Issues Facing Christians Today

Overview

Terrorism

Same-Sex Marriage

Debt Cancellation

The AIDS Pandemic

These are just some of the critical contemporary issues addressed in this book. Issues Facing Christians Today helps thinking Christians sift through and respond to a sweeping array of complex and pressing topics.

Thoroughly revised and updated by Roy Mc Cloughry and fully ...

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Overview

Terrorism

Same-Sex Marriage

Debt Cancellation

The AIDS Pandemic

These are just some of the critical contemporary issues addressed in this book. Issues Facing Christians Today helps thinking Christians sift through and respond to a sweeping array of complex and pressing topics.

Thoroughly revised and updated by Roy Mc Cloughry and fully endorsed by John Stott, this fourth edition continues a two-decades-plus legacy of bringing important current issues under the lens of biblically informed thinking. Combining a keen global awareness with a gift for penetrating analysis, the authors examine such vital topics as

Pluralism and Christian witness
Cohabitation
Environmentalism and ecological stewardship
War and peace
Abortion and euthanasia … and much more

An entirely new chapter on bio-engineering has been contributed by Professor John Wyatt of University College London.

Including a study guide, Issues Facing Christians Today is essential reading for Christians who wish to engage our culture with insight, passion, and faith, knowing that the gospel is as relevant and deeply needed today as at any time in history. As the culture wars continue, this book will remain a critical contribution, helping to define Christian social and ethical thinking in the years ahead.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310252696
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Edition description: 4TH
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 585,398
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

The Reverend Dr. John Stott was Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, England, and had a worldwide ministry as a Bible expositor, speaker, and writer.

Roy Mc Cloughry is a writer, lecturer, and researcher on Christian approaches to social issues. He has written a number of books including Living in the Presence of the Future and is chairman of Third Way magazine and a vice president of the Shaftesbury Society. He lectures in ethics and social theology at St John’s College, Nottingham.

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Read an Excerpt

NEW ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY
FULLY REVISED EDITION
John Stott
President, the Institute for Contemporary Christianity
New Issues Facing Christians Today
Copyright © 1984, 1990 and 1999 John Stott
First published in Great Britain in 1984 by Marshall Pickering
Second edition first published in 1990
This edition published in 1999
John Stott asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN-10: 0-551-03172-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-511-03172-2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI / 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this
book to us in care of zreview@zondervan.com. Thank you.
Abbreviations
The biblical text quoted is normally that of the New International
Version. If another text is used, this is stated.
Arndt-Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature by William
F. Arndt and F.Wilbur Gingrich (University of
Chicago Press and Cambridge University Press,
1957).
AV The Authorized (King James') Version of the
Bible, 1611.
JB The Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman and
Todd, 1966).
NASB The New American Standard Bible (Moody
Press, Chicago, 1960).
NEB The New English Bible (NT 1961, 2nd edition
1970; OT 1970).
NIVThe New International Version of the Bible
(Hodder & Stoughton, NT 1974; OT 1979;
revised edition 1984).
RSV The Revised Standard Version of the Bible
(NT 1946, 2nd edition 1971; OT 1952).

PART I
CHRISTIANS IN A NON-CHRISTIAN SOCIETY

Chapter 1
INVOLVEMENT: IS
IT OUR CONCERN?
It is exceedingly strange that any followers of Jesus Christ should
ever have needed to ask whether social involvement was their
concern, and that controversy should have blown up over the
relationship between evangelism and social responsibility. For it is
evident that in his public ministry Jesus both 'went about … teaching
… and preaching' (Matthew 4:23; 9:35 RSV) and 'went about
doing good and healing' (Acts 10:38 RSV). In consequence, 'evangelism
and social concern have been intimately related to one another
throughout the history of the Church … Christian people have
often engaged in both activities quite unselfconsciously, without
feeling any need to define what they were doing or why.'
The evangelical heritage of social concern2
There were some remarkable examples of this in eighteenthcentury
Europe and America.The Evangelical Revival, which stirred
both continents, is not to be thought of only in terms of the preaching
of the gospel and the converting of sinners to Christ; it also led to
widespread philanthropy, and profoundly affected society on both
sides of the Atlantic. John Wesley remains the most striking instance.
He is mainly remembered as the itinerant evangelist and open-air
preacher. And so he was. But the gospel he preached inspired people
to take up social causes in the name of Christ. Historians have attributed
to Wesley's influence rather than to any other the fact that
Britain was spared the horrors of a bloody revolution like France's.3
The change which came over Britain during this period was well
documented in J.Wesley Bready's remarkable book, England Before
and After Wesley, subtitled 'The Evangelical Revival and Social Reform'.
His research forced him to conclude that 'the true nursingmother
of the spirit and character values that have created and
sustained Free Institutions throughout the English-speaking world',
indeed 'the moral watershed of Anglo-Saxon history', was 'the
much-neglected and oft-lampooned Evangelical Revival'.
Bready described 'the deep savagery of much of the 18th century',
which was characterized by 'the wanton torture of animals
for sport, the bestial drunkenness of the populace, the inhuman
traffic in African negroes, the kidnapping of fellow-countrymen for
exportation and sale as slaves, the mortality of parish children, the
universal gambling obsession, the savagery of the prison system and
penal code, the welter of immorality, the prostitution of the theatre,
the growing prevalence of lawlessness, superstition and lewdness;
the political bribery and corruption, the ecclesiastical arrogance and
truculence, the shallow pretensions of Deism, the insincerity and
debasement rampant in Church and State - such manifestations
suggest that the British people were then perhaps as deeply degraded
and debauched as any people in Christendom.'
But then things began to change. And in the nineteenth century
slavery and the slave trade were abolished, the prison system was
humanized, conditions in factory and mine were improved, education
became available to the poor, trades unions began, etc., etc.
'Whence, then, this pronounced humanity? - this passion for
social justice, and sensitivity to human wrongs? There is but one
answer commensurate with stubborn historical truth. It derived
from a new social conscience. And if that social conscience, admittedly,
was the offspring of more than one progenitor, it nonetheless
was mothered and nurtured by the Evangelical Revival of vital,
practical Christianity - a revival which illumined the central postulates
of the New Testament ethic, which made real the Fatherhood
of God and the Brotherhood of men, which pointed the priority of
personality over property, and which directed heart, soul and
mind, towards the establishment of the Kingdom of Righteousness
on earth.'
The Evangelical Revival 'did more to transfigure the moral
character of the general populace, than any other movement British
history can record'. For Wesley was both a preacher of the gospel
and a prophet of social righteousness. He was 'the man who
restored to a nation its soul'.
The evangelical leaders of the next generation were committed
with equal enthusiasm to evangelism and social action. The most
famous among them were Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson,
James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay, Charles Grant, John Shore
(Lord Teignmouth), Thomas Babington, Henry Thornton, and
of course their guiding light, William Wilberforce. Because several
of them lived in Clapham, at that time a village three miles south of
London, and belonged to Clapham Parish Church, whose Rector
John Venn was one of them, they came to be known as 'the
Clapham Sect', although in Parliament and in the press they were
mocked as 'the Saints'.
It was their concern over the plight of the African slaves which
first brought them together. Three days before his death in 1791,
John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce to assure him that God had raised
him up for his 'glorious enterprise' and to urge him not to be weary
of welldoing. It is largely to the Clapham Sect (under Wilberforce's
leadership) that the credit belongs for the first settlement of freed
slaves in Sierra Leone (1787), the abolition of the trade (1807), the
registration of slaves in the colonies (1820), which put an end to
slave smuggling, and finally their emancipation (1833). It is true
that 'the Saints' were wealthy aristocrats, who shared some of the
social blindspots of their time, but they were extremely generous in
their philanthropy, and the range of their concerns was extraordinary.
In addition to the slavery question, they involved themselves
in penal and parliamentary reform, popular education (Sunday
Schools, tracts and the Christian Observer newspaper), Britain's
obligation to her colonies (especially India), the spread of the gospel
(they were instrumental in the founding of both the Bible Society
and the Church Missionary Society), and factory legislation.
They also campaigned against duelling, gambling, drunkenness,
immorality and cruel animal sports. And throughout they were
directed and motivated by their strong evangelical faith. Ernest
Marshall Howse has written of them: 'This group of Clapham
friends gradually became knit together in an astonishing intimacy
and solidarity. They planned and laboured like a committee that
never was dissolved. At the Clapham mansions they congregated
by common impulse in what they chose to call their "Cabinet
Councils" wherein they discussed the wrongs and injustices which
were a reproach to their country, and the battles which would
need to be fought to establish righteousness. And thereafter, in
Involvement: is it our concern?
Parliament and out, they moved as one body, delegating to each
man the work he could do best, that the common principles might
be maintained and their common purposes be realized.'
Reginald Coupland in his biography of Wilberforce justly commented:
'It was, indeed, a unique phenomenon - this brotherhood
of Christian politicians. There has never been anything like it since
in British public life.'
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
Preface to the First Edition (1984) xi
Preface to the Second Edition (1990) xiv
Preface to the Third Edition (1999) xvi
Part I Christians in a Non-Christian Society
1 Involvement: is it our concern? 3
The evangelical heritage of social concern 3
Reasons for The Great Reversal 8
The Church and politics 13
The biblical basis for social concern 17
Practical action 31
2 Complexity: can we think straight? 33
A Christian mind 36
The reality of God 41
The paradox of our humanness 43
The future of society 47
An appendix on postmodernity 50
3 Pluralism: should we impose our views? 53
Imposition 55
Laissez-faire 57
Persuasion 59
Examples of persuasion by argument 62
Political systems 66
4 Alienation: have we any influence? 70
Salt and light 73
Prayer and evangelism 76
Witness and protest 81
Example and groups 85
Part II Global Issues
5 Wars and rumours of wars 91
Contemporary realities 91
Theological and moral reflections 98
The call for nuclear disarmament 110
Questions and qualifications 113
Christian peace-making 119
6 Our human environment 123
Reasons for environmental concern 124
The biblical perspective 130
The conservation debate 135
Contemporary awareness 139
7 North-South economic inequality 143
The Brandt Commission reports 144
Debt and development 149
The principle of unity 154
The principle of equality 158
Personal and economic deductions 161
8 Human rights 166
Human rights violations 166
Concern for human rights 169
Human dignity 173
Human equality 175
Humanresponsibility 178
Part III Social Issues
9 Work and unemployment 185
Attitudes to work 185
Self-fulfilment 188
The service of others and of God 191
The trauma of unemployment 197
Solutions and palliatives 199
The role of the Church 201
Conclusion 206
10 Industrial relations 210
The biblical principle of mutuality 211
Abolish discrimination 214
Increase participation 217
Emphasize co-operation 226
11 The multi-racial dream 234
Slavery and the American racial problem 235
German anti-Semitism and South African apartheid 239
Change in South Africa 242
British attitudes and tensions 246
Biblical foundations for multi-racialism 253
12 Poverty, wealth and simplicity 259
Three approaches to poverty 260
Who are the poor? The paradox of poverty 264
Good news for the poor 269
Three options for rich Christians 273
Part IV Sexual Issues
13 Women, men and God 285
The rise of feminism 285
Equality 289
Complementarity 294
Responsibility 298
Ministry 310
14 Marriage and divorce 319
Changing attitudes 320
Old Testament teaching 322
The teaching of Jesus 328
The teaching of Paul 333
Irretrievable breakdown 337
Personal and pastoral realities 341
15 Abortion and euthanasia 345
The revolution in public attitudes 346
The key issue 349
The biblical basis 354
A contemporary Christian debate 359
Human fertilization 362
Techniques and exceptions 368
A call to action 373
Euthanasia 376
16 Same-sex partnerships? 382
The context for discussion 382
The biblical prohibitions 385
Sexuality and marriage in the Bible 392
Contemporary arguments considered 397
The AIDS epidemic 406
Faith, hope and love 410
Conclusion
17 A call for Christian leadership 421
Vision 422
Industry 426
Perseverance 427
Service 430
Discipline 433
Notes 436
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

NEW ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY
FULLY REVISED EDITION
John Stott
President, the Institute for Contemporary Christianity
New Issues Facing Christians Today
Copyright 1984, 1990 and 1999 John Stott
First published in Great Britain in 1984 by Marshall Pickering
Second edition first published in 1990
This edition published in 1999
John Stott asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN-10: 0-551-03172-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-511-03172-2
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
publishers.
Printed in the United States of America
05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 /?DCI / 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6
We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this
book to us in care of zreview@zondervan.com. Thank you.
Abbreviations
The biblical text quoted is normally that of the New International
Version. If another text is used, this is stated.
Arndt-Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
and Other Early Christian Literature by William
F. Arndt and F.Wilbur Gingrich (University of
Chicago Press and Cambridge University Press,
1957).
AV The Authorized (King James) Version of the
Bible, 1611.
JB The Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman and
Todd, 1966).
NASB The New American Standard Bible (Moody
Press, Chicago, 1960).
NEB The New English Bible (NT 1961,2nd edition
1970; OT 1970).
NIV The New International Version of the Bible
(Hodder & Stoughton, NT 1974; OT 1979;
revised edition 1984).
RSV The Revised Standard Version of the Bible
(NT 1946, 2nd edition 1971; OT 1952).

PART I
CHRISTIANS IN A NON-CHRISTIAN SOCIETY

Chapter 1
INVOLVEMENT: IS
IT OUR CONCERN?
It is exceedingly strange that any followers of Jesus Christ should
ever have needed to ask whether social involvement was their
concern, and that controversy should have blown up over the
relationship between evangelism and social responsibility. For it is
evident that in his public ministry Jesus both went about teaching
and preaching (Matthew 4:23; 9:35 RSV) and went about
doing good and healing (Acts 10:38 RSV). In consequence, evangelism
and social concern have been intimately related to one another
throughout the history of the Church Christian people have
often engaged in both activities quite unselfconsciously, without
feeling any need to define what they were doing or why.
The evangelical heritage of social concern2
There were some remarkable examples of this in eighteenthcentury
Europe and America.The Evangelical Revival, which stirred
both continents, is not to be thought of only in terms of the preaching
of the gospel and the converting of sinners to Christ; it also led to
widespread philanthropy, and profoundly affected society on both
sides of the Atlantic. John Wesley remains the most striking instance.
He is mainly remembered as the itinerant evangelist and open-air
preacher. And so he was. But the gospel he preached inspired people
to take up social causes in the name of Christ. Historians have attributed
to Wesleys influence rather than to any other the fact that
Britain was spared the horrors of a bloody revolution like Frances.3
The change which came over Britain during this period was well
documented in J.Wesley Breadys remarkable book, England Before
and After Wesley, subtitled The Evangelical Revival and Social Reform.
His research forced him to conclude that the true nursingmother
of the spirit and character values that have created and
sustained Free Institutions throughout the English-speaking world,
indeed the moral watershed of Anglo-Saxon history, was the
much-neglected and oft-lampooned Evangelical Revival.
Bready described the deep savagery of much of the 18th century,
which was characterized by the wanton torture of animals
for sport, the bestial drunkenness of the populace, the inhuman
traffic in African negroes, the kidnapping of fellow-countrymen for
exportation and sale as slaves, the mortality of parish children, the
universal gambling obsession, the savagery of the prison system and
penal code, the welter of immorality, the prostitution of the theatre,
the growing prevalence of lawlessness, superstition and lewdness;
the political bribery and corruption, the ecclesiastical arrogance and
truculence, the shallow pretensions of Deism, the insincerity and
debasement rampant in Church and State such manifestations
suggest that the British people were then perhaps as deeply degraded
and debauched as any people in Christendom.
But then things began to change. And in the nineteenth century
slavery and the slave trade were abolished, the prison system was
humanized, conditions in factory and mine were improved, education
became available to the poor, trades unions began, etc., etc.
Whence, then, this pronounced humanity? this passion for
social justice, and sensitivity to human wrongs? There is but one
answer commensurate with stubborn historical truth. It derived
from a new social conscience. And if that social conscience, admittedly,
was the offspring of more than one progenitor, it nonetheless
was mothered and nurtured by the Evangelical Revival of vital,
practical Christianity a revival which illumined the central postulates
of the New Testament ethic, which made real the Fatherhood
of God and the Brotherhood of men, which pointed the priority of
personality over property, and which directed heart, soul and
mind, towards the establishment of the Kingdom of Righteousness
on earth.
The Evangelical Revival did more to transfigure the moral
character of the general populace, than any other movement British
history can record. For Wesley was both a preacher of the gospel
and a prophet of social righteousness. He was the man who
restored to a nation its soul.
The evangelical leaders of the next generation were committed
with equal enthusiasm to evangelism and social action. The most
famous among them were Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson,
James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay, Charles Grant, John Shore
(Lord Teignmouth), Thomas Babington, Henry Thornton, and
of course their guiding light, William Wilberforce. Because several
of them lived in Clapham, at that time a village three miles south of
London, and belonged to Clapham Parish Church, whose Rector
John Venn was one of them, they came to be known as the
Clapham Sect, although in Parliament and in the press they were
mocked as the Saints.
It was their concern over the plight of the African slaves which
first brought them together. Three days before his death in 1791,
John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce to assure him that God had raised
him up for his
Read More Show Less

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