Sunday, 20 August 2017
Saturday, 19 August 2017
Conference call tries to turn ‘pain and anger’ into ‘resolve and commitment.’
They’re angry and sad and scared.
About a dozen Christian leaders shared their reactions to Charlottesville on a Friday conference call organized by Civilitas Group president Doug Birdsall.
“We want to hear of the pain and anger from African American leaders, and we want to hear the resolve and commitment from white leaders,” stated Birdsall, past leader of the Lausanne Movement and the American Bible Society, in an explanatory email. “We also want to hear the pain and anger from white leaders, and the resolve, commitment, and vision of African American leaders.”
The call came amid public condemnations of white supremacy and racism issued by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the World Evangelical Alliance. “Racism should not only be addressed after tragic events, but regularly in our communities of faith,” stated the NAE. “Churches in the United States can lead the way in combatting attitudes and systems that perpetuate racism.”
“The greatest crisis revealed by the election and post-election reality we live in is the exposure of the white American church’s participation in and identification with racism,” stated Fuller Seminary president Mark Labberton in advance of the call. “That this has been historically true is an unlamented fact, and that it is and will define our future seems to me unquestionable.
“Disillusionment with the church and Christian faith has many elements,” he stated, “but this fundamental inconsistency to demonstrate we are living out the faith we proclaim must be high on the list of causes.”
“I feel the frustration of Moses,” said Mark Whitlock, executive director of the Cecil ...
Friday, 18 August 2017
How our accomodation of sin found us out in Charlottesville.
The tragic events in Charlottesville have captivated the attention of the nation, plunging us, yet again, into another period of deep soul-searching over our anguished racial history. President Trump drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for his reluctance to condemn white nationalism specifically in his initial remarks.
As a scholar of political rhetoric, I understand, yet strongly disagree with, Trump’s strategy in refusing to condemn white nationalism specifically. A vocal part of his base aligns with this philosophy, leaving him little incentive to risk alienating them. When former Klansman David Duke endorsed Trump during the campaign, the candidate expressed similar hesitancy in distancing himself from white nationalism.
Trump deserves strong criticism for his failure to specifically and clearly condemn white nationalism. The lure of power and votes do not justify his silence. Yet, to criticize an unpopular president is easy. Perhaps the harder, more difficult task we face in the wake of Charlottesville is to consider how we as citizens and Christians engage in a similar type of silence on a regular basis. Many of us mobilize in defense of ideals of equality every time an incident like Charlottesville occurs, but quickly retreat to our comfort zones when public attention dies down. Daily battles for equality in church, education, employment, and the criminal justice system are much harder to maintain.
Trump’s silence on white supremacy was not an aberration, but a cultural norm. Our disgust with his statement threatens to blind us to the ways in which the American imagination has consistently made room for the ideas of white supremacy to exist alongside of core values like freedom, justice, and equality. ...
When helping hurts the professional helpers.
Long before Google Maps, a couple of guys in a garage in California figured out how to use personal computers to create a digital map of the global church.
It was 1983, and their two-year project—meant to help organizations see where to send missionaries and who still needed translations of the Bible—grew into an organization called Global Mapping International (GMI).
GMI spent the next 34 years supplying products such as missions maps and studies on how missionaries could thrive. It didn’t charge missions agencies very much and supplemented by asking for donations.
In June, GMI closed its doors, unable to draw enough funding from today’s givers.
“The attention span of the donor is much shorter, and their desire for tangible, immediate impact from their gift is much higher,” said GMI president and CEO Jon Hirst.
Up-and-coming donors are bringing with them a new set of priorities. Nearly a quarter of millennial Christian givers (22%) say efficiency and effectiveness are good reasons to support an organization, compared to 12 percent of those over 35, according to a groundbreaking study by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). It asked about the motivations of more than 16,000 donors to Christian ministries.
Younger donors also are more likely than older donors to research an organization before giving (96% vs. 88%), as well as to choose ministries that do long-term humanitarian work such as caring for orphans (89% vs. 85%) or providing education (76% vs. 68%). They’re less likely to favor things such as making the Bible available (90% vs. 96%), teaching Christians to live as disciples (77% vs. 83%) or strengthening marriages and families (70% vs. 76%), ECFA reported. ...
After five seasons, it’s high time the Underwoods’ crimes come home to roost.
This article contains potential spoilers for House of Cards, Seasons 1–5.
Netflix’s House of Cards is now in danger of overstaying its welcome. At five seasons, the story feels bloated, its characters stretched thin. Despite its largely depleted resources, however, there remain a few slender elements that could salvage the show. Though I rolled my eyes at the final episode’s open-ended conclusion, I’ll reluctantly concede that another season of House of Cards might restore some of the show’s bite.
With its muted color palette, finely crafted dialogue, and expert performances, House of Cards wears its prestige drama getup well, but that’s not enough. As the promising but lackluster Ozarkhas recently demonstrated, high production values don’t guarantee a story’s success, and House of Cards season 5 doesn’t quite convince us that what’s happening on its elaborate sets really matters.
The series has always struggled with one major challenge: How do you make a static character interesting? Francis (Frank) Underwood arrives onscreen as a fully-formed monster. From his callous killing of a wounded dog in the show’s opening scenes to his gleefully blasphemous antics in an empty sanctuary, we know immediately that Frank’s insatiable appetite for power is matched only by his ruthless ambition—that he’ll do anything to get what he wants. We may be horrified at the lengths to which he’ll go to secure his wishes, but we’re certainly not surprised.
Compare this to a show like Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, where we witness a moral transformation that’s as plausible as it is horrifying. (Gilligan pursues a similar trajectory in the stunning ...
Thursday, 17 August 2017
Why theologian Matthew Bates would have evangelicals profess ‘allegiance’ to Christ.
In his provocative book Salvation by Allegiance Alone, Matthew W. Bates expresses deep concern that Christians—particularly North American conservative evangelicals—misunderstand what the Bible means when it calls people to faith. Too often, he argues, they reduce faith to cognitive assent, as if believing in Christ simply means agreeing with certain propositions. Further, they often reduce conversion to saying a one-time prayer, thus presenting faith as a kind of “fire insurance”—a way to avoid God’s judgment, no matter how one decides to live. The effect is to disdain good works and God’s law as self-righteousness, creating a false opposition between faith and obedience and neglecting the Bible’s call to love God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15).
Bates has two main concerns: first, that gospel is too often equated with justification by faith alone. But this equation is not faithful to the New Testament. The gospel is something Jesus announces and embodies; it is the story of the eternal Son becoming one with us in his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement as king and judge. God’s people are justified by faith alone only as they are united to the risen King by the Holy Spirit. Our faith, then, is rooted in the story of Jesus the King; we celebrate his victory over sin and death while also submitting to his everlasting reign.
This takes us to Bates’s second concern. He argues that the term pistis, most often translated as “faith,” should instead be translated as “allegiance,” because this concept more faithfully conveys the New Testament understanding. This allegiance has three dimensions: “mental affirmation ...
President’s faithful want him to stay in office, and trust him on Russia.
Even before the fallout over President Donald Trump’s remarks on the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a growing number of Americans hoped to see the country’s 45th leader impeached. However, white evangelicals—a group that largely voted for Trump—were among the most likely to want him to stay in the White House.
A PRRI poll conducted in early August found that 40 percent of Americans believe the President should be impeached, up from 30 percent who said so in February.
Among white evangelicals, 79 percent oppose the calls to impeach Trump—more so than white mainline Protestants (63%), white Catholics (61%), and nones (45%). Overall, about half of Americans say Trump does not deserve to be impeached.
The findings fit with broader trends in Americans’ approval ratings of the President, which have lagged behind those of previous administrations. Evangelical leaders have cheered Trump’s US Supreme Court appointee, challenged his immigration and refugee policy, and awaited much-anticipated changes to the healthcare system. But Trump has also faced ongoing criticism over his rhetoric, turnover among White House staff, and investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
“There is an effort to do whatever is necessary to take this president down,” said Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s evangelical advisers and head pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, on CBN this week to describe the negative media coverage of a president whom Jeffress views as “very honest” and who “refuses to be politically correct.”
Last month, a different poll by USA Today/iMediaEthics listed evangelicals among Trump’s strongest supporters, with about half ...
Months late, the new Secretary of State quickly highlights ongoing genocide in the Middle East in intro to annual report.
The US State Department kept its annual assessment of international religious freedom unusually short this year, reiterating the country’s commitment to the cause and calling out ISIS as perpetrators of genocide.
Over the past five years, the executive summaries for the department’s annual religious freedom report have averaged more than 5,000 words. They typically detail problems such as North Korea’s religious prisoners, Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, and the instability caused by Islamic extremism in the Middle East.
This year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipped the lengthy executive summary and laid out a preface just 440 words, naming only a single concern in his written introduction: ISIS.
“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death,” the Trump administration appointee and former Exxon CEO wrote. “The protection of these groups—and others who are targets of violent extremism—remains a human rights priority for the Trump administration.”
The report was also a few months later than normal, released on August 15 rather than by May 1. In his remarks, Tillerson repeated the genocide designation for ISIS and also referenced the nomination of Governor Sam Brownback as the department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
The annual report reviews the state of religious freedom in 199 countries, and CT has highlighted six places where Christians continue to face significant barriers to worshiping freely: Iraq, Indonesia, India, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
Deadly Terror in Iraq
ISIS was responsible for half of all verified casualties (5,403) in Iraq during the ...