Voddie Baucham faces ‘long’ recovery after undergoing quadruple heart bypass

Voddie Baucham(Photo: GoFundMe)

Southern Baptist apologist Voddie Baucham is facing a “long road of recovery ahead” after undergoing a quadruple heart bypass on Monday. 

Thomas Ascol, president of Founders Ministries, of which Baucham is a board member, said came through the surgery “well” and had been “awake and responsive”. 

“Thank you for praying. He has a long road of recovery ahead. Praise God for His mercies on display!” he said. 

Baucham, dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia, had already been recovering from an earlier surgery for heart failure which he said had been “very successful” before finding out that he also needed the quadruple bypass.

He has been receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Florida, and has been documenting his battle with heart disease on social media over the last few months. 

In his last health update on Instagram, Baucham said he hoped to avoid a heart transplant. 

“The good news is, I am no longer on that path that looks like a path to ultimately a heart transplant,” he said. “I am a month out now from my surgery and things are going well.”

Despite his health troubles, Baucham this week released his latest book, Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.

A fundraising campaign to help Baucham cover his medical costs has so far raised nearly $1.5m.

Day 3: The Walking Christians

Long before the pandemic, the church in Venezuela was experiencing a complex and difficult situation.

The worsening economic crisis has led more than 5 million people to flee the country, where food and medicine are hard to come by and inflation is skyrocketing. Electricity availability and internet access are also spotty. According to mobile broadband speed and browsing statistics, Venezuela ranks 139th, above only Afghanistan and Palestine.

In a global pandemic, with 95 percent of public transportation unavailable, and gas inaccessible for many, how can the people be fed? How can they gather for Sunday services?

Yet the church has persevered. Pastors on the ground report an unexpected growth of new believers who have arrived tired and in need of a loving Father who brings peace, comfort, and rest for their hearts in the midst of their affliction. Although there is no transportation or internet, people are walking for hours in order to gather together and hear the Word of God.

Ways to Pray:

  1. Thank God for the spiritual transformation of the church in Venezuela, for the many who have turned from the prosperity gospel to the true gospel of grace
  2. For provision for the brothers and sisters who are experiencing hunger and hardship in the country, and the many who have fled to Colombia, Brazil, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries
  3. For a miracle of renewal and peace in Venezuela, for God to soften the hearts of the authorities and bring many to the gospel

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17–18

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Tim Keller: Hope for a Better World Starts with the Resurrection

The American belief has long been that each generation will have a better life—economically, technologically, socially, personally—than the previous one. But this idea of linear historical progress did not exist in most other cultures. All ancient cultures—Chinese, Babylonian, Hindu, Greek, and Roman—had different views. Some saw history as cyclical, and others saw history as a slow decline from past golden ages.

The idea that history was moving in the direction of continual progress and improvement in the human condition simply did not exist.

Then, however, came Christianity. As Robert Nisbet writes in his book History of the Idea of Progress, Christian thinkers gave “to the idea of progress a large and devoted following in the West and a sheer power that the idea could not have otherwise [in the absence of Christian beliefs] acquired.” The Greeks thought that the accumulation of human knowledge led to a mild, temporary improvement in the human condition—but only between conflagrations. But Christian philosophers “endowed the idea of progress with new attributes which were bound to give it a spiritual force unknown to their pagan predecessors.”

Christianity, then, offers unparalleled resources for cultural hope. (We are not for the moment talking about individual hope—hope for life after death. We are talking about corporate hope, social hope, hope for the future of society, of the human race—hope for a good direction to history.) Looking at the arc of history through the lens of Christ’s resurrection, we can make four broad statements about the nature of Christian hope: It is uniquely reasonable, full, realistic, and effective.

Christian hope is reasonable

First, there is formidable historical evidence that the resurrection of Christ actually happened. This makes Christian hope different from any other variety.

N. T. Wright explains that the resurrection of Christ presents evidence that demands explanation from historians and scientists. It can’t simply be dismissed. He writes, “Insofar as I understand scientific method, when something turns up that doesn’t fit the paradigm you’re working with, one option … is to change the paradigm.” We are not to exclude the evidence just because our old paradigm can’t account for it, but we are to include it within a new paradigm, “a larger whole.” A failure to provide a historically plausible alternative explanation for the eyewitness accounts and the revolutionary, overnight worldview change of thousands of Jews is not being more scientific—it is being less so.

Various kinds of Western progressivism believe history is moving toward more individual freedom or class equality or economic prosperity or technologically acquired peace and justice. But these views are not hypotheses that anyone can test. They are “hope so” hopes—beliefs that are not rooted in the empirical realm. The resurrection of Christ, however, includes powerful evidence from the empirical realm and, while still requiring faith, provides a highly reasonable, rational hope that there is a God who is going to renew the world.

Christian hope is full

Every religion has offered people a hope for a life after death. Our secular culture, in radical contrast, is the first in history to tell its members that both individuals and world history will end in ultimate oblivion. In the end, we go to nothing, both as a civilization and as persons.

Other religions are ultimately “spirit-ist” in the sense that they believe matter is unimportant and in the end all that will exist is spirit. Secularism, of course, is materialist in its belief that there is no soul or supernatural reality, that everything has a scientific, physical cause.

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Christianity differs from both. It does not merely offer the prospect of a wholly spiritual future in heaven. The resurrection of Jesus, to cite the Greek New Testament, is arrabon, a down payment, and aparche, the firstfruits of a future physical resurrection in which the material world will be renewed. It will be a world where justice dwells, every tear will be wiped away, death and destruction are banished forever, and the wolf will lie down with the lamb; these are lyrical, poetic ways of saying that this world will be mended, made new, liberated from its bondage to death and decay (Rom. 8:18–23).

This is the fullest possible hope. The resurrection of Christ promises us not merely some future consolation for the life we lost but the restoration of the life we lost and infinitely more. It promises the world and life that we have always longed for but never had.

Christian hope is realistic

The philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel has long been highly influential for Western thought. Hegel taught that history was proceeding through a “dialectic” in which, in each age, conflicting forces reached a new, greater synthesis. This meant that every age was better than the one before and history was moving upward in a series of unbroken steps. That, as we have seen over the last century, is simply unrealistic. Christianity offers an infinitely greater and more wonderful destiny for human history and society, but it does so realistically.

If we look to the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, we see a very different divine model. His life was not in any way a series of upward steps. He emptied himself of his glory and came and died, yet this descent led to an ascent to even greater heights, because now he rules not only the world in general but also a saved people. It was only through his suffering and descent that he was able to save us and ascend.

This is not the Hegelian merger of equal and opposite forces. Jesus did not “synthesize” holiness with sin or life with death. He defeated sin and death through death. But neither are Jesus’ life and ministry the random sequence ruptures described by the postmodernists. Jesus goes through darkness to eventually bring us to greater light. History is moving toward a wonderful destiny, but not in a series of successively better and better eras, going from strength to strength. That is not how God works.

The secular idea of progress is naive and unrealistic. It is wrong to base a society on the assumption that every generation will experience more prosperity, peace, and justice than the one before. But the postmodern alternative robs us of any hope. Christianity, however, gives us a noncynical but realistic way to see history.

Christian hope is effective

Finally, Christian hope works at the life level, the practical level.

The New Testament uses the word hope in two ways. When it comes to hoping in human beings and ourselves, our hope is always relative, uncertain. If you lend to someone, you do so in the hope that person will pay you back (Luke 6:34); if we plow and thresh, we do so in the hope that there will be a harvest (1 Cor. 9:10). We choose the best methods and wisest practices to secure the outcome we want. We insist to ourselves and others that we have it sorted and under control. But we do not—we never do. This is relative, “hope so” hope.

But when the object of hope is not any human agent but God, then hope means confidence, certainty, and full assurance (Heb. 11:1). To have hope in God is not to have an uncertain, anxious wish that he will affirm your plan but to recognize that he and he alone is trustworthy, that everything else will let you down (Ps. 42:5, 11; 62:10), and that his plan is infinitely wise and good. If I believe in the resurrection of Jesus, that confirms that there is a God who is both good and powerful, who brings light out of darkness, and who is patiently working out a plan for his glory, our good, and the good of the world (Eph. 1:9–12; Rom. 8:28). Christian hope means that I stop betting my life and happiness on human agency and rest in him.

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A person who gets a diagnosis of cancer will rightly put relative hope in doctors and medical treatment. But the main source of dependence must be upon God. We can have certainty that his plan and will for us is always good and perfect and that the inevitable destiny is resurrection. If a cancer patient’s main hope lies in medicine, then an unfavorable report will be devastating. But if that hope is in the Lord, it will be like a mountain that cannot be shaken or moved (Ps. 125:1). Isaiah 40:31 says that those who “hope in the Lord” are not anxiously holding on but always “renewing their strength” and even “soaring.” Hope in God leads to “running and not growing weary” and “walking and not being faint.”

Jesus has secured this for us by his death and resurrection. When this assurance abides in us, our immediate fates—how the current situation turns out—can no longer trouble us. Hope comes from looking at him.

Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. This article is adapted from HOPE IN TIMES OF FEAR, by Timothy Keller, published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Timothy Keller.

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Palm Sunday church attackers were newlyweds

(Photo: TV One)

The suspects in Sunday’s bomb attack on an Indonesian cathedral were not long married, the Associated Press reports. 

At least 20 people were injured when a couple let off pressure cooker bombs at the entrance to the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, on Sulawesi.

It happened as worshippers were leaving a Palm Sunday service to mark the start of Holy Week in the approach to Easter.  

The couple, indentified by policy only as L and YSF, had been married for six months and were local to Makassar. Neighbours told AP they were between 23- and 26-years-old. 

The Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has expressed its “deep sorrow” over Sunday morning’s “barbaric” attack. 

“This ill-fated incident adds to the long list of acts of violence and terror that have occurred in the archipelago,” it said.

The organization is also urging Christians to remain calm and step up security at their churches as they prepare to celebrate Easter. 

“I urge all people to remain calm and fully entrust the handling of this problem to the relevant authorities. I call on all people not to be afraid and anxious, but to remain vigilant,” said PGI chair Gomar Gultom.

“I fully believe that our apparatus is able to thoroughly investigate this case and can create a safe and comfortable atmosphere for the Indonesian people, especially the people of Makassar.” 

He urged Christians to follow the peaceful example set by Jesus who “did not come with power, strength, much less violence to fight and destroy lives.”

“It is in such a spirit of gentleness that I invite Christians to face this event, while praying for the peace of our society,” he said. 

The attackers detonated their devices when they were approached by security guards and were reported to be the only fatalities in the attack, which has been condemned by Indonesian president Joko Widodo. 

They are believed to have had ties to the Islamic State-linked extremist group, Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which is behind past suicide bombings in Indonesia, including a 2016 attack on a Starbucks that killed four, and an attack on a church in Kalimantan the following year in which a 2-year-old girl died. 

Police are investigating possible links between one of Sunday’s attackers and a 2019 suicide attack on Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, in the Philippines.

In the wake of Sunday’s attack, security has been tightened at churches across Indonesia as they prepare to celebrate Easter.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that the authorities have asked churches to hold their Easter services virtually instead. 

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, said, “As Christians around the world prepare themselves for the Holy Week, it is pure evil that the terrorists deliberately chose this time to attack and inflict suffering on Christians.

“We ask for prayers for the wounded and urge the Indonesian authorities to investigate and arrest the terrorists responsible for this attack.

“Terrorism should not be allowed to exist in a country that upholds Pancasila [the guiding philosophy of the Indonesian state].”