marriage. He notes that divorce has become more prevalent in Asian society (though not yet as normalized as in Western cultures) and that young adults are waiting longer to get married, with over 90 percent of 20-to-24-year-olds still single in Hong Kong, Japan, ...

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Federal prosecutors are trying to prove that Bill Hwang committed massive market manipulation through his investment firm Archegos. His defense says he was trading like anyone else on Wall Street.

Bill Hwang brought a book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer to court to read during jury selection.

And during opening arguments on Monday, his Christian connections from New York packed out a courtroom to support him.

He had given his investment firm a Christian name, held Wall Street Bible readings, and distributed millions to evangelical charities.

But federal prosecutors at Hwang’s highly anticipated criminal trial are accusing the billionaire of being a mob boss mastermind rather than a humble evangelical investor following his convictions.

Hwang has been charged with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of securities fraud. In a packed courtroom in lower Manhattan on Monday, the prosecution claimed his investment firm Archegos Capital Management was an “organized criminal enterprise,” like a mob operation. Hwang faces decades in prison.

The blockbuster trial is expected to last eight weeks and will include witnesses from the Christian world in New York. Andy Mills, the former president of The King’s College, who also served as CEO of Archegos and as chairman of Hwang’s foundation, will testify for the defense.

Hwang and his wife, Becky Hwang, are the sole backers of the $528 million Grace and Mercy Foundation, which supports ministries in New York and around the world.

Many of Hwang’s former employees at Archegos are Christians—like Jensen Ko, who, after the collapse of Archegos, started a new investment fund called AriseN. And Archegos was named for a Greek word used to describe Christ as the “author” of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) and the “prince” of life (Acts 3:15).

Archegos fell apart in March 2021. It bought up massive positions in a few companies using borrowed ...

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The Uniform Civil Code seeks “one nation, one law” to govern citizens' personal lives, but religious minorities fear hidden costs.

In February, the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand passed a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), which aims to implement a common set of rules governing crucial aspects of life, including marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption.

This code would supplant existing personal laws that religious groups in India currently ascribe to. Personal laws cover family-related matters such as marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, property rights, and inheritance.

If the ruling Hindu-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has its way, a UCC will eventually be implemented across all of India. (At present, Goa is the only other state with a UCC, derived from the Portuguese-era Civil Code of 1867.)

The BJP’s push to implement a national UCC may bring relief for Christians in India, especially in terms of women’s inheritance rights. Under existing personal laws, Christian mothers cannot inherit their deceased children’s property. The UCC proposes to eliminate discriminatory provisions that favor male inheritance, potentially leading to more equitable inheritance rights for Christian women.

But few of India’s religious minorities trust the BJP, whose policies have often been more harmful than helpful to Christian communities. In Assam, Christian leaders protested the passing of a bill banning “magical healing” as it unfairly impacted their custom of praying for the sick. Ministries including World Vision and the Evangelical Fellowship of India recently lost government authorization to collect foreign donations. Nine states now have anti-conversion laws in place, and believers have borne the brunt of religious unrest in these areas as a result.

As this year’s general elections seem likely ...

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    Abounding Love Ministries
    7076 Hooper Road
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70811
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