Article taken from Prophecy News Watch…
I’ve never seen anyone else attempt to count down the top theology stories from the last calendar year. After doing this several years now, I know why. It’s subjective, presumptuous, and guaranteed to infuriate roughly half my readers. So why do I continue this dubious tradition? Before we flip the calendar to the new year, it’s sometimes encouraging and always telling to take stock of the last 12 months.
We can see God at work. We can see our sins on full display. And when we look back in the archives of human history (see my lists from 2008, 2009, and 2010), we’re sobered to realize that our priorities and concerns often diverge from God’s.
The internet tempts us to live in the moment, but “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
10.) Marriages need help.
This story could have appeared in my 2010 list, and it might warrant an encore in 2012. Same-sex “marriage,” legalized by New York state in 2011, continues to grab the headlines. But here’s the bigger story: a growing number of Westerners have abandoned the institution altogether. The Pew Research Center recently revealed that a record low number of Americans—51 percent—are married. The rate dropped 5 percent in just one year, between 2009 and 2010. Christian appeals to the beauty of covenant faithfulness appear laughable when high-profile spokesmen approve gospel-emptying cruelty.
Probably no one sees this deteriorating situation more clearly than pastors. It’s no coincidence, then, that ministers such as Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll have devoted theological attention to marriage. Reader statistics reveal that you are looking for this help, and The Gospel Coalition sought to provide it in 2011 by hosting video discussions and addressing a generation of young men who display little motivation to marry.
9.) ‘Celebrity’ pastors face backlash.
Our friends from around the world often observe that American Christians demonstrate a peculiar affinity for celebrities. Global demand to hear from well-known American pastors and professors suggests this is not a uniquely Yankee phenomenon. Sinful people everywhere elevate men to a place of privilege that belongs only to God.
Several events in 2011 contributed to a backlash against the so-called celebrity pastors. Multisite churches, already the subject of great ecclesiological debate, now cross state and even regional boundaries. Should teaching ability trump local context? The Elephant Room raised questions about accountability: Do we the people bear responsibility to correct if a pastor outside our local church associates with a teacher whose orthodoxy we suspect?
Publishing, social media, megachurches, and many other factors continue to raise the issue of high-profile ministry, which requires sustained theological reflection and critique. Expect this story to move up the charts in 2012.
8.) Presbyterian Church in America warns against Muslim-idiom translations.
The PCA took action not long after Christianity Today published a cover story that assessed the recent history of exegetical and missiological debates over Bible translations published for Muslims. But the PCA response—which calls on churches to investigate missionaries and agencies they support—had been in the works for months before the controversy involving Wycliffe/SIL and many others expanded. The antagonists have yet to resolve their disagreement over whether Muslim objections obligate Christians to alter familial terms such as “Son of God.”
While pastors and translators seek clarity and charity, Christians struggle with the overarching issue of how best to reach and relate to the Muslim world. Yale theologian Miroslav Volf suggested in a new book that we can blaze a trail forward by confessing that we worship the same God as Muslims. But the response to his response suggests this prospect does not excite conservative evangelicals who believe we can trust God to reveal the gospel to Muslims as we love earnestly and testify faithfully to his revealed Word.
7.) Harold Camping fails, again and again…
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