Sunday, 31 July 2016

How a Five Year Old Took Five Minutes To Make a Difference

Originally Published Here: How a Five Year Old Took Five Minutes To Make a Difference And Check Out More Here:

In Cedar Hills, Texas, a five-year-old girl took a stand for her faith. While eating in a restaurant with her father, she saw two police officers and approached their table. She asked if she could pray for them. According to her father’s Facebook post, the two say that they have “never had anyone pray with them and that her prayer ...



Psalm 119:114

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.”


My New Chapter on Free Will Reckoned to be Best Chapter

With the kind of self-congratulatory marketing that one has to do to get “out there”, I am pleased to announce this great review of John Loftus’ new anthology, Christianity in the Light of Science, has proclaimed my chapter the best in the book. Whoop! For me the book was really good for the essays in part [Read More...]


This should really challenge your eating habits

I have been having an ongoing conversation on the blog with “Philosophical Vegan” about an old piece I wrote and the philosophical underpinnings of eating meat or being a vegetarian or vegan. The conversation is still unfinished, but it is pretty apparent that it is hard to ethically argue for eating meat in any convincing way, [Read More...]


Saturday, 30 July 2016

John 1:12-13

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”


The Star of Bethlehem in Alternative “Scholarship”

In my work in looking into the various theories about the Star of Bethlehem, I have primarily focused on efforts to explain the Star that are in the scientific or biblical studies literature. That will provide something of an orthodoxy, either with scientific ideas that have to be less than outlandish or with religious notions that do not drift far from conservative or evangelical thinking.


A Genius…and a Global Warming Skeptic

This one is from a few years ago, but it came up in conversation elsewhere (that I was having with Jonathan). In an entertaining and provocative article in Atlantic magazine, Kenneth Brower takes a journey into the mind of Freeman Dyson, one of the most brilliant and productive scientists alive today. A Nobel laureate for his [Read More...]


Search engines’ role in radicalisation must be challenged, finds study

There is an interesting piece in the Guardian that looks at the role the internet plays, and internet search providers play, in the facilitation of radicalisation. I had never considered this before. As the article states: More than 484,000 Google keyword searches a month from around the world, including at least 54,000 searches in the [Read More...]


Friday, 29 July 2016

Matthew 5:14,16

““You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


Christianity in the Light of Science

John Loftus has a another storming anthology out in which I am proud to have a chapter, Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion. My chapter is on free will, especially in the context of a judgemental god. I am really proud of the chapter as it is an updated synopsis of [Read More...]


20 Truths from Family Life of a Christian Leader, by Ajith Fernando

Joy is not complete until it is shared.

  1. 1. Belief is one of the basic values of Christianity and it applies to every area of life. (9)

    2. It goes without saying that the greatest desire of Christian leaders for the members of our families is that they become God’s children and follow him. (10)

    3. One of the most obvious signs of the primacy of God in the Christian home is prayer. (14)

    4. After 38 years of marriage and countless counseling appointments, I have come to realize that what most often takes away the joy and peace of our homes is the refusal to crucify self. (16)

    5. If we are causing hurt and unhappiness in our family life because of some problem on our part, we must regard it as an urgent matter that requires immediate attention. (21)

    6. A key aspect of the biblical understanding of love is that love is an end in itself and not simply a means to an end. (22)

    7. It is very easy for couples to take each other for granted and in the process to overlook expressing their love and concern for each other. (26)

    8. One of the most important areas of growth in the Christian life is that of learning to accept God’s overflowing love for us. (31)

    9. We must not neglect difficult and time-consuming projects relating to the family because we are very busy with ministry responsibilities. (33)

    10. If our spouses do not see us as looking at them as beautiful, it’s we who have failed, not they. (35)

    11. Joy is not complete until it is shared. (47)

    12. Big hearted people would give in to the will of another without acting immature and insisting on their way. (58)

    13. Those who are afraid to apologize have not understood grace. This makes them so weak that they do not have the strength to apologize. (68)

    14. Love is costly, but we don’t dwell on the cost, because we know it is a beautiful thing we want to do and for which it is well worth paying the cost. (74)

    15. Having hundreds of friends on Facebook could leave us with less time to nurture deep and intimate relationships we have with those who are closest to us. (85)

    16. Our children face great handicaps as a result of growing up in a culture where people are compared and contrasted with others and where others progress by cutting them down. (86)

    17. With all the rejection that people face in this hostile world, the home should be a place of affirmation and acceptance. (87)

    18. We must not forget that discipline is actually an expression of love, and that fact must shine through in our disciplining. (90)

    19. Children should know that their fathers pray for them daily and that when they have some need the father, not only the mother, is going to pray for it. (92)

    20. We ask our children to pray and read their Bible every day because that is good for them; not because they are children of Christian leaders. (94)

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Is There a Better Way to Fight 'Political Correctness'?

When language is a tool for coercion, nobody wins.

The current discussion about political correctness is the result of a perfect storm. Changing gender norms, new social media platforms, and deepening class divisions has led to a renewed conflict over language.

In a number of intimate and sensitive areas of life, cultural and moral norms have changed dramatically. Eight years ago, a democratic presidential candidate opposed the idea of same-sex marriage outright. In 2016, such opposition is regularly condemned as bigoted, even violent.

Changes in public perception of transgender politics have occurred even faster. In just over a year and a half we have gone from one ordinance about the use of bathrooms by transgendered people in Houston, Texas (ultimately struck down), to a national directive from the president. Similar shifts in public conversations about race, class, and religion have brought with them new and ever-evolving rules about language.

For many, mislabeling or intentionally not referring to someone with their preferred name and pronoun is a direct insult to how they define themselves. In effect, such an action says, “I do not accept your identity.” Given the tremendous significance of defining, discovering, creating, and displaying our identity in modern society, to publicly renounce or deny someone’s identity can be deeply hurtful, on an existential level. It can be felt as a direct denial of one’s basic humanity.

Of course, frustration over these rules and fears that free speech is being stifled has led some people to intentionally offend in order to defy what they feel is “political correctness.” After all, if you believe that political correctness is a cancer eating away at open public discourse and freedom of speech, then ...

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Weekend Edition—July 29, 2016

Disaster Relief, Excuses, Sharing faith, Church signs, and more!

Preaching in the Wake of DisasterJamie Aten

Bringing hope to victims of a disaster is a great opportunity and responsibility.

Conflict Resolution, Excuses, and Race RelationsBarnabas Piper

Isn’t it about time we who claim the gospel move forward—fast—toward racial reconciliation?

After Childhood Abuse, How Can I Trust Others with My Kids?Nana Dolce

A thoughtful answer to the question of how to protect our kids and minister to others.

Stop Assuming Your Neighbors Are Hostile to Your FaithTrevin Wax

This is a good word. God is at work in people’s lives whether we see it or not.

One thing we can always have confidence inAaron Armstrong

Providence doesn’t mean that we see every possibility, only that God does.

Want to read a weekly digest of The Exchange blog? Click here to subscribe to Christianity Today's Newsletter for The Exchange to get weekly wrap-ups direct to your inbox.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the The Exchange Podcast in iTunes. Click here to listen to my interview with Dr. John Sorensen.

Earlier This Week on The Exchange

God in Our Midst

99 Essential Doctrines Christians Should Know

Why You Should Use Stats in Ministry

Don’t Be the Bottleneck

Saturday is for Seminars—Church Planting Leaders and The Defenders Apologetics Conference in Chicago

20 Truths from The Church as Movement by JR Woodward and Dan White, Jr.

Trends in Church Architecture, Part 5

Church Signs

Culturally relevant in the extreme, or right on the money?

Nothing like a little grace guilt to start your week.

Is that supposed to be a quote from Jesus?

Thanks to Bruce, Logan Dixon, and Scott Thomas for this week’s church signs. As always, you can tweet your church signs to @EdStetzer. ...

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Psalm 119:93

“I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.”


Goodbye, God Gap: Trump and Clinton Have Churchgoers Unusually Split

Plus here's what we know about evangelical Democrats.

Donald Trump seems to be breaking yet another political tradition this election: the “God gap.”

In previous US elections, polls consistently showed that a person’s level of religiosity—how important their faith is to them and how often they attend church—was one of the biggest predictors in how they would vote. The more religious an American was, the more likely he or she was to vote Republican; the less religious, the more likely to vote Democrat.

But that correlation appears to be weakening, enough that some are asking whether this year’s unusual matchup between Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the end of what political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell termed the God gap.

Trump only leads Clinton by four percentage points among regular churchgoers (49% vs. 45%), a “notable shift” according to the Pew Research Center. By comparison, Mitt Romney’s 15-point margin over Barack Obama in 2012 (55% vs. 40%) was much more indicative of the usual spread between Republican and Democrat candidates among weekly worshipers.

Similarly, Georgetown University found that the difference between the percentage of weekly churchgoers voting Republican vs. Democrat spanned 40 points in 2012; during the 2016 primaries, there was less than 15 percentage points between the two, according to Religion News Service blogger Mark Silk’s analysis of the survey data.

This year’s demographic shifts are drastic enough that, for the first time in years, gender outweighs faith in determining how someone might vote, wrote Silk.

The main factor: churchgoing Catholics. They slightly favored the GOP during the last presidential election, but with Trump as the Republican nominee, their Democratic ...

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On Trump

I am feeling ranty. I have come to the conclusion that anyone remotely supporting Trump doesn’t warrant interaction. He’s the biggest douche in the world and to think that so many Americans are putting their stall in him is a damning indictment of that country and many of the people therein. I worry for the [Read More...]


God as an Abstraction

Some time ago, I finished John Loftus’ The Outsider Test for Faith. There is much to talk about within the pages, not least some of the excellent quotes he has gathered from other writers which he uses to defend his own positions on various topics. For the purposes of this post, I want to just think [Read More...]


Pro-Life Democrats Struggle with Clinton Challenging Status Quo

The Hyde Amendment joins Johnson Amendment in no longer being sacrosanct.

Not much about the 2016 presidential campaign has been business as usual. In addition to nominating two divisive candidates, both parties are challenging major political measures that have long been off the table.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump promises to repeal the Johnson Amendment—the 60-year-old tax code statute that bans churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits from endorsing political candidates.

On the Democratic side, it’s the Hyde Amendment—the legislative provision that prevents the federal government from directly funding abortions.

Hillary Clinton has taken up Hyde on the campaign trail, saying it keeps low-income women on Medicaid from affording the procedure, particularly with stricter regulations from states and tighter funding for Planned Parenthood. It’s an unusual move, even for pro-choice politicians, who typically accept Hyde’s restrictions as a compromise with pro-life counterparts.

Her challenge shakes things up for Democrats who lean pro-life or support certain restrictions on abortions—including her Catholic running mate Tim Kaine. The Virginia senator reversed his support of the amendment once he joined the Clinton campaign.

Former Obama White House faith director Michael Wear and Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore criticized the position in a USA Today op-ed:

… for the past 25 years, the Democratic Party, at least rhetorically, acknowledged that compelling taxpayers to fund abortions was a step too far in the culture wars. If the call to repeal the Hyde Amendment remains in the Democratic platform, that era is officially over. A party that calls for government funding of abortion does not merely disagree with ...

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The Real Cost (and Power) of Seeking Justice

The murder of Willie Kimani can rally the global Body of Christ for an end to impunity.

Earlier this month I spent two weeks in Kenya, where international attention has focused on the abduction and murder of three men: my colleague Willie Kimani, a human rights lawyer and investigator for IJM, our client Josephat Mwenda, and their taxi driver Joseph Muiruri. Willie and the IJM team were pursuing a case against a Kenyan police officer for shooting Josephat, and the two went missing with their trusted taxi driver while heading for their homes following a court hearing in Nairobi.

Tragically, eight days after they went missing, despite an extensive search led by Kenyan police and IJM staff, their bodies were found in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River to the northeast of Nairobi on July 1, 2016. On Monday, July 18, four police officers were charged in their murder.

While we are encouraged by the investigation and arrest, our hearts are still devastated. And even as we deeply mourn these obscene murders, we are profoundly grateful to every government agency, nonprofit, church, and individual who used their voice to rally an urgent response to their disappearance. Now we need continued action to help us bring those responsible for their murder to justice—and fuel a massive movement to finally end impunity for abusive police in Kenya.

As we follow Jesus in his work of justice in a fallen and violent world, our staff willingly put themselves at risk every day. Seeking justice requires confrontation with evil. And evil fights back, with violence. But when Jesus tells his disciples, “You are the light of the world,” he is calling us to take that light into even the darkest corners.

As a human rights lawyer and an investigator for IJM, Willie was following hard after the God of justice. He was willing to place his ...

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The Sacred Ritual of Church Suppers and Snacks

By honoring the gift of food, we honor the body of Christ.

The apple juice didn’t taste quite right. Neither did the cookies, which were the store-brand imitation of the better-tasting, more expensive version. And there was always fear that there wouldn’t be enough. There would be pushing and grabbing, big kids taking six cookies, and occasionally tears. Always small for my age, and the pastor’s daughter to boot, I didn’t have it in me to jostle and struggle against the other children for the snacks at coffee hour, at Vacation Bible School, at Sunday school. It wasn’t worth it.

“Why does the apple juice at church taste weird? Why do we have ‘creme-filled sandwich cookies’ instead of Oreos?” I asked my mom.

Maybe the budget didn’t allow for better. This was a generation ago, and “organic” was not a commonly used term. And anyway, we were just kids. Did it matter, really? The grownups got weak and bitter coffee with powdered non-dairy creamer in thick white Styrofoam cups, and those little powdery donuts that came in white and blue boxes from the grocery store shelves and mysteriously stayed fresh for weeks. Church ladies bought several boxes on sale and stored them in the church freezer, laying them out on trays to thaw before the service began.

Every Sunday, after church, we filled a giant black plastic garbage bag with trash. My dad sent me to scout out the half-empty cups and crumpled napkins strewn around the drop-ceilinged, orange-tiled room with a musty odor that we called the “fellowship hall,” and I swept up crumbs while my mom wiped down the counters. We turned out the lights, locked the door, and walked next door to the parsonage, where we lived.

I grew up, left the parsonage, and then began ...

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