Monthly Archives: September 2017

Remembering Nabeel Qureshi

Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi died on September 16, 2017. As reported earlier on Veracity, Nabeel had been wrestling for the past year with stomach cancer. Veteran Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has a very moving eulogy for his “nephew” Nabeel in the Washington Post. Apologist Michael Licona gives us some added insight into Nabeel’s conversion to Christ on a Facebook post.

His best friend, David Wood, who led Nabeel to Christ, when both were students at Old Dominion University, has put together some interesting photos of Nabeel, on his Twitter feed.

David and Nabeel loved putting together YouTube videos, in a rather poking fun, and often sarcastic, manner, that were intended to prod and encourage Muslims to reconsider their faith and investigate the Christian faith. Ah, these guys, were a bit younger then, and it shows. The first video below is the final product of one of their sessions, but if you want a good chuckle, you should take a peak at the second video, with the blooper outtakes. Go to the 4:30 minute mark, for the handshake part, if it gets to be too much for you. What a couple of knuckleheads, but I appreciate their desire for Muslims to come to know the Truth. Be sure to view their last YouTube sessions together, filmed this past summer, with some excellent teaching. Nabeel Qureshi will be sorely missed.


Did Luther Intend to Start The Reformation? (In Seven Minutes)

My bad” (??)

October 31, 2017 will be the 500th anniversary of when an obscure monk and theology academic, Martin Luther, nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, a spark that has set off a controversy ever since. But what do we do with this event? Do we “celebrate” it? Do we “mourn” it?

How we answer these questions, typically stems from a larger question: Did Martin Luther intend to start the Protestant Reformation? Gordon-Conwell church history professor, Ryan Reeves, explores this question, in the following seven-minute video.

Whatever we do with Luther’s motives behind the Reformation, what we should not do, is to ignore the Reformation. The Reformation is not just some event, located in the recesses of the past. The debates around Reformation define for Christians, even today, what we think about the Gospel, the Bible, and the Church.

I will be teaching an adult Bible class, this fall (2017), at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, 9:30 to 10:45 am, in Room 128, that explores these topics in greater detail. Please leave a comment in the comments section, if you want more information about the class.


Statements: A Reforming Catholic Confession

 

Now, here is a theological statement that I can really get excited about!!

Since the Reformation, many have accused Protestants of being a divisive folk, unable to agree on much of anything, thus undermining the unity of God’s Church throughout the world. On the eve of remembering the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation, this is a charge that deserves some careful thought, before responding.

Yes, there are differences that can divide, but is there a core of fundamental beliefs that unites Protestants together? In there a “mere Protestantism,” recalling C.S. Lewis’ famous book, Mere Christianity?

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School theologian, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, says, “Yes!” In the following video, Vanhoozer explains that there is a core of common beliefs among Protestants. The Reforming Catholic Confession is a statement written that seeks to demonstrate that unified, shared core. Over 750 Christian leaders have already signed on, supporting this confession.

When I read the confession for myself, I wondered if this was even broader in scope than “just for Protestants.”  My hunch is that at least some of my Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends might even find agreement here as well. Read the Reforming Catholic Confession for yourself, and let me know what you think.

In general, I am always a bit cautious about “statements,” as they are rarely the final word on anything. At best, they are works in progress. But the Reforming Catholic Confession is the kind of statement that is really a great place to start. Tell your friends about it!

Can I get an “AMEN?!”


Statements: What Does Nashville Have to Do With Chicago?

On August 29, 2017, a group of evangelical leaders announced the signing of the Nashville Statement. If you have not heard of it, you should go and read it for yourself.

The Nashville Statement was crafted by the leadership of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), in response to recent cultural changes regarding the public acceptance of gay marriage and transgender identification. For those Christians who have felt that the evangelical church has not taken a firm enough stand against these cultural trends, this is a boldly direct statement that such Christians should spend some time carefully studying.

CBMW originally had its beginnings, in the 1980s, opposing the acceptance of women as elders and/or pastors, in churches, as well as affirming male-headship in the home. But now, with the Nashville Statementunder the leadership of Bible professor Denny Burk, CBMW has broadened its scope to “equip the church on the meaning of biblical sexuality.”

Why is it called the Nashville Statement? Well, because, like other Christian confessional documents, ranging from the Nicene Creed, to the Augsburg Confession, to the Westminster Confession, it was written in Nashville, Tennessee. It contains a listing of articles, made of various affirmations (“WE AFFIRM”) and denials (“WE DENY”), that seek to address a biblical approach to gender dysphoria and same-sex desire and behavior.

The written style of the Nashville Statement is therefore much like the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, drafted in Chicago, in the 1970s. Like the Chicago Statement, the Nashville Statement enjoys some of the same positive characteristics as well as suffering some of the same problems that these type of documents have.

As I have written about before, the Chicago Statement succeeded in defining a view of biblical authority, that many evangelical Christians could rally around and support, rightly affirming the Bible’s truthfulness. On the other hand, the Chicago Statement was unsuccessful in resolving a number of issues surrounding how the Bible is to be interpreted. Much of the challenge that has arisen, since the Chicago Statement’s signing, involves how terms, like inerrancy, that are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, are to be defined and applied in Christian hermeneutics.

The Nashville Statement carries much of the same properties, but within a different scope. The Nashville Statement is already gathering an impressive number of Christian leaders, across a wide set of backgrounds, who have publicly signed onto the document. It affirms the beliefs that Christians have held for 2000 years. In our sexually confused world, this is a big deal. I would not be surprised if the Nashville Statement becomes a unifying banner for many, if not most, conservative evangelicals.

Alas, the Nashville Statement has its difficulties. It uses terminology and language that some might find antiquated, offensive, or otherwise, difficult to define, such as “homosexual,” “divinely ordained differences between male and female” (Article 3 & 4), “homosexual or transgender self-conception” (Article 7), and “transgenderism” (Article 10). What does all of this mean?

For example, does the Nashville Statement mean that those who identify as gay and celibate persons can consider themselves as being fully Christian, or does it preclude such self-identification? I honestly do not know. As far as I can tell, many of the signers (and non-signers) of Nashville themselves are deeply divided on this.

There has been a firestorm of criticism from the progressive wing of Christianity, such as this counter-statement, Christians United: In Support of LGBT+ Inclusion in the Church.  However, there have also been a different set of criticisms from other conservative evangelicals.

From my perspective, I would not have written such a document in the same manner. While the Nashville Statement affirms central ideas that I would strongly endorse, like in defending a biblical concept of marriage, I doubt that it successfully casts a vision of how to reach out to an LGBT+ population, that remains either hidden in silence in, or already alienated from, evangelical churches.

This is a pastoral crisis in our churches, and it has been that way for years. A 2009 study shows that teenagers who struggle with same-sex desires, many of whom come from Christian families, who experience rejection from their families, are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide, than other teenagers. I personally know a number of folks who have left evangelical church communities, feeling that evangelical churches are not safe and supportive environments for addressing LGBT+ questions.

I pay close attention to the writings of Mark Yarhouse, professor of clinical psychology at Regent University, in Virginia Beach, who believes that the Nashville Statement lacks the type of nuanced, mature reflection necessary to address extremely difficult and complex questions surrounding gender dysphoria, that many Christians, and often even scientists and psychologists today, do not know that much about. I also agree strongly with the critique offered by theologian Preston Sprinkle, author of People To Be Loved. The Nashville Statement will be a rallying point for many Christians, in that it affirms an approach to biblical sexuality. But it offers very little in terms of how Christians can faithfully love and care for friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who struggle with sexual and gender identity issues. As Preston Sprinkle puts it, the evangelical conversation in this area typically “has been profoundly impersonal and one-sided (lots of truth and very little grace).”

Will the Nashville Statement have the staying power of a Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, or even a Nicene Creed? I do not know. Either way, I do hope for something better in evangelical churches, a Christian vision that fosters a spiritual posture that enables Christians to be agents of healing, as opposed to having the reputation as being agents of condemnation.


Pray for Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel Qureshi, a young Muslim turned Christian apologist, published his first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounter Christianity

Nabeel Qureshi is a Christian apologist, from a Muslim background. Please pray for him.  Nabeel is dying of stomach cancer, and the immediate prognosis is not good.

Nabeel grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, having parents grounded in Ahmadiyah Islam. He became a follower of Jesus, after becoming friends with David Wood, an atheist turned Christian, while both were students at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia. He wrote the best-selling Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, after pursuing a medical degree and advanced theological studies in Christian apologetics. Nabeel is a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

Fellow Veracity blogger, John Paine, met Nabeel at an apologetics conference a few years ago, and John wrote a great series on Islam, based a lot on what John learned from Nabeel.

Nabeel’s critics from Islam believe that his stomach cancer is a sign of God’s judgment against him, for turning his back on Islam, and becoming a Christian.

Please pray that God might work a miracle, or otherwise, finish strong.

Nabeel had to have his stomach removed, several weeks ago. As the flood waters were rising outside of his home, in Houston, during Hurricane Harvey, he was rescued from his home and taken to the hospital, for further treatment. Sadly today, Nabeel released a video on YouTube, telling his supporters that he has been put on palliative care. Nabbed is married with one child. Nabeel Qureshi is 34 years old.

 


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