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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday (Nov. 18) and said it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created “a culture obsessed with sex” that had simply led to a “boredom of sex shorn of mystery.”
“Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion right as part of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems,” Moore told a global gathering of leaders from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths as part of the “Complementarity of Man and Woman” conference convened by Pope Francis.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Men Sexuality Women * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
What lessons were learned from the ERLC conference that might serve as a guide in the days ahead?
On homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the conference stands alone, at least from my perspective, as an earnest first attempt to move evangelicals in a deliberate direction toward more loving, thoughtful engagement on issues that are deeply visceral and deeply divisive. The conference also highlighted the ongoing attempt to rehabilitate the institution of marriage in a same-sex marriage world.
Simply being against same-sex marriage is an insufficient apologetic for rebuilding marriage as a cultural fixture. When deviations from marriage—such as cohabitation, divorce, and promiscuity—become routine, same-sex marriage can seem intelligible and acceptable. In attempts to halt the dictatorship of sexual relativism, the ERLC is dedicated to helping undo the foundations of the sexual revolution that have chipped away at marriage, not just fixing its symptoms.
The conference also revealed that evangelicals are taking a play out of the pro-life handbook.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists Evangelicals Roman Catholic Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths) * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Carlos Whittaker, a prominent evangelical writer and musician, was singing worship songs on stage in 2005 when he suddenly felt like he was having a heart attack and that he would soon die. An audience of 2,000 people watched, and the band played on, as Whittaker left the stage, not knowing that he was having a panic attack.
Though some people still tell Whittaker that his anxiety could be improved if he would just make his faith stronger and pray more, evangelical leaders and grassroots activists are orchestrating a shift in the way the community approaches mental health issues.
“This has nothing to with whether I believe in Jesus,” Whittaker told the Guardian. “This does not have anything to do with whether or not I am reading my Bible or how hard I am praying. I can pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I’m still going to have to take that little white pill every single day.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Drugs/Drug Addiction Health & Medicine Music Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When two global religious leaders embrace one another, someone is sure to turn the encounter into a photo opportunity.
The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
After generations of work with organizations such as the Episcopal Church and the World Council of Churches, the archbishop said many Orthodox leaders now realize that -- on issues of sex, marriage, family life and moral theology -- some of their ecumenical partners will be found in evangelical pulpits and pews.
"In today's pluralistic world, the processes of liberalization have swept over some Christian communities. Many churches have diverted from biblical teaching ... even if this attitude is not endorsed by the majority of these communities' members," said Hilarion, who is the Moscow Patriarchate's chief ecumenical officer.
Read it all.
The remarkable fall from grace of the evangelical preacher Mark Driscoll could provide case-study materials on public ministry for years to come. The Seattle pastor’s resignation from his megachurch on Oct. 14 and the subsequent dissolution of the church he built had nothing to do with the sort of sordid scandals that in the past brought down preachers such as Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Mr. Driscoll’s downfall had a great deal to do with the online world that he had seemed to master, a world that made him famous but also exposed what he called in his resignation letter his “pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”
Boosted by live streaming, podcasts and social media, Mr. Driscoll harnessed the Internet to propel his nondenominational ministry beyond Mars Hill, his local congregation. He was known for his muscular, in-your-face style of preaching about Jesus, depicting Christ as more superhero than lamb of God, once declaring: “I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” This aggressive posture, visible online and off, paradoxically made the once “cussin’ pastor” famous but also helped bring down his ministry.
“The same rough edges that can land you in hot water are the very same things that attracted, in some cases, tens of thousands of people to you in the first place,” Mark DeMoss, whom Mars Hill hired to do public relations for six months before Mr. Driscoll’s resignation, told me.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Prominent author and pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay recently sat down for an honest and heartfelt discussion about how to fight for an awesome marriage in a society that continually pulls against it.
The couple, who have been married for 39 years, use four seasons to describe different stages of marriage and share tips on how to best draw closer to God and to one another during each seasons.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Psychology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
According to a former editor of Marvel Comics, one reason why the graphic novel has nearly universally eschewed marriage is that it “kills a good story.” Whatever could be exciting about Clark Kent if he were to remain married to Lois Lane? Not much, apparently, because DC Comics erased the 1996 marriage from history, returning Superman to bachelorhood, the preferred state of our superheroes.
Exceptions exist, of course. Amour, The Incredibles, and In America, along with many Tyler Perry films, focus on and celebrate marriage. Recent movies, such as Drinking Buddies, also trace the relation between friendship and romance, and even between friendship and marriage, explored, for example, throughout the Harry Potter franchise.
One marvelous exception is the critically acclaimed television series Friday Night Lights (FNL), which aired from 2006 to 2011. It tells the story of ordinary people in a small Texas town and their impassioned love of football. But, as Basinger notes, FNL is not so much a show about football as it is “a show about how marriage works when it actually does work.” For critics and fans alike, there has arguably never been a more honest marriage portrayed on the screen than that of coach Eric and Tami Taylor.
Theirs, unfortunately, remains the exception. More common on the small and large screen is the sense that marriage, particularly traditional marriage, is dull and irrelevant as storytelling material. More usual is the view that, “as in the days of the judges,” each one does with marriage what seems right in his or her eyes, whether in “open,” “free,” or “transgressive” style.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
He stood for many years alone—he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned—his doctrines were misrepresented—his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized—disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.--as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
In Pasadena, the group visited Fuller Theological Seminary to hear a lecture from psychology professor Warren S. Brown about “Neuroscience and Theology.” The Denver group visited two labs at the Colorado School of Mines and heard a talk titled “Planet Earth Care: Does It Matter?” by Kennell J. Touryan, retired chief technology analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). In Atlanta, participants visited two biology labs at Georgia Tech and a local megachurch, and heard from Ravi Jayakaran about the work of the faith-based global health agency MAP International.
In all three locations, some evangelicals said that they had never been to a working science lab and, in Atlanta, several scientists likewise said that they had never visited a megachurch.
“Visiting the science labs and seeing the intriguing blend of intellectual virtuosity and painstaking drudgery that fills the scientists’ hours helped me to appreciate in a new way the noble calling of modern scientists,” said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals.
“I thought there might be disinterest, especially among scientists, for participating in a workshop of dialogue like this with evangelical leaders,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the DoSER program at AAAS. Instead, Wiseman was surprised by the eagerness of influential science leaders, including high-ranking research deans and academic department chairs, to participate.
Read it all.
[Mark] Driscoll cannot take all the credit for his own downfall. For one thing, any faithful Christian would give Satan his due, for leading Mr. Driscoll astray. Then there is the role played by World, an evangelical Christian newsmagazine that broke one of the most damaging stories about Mr. Driscoll. In March, World reported that $210,000 in Mars Hill church funds had gone to a marketing firm that promised to get “Real Marriage,” a book written by Mr. Driscoll and his wife, on best-seller lists.
World was not the only outlet to take on Mr. Driscoll. The blogger Warren Throckmorton, in particular, persistently chronicled concerns about Mars Hill for the website Patheos. But the story about best-seller lists was also not the first scoop for World, and Mr. Driscoll was not the first conservative Christian leader that the magazine had taken on.
In October 2012, a World reporter, Warren Cole Smith, revealed that Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author, filmmaker and activist, had attended a Christian conference with a woman not his wife — a woman he was introducing as his fiancée. Soon after, Mr. D’Souza resigned as president of King’s College in New York City.
Read it all.
Billy Graham, born just days before the end of World War I, turns 96 on Friday.
This year, he’ll celebrate his birthday quietly with family at his mountaintop home in Montreat.
No big party is planned like last year’s, when 900 people – including a score of celebrities – gathered at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn.
But admirers of the Charlotte-born evangelist can listen to a new message from Graham in a 30-minute video called “Heaven” that was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Read it all.
Your new book is entitled Hope Reborn. Give us some insight into the title and what you’re trying to accomplish overall with the book.
As I argued in a recent article, hope is a uniquely Christian attribute. Paul makes this very clear throughout 1 Corinthians 15 where he underlines that we have a hope that goes beyond the grave, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Our first goal with this book is to introduce people to this hope. And for those who are already Christians, we pray that their own hope will be renewed, so they are inspired and equipped to share their faith with others.
Peter tells us “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Read it all.
Historically, schisms have been rather public, bloody things. This was clearly the case when the church split between East and West. Even though some hope of reconciliation was on the table at various points, excommunications had been traded, Crusades had happened, and everybody knew the two or three theological disputes that needed settling. Roughly the same thing could be said of the split between Protestants and Roman Catholics. Following a number of bloody wars, mutual persecutions, and martyrdoms, the results were different communions, confessional documents, and other marks of separation.
In their recent book Deep Church Rising: The Third Schism and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy, Andrew Walker and Robin Parry argue that, unbeknownst to many, the Western church is in the midst of a third great schism. Unlike the last two, though, the split hasn't resulted in a clear line between new denominations and old ones, but runs right through the various churches of the West. On one side stand those who affirm a broadly supernaturalist Christian orthodoxy embodied in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. And on the other, you find those who can at best recite the creeds with their fingers crossed. Having embraced the various presuppositions of Enlightenment and postmodern thinking, they are skeptical of supernatural claims and often doubt the very idea of objective truth.
Read it all.
If traditional Christian teaching produces despair it is likely that such teaching has somehow been pressed or malformed to obscure the gospel. Whether one identifies as homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, the hope of the gospel is the same. In the words of Tim Keller, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” The profound experience of grace in the gospel provides the onus to a life of faithful discipleship. The homosexual need not stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to “earn” salvation just as straight people need not stop experiencing opposite-sex attraction. What he must do is remain chaste, an ancient word with little currency in today’s culture.
There can be little doubt that traditional Christians often communicate to gays that they must somehow stop experiencing same sex attraction in order to make themselves acceptable to God. This is not the gospel. There is nothing than we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. What the Bible asks of us is, however, to recognize that sexual relationships with people of the same sex violates God’s intention for human sexuality. The Christian tradition directs us in one of two equally valid directions: celibacy or heterosexual marriage.
Reasonable people ought to respect Gushee’s right to change his mind and to do so publicly. However, it’s important to note that Gushee’s capitulation is not the only possible response to the precipitous change in cultural attitudes toward sexuality.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Books Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
You talk about the crisis and the promise of following Jesus. In a nutshell, what’s the crisis?
The crisis we’re facing is that many people outside and inside the church don’t understand what it’s supposed to be about. It has become encrusted with so many cultural, historical, political, economic forms. As these get thicker and thicker, they distance us from the core affirmation of living as disciples of Jesus. If you look at the New Testament and ask “What is the church?” I think the primary answer is: people living their lives as an act of worship and response to Jesus Christ and seeking to live as daily disciples in community and for the sake of their world. The crisis is that Christians inside the church don’t seem to view this way of life as necessary. This leaves outsiders puzzled about the purpose of the church, because so little of it seems related to Jesus.
And what’s the promise?
The most illuminating moment of the “promise,” in cultural terms, is the shock of Pope Francis. The Catholic Church has been embroiled in scandal for many years. It has been seen as bureaucratic and unresponsive. Then, all of a sudden, there appears this authentic, living disciple. Here is someone who seems to live out of this deep spirit of humility—a Jesus follower who wants a life rooted in simple action.
Read it all.
“But what sort of thing is God’s gift of wisdom? What effect does it have on a man?--JI Packer, Knowing God, quoted in this morning's adult Sunday school class on Proverbs and the book of James
Here many go wrong. We can make clear the nature of their mistake by an illustration.
If you stand at the end of a platform on York station, you can watch a constant succession of engine and train movements which, if you are a railway enthusiast, will greatly fascinate you. But you will only be able to form a very rough and general idea of the overall plan in terms of which all these movements are being determined (the operational pattern set out in the working time-table, modified if need be on a minute-to-minute basis according to the actual running of the trains). If, however, you are privileged enough to be taken by on the high-ups into the magnificent electrical signal-box that lies athwart platforms 7 and 8, you will see on the longest wall a diagram of the entire track layout for five miles on either side of the statio, with little glow-worm lights moving or stationary on the different tracks to show the signalmen at a glance exactly where every engine and train is. At once you will be able to look at the whole situation through the eyes of the men who control it: you will see from the diagram why it was that this train had to be signalled to a halt, and that one diverted from its normal running line, and that one parked temporarily in a siding. The why and the wherefore of all these movements becomes plain, once you can see the overall position.
Now, the mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that this is an illustration of what God does when He bestows wisdom: to suppose, in other words, that the gift of wisdom consists in a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us, an ability to see why God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is going to do next.
People feel that if they were really walking close to God, so that He could impart wisdom to them freely, then they would, so to speak, find themselves in the signal-box; they would discern the real purpose of everything that happened to them, and it would be clear to them every moment how God was making all things work together for good. Such people spend much time poring over the book of providence, wondering why God should have allowed this or that to take place, whether they should take it as a sign to stop doing one thing and start doing another, or what they should deduce from it. If they end up baffled, they put it down to their own lack of spirituality.
Christians suffering from depression, physical, mental, or spiritual (note, these are three different things!) may drive themselves almost crazy with this kind of futile enquiry. For it is futile: make no mistake about that. It is true that when God has given us guidance by application of principles He will on occasion confirm it to us by unusual providences, which we recognise at once as corroborative signes. But this is quite a different thing from trying to read a message about God’s secret purposes out of every unusual thing that happens to us. So far from the fidt of widsom consisting in the power to do this, the gift actually presupposes our conscious inability to do it; as we shall see in a moment.
We ask again: what does it mean for God to give us widsom? What kind of a gift is it?
If another transport illustration may be permitted, it is like being taught to drive. What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things, and the soundness of your judgment as to what scope a situation gives you. You do not ask yourself why the road should narrow or screw itself in a dog-leg wiggle just where it does, now why that van should be parked where it is, nor why the lady (or gentleman) in front should hug the crown of the road so lovingly; you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations of everyday life.
To drive well, you have to keep your eyes skinned to notice exactly what it is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to be clear-sighted and realistic – ruthlessly so – in looking at life as it is. Wisdom will not go with comforting illusions, false sentiment, or the use of rose-coloured spectacles. Most of us live in a dream world, with our heads in the clouds and our feet off the groun; we never see the world, and our lives in it, as they really are. This deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism is one reason why there is so much little wisdom among us – even the soundest and most orthodox of us....
Enjoy watching and listening to it all--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Packer came from a lower middle-class background and a nominal Anglican family that went to St Catharine’s Church in Gloucester but never talked about the things of God or even prayed at meals. As a teenager Packer had read a couple of the new books coming out by C. S. Lewis (fellow and tutor in English literature at Oxford’s Magdalen College), including The Screwtape Letters (1942) and the three BBC talks turned pamphlets that would later become Mere Christianity (1942-44). During chess matches with a high school classmate—the son of a Unitarian minister—he had defended Christianity.
Packer thought of himself as a Christian. But the events of that evening would convince him otherwise.
On this cool autumn evening, he made his way west across Oxford, past Pembroke College, and into St Aldate’s Church, where the Christian Union occasionally held services. The lights in the building were dimmed so that the light emanating from the building would be no brighter than moonlight—a recent relaxation of England’s “blackout” regulations to avoid air-raid attacks in World War II.
He entered the doors of the church a dead man walking and was to leave later that night as a resurrected man, knowing himself to belong to Christ.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Education Globalization Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Canada England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
When he left England for India in 1793, the odds were stacked against him. Apart from a few years in a village school, he had no formal education. He was shy, introverted, and insular. He had no financial resources. And, even though he was an ordained pastor, the Baptist bigwigs who led his denomination in London had no confidence in the cobbler-pastor and refused to support his plans.
But Carey would not be deterred. Through his study of the Bible, he had become convinced that he and his fellow Christians were obliged to carry the message of Jesus Christ to those who had never heard it. Carey was a Calvinist but not a hyper-Calvinist. He believed that God wanted all people to hear the message of Christ and that he had ordained “the use of means” to carry out that purpose. Against others who argued that the missionary mandate had been fulfilled long ago in the apostolic age, Carey said that the Great Commission had no statute of limitations.
And so, on June 13, 1793, William Carey, his wife Dorothy, and their four children—including a nursing infant—sailed from Dover on a Danish ship headed for India. Carey never saw his homeland again. He would spend the rest of his life in India as a pastor, teacher, evangelist, linguist, agriculturalist, journalist, botanist, social activist, and correspondent with some of the world’s leading political and religious figures. His fame seemed not to have corrupted his soul. When he died in his seventy-third year, he requested that a couplet from one of his favorite hymns by Isaac Watts be inscribed in the stone slab that would mark his grave. Though the words have faded with time, their traces can still be seen today: “A wretched, poor, and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.”
Read it all.
...what if living a radical life isn’t what Christ desires for us? What if He’s far more interested in how we approach the mundane, the everydayness of life?
That’s the premise of Michael Horton’s balancing new book Ordinary: Sustaining Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Horton believes we need to question “false values, expectations, and habits that we have absorbed, taken for granted, and even adopted with a veneer of piety.” (27)
Horton suggests we’ve got a problem, the problem of everydayness: “our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing.” (16) Instead of dedicating ourselves to ordinary, everyday callings and people we chase after the radical, the revolutionary, the dramatic. He insists that “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us…” (16)
So how did we get here and where do we need to go? Horton argues the everyday became so yesterday starting with Boomers, and this has been perpetuated by their children and grandchildren. And the path beyond is a refocusing around God’s own focus...
Read it all.
In The Making of an Ordinary Saint: My Journey from Frustration to Joy with the Spiritual Disciplines (Baker Books), Nathan Foster handles his “I” with a good deal of grace. On the brink of an existential crisis, Foster (a social worker) forswears buying a red convertible, deciding instead to “go saint.” What he envisions as a yearlong experiment with the 12 spiritual disciplines introduced by his father, Richard Foster, in the classic 1978 book Celebration of Discipline, turns into four. In the process, his efforts at spiritual practice travel the distance from “frustration to joy.”
In the opening chapter, “Submission,” Foster introduces us to “drafting,” and it becomes an apt metaphor for the book. “Drafting,” he writes, “is when two or more cyclists ride inches behind each other, creating a sort of wind tunnel.” On a grueling 224-mile ride—when “Mother Nature brooded from every direction, wobbling my flimsy cycle back and forth”—Foster abandons his hesitations about riding so closely in a group and submits himself to the “boredom of the paceline.” Although he didn’t “expect to find a way to actively practice a spiritual discipline in the windy, scorched Ohio farmland,” spiritual practices keep finding Foster in unexpected places.
With the exception of having a famous father, Foster is as “ordinary” as the book’s title suggests, and readers draft behind him in recognizable winds: the challenges of marriage and parenting, career ambitions (and jealousies), self-doubt, accumulated regrets.
Read it all.
So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends how live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the sub-culture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.
I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.
The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of – this is going to sound a little rude – in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex.
And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.
The third wall is the wall of bad listening.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Media Philosophy Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
After nearly 20 years as lead pastor of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll has resigned. Driscoll, 44, had faced mounting criticism over church leadership and discipline within Mars Hill and how he wrote and promoted his popular books.
The decision came less than two months after Driscoll stepped down from leadership while the church investigated charges against him. Earlier in August, he had been removed from the church planting network he founded, Acts 29.
In a statement, the church's board of overseers accepted his resignation, but emphasized that they had not asked Driscoll to resign and were surprised to receive his letter.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Despite the elusiveness of a common good, we can and indeed are called to pursue creative work for the good of others. We can do that regardless of whether we find ourselves within the acceptable mainstream or at the margins of society. That is the example of Martin Luther King Jr., John Perkins, Dorothy Day, Fanny Crosby, Sojourner Truth, and countless others who have gone before us. It is also the example of Jesus.
Our laws and our culture are in a state of flux, and we do not yet know what the new normal will look like. But we can move forward without knowing how the story ends, because of our faith in how the Story ends.
I am encouraged by what I see in the ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The enforcement of the all-comers policy against groups like InterVarsity is a cultural marker that these groups are now outside of the mainstream of acceptability on the campuses that they serve. But InterVarsity has largely avoided the language of persecution. It has also worked for years to cross race and class lines, and to learn from those differences.
Read it all from CT.
The renowned evangelical speaker the Rev Dr John Stott called for Christians to continue to strive for ‘Christ-likeness’ during his final major address before retiring from public ministry.
Speaking at the annual Keswick Convention, the 87-year-old former chaplain to the Queen told the audience that ‘Christ-likeness is the will of God for the people of God’.
He warned his audience that being Christ like in ‘patient endurance’ may become ‘increasingly relevant as persecution increases in many cultures’, and highlighted the importance of the incarnation for Christians.
Read it all.
Liberalism seems to have an irrational animus against Christianity. Consider these two stories highlighted in the last week by conservative Christian blogger Rod Dreher.
Item 1: In a widely discussed essay in Slate, author Brian Palmer writes about the prevalence of missionary doctors and nurses in Africa and their crucial role in treating those suffering from Ebola. Palmer tries to be fair-minded, but he nonetheless expresses "ambivalence," "suspicion," and "visceral discomfort" about the fact that these men and women are motivated to make "long-term commitments to address the health problems of poor Africans," to "risk their lives," and to accept poor compensation (and sometimes none at all) because of their Christian faith.
The question is why he considers this a problem.
Palmer mentions a lack of data and an absence of regulatory oversight. But he's honest enough to admit that these aren't the real reasons for his concern. The real reason is that he doesn't believe that missionaries are capable "of separating their religious work from their medical work," even when they vow not to proselytize their patients. And that, in his view, is unacceptable — apparently because he's an atheist and religion creeps him out. As he puts it, rather wanly, "It's great that these people are doing God's work, but do they have to talk about Him so much?"
Read it all and make sure to read the Rod Dreher article and the Slate article mentioned.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Culture-Watch Education Law & Legal Issues Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
For many evangelicals, the Osteens are on the periphery of Christianity. They represent the “prosperity gospel”—a message that claims that God will bless the faithful with financial gain. Prosperity preachers often live extravagant lifestyles and point to their wealth as evidence of their message. They often quote biblical passages, taking them very literally, to further their claims that God’s desire is health and wealth.
Many evangelicals, however, assert that God doesn’t work in this way. Faithfulness to God doesn’t mean blessings from above, especially in such worldly pursuits. They try to distance themselves from the prosperity gospel, claiming that it doesn’t represent Christianity but a misunderstanding of it.
It is possible, however, that the Osteens represent not the margins but the center of evangelicalism. Considering the Osteens’ popularity, they garner a sizable audience that shouldn’t be ignored. Additionally, when one compares the Osteens to other popular evangelical authors such as Max Lucado and Rick Warren, several patterns emerge, suggesting that Osteens aren’t that far from what most evangelicals are looking for.
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Peter Hong raises his voice to the congregation he pastors in Logan Square, a mixed-income neighborhood in Chicago. “Your entire debt is paid in full!” he shouts, as “Amen!” and “All right!” echo back from the pews. As he bounds across the stage, his red-checked shirt untucked over jeans, he exudes enough energy to fill the cavernous, high-ceilinged Seventh-day Adventist church that New Community Covenant rents on Sundays.
The pews are packed full, with a multiethnic, multigenerational gathering that includes more than Hong’s fellow Korean Americans. Hong is 44 but brims with youthfulness as he displays his own brand of impassioned preaching, a firebrand of grace. But then the tone of the service shifts as Hong jumps off the stage and confesses without pretense: He is bone-weary from more than 12 consecutive years of ministry. Congregants return the flow of grace, pouring down the aisles in droves to surround and pray for him.
One of the people who approaches Hong is Trinity Evangelical Divinity School professor Peter Cha, who has mentored countless Asian Americans as an educator, pastor, and former staff member with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Asia * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.
Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.
Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.
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A new list published in Outreach Magazine names Andy Stanley's North Point Ministries as the largest church in America. As exciting as this designation may be, Stanley is already focused on the next best thing, fostering the next generation of church leaders.
In an essay for Outreach Magazine, Stanley explained "One of my favorite quotes that sits on my shelf in my office is from Al Ries in a marketing book called Focus. He says, 'The next -generation product never comes from the previous generation.' His point is, whatever's next is going to be created by the next generation."
Stanley says he is on a hunt for future leaders. "Our job now is to continue to invest in the 30-something men and women who are the age we were when we started. We need to keep our ear to the ground, and we need to look at who's messing with the rules around the edges and invest in them."
Read it all.
Equally important to this book are [Andrew] Pettegree's observations about the history of news and the questions that they raise concerning the current age of information. For example, if, as Pettegree argues, "news is fresh to anyone who hears or reads it for the first time," then how important is expediency and immediacy to the reader? Furthermore, The Invention of News raises the question of what makes for trustworthy news. While modern audiences trust print and digital media, in "the early medieval tradition … word of mouth was more to be trusted than a written report." Finally, why do most people watch or read the news? Do they consume news because it is important to their lives or because it is "an accoutrement of a polite life"?
Pettegree does not seem too interested in uncovering answers to such questions. This is unfortunate for readers who are expecting a more opinionated study, but it is not unwarranted. By keeping these topics at arms' length, Pettegree avoids any sidetracks that would distract from plotting a clear, historical trajectory of news. This he does very well.
The Invention of News delivers a rich and compelling narrative, which picks away at several common presumptions about the history of news. While he gives leading newspapermen like John Wilkes their due, Pettegree complicates our understanding of the newspaper as an agent of "empowerment and emancipation." The Invention of News veers away from the sort of Whiggish triumphalism that would set up the newspaper as the pinnacle of democratic expression. This is particularly germane in our own day, as the newspaper continues to decline in popularity and other media compete for its place. As Pettegree explains, the newspaper—a latecomer and late-bloomer in the story of news—has always been one among many news outlets in the culture of Western media.
Read it all.
This Synod is an opportunity to express timeless truths about marriage. Why do those truths matter? How do they represent true love, not “exclusion” or “prejudice,” or any of the other charges brought against marriage today? Men and women need desperately to hear the truth about why they should get married in the first place. And, once married, why Christ and the Church desire that they should remain faithful to each other throughout their lives on this earth. That, when marriage gets tough (as it does for most couples), the Church will be a source of support, not just for individual spouses, but for the marriage itself.
You have written so powerfully, Holy Father, of the importance of a new evangelization within the Church: “An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”
May we humbly suggest that in the context of marriage and family life your words are a call to personal responsibility, not only for our own spouses and children, but for the marriages of those God has put by our side: our relatives and friends, those in our churches and in our schools.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Globalization Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
What prompted you to write this book?
I went to a basketball game a couple years ago, and the crowd was screaming, “Overrated! Overrated!” at the other team. It’s not that I’ve heard people scream that when I’m preaching, but the possibility of being “overrated” myself is something I’ve sensed throughout my life.
For example, I’ve been speaking, writing, blogging, and preaching about justice. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea. But something gets lost in the actual practice and application. When I started sensing this, I personally felt exposed and began to see the problem in the larger church....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Globalization Law & Legal Issues Poverty Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
The partnership between the church and the seminary pairs two theologically aligned institutions that are interested in influencing the broader evangelical movement. Although Redeemer is a PCA church, many of its church plants are not affiliated with the denomination, and RTS is a nondenominational seminary. About two-thirds of RTS students affiliate with the Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed traditions, while the remaining third align with Baptist, Anglican and Methodist traditions.
More megachurches are partnering with seminaries to provide local, affordable theological training, according to “Beyond Megachurch Myths” by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis. Churches offering theological degrees now include Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Wash., and John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
Historically, seminaries have grown out of a particular theological vision.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or “hymnody,” as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn—the modern successor to “Morning Has Broken” or “Amazing Grace”? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: “If you’re willing to construe the term ‘hymn’ liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ by U2.”
Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they’re a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called “Yahweh,” and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2’s Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band’s music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that’s unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.
Christianity Today regularly covers U2, not just as another Christian rock band but as one of special significance. In 2004, the magazine ran an article about Bono’s “thin ecclesiology”—his unwillingness to affiliate himself with a church—that sparked a debate about the health of organized religion. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, addressed the issue of Bono’s belief in a fascinating 2008 lecture about the place of organized faith in secular society.
Read it all (and consider following the links also).
"As Scots now consider what kind of nation will now emerge from this campaign, the church must lead – and be allowed to lead – the way to ensure the new Scotland is one that reflects God's values in the economy, the family, our communities and our environment. As Christians we passionately believe that these values will shape our nation for good. There has been an exceptionally high level of engagement and this must not wane. The passion must continue.
"We recognise that while many are celebrating this morning there are also many in Scotland who are devastated at this result. It is now time to show grace and kindness to those on the other side and move quickly to bring reconciliation where it is needed in our land. I know it will be a difficult thing for some people to do but we must love our neighbour. We are all Scots and Scots at heart together. If we put God’s love at the heart of what we do, healing will be much faster, genuine and long-lasting.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.
Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were deeply religious people whose personal and professional lives were imbued with a sense of spiritual struggle and religious engagement. The 2005 biopic Walk the Line was very good at depicting the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll aspect of Cash’s life and art, but, like almost all Hollywood movies, it steers clear of religion in general and of evangelical Protestant religion in particular. Also left out the film was the story of Johnny and June Carter Cash’s passionate engagement with Israel, an engagement that grew out of their religious beliefs. John’s interest in Israel started with a wish to visit the Christian holy sites and “walk where Jesus walked.” Cash’s initial visit to the Israel in 1966 was followed by a trip with June in 1968 and developed into a lifelong project to serve as advocates for the State of Israel, even when such advocacy was unfashionable among American performing artists.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Music Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Middle East Israel * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Baptists Evangelicals * Theology
Were these publications justified in rejecting this advertisement?
The simple answer is “yes.” And it has nothing to do with the truthfulness of the ad’s message or the lack thereof. Rather, these are independent evangelical publications who hold to a particular view of marriage. They have audiences with expectations about what is and isn’t consistent with a Christian worldview. And they should be free to only publish content that is consistent with both....
We’re now facing a perennial issue where activists on both sides of this debate expect to be invited to every party and demand to be heard in whatever forum they choose. I’m sorry, but a conservative publication should not be shamed for rejecting an ad that flies in the face of their convictions and beliefs. And, similarly, a liberal organization committed to marriage equality should be free to rescind a speaker’s invitation when they learn the speaker holds to a divergent position.
Have we finally arrived at a moment where Christians of mutual goodwill attack their brothers and sisters not only for disagreeing with their position on sexuality, but also for not advertising it for them?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Media Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.
But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.
And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....
Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Rick Warren, founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in California, described Cathy "was a giant of a man in so many ways: a godly man, a wise husband and father, a business genius, a creative innovator, a humble... servant of Jesus Christ with rock-ribbed integrity, a generous philanthropist, and one who loved greatly, cared deeply for the poor, especially disadvantaged kids, and used his life and work to benefit others." - See more at: http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/52468/20140908/rick-warren-remembers-truett-cathy-godly-man-business-genius-humble-servant-jesus-christ.htm#sthash.bNjEq40B.dpuf
"Truett was a man truly who lived his faith, welcoming the homeless into his own home, improving the lives of thousands of disadvantaged kids, and giving them help and hope. Even after becoming a billionaire CEO, Truett continued to teach his weekly Sunday School class for 50 years. One of the five books he wrote summed up his attitude toward helping young boys in trouble: "It's Better To Build Boys Than Mend Men." Warren wrote on his Facebook page.
Read it all.
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A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”
The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.
The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Music Urban/City Life and Issues Young Adults * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
America’s Pastor, historian Grant Wacker’s assessment of the long career of Billy Graham, is to be published at the end of November by Harvard University Press. It is a highly readable study of how ‘a lanky farm kid from North Carolina’ was to have such a major impact on American culture. More an academic interpretation of Graham’s life than a straightforward biography it does contain revelations that will shock some readers.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools.
It's not just InterVarsity. Following the same logic being applied, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (pun intended) at California's state universities. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.
Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.
Read it all.
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“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.
“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die … I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”
American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”
A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sociology Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
At first I thought this was all a misunderstanding that could be sorted out between reasonable parties. If I could explain to the administration that doctrinal statements are an important part of religious expression—an ancient, enduring practice that would be a given for respected thinkers like Thomas Aquinas—then surely they'd see that creedal communities are intellectually valid and permissible. If we could show that we weren't homophobic culture warriors but friendly, thoughtful evangelicals committed to a diverse, flourishing campus, then the administration and religious groups could find common ground.
When I met with the assistant dean of students, she welcomed me warmly and seemed surprised that my group would be affected by the new policy. I told her I was a woman in the ordination process, that my husband was a PhD candidate in Vanderbilt's religion department, and that we loved the university. There was an air of hope that we could work things out.
But as I met with other administrators, the tone began to change. The word discrimination began to be used—a lot—specifically in regard to creedal requirements. It was lobbed like a grenade to end all argument. Administrators compared Christian students to 1960s segregationists. I once mustered courage to ask them if they truly thought it was fair to equate racial prejudice with asking Bible study leaders to affirm the Resurrection. The vice chancellor replied, "Creedal discrimination is still discrimination."
Read it all.
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Lastly, the power of influence and accountability is an incredible tool in the journey towards racial reconciliation. For instance, in the early church, Paul confronts Peter because of his duality towards Gentiles in front of his Jewish brothers. There was no option for Peter outside of repentance (Galatians 2:11-20). As a black man I am expected to check someone if they spew race garbage. But what if more of my white brothers and sisters took seriously their responsibility to confront the sin of racism?
Many conversations, emails, and messages that I will never hear or see exist within a world where there are no men and women of color. This is what I call white space. The opportunity to confront privilege, bigotry and systemic racism is not exclusively a responsibility of the black church or the more liberal/urban wing of evangelicalism. This is not a black church responsibility, it is a church responsibility. Let me say it plainly: white Christians need to check friends, family and acquaintances when they see anything racist that doesn’t resemble the gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of individual influence can marginalize those who hold onto the evil of bigotry all while claiming to love God.
In conclusion, the above suggestions—Indoctrination, Incarnation, and Influence—are public, personal and practical ways for contemporary evangelical Christians to confront ongoing racism within our culture and even within the church. Yes, Christ is the answer to America’s race problem. And faith in Christ without works is dead (James 2:17).
Read it all.
Check it out.
Hoping that "the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored," the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.
“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.
Acts 29 came to the drastic decision "with deep sorrow," according to the statement. "In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Watch and listen to it all.
One of the reasons many churches struggle is they're not a friendly place for men.
Think about the worship service at your church. More than likely, there's a lot of talk about loving each other, but not much about fighting against sin or fighting for each other. There's holding hands when we sing, but not much locking arms as we get marching orders for the mission.
Yes, I'm stereotyping. But, that's what I often hear from many critics of churches. Regardless of its universal application, men need to be challenged to act like men—that's what the Bible does. We need to live out our callings as men, to be and do what God has called us to be and do.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Men Psychology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
On a fall day in 2008, the kitchen phone rang inside the Arnetts’ ranch home in Southwick. It was a state social worker, asking if they would consider taking in a “foster child with disabilities.”
The couple didn’t hesitate. They had completed foster-care training two years before, already had cared for a handful of children, and refused to turn away anyone in need.
As devout Christians, they believed God’s work requires sacrifices, including from busy families like theirs raising three boys.
But the social worker didn’t want a quick answer over the phone, insisting instead on a face-to-face visit. A week later, when she and two supervisors showed up at the Arnetts’ house, carrying files and a videotape, they wasted little time before asking, “Have you heard of Haleigh Poutre?”
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General City Government State Government * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Read it all and see what you make of it.
It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.
Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online — plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.
Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.
What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
Like the 1968 film “The Odd Couple,” a group of liberal Episcopalians, recently divorced from Anglican former parishioners, is looking to share space with some Korean Southern Baptists.
Currently this Episcopal congregation, a small remnant of a once robust congregation that joined the Anglican Church in North America and lost its building to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, is subsidized by the Diocese to the tune of over $6,000 per church attender.
This past autumn I blogged about how two church properties formerly the home of Anglican churches and awarded to the Diocese of Virginia in court rulings were now, somewhat ironically, being rented or sold to evangelical congregations. The rebuilding of continuing Episcopal congregations is slow work, in some cases requiring substantial financial support from the diocese in order to maintain and operate facilities. The Diocese is once again leasing space to an evangelical group, this time at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Herndon.
In an announcement to church members this past Sunday, Epiphany Episcopal Church made public that an agreement has been reached with New Hope Washington Central Baptist Korean Congregation, which will move into the property off of Fairfax County Parkway in late July.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Mr. [ D. Michael ] Lindsay and Gordon College are unlikely magnets for the attention. A highly respected sociologist who made his reputation studying America's business and cultural leaders and running an institute at Rice University, Mr. Lindsay likely travels in some of the same circles as the president himself. In his three years as Gordon's president, Mr. Lindsay has steered clear of hot-button issues.
"In general practice," he wrote on Gordon's website after the controversy erupted, "Gordon tries to stay out of politically charged issues, and I sincerely regret that . . . Gordon has been put into the spotlight in this way. My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the College's support of the underlying issue of religious liberty."
An executive order that did not include a religious exemption might be upheld by the courts, since the government has broad powers when it comes to spending. But it would be a sharp break from political precedent. In 2002 President Bush signed an executive order decreeing that faith-based organizations be permitted to "participate fully in the social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression, or religious character." The Employment Non-Discrimination Act itself, as passed in the Senate before stalling in the House, also included an explicit exemption for religion.
Read it all.
Bad stats. When will we learn? Is anybody willing to own it?
Thankfully, at least one person is.
Tyler Charles. Charles is author of the original piece in RELEVANT magazine.
On Monday of this week, Tyler Charles wrote a helpful mea culpa over at High Calling. In it, he admitted what he called his own "amateur" journalism and confessed to being guilty of "hyping bad stats."
In the recent article, Charles confessed, "the statistics upon which my entire article hinged were, how should I say this, um...iffy. At best… the data had been extrapolated from a study designed to determine something completely different."
Charles explains, "after closer examination, the sample size was too small to legitimately make the claims I had clearly and consistently made." Charles stepped forward because "I couldn't justify the conclusions my article suggested."
Read it all from Christianity Today.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Media Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
So who is missing from this alleged news report, as opposed to an advocacy piece, in the Globe? Apparently, it was only possible to reach Gordon students, alumni, faculty and staff through these new...networks [for individuals who favor the new sexual theology]. It appears that, literally, there are no members of the Gordon community — past or present — who actually accept the doctrines that define the work of the college, which is a voluntary association (the same as liberal private educational institutions).
Are there students who affirmed that covenant with their fingers crossed? Of course. Are there faculty and staff who do the same? For sure, to one degree or another.
But the Globe could find ZERO Gordon voices — other than the PR person — willing to affirm and defend centuries of basic Christian doctrines on marriage and sexuality? None? Zip? Nada? The Gordon community is united in opposition to Gordon College?
Or is this simply a matter of the Globe team concluding that there is no need to discuss the other side of this issue with people from Gordon, since there is only one side of this story worthy of coverage?
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This example is where we best see the truth in the relationship argument for personal devotions. In his excellent book Delighting in the Trinity, Michael Reeves writes, “The Christian life is one of being brought to share the delight the Father, Son, and Spirit have for each other.”
Jesus has a perfect love for the Father and the Spirit and perfect union with them. If anyone could have practiced a relationship with the Father while simply acknowledging him throughout the day, it would be Jesus. But how did he, the God-man, outwardly demonstrate his love for the persons of the Godhead and his desire for Trinitarian relationship while living on the earth?
He prayed, and he read the Bible.
Jesus’ withdrawal from the crowd for private prayer is explicit throughout the Gospels (Matthew 26:36, Mark 1:35, Luke 9:18). And it is evident from Jesus’ preaching and teaching (Luke 4:16-27) that he was knowledgeable in the whole Scriptures in a way that could only have come from dedicated study.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Spirituality/Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Christology The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
How does “hurry” impede the healthy development of the soul?
Pastor Ortberg: Hurry blocks the development and health of the soul because the soul requires being rooted in the presence of God. And, hurry by its nature makes me unable to be fully present before God or fully present before other people. Hurry causes me to be conflicted and divided in my desires, and it causes my thoughts to jump around as Henri Nouwen used to say, “like a monkey in a banana tree.” There’s nothing that I can do that’s rooted in the kingdom when my soul is hurried.
What do you mean, “The soul is a ship that needs an anchor”?
Pastor Ortberg: The soul has to stay rooted. Our souls, because they mostly lie beyond our conscious control, can easily drift and slide along. We see this with many people and often with ourselves. We go from moment to moment, day to day without being clear about our deepest values, without being truly grateful for this day that we have received without being rooted in God. And the soul that is anchored in God is the only soul that can find peace.
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“Bowdoin College students have the right to be members of any Bowdoin College student organization. Bowdoin College students have the right to seek — that’s an important word — to seek a leadership position in any Bowdoin College student organization,” [Bowdoin spokesman Scott] Hood said. “What we’re talking about here is people who are members of the community or region, who are not part of the college, who are coming in and deciding who can be a leader, who can be a member, who can do something within a Bowdoin College student organization. That is not OK with us.”
Reached by phone Wednesday, Paulson told the Bangor Daily News, “There’s a real tension between the college’s deeply held commitment to making sure no group discriminates against any student and the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship’s deep concern that the people who lead it need to share the basic Christian doctrine.”
Bates College in Lewiston does not require student groups or leaders to sign any type of nondiscrimination pledge when submitting its constitution to student government for consideration, college spokesman Kent Fischer said, although student government does ensure prospective groups “draft fair and inclusive constitutions that set the groups up for future success.”
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For this story, CT set out to find young believers who we think are leading today's church in key ways—and who embody what it will look like in the years to come. We consulted ministry leaders, highly connected social media mavens, and millennials themselves to create the following list of 33 Christians 33 and younger to watch. The age cutoff corresponds with the start of the millennial generation in 1980.
Born in the '80s and '90s, millennials have grown up as digital natives. Most of them seamlessly incorporate technology into their lives, careers, and ministries. They also come from the most racially diverse generation in American history: More than 4 out of 10 U.S. millennials are non-white.
The following influencers span sectors of work, uniquely contributing in business and nonprofits, media organizations and ministries, academia and the arts. Some are up-and-coming in familiar institutions; others are venturing out with projects of their own. Plenty of names on our list will likely be unfamiliar—we wanted this project to introduce readers to all kinds of young, committed Christians, to put stories and faces to the millennial generation.
think about who you would mention and then read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Even we Christians seem to have sidelined joy in entertainment to explore the bleaker side of reality. We find ourselves praising sad standups for what they can teach us about our faith. We binge-watch shows like Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Mad Men for the way their broken characters and their brutal worlds will reveal the dark side of human nature. Yes, we've seen how recent heavy dramas can show us the real weight of sin and the moral consequences of our decisions, but these kinds of programs can't become our only tv obsessions.
Just as we proclaim a God of grace and justice, of love and law, Christians need balance in our pop culture engagement. So do our neighbors. We need the light of the funny, silly, and joyful to glow in the dark. Shiny-happy shows don't tell the full truth, but neither do shows that punch us in the face. We've spent enough time embracing suffering and being skeptical of joy and happiness. All the more so if, as C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of heaven."
Fallon's spirit is no shtick. His joy has been there all along. As a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004, he notoriously broke character, holding back laughter in the background of a sketch or cracking a smile in the middle of a punch line. His critics cite these incidents as weaknesses. I think they prove how much he likes his job.
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As Redeemer has transitioned from being a church plant to being an established church, how has your role and work as co-founder changed?
At first, Tim preached, and I was the staff. I typed and made sure the bulletin was printed, bought the hospitality groceries, kept the nursery, hired the musicians, and more. As we grew and added staff, though, I gratefully let go of piece after piece, until there were no pieces left. I then had to ask, What do I want to do? What do I feel called to do? The typical (if there is such a thing) pastor’s wife role did not apply, as most people had no idea who I was. (This was a plus, especially for our kids.) Words are my best thing, so I chose to oversee Redeemer’s communications and media. When that became more digitized, though, I found myself out of my depth. So I hired a director to take my position and became the assistant director of communications and media. Unofficially, I am the Keeper of the Memory and the Quality Control Officer.
In your work as an editor, how do you feel about what you do?
Words matter. Especially in the Christian world, where people unconsciously use Christian sub-cultural language that non-believers find confusing, I think it is crucial always to write or speak with the awareness of being overheard by those who do not yet believe.
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The appointment of a Church of England bishop who holds a conservative Evangelical view of "headship" could take place within months, if the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are successful in their efforts to ensure that this "aspiration" is met.
They say that they are consulting with a view to this, because they recognise that such an appointment is "important for sustaining the necessary climate of trust" around the new package of draft legislation and other provision for the consecration of women bishops in the C of E, and the safeguarding of the consciences of church people who are opposed to the change.
A note (GS Misc 1079) from the Archbishops on women in the episcopate was released at Friday's media briefing in Church House, Westminster, before the final-approval vote that is on the agenda for next month's General Synod meeting. For this vote to be carried, a two-thirds majority is required in every House of the Synod. The previous draft legislation for women bishops was lost when it narrowly failed to achieve two-thirds in the House of Laity in November 2012....
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Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, urged his fellow Southern Baptist pastors to draw close to others when they are suffering. He said a small group of men were on the scene within half an hour to comfort him when Matthew died. They were the same people he met with in their times of crises.
“The more intense the pain, the fewer words you should use,” he said. “You need to show up and shut up.”
As Warren closed his sermon, he knelt before the crowd and invited pastors to come forward for prayer if they were suffering with someone who is mentally ill or if they were facing other problems.
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Throughout the book, Vines declares that he holds a "high view" of the Bible. From this perspective, he says, one can still affirm gay relationships. One of the main weaknesses of God and the Gay Christian is that Vines's methodology of biblical interpretation clashes with the high view of the Bible he claims to hold. A high view of Scripture is more than just talking about Scripture. It is learning from Scripture. Vines certainly talks about Scripture, but he tends to emphasize his experience and tangential background information, downplaying Scripture and its relevant literary and historical context.
Experiences do inform our interpretation of Scripture. As a racial minority, biblical texts on sojourners and aliens mean more to me than to someone who is not a racial minority. However, experiences can also hinder the interpretation of Scripture. Although it is impossible to completely distance the interpretive process from one's experiences, it is important to recognize our biases and do our best to minimize them. A high view of Scripture involves measuring our experience against the Bible, not the other way around.
It appears to me that Vines starts with the conclusion that God blesses same-sex relationships and then moves backwards to find evidence. This is not exegesis, but a classic example of eisegesis (reading our own biases into a text). Like Vines, I also came out as a gay man while I was a student. I was a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in dentistry. Unlike Vines, I was not raised in a Christian home. Interestingly, a chaplain gave me a book from a gay-affirming author, John Boswell, claiming that homosexuality is not a sin. Like Vines, I was looking for biblical justification and wanted to prove that the Bible blesses gay relationships. As I read Boswell's book, the Bible was open next to it, and his assertions did not line up with Scripture. Eventually, I realized that I was wrong—that same-sex romantic relationships are a sin. My years of biblical language study in Bible college and seminary, and doctoral research in sexuality, only strengthened this conclusion. No matter how hard I tried to find biblical justification and no matter whether my same-sex temptations went away or not, God's word did not change. Years later I found out that the gay-affirming chaplain also recognized his error.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Books Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
[Dallas] Willard's most central idea, perhaps, is this: God's existence and God's nature are central to all being, to all creation. Everything derives from God, and everything is sustained by God—and that's the only way any life exists. Jesus' kingdom theology reveals this reality. Kingdom, then, is the possibility of spiritual relationship to God.
Less typically, Willard contends that each of us "is" a kingdom, and we choose which kingdom we will serve: God's kingdom, where God rules, or our own kingdom, where we rule. That is, kingdom is about the range of a person's will. Willard's understanding of God's plan (making us Christlike) governs his understanding of Christ: Jesus as Master, as Physicist (he has mastery over the physical world), as Moralist (he tells us how to live righteously), as Teacher, and as Guide.
The same understanding of God's purpose in us governs Willard's understanding of the church: We are being transformed into Christlikeness, and the church is the hospital for those who are on this transformative journey.
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Over the years, there have been many attempts to assess the impact of Dr Graham's ministry - particularly that first crusade of 1954 - on the British Church and people. There is no doubt about its immediate effect.
A former Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Michael Baughen, was a theology student in 1954, and fondly remembers Underground trains crowded with hymn-singing passengers. He spoke for many when he recalled: "It was like divine adrenalin for a jaded Church."
As far as the nation was concerned, if the national press is to be any guide, initial hostility - "Yankee spellbinder", and "hot-gospeller" were two of the milder epithets, while one columnist suggested that the Home Secretary should refuse him entry - gave way to grudging, and in some cases warm-hearted, approval. For example, a Sunday Graphic columnist, whose initial reaction was "This Billy Graham line just won't do," 11 weeks later expressed thanks to Graham, saying: "You've done us a power of good."
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Contemporary American Christians are faced with their own creation. Their individualistic and democratic views idealize the religious entrepreneur. Moreover, their distrust of hierarchy and institutions combines with a lack of commitment to organic unity (this is a newer development).
The state of the divinity school doesn’t help matters, either. The seminary, in its classical form, is where one engages in deep, orthodox theological study under the authority and spiritual formation of the Church. Obviously, this classic ideal is increasingly rare in the United States these days. As history has shown, seminaries have abandoned orthodoxy, become hyper-academic without thought to spiritual formation, have been reduced to degree factories, or have removed the Church in favor of the parachurch or nondenominationalism.
Many American seminaries languish. Thus, the streams which should feed and guide the theologically curious are insufficient. Making matter worse, social norms encourage more trust in the internet than in the Bride of Christ. Instead, seekers look to ecclesiastically untethered and academically undisciplined smooth talkers for spiritual guidance and insight. Welcome to the Anti-Seminary.
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As I recall—my memory is anything but faultless, but I'm relatively confident about this—the primary conclusion that I drew from this statement was that, as a member of the Church of England, Lewis was neither Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, nor Anglican. Which even now seems to me a reasonable conclusion, given the information I had and did not have at the time. How was I to know that "Anglican" was somehow related to "Church of England"? And if you had told me that Episcopalians—of whose existence I believe I had some nebulous awareness—were also Anglicans, I would have had no idea what that could possibly mean.
In any case, as a new inquirer into Christianity, I thought that the book seemed worth reading, and bought it, along with another one chosen with even less knowledge: a paperback commentary on Paul's letter to the Romans by one F. F. Bruce. And on the choice of those two books hangs quite a tale, as far as the course of my own life is concerned.
I do not want to be careless in generalizing from my own experience in gauging Lewis's religious position, but if, as I suspect, it is indeed relatively common, I want to suggest that one significant reason for Lewis's widespread positive reception in the U.S. involves simple ignorance on the part of American audiences of what it means to be a layman of the Church of England. That is, Lewis did not fit into the known landscape of American religious life: the ordinary American Christian had to evaluate his work on the basis of what information was available—primarily that he was a scholar at a prestigious university and a bestselling author—and on the ideas themselves. And it may be that such readers were better positioned to hear what Lewis had to say than people, like Hugh Trevor-Roper and the readers of Sheed & Ward advertising and J. R. R. Tolkien, who for very different reasons believed that they had knowledge external to the writings that helped them to place and fix Lewis in a field of possibilities already known to them. This is what I mean by my title: "the uses of ignorance."
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Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But aside from learning prayers by rote, few receive instruction or guidance in how to make the most of this essential Christian act—how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.
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Evangelicals are defined in various ways. What’s your definition of who an evangelical is?
My definition of evangelicals for the book is deliberately broad so as to be inclusive of the range of answers that people on the street might give you if you’re asking them “what is an evangelical?”
Traditionally within evangelical culture the focus is on a very distinct conversion experience in which there is a conscious acceptance of the Christian faith and perhaps even some discernible movement of the Holy Spirit.
In the book you write about what it was like to be an evangelical in the ’70s. How was being an evangelical then different from what it may be like today?
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During the past school year, several leading American universities, including Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Carnegie-Mellon, welcomed new presidents. These men were leading scholars, and they were experienced administrators; in some cases, they held degrees from the universities they now lead. And none of them — not one — inherited the job from his father or mother.
That goes without saying, right? Nonprofit, tax-exempt universities are not typically family dynasties. People would think it queer if Drew Gilpin Faust’s daughter succeeded her mother as president of Harvard. But at evangelical Christian colleges, including some of the most prominent, there are different expectations.
Since 2007, the world’s largest Christian university, Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., has been led by Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the famous founder. The presidency of Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Okla., passed from father to son (although it has since passed out of the family). Until Friday, when Stephen Jones stepped down as president of Bob Jones University, in Greenville, S.C., the college had been led only by Bob Jones and three generations of his direct descendants.
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The idea that there ought to be "nothing but Beauty" is, I think, part of the modern myth of parenting. Our expectations for our kids and for ourselves get higher and higher. (Writer Micha Boyett recently said that if she hears about another toddler taking Mandarin lessons, she'll heave.) We want our children to be perfect, and we want to be perfect parents. Yet we don't even know what that means. In her recent book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, Jennifer Senior notes that "happiness" is a vague concept, and perhaps the wrong goal for parenting.
The truth is that parenthood is not always fun. In the church, where we rightly acknowledge that children are gifts from God, perhaps we are especially afraid to say this. There's so much pain and heartache. The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost. We relinquish our time, energy, money, and personal desires for our children.
English novelist John Lancaster recently called for "a revival of the concept of duty." It's the moral obligation to fulfill a responsibility to another, regardless of whether it makes us happy. By God's grace, duty often yields not to happiness but to something better: joy. As the early church in Acts teaches us, joy can coincide with suffering and struggle.
"Gift love longs to serve or even to suffer" for the beloved, wrote C. S. Lewis.
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Most promising for such future conversation was the extent of common ground uncovered. All three interlocutors were willing to grant that the Church of Rome is a part of the body of Christ, a diseased part, perhaps, but still a part of us whose sufferings and triumphs we can share in, and whose healing we desire, not some alien entity to be scorned or ignored.
All three speakers granted that some kind of reunion with Rome (and with Orthodoxy) must be eventual goals for Protestantism, which could not think of itself as the sole bearer of the church’s future. All three insisted therefore that Protestantism should be characterized more by its positive witness than by a negative self-definition over against its enemies. All three also managed to agree that the content of this witness was largely set by the terms of the early Protestant confessions, that the solas of the Reformation constituted fundamental truths that must remain the ground of future Protestant ecumenical engagement. Finally, all agreed that the best forms of ecumenism, for the foreseeable future at least, should be local and ad hoc, involving such small but powerful gestures as learning to pray with and for local Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Before moving on to the inevitable frustrated question, “Well where do they disagree then?” we ought first to marvel at, and take encouragement from, this substantial common ground.
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KW: Unexpected learning? How much depressed believers have to teach us. many feel ashamed because the message they get is ‘pray more, confess sin’. Some of them are the most courageous people just to put one foot in front of another. Some people LIVE in the valley, they never walk out of it like the rest of us. We can learn form them what to do when the darkness doesn’t lift. When it doesn’t ever feel good, walking with God anyway.
RW: 1/3 of the psalms are laments. ‘Life sucks, but where else can I go?’ I observed my life and observed the 6 stages of grief.
1) Shock – purely human emotion. Keep waiting for Matthew to walk through the door.
2) Sorrow – it’s a godly emotion, you can
3) Struggle – why?? see it in Job, in Abraham, Jacob – wrestling is a contact sport and that’s fine. But you’re NOT going to get an explanation. It’s like an ant trying to understand the internet. Explanations never comfort. You need the comfort of the Holy Spirit
4) Surrender – I’d rather walk with God and not have all the answers. ‘thy will be done’
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The Clapham Sect’s commitment to personal spiritual formation helped to fuel the social activism that is commonly associated with Wilberforce and his contemporaries. The Clapham Sect is understandably most famous for its role in ending slavery, but it is important to understand that their anti-slavery motivations were grounded in their faith. Slavery was an abomination because every human being is created in God’s image. Aside from treating fellow humans as property, slavery promoted the worst sorts of vices: physical abuse, rape, separating families, malnourishment, etc. The crusade against slavery was a moral crusade born out of Clapham Spirituality.
In addition to combating slavery, the Clapham Sect was committed to pushing back against other social evils. The Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor was an effort by wealthy Anglican evangelicals to alleviate poverty among the lower classes. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which Wilberforce and other Clapham Sect members joined, championed animal rights two centuries before the cause became politically correct. The Society for the Discharge and Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debt, originally an evangelical initiative, sought to reform the oppressive practice of placing debtors in prison, effectively ending their wage-earning potential. Clapham Sect members also championed prison reform, education reform, healthcare reform and (in the case of some members) the abolition of capital punishment. Clapham Spirituality recognized that, for evangelicals, cultural influence was a matter of moral stewardship.
Clapham Spirituality was not only committed to what we might today call matters of social justice; it was also zealous for the spread the gospel to all people.
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The former Archbishop's views are shared by Susie Leafe, director of the evangelical Anglican group Reform. Speaking to Christian Today, she said: "I think we would be better to describe ourselves as a post-Christian country. We need to acknowledge that we have inherited laws and a culture shaped by Christianity."
She also suggested that while Britain may be leaving its Christian identity behind, what it is taking up instead is unclear, and therefore Christians need to better present the advantages of a strong faith presence in public life.
"We are in danger of frittering away our legacy without a coherent alternative," she said.
"David Cameron's comments reflect the latent Christian understanding that many in the UK relate to. The job of our churches is to say that there is so much more on offer."
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...historian Todd M. Brenneman wonders if the beating heart of evangelical identity lies elsewhere, perhaps most centrally along the aisles of the local LifeWay Christian Store. In Homespun Gospel: The Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press), Brenneman shifts the conversation away from beliefs and actions toward feelings. He shows how popular forms of evangelical expression traffic in familial and tender imagery: God as father, people as "little children," and nostalgic longings for home and the traditional middle-class nuclear family.
Brenneman draws compelling links between the worlds of religious consumer goods—from Christian CDs, DVDs, and books to toys, home decor, and devotional art—and the "core evangelical message" of God's love. These products, he argues, "construct religiosity as a practice of sentimentality instead of one of intellectual discovery." This is why, in our search for spiritual resources at LifeWay, we're likelier to encounter the works of tobyMac or Bob the Tomato than Abraham Kuyper or Alister McGrath.
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The resurrection was as inconceivable for the first disciples, as impossible for them to believe, as it is for many of us today. Granted, their reasons would have been different from ours. The Greeks did not believe in resurrection; in the Greek worldview, the afterlife was liberation of the soul from the body. For them, resurrection would never be part of life after death. As for the Jews, some of them believed in a future general resurrection when the entire world would be renewed, but they had no concept of an individual rising from the dead. The people of Jesus’ day were not predisposed to believe in resurrection any more than we are.
Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., was highly antagonistic to Christianity and wrote a number of works listing arguments against it. One of the arguments he believed most telling went like this: Christianity can’t be true, because the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women—and we all know women are hysterical. And many of Celsus’ readers agreed: For them, that was a major problem. In ancient societies, as you know, women were marginalized, and the testimony of women was never given much credence.
Do you see what that means? If Mark and the Christians were making up these stories to get their movement off the ground, they would never have written women into the story as the first eyewitnesses to Jesus’ empty tomb. The only possible reason for the presence of women in these accounts is that they really were present and reported what they saw. The stone has been rolled away, the tomb is empty and an angel declares that Jesus is risen.
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1. The coming into effect of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 may have changed English law but it has not changed Anglican Mainstream’s commitment to promote, teach and maintain the commonly agreed Scriptural truths of the Christian faith. For Anglicans these truths are expressed by the historic Creeds, the 39 Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. They provide the source of true unity and fellowship, and the basis of our mission and service to a needy world. Those truths remain and, as the Church of England’s house of bishops’ statement has explicitly confirmed, the church’s doctrine of marriage remains unchanged.
2. We recognise that the passage of the 2013 Act marks a further step away from biblical values in our national life and demonstrates the extent of the decline in the influence of the Christian churches in Parliament and public debate. In spite of much effort from the churches individually and collectively, the Parliamentary vote was substantially in favour of the measure, as was public opinion.
3. Nevertheless, the failure to win the debate about the legislation does not indicate that we were wrong; rather, that the arguments offered and the strategy adopted failed to overcome the intellectual and emotional appeals of the forces of self-centred secularism which dominates our culture. There was in fact little debate and those urging care and caution were disregarded.
4. Powerful as those forces are, we place our faith in a stronger power, that of God Himself.
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As many congregations have already split within mainline Protestantism, Northern Seminary professor Scot McKnight said that in 25 years, he suspects evangelical churches will be split on the issue.
“What has happened is that the same-sex marriage/same-sex legitimacy has become the focal point or scapegoat of the culture wars,” McKnight said. “It is Bible, theology and politics all rolled into one big monster.”
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Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”
A statement on the church’s website reported the news: ”On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.”
A call to Coy on Sunday (April 6) was not returned. But it appears extramarital affairs may have been one reason.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
[My husband and I]...both work in higher education and run in circles that are highly educated and liberal. In our community, intellect is the only viable form of religion, and the fact that I’m a Christian calls into question my intellectual grit. When my colleagues find out, they are hard-pressed to reconcile the bright, open woman they see before them with the stereotypes they understand about evangelicals. You know the ones: judgmental, anti-intellectual, homophobic, which we are not.
We are the types of young adult Christians who love our faith, but who’ve moved slightly left of center. Just enough so that we have to keep our social and political views quiet in our faith communities. On the other hand, we have to tamp down the religious talk in our work and social communities. I am constantly negotiating how much of myself to share in either group.
Nothing embodies the tension I feel around integrating my identity into both these communities like Noelle’s first explorations with faith. She is extroverted and vocal in ways I am not brave enough to be. She is unselfconscious — completely unaware of the stereotypes that linger around conservative faith.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
The shifts in public sentiment have led Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention to draw an arresting conclusion: Contrary to what an earlier generation believed, there's no "moral majority" in America today, and never was. "There was a Bible Belt illusion of a Christian America that never existed," Moore told journalists at a conference sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center last week. "The illusion of a moral majority is no longer sustainable."
The Moral Majority, of course, was the Christian political caucus founded by the late Jerry Falwell in 1979. Falwell's premise was that conservative Christians were a sleeping giant, and that if they were organized and summoned to the polls, Congress and state legislatures would do their will.
Moore has concluded that although plenty of Americans call themselves evangelicals and attend church most Sundays, many have drifted away from orthodoxy on issues such as divorce, abortion and gay marriage. To Moore, that means the crucial mission for believers shouldn't be politics but rather to preach the Gospel and win souls.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
We live in an age in which the very word ‘doctrine,’ or worse, ‘dogma,’ is a negative term. And yet it is simply impossible to live without doctrinal beliefs. While many do not want to use the term, all people—secular as well as religious—treat some views as horrific heresies. I have encountered churches that claim, “We don’t teach doctrine, we just preach Jesus.” But the moment you ask them—‘Well, who is Jesus, and what did he do?’—the only way to answer is to begin to lay out doctrine.
But Paul does not simply say that right doctrine is necessary, but it is “sound.” The Greek word Paul uses here means healthy rather than diseased. This is Paul’s way to say that wrong doctrine eats away at your spiritual health. Or, to say it another way, if you lack spiritual vitality and fruit, if you are not courageous enough, or joyful enough, or if you are not filled with love and hope, it may be because your grasp of Biblical doctrine is shallow and thin, or distorted and mistaken.
This came home forcibly to me many years ago when I spent a number of weeks working through a Bible study on the attributes of God by Warren and Ruth Myers. What was so revealing were a couple of application questions: 1) What specific false thoughts or disturbing emotions hinder me when I don’t trust (fully grasp) that God has this particular attribute? 2) Although my conscious mind may agree that God has this attribute, does my outward life demonstrate that he is like this? (Experiencing God’s Attributes, NavPress, 1978.)
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Even those who advocate most strongly for the legalization of marijuana concede the impaired functioning that research has shown. One such site acknowledges,
The short-term effects of marijuana include immediate, temporary changes in thoughts, perceptions, and information processing. The cognitive process most clearly affected by marijuana is short-term memory. In laboratory studies, subjects under the influence of marijuana have no trouble remembering things they learned previously. However, they display diminished capacity to learn and recall new information. This diminishment only lasts for the duration of the intoxication. There is no convincing evidence that heavy long-term marijuana use permanently impairs memory or other cognitive functions.
Other studies suggest that the effect on diminished brain function is more lasting, especially for teenagers.
Thus, unlike caffeine, marijuana is not generally thought of as an empowering drug that enables you to be a more alert dad, or a more aware mother, or a more competent employee. Rather, for most users, it is a recreational escape, which produces diminished accuracy of observation, memory, and reasoning. And it may have lasting negative effects on the mind’s ability to do what God created it to do.
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The response to your Facebook post has been staggering. Was it written on the fly or what?
In the last month, there were four instances where I was subtly or not subtly moved along. I was having lunch with a mother younger than I am who was recently bereaved. Her loss was 14 months ago. I said, "Before the one-year mark was up, did you have people telling you, hinting or saying to you that you should move on?" I asked other people who had lost children. I was hearing the same story. It just made me mad. I jotted off that Facebook post and have been completely astounded by the response—3,780,000 views and more than 10,000 comments.
Aren't most of the comments supportive?
Somebody wrote, "I want to print words around my neck that say, 'Please just read Kay Warren's Facebook post.'"
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World Vision U.S., an evangelical Christian charity known for asking donors to sponsor a hungry child, set off an uproar when it announced this week that it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages.
The charity, the nation’s 10th largest, is based in Washington State, where same-sex marriage is legal, and said it intended to present a symbol of “unity” for Christians in an era when controversy over homosexuality is splintering the church.
Instead of the unity it sought, World Vision’s move was swiftly denounced by some prominent evangelical leaders as a “disaster” and a devil-inspired betrayal of biblical morality. Christians proclaimed online that they had canceled their child sponsorships. Less than 48 hours later, World Vision reversed course, calling the decision “a mistake” and pleading for forgiveness.
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In our board's effort to unite around the church's shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.'s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, "We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God." And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.
We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board's intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.
While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.
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Richard Stearns has every right to try to make his case, but these arguments are pathetically inadequate. Far more than that, his arguments reveal basic issues that every Christian ministry, organization, church, and denomination will have to face — and soon.
The distinction between an “operational arm” of the church and a “theological arm” is a fatal misreading of reality. World Vision claims a Christian identity, claims to serve the kingdom of Christ, and claims a theological rationale for its much-needed ministries to the poor and distressed. It cannot surrender theological responsibility when convenient and then claim a Christian identity and a theological mandate for ministry.
Add to this the fact that World Vision claims not to have compromised the authority of Scripture, even as its U.S. president basically throws the Bible into a pit of confusion by suggesting that the Bible is not sufficiently clear on the question of the morality of same-sex sexuality. Stearns insists that he is not compromising biblical authority even as he undermines confidence that the church can understand and trust what the Bible reveals about same-sex sexuality.
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During his Sunday morning service, Ulf Ekman announced the he and his wife, Birgitta, are converting to Roman Catholicism.
Ekman is the founder of Word of Life, a megachurch in Uppsala, Sweden. News reports and blogs coming out of the nation reveal the congregation was “partially stunned” after hearing what was packaged as a “special announcement.” The theme was “Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes."
“For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians,” Ekman says on his ministry website.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Europe Sweden * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic
Film critics have spoken: Son of God is a dud.
Just don’t tell that to the film’s producers, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. They found evidence of divine favor in the film’s release, citing the “truly miraculous” support they received as Catholic and evangelical leaders from Charlotte to Los Angeles threw their influence behind the movie. Clearly, their efforts were successful—a film that was a re-packaged version of scenes that aired during last year’s Bible miniseries brought in $26.5 million in ticket sales for its first weekend.
Burnett and Downey attribute the wave of support to a grassroots movement and the “quiet commitment of people of faith to spread the word about the life-changing love of Jesus to their friends and neighbors.”
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If the number of awards scooped up by George Marsden's 2003 biography of Jonathan Edwards is taken as the index of achievement, Marsden stands as the dean of living interpreters of American religion. With The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, he offers another compelling study, one that relates more to his own life and times than to a life from the past.
In six artfully crafted chapters, Marsden sketches the tectonic shifts set in motion in the years immediately following World War II. He looks at common assumptions held by the leading cultural analysts of the age, intellectuals writing for middlebrow Americans. The protagonists were mostly white, male, well educated (especially at Harvard, Yale, and Columbia), centered in New York City, and descended from old-stock Protestant culture. Alongside these were a fair number of Jews, many of them émigrés from Nazi Europe. Leading figures included journalist Walter Lippmann, poet Archibald MacLeish, historian Arthur Schlesinger, magazine tycoon Henry Luce, culture critic Hannah Arendt, and especially sociologists Vance Packard, Erich Fromm, and David Reisman. Taken together, their views constituted what might be called the liberal mainline consensus.
The two books bear important similarities. Both are beautifully written and reveal imposing erudition. But they also bear important differences. While Jonathan Edwards is long, richly detailed, and largely descriptive, American Enlightenment is short, elegantly interpretative, and strongly argued. Another difference concerns the reaction from readers and critics. The Edwards biography won virtually unanimous praise. This latest offering likely will provoke both sustained praise and spirited debate (sometimes both at once).
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1. Is new life downtown becoming an Anglican Church?
No. New Life Downtown is a parish of New Life Church. Your giving goes 100% to New Life Church. I am “sent” as an Anglican priest to serve New Life Church. As such, I continue to be under Pastor Brady’s covering and authority, along with the elders of New Life Church. While New Life Downtown does not come under any Anglican authority, I personally hold a “dual citizenship” of sorts, with Bishop Ken Ross as my covering in the Anglican world.
2. What do Anglicans believe?
Anglican theology is, to put it simply, Protestant theology. Their central document is the Bible -- they are committed to the Bible as the Word of God -- it is God breathed and it is the truth by which we order our lives. They also believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God -- that salvation is found only in His sacrificial death and resurrection. This faith in what the Bible reveals is summed up in the historic statements of belief such as the 39 Articles and the Nicene Creed.
Because Anglicanism is not a denomination with a solitary authority figure—it is a communion of bishops—the diversity within Anglicanism worldwide is rich and varied. The majority of Anglicans are in the global south—in Africa and Asia— where Christian orthodoxy and missionary zeal are combined in ways reminiscent of the early church. The majority of them are Evangelicals who affirm the authority of Scripture and embrace the work of the Holy Spirit.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Rwanda * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.
The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church grew out of private conversations Warren had with the local Catholic bishop, Bishop Kevin Vann, after his son's death and his own writings in his journal as he processed his grief. Matthew Warren, 27, committed suicide last April after struggling with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for years.
"I'm certainly not going to waste this pain. One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain," Warren said Monday as he met with Vann to discuss the March 28 event. "I remember writing in my journal that in God's garden of grace even broken trees bear fruit."
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Mental Illness Suicide Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
In his first major interview as senior pastor in Costa Mesa, Brodersen says his relationship with Smith goes back to the early days of the Calvary Chapel movement, when Brodersen was a new disciple and manager of a surf shop. That's when Smith invited him to minister as an intern, and within a few years Brodersen became pastor of Calvary Chapel in San Diego.
In the last half century, Calvary Chapel has grown from a single Bible study to a worldwide fellowship of more than 1,500 churches and ministries, yet not without its problems. In a 2007 CT interview, one pastor said of Calvary Chapel, "The Titanic has hit the iceberg. But the music is still playing." Calvary Chapel is, however, still afloat, and has survived not just growing pains, but also allegations of pastoral misconduct, lawsuits, and scandals.
In a historic transition in 2012, Calvary Chapel officially established an association with a 21-member leadership council, which now guides the worldwide organization Chuck Smith fostered. In December, CT's senior editor, global journalism, Timothy C. Morgan interviewed pastor Brodersen.
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