Friday, 25 May 2018

Christ at the Checkpoint in the Age of Trump

As Christian Zionism influences US policy in Israel, Palestinian evangelicals seek greater acceptance from the American church.

Fares Abraham grew up in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour, where tradition says the angels sang “Peace on Earth” to the startled shepherds. But his clearest memory is of his mother shot in the back by an Israeli soldier as she shuffled him and the neighborhood kids into her house during the first intifada (“uprising”).

Now in his mid-30s, the Liberty University graduate created Levant Ministries five years ago to mobilize Arab youth to fulfill the Great Commission.

And when he comes back home, he is at peace with his upbringing.

“When I was young, I asked myself if I should join the resistance or be a bystander,” he said to the 500 attendees—including 150 local Palestinian Christians—gathered in Bethlehem from 24 countries at the fourth biennial Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference in 2016.

“But now I can go up to a checkpoint, look a soldier in the eye, and say, ‘I forgive you and love you in the name of Jesus.’”

Working also with global partners, Abraham believes the younger generations are pro-peace, becoming increasingly pro-justice the more their lives are transformed by the gospel.

It is a message communicated at CATC, though its anti-Christian Zionism is often criticized as being anti-Israel.

“We as Palestinian Christians, victims of the occupation, want the worldwide evangelical church to stand with us,” said Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust and a conference organizer.

“But after six years, I am hearing less and less of this focus. Before we allowed the political agenda to lead our theology. Now we ask how our gospel theology should drive us within the conflict and politics.”

But that was two years ...

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from
http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/may/christ-checkpoint-palestinian-christian-zionism-bethlehem.html

Jim Bakker and Surviving the Apocalypse

This is batshit crazy. Love the editing.   Of course, to find out about apocalypses for sure, with some philosophy thrown in, see my first book in the Survival of the Fittest Series, presently on offer in paperback.  

from
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2018/05/25/jim-bakker-and-surviving-the-apocalypse/

20 Truths from Faith Among the Faithless

The life the Bible offers is not one that is safe from the tragedies of the world, but one in which God suffers with us and accompanies us through our hardships.

1. Secularism denies real transcendence. It might allow for the possibility of the experience of transcendence, but it must explain it via these material causes: What we call transcendence or religious experience is actually some combination of good hormones and happy neurons in the brain. It has some evolutionary cause— some root in the need to advance and preserve our species that has been written into our DNA. (pg. 13)

2. Secularists can tolerate religion as long as it doesn’t make claims on anyone else’s happiness or welfare— that is, as long as it doesn’t purport to be an all- inclusive picture of the good life. (pg. 14)

3. This is how most of our desires work: Through cultural stories, we’re offered images of the good life: pathways to love, romance, sexual fulfillment, power, money, and happiness. These stories grab hold of our hearts, and they shape what we think we want. (pg. 19, referring to James Smith, You Are Wheat You Love, 11-12)

4. When God’s people face opposition, including the cultural opposition Christians face today from a post- Christian world, the path of least resistance is the path of compromise. It’s a foot in both worlds. I’ll give you an ethical compromise here so long as you let me speak of faith in public. But if history teaches anything, these compromises always end in weakening the church’s prophetic witness. (pg. 39)

5. Rather than an ethnically and culturally bonded community, the church’s bond is to be around the gospel, which creates a new family, one in which people are radically committed to one another’s inclusion and well- being. This new family is to be marked by generosity, diversity, and love. (pg. 42)

6. Just as ...

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from
http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/may/20-truths-from-faith-among-faithless.html

Memorial Day: For What Shall We Live?

Whether we wear a uniform or not, we all have sacrificial service to offer.

Memorial Day likely conjures up memories for all of us. Mine start from when I was too young to know what the day meant. When I was a young boy, it was a family time, a holiday from school or other obligations, and a time for picnics, multi-generational baseball games in an open field, and reunions with seldom-seen relatives.

Over the years I have gained a much greater appreciation for this day and what it means. From my first assignment in Vietnam to my last in Germany, I was continually reminded of the extraordinary sense of commitment and service in the young men and women with whom I was privileged to serve.

The Last Full Measure of Devotion

During my last assignment, as 33rd commander of the US Air Forces in Europe, I routinely received invitations to speak at memorial events at one or more of the many cemeteries in Europe where young Americans are interred. I was particularly moved by an event in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe.

The heavy traffic that normally circles that beautiful edifice at a frantic pace had been stopped, and a crowd had gathered to remember and honor French and American men and women who had given their lives in the horrible wars of the 20th century. Many living veterans of those conflicts wore the uniform they had first donned at a much earlier age, and some of them still bore the scars of war. It was humbling to be in their company that day.

For four decades, I was honored to serve with thousands of dedicated young men and women. Some of them would die in service to their country. We were extremely sad at their loss as we comforted their loved ones and each other. They gave their very best, and we were reminded that we must do the same. They died serving something bigger than themselves—the transcendent ...

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from
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/may-web-only/memorial-day-for-what-shall-we-live-usaf-4-star-general.html

Reading Together, Early Church Style

New historical research by Brian J. Wright shows that early Christians were surprisingly bookish.

Brian J. Wright first experienced communal reading more than 15 years ago, which led him into the field of textual criticism and put him “three inches from the text.” He spent time photographing manuscripts and working with the fine details of the biblical texts. But when he began PhD work, Wright wanted to step back and ask who was reading what in the first century. His advisors told him—and others scholars all thought—that he would have to include the first three to four centuries to have sufficient evidence on communal reading, but his research revealed a vibrant and active culture of communal reading in the first-century Greco-Roman world.

Wright’s recently published book, Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus, details his findings and has been drawing praise from a wide variety of established scholars. Wright, now an adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University, spoke with associate theology editor Caleb Lindgren about what Christian reading communities in the first century looked like and what that means for Christians today.

Most of our study Bibles tell us that many of the apostles and early Christians were not members of the educated elite classes, and are often assumed to be illiterate. How widespread was literacy in the
ancient world?

Great question. My book is not specifically on ancient literacy, but the consensus view of literacy in antiquity, as you just mentioned, is that the vast majority of people were illiterate. Up until now, no one has documented or argued for the widespread practice of communal reading in the first century. So while I disagree with that illiteracy assumption, it really isn’t the focus of my work.

Because I’ve demonstrated that communal reading ...

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from
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/~r/christianitytoday/ctmag/~3/Tif9ivgS4C0/communal-reading-together-early-church.html

Brexit and the Media

As Winston Churchill once said, the best argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter, but there you go. Has Brexit represented a win for democracy? In short, no. We have a representative democracy whereby we democratically vote for a local MP to represent us in Parliament by voting on issues on […]

from
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2018/05/25/brexit-and-the-media/

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Interview: Q&A: Jackie Hill Perry on ‘Bending Myself to Jesus’

A rap artist reflects on her latest album and what it means to walk away from the “vultures of culture.”

Jackie Hill Perry describes herself as a “rapper, writer, teacher, and poet.” On May 11, just days before the birth of her second child, she released her newest album, Crescendo (Humble Beast Records), a follow up to The Art of Joy. The 14-track hip-hop record reflects her deep evangelical commitment to sharing the gospel through music.

“My love for God and my experience of him gives me a desire for other people to know and experience that,” says Perry. “I do what Jesus did: I keep preaching. I keep teaching. God usually works in the places that we don’t see, so I’m planting seeds.”

CT spoke with Hill Perry right before her due date to discuss the motivation for her latest musical project, why affection for God is key to her faith, and how she responds to critics who disagree with her views on human sexuality.

How do those four aspects of your identity—rapper, writer, teacher, and poet—work together to define who you are?

Ultimately, all of those four things are forms of communication. They’re extensions of the same thing, since everything I do involves language. Whether it’s poetry, rapping, teaching, or writing, it all comes down to, “How can I use the gift that God has given me as a communicator? How can I use that for his glory?” God has allowed me to understand and communicate things uniquely.

Every time you get on stage, you’re proclaiming the gospel. What drives you, exactly; where does the fire come from?

Affection. I have a great affection for the Lord. I want to know him and love him and experience him and continue to grow in him through the church, through Scripture, and through prayer. I see how satisfactory he is and how good ...

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from
http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/may/q-and-jackie-hill-perry-bending-myself-to-jesus-rap.html