How well does the average American understand basic Christian doctrine? For that matter, how about the average evangelical? Perhaps not all that differently. And perhaps it matters how the questions are asked. Reprising their ground-breaking study from two years ago, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries released an update today on the state of American theology in 2016. Researchers surveyed 3,000 adults to measure their agreement with a set of 47 statements about Christian theology—everything from the divinity of Christ to the nature of salvation to the importance of regular church attendance.

In this short video, Dr Joe Boot calls Christians to practise evangelisation. He says that some evangelism has taken a "truncated" view of the gospel, speaking of personal salvation but lacking an emphasis on "Christ as Lord, as King, as Sovereign." Jesus has come to redeem every aspect of our lives "from the pollution of sin", Joe says, and we ought not only to speak, but also to "live out" the gospel as part of our Christian witness.

Why do Irish people support the Palestinians? It’s a simple question, but a real mystery. If, as seems clear to me, every supporter of democracy and opponent of non-democracy should broadly support Israel — and be broadly hostile to the Palestinian cause — why does the world not see it that way?

An Israeli diplomat posted to Ireland recently asked me this question. Israelis encounter varying levels of hostility in Europe, and wonder why so many Europeans take the Palestinian side. Could it be anti-semitism? Could it even be that some hostility to Jews is endemic in Catholicism?

Living in Ireland it is obvious to me that other, more modern, reasons are at play.

The Palestinian cause is, on the face of it, deeply unattractive. It is a fight against a liberal democracy in order to set up either an oppressive religious state — Hamas — or a thuggish autocracy — Fatah. Either way, there are unlikely to be free elections and regard for civil liberties. So what is it that attracts people’s support?

It seems they hit all the right buttons. First, they are, allegedly, the “oppressed” fighting against “oppressors”. Yet, when you look at Palestinian complaints, they are mostly a consequence of the violence they direct at Israel.

 

They are, allegedly, the “poor” fighting the “rich”. The fact that it is their fault they are poor — look at what the intifada did to the GDP — and the Israelis deserve their wealth because they work hard to create it, is neither here nor there.

They are, allegedly, “non-whites” fighting “whites”. Many westerners care primarily about crimes by “whites” or “people like us”, not those by “non-whites”. Israelis come from all over the world, including the Middle East, but for many westerners this is not about reality. All Israelis are honorary “whites”.

Palestinians are Muslim, giving them a sympathetic constituency of 1bn worldwide. Muslims tend to sympathise with Muslims engaged in conflict with non-Muslims. Christians aren’t like this. Christians worldwide are on their own, and get little support from western Christians. If the Palestinians were Christian, nobody would support them. And if they were fundamentalist Christians, the western left would despise them.

It should be no surprise that journalists side with Palestinians. They are fighting a democracy, and a wealthy democracy is a nice safe place in which journalists can sit and be critical.

Some Palestinians are violent, and carry out deliberate attacks against defenceless civilians. But if Palestinians engaged exclusively in peaceful protest, few would pay them much attention. When there are attacks against civilians, the world sits up. Most are revolted, but some less sensible people have a different reaction. They believe — despite history’s total lack of evidence for this — that if someone is willing to carry out violent acts, they must have a good reason. And so, due to the strange nature of humans, Palestinian violence leads to more support, not less.

Many westerners are excited by “revolutionary” violence against the West. Lack of compromise is also exciting. If the Palestinians decided to give up on the “struggle” and pursue jobs, family and shopping, I would be delighted for them. Israel would pump money into their economy, the GDP would triple and their life would be much better. But some of their western fans, for whom they serve a psychological need, would seek other uncompromising opponents of the West.

Hating Israel is a safe way of hating the West, and many leftish westerners do desire a safe way of doing this; of declaring their moral superiority to the culture of plenty in which they grew up. Hating the entire West is too hardcore, but hating a small part works. It is Israel’s bad luck to fit the bill.

So the Israeli diplomat and other Israelis should not take Irish hostility personally. It’s not about them. It’s about us.

Dr Mark Humphrys is a lecturer at Dublin City University 

As we draw close to another year’s end the gloom of winter is lightened by the celebration of Christmas. Whilst there may be disagreement about the actual time of year when Jesus came into the world as a helpless baby, the important fact remains that He came as Immanuel (God with us). The birth of any baby is a source of joy for most families, and with the arrival of a new-born the inevitable speculation of what the future will hold for them. For each new life is a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and a life with potential. Whilst that potential may vary dependent on genetic, perinatal, and environmental factors, each human being is made in God’s image and precious to Him (Psalm 139:13-16).

FOUNDATIONS 8 ANNUAL WEEKDAY CONFERENCE


... but it really was a special conference. The Hebraic Church day was amazing. I think the Lord was showing His approval and blessing by making an open heaven. Nancy

Firstly thank you foundations and well done ... I so appreciated the depth of fellowship with so many wise old heads ... Ginnie 

The more I reflect on the past week the more convinced I am becoming that something vital is being birthed... Chris

:-) :-) :-) Jo

It is really hard to know where to start. Could it be that night in a Premier Inn over a year ago when the words Hebraic Church came to me as part of a divine download? Or the time since then, wrestling with this concept despite the opposition and misunderstandings, trying to figure out what these words meant? Or was it when 100+ folk experienced them in action in a tiny corner of England last week?

My greatest fear in the weeks before was the weather, we really needed the Wednesday, Hebraic Church day, to be rain free, as most activities were to be outside. God truly blessed us with beautiful weather with wonderful sunshine throughout Wednesday, in fact an open heaven in all senses of the words.

They came from far and wide, from Dublin to Aberdeen, South Devon to the Kent coast. A (mostly) grey army of intrepid souls, particularly the 40% who, being Foundations newbies, weren’t quite sure what they were letting themselves in for. To be honest, none of us were really sure ...

As it's still fresh in my mind, here are some thoughts before they drift away. Foundations 8 was, by unanimous consensus, our best yet. Here are four reasons why I believe this was so.

Firstly the environment provided by Abbot Hall hotel was just right for us. The hotel may have been on the small side, but it provided the intimacy that was a major factor to the fantastic atmosphere of unity and co-operation that prevailed. The staff were incredible and so helpful, going far beyond the nominal service we have received at some other places we have been at. Secondly the structure of the conference worked really well, particularly the elements that provided for personal expression. The high points were the yeshivas that involved up to a half of delegates and last for up to 90 minutes - challenging times for our teachers, but an invaluable experience for all. Also the 'show & tell' hour each day was enormously successful, where seventeen people were able to share what was on their heart, from leeks to hobbies, reminiscenses to hints for godly living. The image of the 'Von Stevenson' family singing together will live long in the memory. Finally, the craft tables provided a valuable oasis for some, a trigger for great conversations and a wonderful outlet for creative impulses!

Thirdly, God had brought together a fantastic group of people. The teaching, spearheaded by our 'Bible men' David Andrew and Chris Hill, was not just excellent but, as the theme of the conference demanded, was a spur to action and will ensure that what happened at Abbot Hall will not stay at Abbot Hall! My team stretched to 30 people, each playing their part in the jigsaw but it was fair to say that everyone there contributed in one way or another. There are just too many examples to mention here. If you were there please send us your testimonies!

Finally we thank God for tying it all together and ministering to everyone who was there perhaps in ways that will only become apparent over the coming days. A lot of work went into this conference, it was all so worth it!

Steve Maltz

One of the F8 'Freedom in the Spirit' tracks was a Prayer Board for issues affecting our Nation, and the church in the Nation. A few intrepid folks gathered on several occasions and penned the following topics on the board, which were duly prayed for. In the light of current events (early June 2017 - terrorist attacks, surprise general election, Brexit negotiations starting in earnest a few days later), prayer about these topics is still vitally important, so we are sharing them here for the Saltshakers community to engage with!

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