Issues Facing Christians Today

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9780310252696: Issues Facing Christians Today

Terrorism Same-Sex Marriage Debt Cancellation The AIDS Pandemic These are just some of the critical contemporary issues addressed in this book. Issues Facing Christians Today helps thinking Christians sift through and respond to a sweeping array of complex and pressing topics. Thoroughly revised and updated by Roy McCloughry and fully endorsed by John Stott, this fourth edition continues a two-decades-plus legacy of bringing important current issues under the lens of biblically informed thinking. Combining a keen global awareness with a gift for penetrating analysis, the authors examine such vital topics as Pluralism and Christian witness Cohabitation Environmentalism and ecological stewardship War and peace Abortion and euthanasia ... and much more An entirely new chapter on bio-engineering has been contributed by Professor John Wyatt of University College London. Including a study guide, Issues Facing Christians Today is essential reading for Christians who wish to engage our culture with insight, passion, and faith, knowing that the gospel is as relevant and deeply needed today as at any time in history. As the culture wars continue, this book will remain a critical contribution, helping to define Christian social and ethical thinking in the years ahead.

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About the Author:

The Reverend Dr. John Stott was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, England, and had a worldwide ministry as a Bible expositor, speaker, and writer.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

NEW ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY FULLY REVISED EDITION John Stott President, the Institute for Contemporary Christianity New Issues Facing Christians Today Copyright 1984, 1990 and 1999 John Stott First published in Great Britain in 1984 by Marshall Pickering Second edition first published in 1990 This edition published in 1999 John Stott asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN-10: 0-551-03172-7 ISBN-13: 978-0-511-03172-2 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers. Printed in the United States of America 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI / 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this book to us in care of zreview@zondervan.com. Thank you. Abbreviations The biblical text quoted is normally that of the New International Version. If another text is used, this is stated. Arndt-Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by William F. Arndt and F.Wilbur Gingrich (University of Chicago Press and Cambridge University Press, 1957). AV The Authorized (King James') Version of the Bible, 1611. JB The Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman and Todd, 1966). NASB The New American Standard Bible (Moody Press, Chicago, 1960). NEB The New English Bible (NT 1961, 2nd edition 1970; OT 1970). NIV The New International Version of the Bible (Hodder and Stoughton, NT 1974; OT 1979; revised edition 1984). RSV The Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NT 1946, 2nd edition 1971; OT 1952). PART I CHRISTIANS IN A NON-CHRISTIAN SOCIETY Chapter 1 INVOLVEMENT: IS IT OUR CONCERN? It is exceedingly strange that any followers of Jesus Christ should ever have needed to ask whether social involvement was their concern, and that controversy should have blown up over the relationship between evangelism and social responsibility. For it is evident that in his public ministry Jesus both 'went about ... teaching ... and preaching' (Matthew 4:23; 9:35 RSV) and 'went about doing good and healing' (Acts 10:38 RSV). In consequence, 'evangelism and social concern have been intimately related to one another throughout the history of the Church ... Christian people have often engaged in both activities quite unselfconsciously, without feeling any need to define what they were doing or why.' The evangelical heritage of social concern2 There were some remarkable examples of this in eighteenthcentury Europe and America.The Evangelical Revival, which stirred both continents, is not to be thought of only in terms of the preaching of the gospel and the converting of sinners to Christ; it also led to widespread philanthropy, and profoundly affected society on both sides of the Atlantic. John Wesley remains the most striking instance. He is mainly remembered as the itinerant evangelist and open-air preacher. And so he was. But the gospel he preached inspired people to take up social causes in the name of Christ. Historians have attributed to Wesley's influence rather than to any other the fact that Britain was spared the horrors of a bloody revolution like France's.3 The change which came over Britain during this period was well documented in J.Wesley Bready's remarkable book, England Before and After Wesley, subtitled 'The Evangelical Revival and Social Reform'. His research forced him to conclude that 'the true nursingmother of the spirit and character values that have created and sustained Free Institutions throughout the English-speaking world', indeed 'the moral watershed of Anglo-Saxon history', was 'the much-neglected and oft-lampooned Evangelical Revival'. Bready described 'the deep savagery of much of the 18th century', which was characterized by 'the wanton torture of animals for sport, the bestial drunkenness of the populace, the inhuman traffic in African negroes, the kidnapping of fellow-countrymen for exportation and sale as slaves, the mortality of parish children, the universal gambling obsession, the savagery of the prison system and penal code, the welter of immorality, the prostitution of the theatre, the growing prevalence of lawlessness, superstition and lewdness; the political bribery and corruption, the ecclesiastical arrogance and truculence, the shallow pretensions of Deism, the insincerity and debasement rampant in Church and State -- such manifestations suggest that the British people were then perhaps as deeply degraded and debauched as any people in Christendom.' But then things began to change. And in the nineteenth century slavery and the slave trade were abolished, the prison system was humanized, conditions in factory and mine were improved, education became available to the poor, trades unions began, etc., etc. 'Whence, then, this pronounced humanity? -- this passion for social justice, and sensitivity to human wrongs? There is but one answer commensurate with stubborn historical truth. It derived from a new social conscience. And if that social conscience, admittedly, was the offspring of more than one progenitor, it nonetheless was mothered and nurtured by the Evangelical Revival of vital, practical Christianity -- a revival which illumined the central postulates of the New Testament ethic, which made real the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of men, which pointed the priority of personality over property, and which directed heart, soul and mind, towards the establishment of the Kingdom of Righteousness on earth.' The Evangelical Revival 'did more to transfigure the moral character of the general populace, than any other movement British history can record'. For Wesley was both a preacher of the gospel and a prophet of social righteousness. He was 'the man who restored to a nation its soul'. The evangelical leaders of the next generation were committed with equal enthusiasm to evangelism and social action. The most famous among them were Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay, Charles Grant, John Shore (Lord Teignmouth), Thomas Babington, Henry Thornton, and of course their guiding light, William Wilberforce. Because several of them lived in Clapham, at that time a village three miles south of London, and belonged to Clapham Parish Church, whose Rector John Venn was one of them, they came to be known as 'the Clapham Sect', although in Parliament and in the press they were mocked as 'the Saints'. It was their concern over the plight of the African slaves which first brought them together. Three days before his death in 1791, John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce to assure him that God had raised him up for his 'glorious enterprise' and to urge him not to be weary of welldoing. It is largely to the Clapham Sect (under Wilberforce's leadership) that the credit belongs for the first settlement of freed slaves in Sierra Leone (1787), the abolition of the trade (1807), the registration of slaves in the colonies (1820), which put an end to slave smuggling, and finally their emancipation (1833). It is true that 'the Saints' were wealthy aristocrats, who shared some of the social blindspots of their time, but they were extremely generous in their philanthropy, and the range of their concerns was extraordinary.

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