As Dr. Seuss says in I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Enjoy this first installment of “weekend reading”! I will link to some of the articles I have enjoyed or been challenged by this week. I hope you will enjoy them too!
2018 World Watch List – Open Doors
Since the 1970s, Open Doors has been monitoring and reporting on the persecution of Christians throughout the world. Every year they release the World Watch List of the 50 countries in which Christians face the most persecution. The accompanying article explains the methodology and the definitions of the different terms and categories and this can help you not only understand the Watch List but also get a better understanding of persecution against Christians. The “persecution engines” are interesting but I think many will benefit most from an understanding of “smash” versus “squeeze” persecution. The 2018 Watch List is headed by North Korea and Afghanistan but there are some other countries on the list that may be surprising to readers. As you think about this list, be praying for our brothers and sisters in these countries.
Have Bible Quoters Replaced Bible Readers? – Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
With an increasing number of articles citing the disturbing state of biblical literacy, Moore writes, “I’ve never really known how to identify the scope of the biblical illiteracy facing us until I read this past weekend a sentence that perfectly articulated what I had noticed, in David Nienhuis’ very helpful new book A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament (Baker). Speaking of the students in his college New Testament classes, Nienhuis writes that they struggle with the biblical material ‘because they have been trained to be Bible quoters, not Bible readers.’” Moore goes on to discuss some of the possible reasons for this trend and some solutions. This article hit home for me as I asked myself whether I was a Bible reader or quoter. This is an area in my own life that could use improvement.
A Thorough Guide to the Non-Canonical Gospels – J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity
This article is an incredible compilation of Wallace’s analysis of a host of ancient writings and the reasons we do not include them in the Bible. Wallace is an acclaimed cold-case homicide detective and brings his honed analytical skills to bear on over 20 non-canonical pieces as well as several of his articles about these works in general. If you have doubts or questions about why Christians should not believe books such as the so-called Gospel of Thomas, then this article is for you. It is great to have these resources brought together in one article which I intend to bookmark for future reference!
The Peculiarity of Early Christian Worship (or How Early Christians Managed to Offend Just about Everybody) – Michael Kruger, Canon Fodder
At a time when Christians seem to offend just about everyone, we can be encouraged by the example of the early church. Kruger highlights several aspects of early Christian worship and how these believers and their practices went against the grain of mainstream Roman culture. Kruger writes, “Christian worship managed to irritate just about everyone. The Romans were agitated. The Jews were upset. Christianity was seen as a subversive threat. But, here’s the key. Christians did not, for these reasons, decide to abandon, change, or modify their worship. Despite the opposition, they stayed true to their practices and true to their Lord.” As he points out, this is the key for believers in our own times; remaining true to Christ and the truth revealed in the Bible even if it increasing goes against the grain of the culture around us.