We’ll be exploring several of the reasons why the Prosperity Gospel (PG) is so prevalent in South Africa. The first cause we’ll address is absentee fathers, or, single-parent homes.
Surveys show that South Africa has among the highest number of single parent homes in the world. In fact, according to a recent study, children from South Africa are least likely to live in a home with two parents. Only about 36% of South African households have both a father and a mother.
It is most likely even worse in the rural areas because so many men and women leave for Joburg and other big cities to find work.
Why do single-parent homes lower a culture’s defenses against false teaching like the PG? First, Scripture warns us that charlatans and false teachers will prey on women. “For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions” (2Tm. 3:6). Continue reading
Charles Spurgeon, Christian Heritage, 2010, 254 pages, 4 of 5 stars
What happened to the prayer meeting? First we changed the name to “mid-week service.” Now it’s gone altogether.
It is common these day for churches to abandon the Sunday PM gathering. The prayer meeting is even less popular. Surgeon grabs us by the lapels and urges the reader never to abandon this sacred task. “I would have you vow that the prayer meeting shall never be given up while you live” (137).
This book is a series of studies on prayer meetings and prayer meeting addresses. Most people would yawn and close the book at this point, but Spurgeon is so full of verve, insight, color and illustration, the pages turn quickly. Continue reading
The reason biblical, clear-headed ministers of the gospel have so badly erred on the homosexual and transgender issues of today is because the world has increased the heat on the sexual revolution without the church realizing it has come to a boil.
How could so many Presbyterians and Baptists of the previous century—men who would have gone to the gallows to protect the inerrancy of Scripture—support slavery? How could those with down-the-line orthodoxy reinforce Jim Crow laws? It is because these were the socially acceptable sins of the day and they were too timid to stand against the tide of popular sentiment. So too is homosexuality and transgenderism in our modern world. What was needed most then is what is needed now. Courage. Continue reading
Recently I spoke with a military chaplain who has a transgender soldier in his unit who identifies as a woman. The serviceman has gone through the hormonal and surgical procedures. Should the chaplain use the male or female name? What is the loving thing to do?
My purpose here is not to argue men are made men and women, women. Scripture is unmistakable and even in our crazy modern world, most evangelicals still agree. The confusion seems to rest on how Christians should address the transgender. In fact, many pastors in the chaplain’s conservative denomination were split on what to do.
Some Straw Men
Before we begin, let me give a few disclaimers. First, we’re not talking about scenarios of ignorance. If Mrs. Smith asks for the cereal and I say “in aisle three, ma’am”, I’m not complicit in the lie when I learn later it was actually Mr. Smith to whom I was talking. Because Scripture considers motive in moral acts, the scenario in paragraph one does not fit this description. Continue reading
Joseph Conrad, Penguin Books, 1899/2007, 115 pages, 2 of 5 stars
This is a book about the darkness of the human heart. And while the book explores the depravity of specific social evils like colonialism and the African slave trade, this is really a work about man’s soul—the heart of darkness.
Marlow is the narrator who while resting on his steamboat in England tells his friends of his experience in “one of the dark places of the earth.” It appears he was given a job along the Congo River searching for ivory. His real task, however, was to track down an eccentric but savvy ivory trader named Kurtz.
While Marlow repairs his boat, he begins to learn the mysteries surrounding the man who dominates everyone he meets. He is powerful, influential … and evil. The suspense builds as Marlow labors to find the European genius forgotten in Africa, a man apparently near death.
Marlow discovers that it was Kurtz who ordered the natives to sabotage his steamboat. At first the reader is made to believe that Kurtz was “shamefully abandoned” (76), but soon discovers he attacked Marlow in an effort to remain in the heart of darkness as a god to the natives. Perhaps he played this game to obtain more ivory. Maybe he began to believe it. Witchcraft was involved (“it had horns—antelope horns, I think—on its head… some sorcerer, some witch-man, no doubt”).
Dr. Joel Beeke is president at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan and editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth.
He’s written many books, including his magnum opus A Puritan Theology, an overview of the Puritans called Meet the Puritans and an invaluable guide for family devotions, Family Worship Bible Guide.
Recently I sat with this godly man for two days as he lectured on Experiential Preaching, which he defines as preaching from the heart of the minister to the heart of the people through the Word. Here are 20 insights:
- “If there is one book on the ministry you must read, let it be Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry.”
- “A Puritan was like Jesus—common people heard him gladly.”
- “Of the 75,000 books in our library, we determined the text the Puritans preached about the most was John 17:3.” (This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.)
- “If I go into an old bookstore and find an antique book in good condition, I know the author is Anglican. No one has read it. Puritan books are tattered from being passed around.”
- “I started reading the Puritans when I was 9 years old at the advice of my father.”
- “The best compliment as a pastor I ever received was from a young, unbelieving girl in my catechism class. She told her mother, ‘The new minister has more concern for my soul than I do.’”
- “I’d often rather work with Hyper-Calvinism than Easy-believism. It is more difficult to evangelize the latter group.”
- “When I travel, I do lots of reading and writing in airports and planes. Stuart Olyott, a great preacher and friend, does no reading. He only studies people. This is why he preaches so well.”
- “My wife calls me her BMW—Best Man in the World.”
- “It drives me crazy when pastors release the children to children’s church. Sometimes those as old as 8-9 are leaving the sermon I have prepared for them.”
- “Most ministers don’t pray immediately after the sermon because they are more concerned about how they are viewed in their sermon. If you are more concerned about how the Lord fares, you will pray afterward that Satan doesn’t steal the seed away.”
- “The average Puritan home had 9 children.”
- “For families that don’t yet do Family Worship, I encourage the father to get started by reading to his family a few verses from a Gospel, then using Expository Thoughts by JC Ryle to guide them with warm, biblical insight.” (Get Ryle’s Mark for $.99)
- “My pet-peeve is when pastors begin their preaching with humor to lighten up people. Never use humor just to use humor.”
- “If people’s natural tendency is to talk about how great a preacher you are, you haven’t preached correctly. After a 19th century pastor preached, people said: “Wow, what a preacher.” After Spurgeon preached, they said: “Wow, what a Christ!”
- “Regarding what to look for in a prospective pastor, look at how he treats the children.”
- “On Saturday Family Worship, I get the children excited for the Lord’s Day. On Sunday morning, I go to each child’s room and say: ‘Time to wake up; it’s the Lord’s Day!’”
- “It’s very important I write. If I don’t write for two weeks, I feel far from God. I am called to this.”
- “I always try to be reading one Puritan book at a time because they are so full of godliness and Christ. I have received more from this spiritual discipline than any other in my life.”
- “The absence of chastening in the ministry should be a disturbing sign.”
Some in African culture believe that barrenness is a curse and that procreation is the primary purpose of marriage. A barren marriage is a marriage that did not achieve its goal. Samuel Kunhiyop gives a practical example:
Among the Bajju of Nigeria, [a barren woman] is referred to as anakwu, meaning “one who is distressed for a child.” The word is closely related to the word dukwu, meaning “death”, and indicates that she is as good as dead. When she does die, a priest steps between the legs of the corpse and says, “go away, you worthless woman.”