Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Pastor Beheaded in Tanzania in Religion

violence in Tanzania

The aftermath of religion-linked violence in Geita, Tanzania (IRIN).
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church in Tanzania was killed Monday in a brawl between Christians and Islamic extremists. All Africa News reported that Pastor Mathayo Kachili was beheaded by a mob of Islamic extremists.
According to Denis Stephano, the local police commander, tensions between Muslims and Christians in Buseresere, a town located in Tanzania's Geita Region, had been boiling over for quite some time before the attack. The source of these tensions was whether Christians were allowed to open and operate butcheries in Buseresere.
Witnesses told ICC's contact in Tanzania that Muslims in the area were upset that Christians had opened up butcheries that catered to other Christians. According to All Africa News, Muslim leaders demanded the immediate closure of butcheries owned by Christians.
Monday at around 9 a.m., Christians delivering meat to the Tanzania Assemblies of God Church were attacked by a gang of youths believed to be Muslim extremists. "A group of radical Islamists armed with machetes, big clubs, knives and sticks assaulted [the Christians] and seriously beat them," said an ICC contact in Tanzania.
When Pastor Kachili heard about the attack, he rushed to the scene to intervene. "When the Muslims saw him they rapidly attacked him," ICC's contact said. In the process of the attack, Pastor Kachili was beheaded.
When news of the attack spread, Christians in the area rushed to the scene and began attacking the Muslim extremists. According to ICC's contact, the attackers were driven away and hid from the Christians in a Mosque before the police were able to intervene. One of the attackers was seriously injured and later died in the ICU unit of a nearby hospital.
Riot police were dispersed into the area and the situation is starting to return to normal, local police told the press. Pastor Kachili leaves behind a wife and several children who depended on his salary to make a living.
ICC's Regional Manager for Africa, William Stark, said, "Violent attacks against Christians are on the rise in East Africa. Just last week, two Christian pastors in Garissa, Kenya were attacked by Islamic extremists suspected to be connected with al-Shabab. The increase of attacks on Christians can be linked to the spread of radical Islam across East Africa. Groups like al-Shabab and its sympathizers have shown that they are not afraid to attack and kill Christians in countries that are traditionally thought of as Christian.
"Until the issue of radical Islam is confronted in East Africa, we will continue to see attacks on Christians and other minority groups. If ignored, the spread of radical Islam has the potential to turn East Africa into another Nigeria or Mali, where Christians are persecuted and killed by the hundreds." http://www.charismanews.com/world/38273-pastor-beheaded-in-tanzania-in-religion-linked-brawl

Friday, 1 February 2013




It has been said that the heart is not so much the center of emotions as it is the control center of one’s personal­ity, where you make your decisions and decide on the direction of your life. No one expounded this in greater detail than Jonathan Edwards, and one of his most enduring contributions is his Religious Affections. Instead of accepting the typical Western division of will versus emotions, Edwards gave a more central place to the heart and spoke of the heart’s “affections,” by which he meant “the inclination of the soul” to like or dislike, to love or reject.

The affections are, of course, related to emotions, but they are not the same thing. For example, we feel the emotion of anger when we are insulted, because we have set our affections too fully on our own reputation, human acclaim, or approval. The affections are what Edwards called the most ”vigorous and sensible exercises” of the heart; and in the Bible true religious affections are called the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26).

Edwards’s contribution is especially important regarding the unity of the faculties. He refused to pit one’s understanding and one’s affections against each other. Gracious affections are raised up only when a person has a spiritual understanding of the true nature of God. In other words, if a person says, “I know God cares for me, but I am still paralyzed by fear,” Edwards would reply that you don’t really know that God cares for you, or the affection of confidence and hope would be rising within you.6


Now we can see how important this is for preachers. If Edwards is right, there is no ultimate opposition between “head” and “heart.” We must not assume, for example, if our listeners are materialistic that they only need to be exhorted to give more. Though guilt may help with the day’s offering, it will not alter one’s life patterns. If people are materialistic and ungenerous, it means they have not truly understood how Jesus, though rich, became poor for them. They have not truly understood what it means to have all riches and treasures in Jesus Christ. It means their affections are causing them to cling to material riches as a source of security, hope, and beauty. Thus in preaching we must present Christ in the particular way that he replaces the hold of competing affections. This takes not just intellectual argument but the presentation of the beauty of Christ.7 Edwards defined a nominal Christian as one who finds Christ useful, while a true Christian is one who finds Christ beautiful for who he is in himself.

This understanding profoundly affected Edwards’ own preaching. In one of his sermons, he insisted that “the reason why men no more regard warnings of future punishment is because it doesn’t seem real to them.”8 This was, for Edwards, the main spiritual problem and the main purpose of preaching. The goal of our preaching is not just to make the truth clear but to make the truth real. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in an article on how Edwards affected him, wrote:

6. Two great places to get a short, readable explanation of Edwards on the Affections are: the “Editor’s Introduction” in J.Smith, H.Stout, K.Minkema, A Jonathan Edwards Reader (Yale, 1995). and Sam Logan’s article on preaching and the affections in Samuel T. Logan,ed., The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986). The summary in this section follows closely the Edwards Reader, pp. xix-xx.

7. See “A Divine and Supernatural Light” , pp.111-114 and “The Mind”, pp. 22-28 in Reader.

8. Wilson H. Kimnach, “Jonathan Edwards’s Pursuit of Reality” in Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience ed. Nathan O. Hatch, Harry S. Stout (Oxford, 1988). p.105. redeemercitytocity.com | 8




It is now commonly understood that preachers must put the individual text into its whole-Bible context and preach Christ from every part of the Bible. Though I am a fierce proponent of this view, there is a danger that our preaching of Christ in every text will become a rote, intellectual exercise that merely rehearses the entirety of biblical theology; that may begin to sound the same every week; and that may omit an application to the listener’s heart. The preacher’s goal is not an intellectual or abstract one—rather, the goal is to change hearts with the gospel.

Old Testament professor Tremper Longman compares reading the Bible to watching a movie in which the shocking conclusion is so startling that it forces the viewer to go back and re-interpret everything he has already seen. The second time around, now that you know the ending, you can’t help but interpret every statement and every encounter in terms of the ending. You can’t not think of the ending any more when you watch the beginning and middle of the movie. The ending sheds light on everything that went before.

Similarly, once you know that all the lines of all the stories and all the climaxes of the inter-canonical themes converge on Christ, you simply can’t not see that every text is about Jesus. For example:

+ J esus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is now imputed to us (1 Cor. 15).

+ Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood that cries out for our acquittal, not our condemnation (Heb. 12:24).

+ Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answered the call of God to leave all that was comfortable and familiar out of obedience to God.

+ Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was in the end sacrificed for us all. God said to Abraham, “now I know you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me.” Now we can say to God, “now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me.”

+ Jesus is true and better Jacob, who wrestled with God and took the blow of justice we deserved. Now we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

+ Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who sat at the right hand of the king, and used his power to forgive and save those who betrayed and sold him.

+ Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord, who mediates a new covenant (Heb. 3).

+ Jesus is the true and better Job—the innocent sufferer who then intercedes for his foolish friends (Job 42).

+ Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory against Goliath was imputed to his people, even though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

+ Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but a heavenly one, and who didn’t just risk his life but gave it—to save his people.

+ Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so the rest of the ship could be brought in.

There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: It is either about me or about Jesus. It is either advice to the listener or news from the Lord. It is either about what I must do or about what God has done.

Jesus is the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the Lamb, the Light, the bread. The Bible is not about you—it is about him. redeemercitytocity.com | 7

In 1 Peter 1:10-13 the gospel is stunningly described as something that “even angels long to look into.” After all these centuries, wouldn’t the angels have the gospel down pat? Why would they love to look into the salvation of God? Because it is endlessly rich. There are endless implications, applications, and facets to it. We have just begun to scratch the surface.




Let’s look at an example of a problem you might address with a secular audience: dishonesty. How does the gospel answer this problem and how does it work out in real life?

Jonathan Edwards identified two kinds of moral behavior: ”common virtue” and “true virtue.”2The “common virtue” of honesty may be developed out of fear, either societal (“If I lie I’ll be caught and exposed”) or religious (”If you are not honest, God will punish you”). It could also be cultivated by pride, which again could be cultural (“Don’t be like those terrible dishonest people”) or religious (“Don’t be like those sinners; be a decent and godly person”).

By no means does Edwards intend to be scornful of common virtue. Indeed, he believes in the “splendor of common morality” as the main way God restrains evil in the world.3Nevertheless, there is a profound tension at the heart of common virtue, because if fear and pride are what motivate a person to be honest, but fear and pride are also at the root of lying and cheating, it is only a matter of time before such a thin moral foundation collapses.

Thus, common virtue has not done anything to root out the fundamental causes of evil; it has restrained the heart but not changed the heart. And this “jury-rigging” of the heart creates quite a fragile condition. Indeed, through all the sermons and moral training you received throughout your life, you were actually nurturing the roots of sin within your moral life. This is true whether you grew up with either liberal or conservative values. The roots of evil were well protected beneath a veneer of moral progress.

So what is the mark of honesty as a “true virtue?” It is the commitment to truth and honesty not because it profits you or makes you feel better but because you are smitten with the beauty of the God who is truth and sincerity and faithfulness. It is when you come to love the truth, not for your sake but for God’s sake and for its own sake. True honesty grows when you see him dying for you, keeping a promise he made despite the infinite suffering it brought him. That kind of virtue destroys both pride (Jesus had to die for me!) and fear (Jesus values me infinitely, and nothing I can do will change his commitment to me). In this way my heart is not just restrained, but rather its fundamental orientation is transformed.


Underneath all of our behavioral sins lies a fundamental refusal to rest in Christ’s salvation. According to Martin Luther,

All those who do not at all times trust God and... trust in His favor, grace and good-will, but seek His favor in other things or in themselves, do not keep the [First] Commandment, and practice real idolatry, even if they were to do the works of all the other Commandments... combined.

And as this Commandment is the very first, highest and best, from which all the others proceed, in which they exist, and by which they are measured and directed, so also its work, that is, the faith

2. Martin Luther, Charity and Its Fruits, Concerning the End for Which God Created the World and The Nature of True Virtue.

3. Paul Ramsey, “Editor’s Introduction,” from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 8: Ethical Writings (New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr, 1989).redeemercitytocity.com | 4

or confidence in God’s favor at all times, is the very first, highest and best, from which all others must proceed, exist, remain, be directed and measured.4

Luther says that if we obey God’s law without a belief that we are already accepted and loved in Christ, then in all our good deeds we are really looking to something more than Jesus to be the real source of our mean­ing and happiness. We may be trusting in our good parenting or moral uprightness or spiritual performance or acts of service to be our real and functional“saviors.” If we aren’t already sure God loves us in Christ, we will be looking to something else for our foundational significance and self-worth. This is why Luther says we are committing idolatry if we don’t trust in Christ alone for our approval.

The first commandment is foundational to all the other commandments. We will not break commandments two through ten unless we are in some way breaking the first one by serving something or someone other than God. Every sin is rooted in the inordinate lust for something which comes because we are trusting in that thing rather than in Christ for our righteousness or salvation. We sin because we are looking to some­thing else to give us what only Jesus can give us. Beneath any particular sin is the general sin of rejecting Christ’s salvation and attempting our own self-salvation.


redeemercitytocity.com | 1

This article outlines four ideas that in my experience are at the core of preaching effectively in a secular culture. If you seek to communicate the gospel to both the Christians and non-Christians in your midst, I encourage you to pursue all four elements in your own preaching.



Much of modern church-growth literature presupposes that we cannot minister to both Christians and non-Christians at the same time.1 In this view, “evangelistic” messages call upon non-Christians but bore Christians, and “teaching” messages appeal to Christians but confuse, bore, or offend non-Christians. This means a church may have to settle for one approach or the other, and as a result they may be limited in their biblical faithfulness as well as their reach.

Some churches have tried to solve this problem through distinct “seeker services,” held at a different time than discipleship-oriented services. But this approach has not been without problems: many seekers stay in the seeker services long-term, never getting fed more challenging material. And since the majority of attend­ees at the seeker services are usually Christians, the believers get stuck in elementary Christianity as well.

I believe the problem is theological, not methodological. Indeed, it is impossible to combine Christians and non-Christians in a coherent way unless the preacher and leaders understand that the gospel is not just the way people are justified, but also the way they are sanctified. You see, the typical approach to the gospel is to see it as the ABC’s of Christian doctrine, or merely the minimum truth required to be saved, but to rely on more “advanced” biblical principles for progress in the Christian life. If that were the case, then we truly could not focus on both evangelism and spiritual formation at the same time. However, Martin Luther understood that the gospel is not only the way we receive salvation but is also the way to advance at every stage in the Christian life. This is why the first of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses was “All of life is repentance.”

Jonathan Edwards, in his Religious Affections, argues that belief and behavior are inextricably linked and that any failures in Christians are due to unbelief. The antidote to unbelief is a fresh telling of the gospel.

Preaching, therefore, is not either for evangelism or edification, because all of us have the same underlying problem. If a sermon is Christ-centered in its exposition and application, and if it is oriented toward disman­tling the unbelief systems of the human heart and toward retelling and using the gospel on the unbelief, then it will be illuminating to non-Christians even though it was aimed primarily at Christians.


We live in a society in which people are skeptical of any kind of truth at all. In contrast to earlier eras, which accepted revealed truth or honored reason and scientific truth, many people today can’t simply receive a set of teachings without seeing how Christianity “works,” how it fleshes out in real life.

1. See also Timothy Keller, “Evangelistic Worship” (2001), redeemercitytocity.com.redeemercitytocity.com | 2

This has implications for all of us. For Christians who are surrounded by today’s secular culture, it is impor­tant to hear the preacher dealing winsomely and intelligently with the problems of non-believers on a regu­lar basis. This helps them address their own doubts and is also excellent “training” in sharing their faith. The evangelism programs of earlier eras do not always adequately prepare Christians for dealing with the wide range of intellectual and personal difficulties people have today with the Christian faith.

In a similar way, when the preacher speaks to believers, the non-Christians present come to see how Chris­tianity works in real-life situations. For example, if you are preaching a sermon on the subject of material­ism, and you directly apply the gospel to the materialism of Christians, you are doing something that both interests and profits non-Christians. Many listeners will tend to make faith decisions on more pragmatic grounds. Instead of examining the faith in a detached intellectual way, they are more likely to make a faith commitment through a long process of mini-decisions, by “trying it on” and by seeing how it addresses real problems.


Some practical tips for preaching:

+ Solve all problems with the gospel. In this way, non-believers hear the gospel each week and believers have their issues and problems addressed with the beauty of the gospel.

+ Beware of assumptions. Do not assume that people all have the same premises. Avoid exhorting point D if it is based on A, B, and C, without referring to A, B, C. Constantly lay groundwork statements about the authority of the Bible or the reasons we believe.

+ Engage in apologetics. Try to devote one of the three or four major sermon points to non-believers. Keep in your head a list of the most common objections people have to Christianity. More often than not the sermon text has some implication for how to address those objections.

+ Provide applications for both parties. When providing sermon applications, address both non-Chris­tians and Christians, almost in a dialogue with them. For example, “If you are committed to Christ, you may be thinking this, but the text answers that fear.”Or, “If you are not a Christian or not sure what you believe, then you surely must think that this is narrow-minded, but the text speaks to this very issue.”

+ Be authentic. Young, urban, and secular people in particular are extremely sensitive to anything that smacks of artifice or glitzy showmanship. Beware of sermons, or anything in the worship service, that is too polished, too controlled, or too canned.

+ Be conscious of alienating language. Secular listeners will be turned off if they hear the preacher use non-inclusive gender language or make cynical remarks about other religions or use religious jargon, language that only Christians understand.

+ Expect, and respect, doubt. Always treat people’s doubts about Christianity with respect. Beware of ever giving the impression that Christianity is devoid of doubts or that only less-than-intelligent people would doubt its truth. It is important to acknowlege the presence of doubters, to say in effect, “I know this Christian doctrine sounds outrageous.”

+ Address the wider community. Be mindful in your demeanor and preaching of the needs and concerns of the wider community, not just the Christian community. Show how the grace of God favors the poor, marginalized, and outsiders. Celebrate deeds of justice and mercy and common citizenship in the community.

+ Draw on cultural references. Manhattanites do not know or trust the Bible very much, so it is important for me to know their cultural references, read what they read, and answer the questions they are asking from the Bible. I generously document and support my points with corroborating opinions from the very books and periodicals that New Yorkers read. Often I can show them how the Bible was addressing these issues long before the contemporary authority did.redeemercitytocity.com | 3

+ Read across the spectrum.If you read just one perspective on a subject, you tend to be naive and over­confident. If you read a second, contradictory perspective that deconstructs the first view, you become cynical and discouraged. But if you read a spectrum of four or five different perspectives, you find your own view and voice and often get rather creative ideas. I regularly read different viewpoints and imagine what a conversation about Christianity with the writer might sound like.