Friday
Jun152012

Three New Additions to our Board of Reference: Harold Fickett, Yong Cho & Greg Waybright

One of our most strategic goals is to establish a board of reference of respected individuals in the Christian community who knew Dr. Winter and his heart for the unreached peoples of the world as well as those who have an understanding of his last major initiative, that of founding the Roberta Winter Institute.  

I'm very happy to announce three new additions to our board of reference.

Harold FickettHarold Fickett is a world-renowned author of novels, biographies, and works of spirituality, including The Holy Fool, The Living Christ, and Dancing with the Divine, and a forthcoming biography of Ralph D. Winter. He was a co-founder of the journal Image, was President and Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Exchange and collaborated with Charles Colson on several books, including the contemporary classics Loving God and How Now Shall We Live?  Harold has also contributed to such publications as Books & Culture and Christianity Today.

Yong ChoDr. Yong Joong Cho is the co-president of East West Center for Mission Research and Development and International Director of the Global Network of Mission Structures (GNMS). Dr. Cho has quite a remarkable background as a field missionary, an international director of a global mission agency (Global Partners), general secretary of the World Korean Missionary Fellowship and now director of the GNMS. Dr. Cho holds a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Greg WaybrightGreg Waybright is the Senior Pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, CA. Prior to pastoring at Lake Avenue, Dr. Waybright served as President of Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. Prior to that he spent 20 years as a pastor in California, Illinois and Wisconsin. Dr. Waybright holds a Ph.D. in New Testament theology from Marquette University, a master of divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a master of arts in communication from Wheaton Graduate School, a bachelor of arts in biblical studies and philosophy from Wheaton College, and a diploma in pastoral studies from Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Waybright contributed to Dignity and Dying: A Christian Appraisal.

Rejoice with me over the willingness of these accomplished and Godly men to lend the credibility of their good names to our cause.

Thursday
Jun142012

Who is Addressing Root Causes of the Biggest Human Problems?

Speaking in organizational terms, the Roberta Winter Institute receives oversight from William Carey International University. This is a very beneficial arrangement to the RWI as our goals fit hand-and-glove with their goals. The University’s mission statement is: preparing men and women to discover and address the roots of human problems around the world. Given that one of the biggest human problems is disease, our key aim could be stated as a specific outworking of WCIU’s: Inspiring faith based initiatives to address the roots of disease.

This idea of getting to the problem at the roots is profound and essential. It comes quite obviously from horticulture. Some plants, especially some weeds, will never die unless you dig out their roots and utterly destroy them. You can cut them off at the surface time after time, but they just keep coming back. But when the root is exposed and removed from the soil, the weed is gone.

There are also medical connotations. In medicine, it's easy to understand the difference between treating symptoms and curing a medical condition. When you're in pain because you've broken your wrist, you want the pain to go away as quickly as possible. But painkillers won't make your wrist better. True healing is needed before the symptoms disappear for good.

Colloquial examples abound - one I like is the case of being so busy mopping up the floor that you can’t turn off the spigot.

In this entry I’d like to explore which theologically motivated organizations are addressing the roots of the five biggest problems facing mankind today.  By exposing just how little is being done to address the roots of disease, I trust  you’ll see the rationale for the RWI’s existence.

I’ve based my list on Rick Warren’s Five Giants

  1. Poverty
  2. Illiteracy
  3. Corrupt Governments
  4. Spiritual Darkness
  5. Disease

 

1. Poverty
Here is an ambitious partnership between ten Christian anti-poverty organizations

2. Illiteracy

3. Corrupt Governments
This is largely a governmental concern (as evidenced by this list of organizations), but here are a few expressly Christian examples:

4. Spiritual Darkness
Rather than list a few good examples, I’ll simply ask, what church, denomination or mission organization is not focused on addressing the roots of spiritual darkness?

5. Disease
While Christians through the ages are noted for being kind to people who are already sick, helping them get well, defending them against aggressive pathogens, we are not well known for attempting to eradicate those pathogens themselves. The World Health Organization is known for that. The Carter Center is known for that. Increasingly Bill Gates is becoming known for that. But if we in the body of Christ don’t take a very public, top-to-bottom stance against disease at its roots, both in our theology and in our practical efforts, people will continue to assume that God intended and created the diseases that terrorize us, and by association, many other forms of evil that can’t be attributed to sinful human behavior. Is that really the kind of God we represent when we go out to win people to Christ, his son?

 

Tuesday
Jun122012

The Grisly Reality of the Very Slow Human Population Growth

By Ralph D. Winter
From his Editorial Comment originally published in the January 1998 Issue of Mission Frontiers
 
Consider the truly amazing fact that for many, many centuries due to hatred, unrestrained bloodshed, and microbial assaults the incredible potential of population growth on a world level simply did not happen.
 
Let me explain that. We are now ending the second millennium AD, aren’t we? For the entire first millennium world population didn’t go anywhere. Only in the Christian West did it even begin a tiny expansion. According [a recent] National Geographic issue the growth was then only one tenth of one percent per year until 1700 AD. But, as hygiene and increased food production began to batter down the destructive forces, and colonial expansion put an end to hundreds of local wars in Africa and Asia, world population began to explode.
 
To get perspective, if the population of the entire globe in Abraham’s day (estimated to be 27 million in 2000 BC) had grown at the present rate of world population growth (1.7 percent per year), world population would have shot up from 27 million to 6 billion in just the next 321 years.
 
A second example: if the 2 million population of England in 440 AD (at the time of the withdrawal of the Roman legions) had grown at the current rate of world population growth, England would have multiplied 38,275 times in the next six centuries to become 76 billion people by the time of the invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066 AD! That’s over ten times the present world population—in England alone.
 
But no growth took place during those hundreds of turbulent years between 440 and 1066 AD. Why? Unending tragedy of war and bloodshed and pestilence—first the invasion of the pagan Anglo Saxons and laterthe invasion of the pagan Vikings. Once those illiterate invading savages (ancestors of some of us) became Christians things began to settle down. And the population began to grow, albeit slowly…
 
…slowly until Satan’s insidious inroads at the microbial level were intelligently and specifically resisted. Then disease was reduced and growth picked up speed. Yes, evil was dramatically unmasked when the very existence of microbes was discovered. Who would have thought that tiny little things smaller than you could see with the naked eye (20,000 on the face of a smooth, clean front tooth) would be a source of such staggering global suffering and tragedy? People were as confused about how to fight these evil bugs as we are about how to fight nicotine and STDs which are devouring our people today.
 
And, why has war and pestilence been so hideously widespread for the vast majority of the many, many centuries of human experience? Why do we find cannibalism in every evidence of ancient man? The National Geographic article sanitarily skirts these factors.
 
The grisly reality of the very slow human population growth on this planet fairly shouts at us: there is an evil principle (person) at work at every level of life, from the world of good microbes and cell structures in our bodies battling for survival against assailing destructive microbes to the grim world of combat by tooth and talon. No doubt about it, evil was unleashed and has been stalking the world unchecked until, until, until, what? …until another principle took hold—at the time God set in motion a corrective, conquering Kingdom in Abraham’s mandate (Gen 12:1-3).
 
No question about it—except to those who may not have thought it through—our modern, relatively safer, healthier, explosively growing, relatively less warlike world of today is due to the quiet, 4,000 year-old impact of the work of God in collaboration with His people. Things are coming to an end.
Thursday
Jun072012

Is There an Active Satan? When Did He Get Started and What is He Doing? 

By Ralph D. Winter
From his "Works of the Devil" lecture presented on June 23, 1999

Our theological tradition does not list for us exactly what the works of the devil really are. The respected Dutch theologian Berkouer made the rare comment that “You cannot have a sound theology without a sound demonology. Another theologian dared to suggest that Satan’s greatest achievement is “to cover his tracks.” Note that if in fact Satan has skillfully “covered his tracks” all of us may therefore be extensively unaware of his deeds. Paul suggested that we are not to be ignorant of his devices. We are told that Satan and his angels once worked for God. When Satan turned against God what precise kind of destruction and perversion did he set out to achieve? Where would we see evidence of his works? Would we get so accustomed to evil that we would be slow to connect Satan with evil and suffering? Would Satan successfully tempt us to think that God is somehow behind all eviland we must therefore not attempt to eradicate things like smallpox lest we interfere with Divine Providence?

In the last 20 years paleontologists have dug up more evidences of earlier life forms than in all previous history. One of their thought-provoking discoveries is that the pre-Cambrian forms of life included no predators. Then, at a very distinct juncture there suddenly appeared destructive forms of life at all levels, from large creatures to the microbiological level. Is this what Satan set out to do from the time he fell out with the Creatorthat is, he set about to pervert all forms of life so as to produce the vast jungle of tooth and claw that reigns today? Recent lab results indicate that retroviruses are smart enough to carry with them short pieces of pre-coded DNA which they insert into the chromosome of a cell so as to distort the very nature of an organism. Can a lion that will lie down with a lamb become vicious by such DNA tinkering? We do know that many diseases reflect defective genes. Very recent literature indicates that, in the case of the major chronic diseases, infections are now seriously thought to underlie everything from heart disease to cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and even schizophrenia.

A Double Enigma
But we confront a second and separate mystery herebeyond the scientific facts. Speaking in colloquial terms we face a “double whammy.” We are not only suddenly aware that our medical people have been looking in the wrong direction. We are aware that some force is delaying that awareness. For example, it has been two decades since it was clearly proven that 95% of duodenal ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, yet today half the doctors in the state of Colorado still do not employ the simple remedy now available. Is this demonic cultural delusion added to demonic physical distortion? Will there be a similarly ominous and tragic lag in the application of knowledge with regard to the relation between infectious agents and the major killer diseases I just mentioned? Can and should the church speak out on these twin problem areas? Where are our theologians when we need them?

Tuesday
May292012

When a Daughter Dies: Walking the Way of Grace in the Midst of My Grief

For those of you who subscribe to Christianity Today, you may have noticed an article in the April 2012 issue entitled When a Daughter Dies: Walking the Way of Grace in the Midst of My Grief, by Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. If not, I recommend it. If you’ve lost a loved one, the article will likely bring back a rush of grief emotions. You will surely be reminded of the one you miss. In my own journey, I’m finding these emotions are excruciating to process, but also essential, and this article points out why.

In addition to sharing a moving, emotional story, Dr. Witherington takes a definitive theological stance about his tragedy:

God did not do this to my child. God is not the author of evil. God does not terminate sweet lives with a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolisms are a result of the bent nature of this world.

Then he explains these convictions:

... the words, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away,” from the lips of Job (1:21), are not good theology. According to Job 1, it was not God but the Devil who took away Job’s children, health, and wealth. God allowed it to happen, but when Job said these words, as the rest of the story shows, he was not yet enlightened about the true nature of the source of his calamity and God’s actual will for his life.

Witherington even goes so far as to say:

If God is the author of...evil, suffering...and death, then the Bible makes no sense when it tells us that God tempts no one, that God’s will is that none should perish but have everlasting life, and that death is the very enemy of God and humankind that Jesus, who is life, came to abolish and destroy.

This is an interesting and insightful reflection on one of the more difficult mysteries of the Christian life from a respected evangelical scholar.

 

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