+- +-

+- User

Welcome, Guest.
Please login or register.
 
 
 
Forgot your password?

+-Stats ezBlock

Members
Total Members: 118
Latest: Cariad
New This Month: 1
New This Week: 0
New Today: 0
Stats
Total Posts: 16834
Total Topics: 868
Most Online Today: 455
Most Online Ever: 771
(July 30, 2019, 01:13:39 am)
Users Online
Members: 2
Guests: 44
Total: 46

Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020  (Read 393 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« on: September 01, 2020, 11:31:03 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/august/covid-19-crucible-confronting-our-true-selves.html








The COVID-19 Crucible: Confronting Our True Selves












A new series on navigating healthy relationships through COVID-19


This is the first of four articles on the topic of COVID-19 and individual, couple, family, and social issues viewed through a systemic marriage and family therapy lens. In this article, Dr. David Van Dyke, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and director of the Wheaton College Marriage and Family Therapy Program, shares skills and resources for individual and relational care and growth in the crucible of COVID-19.

The tough news: our true selves are being exposed, and we don’t like what we see.


Funny thing about introductions, they are usually followed by some sort of relationship. I have had introductions that were funny, socially awkward, endearing, and ill-timed. The world was introduced to the COVID-19 in its most recent and novel form in early 2020, and our first impressions (which usually chart the course of a relationship) of COVID-19 are all negative. Our current relationship with COVID-19 is unpredictable, disoriented, and marked heavily by a sense of loss. The virus, its effects, and our fear of it has shifted daily routines, family rituals and interactions with others. As with most relationships, we respond with varying degrees of reactivity. These responses have been intensified because we are now relating both with and within the COVID-19 crucible.

What is a crucible? Here are two definitions of a crucible that I find valuable for understanding COVID-19:

1) A vessel of a very refractory material (e.g., porcelain) used to expose materials to intense heat.

2) A severe test, trial, or extremely challenging experience such as those seen in Arthur Miller’s 1953 play, The Crucible.

I think about the COVID-19 crucible as the current context container in which we experience social isolation, loss, and intense emotional pressure that drives a wedge into existing relational challenges. The changes due to COVID-19 are putting us under new pressures, removing previous coping strategies, and exposing our reactive tendencies.

John Proctor, the protagonist in Miller’s play, provides wisdom on what happens to us in a similar crucible. His wife has been arrested and he laments, “It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. [Each person] walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow!” John’s exclamation shows his response to suffering that is beyond his control.

We all can relate to John Proctor’s cry as we navigate the abrupt loss of our normal rhythm of life. Among the long list of things that have been stripped away are:

rituals (family gatherings, funerals, graduations, weddings),
pre-COVID-19 relational interactions (handshakes, hugs, friendly passing on the sidewalks and in the grocery aisles),
normal church meetings and operations (so much for “passing the peace”!)
leaving home and establishing independent living, and
financial security.
The pain and loss that we all are experiencing strips us to the core, and we respond from a deep place within us. The question is whether our response will be one of reactivity or one of intentional vulnerability and connection.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) and researchers highlight the fact that during crucibles in our lives, we tend to perceive others as a threat. We can all see the effects of this in our society, relationships, and families. We are often most reactive towards our closest relationships. For families or couples sheltering in place, we are experiencing the very presence of others as intrusive. We attempt various ways to escape them. Despite not wanting isolation, distance can feel safer than risking interactions. However, we are relational beings, made in the image of the Triune God who values relationships so much that He pursues us even when we cannot or will not seek relationship with Him.

Many of us have learned to push down the fear of relationality or vulnerability (“Aye, naked!”) through our routines of work, socializing, church, and various activities. As these have been stripped away in the COVID-19 Crucible we are left chilled, and often isolated, under the icy presence of vulnerability and fear. The more we fear contact with another human being, the more we train ourselves to see others as a threat. Flooded by our feelings we turn to reactive ways to escape these threats:

emotional outbursts,
substance use,
binging (technology, food),
increase in feelings of depression and anxiety,
abusive relational patterns, and
fear of illness and death.
These default reactions emerge especially when we lack examples and habits of healthy relationships. The COVID-19 Crucible intensifies our fears, deepens our isolations, and can burn away all our effective coping mechanisms, leaving us feeling raw, numb, and reactive.

The good news: it’s time to discover who we always were
There remains a lot we don’t know, can’t control, and will struggle with. However, there is also hope! The hope is in how we can choose to respond. We can allow ‘who we always were’ to emerge and flourish within, and even through, the current crucible. The “who we always were” is who we were created to be: loved by God and made in His image. We have a God who is relational and seeks us out. We see His presence in the tabernacle, temple, Incarnation, Pentecost, and ultimately face to face. God intentionally takes on our pain to restore relationship with us, and he poses no threat. We see in the life of Jesus his intentional response to isolation and vulnerability. So during the COVID-19 crucible, where do we experience and practice love, relational pursuit, and image bearing?

Here are a few suggested practices for building healthy relationships with yourself and others during COVID-19.

Individual Skills
Identify the ways you express your reactivity.

Most common reactive responses are:

yelling and screaming,
condescension and disdain,
blaming,
emotional withdrawal, and
escaping (e.g., technology/phone/gaming, substance use, emotional/physical affairs, working all hours of the day).
Slow down and self-soothe. Relationship researcher John Gottman states that when we are emotionally flooded and reactive it takes about 20 minutes to deescalate. Twenty minutes is about the time needed for you to reset emotionally and neurologically from the intense reactivity and emotional flooding. Remember, re-engaging after resetting is necessary for relational repair—or the slowing down just becomes another form of escape.

Try these relaxation skills and practices that help reset your heart rate and breathing:

Progressive muscle relaxation,
Praying/meditating on scripture,
Cup of tea,
Mandala drawing or coloring,
Journaling,
Listening to music, or
Walking outside.
Relational skills
Try these skills designed with the goal of creating emotional safety in your relationships:

Curiosity: Nurture your relationship through curiosity toward the other person’s thoughts and feelings
Appreciation: Identify and share what you appreciate about the other
Recognize the emotional bid: Identify when the other is making an emotional bid to connect
Compromise: Accept influence from the other’s thoughts and suggestions
Validate: Communicate a full understanding and confirmation of the others views and feelings
Vulnerability: Be open and honest with your own thoughts and feelings
We will continue to have crucibles in our lives that reveal our true selves. Now is the time to address and practice ways of relating that will foster emotional and relational flourishing, even in times of social distancing, pandemic induced loss, and things out of our control.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2020, 09:15:58 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/jerry-falwell-liberty-university-scandal-doesnt-stay.html








What Happens at Liberty Doesn’t Stay at Liberty












The Falwell investigation has far-reaching consequences for local churches in Virginia and beyond.


The Associated Press recently reported that Liberty University is launching an independent investigation into the conduct of former president Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife, Becki. For some evangelicals, the scandal elicits nothing more than a shrug for the isolated actions of a few bad apples. For others, these significant misdeeds will be swept away quickly in the tides of history. Historian Grant Wacker makes this argument in a recent Washington Post piece titled “Jerry Falwell Jr.’s downfall won’t change anything for evangelicals.”

If you take a bird’s eye view of time, then he’s likely right. But for those of us who inhabit space inside Liberty University’s large sphere of influence, the truth is quite the opposite. This scandal and its ensuing investigation have far-reaching consequences, not only for parachurch practice but also for local church polity. Put another way, the cautionary tale of the Falwells carries implications for how believers here and elsewhere think about the intricate bonds between the local body of Christ and adjacent parachurch institutions.

My first glimpse into Liberty’s regional influence happened roughly 20 years ago, when I came to visit the man who would later become my husband. He’d lived his whole life in rural southwest Virginia, where the primary force in his spiritual formation was a small Baptist church that still sits atop a knoll just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Driving through the countryside those years ago, I was entranced by the passing forests and hills dotted with small farms and rock churches. I also remember the moment when I rounded a corner and came face-to-face with a billboard for a local university. One of the few on the route, it advertised a world-class Christian education just two hours away in Lynchburg, Virginia.

A decade later, my husband and I moved back to work in local church ministry an hour west of Lynchburg. During the ensuing years, Liberty expanded in both size and prominence. It is by now a powerhouse of online learning that has made Christian education accessible not only for young people but for countless working adults. This is especially significant in a region with the lowest college graduation rate in the state.

It’s hard to understate the role that Liberty University plays around here, both because of its institutional sway and because of the shape of local church culture. Churches in this region—including the one that my husband grew up in—tend to eschew denominational hierarchy. They prefer to govern themselves. Because they lack outside infrastructure, these churches form partnerships where and when they can, often led by the relational networks of pastoral staff.

For example, when church members want to pursue Christian education, it’s not uncommon for pastors to recommend their own alma maters. And if that school is fairly local, all the better. (You may know Liberty University as one of the world’s largest Christian universities, but we know it as the closest.)

These bonds are also reinforced through ministry partnerships, as Liberty offers resources, training, and opportunities that surrounding churches cannot offer themselves. When the church my husband pastored wanted to update its constitution to reflect a belief in traditional marriage, the staff used wording provided by the legal minds at Liberty.

These stories are common. When a church in the region can’t afford full-time staff for music or youth ministry, they look to students from Liberty to step in and fill the gap. Add to that church outings to Flames football games, men and women’s weekend retreats hosted on campus, and free pastors’ conferences offered by the school, and the picture is clear: Liberty University is inexorably tied to the ministry of local churches in the region.

The bond between this independent university and the local church means that when trouble hits the school, it also hits the broader Christian community. The impact is deep and wide. In this context, Liberty’s practices as a parachurch organization carry significant weight, and the response of the university’s board of trustees sets precedent far beyond the boardroom and into the pews. The old adage is true: Attitudes are caught, not taught.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Liberty graduate Kaitlyn Schiess describes a similar experience as a student. “At Liberty,” she writes, “our minds may have been receiving correct content, but our hearts were being trained to love wrongly: to love political power, physical security, and economic prosperity as higher goods than they are.”

Schiess is describing the power of culture formation—how small signals and modeling from trusted sources nudge us in certain directions, both as individuals and as communities. (This phenomenon also sheds light on the significance of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s endorsement of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump during the Republican primary in 2016, when Trump’s support seemed to be flagging among evangelicals.)

For local churches, this formation cuts both ways. As I look around, I am dismayed by how the Falwells’ morally corrupt influence has distorted the health and well-being of the community I love. By contrast, cultural formation at its best, guided by Scripture, gives me hope. For that reason, I am cautiously optimistic about the board’s recent decision to open an independent investigation. The board has decided not only to study the case but also to set up a system of spiritual accountability for those in leadership.

“The school is considering a separate move to reorient it toward its ‘spiritual mission’ by establishing a post in the university leadership dedicated to spiritual guidance for other leaders,” write Sarah Rankin and Elana Schor for the Associated Press, “ensuring they ‘live out the Christian walk expected of each and every one of us at Liberty.’”

Arguably, these steps are the very least the board is responsible to do, and thinkers like Wacker might rightly doubt that these actions will have much effect on evangelicalism as a whole. But from where I sit, I see this as a teachable moment—not just for Liberty but for the multitude of churches and ministries under its influence.

Insofar as the investigation is truly independent, the board of Liberty University has the opportunity to do three key things: Normalize standards of accountability and transparency; show local church boards that they too must faithfully protect the Lord’s work from abusive leaders; and remind leaders themselves that the kingdom of God is not their private enterprise.

We see this calling laid out clearly in Scripture. In Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable about an estate manager who begins to abuse those under him while the master is away. But then suddenly, like a “thief in the night,” the master returns and catches the manager unaware. Punishment is swift, decisive, and severe.

When the disciples ask who the parable is meant for, Jesus directs their attention to the relationship between privilege and responsibility, intimating that those who have the benefit of his teaching are the ones most responsible to follow it. The parable is for the disciples themselves. He then justifies the master’s harsh punishment of the unfaithful manager, saying that to “everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

In this moment, the Liberty University board is shaping cultural norms in local churches and the ministries in their orbit. It is not a question of whether their decisions will influence these ministries but of how. Will they follow through and set standards of transparency and accountability? Will future leaders be chosen on the basis of spiritual maturity, or their ability to dominate others? Will they fulfill their own stewardship to represent the master until he returns?

For the sake of the local church and the cause of Christ, may they be found faithful to the task.







Hannah Anderson is the author of Made for More and Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul. You can find more of her writing at sometimesalight.com and hear her on the weekly podcast Persuasion.

Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the publication.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Agree Agree x 1 View List

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2020, 09:18:53 pm »


https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/september/trump-administration-equipping-faith-leaders-with-tools-for.html







White House Administration Equipping Faith Leaders with Tools for Action in the Rural Addiction Crisis












New tools to address addiction in rural America from the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.


As the Nation’s “Drug Czar,” I regularly travel around the country to understand how the addiction crisis is affecting local communities. People often ask me, “What can I do?” As a person of faith, my first response is simple: “Pray.” However, in my belief, I am also reminded that my faith is brought to life with action.

Perhaps nowhere is the need for action more evident than in rural America — especially now. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented rural communities with new challenges. Jobs in fields such as manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism have seen a significant economic impact in recent months, and many who work in jobs in these sectors do not have the luxury of working remotely.

The impact of addiction is great, but resources are few. In 2018, more than 67,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. Many of those deaths occurred in rural America. A survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, two leading farm organizations, found that nearly 50 percent of adults living in rural America have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis.

One reason rural America is suffering is because there is a significant gap in many communities in the services needed to help people struggling with an addiction get healthy and stay well. I have seen this firsthand in my travels throughout rural America to places like Wise county, a rural county in southwest Virginia. This spring, I met with leadership from the Health Wagon, a faith-based clinic that provides critical care for this mountainous region that has been hard hit by poverty and addiction. Beyond its core mission of primary care, the Health Wagon has started providing medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction because there is literally no other organization that can meet the overwhelming need in their area.

Sadly, this story is not uncommon. Helping rural leaders to fill these gaps is a top priority for the current administration and our team at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). We believe that the most effective answers to addiction are built at a community level and have focused our efforts on creating tools to empower rural leaders to take action.

To this end, we first built a Community Assessment Tool that provides county-level data about drug-related deaths and overlays that data with information about socio-economic factors that might be driving local trends in substance use such as education levels, disability rates and unemployment. In June, we released an update to the tool that includes new data layers for broadband availability, transportation, health profession shortage areas, persistent poverty, and other factors that disproportionately affect rural communities. We also added a rural prosperity index that helps local leaders look at the resilience or vulnerability of their community to addiction. Stakeholders in rural communities are now empowered with comprehensive data and information that allows local law enforcement and community leaders to target and address the areas of greatest need.

Once a rural leader knows the scope of the problem in their community, the next question is often what to do about it. To help rural communities know where to begin, ONDCP joined 18 rural stakeholder partners to write a Rural Community Action Guide. The guide offers background information, recommended action steps, and success stories on a wide range of topics related to addiction, from stigma to recovery housing and transportation. Each topic in the guide was written by a rural partner who has the frontline experience to help local leaders tackle this specific need in their community.

Recognizing how important the faith community is to rural prosperity, we included a chapter written by the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There, the Center provides specific actions that faith leaders can take to support families with drug use prevention, treatment, and recovery needs and offers promising practices from states such as California, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

Finally, to help rural leaders find the funding needed to move from vision to action, we created the Rural Community Toolbox, an online resource that provides details on all Federal funding opportunities to help rural communities with drug addiction. The website allows local leaders to find resources from 16 different Federal departments and agencies — all in one place.

Throughout our Nation’s history, courageous men and women of faith have helped rural communities weather the storms of natural disaster, economic downturn, and other public health challenges like the COVID-19 public health emergency. The role of the faith community in addressing the addiction crisis is no different. With a shared passion for our faith and rural America, the Trump Administration is strongly committed to equipping faith leaders with the tools needed to take action in the fight against addiction. Together, we can build strong, healthy, and drug-free rural communities now and for generations to come.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2020, 09:23:09 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/august-web-only/why-women-read-bible-more.html








Women Read the Bible More Than Men. Why?











Best-selling study authors and Bible teachers unpack the factors that drive women to prioritize time in Scripture.


When Anne Graham Lotz was a girl, she went on a 14-mile hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a friend. Eventually, they found themselves lost in a laurel thicket, unsure of the way home. “Laurel thickets can cover the side of a mountain, and you’re dense in thicket,” Lotz told CT. “You can’t see up, out, either side.” Fortunately, her friend had packed a compass, and with that compass, they were able to set their course for north and find their way out of the laurel thicket. “We got back to the trail that we had lost, and got to where we needed to be,” Lotz said, “and we were fine.”

Lotz compares that experience to how she approaches Bible reading each and every day. “When I get up in the morning and spend time with the Lord, it’s like setting my compass, so that regardless of which way I’m turned during the day, the needle turns north,” Lotz said. “My thoughts, my attention, they’re centered on the Lord.

Women Lead in Scripture Engagement


Lotz’s commitment to daily time in the Word reflects the Bible engagement habits of many American women. The Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study reports that among evangelical Protestants, 66 percent of women read Scripture at least once a week, compared to 58 percent of men. While these Bible-reading habits may involve engaging with Scripture during a church service or midweek Bible study, women also outpace men when it comes to engaging with Scripture outside of church. According to the 2017 Baylor Religion Survey, 36 percent of Christian women spend weekly or daily time alone reading the Bible, compared to 29 percent of Christian men.

The 2020 State of the Bible survey, commissioned by the American Bible Society (ABS) and conducted by Barna, also finds that “women are more Scripture engaged than men.” It reports that more than half of American women (52%) are “Bible friendly,” “Bible engaged,” or “Bible centered,” compared to 47 percent of American men. The researchers used the term “Bible friendly” to describe those who “interact with the Bible consistently” and may consider it “a source of spiritual insight and wisdom.” The term “Bible engaged” described those who “interact with the Bible frequently … transforming their relationship with God and others.” Finally, “Bible centered” described those whose frequent interaction with Scripture transformed not just their relationships but also their choices.

The ABS report also notes that African Americans “are more Scripture engaged than other racial or ethnic groups.” Among black Christians, Pew reports a similar gender difference: 64 percent of black Christian women read the Bible at least once a week, compared to 56 percent of black Christian men.








So why are women leading in the area of Bible engagement? While the studies from Pew and the American Bible Society do not directly address the definitive cause of these findings, other research, bolstered by observations from key female Bible study authors, points toward possible sociological, cultural, and ecclesial reasons.

Differences in Reading Habits
“More women read, for one thing,” said Sandra Glahn, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor and Bible study author, when asked about the elevated rate of Bible engagement among women. “We’ve known that for a long time. There are lots of theories as to why, but more women are buying books of any kind.”

Generally speaking, women and girls do tend to read more than men and boys. According to “Gender Differences in Reading and Writing Achievement” in American Psychologist, females read more than males in almost every developed country. From girlhood, females also read more thoroughly and have greater reading comprehension than males. Although most gender differences in cognitive abilities are considered small, trivial, or statistically insignificant, the difference in reading achievement “exceeds the threshold for non-trivial gender-difference effect sizes.” In simpler terms, the differences in language and reading between men and women are large enough to be significant and meaningful. Habits of frequent and thorough reading that women bring to other texts are likely an influential factor in women’s Scripture engagement.

Schedule Flexibility
Although some business experts suggest that flexible work schedules are the future of employment for both men and women, women have long prioritized flexibility in order to balance work and family life. Jackie Hill Perry, author of Gay Girl, Good God and a recent LifeWay Bible study on the Book of Jude, said, “It isn’t that women have more time—but I think women have more time at home.” Whether women are working from home or homeschooling, Perry believes this time at home and flexibility in daily schedule provides some women with more opportunities to dig into the Scriptures.

Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering and author of the book and Bible study Get Out of Your Head, also said women’s leadership in Bible engagement likely has to do with having “margin” during the day. “A lot of women I know did a ‘Mother’s Day Out,’ ” Allen said. “They would take their kids to Bible study, they would go for three hours, and they would [study the Bible].”

Of course, not all women choose or have the option to work from home. Lotz, commenting about women’s commitment to Bible study in earlier eras, said, “One reason was because women seemed to have more at-home time . . . and men were working outside the home. That’s not true anymore, because I guess there’s as many women who work outside the home as men.” Indeed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2014, about 6 in 10 women age 16 or older worked outside the home (57%) compared to 43 percent in 1970 and 34 percent in 1950. In 1900, just 6 percent of married women worked outside the home. For women today without significant flexibility or margin in their work schedules, other factors may drive them to prioritize spending time in Bible reading and study.

Limited Leadership and Ministry Opportunities
Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign and Propel Women, posits another reason American women are so highly committed to Bible reading and study: “Is it because there are not opportunities for women to serve widely within a local church context?”

In its Christian Women Today study (2012), the Barna Group referred to women as “the backbone of U.S. Christian churches.” Yet it found that while many women were satisfied with their opportunities for ministry and leadership, a notable portion was not. “About three out of 10 churchgoing women (31%) say they are resigned to low expectations when it comes to church. One fifth feel under-utilized (20%). One sixth say their opportunities at church are limited by their gender (16%). Roughly one out of every eight women feel under-appreciated by their church (13%) and one out of nine believe they are taken for granted (11%).” The Barna report notes that although these numbers may seem low, they amount to millions of women who feel underutilized by their local church.

The limited leadership and ministry opportunities that some women encounter in their congregations can drive them to look for other ways to serve and to exercise their spiritual giftedness. Bible study is one arena where opportunities abound. Caine remarked on the difference between her home country of Australia and the popularity and prevalence of Bible study resources authored by women in America. “In Australia it’s the exact opposite,” Caine said. She believes that if women were given more opportunities to use their spiritual and communication gifts in the local church, it might not “occur to us to write a Bible study unless we’d been to seminary.”

Women Succeed as Prolific Bible Study Authors
In addition to outpacing men in frequency of Bible engagement, women Bible study authors regularly lead or feature in the best-seller lists of Christian publishing houses. LifeWay, for example, lists Bible study authors Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Kelly Minter, Lysa TerKeurst, Jen Wilkin, Angie Smith, and Lisa Harper among their top-selling writers.

Minter, author of LifeWay’s recent Bible study Finding God Faithful: A Study on the Life of Joseph, said the success and visibility of female Bible study authors spurred her own desire to write Bible studies. “It started with Kay Arthur, then Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer—Bible studies for women really broke into the mainstream. People were traveling to go hear these people speak, going to the store to buy their books, going to Amazon to buy their studies,” Minter said. “I didn’t even know Beth Moore, but Beth Moore taught me how to write Bible studies, and so did Kay Arthur.” Minter noted that even as a middle school student, she was diving into Scripture using Arthur’s Bible studies.

Jennie Allen suggested the popularity of female Bible study authors could be due, in part, to supply and demand. She observed that women may be more likely to use study resources, while men may approach Bible engagement in a different way. Allen said, “When I think of the guys getting together for church, they go for coffee from six to seven [in the morning] and they share life together. They catch up and they hold each other accountable. I think of my husband over the years [and] what he’s been [involved] in; it’s like, ‘Let’s study Romans 8 over the course of a semester with 10 guys.’ They just each take a verse and they talk about it—it’s so different.”

Allen also argues that women who may be primarily taught by men in their local congregations crave the voices and perspectives of female leaders and want those voices in their lives. She observed, “A way was made for women’s Bible study and for women’s equipping—because most Sundays and Wednesday nights were male teachers.”

For some female authors, writing a Bible study was not the driving goal. Kay Arthur, founder of Precept and one of the most prolific Bible study authors and teachers in the world, said, “I never aspired to anything that I am, except to be a woman of God. I’ve never aspired to writing Bible studies. I never aspired to being a speaker. I never dreamed in my life that I would write a book. I never thought about starting a ministry. I simply did what God set before me, one step at a time through his opened doors.”

Regarding women’s higher degrees of Bible engagement, Arthur said, “I can’t tell you why,” but she recounted how her own path to Bible study teaching and authorship arose from a felt need as she was teaching teenagers in Mexico and then in the United States. Arthur cited one of her favorite verses, Psalm 119:102, which reads, “I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me” (NASB). Arthur says her Bible studies arose out of “a passion for people to discover God’s truth for themselves by learning how to study inductively.”

The Transformative Power of the Word
Like Arthur, many of the best-known women Bible teachers are hesitant to guess why women devote more time to reading Scripture than men. But they know why they are passionate about it: They attest to how committed time in Scripture has changed their own lives and serves as the foundation of their relationship with God.

“I don’t think you can know God as he is apart from the Word,” Lotz said. “You can get glimpses of him, perhaps. You can know about him, see reflections of him—but he has revealed himself accurately through the written Word, the living Word.” She continued, “I don’t want to know God the way some people say he may be, or some people think he is or is not. I want to know him as he is. And if there is a God in the universe, then I want to know the names he calls himself. I want to know how he’s revealed himself. I don’t want to know him secondhand, or through hearsay.”

“Scripture does not return void,” said Denver Seminary faculty member Angie Ward, citing Isaiah 55:11. Ward, the author of I Am A Leader: When Women Discover the Joy of Their Calling, notes the importance of immersing oneself in Scripture to know God deeply rather than merely to acquire knowledge. “Information alone doesn’t equal transformation,” Ward said. “There’s definitely power in Scripture, but it’s in letting it soak into our lives” and experiencing transformation “through that working of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works through Scripture.”

Perry says the Word transformed her life by teaching her who Jesus really is. “Apart from the Scriptures, I wouldn’t have any framework of … who he is, why he’s to be trusted, and how out of that trust how my life should look,” she said. “The Scriptures have provided evidence for faith, reason to believe, fuel for faith—but also a really clear understanding of why I exist, what I’m supposed to be doing in this life. . . . Apart from [the Scriptures], I would still be the same person [I was before I became a Christian].”

Each of the Bible study authors and teachers interviewed for this article is passionate about how the Word of God can transform the lives of those who encounter it. All of them urged every Christian to make it a daily practice to read and study the Word. “Stop calling it a quiet time,” argued Glahn. After all, not all women have the ability or the margin to create an ideal, quiet setting for biblical study and reflection. We need not wait for the perfect time or place; the transformative power of the Word is very near. As Saint Augustine said, all we must do is “Take up and read. Take up and read.”









Halee Gray Scott, PhD, is an author, radio show host, and social researcher whose focus is ministry issues in the 21st century. She is the director of the Young Adult Initiative at Denver Seminary.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2020, 03:56:41 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/september/qanon-conspiracies-disciple.html










QAnon, Conspiracies, and Discipling the Way Out






















Reflections on my recent article for USAToday


Few articles I’ve written have provoked the response as touching conspiracy theories in 2020. It is an odd mixture of those consumed by fury or derision at my apparent blindness and those derisive of my supposed attempt to generate clickbait.

This is part of the problem I tried to address in my latest article at USAToday on the growing influence of the conspiracy theory known as QAnon in evangelical churches.

In the article, I concluded that “we need pastors, leaders, and everyday Christians to address this conspiracy, and others like it, before others are fooled.” With this in mind, I wanted to address some pushback and offer some steps leaders can take.

The Problem of the Media


By far the most common criticism I get whenever I write about conspiracy theories is that Christians should be suspicious of mainstream media. Many have argued that they are often biased against Christians and conservatives, at times presenting distorted reporting.

I think this is fair criticism—to a point.

As I’ve argued many times, the state of reporting on religion—and particularly reporting on evangelicalism—is poor. Major outlets get obvious facts wrong that betray not only ignorance but laziness in not checking.

I also explained to Terry Mattingly that poor treatment from the mainstream media is, at least in part, to blame for why Christians don’t trust them—they have reasons not to.

It’s not hard to ask a pastor or seminary professor for help, but this is sometimes deemed not important. In the history of journalism, I’d wager that few terms have been as wrongly used as Calvinism. Yet the lesson is never learned.

More distressingly, some outlets seemingly take joy in magnifying outlier behavior as examples of evangelicals while ignoring the majority. This was evident in March, when despite the tens of thousands of churches that led the way on closing fast and focusing on serving their communities, media outlets focused on the few cases of attention seeking pastors. Or, more recently, with the misleading (and since changed) New York Times headline about churches being a major source of outbreaks.

In talking with other church leaders, it is beyond frustrating to serve faithfully only to see the loudest fringe voices receive the spotlight, or to see your community misrepresented. This wears on Christians and cultivates distrust of the media. After all, if they’re getting us wrong, what else are they misrepresenting?

Over time, this has eroded trust and obscured the work of quality religion journalists at just the time we need them most.

Going Too Far
Despite these failings, Christians go too far when they dismiss all mainstream journalism.

This is why in USAToday, I was critical of the 46% of self-identified evangelicals and 52% of evangelicals by belief who "strongly believe the mainstream media produces fake news." While it can be tempting for evangelicals to use bias to dismiss criticism, “the fact that news agencies have biases is not synonymous with producing fake news.”

This mistake has only served to isolate us from criticism, whereby we invalidate any news article we find unfavorable.

In reality, there are good journalists in the mainstream media, particularly religion journalists, who strive to understand and report on evangelicalism in all fairness. I might not always agree with them, but I respect their integrity and desire to report honestly.

Instead, our goal should be a maturity to engage reporting with a critical eye rather than to shout bias upon seeing a logo.

We need to develop a track record of accepting hard truths that are well supported rather than if they support our political or cultural narrative. Most importantly, we need to resist our temptations to echo chambers—a temptation that is common to many other subcultures across the globe.

Stepping into our Technology Discipleship Gap

I voiced my frustration in Christians in the Age of Outrage that for how important online technology is to our world, pastors rarely engaged the topic. As a result, our dependence on technology far outpaces its prominence in our discipleship practices. Conspiracy theories like QAnon gaining traction in our churches is merely one more rotten fruit of thisgap in our discipleship.

In my USAToday piece, I attempted to step into this gap by challenging Christians to “address the QAnon’ers in our midst.” Many dismissed the problem as fearmongering while others believed I’d slandered QAnon.

But most Christians are looking for help and frustrated at the silence from their leaders. They’ve struggled with family members, friends, and even church staff or volunteers promoting conspiracies. Unsure how to respond, often it goes unchallenged and relationships slowly dissolve.

Pastors and church leaders need to see this as the discipleship failure it is. Our silence, casual dismissal, or even tacit approval of destructive online behavior is corrosive to the spiritual health of our churches.

So as pastors look to engage, let me offer three initial steps we can take to address the technology habits and relationships of our people.

1) Challenge the church to make Christ Lord of their social media.

Undoubtedly many in your congregation, organization, and family believe this is already true for them. In fact, they have proof!

Their social media profile says Christian and is accompanied by a bible verse. But in reality, the ways we describe ourselves on social media often say far less about our identity than the ways we interact and the people, ideas, and causes we choose to amplify.

Social media profiles can be misleading and even destructive if the heart behind them is not submitted to Christ.

2) Encourage the church to ask God for wisdom.

Never in my lifetime has the need for wisdom been as pressing as it is today. The confusion of the pandemic, the caustic spirit of our politics, and the unresolved pain of our racial history are only a few of the pressing demands we face.

With so much confusion, church leaders need to ask our people where they are looking for answers. I believe that any explanation for rise of conspiracy theories and politicization in the church should begin with these responses. When faced with uncertainty, many Christians have developed concerning habits of turning to cable news or even social media platforms like Facebook or Reddit when trying to make sense of the world.

Into these temptations, Pastors need remind us of the words of James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

While truth is we all lack wisdom, the question remains: where are we turning? If you want to address the conspiracy theories in your church, recognize how their posts reflect a struggle for where to find wisdom and a corresponding set of habits that need to be rooted out.

3) Caution the church to hit pause.

One important lesson I’ve learned in watching Christians on social media is how the platform causes us to diminish the importance of being “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (1:19).

It is stunning how Christians can just dismiss this warning from James as insignificant.

Encountering something they find offensive or wrong, many Christians are quick to jump into the fray. In reality, the majority of these instantaneous criticisms are a fraction as clever as we believe and exponentially more cruel, ignorant, and/or prideful. This is why James cautions us to be slow and to listen. A day, a week, a month; the length matters less than genuinely reflecting on why and how you are engaging.

It’s a good lesson to never send an angry email. Save it in your drafts and pray on it for at least 24 hours. My inbox is still filled with dozens of saved emails I wrote in anger but decided not to send.

In some cases, God resolved the situation. In others, He gave me peace despite a lack of resolution. In every instance, I realized that the email would only satisfy my rage.

Pastors should encourage a similar practice. When tempted to engage online in anger, hit pause. This is entirely inconsistent with the spirit of social media but entirely aligned with the Spirit of God.

In all three of these steps, the central need of the church is for its leaders for wisdom on how to live in our digital world. These are the pressing questions of our time and if the pulpit is silent they will go elsewhere.

The challenge for pastors is when will we begin to speak up.








Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group. The Exchange Team contributed to this article.

Andrew MacDonald is associate director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Institute. He’s written here on conspiracy theories.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2020, 09:26:03 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/cut-stone-confederate-monuments-ryan-newson.html








Monuments Can Be Destroyed, but Not Forgotten













Our most controversial stone statues carry layers of communal history that aren’t easily cast aside.


In the Hebrew Scriptures, stone monuments are earthen witnesses to a sacred covenant. When Jacob contractually maneuvered himself out from under his father-in-law Laban, he set up a pillar in the highlands of Gilead. It was supposed to be a reminder of a legal separation, but the fragility of the peace was underscored by the dueling names given to the monument: Jacob’s in the Hebrew tongue, Laban’s in Aramaic. The monument was barely dedicated before it became an object of linguistic civil war.

What’s old is new again. Disputes over historical markers and their meanings are simply the continuance of culture war by other means. Theologian Ryan Andrew Newson wrote his new book Cut in Stone: Confederate Monuments and Theological Disruption in the wake of the 2017 protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thousands of organized white nationalists infamously marched through the University of Virginia campus chanting language—“White Lives Matter!” “Blood and Soil!”—charged with centuries of racial supremacy. The material cause for the march was the threatened removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Erected in 1924, the statue presented a genteel, handsome Lee—hat in hand, martial but not militaristic. The stone general is resigned but undefeated, like the Lost Cause he represents.

The statue lasted decades in the city center without scrutiny, but in the 21st century, it struck some as strange to venerate the leader of a rebellion devoted to the preservation of chattel slavery. Newson’s book delves into the history of Confederate monuments like this one, asking what sort of political ideology—or theology—underwrites them. What did these monuments—often constructed many decades after Lee resigned at Appomattox—mean for the communities that created them? What gave them their near-sacred value? And what is the appropriate political and theological response to markers of a contested American legacy? Can you—should you—erase a moral tragedy?

Remembering a Tragic History
When they were originally constructed, monuments to Confederate leaders and soldiers were remarkably free of cultural guilt. Hundreds of statues appeared in over 30 states in the aftermath of Reconstruction, as the South began to rehabilitate its image—and historical memory. As Newson points out in fascinating detail, the Confederacy was re-memorialized decades after its military defeat. Monument construction was most intense from 1890 to 1950, a span of time that unsurprisingly coincides with Jim Crow.

Other defeated nations and causes have wrestled with how to remember a tragic history. Germany after the Second World War underwent a therapy of historical penance that continues even today. The Confederacy, however, did not. Its monuments served a “palliative” purpose, Newson argues, aiming to “alleviate collective suffering without addressing the root cause of the pain.” So the stone figures stood as reminders of the genteel honor and heroic manhood of figures such as Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis—eliding their militant defense of chattel slavery. With these symbolic moves, the memory of slavery was quickly shunted into the distant past, even as its system of involuntary unpaid labor shifted from the plantation to the chain gang in the late-19th century and the systemic incarceration of African Americans in the 20th.

As a historical project, Cut in Stone focuses on the Reconstruction-era South, but Newson’s theological analysis touches more broadly on the nature of historical memory and the moral obligations of a political community that is still haunted by the sins of its fathers. Newson’s book was published in the middle of the summer of 2020—a wry moment of providence if ever there was one. While Charlottesville in 2017 provides the backdrop to the book, more recent events have made its subject matter even timelier.

I was invited to review Newson’s book the day that statues of Christopher Columbus were removed from Grant Park and Arrigo Park in my hometown of Chicago. A week prior, a confrontation between protesters and police had centered on the statue in Grant Park. As protestors attempted to topple Columbus by force, multiple people on both sides of the conflict were injured.

In the early-20th century, the monuments had been commissioned by Italian-American communities in Chicago to memorialize the Genoese explorer, who at that time evoked a spirit of exploration and American destiny. Forgotten for centuries was Columbus’s brutal subjugation of indigenous peoples—not to mention the mercenary motivations of his transatlantic voyages.

There’s a reason political communities—and movements—make myths about themselves. And not all of them are formed in malice or bad faith. We typically retell the story of the civil rights movement in heightened rhetoric that foregrounds its best ideals while leaving other details—including the moral peccadillos of its leaders—in the shadows. Only recently have we begun to tell the stories of grassroots figures like Ida B. Wells and Fannie Lou Hamer in addition to chronicling the (sometimes problematic) charismatic male leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. When a narrative has been told for decades, or centuries, it takes of lot of intention to reorder historical memory.

In Charlottesville and Chicago, historical myths finally cracked. The stone figures of Lee and Columbus, for different reasons, were not mere historical memories, but witnesses to some deeper sense of national or ethnic identity.

One of the blind spots of modern liberalism—the political philosophy, not the ideology—is its studied obliviousness to the sacral elements of social life and national identity. There’s a reason that the debate over stone structures reaches the fevered pitch that it does. You find out what a community reveres when the removal of its earthen symbols triggers charges of disrespect, violation, and even blasphemy. You find out what a revolution really seeks when you notice what the iconoclasts want to destroy.

Newson is appropriately circumspect when asking what the proper social or theological response ought to be toward Confederate monuments. There is no way to continue honoring the noblesse oblige of figures like Lee and Jackson without resorting to a moral naivete that is willfully ignorant of American history. The instinct to topple national idols is understandable. But does destruction lead to erasure? Is there a reason to remember the tragedies of American history in a way that acknowledges the complications of the past without giving honor where shame is due?

Handle with Care
This is where the virtue of prudence comes in handy, as virtues do. How do we distinguish among the different symbols—what they portray and what they represent for a variety of communities? If we decide collectively that honorific statues of Confederate military leaders should be removed, or perhaps limited to museum exhibits, should we do the same for Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or even Abraham Lincoln? All of these figures have come under scrutiny, often for good reasons.

On July 24th, the day Columbus came down in Chicago, one of the protestors made the statement that the statue symbolized negative values that the city needed to “acknowledge,” but also “divorce ourselves from.” The monument, she said, had “nothing to do with where Chicago is going and our future.” But that’s the tricky, sometimes awful thing about sacred symbols: Even though they are only made of stone, they carry layers of communal history that aren’t easily cast aside. Is it important to remember what Columbus represented to Italian-Americans at a time when they were also the victims of white supremacy? How does that piece of history need to be preserved once the idol has been toppled?

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot explained that the removal was “an effort to protect public safety and to preserve a safe space for an inclusive and democratic public dialogue about our city's symbols.” Which seems quite responsible in such tenuous and terrifying times. Putting a hold on things—providing space for deliberative liberalism to do what it does best—seems prudent.

And yet few, on the left or the right, seemed disposed to mimic the mayor’s temperament. Charges of lawlessness were thrown from one side, and charges of brutality and moral complicity from the other. Few seemed satisfied with the mayor’s actions—or if they were, they were reluctant to say it publicly.

Newson’s historical and theological analysis reminds us that a statue is rarely just a statue; stone pillars are usually consecrated to a cause—for better or worse. And while the past few summers of culture-warring haven’t come close to resolving every question of whether our most controversial monuments should stay up, come down, or go elsewhere, Cut in Stone provides a helpful framework for understanding the political and theological principles at stake.

Clearly, sacred objects ought to be handled carefully. And yet, sometimes their destruction—as with golden calves or stone tablets—is the more meaningful response. If Moses smashed stones etched by the divine hand in response to national idolatry, then what kind of iconoclasm calls to us today?








David Henreckson is the director of the Institute for Leadership and Service at Valparaiso University. He is the author of The Immortal Commonwealth: Covenant, Community, and Political Resistance in Early Reformed Thought.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2020, 09:49:31 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/john-lennox-2084-ethics-artificial-intelligence.html








Rise of the Machines: New Book Applies Christian Ethics to the Future of AI











Q&A: John Lennox reflects on questions of consciousness in computers, enhancing humans, and other quandaries.


Once viewed as the stuff of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is steadily making inroads into our everyday lives—from our social media feeds to digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. As helpful as AI is for many aspects of our lives, it also raises a number of challenging moral and spiritual questions. Facial recognition can be used to locate fugitive criminals, but also to suppress political dissidents. Various apps and platforms can anticipate our preferences, but also harvest data that invades our privacy. Technology can speed healing, but many are hoping to use it to enhance natural human abilities or eliminate “undesirable” emotions.

In his recent book 2084: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity, Oxford professor emeritus John Lennox surveys the current and future landscape of AI and addresses these and related issues. Lennox is a mathematician who has spoken internationally on the philosophy of science, written books addressing the limits of science, and debated high profile atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. In the new book, he acknowledges the many benefits AI can offer, but he also critiques the worldview that lies behind many secular visions of AI that seek to transform humans into gods and create utopias through technology.

Christopher Reese spoke with Lennox about his book and how Christians should think about a number of issues related to this rapidly accelerating technology, including “upgrading” humans, whether computers can become conscious, and how Christians should weigh the pros and cons of AI.

Many negative scenarios involving AI have played out in popular movies. In your opinion, are these the kinds of outcomes that we should be concerned about?

We’re nowhere near these negative scenarios yet in the opinion of the top thinkers in this area. But there’s enough going on in artificial intelligence that actually works at the moment to give us huge ethical concern.

There are two main strands in artificial intelligence. There’s narrow AI, which is very successful in certain areas though raising deep problems in others. This is simply a powerful computer working on huge databases, and it has a programed algorithm which looks for particular patterns. Let’s suppose we have a database of a million X-rays of lung diseases labeled by the best doctors in the world, and then you get an X-ray at your local hospital and an algorithm compares yours with the database in just a few seconds and comes up with a diagnosis. So, that’s a very positive thing.

But then you move on to the more questionable things—today the main one has to do with facial recognition. There again, you’ve got a huge database of millions of photographs of faces labeled with names and all kinds of information. You can immediately see that a police force would find that useful in checking for terrorists and criminals. But it can be used for suppressing people and manipulating and controlling them. In China today, there’s every evidence of extreme surveillance techniques being used to subdue the Uyghur minority. That has raised ethical questions all around the world.

This is not the 1984 Big Brother. We’re already there. But it’s not 2084. That’s where the second strand comes in: Artificial general intelligence is where we develop a super intelligence that’s controlling the world. That’s sci-fi stuff.

C. S. Lewis worried that technological advances might lead to the “abolition of man.” Can you elaborate on what he meant by that?

One reason I wrote the book was because of my familiarity with C. S. Lewis. In the 1940s, he wrote two books, The Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength, which is a science fiction book. His concern was, if human beings ever managed to do this kind of thing, the result wouldn’t be human at all. It would be an artifact.

If you start to play about with humans as they are and introduce genetic engineering, what happens is you create an artifact—that is, something you have made that is not greater than human, but subhuman. In other words, you abolish human beings in that sense. You made something that you think is more than human, but it’s actually less than human because you, who are not God, have contributed to its specification. Lewis thus talks about how the final “triumph” of humanity will be the abolition of man. I think that ought to concern us.

The Bible affirms that human beings have souls and are made in the image of God. How do those ideas factors into your view of machines and their ability (or inability) to imitate humans?

We are made in the image of God. That gives us dignity and value. Some aspects of surveillance seem to infringe on that. They seem to be invasions of privacy, the space that God has given us to function. Certainly, when it comes to controlling people and getting them not to act out of their consciences but to do what the state requires, that can be a very dangerous path. We’re seeing that already, as I have mentioned.

But, of course, once we begin to talk about artificial general intelligence, there are two strands again. The first one is to bioengineer existing humans and turn them into gods. The Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has written a book called Homo Deus, which means “the man who is God.” He very straight forwardly says that there are two major agenda items for the 21st century. One is to solve the problem of death as a physical problem, meaning that medicine will go so far that you don’t need to die. You could die, but you don’t need to.

Second is to bioengineer human life to enhance it through technology, drugs, and other things so that we create a superhuman intelligence. That’s where all the dystopian scenarios come from, and that fuels films like The Matrix and so on. They’re scary because we are at the cusp of potentially altering what it means to be human permanently.

Human beings, “version 1.0” as created by God, are by nature special. The specialness of human beings is seen in the fact that God became one. The Word became human, became flesh, and dwelt among us. I take that extremely seriously, and therefore any attempt to make “humans 2.0” is going to be a step away from God’s design, not a step toward God.

Do you think it’s wrong in a Christian framework to try to enhance our abilities, or is there a place for that?

I have enhanced eyesight because I’m wearing a pair of glasses. At the moment, the technology is sitting on my nose and ears. It’s very crude, but I could be wearing contact lenses, which you might not even notice. That kind of enhancement is a very good thing because it’s simply helping with a deficiency in my own eyesight, as would a hearing aid, as would a prosthetic limb. So, there is a place for strengthening limbs, getting better eyesight, and of course dealing with chemical imbalances in our blood and in our brains and in our systems. We’re very grateful for medicine.

But to be very clear, there are pretty obvious limits where we begin to transgress and it’s effectively saying, “God, you did your best, but we can do better. We can improve human beings.” That’s a very risky business. One of the central dangers is playing God by modifying the genetic germ line, which could impact all generations to follow us.

What is your perspective on what’s been called the “hard problem of consciousness?” Can machines ever be conscious?

Here’s the problem: Nobody knows what consciousness is, let alone how to build it. If you’re going to make general artificial intelligence, then you will have to produce consciousness. So the arguments fly forwards and backwards. When people say to me, “What do you think of it all?” I say if you can first tell me what consciousness is, I will listen to you pretty seriously.

Of course, from a Christian perspective, the brain is physical, the mind is not. We have lived to see the information age where we realize that information, which is a non-material entity, has become fundamental to physics and our understanding of the universe. That accords exactly with Scripture, which tells us in the beginning was the Word. Not in the beginning was the universe. The universe is derivative. All things came to be through the Word. So, God the Word is primary. The universe is derivative, whereas atheism believes the exact opposite, that the universe is primary and mind is derivative.

You observe that science substitutes as a religion for some proponents of AI, who see technology as a means of salvation. How do you see science functioning for them religiously?

If you deny God as creator, you don’t get rid of the idea of creation because you’ve got to explain life, and in particular human life and consciousness. So, you often end up endowing material elementary particles with creative powers—which there’s no evidence that they have—so that the material universe has got to, in some sense, create life and create itself, which is philosophical nonsense.

I've spent my life trying to unpack these things so that people can understand just how crazy some of these things are, but they are what results by rejecting the creator. Paul put it well at the beginning of Romans. He says rejecting the creator means you become intellectually dark and you start talking nonsense. There's a great deal of it around, but because it is said by powerful scientists, people take it seriously. They don't remember what one of our most famous scientists, Richard Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner of physics, once brilliantly said: “Outside his or her field,” he said, “the scientist is just as dumb as the next guy.”

You write about possible connections between AI and events described in biblical prophecy. How do you see those things potentially fitting together?

Well, I’m very cautious here. There’s always a great skepticism when you mention biblical scenarios of the future. But for me, the bottom line is this: If we are prepared to take seriously, as many people are, highly dystopian situations in the future where you have a world dictator who controls economics by having some kind of implant in people’s skin or in their eyes or something like that—why don’t we go back to the scenario that is presented, at least in outline, in the Bible and compare it with these scenarios? Certain elements are very much in common. The idea is something that’s not simply the apocalyptic literature of the book of Revelation, but straightforward theological writing, as in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

How should Christians weigh the potential benefits of AI with its possible—and actual—abuses?

Well, I would reply by saying, how do you weigh the benefits of a very sharp knife? A very sharp knife can be used to do surgery and save people’s lives. It can also be used for murder.

What I do with my Christian friends is, if they’re scientifically inclined, I say: IT, computer technology is a fascinating area to be in, and there’s so much good that can be done. One of the wonderful examples of that is at MIT where Rosalind Picard, who is a brilliant scientist, a Christian, has developed her own field called affective computing. She’s using facial recognition techniques to find signs of children having seizures before they happen and preventing them.

But every technological invention has potentiality for good and evil. The issue is not that one resists advance, but one learns to control that advance and set it into an ethical framework. The problem with that today is that the technology is outpacing the ethics at a colossal speed. People haven’t had time to think.

Some are concerned about what’s happening and they’re trying to set up international boards and ideas of basic ethical principles that need to be built into AI. All that is well and good, but we’re dealing at an international level. It depends on who’s got the most power. If people don’t have normative ethical principles that are transcendent, as Christianity gives us, then of course power will determine what’s believed.

Christians need to be able to sit credibly at the table with their non-Christian colleagues, discuss these things sensibly, and help other people think through the ethical issues.








Christopher Reese is the managing editor of The Worldview Bulletin, co-founder of the Christian Apologetics Alliance, and general editor of Three Views on Christianity and Science (forthcoming from Zondervan, 2021).
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2020, 10:02:35 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/september/teen-parent-faith-evangelicals-pew-research-gen-z.html








Train Up a Teen: Young Evangelicals Mostly Keep Their Parents’ Faith













Pew Research finds that even the most devout young believers don’t agree with Mom and Dad on everything. Christian parents weigh in on the challenges of teenage discipleship.


A majority of American teens still follow their parents’ lead when it comes to religion. The trend holds whether families are religious or not—but it’s especially good news for evangelical Protestants, who care the most about their children sharing their beliefs.

Evangelical teens, like their parents, stand out as the most confident and active in their faith when compared to their peers, according to a new Pew Research Center report on the religious practices of 13-to-17-year-olds.

The religious makeup of today’s teens mostly resembles the population overall. About a third are “nones” (identifying as nothing in particular, atheist, or agnostic), the largest category. After that, about a quarter identify as Catholic and 21 percent as evangelical.

Even as teens, over half of evangelicals surveyed say they attend church at least weekly (64%), pray at least daily (51%), and belong to a youth group (64%), compared to a minority of teen respondents from other traditions. (It’s not just parental pressure. In the survey, two-thirds of evangelical teens say they attend church because they want to go, not to appease Mom and Dad.)

Family plays a big part in young evangelicals’ devotional lives. The vast majority say they enjoy religious activities with their families (88%), with 55 percent reading the Bible together, 80 percent saying grace at family meals, and 88 percent talking about religion, Pew found.

These practices correspond with a greater assurance in their religious beliefs. While nearly all teens who belong to a Christian tradition said they believe in God, 71 percent of evangelicals said they are “absolutely certain” in their belief, compared to just under of half of mainline (49%) and Catholic teens (45%). Evangelicals were also the only group among teens to agree that there is only one true religion.

But not all families fall on the same spiritual page once kids hit the teen years. Twelve percent of teens with evangelical parents don’t affiliate with a religion. Overall, about half of today’s youth say at least some of their beliefs differ from their parents, even if they still identify with the same tradition. The most common way teens see their convictions contrasting with Mom and Dad’s has to do with level of certainty: 14 percent say that they have more questions or are more unsure.

According to Pew, two-thirds of teens who don’t have “all the same” beliefs as their parents say their family knows about the differences, while a third say they don’t. Teens forming their own religious views and approaches as they grow up can be confusing for others under the same roof. Pew found that parents who misjudged their kids’ convictions were more likely to overestimate how important their faith was to them.

It can also be a sensitive topic for parents to broach. About seven-in-ten evangelical parents consider it “very important” to raise their children in their faith. They make it more of a priority than any other major tradition—half as many mainline Protestants say the same. But as much as they model their faith, surround them with Christian community, and pray for their kids’ salvation, evangelical parents also know their sons and daughters—God-willing, Spirit-empowered—will eventually have to come to understand the gospel for themselves.

CT asked parents of teenagers how important it is for their teenagers’ beliefs to align with theirs and how they approach the children’s faith at this stage. Here are their responses.

Dorena Williamson, speaker, author, and co-founder of Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville:
I approach my kids’ faith with an understanding that it is not easy growing up with parents who work vocationally in church. I too was a PK (pastor’s kid) and know authenticity is key. I look for ways to encourage their faith in the atmosphere set at home. I always pray over them, seek out music they enjoy, and form conversations about current issues important to them. Hopefully, this communicates that I care about their interests. I don't expect my kids’ faith journey to mirror my own. These times hold new challenges and possibilities, and they have their own path to walk. At this stage in their spiritual lives, I pray they love God wholeheartedly and seek to love their neighbor. I know that is pleasing to God and a legacy that will endure.

Beth Felker Jones, professor of theology at Wheaton College:
My biggest prayer for my older kids is that they would love Jesus and throw their lives in with him. I don’t believe this is something I can control, because it can only come as a gift, but I pray for it and try to make way for it by talking with them about faith and making sure they have a strong group of adult Christians in their lives. I expect my teens to come to church and youth group, to pray with our family, to read Scripture. I hope they can talk freely with me and their father about questions of faith.

I don’t think parents can turn kids into our clones, and when it comes to nonessential matters, I try to hold very lightly any hope that they would perfectly agree with me. If they become adults who live with and for Jesus, my prayers would be answered, and I would do my very best not to obsess about whether they go to a different kind of church than I do or have different beliefs about what baptism means. And this is something I try to communicate directly to my teens: I don’t hope to make them like me. I do hope they’ll love Jesus and become like him.

John Starke, lead pastor at Apostles Church Uptown in New York:
Often when we talk about wanting our kids to align their beliefs with ours, that means a kind of cultural form of beliefs, rather than a biblical faith, and it tends to be a cloistered faith, rather one of understanding. At the same time, we believe in a heaven and hell, that God calls for repentance, and that our culture seduces us towards disbelief and rebellion. My hope is that they are given mercy and experience grace through faith.

We want them to understand our faith, recognize its cultural counterfeits, but also sense the freedom to ask difficult questions and fumble through “trying the faith on” as they grow up. I would want my kids to feel that they share our faith in common, since that would probably feel most secure and safe for them as individuals as they mature and grow into their own identities apart from us and as they grow and form their own faith in Christ.

Jen Michel, author of Surprised by Paradox, Keeping Place, and Teach Us to Want:
We’ve wanted to give our children the richest Christian formation possible in our home, and of course we’ve done that imperfectly. But as our children now leave home, one-by-one, we realize that the faith they take with them must be theirs, not ours.

I was just writing a very belated graduation letter to my 17-year-old son (soon to be 18). He would not call himself a Christian, and that’s very hard. I want him to know the reality of Jesus, but I also fully believe that he needs more than an inherited faith. By contrast, our daughter, now a sophomore in college, is walking with Jesus and serving in ministry on her college campus. That’s been a great joy, and we thank God.

Melissa Cain Travis, assistant Professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University:
I consider it a particularly positive sign when my teenage sons raise theological disagreement with me; it means they're thinking deeply and critically about Christian doctrine! This is far better than disinterest, and it sparks rich (and sometimes very long) conversations in which I am able to demonstrate intellectual respect for them while offering gentle guidance.

I work to foster a mere Christianity ethos in our discussions but make it clear that secondary theological issues deserve careful consideration. It truly pleases me when my sons arrive at different yet well-thought-out conclusions on the non-essentials. In those instances, I simply make sure that they understand the merits of my perspective.

Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute:
My kids’ relationship with Jesus is very important to me. As the mom of a 19-, 17-, and 14-year-old, most days I pray more for their faith than anything else. To be honest, a big part of me wants my kids to believe like me and worship like me (and vote like me, eat like me; the list could go on and on). But when I peel back the layers, what I ultimately long for is that my kids will know Jesus loves them and will love him in return. I want them to know that Jesus offers the best answers to their questions of identity, belonging, and purpose.

As our kids are owning their faith, the way they experience God’s love, and express their love in return, already looks different than mine. Based on research for our book Growing With, I try to ask each of my kids two questions: “What do you no longer believe that you think I do?” And, “What do you now believe that you think I don’t?” I want us to be able to discuss anything about Jesus and faith, especially when we disagree. With our two high-school-aged daughters … they’re more progressive on a handful of cultural issues and even more passionate about justice. When those differences emerge in our conversations, I’ve intentionally suggested, “When you’re older, you might want to look for a church that reflects what you believe.” Ultimately, I want my kids to love the church, not my church.

Amy Whitfield, host of SBC This Week and an associate vice president with the SBC Executive Committee:
Our shared faith in Christ, along with involvement in our local church, is incredibly important in the life of our family. As our teenagers have grown older, discipleship is definitely part of our parenting, but the role that faith plays in our relationship does change. When they were younger, we took a very proactive leadership role, standing out in front and systematically pointing them to the truths of the gospel. Now, as they grow spiritually, we are beginning to walk alongside them as older brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging their personal study of the Bible and helping them understand and apply it to their lives.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2020, 10:08:18 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/september/latest-evangelicals-becoming-catholics-mark-galli.html








Evangelicals Becoming Catholics: Former CT Editor Mark Galli












Why do evangelicals convert to Catholicism and how should we respond?


This Sunday, September 13, a man named Mark will become confirmed as a Catholic. Why is this significant?

Mark Galli, who will be confirmed under the name of St. Francis, is a former Presbyterian pastor and editor-in-chief for Christianity Today. And, as RNS noted, for a few days last December he was perhaps the best-known evangelical in the nation for his editorial calling for the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump from the presidency.

Galli, however, says the timing of his conversion to Catholicism two months before the next election is for personal reasons. After 20 years in the Anglican Church, he believes moving to Catholicism is not a rejection of evangelicalism but taking his "Anglicanism deeper and thicker."

His journey took him from Presbyterianism to becoming an Episcopalian, then Anglican, with a brief time attending the Orthodox Church. This runs counter to trends in the U.S., as currently for every one convert to Catholicism, six leave the tradition. But notable Protestants, from Elizabeth Ann Seton and John Henry Newman, to G.K. Chesterton, Francis Beckwith, and Tony Blair. The RNS article observed:

Some converts are drawn to the beauty of Catholic ritual. Others to the church’s rich intellectual tradition or the centrality of the Eucharist, the bread and wine used for Communion, which Catholics believe becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
For Galli that was part of it, but his fatigue with evangelicalism contributed as well. "I want to submit myself to something bigger than myself," He said, adding:

One thing I like about both Orthodoxy and Catholicism is that you have to do these things, whether you like it or not, whether you’re in the mood or not, sometimes whether you believe or not. You just have to plow ahead. I want that.

Why do Evangelicals Become Catholics?

A Catholic Perspective
Beauty: In the National Catholic Register an article on the book Evangelical Exodus: Evangelical Seminarians and Their Pathsto Rome noted beauty as one reason. No less than ten Southern Evangelical Seminary students contributed to this book, as did Francis Beckwith of Baylor.

Editor (and convert) Douglas Beaumont observed:

​In Protestantism, there's a tendency to dismiss any reason other ​​than the intellectual. But as human beings, we're both physical and spiritual ​creatures. In the Catholic Church, he found, intellect and reason are respected; ​but the Catholic Church is also more beautiful and more historical. There is an ​attractive package which draws the spirit, combining art and music and beauty, a ​long history, and tradition, with solid intellectual arguments.

Spirituality: Scott Hahn, another former evangelical now Catholic, in his chapter "Come to the Father: The Fact at the Foundation of Catholic Spirituality," in Four Views on Christian Spirituality, notes the great diversity of expressions of spirituality from the

. . . silence of the Trappists and the Pentecostal praise of the Charismatic Renewal; the rarified intellectual life of the Dominicans and the profound feeling of the Franciscans; the wealth of the knights of Malta and the elected poverty of the Missionaries of Charity; the strict enclosure of the Carthusians and the world-loving secularity of the Opus Dei; the bright colors of Central American devotional art and the austere blocks of the German cathedrals; the warrior spirit of the Templars and the serene pax of the Benedictines; Ignatian detachment and Marian warmth.

He argues this shows the richness of Catholic spirituality which "presents a forest indiscernible because of the variety and number – and even the age – of its trees.”

From First Things​
First Things often offers an intellectually respectable, nonpartisan examination of religious and other matters. In an article entitled “Why Do Evangelicals Convert to Catholicism?” Adam Omelianchuk offers reasons evangelicals convert to Catholicism:

Authenticity and beauty in worship. Though many Catholics left for more vibrant evangelical services, many miss the sense of awe and reverence seen in the liturgy of the church, as it “represented something sacred and beautiful.”

Intellectualism. “Catholicism has a rich intellectual pedigree that remains competitive in today’s marketplace of ideas that evangelicals hardly match. Catholics have traditionally been leaders in such high professions like law, medicine, and education, and Catholic universities often compete with and far surpass those funded by the secular public. For a Christian intellectual, Catholicism can be an antidote to evangelicalism’s rampant anti-intellectualism.”

Church Polity. The various approaches of elder-led vs. elder-ruled, the role of women, and other areas of dispute among evangelicals makes the hierarchical approach of Catholicism appealing for some when compared to "competing with one another by the means of building a ministry around a cult of personality, which so often drives evangelical ecclesiology.”

An Evangelical Assessment: Scott McKnight

McKnight examined this issue in an article for JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) entitled (ironically, for this moment) "From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic."

He quotes Chesterton who says he took the path of Rome "to get rid of my sins." McKnight argues Scott Hahn noted above and musician (from the Jesus People Movement days) John Michael Talbot––who moved from a Pentecostal-Fundamentalist faith to becoming a Franciscan––offered two notable examples to understand the transition.

McKnight offered four specific areas to help understand the move to Catholicism.

These transitions are institutional in nature. It is not a conversion to Christ but a perceived conversion to the fullness of the Christian faith.
The context of the converts. McKnight notes how difficult it is to convert from evangelicalism to Catholicism and that it is not done lightly or without opposition from family and friends.
A "crisis" through various factors. An example is the desire for transcendence, manifested in four key areas: certainty, history, unity, and authority. There is a weighty continuity in the history of Rome with the early Fathers, the Medieval theologians, and more. The splintering of evangelicalism causes some to admire both the centralized authority and the confession of the church as "one" in Catholicism.
Quest, encounter, and commitment. “The quest of an ERC [Evangelical to Roman Catholic) moves most often along the path of encountering transcendence, though intellectual satisfaction is the primary feature of that quest."
McKnight concludes with two contrasting points. First, there will continue to be evangelicals concerting to Catholicism "until the evangelical churches can get a firmer grip on authority, unity, history, liturgy, and a reasonable form of certainty on interpretation."

Second, "until the Roman Catholic Church learns to focus on gospel preaching of personal salvation, on the importance of personal piety for all Christians—and abandons its historical two-level ethic—and personal study, and on the Bible itself, there will be many who will leave Catholicism to join in the ranks of evangelicalism."

So what are my thoughts?

Well, a few parts of my own journey. First, I was raised nominally Roman Catholic in a New York City, Irish Catholic household. We were not active, though it did leave an impact on my life. Interestingly, my mother came to faith through the Catholic Charismatic Cursillo movement.

While doing my M.Div., I attended a Catholic seminary (and later transferred the credits to a Southern Baptist seminary). While I was there, I took preaching (which, was not particularly helpful as you might imagine) and Reformation History. It turns out they have an entirely different view of that Reformation thing!

Mark is a friend—the Red Apple behind Christianity Today is our lunch spot. We agreed on much, though we differed at times—always amicably. (I did ask him about the photographer at his new Catholic church and he pointed out that was from RNS.) I also asked how long this was in process—was it while you were writing your closing thoughts to evangelicals? (He told me he explains more in his forthcoming book.)

However, I don’t blame converts. I do try to understand them. And, like Mark felt it necessary to put Christianity Today on record about sexuality after a former editor changed his view, I thought it might be helpful to publish in the same magazine about his conversion.

You see, I’ve known converts to Catholicism, and have talked through the process with them. I get part of the reasons. Actually, my own family converted to Eastern Orthodoxy (with my stepfather becoming a priest). (I explain that here, in a long article about Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Orthodoxy.)

Yet, I am (and remain) a conservative, evangelical protestant. Furthermore, in that subcategory, I am a Baptist. And, for good or for ill, my theological convictions of thirty years ago remain pretty consistent. I lean reformed, believe in all the spiritual gifts, and think the gospel works by grace alone, by faith alone.

Yet, there are some things that a moment like this might cause some self-reflection.

Here’s where it brings me. The strengths of evangelicalism also reveal our weaknesses.

First, we are strong on the act of conversion, but not so much on ongoing sanctification subsequent to the new birth. We need a much more robust view of church, community, and the fullness of Christian life.

Second, most, not all, evangelicals shy away from overly ritualistic or liturgical worship, yet in so doing we turn our services into performances and our time of singing into the latest play list of what’s new. We have lost a sense of history and heritage and have replaced the depth and breadth of historic Christianity with the surface effects of pop culture.

Third, we emphasize practical Christianity (to the place of sheer pragmatism sometimes) and too often ignore contemplation. Yet most of us hunger for that which is beyond us, something that cannot be captured in a four-point self-help sermon or answered with a sound bite. “I came to church to meet with an awesome God,” one unchurched person said at a megachurch she visited, “But all I got was a Tony Robbins event.”

Fourth, we preach and teach the imminence of God, who can be our friend and, in application, our life coach, who is interested in the now of life. But we ignore the vast transcendence of God and his work in creation and in history. We champion busyness and workaholism and ignore Sabbath rest and seasons of prayer, because it would hinder our activism.

Fifth, our activism has led us, fairly or not, to be categorized as Donald Trump foot soldiers, which unquestionably has contributed to the rise of Ex-vangelicals. Perhaps some of these will move to Catholicism, Orthodox, or Anglican traditions.

At the end of the day, I’m not just a Protestant, I’m a somewhat non-ecumenical one. I’ve been told that I’ve spoken at more evangelical denominational meetings than anyone living. (I don’t keep track, so I don’t know, but I do value evangelical collaboration for mission and evangelism—because of our common view of the gospel.)

But, I’m not a signer or Evangelicals and Catholics Together and I don’t generally engage in broader ecumenical conversations. Simply put, my focus is generally on evangelism and mission/s, and evangelicals and Roman Catholics generally do not align in such endeavors. (If you’d be interested in a dialogue between Catholics, Orthodox, mainline, and evangelical missiologists, please see the book we all contributed to, The Mission of the Church: Five Views in Conversation.)

The Protestant view of the gospel—and the five solas of the reformation—are (in my view) the best representation and understanding of the gospel. I think it was a restoration of biblical (and in some ways Augustinian) understanding of the gospel. Roman Catholics generally have a different view. They believe, for example, that salvation is by grace, but not grace alone, at least not in the same way Protestants do.

That gives us a different understand about the gospel—and, as such, I’m disappointed to see Mark leave that understanding of the gospel for another.

He’s my friend (and he has read and given feedback on this article). I imagine we will talk over this at the Red Apple Pancake House.

But I remain a Protestant because of what I see in the Bible, the conversion Jesus worked in my heart by His grace, and the imperfect community of evangelicals that together we once served.










Ed Stetzer is executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, serves as a dean at Wheaton College, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group. The Exchange Team contributed to this article.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2020, 10:20:22 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/september/bahrain-israel-peace-treaty-trump-united-arab-emirates-uae.html








Bahrain Makes Peace with Israel, Following United Arab Emirates













Today’s deal will normalize diplomatic, commercial, and security ties. Trump administration hopes more Arab nations soon follow.


Bahrain has become the latest Arab nation to agree to normalize ties with Israel as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.

Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” Trump tweeted.

The announcement on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks came less than a week before Trump hosts a White House ceremony to mark the establishment of full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend the event.

“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

It represents another diplomatic win for Trump less than two months before the presidential election and an opportunity to shore up support among pro-Israel evangelicals. Just last week, Trump announced agreements in principle for Kosovo to recognize Israel and for Serbia to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” Trump, Netanyahu, and King Hamad said in the statement. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region.”

Most people vividly remember where they were on the dreadful day, 19 years ago, when terrorists hijacked planes, weaponizing them as bombs to be flown into buildings. As a sophomore studying at Union University (Jackson, TN), I remember the images flashing across the TV screen as we paused our “Becoming a Global Christian” class. The professor, the students, we were all speechless as we witnessed live coverage of the second plane hitting the second tower.

Like the UAE agreement, Friday’s Bahrain-Israel deal will normalize diplomatic, commercial, security, and other relations between the two countries. Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, had already dropped a prohibition on Israeli flights using its airspace. Saudi acquiescence to the agreements has been considered key to the deals.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner noted that the agreement is the second Israel has reached with an Arab country in 30 days after having made peace with only two Arab nations—Egypt and Jordan—in 72 years of its independence.

“This is very fast,” Kushner told The Associated Press. “The region is responding very favorably to the UAE deal and hopefully it’s a sign that even more will come.”

Netanyahu welcomed the agreement and thanked Trump. “It took us 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country and the third, but only 29 days between the third and the fourth, and there will be more,” he said, referring to the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan and the more recent agreements.

The agreement will likely be seen as a further setback to the Palestinians who tried unsuccessfully to have the Arab League condemn normalization with Israel until they have secured an independent state. That was one of the few cards still held by Palestinians in negotiations as peace talks remain stalled.

The joint statement made passing mention of the Palestinians, saying the parties will continue efforts “to achieve a just, comprehensive, and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enable the Palestinian people to realize their full potential.”

The agreement makes Bahrain the fourth Arab country, after Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. Other Arab nations believed to be on the cusp of fully recognizing Israel include Oman and Sudan. While tacitly blessing the deals, Saudi Arabia—the regional power player—is not expected to move as quickly.

Like the UAE, Bahrain has never fought a war against Israel and doesn’t share a border with it. But Bahrain, like most of the Arab world, long rejected diplomatic ties with Israel in the absence of a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967.

The agreement could give a boost to Netanyahu, who was indicted on corruption charges last year. Deals with Gulf Arab states “are the direct result of the policy that I have led for two decades,” namely “peace for peace, peace through strength,” Netanyahu has said.

The Israeli-UAE deal required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. Telephone calls soon began working between the nations as they continue to discuss other deals, including direct flights.

While the UAE’s population remains small and the federation has no tradition of standing up to the country’s autocracy, Bahrain represents a far-different country.

Just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, the island of Bahrain is among the world’s smallest countries, only about 760 square kilometers (290 square miles). Bahrain’s location in the Persian Gulf long has made it a trading stop and a naval defensive position. The island is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and a recently built British naval base.

Bahrain is acutely aware of threats posed by Iran, an anxiety that comes from Bahrain’s majority Shiite population, despite being ruled since 1783 by the Sunni Al Khalifa family. Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had pushed to take over the island after the British left, though Bahrainis in 1970 overwhelmingly supported becoming an independent nation and the UN Security Council unanimously backed that.

Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahrain’s rulers have blamed Iran for arming militants on the island. Iran denies the accusations, though weapons experts suggest explosives found there bear similarities to others linked to Iran. Israel and Iran view each other as top regional enemies.

Outside of those tensions, Bahrain’s Shiite majority has accused the government of treating them like second-class citizens. The Shiites joined pro-democracy activists in demanding more political freedoms in 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the wider Middle East. Saudi and Emirati troops ultimately helped violently put down the demonstrations.

In recent years, Bahrain has cracked down on all dissent, imprisoned activists, and hampered independent reporting on the island. While the Obama administration halted the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain over human rights concerns, the Trump administration dropped that after coming into office.

Bahrain’s royal family and officials have come out in support of the Israel-UAE agreement. However, civil society groups and others have condemned the move and warned the monarchy not to follow in the UAE’s footsteps—despite Bahrain’s yearslong flirtation with Israel and Jewish leaders. Unlike the Emirates, Jews had a historical presence on the island and some still live there.

In 2017, two prominent US rabbis said Bahrain’s king told them he hoped the Arab boycott of Israel would end. An interfaith group from Bahrain that year also visited Israel, though the state-run Bahrain News Agency later said that it didn’t “represent any official entity” after an uproar erupted on social media.

Bahrain has increasingly relied on support from other nations as it struggles with its debts, particularly neighboring Saudi Arabia. In that way, Bahrain has followed in lockstep with Riyadh, meaning any normalization with Israel likely got the kingdom’s approval though Saudi Arabia has for its part remained silent since the Emirati announcement.










Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Ilan Ben Zion and Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2020, 09:43:57 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/depression-plunged-darkness-juanita-rasmus.html








Depression Plunged Me Into Darkness. God Met Me There.










I couldn’t read Scripture anymore, yet God’s Word still nourished me.


I woke up one morning, like normal, to prepare breakfast for our familia. After breakfast, my copastor and husband, Rudy, offered to take our girls to school. I hugged and kissed them goodbye, then headed to the bathroom to finish applying my makeup. But as I put on my mascara, a sudden tidal wave of feelings flooded my body—a cross between dread and nausea—and almost knocked me off my feet.

I called our church secretary to tell her that I wasn’t feeling well and would come in around noon. But then, as though I was having an out-of-body experience, I saw myself hit redial. I mumbled, “I’m not coming in. I’m not coming back. I’m going to take a sabbatical or something, maybe a medical leave.” Then I hung up the phone, crawled into bed, and proceeded to have what my grandmother surely would have called a nervous breakdown.

I slept 18 to 20 hours a day for weeks and only awoke out of necessity; even with all that sleep, I still felt exhausted. After a week or so, my husband said, “Baby, I think you need to see a doctor.” So I made an appointment to see a psychiatrist. At the end of our first visit, she gave me a prescription and a diagnosis: “major depressive episode.” Then she said the dreaded words: “In six weeks, you should begin to notice changes for the better.” Six weeks? Oh God, can I live like this for another six weeks?

When everything fell apart in my life, I had to learn for the first time how to be—with myself and with God. The tools and spiritual practices that I’d always leaned on, like corporate worship, fasting, and prayer, were, in that state of mind, totally inaccessible to me. I’d always enjoyed studying the Bible and used to do so for hours, but now I simply couldn’t focus. I couldn’t comprehend the words and I felt too exhausted to even try. Being a pastor made it no easier.

Well-meaning people often said things to my family like “Tell her to read the Word.” I longed for the comfort, wisdom, and insight that the Scripture had always offered me, but in that deep darkness, I wasn’t capable of reading it—the words meant nothing to me.

Then, about six weeks into therapy, God spoke to me: I’ll give you the treasures out of the darkness. That word from God gave me enormous hope. I didn’t feel any different physically—no chills or feelings of love flowed through me. But that word spoke into the depths of my being and became a lifeline for me. I felt as though God was present with me. I began to feel comfort after weeks of disorientation. When I felt discouraged by the formidable sense of being adrift, it was that word that gave me an anchor through the darkness and despair. God’s word spoken that day was now hidden in my heart.

So I took God at his word. Nothing changed in any substantial way; I remained lethargic and physically and mentally depleted for months on end—but now I had an assignment. I was lucid enough to know that if there was treasure to be found, then I would need to live to mine it, to claim it as my own.

As I slowly began to gain more energy, I decided to visit other churches and attend small retreats where I could simply be present without having the responsibilities of a leader. I went with no expectations—I just knew I wanted to be where the Scriptures were being read and meditated on. Those moments became part of my recovery. They gave my heart a quiet place to rest.

I took baby steps and gradually became stronger. Within a year, I was able to read again. I started slowly by resuming my daily devotional. My long time away from the Word made returning to it sweeter than ever. Now, in addition to medication and therapy, I could count on the presence of God’s Word as a true friend and guide.

As I gradually returned to Scripture, I discovered that the lifeline God had given me—I’ll give you the treasures out of the darkness—echoes a passage of God’s Word: Isaiah 45:3. This wellspring of life in my dark trial transformed my thinking as I sat with it and with other bits of Scripture passages, listening in my heart for the messages that were gradually nourishing me, like the ravens feeding Elijah (1 Kings 17:6).

During this time, I began to revisit a spiritual practice I had learned about before but had never fully experienced: lectio divina, an ancient practice of reading and contemplating Scripture. This practice was truly like mining for treasure.

I revisited the truth that embracing even small portions of Scripture can help us see what God sees; it can cultivate within us courage, patience, wisdom, and love to respond to life’s difficulties, tragedies, and even celebrations in ways that promote the kingdom of God. During that season, the Word was marinating in me—over time, it was changing the structure of my being; my ways of believing, thinking, feeling, and doing; and ultimately the way I would show up in the world as a believer after the devastation.

But let me be clear: It took time. The long periods of silence and solitude I experienced, though painful, created space for God to speak to me and for me to hear God speak.

Thankfully that period in my life has come and gone, but the one thing I can tell you for certain is that God’s Word—now that I can read again—remains a constant source of joy, hope, wisdom, comfort, and outright love for me. Since my recovery, my most fond approach to the Word today continues to be lectio divina. This practice helps me cultivate an ear to hear the heart of God, much like the day God spoke so clearly to me. This way of reading Scripture actually reads me in the light of God’s love.

The darkness of depression became the gateway to many treasures in my life. One of the most lasting is my renewed and enduring love for the Word of God.









Juanita Campbell Rasmus is the author of Learning to Be: Finding Your Center After the Bottom Falls Out. A spiritual director and member of the Renovaré ministry team, she copastors the St. John's United Methodist Church in downtown Houston with her husband, Rudy.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2020, 09:31:27 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/september/evangelicals-for-social-action-name-change-christian.html








Evangelicals for Social Action Leaves Behind ‘Evangelical’ Label










The 47-year-old organization sticks with the broader movement’s mission but not its name.


Evangelicals for Social Action, the justice-focused group founded by Ron Sider, has called itself “a different kind of evangelical.” As of today, it’s the kind that doesn’t call itself evangelical.

After nearly 50 years, the organization has changed its name to Christians for Social Action, becoming the latest and most prominent example of a move away from the “evangelical” label in the US.

Executive director Nikki Toyama-Szeto cited the shift in identity among the younger, more racially diverse generation of leaders as well as examples of how the historic name had begun to distract from its work.

“Honestly, the name change is an act in hospitality. In some ways, it reflects a change in our audience of what they’re calling themselves. Our audience is still evangelical, it’s post-evangelical, and it’s evangelical-adjacent,” said Toyama-Szeto, who has led the ministry since 2017. “When you have a name like ‘Evangelicals for Social Action,’ you’re limiting yourself to those who self-describe.”

Because of growing political baggage around the name, that pool has become narrower. Plenty of people believe in the core convictions of the faith—and are motivated by them to pursue justice—without calling themselves evangelical anymore.

The election of President Donald Trump, who embraced his white evangelical backing, represents an inflection point for evangelical identity in the US. Fifteen percent of those who considered themselves “evangelical” or “born again” in 2016 had stopped using either label by the following year, according to one voter survey, even though the overall number of evangelicals had held steady.

Princeton University’s longstanding evangelical student ministry dropped the name in 2017, saying it’s “increasingly either confusing, or unknown, or misunderstood to students,” and a growing number of Christian colleges, churches, and charities have been forced to think strategically about when and how to employ their evangelical identity.

“With the current roiling semantics over the world ‘evangelical,’ [Evangelicals for Social Action’s former name] can lead to confusion over what this organization is or isn’t affirming,” said Mark Labberton.

The Fuller Theological Seminary president edited the 2018 book Still Evangelical?and wrote about how the term evolved into a “theo-political brand.” In a statement, he said the group’s name change made sense and offered more clarity.

“Evangelical” carried a political connotation beyond the work of the organization, which focuses on issues like racial justice, poverty, immigration, political engagement, LGBT dialogue, and the environment.

“Having the name has been distracting in our partnership conversations and in our bridge-building within the Christian realm,” said Toyama-Szeto.

What was once a provocative label drawing attention to the fact that evangelicals indeed stood up for justice causes has in recent years become a complicating factor. She recalled how a black church leader got pushback for supporting a group with evangelical in its name.

And living in the Washington, DC, area, Toyama-Szeto said acquaintances would conflate Evangelicals for Social Action with other causes deemed “evangelical,” asking her about its involvement in Israel, even though Evangelicals for Social Action had no work there.

For Toyama-Szeto, the decision to change the name to Christians for Social Action—made after months of prayer, discernment, and discussion—does not represent a rejection of evangelicalism or its evangelical partners. The organization remains committed to a high view of Scripture and bearing witness to the gospel, she said.

Instead, the new name offers a chance for the group to focus and work more effectively on their cause and calling around faith-fueled justice work.

She brought up a question that came up in their discussion, one that others might consider as they wrestle with their own evangelical names or identity statements: What was the invitation from God to their organization?

“I think for some it will be to stand and bear witness to a rich history of church tradition and to stir the imagination” to show what evangelical really means, said Toyama-Szeto. “For us, we felt like if we did that, it would be the one conversation we had with everyone. We were wrestling with, ‘Is that the justice conversation God has for us?’ It felt like overwhelmingly, that was not our invitation.”

Evangelicals for Social Action grew out of the 1973 Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, which “challenged evangelicals to emphasize social sins and institutionalized evils as vigorously as they do personal sins.”

For the past 30 years, Evangelicals for Social Action has been headquartered at Eastern University, which is affiliated with the mainline American Baptist Churches USA and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Even Sider, the organization’s founder and president emeritus, stood by the evangelical label in the weeks after Trump’s election.

In a piece for CT, he argued that the history of the term overcame any modern qualms and was worth clinging to.

“Popular media learned … that evangelical has often meant unjust and unbiblical,” said the author of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. “Over time, we can help the larger society come to a better understanding of what an evangelical is.”

But he also wrote then that Christians must focus first on “faithfulness to Jesus and the Scriptures, not some label,” and has come around in the past four years to believe it’s time for a change. “It was the right name—for a time. But the social environment is so different,” Sider says now.

The question, “Can you be evangelical without calling yourself evangelical?” isn’t uncommon these days. Fellow Christians, organizations, and churches have also had to grapple with the changing social environment where “evangelical,” in some circles, has lost its reputation as a robust, wide-reaching missional movement.

About a quarter of Americans are evangelical Protestants, according to Pew Research. People of color and young people in particular have increasingly grown uncomfortable identifying with a movement some assume is exclusively white, Republican, and fundamentalist. Questions continued to stir around how to define evangelicals and, if evangelicals were not going to use that term, how else they might signal their belief.

From sociologists and historians to ministry leaders, plenty of Christians are discussing those questions in public and working hard to bring evangelicals together—perhaps none as much as the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which represents more than 40 denominations and is now led by an Asian American president and African American board chair.

“Some who hold evangelical beliefs may distance themselves from the name due to cultural misunderstanding and confusion. Others may find the term provides an opportunity to explain what ‘evangelical’ means and to share the good news with others,” said Walter Kim, NAE president. “How people identify themselves or their organizations is not theimportant thing. What is important is believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, taking the Bible seriously and serving him in word and deed.”

Toyama-Szeto said she continues to support the work of the NAE and others working diligently to reclaim the evangelical label.

Through Christians for Social Action, she will let her work define what kind of Christian she is. “In this day and age,” she said, “justice is one of the ways you testify to the character of God.”
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9364
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 41
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - August 2020
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2020, 06:32:59 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/september-web-only/fires-oregon-natural-disaster-forced-me-rethink-future.html








Fleeing the Oregon Fires Forced Me to Rethink the Future














The exiled Israelites followed a pillar of smoke, one day at a time. Maybe I can do the same.


September 10 was supposed to be my first day of teaching online. Almost exactly six months before, I stood in a classroom and asked my students if reports of the coronavirus made them feel afraid. It turned out to be the last conversation we would have face to face. That evening, our governor canceled school, and the remainder of the year was eventually scuttled.

Last week was supposed to be a time to establish connection with a new crop of students and to usher in a new kind of normal with virtual teaching. But late Wednesday afternoon in Clackamas County, Oregon, the color of the air changed. I saw great orange-gray billows piling up over the roof, and the sun looked like a red eye blinking down through the haze.

The next day, smoke poured in, obscuring first the distant hills, then the nearer hills, then the trees at the end of our street. Finally, at 2 o’clock on Friday, when local officials moved the boundary of the evacuation zone from five miles away to five blocks away and as ash began to drift down onto our laurel hedges, I decided to pack up my kids and go. I filled my car with birth certificates, photo albums, and computers and then drove away, trying to stay ahead of the encroaching flames.

The West Coast fires aren’t the first disaster of this year. As the calamities pile up, my friends and I keep saying to one another, “2020!” As if this year is a one-off. As if, when the calendar turns to January 1, 2021, our troubles will be over. But as the year drags on, I’m finding it harder to hope for the possibility of better times anytime soon. What if 2020 is not an anomaly but a bellwether? What if the problems accumulating now—climate change and racial reckoning, political division and disease control—get worse before they get better?

As I drove up the freeway surrounded by smoke and bumper-to-bumper traffic, unable to see the mountains and trees, unable to see the water under the bridge as we crossed from Oregon into Washington, I thought of the Israelites in the desert, wandering along after the pillar of fire and the cloud of smoke. They’d had a doozy of a year themselves. Some of the plagues had been reserved for the Egyptians, but other hardships had fallen on the Israelites: the late-night escape, the pursuing army, and the walk through the middle of a sea.

When they began to follow God into the desert, they had no idea that 40 years would pass before they emerged. Would it have been better if they had known? Probably not. They didn’t need to see the end from the beginning. All they needed to see was where God led. All they needed to watch was the movement of the cloud. “At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out” (Num. 9:23).

In these days of 2020, we are all a bit like the ancient Israelites: evacuees from the world as we knew it, headed out into the unknown. We still write things on our calendars, of course. We cast our visions and make our plans. In past years, some of us have gotten away with imagining that the pages of those planners depict the future with accuracy. But 2020 has laid bare the truth that our times have always been in God’s hands. What will happen next year or next week? Will school be canceled by a pandemic or a wildfire? What disaster will strike next? We cannot know.

I used to wonder why God chose to appear to the Israelites by day in a cloud of smoke. A pillar of fire, at least, gives light and heat. Smoke, on the other hand, reduces visibility. It disorients and obfuscates. But on that long freeway drive, I saw the symbolic purpose of smoke: It forces us to admit that we can’t see where we’re going, and it forces us to rely on God.

I’m not suggesting that the wildfires plaguing my beloved home state are a gift from God. No, fires and viruses and all manner of natural disasters are clearly evidence of a sin-sick and groaning creation. But our God is a creative God who works good even from calamity, and trust is the good that I see God working in my own heart in the midst of this terrible year. I’ve learned it the hard way, which might be the only way.

For now, my family and I are far from home. After we crossed the border into Washington and the smoke thinned a bit, we pulled off at a rest stop. There were lots of cars with Oregon plates—cars stacked with Rubbermaid totes that were full, I imagined, of birth certificates and photo albums and computers. One family leaned on the doors of their car, reaching for the five pizza boxes they’d balanced on top. Several of us walked our dogs in the grass. As we passed each other wearing our cotton masks, I could sense what was hidden from view: astonishment and relief, uncertainty and fear.

I feel those same emotions as I think about my family’s transitory life. Out here in the wilderness, I’m learning that I cannot know the future, much less control it. But I can hold God’s hand as I inch into the haze.










Sarah Sanderson has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Seattle Pacific University and teaches creative writing and public speaking to K-12 students near Portland, Oregon. Find more on her blog.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
18 Replies
1850 Views
Last post August 31, 2019, 08:57:34 am
by patrick jane
38 Replies
1337 Views
Last post May 31, 2020, 03:22:10 am
by patrick jane
35 Replies
1319 Views
Last post June 30, 2020, 04:57:40 pm
by patrick jane
32 Replies
1311 Views
Last post July 31, 2020, 10:52:12 am
by patrick jane
24 Replies
1160 Views
Last post September 01, 2020, 11:27:52 am
by patrick jane

+-Recent Topics

THE GOSPEL OF PHILIP - GNOSTIC by patrick jane
Today at 12:35:16 pm

Who has pets? by patrick jane
Today at 07:32:03 am

VIDEO POETRY BY KEN ALLAN DRONSFIELD by patrick jane
Today at 06:59:57 am

Trump 2020 - Winning !!! by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 11:09:19 pm

Politics Today by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 11:09:08 pm

Re: Trump 2020 - Winning !!! by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 11:08:45 pm

Re: Politics Today by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 11:08:33 pm

Tiny Houses, Affordable Living and More by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 10:34:40 pm

Fear and Loathing In The Flat Earth by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 10:02:51 pm

Biblical Flat Earth and Cosmos by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 10:02:30 pm

Can You Debunk Flat Earth? by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 10:02:12 pm

Black Spring With Autumn Political Commentary by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 09:20:19 pm

What's on your mind? Chat Thread by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 09:15:12 pm

Scriptures - Verse Of The Day and Discussion by Chaplain Mark Schmidt
September 19, 2020, 07:41:23 pm

Ministry On Video by Lion Of Judah by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 07:16:21 pm

A PECULIAR PEOPLE by Bladerunner
September 19, 2020, 06:32:16 pm

TOMMY TRAVELS YOUTUBE CHANNEL by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 11:03:46 am

Your Favorite Music, Images and Memes by patrick jane
September 19, 2020, 10:34:34 am