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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020  (Read 731 times)

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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« on: December 04, 2020, 06:25:40 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/december/most-popular-verse-youversion-app-bible-gateway-fear-covid.html








2020’s Most-Read Bible Verse: ‘Do Not Fear’





In an uncertain and difficult year, a record number of people searched for healing, fear, and justice.


During the hardest moments of a particularly difficult year, Bible searches soared online, and a record number of people turned to Scripture for passages addressing fear, healing, and justice. The popular YouVersion Bible App saw searches increase by 80 percent in 2020, totaling nearly 600 million worldwide.

Isaiah 41:10 ranked as the most searched, read, and bookmarked verse on the app: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“Through every hardship, people continue to seek God and turn to the Bible for strength, peace, and hope,” said YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald. “While 2020 is a year so many say they’d like to forget, we see it as a year to remember how God used the Bible App to help so many people who are searching for answers.”

Bible searches spiked corresponding to major events, with “fear” becoming the app’s top search term in the first few months of the year, “justice” in the spring, and “healing” trending throughout the year.

The Bible Gateway site reported similar search trends. Pandemic-related verses about God taking away sickness got around 90 times more queries than average when US COVID-19 lockdowns began in March.

The site also saw queries related to racism, justice, and oppression spike to 100 times the average in the week following George Floyd’s death, and verses related to government authority up at least 50 times the average on Election Day.

While John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11 topped the Bible Gateway rankings for the top verses—as they have in most years—2 Chronicles 7:14 jumped up to the No. 3 spot: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The passage has been commonly cited in prayers for President Donald Trump and was the top-searched verse around his election in 2016.

Bible Gateway searches for “fear” and “fear not” grew this year over last, with “fear” ranking sixth on the most popular English keyword searches.

Isaiah’s assurance to “do not fear,” which was the Bible App’s top verse globally both this year and in 2018, also ranked as the No. 1 verse in the US, India, South Africa, the Netherlands, and the Philippines. In Ghana, the top verse was Philippians 4:8 (“Do not be anxious …”), and in Kenya, Romans 8:28 (“in all things, God works for the good …”).

Both countries were among several nations in sub–Saharan Africa where overall Bible reading surged on the app in 2020—up more than a third over last year. In Ethiopia, Bible engagement grew by 61 percent, according to YouVersion.

Overall, the app tracked 43.6 billion chapters of the Bible read in 2020, with half a billion verses shared, its highest on record.

In the spring, CT reported how Easter Sunday was the app’s biggest day ever and how YouVersion was able to offer online worship platforms to stream services to millions of Christians during the early weeks of the pandemic.

The app continued to show steady and growing engagement, even as surveys on Bible readership indicated a decline due to COVID-19.

An American Bible Society (ABS) survey found the percentage of daily Bible users dropped to 8.5 percent in June, down from 14 percent at the beginning of the previous year, according to its 2020 State of the Bible report. According to ABS, 65 percent of Bible readers said they prefer to read the Bible in print over digital.

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 -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2020, 06:30:02 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december-web-only/jefferson-bible-biography-peter-manseau-religious-books.html








Thomas Jefferson Tried to ‘Fix’ the Bible. He Only Succeeded in Making It Sad.





The third president’s attempts to revise Scripture offer a warning about our own tendency to “edit” the truth.


I first heard of Thomas Jefferson’s Bible as a warning. I was a teenager in a Bible study, and one of the pastors of the church brought up the third American president and his effort to “fix” the Scripture. Jefferson—who wrote the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”—took for himself the liberty of editing the Gospels. He cut them up, using a sharp knife to excise what he saw as the problematic parts of the sacred text.

But, the pastor said, don’t we all kind of do that? We have our favorite verses. And there are other parts of the Bible we ignore. Whether or not we wield actual scissors, we have to be careful, because it’s so easy to mutilate the Word of God.

There is certainly some truth to this, but it turns out it is not as easy to “fix” the Scripture as that pastor imagined. Jefferson, at least, had a hard time of it, according to a fascinating new book by Peter Manseau, the curator of American religious history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. The Bible resisted Jefferson’s cuts, and the truth is stronger than its would-be editors.

The Jefferson Bible: A Biography is part of an excellent Princeton University Press series on the “lives of great religious books.” This installment follows titles on John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, and C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, not to mention “biographies” of the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Job, Song of Songs, and Revelation. Manseau, in his volume, traces the origin of this particular, peculiar “great religious book” to Jefferson’s childhood Anglicanism. In that world, colonial Virginia law punished the heresy of doubting the divine authority of Scripture, while a burgeoning liberty movement questioned the government’s right to criminalize belief.

A Hard Gospel
Jefferson, like many at the time, shed his orthodox Christianity in stages. He started by doubting the Trinity. Then Old Testament miracles. Then New. He eventually embraced a religious skepticism that was held in check only by the same force that compelled him to conceal the fact that he had fathered multiple children with his deceased wife’s enslaved half-sister: public opprobrium. What would people think?

Jefferson hid his infidelities to conform with the mores of his day even as he spoke about the importance of intellectual boldness, heralded revolutions big and small, and mulled the idea of editing the Gospels to, as he put it, “winnow this grain from its chaff.”

His first effort at revising the text came while he was president—in a 46-page booklet he called The Philosophy of Jesus. The volume has been lost to history, but at one point he explained the project in detail to his frenemy John Adams. He said he had extracted, reduced, and cut down the gospel until the only thing left was “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals that has ever been offered to man.”

It was an easy process, Jefferson said. He cut the text up verse by verse, and the good parts stuck out “as diamonds in a dung hill.”

It wasn’t until 1820, more than a decade out of office, when he finished the fuller second version of his edited gospel. He called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. He read from it devoutly, Manseau says, until he died in 1826.

But the Jefferson Bible may have proved the opposite of what Jefferson intended. It doesn’t show Jesus to be a great moral teacher once his story is stripped of the miracles, exorcisms, and apparent magic tricks that the former president found hard to believe. It presents Jesus rather as someone who didn’t do anything. As Manseau writes, “Jefferson’s is a hard gospel. The blind to not see; the lame do not walk; the multitudes will remain hungry if loaves and fishes must be multiplied to feed them. Even those who look to Jesus for forgiveness of sins are left wanting.”

The Jefferson Bible begins with the heading “Chapter 2.” The former president dispenses with Matthew’s genealogy, Mark’s reference to the prophecy about a voice crying in the wilderness, Luke’s narrative about an angelic announcement to a virgin named Mary, and John’s proclamation that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (1:5).

Instead, Jefferson cuts straight to the Roman Empire requiring everyone to return to their home city to be taxed. Joseph takes Mary to a manger in Bethlehem, and a baby is born. This Christmas scene has neither angels nor shepherds, star nor magi. The birth is revised to be unremarkable.

Jefferson allows the line “and the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom,” but excises the rest of the verse: “and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40, KJV).

Nor, in Jefferson’s revision, is the grace of God visible in Christ’s ministry. In Matthew 12:12, Jesus proclaims that “it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days” (KJV), but we don’t see him actually doing well; the following verse, in which Jesus heals a man with a withered hand, disappears. Jefferson’s version has Jesus commenting that a blind man is not blind because of any particular sin of his own or his parents (John 9:3), but he doesn’t give him sight (v. 6). It shows Jesus allowing a woman to anoint his feet with her tears and an alabaster box of expensive oil (Luke 7:36–38), but he withholds the words “Your sins are forgiven” (v. 48). It shows Jesus dying and remaining dead.

“The text often has a feeling of a series of jokes without their punch lines,” Manseau writes. “Jefferson apparently never contended with the possibility that, without all the stories he rejected, it’s unlikely we would have heard of Jesus at all.”

A snip here and there doesn’t “fix” the text. It just leaves weird holes. And perhaps this temptation is common, as my pastor suggested. We seek to make the Scripture sublime with our revisions, but we only succeed in making it sad.

No Easy Fix
In all likelihood, Jefferson’s attempts to fix the Scripture would be just as forgotten as our own if not for the fact of his being Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence and champion of a new, robust religious liberty that came, for many, to be a defining feature of America. Manseau’s history follows the fate of the singular book as it is subsequently discovered and rediscovered and as various people attempt to turn it into an icon of American religion. The former president’s revised gospel is sometimes held up as evidence of the great Christian devotion of the Founding Fathers, as in David Barton’s discredited The Jefferson Lies. More often, the spliced words are presented as a symbol of the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment. Cyrus Adler, a predecessor of Manseau’s at the Smithsonian, wrote that the book was evidence that in America “all people may worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience.”

Manseau, for his part, hesitates to turn the “great religious book” into a simple icon. He notes how often such efforts fail. How often they end up strangely misshapen, serving unintended conclusions and undercutting their own points. Just as Jefferson could not quite reconfigure the gospel to fit his preferences, Americans cannot quite “fix” Jeffersonian history to be more suitably useful. The truth—whether it’s the truth of Jesus’ life and morals or the truth of a Founding Father’s personal hypocrisy—will escape your grasp.

That is not to say that the truth cannot be known—only that it cannot be contained and controlled. This is, I think, the lesson of Manseau’s history. The Jefferson Bible, it turns out, does offer us a warning. It’s this: You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. But, as the popular saying goes, not until it’s finished with you.








Daniel Silliman is news editor for Christianity Today.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2020, 06:33:21 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2020/fall/listening-podcasts-better-preachers.html








Listening to Podcasts Makes Us Better Preachers





How the popular audio genre can help pastors fine-tune sermon preparation and delivery.


Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend may seem like odd preparation for preaching. But I’ve found the podcast to be a helpful elixir as I get out of the world of sermons, commentaries, books, and conferences to think about engaging with people on Sunday. In his conversations with other comedians, Conan gets into the pathos behind entertainers’ acts and the hard work it takes to produce a simple laugh. I was struck, for instance, by Ray Romano’s admission that his father’s refusal to give him approval is what drove Ray to try so hard to get laughs, and by Howard Stern’s description of how, as a boy, he took to cracking jokes about his neighbors to help relieve his mother’s severe depression.

As with these candid conversations, the work of a pastor often involves helping people get underneath their behaviors to a deeper understanding. And preaching, at its best, can lift back the layers to help us see ourselves as we really are.

Podcasts are part of an explosion in the popularity of on-demand audio content. According to research compiled by Podcast Insights, over 1 million podcast shows and over 30 million podcast episodes are currently available for listeners. Half of American households are podcast fans, and, when surveyed earlier this year, 37 percent of the US population said they listened to podcasts in the past month. The rise of podcasts is due, in part, to the ubiquity of smartphones and the ease of accessing on-demand audio. But it also seems to be a reaction to a visual world of blips and fast cuts, of surfing and scanning, of headlines without context. It’s an underground revolution that prizes nuance, deep diving on issues, and long-form conversations that defy our incessant need for tribalism and scorekeeping.

Podcasts and the Preaching Craft
Along with Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, I’ve learned quite a bit about crafting sermons from other forms in the podcast genre. The storytelling and pace in This American Life, for instance, help me read and understand Scripture narratives—and prompt me to consider how I retell Scripture’s stories to a congregation. I learn a lot from listening to long-form conversations between people you wouldn’t normally see together, such as David Axelrod’s interview with Mitt Romney on The Axe Files podcast. That episode allowed me to listen in on honest reflection and camaraderie between a man who ran for president and the man who organized the campaign against him. This sort of conversation challenges me to consider the approach I use when interacting with opposing viewpoints in a sermon. And documentary podcasts like Slate’s Slow Burn help me think through investigative questions and see the deeper story underneath so many stories—both of which are essential to the sermon preparation process.

I’ve also learned a thing or two from podcasts about how to actually deliver the content of sermons. For instance, listening to the way Terry Gross asks questions on Fresh Air has helped me become a better question asker in my preaching. Listening to comedians discuss the importance of cadence and timing on podcasts like Netflix Is A Daily Joke has helped me think through the cadence and timing of my sermon delivery.

When preparing to preach, I always come back to audio content that directly helps me exegete or think about biblical texts. Many of my pastor friends feel the same way. I did an informal survey on social media, asking pastors and teachers which podcasts helped shape their preaching. Some gravitated primarily toward preaching-specific podcasts that discuss the technique of exegesis, such as Monday Morning Preacher with Matt Woodley and Kevin Miller; Preaching Lab, which features five pastors specifically talking about biblical texts; or Help Me Teach the Bible, in which Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie interviews scholars about specific Bible books or hard texts. Others said they enjoy podcasts about the art of pastoring, like Pastor Well with Hershael York, Pastor’s Talk from 9Marks, or The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

Many, like me, also find preaching inspiration from nonministry sources, such as storytelling podcasts like Crimetown or interview-style podcasts like Annie F. Downs’s That Sounds Fun. Others highlighted the importance of podcasts that dive into current issues, such as Truth’s Table and its frank discussions of race and faith by Michelle Higgins, Christina Edmondson, and Ekemini Uwan, or This Cultural Moment, hosted by a pastor in Portland, Oregon, and a pastor in Melbourne.

Mimicking Our Mentors
Almost everyone who responded to my question said that straight-up sermons delivered by other pastors around the country were a big part of their podcast diet. I have certainly found this to be the case in my own sermon preparation. There’s something about hearing the preached Word that ignites my heart and mind and unlocks my creative impulses. Listening to other pastors work their way through Scripture can be helpful in equipping preachers to understand a difficult text and in organizing our thoughts. Recently I was called on to preach Mark 13—Jesus’ teaching about the end times and the destruction of the temple—which has been interpreted by faithful Christians over the years in at least half a dozen ways. I felt like I knew where I was landing, but it took listening to several sermons by pastors from a variety of Christian traditions before I felt confident in my own exegesis.

Yet there is also a danger in regularly listening to other pastors’ sermon podcasts: the tendency to mimic another’s style and flatten one’s own unique preaching approach. This mimicking—while often unintentional—can also cause us to overlook the specific things the Spirit would have us say to our people in our moment in time. This is especially common, I think, when young pastors first begin their ministries. Some unconsciously sound like their mentors to a degree that is almost surreal. This, in and of itself, is a reminder of why it’s good for us to broaden our audio diet, diversifying who we listen to and seeking to learn from audio content other than sermons. Over time, as we hone and develop our own preaching craft, those who have shaped us should move from dominant voices to faint echoes.

The Preaching Act
Podcasts can help our preaching in so many good ways, from educating us on important cultural issues to honing the craft of exegesis and improving our delivery. Yet as much as these tools help us, it’s important to remember that even the most well-crafted audio content is not a sermon. And while preaching is the well-crafted delivery of spiritual content, it is also so much more.

A few years ago, author Donald Miller wrote of his decision to back away from regular church attendance, saying he found “a traditional church service … long and difficult to get through.” As a lifelong churchman who still gets up every Sunday excited to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I disagreed with Miller’s ecclesiology. But there was something in his critique of church that struck me: the implication that he could find spiritual content elsewhere and could enjoy it on his own time, perhaps in a format that was a better fit for him. I’ve heard others say something similar—that they’d rather just stay home and enjoy spiritual content in a way they choose.

I’ve thought about this idea a lot since then. As someone who grew up in the age of the internet, I too enjoy listening to the sermon podcasts of my favorite preachers on my own time. I livestream important conferences. I’m blessed by the spiritual content I read from a variety of Christian organizations. Yet I’ve come to realize that church is so much more than merely the sum of its content. This truth is particularly poignant now, as so many of us have had to narrow our communal worship experiences into digital productions due to the pandemic. We long to gather in person because there’s something visceral and real and important about the embodied presence of church life, even in all its ugly messiness.

Miller’s critique and our experience during this pandemic remind us that church is (and should be) so much more than a glorified TED talk and a hot band. The preaching act is not merely about well-prepared and well-delivered biblical content. It is a sacred moment—the mystery of God being present in his Word, mediated by human expositors.

Yes, I’ve been brought to tears by podcast conversations I’ve heard. I’ve stopped my car and bowed my head after listening to a powerful sermon on my way to work. But the most formative spiritual work in my life has come while I’ve sat in an uncomfortable pew, Bible open, as God used gifted pastors filled by the Spirit to shape my heart and soul.

Podcasts That Can Enrich Preaching
Storytelling Podcasts

This American Life hosted by Ira Glass (WBEZ and PRX)
Slow Burn hosted by Josh Levin (Slate)
Crimetown hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier (Gimlet)
Conversation Podcasts

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend hosted by Conan O’Brien (Team Coco and Earwolf)
That Sounds Fun hosted by Annie F. Downs (That Sounds Fun Network)
Sunday Sitdown hosted by Willie Geist (NBC News)
Discussion of Cultural Issues

This Cultural Moment hosted by John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers (Bridgetown Church and Red Church)
Quick to Listen hosted by Morgan Lee and Ted Olsen (Christianity Today)
The World and Everything in It hosted by Nick Eicher and Megan Basham (World Radio)
Truth’s Table hosted by Michelle Higgins, Christina Edmondson, and Ekemini Uwan
The Craft of Preaching

Monday Morning Preacher hosted by Matt Woodley and Kevin Miller (Preaching Today / Christianity Today)
The On Preaching Podcast hosted byH. B. Charles Jr.
The Art of Pastoring

Pastor’s Talk hosted by Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman (9Marks)
The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast hosted by Carey Nieuwhof
The Art of Pastoring hosted by Jared Wilson and Ronnie Martin (Christianity Today)
Daniel Darling is the senior vice president at National Religious Broadcasters and serves as a pastor of teaching and discipleship at Green Hill Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. His books include The Characters of Christmas, The Dignity Revolution, and A Way with Words.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2020, 09:48:36 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/december/calling-of-evangelist.html








The Calling of the Evangelist





How do we differentiate the calling of an evangelist from other leadership roles?


Evangelists are rare people and sometimes odd. OK, let’s be honest, they are mostly odd people! The unique gifts and expressions of evangelists typically cause them to stand out for better and worse. Because of their conviction around the centrality of the Gospel, evangelists are often bold, visionary, and confident women and men so when they shine, they really shine.

Because of the conviction, passion, and charisma of many evangelists, they are frequently recruited for leadership roles. When the Church sees a true evangelist, they have no category to put him or her in so they try to squeeze him into one of the many flavors of pastor. This has been true for my life. I’ve had dozens of job offers— some pretty alluring, in fact. Each and every job offer in a church that has come my way has been categorized as ‘pastor.’ You need only to browse the thousands of job openings on executive and ministry job sites to realize there is only one single option for leadership in the church— the pastor. A person can either be a senior pastor, an executive pastor, a youth pastor, or a worship pastor but you’ll be hard pressed to find any organization hiring an evangelist. The category just does not exist.

There is nothing wrong with being a pastor. Who knows, God may call me to be one someday, but my initial calling was to the office of evangelist. I do believe a person can certainly be an evangelist while wearing other hats. In most parts of the world, women and men walk in the office of evangelist while working other jobs. In many cases this is preferable because it gets the evangelist into social and professional circles which full-time ministers may have difficulty getting into.

However, the calling of the evangelist is sacred—it must be protected. I believe every evangelist’s calling looks different. I’m certain there are evangelists who regularly face the temptation to ditch their calling and office for one of the many opportunities in front of them—as a pastor, political leader, CEO, salesperson, recruiter, agent, or consultant. There is a never-ending stream of opportunities in front of the evangelist.

More traditional roles pay more than the average evangelist can scrape together through their ministry, which makes the grass seem a lot greener on the other side of our calling. I want to be careful to point out that there is nothing wrong with being a pastor, political leader, CEO, salesperson, or anything else. In fact, some of the very best evangelists I know are working their ministry and calling through these jobs and careers. But I want to be very clear to mention that if God has called you to be a full-time evangelist, do not forfeit your calling and office for greater job security, visibility in the Church, influence, power, or any other reason.

Over the years one temptation to leave my calling as an evangelist was the profound loneliness I’ve experienced. I desire being on a team or an enterprise with like-minded people working hard at a single mission. For me, the Church was not that team. I am often trying to convince churches that evangelism is good for them and something they ought to do, which for me, has been a lonely place. If it isn’t loneliness or finances, fill in the blank for yourself. You are likely reading this because you are an evangelist, or you are working at an evangelistic enterprise. What is tempting you to pack it in? Have your relatives asked the question like mine have, “When are you going to move on and plant your own church or become a pastor?” Do you lay awake at night wondering how you’ll be able to send your kids college one day? Do you wish people understood you or that you could fit in the larger Church world? Do you wish you had more of a voice and power in your social circles, organization, or local church?

The calling and office of the evangelist is rare. While all Christians are called to share Christ and live as a witness to the power and love of God, evangelists are God’s gift to the Church and the world. We hold the Gospel up when others have forgotten its power. We dare to dream of gathering the masses to preach the Good News when the church is preoccupied with internal affairs. We empower lay leaders, ministry professionals, and everyday Christians to effectively do the work of an evangelist. We hold forth the dread of the wrath of God that is coming upon the world because of sin, pointing people to repent and submit their lives to God. There is nothing wrong with marriage seminars, spiritual life retreats, church picnics and the like but the evangelist keeps the Gospel at the center of the Church’s mission and if we fail to walk in our office, who will lead the Church into its purpose? We must stay true to being odd and rare – stay true to your calling for the sake of the Church and the sake of the world.

Whatever tempts you to pack it in, I urge you to remember your calling.

The Global Network of Evangelists exists to identify, affirm, equip and mobilize evangelists worldwide. You should consider applying for membership and joining a global community of evangelists who have a passion to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, everywhere.







Moore is an author and serves as National Evangelist and National Director for Catalytic Partnerships for InterVarsity USA. York is a convener of leaders for evangelism and missions in America, and a founder of the Every Campus initiative.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2020, 02:40:12 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/december/you-cant-reach-world-when-all-you-have-is-hammer.html








You Can't Reach the World When All You Have is a Hammer





We need multiple tools to lead a thriving church—including an evangelist.


In 1962, at a banquet for educators at UCLA, celebrated philosopher, Abraham Kaplan, explained his now famous ‘Law of the Instrument’ principle, “Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.”[1]

In the Church today, we have one single instrument for leadership—the pastor. Search church positions on any of the many job search forums and recruitment sites and you’ll find there is only one tool churches are searching for—pastor. Senior pastors, teaching pastors, executive pastors, worship pastors, children’s, teens, collegiate, campus, in-take, discipleship and volunteers pastors. We seem to think the only kind of leadership we need can only come in one form—pastor.

To be fair, pastors are important and should be instrumental in leading the Church but it was not God’s design for the Church to have but one instrument. Because we only have one tool, every task, goal, obstacle, vision statement, purpose statement, and organizational strategy typically has just one leadership perspective–a pastor’s perspective. When it comes to leadership, the Church in North America is like a small boy with a hammer and because of that, everything looks like it needs pounding. We cannot reach the world with just a hammer, no matter how great that hammer is.

Ephesians 4:11-13 tell us, however, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (NIV).

Leadership in the Church is five-fold and incorporates an array of tools to achieve missional maturity. Missional maturity is the goal—a maturity that has breadth and depth, that is centripetal and centrifugal. Missional maturity achieves evangelism and discipleship, community engagement and spiritual formation. Missional maturity can only be achieved when we have more tools in our toolbox than just a hammer–as great as hammers are.

What the church needs are apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors. Even when a church looks for a senior leader who will operate as an apostle (typically a church planter/multiplier) or as an evangelist, they smack the word ‘pastor’ on top of their role and superimpose the additional character/gift traits of pastor onto their expectations. In other words, even when churches are open to a screwdriver, we want that screwdriver to also double as a hammer.

Evangelists in particular are important for missional maturity but they often aren’t great doubling as a pastor. To be sure, many evangelists have secondary gifting in pastoral ministry—I’m not one of them. I’ve met these people, I envy them, but as much as I’ve tried, I’ll never be like them. Most evangelists are extremely externally facing, super-passionate about making spaces and experiences open to non-churched people. They think primarily of the ‘milk of the word,’ or the simple gospel message and how to color everything the Church does with that message.

Evangelists are angular in the best sense of the word. I remember showing up to a leadership gathering with some fellow evangelists some years back and having one of the organizers bemoan our entrance. With a long, annoyed slur, he said, “Oh great! The evangelists, the angular people!” What was then a slight that hurt my feelings has now become a badge of honor. I’m not like the pastor, I’m not the one ‘go-to’ tool in the toolbox but my leadership is important, even necessary, for missional maturity in the body!

While teachers and pastors are celebrated, rewarded and empowered in the Church, the angular leaders—apostles, prophets, and evangelists—are encouraged to look and act more like a hammer if we want to get by. This is to our shame and part of the reason why so often our churches lack missional maturity.

Here are five ways having an evangelist on staff as a senior leader will change the way you think about missional maturity:

1. Evangelists will lead teams differently.

Healthy evangelists in positions of leadership almost always lead Spirit-filled, impassioned teams who are thinking fervently about lost people. They instill in their teams and the general body a sense of urgency and primacy in engaging lost people that often pastors do not. They impart the spiritual gift of evangelism to others they lead.

2. Evangelists will create altogether new metrics.

We value what we count. What we measure dictates what we value, and evangelists are great ‘counters’ of things related to the mission of leading people to Jesus. Having said this, however, evangelists are often innovators who create new metrics of missional maturity like the number of congregants trained in evangelism, the number of evangelistic events, the number of non-Christian hearers at services….Evangelists are known for counting and counting new and different things relative to mission.

3. Evangelists will press the boundaries.

Reaching lost people requires risk and sacrifice, it requires innovating and a willingness to fail. Evangelists will routinely push the boundaries of normal in ways pastors will not. They will risk things and lead congregations to fail but also succeed! Congregations that are ‘fail avoidant’ often resist evangelism leadership but having an evangelist as a senior leader will help instill the value for risk and an appetite for trial and error that can lead to breakthrough and true missional maturity.

4. Evangelists create healthy tension.

One of the major reasons why leadership teams don’t hunt for and place evangelists on their senior teams is that we can, after all, be angular at times. We insist on things that often slip through the cracks. The missional drift around evangelism is strong but evangelists have a way of pressing church communities and teams back to a commitment to evangelism. This can frequently be seen as unrelenting or not being a team player but evangelists know that the goal is worth the tension.

5. Evangelists will replicate the gift of evangelism.

Many people misunderstand evangelists. They assume evangelists simply lead many to Jesus. Church leaders grossly mistake their responsibility to evangelists, believing that involving them in leadership will diminish their work of winning the lost. We think it is a punishment to tether evangelists to leadership responsibilities. Mature evangelists, however, long to work with other leaders in equipping the Church. While that is true, the true mark of an evangelists is that they replicate the gift of evangelism in others. According to Ephesians 4:11, they, “…equip his people for works of service.”

It isn’t good enough to have an ‘evangelism pastor’ if our default assumption is that she or he ‘shade’ their pastoral performance with evangelism. Evangelists, regardless of what title they end up with from HR, should be empowered to be a part of the senior leadership ethos of a church because of what the pastor can’t bring. They are a different tool in the toolbox of the Church by design. Jesus gave them to us to lead us into missional maturity and without them, we’ll continue to see every problem, challenge and opportunity simply as a pastoral one.

Pastors are great but pastors without evangelists are just not enough to see the body of Christ built up to maturity, effectively reaching our world for Jesus!








The Global Network of Evangelists exists to identify, affirm, equip and mobilize evangelists worldwide. You should consider applying for membership and joining a global community of evangelists who have a passion to proclaim the Gospel to everyone, everywhere.
[1] Kaplan, A. 1973. The conduct of inquiry: Bucks, International textbook Comp.

Moore is an author and serves as National Evangelist and National Director for Catalytic Partnerships for InterVarsity USA. York is a convener of leaders for evangelism and missions in America, and a founder of the Every Campus initiative.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2020, 08:23:37 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december/global-church-american-politics-evangelicalism.html








Why I Claim the ‘Global Evangelical’ Label





My church identity is tied to the body of Christ abroad.


The bishop who ordained me was ordained by African bishops. My priesthood is a gift granted by the global body of Christ. As a result, the rise of the church in the Global South has never felt like a distant sociological fact. It is personal and vital to my work. I identify more with believers who speak other languages, have different skin colors, and live on the other side of the planet than with fellow white Americans who live on my block.

This is a miracle—an ongoing act of grace that would have been unthinkable before the coming of Christ. Jesus made a new family whose kinship trumps cultural, national, and biological ties. But though miraculous, this extended family affects my ordinary day—the way I pray, worship, vote, and think about my neighbors, my church, myself, and the world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and North America, with only 20 percent in the non-Western world. Now it’s almost the reverse. Two-thirds of the world’s Christians live in the Global South. This reversal is due not so much to the decline of faith in the West but to the explosive growth of the church in the rest of the world. I see this in my own Anglican Communion, which wanes in wealthy Western nations and blossoms in the Global South.

This reality offers me hope. The vanguard of the Christian movement is not on American shores. North American culture, then, does not determine the future of the church. Western secularization, or even the marginalization of Christianity in the West, has about as much power to limit the flourishing of the church as it has to stop a hurrican or change the seasons. The indigenous growth and revival in global Christianity—which would have been unimaginable merely 100 years ago—reminds us that we need not be afraid. God is relentlessly at work in the world.

This global growth also shapes my perspective on how we talk about the church. When my community of primarily educated urbanites criticizes “the church,” we most often mean the American church or even merely the white American church. Given our context, this oversimplification makes sense, but it also subtly centers white American voices and experiences.

Similarly, when younger evangelicals leave “the church” because they are frustrated with certain Western iterations of it, they simultaneously leave behind a global body of largely black and brown people. These global evangelicals often hold together what many white American evangelicals too easily pry apart: a shared commitment to orthodox doctrine and care for the poor and oppressed.

When I think of evangelicals, I think of Singaporeans planting churches in Thailand, or Rwandan families serving refugees in Uganda, or Nigerian seminarians, or the evangélicos of South America—a label widely used by Protestant Latinos. We need to keep these voices front and center in any discussion of the church. They are our future and also our present—the ones who make up the majority of evangelicals on earth.

These global believers also remind me not to give up on the American church. A few years ago, I caught myself thinking, “The American church is dying and probably deserves it, so let’s focus exclusively on what’s happening elsewhere.” I gave us up for lost. But then I was reminded by my brothers and sisters overseas that many of these now-blossoming movements abroad began small. Men and women suffered joyfully for the gospel. They continue to do so. Amid suffering and even persecution, their impulse is to take up the mission of Jesus and love their neighbors. We are called to do the same wherever we are.

During the season of Epiphany, many Anglican churches use the Kenyan liturgy, and each year it reminds me that the church—and even evangelicalism alone—is bigger and more complex than my limited context. Right before we take the Eucharist, the celebrant says, “Christ is alive forever.” The congregation responds, “We are because he is.” Because Christ is alive, we the global church can flourish together as a new family. I am a disciple of Jesus, an evangelical Anglican, and a priest in Christ’s church because we are a global body. And we are because he is.








Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the author of Liturgy of the Ordinary and Prayer in the Night (IVP, 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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2020, 10:08:55 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december-web-only/should-pastors-speak-up-about-covid-19-vaccine.html








Should Pastors Speak Up About the COVID-19 Vaccine?






With Christians split on the issue, some urge vaccination as a form of neighborly love, while other leave it up to conscience.


About half of US Protestant adults don’t plan to receive the new COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

While confidence in the vaccine has actually risen since September—three companies announced viable vaccines last month—50 percent of white evangelicals and 59 percent of black Protestants say they won’t get the vaccine, while the majority of the US population overall (60%) says they will.

For centuries, religion and medicine have collaborated for the prevention of disease, though the relationship at times has been complex. In more recent years, public health professionals have relied on church leaders’ support—particularly in communities of color—to gain trust in promoting health initiatives. The coronavirus pandemic has become another example of the complex relationship between faith and science.

Given the split among Christians, how should pastors engage with their congregants about the COVID-19 vaccine? Should they encourage church attenders to receive the vaccine?

CT heard from five pastors about how factors like race, theology, and congregational makeup affect their approach to the issue.

Jeff Schultz, pastor of preaching and community at Faith Church in Indianapolis


Our church been praying for vaccine research and development, but taking a vaccine is not something we would direct people on.

Our congregation has a number of doctors, nurses, medical researchers, and people in pharmaceutical development. We believe that God works through miraculous intervention, but more commonly through our work, gifts, and wisdom applied in service to others. We’ve encouraged people to wear masks and practice social distancing. We have members who won’t return to in-person worship until a vaccine is available. But I don’t think we would say anything formally about taking a vaccine (except to give thanks for their existence).

At an individual level, I will encourage people to consult with their physician on making that decision. I see masks and social distancing as extremely low-risk interventions that help us love our neighbors. A COVID-19 vaccine is another important way to stop the spread of a deadly disease, but I don’t believe that as a pastor I have the medical qualifications to direct people on medical treatments that may have side effects or long-term health impact. I want to help people see the good of a vaccine while asking us all to respect others’ decisions.

Luke B. Bobo, director of strategic partnerships at Made to Flourish, a pastor’s network based in Kansas, and visiting professor at Covenant Theological Seminary
Abortion, film, music, guns, cartoons, medical science—pastors, as cultural exegetes, must discuss these topics because such things are not benign. These cultural artifacts mediate messages that are often contrary to the Christian life and worldview, so engaging their congregants about the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. I believe pastors must engage in vaccine discourse biblically, wisely, and Christianly.

Of course, for African American pastors, engaging their congregants about this vaccine will be more complicated, as many abuses have been inflicted on black persons for the sake of medical progress. Who can forget the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and the infamous “HeLa” cells, cancerous cells stolen from Henrietta Lacks without her family’s consent? So pastors must engage this topic historically as well.

Pastors must teach their people how to think critically about this COVID-19 vaccine. If they are asked whether they plan to take the vaccine, they should state their answer and follow with a statement like, “That is my decision; you must do the hard work and make your own decision.” In other words, pastors must not think for their congregants; rather, they must equip their people with the necessary tools so that they can think and decide for themselves.

Mandy Smith, pastor at University Christian Church in Cincinnati
I have no problem with vaccines on a philosophical or theological level and will defer to the medical professionals in my congregation who know more about such things than I know. The church I lead is on what’s sometimes called “Pill Hill”—we have four hospitals in our immediate neighborhood, and so we have quite a few medical professionals. At the same time, since we’re in a diverse community, we also have quite a few folks interested in alternative lifestyles, which leads them to be wary of vaccines.

As Christians, we need to have space for difference of opinions—unity in essentials, liberty in nonessentials, and in all things, love. On a philosophical level, our opinion about vaccines is nonessential—we won’t lose our salvation and shouldn’t split with other Christians over it.

At the same time, on a practical level, with a vaccine the decisions we make affect one another. While we might have differences of opinion where we can agree to disagree, if our children are playing together, and we’re sharing potluck meals and Communion, the choices we make about vaccines are not for our own personal sake but for the sake of our entire community. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has shown us, it’s that our lives, bodies, and health are interwoven.

Stephen Cook, senior pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 283,000 of our neighbors in the United States, more than 1.5 million of our neighbors around the world. With the hope of a vaccine on the near horizon, pastors have the opportunity to call Christ’s people in our congregations to neighbor-love in a way that embodies Christ’s command to love one another.

When Jesus is questioned by a lawyer who wants to know who counts as his neighbor (Luke 10), he responds with the story of the Samaritan who stopped to provide for the needs of the one beaten and left for dead. Notably, the Samaritan whom Jesus points to as an exemplar of merciful service lives out the call to neighbor-love through an act of healing.

Encouraging people of faith to be vaccinated against this disease that has devastated so many is a pastoral responsibility. It is an occasion to summon Christ’s followers to consider the role we have to play in promoting the healing of the world. It is an opportunity for us to recall that, at the end of the story, Jesus lifts up the one who acts like a neighbor in response to a desperate need.

Stephanie Lobdell, campus pastor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio
The directive of Christ to love our neighbor has informed the life of the university campus I pastor in distinctive ways, from masks to plexiglass dividing diners in the cafeteria. Moving forward, it ought to inform our posture toward the vaccine as well. To receive the vaccine if one is physically able is yet another way to practice love for neighbor.

As a Christian liberal arts university in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, we bring an additional impetus to the vaccine conversation. As Wesleyans, we hold steadfastly to the centrality of cooperative grace in Christian practice. God takes the initiative toward us, inviting us into a relationship of love as well as into meaningful partnership in the work of embodying new creation. We seek to inspire our students to view the vocation for which they are studying as an expression of that partnership.

When scientists unravel the DNA of a dangerous virus, when doctors work tirelessly to find more effective treatments, when researchers formulate a shot that protects people against infection, we do not raise a self-righteous fist in the face of science claiming, “Faith over fear!” Rather, we rejoice. We rejoice at the life-giving manifestation of divinely ordained vocation. We proclaim thanks be to God, both for God’s provision and for the holy gift of human capacity.

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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2020, 10:12:46 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december-web-only/fervent-evangelist-islam-living-out-book-acts-missionary.html








I Grew Up a Fervent Evangelist for Islam. Now I’m Living Out the Book of Acts.





How an encounter with Christian missionaries made me into a missionary myself.


I grew up in a Muslim family on the coast of Kenya. My father served as an Imam, and I was one of the muezzins (Muslims who call others to pray five times a day) at a local mosque.

The only school I ever attended existed to educate young men in the ways of Islam and to help them grow as Muslims. I was being trained to defend the Muslim faith and to share it with others. As a young man, I became one of the best and most well-known evangelists for Islam in my region.

Early in life, my father had taught me to hate Christians and even to beat them if necessary. I was trained to believe that Christians were on the same level as animals. We were not allowed to associate with them in any way.

A Miraculous Transformation


In 2009, my life was forever changed. The day started out just like any other: I woke up and went to the local mosque to start calling people to pray. I was set to recite the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) into the microphone so that my call could be heard throughout the city. But when I tried to speak, nothing came out. Leaving the mosque, I saw my friend Ali in the street and I tried to explain what had happened, but he wouldn’t believe me.

We went back to the mosque, where I stepped up to the microphone and attempted to call the adhan once more, but again my voice would not come out. Ali was as surprised as I was. We both were nervous, but he took over my duties so that I could go home for the day.

When I got home, I tried to relax and calm my mind. My heart was heavy, and I felt troubled. I went to my kitchen, grabbed a thermos, and started to make hot tea. I poured the tea into a mug and was about to start drinking when I saw that the tea had turned red, a dark red that looked like blood. I left the tea on the counter and took a walk, hoping to clear my mind after a day full of seemingly crazy events.

During my walk, I came to a marketplace where a large crowd had gathered around the back of a pickup truck. Getting close enough to hear and see what was going on, I listened as a Christian missionary was preaching. He was clearly a Kenyan, just like me, and not someone who had come here from the Western world. I was skeptical and kept my distance, but I listened to what he was saying.

After the man had finished preaching, I felt compelled to approach him. Because I was known very well in that area, the pastors who were with him (they were also Kenyan) initially blocked me from coming forward, but the missionary allowed me to talk with him. He shared the gospel with me, and right then and there everything felt different. I saw everything that had happened during that day in a new light. I knew that God was the one who wouldn’t let my voice come out; he was the one who turned my tea blood red, as a symbol of Christ’s blood spilled on the cross for me.

The Holy Spirit changed my heart, and I gave my life to Jesus. The missionary told me to go tell my family what had happened, and I did as he requested, even though I knew my father would not like it. Sure enough, he saw my conversion as an abandonment of Islam and an act of personal betrayal. He called my uncle, a well-respected leader in the Muslim community, to ask for advice on how to handle this crisis. My uncle recommended having me excommunicated. But my father was in no mood for half-measures: He wanted me dead. He ordered me to get out of the house right away, and I wasn’t even allowed a moment to gather my belongings.

After my father had left the house, I returned and saw my sister. She told me that my father had burned all of my belongings behind our house. She had been washing clothes at the time, and she gave me one set to take with me.

That night I ran away, staying outside on a park bench. It was a cold night, and I considered returning to my father and apologizing. But as I prayed, I found new strength in Jesus Christ. The next day, I went out and started sharing my testimony, explaining what Jesus had done for me and how others could receive him as well.

I found the missionary who had shared the gospel with me, figuring I would stay the night with him and his fellow pastors before leaving the next morning. But soon we heard that my father had sent people out looking for me, people who would kill me if they found me. So that night, around 3 a.m., the group of missionaries escorted me out of my hometown.

They brought me to a city eight hours away. A longtime member of a local church took an interest in me and started to disciple me. Another member even allowed me to stay in his home since I had no place to live.

The more I got settled in this strange new place, the more I felt a call to ministry. I started sharing the gospel to lost people in the area, gathering a group of about 10 people in the area to disciple as I had been discipled.

I hoped to attend a Bible school, so that I could become a better preacher and teacher of the gospel, but I did not have the money to pay for it. So I started traveling around and visiting different churches and congregations, where I had the opportunity to preach, teach, and share the story of my conversion.

Yet danger kept stalking me. After visiting one church in the region for five days, preaching and sharing the gospel, I learned that some men had come there looking for me. They had been sent by my parents. In the mosque where I grew up, an announcement had gone out that I was wanted, dead or alive.

Counting the Cost
Over the years, I’ve continued to travel and visit different churches under the support of the national missionary organization that aided me at the time of my conversion. In April of 2017, I took a new step of boldness. Alongside one of my own disciples, I journeyed to a city close to the border of Somalia, where the population consists mostly of Somalis who were members of my own ethnic group. I had ventured there to do what God had put in my heart so many years ago: sharing Christ with Muslims in my homeland.

We had planned out a four-day trip. On the first day, as I started to preach and share the gospel, a crowd gathered. As I continued evangelizing, the crowd became angry, and a few people complained to the police that I was causing trouble.

The police arrested me and took me to jail. I was punched and kicked by other cellmates and by the corrupt police officers. I learned that the man I had been discipling had left to return home. But I continued to share Christ, and 10 Somalis came to know Jesus as Lord in jail. On the fourth day, I was released, and I walked straight from the jail to the market where I had preached the gospel. Seven Muslims prayed to receive Christ that day.

In the Gospels, Jesus tells the crowds that anyone who would follow him must be prepared to leave everything behind for the sake of carrying a cross (Luke 14:26–27). Since becoming a Christian, I’ve had many occasions to count the cost of discipleship. On top of having to flee from my home and family, I was forced to part ways with the Muslim woman I was set to marry (though God later saw fit to provide me a wife at one of the churches I visited). On several occasions, people from the cities I’ve evangelized have shown up at my home in the middle of the night to threaten me and my family. I have been beaten by crowds five different times.

And yet, when I think of even the worst suffering—of all the slaps, punches, and kicks I’ve endured—I still “count it all joy” (James 1:2, ESV). I’ll gladly surrender everything for the cause of Christ and to reach my Muslim brothers who are blind.








Aaban Usman (a pseudonym) works as a national missionary through Reaching Souls International, an organization based in Oklahoma City. Koal Manis is a freelance writer and a student at Oklahoma Baptist University.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2020, 10:16:58 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december-web-only/rise-modern-self-carl-trueman-sexual-revolution.html








The Triumph of the Sexual Revolution Seems Stunningly Swift. But Its Roots Go Back Centuries.





Carl Trueman maps out the revolutionary shifts that made it possible, then plausible, then actual.


I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.” Only a generation ago, few Americans would have regarded this statement as coherent and believable. Yet today, someone who comes out as transgender can earn cultural cachet, while those who question the new orthodoxy are increasingly branded as bigots or worse. This shift in cultural attitudes is only the latest triumph of the sexual revolution that has radically reshaped sexual categories and behaviors over the past several decades in America. Yet the roots of this revolution go back much further.

When determining why revolutions happen, social scientists often distinguish between three types of causes: preconditions, precipitants, and triggers. Preconditions are the long-term structural factors that make revolution possible. Precipitants are the short-term events that combine with these structures to make revolution plausible. Finally, triggers are the immediate catalysts—the sparks that ignite and make revolution actual.

The sexual revolution and its triumphs result from a similar mix of immediate, short-term, and long-term causes. Yet cultural commentators tend to focus only on triggers, acting like police officers or insurance adjusters who arrive at the scene of an accident to determine the extent of the damage or who’s at fault. These roles are important, but they only scratch the surface of how the church should respond to the sexual revolution.

A more holistic response requires a more holistic understanding that can only be achieved by sorting out the long-term structural causes of the revolution from its short-term and immediate causes. This sorting is precisely what theologian and historian Carl Trueman aims to do in his latest book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution.

Trueman’s basic contention is this: The sexual revolution is a symptom rather than the cause of efforts to redefine human identity. Centuries before the nation swooned when Bruce Jenner debuted as Caitlyn, for example, intellectual shifts were taking place that would make a cultural event like this possible. What Trueman offers is the story of those shifts.

Reimagined Selves
Trueman begins by diagnosing the state of modern Western culture so that, throughout the rest of the book, he can trace some of its intellectual preconditions. Here, he relies heavily on the work of three key thinkers: philosopher Charles Taylor, psychologist Philip Rieff, and ethicist Alasdair MacIntyre.

Of particular importance to Trueman’s narrative is the idea of the “social imaginary,” the term that Taylor uses to describe a society’s basic intuitions about the world and the place of human beings within it. As each of us goes through life, we tend not to operate on the basis of a self-conscious commitment to a particular set of ideas. Instead, the process is much more intuitive. For example, only a generation ago, the claim “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body” was widely understood to be nonsensical. This understanding owed less to a deep theoretical knowledge of gender and sex than it did to the widespread intuition that the world has an established order and meaning to which we must conform.

Today, the social imaginary has been radically reimagined. People tend to see the world and themselves more as raw material that they can bend and shape to suit their own purposes. This reimagining wasn’t the result of learning new truths about the physical world but of subjugating the physical to the psychological. The modern idea of self has become thoroughly psychologized: One’s identity is defined not by a relationship with the external world but by an individual, internal sense of happiness. On this basis, the modern person operates according to what Taylor calls “expressive individualism,” desiring both to express an internal sense of self and to have that sense of self recognized and accepted by the external world.

Drawing from MacIntyre’s work, Trueman explains that expressive individualism has become the default mode of modern society. Because we lack a common framework for understanding who we are and why we exist, our moral discourse has degenerated into expressions of personal feelings and tastes. In order to satisfy our moral preferences, we feel we must be liberated from the repressive constraints of objective moral claims. Such liberation requires a full-scale campaign of cultural iconoclasm, of dismantling and disavowing the ideas and artifacts of the past so that we might pursue happiness on our own—thoroughly psychological and distinctly sexual—terms.

Revolutionary Shifts
After diagnosing the state of modern Western culture, Trueman spends the bulk of the book showing that our reimagined sense of self is rooted in intellectual shifts that had been taking place for several centuries.

The first shift was the psychologizing of the self—in other words, making one’s feelings and desires foundational to one’s identity. Trueman highlights the work of the 18th-century Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who laid the groundwork for this shift by arguing that we can only live authentically when our outward behavior can match our inner psychology. In a revolutionary step, Rousseau gives ethical priority to one’s psychology, claiming that society is the enemy of the authentic self because it forces people to suppress their desires and conform to conventional morality.

At the turn of the 19th century, Rousseau’s heirs within the Romantic movement—particularly the poets William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Blake—were instrumental in popularizing this psychological view of the self. Yet for all their calls to cast off the repressive influences of civilized society, these Romantics—like Rousseau—were confident that nature possessed a purposeful order upon which humans could build their lives. By the end of the 19th century, such confidence was greatly undermined by the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin. To Nietzsche and Marx, belief in transcendent reality and purposeful order are symptoms of psychological weakness and social sickness. Then, Darwin’s writings on evolution dealt the death blow by providing a new story of humankind that reduces human nature to something fluid and directionless.

With the belief that personal identity is psychological and self-determined, the stage was set for a second intellectual shift: the sexualizing of psychology. It was Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, who in the early 20th century championed the insidious idea that’s intoxicated modern society: Self-identity is grounded in sexual desire. We’re essentially psychological, says Rousseau. Yet our psychology is essentially sexual, says Freud. Therefore, we’re essentially sexual. With Freud, sex is transformed from something we do into who we are.

After this transformation, it was only a matter of time before a third intellectual shift occurred: the politicizing of sex. Two Freudian acolytes, psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and philosopher Herbert Marcuse, drove this shift by merging Marxist ideas of political oppression with the Freudian notion of sexual repression. They argued that, because humans are essentially sexual, there can be no political liberation without sexual liberation.

In response, from the mid-20th century to the present day, a bevy of writers and activists from the New Left have aimed for sexual liberation by attacking the most problematic of all bourgeois institutions: the nuclear family. As long as the nuclear family is considered good and necessary to the right ordering of society, allegedly repressive norms such as heterosexuality and monogamy will perpetuate an oppressive social hierarchy that rewards sexual conformity and punishes those who wish to follow their own sexual codes. On this understanding, political liberation depends on sexual liberation—which depends on the dismantling of the nuclear family.

Though not everyone reaches the same conclusions, the underlying association of political liberation with sexual liberation is widely assumed today. Even if they’ve never read the writings of Freud, Reich, Marcuse, and the New Left, many people intuitively believe that open and unqualified expression of sexual desire is essential to human identity and dignity.

It’s this revolutionary belief that has transformed our “social imaginary” and led to a swift and stunning series of triumphs for the sexual revolution. Trueman devotes several chapters to detailing three triumphs in particular: the pervasiveness of eroticism in art and pop culture, the prioritization of psychological well-being in academic settings and legal or ethical arguments, and the widespread embrace of transgender identity.

Yet, as Trueman reiterates throughout his book, the triumphs of the sexual revolution are not as swift and stunning as they appear. Instead, they’re the latest logical outcomes of a society that has accepted expressive individualism as its basic premise. The road to sexual revolution was long and marked by a series of intellectual turns that were hardly inevitable. But once chosen, they led Western culture to where it is today.

Road to Renewal
As a preeminent church historian, Trueman is well-versed at telling the stories of intellectual turns and tracing their cultural consequences. Yet here Trueman’s aim is more modest: Rather than showing precisely how the ideas that undergird the sexual revolution have come to permeate our culture (for this would take many volumes), he intends only to show that these ideas aren’t new but have been preconditioned by several centuries of intellectual shifts. In this aim, he succeeds marvelously.

Yet certain segments of the book would have benefitted from some attention to causation. I’ll give just one example: By moving from Rousseau (chapter 3) to Wordsworth (chapter 4) in his narrative, Trueman implies a causal relationship that’s hardly clear. Though Wordsworth emphasizes the internal life of the poet, in his preface to the Lyrical Ballads he reins in any excess expressivism by describing the true poet as one “who being possessed of more than usual organic sensibility, had also thought long and deeply.” Also, Wordsworth’s reasons for using everyday language echo the literary choices of earlier poets like Dante, who in De Vulgari Eloquentia insists that vernacular is “natural” and “more noble” than the “artificial” language of educated elites. Further, Wordsworth's distinction between poetry and history stands in the tradition of Aristotle and the poet Sir Philip Sidney.

So, it could be that Wordsworth owes more to Rousseau than to these earlier poets, but the lack of a clear causal connection blunts Trueman’s dramatic claim that “Wordsworth stands near the head of a path that leads to Hugh Hefner and Kim Kardashian.” A similar lack of causal explanation blunts the force of other conclusions that Trueman makes throughout the book.

Yet this critique should take nothing away from the fact that The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is a signal achievement of cultural analysis. Readers wishing to understand the cultural convulsions and social upheavals taking place in the West will find this an indispensable book. It’s a masterclass on the fact that, while all ideas have consequences, some ideas are more consequential than others. Trueman shows that the consequences arising from ideas about human nature and identity can be especially revolutionary.

This fact should help guide the church’s response to the sexual revolution. Just as the revolution was made possible by certain preconditioned ideas about human nature and identity, any successful counter-revolution must arise from preconditions of its own. The church must lead the way by articulating and modeling a vision of true human identity and community. And we must do this with the knowledge that we’re unlikely to see any significant change in our own day. The road to sexual revolution was long, and so too will be the road to renewal. But it’s the only faithful road, and so it’s the one we must take.








Timothy Kleiser is a teacher and writer from Louisville, Kentucky. His writing has appeared in National Review, The American Conservative, Modern Age, The Boston Globe, Front Porch Republic, and elsewhere.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2020, 10:20:20 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/december/how-to-keep-christ-at-center-of-christmas.html








Christ as Hero, Santa as Helper: How to Keep Christ the Center of Christmas





How do we teach our kids the true meaning of Christmas without getting distracted by Santa?


Both the traditional view of Santa, delivering presents to “good” little girls and boys—which is a works-based reward system; and this more modern view of Santa, delivering presents to “all” little girls and boys because no one is bad—which is an entitlement reward system—are both contradictory to what Scripture teaches.

The Scripture teaches there is no one good, not even one (Ps 14:3; Rom 3:12). Scripture also teaches that man is born inherently sinful (Rom 5:12,18,19). Based upon Scripture everyone is not good—our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Thus, humanity deserves God’s punishment and wrath.

Such contradictions make it difficult for Christian parents to celebrate the contemporary beliefs about Santa. Many Christian parents struggle to find the balance between Santa, Elf-on-the-shelf, and Christ.

In the Laxton house, Santa is part of our Christmas rhythm. In fact, this year we added “Rex,” who is our Elf-on-the-shelf guest for the Christmas season. I know some Christians won’t approve and will see the practice of Santa and Rex as shallow and unchristian. Nevertheless, I believe that Christian families can walk and chew gum at the same time—they can keep Christ as the center of the season while at the same time including Santa in their holiday cheer.

Let me share three ways to keep Jesus as the center (as well as the Bible’s teachings) while including Santa in your Christmas festivities.

1) Teach your children that Jesus is the hero of Christmas, and Santa is the helper.

I think what happens many times is parents go overboard with Santa. Santa becomes the central focus of the Christmas season because of what he does—brings presents that the kids want. Over time this script is flipped where Santa takes centered stage and Jesus becomes a supporting actor.

Parents should groom their children to understand that Jesus is the hero of life, and Christmas is the time we celebrate his coming to earth to rescue sinners. And this rescue mission brings the greatest gift any human being could ever receive—forgiveness of sin and thus reconciliation with God. Therefore, there would be no Christmas if there was no Christ.

In cultivating this awareness and understanding in our children year-round, we also teach them how Santa is ultimately Jesus’ helper. Teach them the origin of Santa, a.k.a. Saint Nick.

St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who, after his parents’ death, leveraged his inheritance to help the poor and sick. The legend of his generosity grew, and his sainthood became associated with gift-giving. Thus, we can teach our children that the spirit of Santa emerged from an understanding of Jesus. Without Jesus, Saint Nick and the spirit of Santa would have never come into being.

2) Teach our children that they are not good, Jesus is.

This one may be a little difficult for parents. I’m also sure some traditions of Christianity may differ slightly or even disagree slightly in how I articulate this theological point.

My wife and I have tried to groom our kids from a young age that they can’t do good (or be good) on their own. In other words, we have not tried to encourage a self-help mantra, that if they just try a little harder and dig a little deeper, they can behave better. For instance, when our children didn’t want to share, or when our eldest child was acting mean towards the youngest, we don’t groom them to “be better.” We groom them to run to Jesus and ask him to help them be generous and be kind.

Early in our parenthood, we wanted them to believe sound theology that they needed a Savior because they weren’t good. What do we do to children if we spend their whole childhood telling them how good and how wonderful they are, only to flip the switch on them later in life and tell them that they need a Savior? Why on earth would they believe they need a Savior when during their most formative years were told they were so good? This is why we teach our kids their need, our need, for a Savior.

As a result, in the Laxton house, “being good” has nothing to do with why Santa brings our kids presents. Being good should be a behavior that flows from the goodness of Christ in us, not to get toys or rewards, but to please God.

3) Teach our kids that every good and perfect gift comes from God, even gifts from Santa.

Every evening when I pray for our kids, without fail I thank the Lord for every good thing in our life. I don’t have time every evening to state all the specifics, but over the course of days I mention our health, house, cars, friends, air, bed, toys, family, siblings, birthday parties, presents, etc.

Our desire as parents, is to massage into the hearts and minds of our kids that everything that we enjoy in life, everything that is good in life, has flowed from the hands of our benevolent Father. Thus, Santa and the presents he brings are gifts from the Father. Once again, Santa plays a role, but the attention always lands on God.

In closing, the reality is Santa is who you make him out to be. At some point our children will grow out of belief in Santa. When they do, you don’t want it to be a huge deal, and you don’t want it to be something you had been fabricating for years. At the end, as believers we want something that will be intellectually honest, imaginatively curious, while at the same time theologically true.








Josh Laxton currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, Lausanne North American Coordinator at Wheaton College. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological 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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2020, 05:52:20 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/december/pornhub-exodus-cry-trafficking-nick-kristof-remove-videos.html








Pornhub Removes Majority of Videos in a Victory for Exodus Cry












But the fight against exploitation continues with new momentum from Nick Kristof investigation.


The anti-trafficking ministry Exodus Cry is celebrating significant progress in its fight to take down the world’s largest porn site, Pornhub, which announced Monday that it had pulled millions of unverified videos.

Exodus Cry’s long campaign against Pornhub got a major boost from a recent investigation by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, which has spurred political and economic fallout for the site.

Kristof’s December 4 exposé detailed what the ministry’s director of abolition, Laila Mickelwait, had been saying through its Traffickinghub campaign for years: Videos of assault involving underage girls, rape, and other exploitative content continue to be posted and reposted on the user-generated porn site, and the company is not doing enough to stop it.

The story led to new scrutiny by politicians in the US and Canada, where Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, is based. Pornhub executives have been called to testify in Parliament in Ottawa, and Christian senators Josh Hawley and Ben Sasse introduced a bill last week giving victims more legal ground to fight back against sites like Pornhub when clips and images are distributed online without their consent.

Discover, Visa, and Mastercard announced last week that they would no longer process payments from the site due to the unlawful material uploaded. Pornhub’s decision to remove and ban unverified videos applies to an estimated two-thirds of the videos hosted on its site, with the site’s own search tally dropping from 13.5 million to 4.7 million, according to Vice. Prior to this move, anyone could create an account to upload content to the site without identity verification, proof of consent, or prior review.

An announcement on Pornhub claims it has better policies than other platforms and blames Exodus Cry and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation for targeting the site.“These are organizations dedicated to abolishing pornography, banning material they claim is obscene, and shutting down commercial sex work.”

Exodus Cry has framed its efforts around a fight around the scriptural call to “set the captives free,” seeing pornography and prostitution as an issue of exploitation and abuse of power, not just sexual sin.

Founder and CEO Benjamin Nolot was a former member of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, and the ministry grew out of IHOP in 2008. As World reported last month, Exodus Cry’s perceived evangelical and political ties recently cost them a pledge from actress Melissa McCarthy.

Its Traffickinghub campaign, though, is branded as a “non-religious, non-partisan effort.” Traffickinghub creates videos with stats about Pornhub content and shares stories of teenage victims who fought to get their rapes removed from the site. The campaign is pushing for apologies and restitution for the girls and women who have been traumatized.

“Justice for your victims will not be denied Pornhub,” Mickelwait tweeted Monday. “Hitting the delete button to scrub the crime scene videos from your site doesn’t absolve you of the decade of harm you caused to countless victims whose trauma you immortalized for your own profit. This is a reckoning.”

Mickelwait has repeatedly praised Kristof for his article as well as the companies and officials who have responded, but the work of Traffickinghub and Exodus Cry continues.

“I’m so inspired, more than I ever have been, but it’s not enough,” she said. “Justice means shutting this site down and holding its executives criminally accountable for what they have done, and we will stop at nothing less.”
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2020, 09:21:48 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december/idols-worshiping-false-god.html








You’re Probably Worshiping a False God




Christians are still idol worshipers. We're just less honest about it.


John Calvin famously said the heart is a veritable factory of idols. I used to think this was just typically dark, hyperbolic, Calvinist misanthropy. The older I get, though, the more I concede it to be a sober statement of fact. Idols are our specialty. We churn them out at a furious rate, an extravagant assortment of false gods, deities, and spirits that we’ve cooked up over the centuries. Zeus, Odin, Marduk—some real classics. Our capacity to lie to ourselves about divinity is impressive and extends as wide as creation itself.

More impressive, though, is our pantheon of false images of the living and true God. It’s not for nothing the Ten Commandments quickly move from ruling out the worship of false gods to censuring the false worship of the true God. While the first command is the most basic for a reason, the second is the more insidious and tempting for Christians to break. Satan’s been a liar and murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and his first trick was to deceive Eve into thinking God is a miser (Gen. 3:4–5).

Our hearts still fall into that same satanic groove, quickly moving from confessing “I believe in God” to talking about “the God I believe in,” to making the most dire and pretentious utterance of all: “I could never believe in a God who...”

Of course, the sad joke is this “God” usually ends up being no more than our own shadows blown up to God-sized proportions. In that sense, Ludwig Feuerbach, a 19th-century philosopher and insightful unbeliever, was on to something when he said all theology is really projection—a roundabout way of describing our own best thoughts of ourselves.

Feuerbach can’t claim all the credit, though. The apostle John tackles this tendency by ending his first letter with the curiously abrupt command, “Dear children, keep yourself from idols” (1 John 5:21). This seems an afterthought until you recognize it’s what the whole letter has been about. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1:5). John knows that the light that is God the Son “has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). And so we lie to ourselves—and in such diverse and sundry ways!

John recognizes that some of us want to take sin lightly and so make up a God in our own image who minimizes sin, rarely judges, and never punishes. John tells us to stop hoodwinking ourselves. There’s no such God: “No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6). God is light—pure light, brilliant, fiery, holy light that will not abide darkness in his children.

Sometimes we conjure up a hateful, stony-hearted God, an unyielding prosecutor, a Javert-like jailer who longs to lock us up and throw away the key. And if God is going to be like that, why not settle in the shadows with our sins? But John knows this too, so he reminds us “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Come clean and you’ll be cleansed by Jesus’ blood. Why? Because God is merciful. He is faithful. He is just.

A crowd-favorite way to twist God to our liking is convincing ourselves that he’s on our side when we self-righteously judge our fellow believers, revile them, and break communion with them for being wrong about this tiny doctrinal nuance or that social cause. But again, John reminds us to love one another—even the worst of us—for “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). And he made that plain in the Son, whom he sent to be a propitiation for our deepest, blackest, foulest sins on the cross (v. 10).

Over and over again, John corrects the myriad ways we are tempted to turn from the true and living God to the dead idols we’ve made of him. He points us to the Son of God, who came to destroy the deceptive works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and give us understanding, that in Jesus we might know him who “is true God and eternal life” (5:20).

The apostle instructs us still: Keep yourself from idols. Don’t fool yourself about your bent to fabricate a God out of falsehoods. If you say you’re without sin, you make God a liar (1:10). Instead, ask yourself, “What idol am I tempted to make of God?” Humbly confess that sin and look to the cleansing of the Son. Let the light of him who is the truth shine upon you and dispel the darkness.








Derek Rishmawy is the Reformed University Fellowship campus minister at the University of California, Irvine and a doctoral candidate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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 -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - December 2020
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2020, 11:01:08 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/december/john-song-biography-daryl-ireland-china-evangelist.html








China’s Greatest Evangelist Was Expelled from a Liberal Seminary in America





How John Song sought new beginnings—for himself and his homeland—after a period of disgrace.


The story of John Song is fairly well-known within the history of Chinese Christianity. In 1920, he left China to study chemistry in the United States, completing a bachelor’s degree in three years and a master’s degree and a doctorate in another three years. He then turned to theology and enrolled in America’s leading institution of liberal Christianity, Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He had an evangelical conversion experience—but seminary authorities thought he was mad and sent him to an asylum. After his release in 1927, Song boarded a ship headed back to China and committed his life to preaching the gospel message.

But there is another side to the story, one fleshed out in a new biography from Boston University global Christianity scholar Daryl R. Ireland. John Song: Modern Chinese Christianity and the Making of a New Man presents a brilliant student living with schizophrenia—one who saw visions, spoke as a prophet of a new age, and decoded divine messages in New York Times crossword puzzles and through “radio schematics” in the four Gospels. At one point, he supposedly fell in love with a supernatural being and married her in the presence of 7,000 honorary queens.

Ireland’s access to previously un-available materials—Song’s student files at Union and some 6,000 pages of personal diaries—enables him to paint a very complex picture. From this basis, Ireland argues that the seemingly divergent accounts of Song’s American background converge into one: the making of China’s greatest evangelist. They are the origin stories of a new man.

When Song returned to China, he was disgraced by his expulsion from Union and his hospitalization for mental instability. Things changed when he met the fundamentalist Methodist Episcopal missionary W. B. Cole. According to Ireland, Cole saw in Song an opportunity to condemn Union for its modernist theology, while Song saw in Cole an opportunity to reinvent himself. Together, they crafted a new account of Song’s troubled past: As Ireland sums it up, “Song had encountered the God made known in Jesus Christ at Union Theological Seminary, and he was rejected because of it.”

This new beginning was key to Song’s revivalist message going forward, just as new beginnings were key for China in the 1920s–1940s, when reformers hoped to escape the country’s feudal past in pursuit of new culture, new life, and a new China.

Song was now a new man—in terms of evangelicalism and modernizing China. For instance, the Nationalist government tried to purify religion by launching the Smashing Superstition Movement in 1928. That same year, Song began his career as a traveling evangelist for the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he preached a message that Ireland describes as being “tested by spiritual life and science.” With a PhD in chemistry, he had the credentials to defend faith as something more than a superstition that science was smashing.

Song renewed himself time and time again. Initially, when he preached in rural villages, his sermons focused on how the supernatural world penetrated the natural world. After 1931, when Song joined the Bethel Worldwide Evangelistic Band to tour around China’s urban centers, his preaching transformed into a new expression of Holiness revivalism. When his relationship with Bethel ended in 1933, Song again rewrote his sermons to address sectors of society that he had not previously encountered.

Two of Ireland’s final chapters address important themes of early-20th-century China. The first highlights how Song’s preaching was particularly appealing to women. Men and women needed more than just to be saved—Song called them to organize their own evangelistic teams. Vast numbers of women took up this call. Song was offering an alternative to Confucian gender roles and to the secular-feminist vision developing in China at the time.

Likewise, the final chapter covers Song’s divine healing ministry, which offered an alternative to both traditional Chinese medicine and Western biomedicine. In the end, Song’s healing hands were unable to heal himself, and he died in 1944 after years of dealing with an anal fistula.

Ireland advances a theory about Song’s reinvention as part of a larger story of Chinese Christianity’s 20th-century development. Even more, he teases out how Song and Chinese Christianity offered an alternative to the path of exchanging a feudal past for a modern future. This new man and this new religion profoundly influenced the making of a new China.








Alexander Chow is senior lecturer in theology and world Christianity in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He is author of two books, most recently Chinese Public Theology: Generational Shifts and Confucian Imagination in Chinese Christianity.
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 -


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