Monday, May 23, 2011

Spread of Christianity

A professor I had years ago had an interesting idea. His thought, and of course we're speculating here, was that there was a pattern to the movement of the gospel and the establishment of Christianity. Mark 13:10 says that "the gospel must first be preached to all the nations" before Christ returns. It's one of the reasons why bible believing and educated Christians knew that Harold Camping had made an incorrect prediction. The gospel, the good news, has to reach all nations (Matthew 28) before the age of the Church is complete, before the mission of the Church is accomplished. The professor I mentioned earlier thought that we were getting close, not only because of other signs, but because we are getting close to having reached all languages and people groups. He thought one could trace a clear path of the spread of Christianity across the globe. Now, granted there are offshoots and establishments here and there but I think I agree with his historical perspective.

Christianity began in Jerusalem, obviously, and spread throughout the Roman Empire, heading West. Paul's hope was to end up in Spain according to some of his last writings. After Europe Christianity continued west across the Atlantic to the Americas. While the diagram above doesn't show it, most recently Christianity is blowing up in Asia, especially China. My professor speculated that perhaps as Christianity moved through Asia and back to Israel again, the gospel has made its circuit around the globe. Watching the recent revolutions in the Arab world can't help but make me think that those states will soon be more in contact with Christians, missionaries and the Gospel than ever before. As the new generations in the Arab world come up wanting freedoms and democracies, a break from traditional Islamic states, so also comes more influence from the outside world and, I hope, more openness to Christianity. We live in exciting times.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What's Your Story?

I recently preached on Acts 27:21-25; 30-31. This is the story of Paul being taken to Rome as a prisoner when the ship he's travelling on runs into trouble. God sends an angel to Paul and assures him that he, nor his companions on the ship will die. Paul is convinced that they will surivive and the ship will be destroyed exactly as God says. Around verse 30, Paul tells the Roman soldiers that if they let the sailors abandon ship then everyone one will die. Which is it? God has ordained all will survive or the sailors have to preform or they will die? It's both. When we lean to hard into one side or the other and let our fallen reason take over we end up making mistakes that manifest in how we live our lives. This type of false reasoning shows up differently in the culture and in the church, but at the foundation  it is the same error. We tend to think that reason is the best human attribute of all, a result of the Enlightenment, but when we lean on our own understanding, especially when attempting to describe the divine, we will make errors. Thus the constant need to go to the divine, to Scripture, for revelation.