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Mar
31

The Top 10 Most Influential Evangelicals of 2011

Who are the most influential Evangelicals in America? TIME Magazine took a guess at The Top 25 Evangelicals a few years back, but I think things have shifted just a tad since then. I made one of these lists just a year or so ago, and I’ve changed several names. Previously listed were: James Dobson, Charles Colson, Kirk Cameron & Sarah Palin. Here is my current subjective list of who I think the top 10 most influential Evangelical leaders (for better or worse) may be (in no particular order of importance): 1. Dave Ramsey In our failing economy, everyone is looking for answers, and the man who has been ready with them is Dave Ramsey. He has used his platform to reach millions of people, even outside of the Christian community who are looking for financial advice. 2. Joel Osteen He has become a rallying point for many in the Charismatic movement because of his positive message and the fact that he has avoided scandal. 3. Brian McLaren Brian is, in my view, the father of the modern “Emerging Church” movement, which is one of the most influential movements in America right now. There are others more popular, but none that are more influential. 4. Rob Bell Of all of the really hip preacher guys in America, Rob is arguably the hippest. No one has brought Starbucks and Christianity closer than Rob. His new book, “Love Wins” is the most chattered about book in the Christian world right now, and he is young enough to be around for quite some time yet. 5. John Piper Piper has become a rather “hip” face for the Reformed theology crowd and has a tremendous influence on people who don’t even know what a TULIP is. 6. Mark Driscoll Mark has filled gap between Rob Bell and John Piper. He’s young and hip, but is increasingly leaning on a more historic version of Christianity than most of the pop-preachers. He definitely has the ear of a large segment of young adult Christians in America. 7. Rick Warren Rick is sort of a magnet that attracts support (and criticism) from both the far right and the far left. The fact that he is as controversial as he is reveals his influence. If you don’t matter, people don’t care what you do. 8. Louie Giglio Louie may be the most influential evangelical that you DON’T KNOW. He is the founder of the Passion Conferences and...
Mar
30

Confronting Hinduism: Christian Apologetics in India

Israel Wayne: What led you to begin your Apologetics ministry in India? Pankaj Parmar: India is country with varieties of religions and philosophies. The deep seated religiosity which prevails and the pride of cultural and religious uniqueness of Hinduism is deeply embedded in the psyche of Indian mindset. In fact, ideas and concepts like God becoming man are not at all new concepts as our nation abounds with many stories of God becoming man and such stories are dynamic in the sense that they keep on adding. Unlike in western context and culture where atheism, materialism and humanism are the primary worldviews, where once you establish existence of God, it is easy to present Jesus as God, whereas here in India people already believe that many gods and goddesses exist and all are deemed to be true. India is also philosophically strong as we see the influence of Indian philosophy in the forms of New Age movement in the western world. Hence in such context it was very much a need to start apologetics ministry. In fact a nation with more than 1 billion people to reach, led us to start apologetics ministry. Israel Wayne: Which authors / speakers have influenced you the most? Pankaj Parmar: As far as defending the Christian faith and answering the objections is concerned, I am indebted to the writing of Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Paul Copan, Dr. Ron Rhodes and Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Josh McDowell. But when it comes to doing apologetics offensively and culturally in the context of India, I am indebted to writing s of Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi and Apologist L.T. Jeyachandran whose writing are tremendous useful in doing apologetics in the Indian Context. Yet at the same time I maintain still lot of work is needed to be developed in the context of Indian Culture which is needed to be worked out in the terms of developing contextual apologetics. Israel Wayne: What are some of the Apologetic topics that are vitally needed today in India? Pankaj Parmar: Indian context is quite diverse and complex. In fact every person you encounter has different worldview. Even within Hinduism there are multiple worldviews, sects and schisms, hence when you encounter different people you have to approach differently. So No one methodology can be absolutised. However there are many topics which are needed to be addressed apologetically which I will delineate below at the same time. – The Problem of Evil & Suffering...
Mar
29

Thomas Aquinas’ Six Views of Government

Thomas Aquinas’ Six Views of Government Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) reasoned that there are two types of government: Just and unjust, and that there are three basic forms that these may take. Just Government A Just Monarchy For Aquinas, the absolute best form of government was the rule of a single leader whose heart was kind and just and who applied God’s law to all matters of governance. This was the most efficient form of government, because there were no obstacles in the way of the king’s benevolent rule. A Just Oligarchy The second preference would be the rule by an aristocracy, or elite leadership who would rule as a kind of senate, making decisions for the people they represent. This was not nearly as efficient as a monarchy, so is not as ideal, but is the next best thing. Again, it is presumed that these are God-fearing men (Aquinas had no expectation of women leading in politics), who are doing what is best for the people and not merely themselves. A Just Democracy A democracy is rule by the masses. This is the most inefficient of the three options because masses of people move very slowly. Assuming that the people are just and God-fearing (this is, of course, quite a leap theologically…and begs the question of why you need a formal government in the first place!), this can be a good form of government, although it is quite unlikely that you will ever get anything done. Unjust Government An Unjust Democracy Supposing that the people were selfish and looked only after their own interests, rather than following the law of God and caring about others, a democracy would be the best form of unjust government. Why? Because democracies move slowly, and this form of rule would be the least likely to adopt tyranny (since everyone is wanting to be free from external rule). An Unjust Oligarch If tyranny is a risk, it is more likely to happen at the hands of a few, than at the hands of the masses. Therefore, according to Aquinas, an oligarchy is worse than a democracy, but better than a monarchy, if you HAD to settle for some form of unjust government. An Unjust Monarchy The absolute worst form of government that Aquinas could envision was the tyranny of a single monarchy. As you look back at the history of the world, it is not hard to agree with his assessment. So, the best kind of government, with a kind and benevolent king, could...
Mar
28

Josh McDowell Interview

Israel Wayne: Josh, you’ve become known as someone who promotes the concept of absolute truth, and many of our readers would already be familiar with many of your materials devoted to that subject. However, you’ve brought out a different dynamic in some of your newer materials, and that is the aspect of relationship. Can you explain to us why it is important to cultivate a relationship in the transmission of truth? Josh McDowell: Well, there are many reasons. First of all, that’s how God created us. Science now shows (see Josh’s executive summary of the study by Dartmouth Medical School) that a baby’s brain from the time they are born, and this is amazing, is physically, biologically hard-wired to connect in relationships. I thought, come on, how can science…but then I thought, wait a minute, God created us. God says in Exodus 34:14 (NLT), “You shall worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you.” Then it makes sense that God would create us to desire to have a relationship and need a relationship with Him and others. So God created us for relationship. Second, God’s dimension, God’s program for truth is in the context of relationships. All truth is relational. Jesus said, “I am the Truth.” Most people have no idea what that meant. What is truth? Webster defined it, “Truth is that which has fidelity to the original.” Fidelity means the same as “equal to.” So truth is that which is the “same as” or “equal to” the original. What does that mean? Let’s suppose that I say have a liter of water. You say, “No you don’t.” I say, “I do too.” You say, “You do not!” Now is my statement true and yours false, or is your statement true and mine false? We would catch a flight and fly to Paris, France. We’d go to the far out suburb where there’s the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, where they have all the original measurements in metrics. Linear, liquid, solids, everything. We would like my bottle, my liter of water, and we would compare it with the original. Remember, truth is that which has fidelity to the original, same as, equal to. If the water in my bottle equaled the original measurement of a liter then my statement is true. Why, there was fidelity to the original. But if there is a little...

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