+- +-

+- User

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

+-Stats ezBlock

Members
Total Members: 109
Latest: DrWho42
New This Month: 0
New This Week: 0
New Today: 0
Stats
Total Posts: 10716
Total Topics: 703
Most Online Today: 507
Most Online Ever: 771
(July 30, 2019, 01:13:39 am)
Users Online
Members: 0
Guests: 136
Total: 136

Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020  (Read 970 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« on: February 04, 2020, 11:02:24 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/tom-holland-dominion-christian-revolution.html






Christianity’s Influence on World History Is Real but Easily Overstated




Did the teachings of Jesus launch a sweeping revolution in human consciousness? Maybe, but we need better evidence.


Tom Holland’s Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World is a substantial work that makes a straightforward case. In Holland’s view, the teachings of Jesus constituted an ethical revolution that would gradually transform human consciousness, to the extent that we today find it hard to imagine credible alternative systems. When we see Christians, past or present, behaving in ways we may find abominable, in matters such as war, slavery, colonialism, or patriarchy, our disgusted attitudes must themselves be understood as products of that sweeping revolution. Without the existence of Christianity, it would not occur to us to abhor such things, whoever the perpetrators might be.

Beyond any single policy or attitude, Christianity mattered because it taught respect (or even veneration) for the poor and the oppressed. That implied the historically unprecedented exaltation of humility, forgiveness, and love. Moreover, the faith created the practical urge to offer aid and relief, to assist the poor, and (among other things) to reject infanticide. Christianity is the essential foundation of the liberal West, of democracy, and of notions of human rights. As the book’s jacket copy proclaims, “Concepts such as secularism, liberalism, science, and homosexuality are deeply rooted in a Christian seedbed. From Babylon to the Beatles, Saint Michael to #MeToo, Dominion tells the story of how Christianity transformed the world.”

Christian, or Western?

These are bold claims, to which I will certainly offer some caveats. What is not debatable is the very high quality of the book as a whole, and its appeal to anyone interested in Christian history. Rather than offering a straightforward narrative, Holland tells his story through 21 vignettes, each representing a particular historical moment, which he uses to advance his larger argument. Those together constitute three distinct eras of the church: Antiquity, Christendom, and a period he calls Modernitas, extending from roughly the middle of the 17th century to the present day.

The Antiquity section begins, winningly, with some pre-Christian examples, which serve to outline the framework from which the new order would emerge. Later, for instance, we have snapshot accounts of the issues and debates arising from Mount Tabor in Bohemia in 1420, St George’s Hill in England in 1649, or the Somme battlefield of 1916. In each case, Holland takes a specific incident as a launch pad for a wide-ranging account of related movements and themes, an approach that yields surprising and provocative connections. Thus, a section on “Lyon 177” naturally begins with the Gaulish persecution of that year, and the deeds of the church Father Irenaeus, but is soon conducting the reader through the following two centuries, through pivotal figures like Origen and sects like the Donatists. Some of Holland’s biographical sketches, such as that of Catherine of Siena, are effective, moving, and memorable.

I am confident that Holland could, if he chose, have expanded any or all of these quite rich vignettes to book-length studies in their own right. A reader feeling daunted by the whole book could very profitably dip into any of these chapters as a freestanding item. Although the book assumes little previous knowledge, the more familiarity readers have with the larger field, the more they will get out of this erudite work, and it repays multiple readings. This is a seriously rewarding project, well written and consistently thoughtful, and it can be heartily recommended.

But—and obviously there is a but—I would raise some objections. Looking through the list of vignettes, we must be struck by their overwhelmingly European focus, particularly upon Western Europe, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant. From the seventh through the 18th century, for instance, all the examples fit this category. You might find that reasonable, given that, during this era, Christianity had been seriously reduced from its earlier splendors in other parts of the world, such as Central Asia. But in Egypt and across the Middle East, those other churches persisted very strongly well into the 13th century and beyond. Nor, oddly, does Holland have much of note to say about Eastern Orthodox Christians, who right up to the First World War constituted perhaps a third of the world’s Christian believers.

In noting this, I am not just pleading for a larger number of representative examples, but mainly suggesting that perhaps the Christian reality Holland stresses—this supposed Christian revolution—hit some areas of the world and not others. If, for instance, we find that churches in France or Italy saw some values as fundamentally and integrally Christian, while the churches of Egypt or Syria did not, that does undermine the idea that the tradition of Jesus and his first followers inevitably led to certain conclusions or outcomes. We can hardly argue that the Coptic or Russian churches, for instance, just failed to receive the appropriate memos. Rather, it implies that those “revolutionary” values arose from a particular constellation of circumstances that affected Christians in (Western) Europe and Euro-America, but not elsewhere. They simply were not part of the faith’s original DNA, which exposes a weak point in his argument.

Holland justifies his exclusion of Orthodox and Eastern churches in an interesting way, declaring that he prefers to concentrate on “how we in the West came to be what we are, and to think the way that we do.” But if the model he uses does not apply outside the Christian West, then surely he can hardly claim to root it in Christianity itself. He is describing a Western revolution, which is not necessarily a Christian one. If those Western revolutionaries found scriptural justifications for their policies within the Christian tradition, they might just as well have found similar support elsewhere.

On a related point, it is far from obvious what the components of that Christian revolution might be. Just as Christian attitudes varied enormously around the world during the early-church era, so they were extremely diverse over the two millennia of the faith’s historical development. It is not clear, then, why the attitudes prevailing in one particular time or place should be privileged over the attitudes prevailing in other eras and regions.

That is especially true in matters of gender or sexuality, which have differed widely among Christian and Christian-derived societies. In my view, Holland does find himself overstretching at various points, as when he roots the #MeToo phenomenon in the Christian urge to sexual continence, especially in its Puritan manifestations. Could I not argue, in response, that sexual hedonism is equally a product of Christian-derived radical individualism? We begin to wonder which aspects of modern Western civilization could not be credited with ultimate Christian roots, with varying degrees of plausibility.

The Slavery Example
The challenge of assigning proper credit to Christian thought emerges clearly in the matter of slavery, to which Holland returns frequently. Most modern Christians would see slavery as antithetical to the faith, but other generations have held very different opinions. In the New Testament or the early-church era, we easily find remarks urging humane treatment of slaves. Owners were instructed to treat their slaves with humanity and compassion, avoiding brutality or sexual exploitation. They were encouraged to consider freeing or manumitting their slaves on easy or generous terms, which did not preclude replacing them with new arrivals.

Article continues below
But as Holland acknowledges, explicit condemnations of slavery as such, or outright calls for its abolition, are vanishingly rare, and they are not explicitly present in the New Testament itself. For whatever reasons, slavery became less common in medieval Europe, although it remained remarkably stubborn in particular societies. When the Normans invaded the great Christian kingdom of England in 1066, around one-tenth of the population they encountered were slaves, and slave raiding and trading were both key parts of economic life and political action. That was a full millennium after Paul’s time.

The brutal institution of slavery returned full-force in the early modern era, with the vast European exploitation of Africa. Yet from (say) 1450 through the 1760s, it is extremely difficult to find any vaguely mainstream Christian church, group, or individual challenging the institution of slavery as such. Even in the 1760s, that radical, new anti-slavery position was at first mainly a product of the Anglosphere. Before that point, abolitionist opinions, which seem so fundamental to us today, were the preserve of the most radical and marginal sects, such as the Quakers. Only in the 19th century did Christian advocates of slaveholding become a diminishing and ultimately insignificant minority, as Christian powers felt a moral obligation to fight the practice wherever it might appear.

On what basis, then, can we reasonably say that opposition to slavery and slave-holding grew directly or inevitably from Christian ethical principles? If that linkage seems so natural to us, it was not so for at least 80 percent of Christian history. Surely nobody is arguing that around 1760, Europeans suddenly opened their New Testaments for the first time and realized the horror of their policies.

Has Christianity remade the world? Yes. But did it launch the sort of across-the-board Christian revolution for which Holland contends? Maybe, but we really need better evidence.

Readers of Dominion will find themselves better informed, but they will also be repeatedly disturbed and provoked and driven to rethink just how they understand the relationship between religion and the development of culture. I mean that as high praise.








Philip Jenkins is distinguished professor of history at Baylor University. His many books include The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity (Oxford University Press) and The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (HarperOne).
« Last Edit: March 02, 2020, 06:07:45 pm by patrick jane »
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2020, 11:09:19 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-february/americans-are-having-fewer-children-evangelicals-are-no-exc.html






Americans Are Having Fewer Kids. Evangelicals Are No Exception.






Declining fertility rates and environmental crisis challenge our understandings of family, stewardship, and being a good neighbor.


Lily Jones Howard grew up in a church in southern California with a burgeoning children’s and youth ministry. The church held afternoon and evening AWANA clubs and ran separate junior high and high school youth groups. She compares that to the church she and her husband and two children attend now. The median age of members, she guesses, is about 65 or 70. “The pastor has said explicitly that children are the lifeblood of the church,” Howard said. The congregation makes an effort to welcome young families like hers.

In the near future, an increasing number of American evangelicals may find themselves with church experiences like the Howard family’s for one principal reason: evangelicals with children are slowly becoming harder to find.

Americans in general are having fewer children today than they did two generations ago. Spiking after World War II, the fertility rate declined to around two lifetime births per woman in the ‘80s and has hovered there since, according to the Pew Research Center. Evangelicals, however, had maintained higher than average fertility rates until recently, according to University of Oklahoma sociologists Samuel Perry and Cyrus Schleifer.

Perry and Schleifer analyzed data from several decades of the General Social Survey (GSS) and found that, between 1972 and 2016, conservative Protestants went from having six percent more children than mainline Protestants to roughly the same number. Painted in broad strokes, what this means is that evangelicals now seem to be having about the same number of children as anybody else in America.

Demographers, politicians, and pundits are all concerned about head counting as the 2020 US Census approaches on top of a presidential election. Some are concerned about the economic and social burdens of an aging population, while others worry about each new person’s carbon footprint.

Evangelicals also weigh seemingly conflicting concerns. Some see God’s command in Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply” as paramount, while others glean from the creation story a responsibility to steward creation, which might mean having fewer children.

How does having children fit into a broader vision of God’s kingdom? What values are informing—and what values should inform—our decisions around family size?

Declines Across the Board
Perry and Schleifer set out to explore how differences in religious commitment and belief might intersect with denominational affiliation in influencing childbearing decisions. Taking 44 consecutive annual samples of around 1,500 people who had completed their childbearing years (ages 45 and over), they compared the number of children born to Catholics, mainline Protestants, and conservative Protestants. Then they asked how factors like biblical literalism and regular church attendance affected family size.

According to their results, fertility has declined across Christian denominations, from an average of 2.7 children ever born in 1972 to 2.3 in 2016. The researchers looked at the effect that church attendance and a more literal view of the Bible had on a person’s family size. If mainline Protestants and Catholics attended church regularly, childbearing slightly increased. However, among conservative Protestants fertility rates declined regardless of attendance levels.

Perry surmises that this difference has to do with how evangelicals define themselves. “If you’re evangelical, you’re already pretty conservative,” he said. Church commitment and taking the Bible more literally come with being an evangelical. Within mainline Protestants and Catholics, however, there is a noticeable split between liberal and conservative types. Regular church attendance and belief in a literal interpretation of the Bible among these two groups, Perry said, indicate more traditional values, which correlate to higher fertility.

Economist Lyman Stone contends, however, that people who are more religious are still having more babies than others. “When you look at specific beliefs or religious behavior—religious people are becoming more distinctive. We’re not seeing this huge turn. There is still some fertility decline, but it’s far more modest,” he said.

Stone, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, points to a single survey: the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Survey (PRLS). Evangelicals averaged 2.3 children born, about 8 percent higher than the 2.1 national average. The Pew survey used a much larger one-time sample (over 35,000 adults) compared to the survey Perry and Schleifer used, which could make it a more accurate estimate of recent fertility rates.

Despite different outcomes, both Perry and Schleifer’s research and the Pew survey are in line with recent headlines: People are having fewer babies. Evangelicals are no exception.

The “Mainstreaming” of Evangelical Christianity
Mandy Cobb and her husband struggled for years to conceive and underwent multiple fertility treatments. Their son’s birth in 2015 was traumatic, including an emergency C-section and ICU stays for both mother and baby. They won’t be having more biological children for health reasons, and while adoption has been discussed, Cobb said, it would probably just be one. “Having more than two or three would alter my mental sanity.”

Cobb is a full-time working mother, coordinating a radiation program for a technical college in Georgia. “I absolutely love what I do,” she said. Knowing that she wants to keep working, having a lot of children doesn’t make sense financially. “The more kids I have, the more I’d be working to pay for childcare,” she said.

While Cobb’s story can’t be reduced to sociological trends, it offers a glimpse into how evangelicals’ thoughts around childbearing are changing.

In the latter 20th century, evangelicals began shifting from their separatist, fundamentalist roots and engaging more across society. The changing role of women, said Baylor University historian Philip Jenkins, is one of the biggest factors influencing downward fertility trends. Research shows an inverse correlation between women’s educational attainment and family size. As evangelical women like Cobb increasingly work outside the home, it changes their calculus around family size.

Another related factor is marital status and age at marriage. Evangelical marriage rates dipped from 59 to 55 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to Pew. They follow the pattern of Americans as a whole, marrying at later ages and sometimes foregoing marriage and children altogether. Delayed marriage, Stone said, may explain much of the fertility decline in the past two decades, as married women have more children than unmarried women.

This all points to the larger trend Perry identified—the “mainstreaming” of evangelicals since the 1970s. Simply put, evangelicals are absorbing many of the values of the surrounding culture, which itself is becoming less religious (26 percent of American adults identified as “nones” in 2019, up from 17 percent in 2009).

Changing Views on Children
Victoria Riollano and her husband live in Northern Virginia and have six children, from ages one to 12. Her family gets plenty of stares when they leave the house. “Once you get to three, people start looking at you like you have three heads,” she said. As their numbers grew, Riollano felt called by God to stand up for her family, rather than accept the assumptions. When people remark, “You have your hands full,” she replies, “I’m so blessed,” or “Yes, but they are good helpers,” pointing to the older children. She doesn’t want her children to get the message that they are a nuisance, which is how she felt growing up as one of two children.

Article continues below
For Riollano, raising children is an integral part of her calling as a Christian. She goes back to Genesis 1:28, when God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to, “Be fruitful and multiply.” “That’s part of our commitment to God. Children are for keeping the name, the legacy alive,” she said.

Riollano contrasts her view to that of her generation, which she said sees children as optional, having them “if it’s convenient for me.” Indeed, views of children have changed dramatically from past generations, when children were integral to the family economy, whether as farm hands or wage earners.

The widespread availability of contraception has also changed how we think about childbearing. A century ago, noted the Baylor researcher Jenkins, everyone had about the same number of children, regardless of religion, because they didn’t have options otherwise. While some forms of contraception were available earlier, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the use of reliable, long-term birth control such as the Pill and IUDs became commonplace.

“Protestants jumped into the contraception and birth control movement with two feet,” said Wheaton College theologian Emily McGowin. “We didn’t think a lot about what we were buying into.” It’s no surprise to McGowin that we are still struggling to articulate a consistent, faithful vision for children and families. Theologically, “it’s going to take a good hundred years to actually come to terms with this,” she said.

In the meantime, declines in fertility rates bring new urgency to these questions: Why have children? What are families for?

Are Children Biblically Mandated?
Many evangelicals would agree with Riollano that childbearing, if you’re able to, is part of the biblical mandate in Genesis. “We are told that children are a blessing and gift from God,” the economist Stone said. “There is a cultural change going on among Christians—we are choosing not to read the biblical passages about the joy and beauty and excellence of large families.”

Others question whether God’s command to Adam and Eve applies to us today, or whether it was even a command at all. “We’ve already multiplied,” said Lisa McMinn, sociologist and writer in residence at George Fox University. “There is a population and resource issue, and the best way to love our children and to love the future’s children and to love, really, all people, or all children, will be to limit our family size,” she told CT in 2010.

Meghan Rogers-Czarnecki, who has two biological children and one adopted child, sees it as a story of God creating humankind to watch over and care for creation. “That’s really our purpose. We’ve morphed it into just caring about people,” she said. Even caring for people, she added, involves stewarding its resources for future generations.

Rogers-Czarnecki grew up in a Quaker church in Oregon where creation care is central to their faith. If she had taken the time to think through things more thoroughly when she and her husband first married, she said, she would have just adopted. In a time when non-renewable resources are being rapidly depleted and the disastrous effects of climate change are becoming apparent, “it seems irresponsible to grow our population,” she said. This applies especially in America, where we consume such a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources. And, Rogers-Czarnecki added, “many kids need homes.”

Article continues below
Stone believes such thinking is misguided. Carbon emissions are the problem, not population, he said. It is an issue of “policy, resource allocation, and innovation… It puts the cart before the horse to try to fix climate change by reducing the number of people who will enjoy the world we save,” he said. Stone sees stewardship—of the earth and of one’s finances—as for the sake of the family, not the other way around.

But, McGowin points out, there is not one unbroken view of family throughout the Bible. The Old Testament has a different vision than the New Testament, which itself is not particularly family-friendly. “Jesus very much relativizes biological family for the sake of discipleship to him. Paul is ambivalent about it,” McGowin said.

From McGowin’s perspective, the family gains its significance in the new covenant in relationship to the church. “The church is the institution, the body, that will endure into the new heavens and earth. The body of Christ is primary. The primary work of the family, as part of the household of God, is to make disciples—disciples of the parents as well as the children. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should have more (kids),” McGowin said.

Matthew Sleeth, founder of the creation care organization Blessed Earth, argues that Jesus’s command to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) outweighs the Genesis command. “We are to ‘teach,’ not out-procreate, all nations,” Sleeth wrote in Serve God, Save the Planet.

Aging and Shrinking Communities
The Washington Post recently ran a dismal report on Maine, the oldest state in the country with a fifth of the population older than 65. Its growing number of older adults require more home health care and nursing homes, but there are not enough workers. As a result, an increasing number of elderly people are not getting the care they need, and families struggle to fill in the gaps. According to the article, Maine’s situation is a preview of the nation’s future.

Evangelical churches are aging along with the rest of the country. The median age of evangelical adults rose from 47 to 49 between 2007 and 2014, according to Pew. While evangelical numbers continue to grow, they are starting to decline as a percentage of the nation’s population. Perry and Schleifer predict that, if fertility rates continue along the same downward trend, the evangelical population will start to shrink.

Some denominations are already shrinking. The Southern Baptist Convention, for instance, the largest denomination in the country, lost 1.4 percent of its members from 2007 to 2014, according to Pew. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod lost .3 percent. While adults leaving the denomination play a role, most of the declines, Perry said, may have to do with people having less children.

Using Pew numbers for current fertility rates, as well as rates of adults leaving and entering denominations, Stone calculated the average number of children that women would need to have in order to maintain current numbers. Baptists would need a minimum average of 2.58 children per woman. In 2014, the actual number of children they had per woman over 45 was 2.27. In contrast, Pentecostals, who bring in more members through conversion than they lose to apostasy, need only an average of 1.89 children per woman for their denomination not to shrink. In 2014, they were having 2.7 per woman.

Article continues below
Some may look at the numbers and see a need to shore up evangelism efforts, bringing more converts into the faith to make up for losses from lower fertility. Stone points out the need to be realistic. “Statistically, it takes about 30-40 Christians to evangelize one adult,” he said.

North Park University theologian Soong-Chan Rah sees another way. “The standard approach to church growth has been biological and conversion growth,” he said. A third element, however, is immigration.

Rah points out that while many white evangelical churches are seeing membership declines, immigrant and ethnic minority churches are thriving. “There is an incredible movement of people around the world coming to us. Immigrants are a population stop-gap, able to fill in where the post-boomer generation did not have the numbers.”

Many immigrants are also committed Christians, Rah said, and fill in a spiritual gap. “We’re looking at this answer God sent. But because of our nativism, racism, and anti-immigrant stance, many Christians are not receiving it.”

While immigration may be part of the answer, it may not be enough, especially for the long-term, Jenkins said. The birth rates of immigrants, which is typically higher, synchronizes with the general population after a generation or two. Fertility rates in sending countries are also plummeting. Mexico, for instance, has seen a decline in total fertility from about 7 per woman in the 1960s to 2.2 today.

Digging Down to the Values
Whether one leans toward moral arguments for having more or fewer children, “it’s easy to cast all of this as bad or good, being dualistic, rather than think about the core values that are driving [the trends],” McMinn said.

Evangelicals are having fewer children for many, overlapping reasons. Perry encourages Christians to consider how secular values influence our own, such as whether consumerism drives us to work more to have more stuff, making a big family more unfeasible. “To what degree am I being influenced by what Jesus wants me to do or to what degree am I internalizing or reflecting what the broader society says I should prioritize?” he said.

At the same time, Perry said, many families are limiting their size because women want to play a broader role in society outside of childrearing, which he affirms. “If reversing this trend requires women not going to college and not going to work, it’s going to be difficult to get in front of the church and scold women for earning, exercising their gifts, and putting their kids in daycare,” he said.

While Europe has long had a reputation for generous family leave policies, in recent years some European countries have begun offering more aggressive economic incentives to encourage women to have children and reverse population decline. Hungary, for example, where far-right president Viktor Orbán recently put forth a “procreation, not immigration” policy, gives large families steep tax breaks and interest-free loans. “At the core of a lot of those policies is a concern about [a white population] being outbred,” Perry said. If we are having more children to “fight off the brown hordes” that will change a nation’s culture and makeup, Christians may have a prophetic voice in speaking against such values, while still supporting family-oriented policies.

Parenting into the Future
In Portland, Oregon, Daniel Holcomb and his wife and three children live in a 900-square-foot house with a big yard. They’ve thought intentionally about their house size and the number of children they have, considering their own social and emotional parenting capacities and their family’s impact on the environment.

Article continues below
Holcomb, who grew up as a missionary kid in East Africa and has traveled extensively, has seen the financial strain of having extremely large families. He has also seen the emotional and elder care gap families experience when, in only a generation or two, they shrink from having eight or ten children to having just one or none.

In Portland, he regularly comes up against anti-human sentiment, a sense that people are what’s wrong with the world and shaming those who do have children. He talks with his children, ages 3 to 9, about these messages. He wants them to have “an understanding that they are created in God’s image” but at the same time know that “humans can be really bad stewards of the environment.” They talk about endangered species, how ecosystems work, and how even spiders and ants play a role. On their own property, they’ve created a forest-garden with plants and flowers that will sustain the bee population.

Holcomb and his wife wrestled with the environmental impact that children would have but concluded that their children could have a positive impact for future generations. “We try as much as we can, even at a younger age, to encourage each of the kids to be protectors and good stewards of the natural world around them rather than just seeing it as resources to be used and exploited,” Holcomb said.

Recently, seeing firsthand how services and care can break down when there are not enough younger people to fill positions, he has also started to view childbearing in terms of being a good neighbor. It is a way that “Christians can have the numbers to care for either their actual parents or parents in the body of Christ,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb acknowledges that he can’t control the outcome. “We hold their futures loosely. They’re their own people.” Not everybody is called to it, he said, and not everyone is able to. But for those that do, “it can be one of the longest-term discipleship relationships in a person’s life. Having children can be a way to bless the world and others.”







Liuan Huska is a writer living in the Chicago area. Her forthcoming book on chronic illness is publishing with InterVarsity Press.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2020, 11:39:52 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-february/god-works-within-us-and-beyond-us.html





God Works Within Us and Beyond Us




It’s surprisingly hard to remember that “our” ministry is actually God’s doing.


I have to confess, when I took a job working with college students, I was apprehensive. God’s call seemed to be there, and I love the ministry field, but I worried about heading back and facing the familiar vicious cycle of anxiety, despair, and competitive pride.

If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time, you know the temptation to ride high when it seems like numbers are up and students (or members) are happy with you. Or the flipside: the worry that floods your heart when you don’t see a student for a few months; the creeping despair that your work has been ineffective and in vain when you are having the same conversation about the same sins over and over; the self-reproach when you see the “success” of the ministry up the street
But God, in his kindness, has been working on my heart with two weighty doctrines about how he works to bu.
ild his church: dual causality and providence. Put more simply: God is at work within you and beyond you.

We see these principles at work in Paul’s important discussion of ministry with the Corinthians. Here he’s dealing with the divisions and party spirit that had arisen in Corinth, with folks picking teams and favorite apostles. To this he replies, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor. 3:5-7).

First, Paul says we need to get clear that all true spiritual growth comes from God. Enough, then, with fixating on human workers—even ourselves. Despite all outward appearances, ultimately God is the one working effectively to call sinners to himself, cleansing them, redeeming them, conforming them to the image of his Son. All credit, all glory, all honor is due to God for the work that he does to build his church. Paul reorients our thoughts about ministry by reminding us it’s not about us, “for faith allows no glorying except in Christ alone” (John Calvin).

Second, after putting human work in its place, so to speak, it’s not the case that our labor means nothing. Planting is true work, as is watering. And God has chosen to use, to work within and through, human “servants, through whom you came to believe.” In theology, we hold these two truths together by talking about the idea of “dual causality.”

By talking about “dual causality,” we’re emphasizing the fact God is not just one actor among other actors in history; he is history’s author, the Creator who upholds all things by the word of his power. It’s not the case that either you work or he works. His work isn’t competitive with our work; he is the actor above all actors, the cause underlying every cause, who can truly work in and through us.

As Paul says elsewhere, he proclaims and toils for the gospel: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:29). By his Holy Spirit, God is at work within you and through you. If you take up his Word, take comfort in knowing your work isn’t void or in vain, because God never allows it to be voided: “It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Third, thankfully God is at work beyond you. Paul talks about one planting, another watering, and God giving the growth. The important thing to catch here is that God is always at work in all things—even those things that don’t involve you and you don’t even see.

So that lost sheep you’ve labored to find for months, who won’t return your calls? Trust that God is still at work beyond your ability to see it. Or that other congregant who decided the ministry up the street was a better fit? It might be disappointing at first, but in God’s economy, “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose” (1 Cor. 3:8). This is the doctrine of providence at work in ministry.

Little surprise, then, that the solution to my fears and anxieties about returning to gospel ministry find their answer in the God of the gospel himself.





Derek Rishmawy is the Reformed University Fellowship campus minister at UC-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 -


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

Bladerunner

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • My Friend
  • Location: Tennessee, USA
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2020, 08:35:23 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-february/god-works-within-us-and-beyond-us.html





God Works Within Us and Beyond Us




It’s surprisingly hard to remember that “our” ministry is actually God’s doing.


I have to confess, when I took a job working with college students, I was apprehensive. God’s call seemed to be there, and I love the ministry field, but I worried about heading back and facing the familiar vicious cycle of anxiety, despair, and competitive pride.

If you’ve been in ministry for any amount of time, you know the temptation to ride high when it seems like numbers are up and students (or members) are happy with you. Or the flipside: the worry that floods your heart when you don’t see a student for a few months; the creeping despair that your work has been ineffective and in vain when you are having the same conversation about the same sins over and over; the self-reproach when you see the “success” of the ministry up the street
But God, in his kindness, has been working on my heart with two weighty doctrines about how he works to bu.
ild his church: dual causality and providence. Put more simply: God is at work within you and beyond you.

We see these principles at work in Paul’s important discussion of ministry with the Corinthians. Here he’s dealing with the divisions and party spirit that had arisen in Corinth, with folks picking teams and favorite apostles. To this he replies, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor. 3:5-7).

First, Paul says we need to get clear that all true spiritual growth comes from God. Enough, then, with fixating on human workers—even ourselves. Despite all outward appearances, ultimately God is the one working effectively to call sinners to himself, cleansing them, redeeming them, conforming them to the image of his Son. All credit, all glory, all honor is due to God for the work that he does to build his church. Paul reorients our thoughts about ministry by reminding us it’s not about us, “for faith allows no glorying except in Christ alone” (John Calvin).

Second, after putting human work in its place, so to speak, it’s not the case that our labor means nothing. Planting is true work, as is watering. And God has chosen to use, to work within and through, human “servants, through whom you came to believe.” In theology, we hold these two truths together by talking about the idea of “dual causality.”

By talking about “dual causality,” we’re emphasizing the fact God is not just one actor among other actors in history; he is history’s author, the Creator who upholds all things by the word of his power. It’s not the case that either you work or he works. His work isn’t competitive with our work; he is the actor above all actors, the cause underlying every cause, who can truly work in and through us.

As Paul says elsewhere, he proclaims and toils for the gospel: “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:29). By his Holy Spirit, God is at work within you and through you. If you take up his Word, take comfort in knowing your work isn’t void or in vain, because God never allows it to be voided: “It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Third, thankfully God is at work beyond you. Paul talks about one planting, another watering, and God giving the growth. The important thing to catch here is that God is always at work in all things—even those things that don’t involve you and you don’t even see.

So that lost sheep you’ve labored to find for months, who won’t return your calls? Trust that God is still at work beyond your ability to see it. Or that other congregant who decided the ministry up the street was a better fit? It might be disappointing at first, but in God’s economy, “The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose” (1 Cor. 3:8). This is the doctrine of providence at work in ministry.

Little surprise, then, that the solution to my fears and anxieties about returning to gospel ministry find their answer in the God of the gospel himself.





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

Not a good place to be.
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 08:57:43 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/rr-reno-return-strong-gods-nationalism-populism.html






Are Nationalism and Populism the Cure for What Ails the West?





The “strong gods” of old are knocking at the door. We ought to be wary of letting them inside.


This November’s presidential election could be understood in many different ways. It could be seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s eventful first four years in the White House. It could be viewed as a response to the president’s impeachment and acquittal in Congress. Or perhaps it could be taken as just the latest election in which a majority of Americans are frustrated with an uninspired, binary choice. But there is a larger narrative unfolding in the mind of First Things editor R. R. Reno, with much more at stake than just the next four years.

In Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West, Reno traces the condition of Western society in the aftermath of the “postwar consensus.” Prioritizing openness and free markets in order to prevent global catastrophes like the two world wars, this consensus has shaped the most influential thinking of our age, from Karl Popper and Jacques Derrida to Friedrich Hayek and William F. Buckley. Reno says it has affected most aspects of society and culture, including politics, economics, education, and even architecture.

In terms of preventing another global conflict, the postwar consensus has been an unmitigated success. But at what cost? As Reno tells the story, the West is now facing several pressing challenges that ought to be laid at its doorstep, including widespread addiction, disenchantment, and loneliness, along with a general loss of social solidarity. And the ruling class—comprised of liberals and conservatives alike—is too focused on maintaining this consensus to notice or care. Yes, countries may not be perpetually on the brink of war, and free trade has made the world more prosperous and closely connected than ever before. But while the postwar consensus has safeguarded and strengthened the global community, Reno sees a loosening of the ties binding individuals to community and nation, ties that lend their lives stability and purpose.

Unifying Forces
Notably, in assigning blame for these developments, Reno does not focus on just one faction of the political ruling class. He has no shortage of criticism for the political left, referring to identity politics as a “cancer” and expressing impatience with those who “despise patriotic ceremonies and traditions.” But he also takes to task those on the political right who have bought into the postwar consensus—proponents of free market capitalism, he believes, have contributed just as much to the hollowing out of Western society as cultural liberals have.

Reno does not believe we can correct these problems under our current political and social arrangement. As he writes in his prologue, “We need to face the challenges of the twenty-first century, not the twentieth.” Instead, he argues, Western society must welcome back the “strong gods” it once tossed aside. What exactly are these strong gods? One is clearly nationalism, which Reno equates with “cherish[ing] self-government.” The postwar consensus demonized nationalism as a driver of conflict, but Reno sees it—and its cousin, patriotism—as a positive force for unity at a moment when society is remarkably fractured. Two other strong gods are the family and the church, institutions that started breaking down as the postwar consensus emphasized other, potentially competing values.

But if there is a leader among the strong gods, it is populism. This is a belief system bigger than Donald Trump or Brexit or Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister. Populism, according to Reno, challenges the hegemony of the “leadership class.” It emphasizes “strong borders, not open ones; advantageous trade, not open trade; loyalty and patriotism, not open minds.” And it reflects “a growing sense that ‘we’ needs shoring up.” Reno believes that by embracing the strong gods of populism, nationalism, and the like, the West can address the negative effects of the postwar consensus, effectively confront the challenges of the past century, and put itself on a stable footing going forward.

Return of the Strong Gods is sweeping yet concise—the ground Reno covers in just 170 pages is impressive. But the book’s weaknesses are clear in part because of that very succinctness. One consistent problem with Reno’s work is the lack of support he lends to his secondary claims. For example, when discussing the problems of modern education, he writes, “Most education professionals think it’s good for young children to have transgender teachers.” While we occasionally see stories of drag queens in libraries and gender fluidity in the classroom, it is something else to claim without evidence that “most educational professionals” recognize this as a good in itself. A collection of anecdotes does not a consensus make. Reno’s characterization about those protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration—“overwrought women in ridiculous hats”—is similarly problematic and ultimately unhelpful.

The book also occasionally falls prey to odd errors and omissions. For example, in criticizing Barack Obama’s infamous observation that many in the white working class “cling to [their] guns or religion,” Reno writes that Obama’s remark was directed toward “those who were insufficiently appreciative of his leadership.” But Obama said this during his first presidential campaign in 2008, in the context of a larger description of people being left behind by the same leadership class Reno is inclined to criticize. And though Reno critiques the “open borders” sentiment that permeates the postwar consensus, he omits any discussion of the waves of immigration during other periods of American history. In his discussion of the “shared loves” that fuel patriotic attachment, for example, what would he make of the experience of Ellis Island?

Reasons for Skepticism
The message at the heart of Return of the Strong Gods may be tempting for Christians. The central critique of the postwar consensus is that it has transformed society from a connected, united, and shared community to an atomized, anomic shell its past self. Of course, Christians should seek community with those around us, and if the postwar consensus has made that more difficult, then why shouldn’t Christians oppose this arrangement? And there is plenty to lament about the state of contemporary society from a Christ-centered perspective, including the well-documented decline of the traditional family unit and the diminishing influence of the church in our culture.

But are the strong gods the answer? There are reasons for Christians to be skeptical. The values of nationalism and patriotism are not inherently bad, but elevating them the way Reno wants could turn them into the very idols he decries. Moreover, this book conjures some of the more worrisome features of recent debates over the heritage and future of “liberalism” in the West. Culturally conservative writers like Sohrab Ahmari and Patrick Deneen have taken aim at America’s emphasis on individual rights and freedoms, blaming the liberal tradition for undermining faith, family, community, and the common good. Yet as other (equally culturally conservative) writers like David French have countered, Christians need not abandon the whole of liberalism simply because it produces some results they do not like; indeed, this would be a case of the cure being worse than the ailment. Liberalism long predates the postwar consensus, of course, but I cannot help wondering whether a similar caution applies to Reno.

Article continues below
As we continue to struggle with our role in a changing, increasingly inhospitable culture, we would be wise to remember where our identity ultimately lies: neither in our nation nor in our culture, but wholly and completely in Jesus. Such knowledge should equip us to engage our culture in a way that confidently transcends its conventions, rather than shaping our behavior and solutions to the culture as it is or has been. Put differently, Christians can respond to the challenges of the postwar consensus without embracing a return to some sort of pre–postwar consensus.

Despite its shortcomings, Return of the Strong Gods is successful in prompting serious reflection on the challenges of our moment. And considering that the strong gods do appear to be knocking on the door of the West, this is precisely the sort of reflection in which Christians ought to be engaged.






Daniel Bennett teaches political science at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He is the author of Defending Faith: The Politics of the Christian Conservative Legal Movement (University Press of Kansas).
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2020, 09:19:18 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/priestly-celibacy-pope-francis-amazon-synod-archives.html







Celibate Priests: What You Need to Know


After the Amazonian Synod, the Catholic stance on clerical celibacy remains unchanged. Here's how CT has covered this issue over the years.


One of the most significant and contentious issues under discussion during the Catholic Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, held in October 2019, was the question of whether to allow married men in that region to become priests. The reason for this consideration is the significant shortage of priests among indigenous people groups in the Amazon region. Due to the shortage, many indigenous Catholics in that region are unable to regularly celebrate the mass and receive other forms of pastoral care. After months of reflection, Pope Francis responded to the Synod in Querida Amazonía without directly addressing the issue of allowing married men to become priests, thus leaving the current expectation of clerical celibacy unchanged.

What Scripture Says


The Bible affirms the value of celibacy for both lay Christians and church leaders, most notably in 1 Corinthians 7. In this passage, Paul speaks of his own unmarried state (vv. 7–8) and commends celibacy as a way to focus on pleasing the Lord (vv. 32–35). Paul emphasizes the liberty unmarried Christians have in contrast to the obligations married Christians have to their families. Paul’s reference to avoiding entanglement in “civilian affairs” in 2 Timothy 2:4 is also thought to refer, at least in part, to singleness and celibacy. It is important to note that, alongside its discussion of celibacy, 1 Corinthians 7 also clearly affirms Christian marriage. Further, multiple passages of Scripture speak directly about married church leaders, including specific instructions about married bishops or overseers (1 Tim. 3:2), elders (Titus 1:6), and deacons (1 Tim. 3:12).

Celibacy in Church History

Priestly celibacy was discussed and debated by Christian leaders during the earliest centuries of the church, including at the Council of Nicaea. While some at that time upheld celibacy as an ideal state for clergy, others opposed requiring it. Bishop Paphnutius (who was himself unmarried) opposed placing that expectation upon church leaders, saying “too heavy a yoke ought not to be laid upon the clergy,” and that “marriage and married intercourse are of themselves honorable and undefiled.” Within Eastern Orthodoxy, the Council in Trullo (A.D. 625) affirmed that men who were already married could be ordained to the priesthood, though unmarried priests could not marry after ordination. Within Catholicism, clerical celibacy continued to be viewed as ideal by many, and various ecclesial rulings in the early centuries of Christendom supported this view. The expectation that Catholic priests be celibate was clarified and more strictly enforced beginning in the 11th century under Pope Gregory VII. After the Reformation, many Protestant leaders (notably Martin Luther) affirmed marriage and family life for clergy.

Why Catholic Priests are Celibate
A primary reason Catholic priests are unmarried and celibate is the Catholic belief that a priest acts in persona Christi—that he acts “in the person of” or as a representation of Christ. Because Jesus was unmarried, priests are to model themselves after Christ’s example. The Catechism of the Catholic Church further expounds that priests are “called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord,’ [1 Cor. 7:32]” in order that they can “give themselves entirely to God and to men.” The Catechism emphasizes that this priestly celibacy “radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.”

Not All Priests are Celibate
Today, it is important to note that within Eastern Catholic rites married men are commonly ordained as priests; the emphasis on priestly singleness and celibacy is found primarily within the Latin (or Western) rite of the Catholic church. In some rare cases, the Latin rite also allows married men to become priests if they previously served as ministers within specific Protestant denominations prior to their conversion to Catholicism.

CT on Priestly Celibacy
Christianity Today has examined the topic of clerical celibacy in a variety of ways throughout the years. Here are some of our most important articles on this topic:

Celibacy: A Christian Option
EDITORIAL | CT MAGAZINE
Celibacy: A Christian Option
In this 1969 editorial, CT reflected upon Paul’s teachings about celibacy and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, posing important questions for both Protestants and Catholics. The topic of priestly celibacy was covered many times in CT during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, in part due to a 1971 Catholic synod that discussed the possibility of ordaining married men in Latin America. You can read some of CT’s coverage of priests speaking out against celibacy here, as well as our coverage of the 1971 synod here and here.

Taking Care of (Church) Business
Taking Care of (Church) Business
More was decided at the Council of Nicaea than the nature of Christ.
PAUL L. MAIER
While the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 primarily focused on discussing Christ’s divine nature and confronting the heresy of Arianism, church leaders also discussed a variety of other issues, including clerical celibacy. This article explains why the council decided not to require it.

The Character Question
The Character Question
How the church has answered throughout history.
BRUCE L. SHELLEY
Here, historian Bruce L. Shelley explores various visions of pastoral leadership throughout church history, including a discussion of clerical celibacy and monastacism in the fourth century and beyond.

Luther: Father of the Christian Home
Luther: Father of the Christian Home
He forged a new concept of marriage and the family.
THOMAS F. MILLER
This 1983 article describes Martin Luther’s transition from celibate monk to married man and father, detailing some of his teachings regarding marriage.

A Preventable Tragedy
A Preventable Tragedy
Evangelicals must not pretend to be immune to sexual sin by clergy or volunteers
A CHRISTIANITY TODAY EDITORIAL
Two Cheers for Celibacy
Two Cheers for Celibacy
People who expect a sudden reversal of the century long clerical requirement show an inadequate understanding of why the Vatican is committed to this policy
CHRISTIANITY TODAY EDITORIAL
In 2002, CT published two editorials related to this topic. “A Preventable Tragedy” comments on child sexual abuse in both Catholic and Protestant settings, refuting the idea of directly linking celibacy to abuse. “Two Cheers for Celibacy” further addresses the sexual abuse of minors, as well as the problem of noncelibate homosexual clergy within the U.S. Catholic church. It makes the case for allowing marriage within the priesthood while continuing to affirm the value of clerical celibacy.

Catholic Leaders Are Discussing Married Priests, Female Church Leadership, and Climate Change
QUICK TO LISTEN | 47 min
Catholic Leaders Are Discussing Married Priests, Female Church Leadership, and Climate Change
What Protestants need to know about Pope Francis’s Amazon Synod.
CT’s fall 2019 Quick to Listen podcast featured an episode discussing the Amazonian Synod, including the Pope’s consideration of allowing married priests among the Amazon’s indigeonous people groups.

Pope Francis's Emerging Revolution
SPEAKING OUT
Pope Francis's Emerging Revolution
I'm not a Catholic, but each day brings more encouraging news about the new bishop of Rome.
KENNETH TANNER
Here, Protestant pastor Kenneth Tanner shares his own reflections on the unique nature of Pope Francis’ approach to ministry, including his views on celibacy, his vision for active ministry, and his dedication to the poor.

The Forgotten Alternative in First Corinthians 7
The Forgotten Alternative in First Corinthians 7
TERRI WILLIAMS
In this piece, Terri Williams discusses 1 Corinthians 7 as she reflects on the value of celibacy for single Christians and advocates that celibacy be honored in the church.

Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?
If being unmarried was good enough for Jesus and Paul...
MARK ALMLIE
Are We Afraid of Single Pastors? (Part 2)
Are We Afraid of Single Pastors? (Part 2)
Where did the prejudice against single pastors come from, and how do we move past it?
MARK ALMLIE
While celibacy is required for Latin-rite Catholic priests, many Protestant churches have an unspoken opposite expectation: that their pastors be married. In this two-part series, Mark Almie provides a Protestant case for valuing and honoring the ministry of unmarried, celibate pastors. Almie notes that “For the first 1,500 years of church history, singleness, not marriage, was lauded as next to godliness. Let me say that again—for the first fifteen hundred years.”

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


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2020, 12:29:27 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/coronavirus-doctor-whistleblower-christian-li-wenliang.html






It Doesn’t Matter If the Coronavirus Whistleblower Was a Christian




There’s little evidence of his faith. The church has something to learn from his life anyway.


On February 7, the internet realm was jammed with news of the death of the Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, and the whole network was filled with a strong feeling of sadness. There were rumors late last night that Li died of his illness, but some people said he was still under treatment. All kinds of news made hundreds of millions of netizens worried and confused.

Until the early hours of February 7, Li Wenliang’s hospital (Wuhan Central Hospital) released this message on its official micro-blog: “Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in our hospital, in the fight against the new coronavirus infection, was unfortunately infected. After all efforts were made to rescue him, he died on February 7, at 2:58 a.m. We are deeply sorry and mourn for him.”

On the internet, people mourned for and remembered him in many ways, especially because Li Wenliang was one of the earliest discoverers of the pneumonia outbreak, and thus became one of the original eight “rumor mongers.”

On December 30, 2019, after hearing colleagues saying that the hospital’s emergency department had quarantined seven SARS patients from Wuhan South China Seafood Market, Li Wenliang posted the news for the first time in a social media group of more than 150 college alumni and explained: “To define it as SARS is not very accurate. It should be a kind of coronavirus and the specific categorization is yet to be confirmed.” He warned the group to watch out for prevention, but also particularly stressed on not spreading the news yet.

Despite his group warning, a WeChat screenshot of “7 confirmed SARS patients from South China Seafood Market” was eventually circulated and had a large number of retweets online. Ultimately, it attracted the attention of the local police and the matter temporarily ended in Li receiving an official warning from the local authority.

However, as the truth of the outbreak gradually surfaced, the name of Li Wenliang, “the rumor monger,” began to enter the public eye. The 34-year-old young doctor was also affectionately known in the media and among the netizens as “the outbreak ‘whistleblower.’”

Li died young and the public reacted overwhelmingly. At noon on February 7, the government announced “with the approval of the Central Committee, the State Monitoring Committee decided to send an investigative team to Wuhan City, Hubei Province, to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the relevant issues concerning Dr. Li Wenliang as reflected by the public,” which caused great public concern!

Meanwhile on the Christian internet…
In the Christian online community, however, there is a different picture. Many Christian WeChat groups are retweeting a message that Li Wenliang was a Christian, like Luke in the Bible.

To this end, many Christians on the internet go about telling each other, acting very exuberantly, as if this is not the time to express grief but to sing Hallelujah to praise the Lord’s great moment! Many brothers exclaimed how so many Christians were saying that Li Wenliang was a Christian in their WeChat moments.

There are also many Christian public platforms taking the chance to launch hot tweets, raising the matter to a spiritual height by commemorating him. For instance, there are claims that Li “gloriously returned to his heavenly home,” “he rested in the Lord’s arms,” and some are even like this: “Latest Breaking News! Dr. Li Wenliang was a brother in Christ,” as if discovering the New World...

For a while, in the Christian networks, the style of paying tribute to Li has completely changed, which is totally different from the former mourning scene: Because some Christians think that Li Wenliang “gloriously returned to his heavenly home,” they give applause and flowers not for cheering for him daring to tell the truth, but for cheering for his “returned to his home.”

Some of the Christian public platforms even commemorate him in Paul’s voice, excavating its “spiritual significance” as if Li was like Paul who fought a “good fight”:

“Paul said: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearance’ (2 Tim. 4:7-8). Every Christian who does his duty in his job is a wonderful witness to Christ, and he is fighting that wonderful battle for the Lord.”

In order to further “elevate,” there is a message with a picture that says, “Harvard Medical School in the United States, for Dr. Li Wenliang, lowered its flag at half-mast.” In fact, this is a rumor, because it has been pointed out that Harvard was flying the flag at half-mast for an alumnus, Stephen P. Dretler.

Just as many Christians are cheering for the sudden discovery that Li Wenliang was a “brother in the Lord,” there are astute Christians who have questioned where the news that Li was a Christian came from and whether it was confirmed that he was going to any church. The rumor only says that the news came from the churches in Wuhan; but given that Wuhan is so big with so many churches, it leaves out the question of the exact church.

In this unusual period, rumors spread fast. By comprehensively processing the information on the network, it is concluded that Li must have been to the church, and even participated in a Bible study, but he was not baptized. Looking at his tweets, there is no trace of a Christian faith. On the internet, some brothers also pointed out that if Li was really a Christian, in a critical condition, then his church should have released a message of prayer on his behalf; but the network is devoid of any specific prayer message/request for Li, despite several of such on behalf of other brothers and sisters. So, according to these criteria, Li was not a Christian.

Interestingly, the original Christian platform that announced that Li was a Christian soon issued a message in a bid to “prevent the rumor” by changing the “Christian” Li Wenliang into an “interested individual” (a faith seeker to Christianity). As a result, its tweet title was changed to: “Remembrance of Brother Li's (a faith seeker) Glorious Return to His Heavenly Home.”

The cases of “Christian celebrity” glamour
Li Wenliang was an ordinary man. Only by suffering from this unprecedented outbreak of coronavirus did he become the center of public attention, which is why his name is well known to the point of being hailed as a hero. Therefore, there is no doubt that Li Wenliang went viral.

Therefore, many Christians hope that Li Wenliang was also a Christian just as the previous expectation that Yang Liwei, the astronaut, was a Christian. It is the same psychological logic. It is too wishful an expectation that people believe it will rain when they hear the wind. They seem to feel that these celebrities can give their faith “glamour.” At the end of the day, the fact that many Christians believe that Li was a Christian is still out of this unhealthy so-called glamour.

Upon taking a closer look at some of the dominating and various false testimonies on Christian networks recently, you will find most of them are taking advantage of today’s high-ranking celebrities to create attention-grabbing articles.

Article continues below
There are false testimonies that take CCTV as a gimmick, such as “CCTV evangelism” or a certain Christian “appears on CCTV.” Even today, a shoddy Christian platform issued a message titled “Critical moment of the epidemic! Pastor spoke on CCTV conference!” Those are all sensational headlines. As you click on it to read, you will quickly discover that it is an old piece of news that has been recycled to create hype, and CCTV has nothing to do with it.

Can false testimonies help us “evangelize”? Like raising the bar? Absolutely not! Although these false testimonies pretend to promote the “noble purpose” of evangelism, they instead undermine the most basic and universal virtue of honesty and reduce the quality of Christianity; by extension, it vulgarizes and destroys the evangelical testimony that Christians are supposed to have, eventually turning the sacred testimony into a laughing stock.

That is to say, the gospel will be damaged by the false testimonies! One brother said it quite well: “God never needs false testimonies to glorify Him! ‘Deception,’ ‘Fear’ and ‘Confusion’ in the Christian circle are all evils that dishonor God, and every believer needs to be vigilant: neither become a rumor monger nor spread the rumor!”

As to Li Wenliang, the man has gone. To find out whether he was a Christian, in fact, is not that important. Most importantly, the young doctor did his duty with his conscience and professionalism, and eventually got martyred in his career, an admirable sacrifice in the fight against the epidemic. That is enough to know.

That should be the most appropriate memorial to Li Wenliang, who had many aspects worth learning from, even as Christians. As Christians, have we ever reflected on this?









A version of this article translated from Chinese first appeared on China Christian Daily.

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


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2020, 07:53:16 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/coronavirus-fears-mean-we-need-more-communion-not-less.html






Coronavirus Fears Mean We Need More Communion, Not Less





A pastor and former CDC medical officer considers the outbreak’s real threats to churches.


“Should we cancel or change the way we serve Communion?” The question arose in our weekly staff meeting. Fear from the coronavirus (COVID-2019) outbreak consumed the hearts of our pastors. Our church sits at the intersection of Chinatown and the Lower East Side in New York City. We have a thriving outreach to international Chinese students at nearby New York University. Several days earlier, these overseas students returned from China for their spring semester.

To welcome them back, our church planned a significant fellowship event. Although there were no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York City, we canceled the event for fear of contagion. Some of our pastors had experienced the effects of the 2003 SARS epidemic on their communities in China; their worries were legitimate. Due to heightened global coverage of COVID-2019, many stateside Chinese Churches scratched Lunar New Year events, prayer meetings, and other ministries. Protecting their congregations and families was a top priority.

Still, the returning Chinese students desired to worship, gather for fellowship, and pray. One student in particular approached me in tears: Would I pray for the health of her family, friends, and neighbors in China? As I laid hands on her and prayed, I realized the duplicity of our church’s pending decisions. How could we say we loved our neighbors yet consider shutting our doors in their time of greatest need? If we believed in a Savior who healed the sick, bestowed sight to the blind, and touched lepers, why did we doubt his power to reign over this coronavirus?

I am a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention medical officer and global health professor. Now, as a pastor, I believe the church must lead in love rather than be manipulated by stigma. We are called to provide compassion instead of cowering in fear. Churches must trust sound theology, science, and public health instead of succumbing to rumors and hysteria from social media. Denominations, churches, and believers can play a vital role during outbreaks, epidemics, and other diseases.

There are a number of steps we can take.

Raise Public Health Awareness
Provide educational messaging on transmission, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of the coronavirus. Despite the increasing global health crisis and panic among many in the United States, the CDC has reported only 14 individuals testing positive for COVID-2019 as of February 12, with 347 negative and 66 pending results. It remains an emerging situation closely monitored by public health officials. Churches can disseminate sound recommendations while helping inform and allay concerns of members anxious over COVID-2019.

Many Chinese pastors in the US have begun implementing their own measures, such as wearing masks during worship, suspending handshakes, and adjusting their Communion practices. Within our own church, we debated the need to officiate Communion differently. Currently, we serve broken pieces of bread on a Communion tray together with individual flasks of juice. As a medical doctor and epidemiologist, I am open to serving Communion more hygienically; but first, pastors need to better understand the COVID-2019 transmission risk.

Though still under investigation by health officials, COVID-2019 is a part of a large family of viruses common to animals and humans. Transmission for typical coronaviruses occurs primarily via respiratory droplets from infected persons via coughing or sneezing. Preventive measures should therefore include washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs, and refraining from touching facial orifices with dirty hands. Common sense tells us that we should stay home when feeling ill and avoid those who appear sick.

“We want to lean forward and be aggressive, but we want our actions to be evidence-based and appropriate to the current circumstance,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a January 31 press conference. “For example, CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks for the general public. The virus is not spreading in the general community.”

Likewise, now is not the time to change Communion, congregational greetings, and other pastoral duties. The CDC does not advise abandoning worship, fellowship, or other ministry activities. However, the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services does currently require travelers from China to be monitored for up to 14 days upon arrival to the US. Depending on the individual’s level of risk, some may be asked to restrict their movement or limit contact with others.

As the situation unfolds, pastors should monitor federal, state, and local health department recommendations. Additional concerns should be addressed to health care professionals or local health departments. By actively keeping up to date, posting flyers, and announcing key recommendations during worship services and gatherings, churches can help congregations deal with COVID-2019 effectively. Good communication will provide peace, pacify worry, and offer hope.

Care for the Vulnerable
In New Testament times, leprosy was among the most feared and devastating of illnesses. Lepers were typically quarantined and ostracized by the public. Jesus did not run from people with leprosy. He reached out his hand to heal. Jesus could have healed by word alone and avoided contact, but instead he extended love though the power of human touch.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, physical contact was a common means of his healing. With a leper, Jesus risked what others would have feared as both contamination and ritual defilement (Matt. 8:2–3). Like Jesus, we should not be afraid of those who are sick with COVID-2019. We need to draw near when they are most vulnerable.

This doesn’t mean we are to be reckless in our care of the sick. While working with the Ebola outbreak with the Centers for Disease Control, health care providers took the utmost precautions to protect themselves from contracting the deadly disease. Personal protective equipment included fluid-resistant and impermeable gowns, face shields, gloves, and shoe covers. Often, it took hours preparing to see patients and then doff protective equipment. In their greatest affliction and anguish, affected patients were not allowed consolation by the hug or kiss of family members. During these lonely moments, Ebola patients were thankful for the thoughtful, human touch of health care providers, even within the limits of protective equipment. For some, this would be the last touch they’d ever receive.

Jesus calls us to be his hands, feet, and voice to those who suffer illness. Sometimes, for us, this may mean consulting professionals who possess knowledge beyond our own expertise. It may mean taking precautionary measures in consideration of public health concerns. But it should never mean ostracizing those who desire to meet the Risen King. Instead of running away, we should move toward the ailing with the gospel.

Combat Stigma and Xenophobia
As Christians, we unify across racial, ethnic, and cultural boundaries. Recently, CNN showed a front-page title in a French magazine article on the outbreak. In bold, block letters were the words “Yellow Alert” and “New Yellow Peril?” Though the magazine eventually apologized, the damage from the racist epithets was already done. Among the streets of Chinatown, New York, people avoid Chinese speakers and worry if it is safe to eat at restaurants in the neighborhood. Xenophobia has resurfaced over Chinese culinary habits, such as eating exotic wildlife like snakes, rats, hedgehogs, and bats.

It is all too easy to judge others based on the color of their skin, a misunderstanding of their language, or misconstrued cultural practices. Yet, as a church, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture. Though circumstances may be exceedingly delicate during health crises, it is possible through honest conversations and the sharing of culture to dispel rumors. The church can take a stand against rhetoric that reinforces stereotypes while offering Christlike empathy to those at its doorsteps.

Stephen Ko is the senior pastor at New York Chinese Alliance Church, an adjunct professor at Alliance Theological Seminary, and formerly a CDC medical officer and professor of global health at Boston University.






Speaking Out is Christianity Today's guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.

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


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2020, 09:55:17 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/february/why-current-loneliness-epidemic-is-historical-gospel-opport.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Why the Current Loneliness Epidemic Is a Historical Gospel Opportunity






At the center of the universe is a community. It is out and for that relationship you and I were created and redeemed. It turns out that community is the trinity.


In 2018, a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness revealed that this condition is now at epidemic levels in the United States and poses a severe health risk to the general population.

Survey results were released by Cigna, a global health service company, based on the UCLA loneliness scale, an instrument that measures and assesses subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation, by using a 20-item questionnaire.

Four significant patterns related to feelings of loneliness and social isolation emerged from the survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults, age 18 years and older:

Nearly half of the respondents reported feeling alone, occasionally or continuously (46 percent), or left out (47 percent). One in four rarely or never feel as if there are people who truly understand them. Two in five feel that their relationships are inconsequential (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent). One in five report they rarely or never feel close to other people (20 percent) or that there is anyone they can talk to (18 percent).

Bob Dylan once said that New York is the only place where you can freeze to death on a busy street and no one will even notice. Although urban centers are incredibly dense and swarming with people, the density only seems to compound the loneliness.

Thus, the confluence of urbanization and globalization is creating an expanding mission field for the church, given most of the global population continues to migrate steadily into urban centers. What then can we do?

First, loneliness is a signpost to something deeper.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 4:27 that “deep calls unto deep.” Many confuse this deep longing with a form of chronic anxiety, or something that has gone wrong, when it is in fact a holy haunting for the presence of God. Deep calling unto deep is nothing other than the voice of God echoing from eternity.

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that God has placed eternity in our hearts. Loneliness peels back the curtain of a time long past. It shows us intuitively what quantum physics is now confirming: that at a subatomic level everything and everyone is interconnected.

Darrell Johnson, a long-time Professor at Regent College in Vancouver, and Bono’s former pastor at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, was studying to become an astrophysicist before he was seized by the beauty of God’s transcendence. In Experiencing the Trinity, he writes:

At the center of the universe is a relationship, that is the most fundamental truth I know. At the center of the universe is a community. It is out and for that relationship you and I were created and redeemed. It turns out that community is the trinity. The center of reality is Father, son and Holy Spirit.[1]

At its deepest level, the human heart aches for relationship more than anything else. This is because God himself is a community within the fellowship of the Trinity. We desire to be in communion because before the advent of creation itself, God was part of an eternal fellowship.

This ache in the human heart is clear residual evidence that we were created from community and for community.

No wonder so many people feel deeply alone and disconnected. If the residual imprint of the Trinity is lodged that deeply within our hearts, nothing will ever feel right until there is a homecoming of a sort.

In Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot imagines existentially what such a homecoming might feel like. “We should not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring we will arrive at the place we started and know the place for the first time.”[2]

Perhaps our culture’s current crushing opioid crisis, porn addiction, and the rise of Tinder are all part of this holy searching gone horribly wrong.

Second, the loneliness epidemic is a momentous gospel opportunity.

Dr. Douglas Nemecek, chief medical officer for behavioral health at Cigna, suggests that “loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.”

As loneliness reaches epidemic levels, the church has an incredible evangelistic opportunity, not only to mitigate the health risks involved, but to help lonesome hearts feast on Christ!

Another significant pattern related to the Cigna study of loneliness and social isolation is that Generation Z (aged 18-22) is now the loneliest generation in history. Although Gen Z is perhaps the generation that is most technologically connected, they scored the highest on the UCLA loneliness scale.

This is a significant discovery, for it reveals that social interactions online cannot fill the need for face-to-face interactions as a generation or as a society. As treatment for depression and anxiety reach hyperbolic levels and suicide rates skyrocket, the call to the church to be light in the darkness has never been clearer.

It has been said that the gospel is one hobo telling anther hobo where the bread is. For a culture starving for love, the church now has an historic opportunity to usher in a gospel movement unseen since the Jesus movement.

The harvest is plentiful, but workers who understand the heart of the culture are few. The church does not need more innovative or cool missiological schemes, but a return to simplicity. The culture today is saturated with sophisticated marketing strategies from Facebook and Google and other tech giants, and starved of authenticity and hospitality.

The church should not be distracted by popular trends, but should focus instead on creating meaningful social interactions with those of its neighbors, friends and family who need the Lord.

Close to half the respondents from the Cigna study said they did not have a single meaningful in-person social connection, such as daily conversations with friends, or quality time with family.

This is why the single greatest gift we still can give others outside of eternity is our time. Time is precious because it is the only commodity we cannot ever recoup.

Thus, intentionally taking time to drink a coffee or share a hot meal with a friend is still the most effective gospel witness today, as it was in the times of Jesus. It may not seem that much at first glance, but if we consistently practice a gospel-centered hospitality, we’ll see one day from the other side of heaven that we have touched and changed eternity, much to our surprise and delight.








Rev. Dr. Sam D. Kim is Co-Founder of 180 Church NYC, a community joining God to restore the beauty in all things. He is Postdoctoral Fellow-Scholar at Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics. He is a recipient of the Lifelong Learning Fellowship at Yale Divinity School and Yale School of Medicine, which aims to close the gap between faith and science, and is awarded by the John Templeton Foundation and American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He is married to his college sweetheart Lydia, Dad to Nathan & Josh and best-pals with his dog Brownie. Learn more: www.samdkim.com

[1] Darrell W. Johnson, Experiencing the Trinity (Vancouver: Regent College, 2002), 37.

[2] Eliot, T. S, Four Quartets (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books, 2014). 59.

The Exchange is a part of CT's Blog Forum. Support the work of CT. Subscribe and get one year free.
The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of 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 -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2020, 11:28:41 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/discipleship-parenting-kids-stay-christian-home-catechesis.html






Want Your Kids to Stay Christian? Double Down on Home Discipleship





Data suggests that what you do with your free time affects your family’s long-term spiritual formation.


The novel coronavirus now dubbed COVID-19 has struck fear around Asia and the world. As many as 760 million people in China have been quarantined, and perhaps 110 million are barred from even exiting their apartment, all as part of China’s effort to prevent a pandemic.

In Hong Kong, where my wife and I serve as missionaries in the Lutheran Church-Hong Kong Synod, school has been cancelled since late January. Kids began doing online classes last week, and they will not return to school until mid March at the earliest. Restrictions on public activities and gatherings have spread throughout much of Asia, as individuals seek to reduce their risk of infection. Unsurprisingly, church attendance, especially among families with children, has plummeted.

However, the quarantines and cancellations associated with COVID-19 offer a remarkable opportunity. Families are stuck indoors for weeks on end. Employers are telling employees to work from home and giving more flexible arrangements. Kids finish their homework in just a few hours, leaving the day open for activities. Although it’s a terrible situation, nonetheless it opens a door for Christian families to step into a regular practice of home discipleship.

Although Christians in China are facing a special tribulation today, the same principles apply to those living in the States and elsewhere. In times of both severe crisis (think Hurricane Katrina victims stuck in the Superdome) and also mundane inconvenience (think of the odd snow day or sick day), we can seize the opportunity for the most important education of all, more essential than literacy, more useful than math, more formative than history: catechesis!

What the Numbers Tell Us

Research on the effectiveness of childhood catechesis is frustratingly sparse. There is some evidence suggesting that religious schools boost adult religiosity, particularly among Jews and Catholics. Specific changes in curriculum at religious schools seem to alter student religiosity. Internationally, Islamic schooling seem to substantially alter the value judgments children make. When France restricted religious education in the late 19th century, it did reduce religiosity. Christian high schools in America do seem to impact students’ self-reported values. And a large longitudinal study (using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health) found that religious schooling increased religiosity as a young adult.

This data, although significant, doesn’t address the faith instruction that happens in the home. Two longitudinal studies exist that have enough data to assess how family religious practices impact adult religiosity, and a third contemporary study provides supporting evidence.

The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort (NLSY97) surveyed American kids who were teenagers in 1997 (and also the parents of those teens), then followed up with them in later years. This study, while not primarily about religion, includes data on how many days per week families did religious activities together, as well as data on the child’s religiosity when they reached age 30. The total sample size included over 3,500 individuals.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health (called “Add Health”) also tracks a cohort of 3,800 teenagers in the mid-1990s to around age 30. This survey does not include an explicit measure of family religious activities, but it does ask about which family members attend church together, whether kids attend youth religious activities, and whether family members attend special church events.

Finally, the General Social Survey (GSS) contributes to the picture. Although it’s only a cross-sectional survey, in several years it included retrospective questions about religion, asking respondents how often they attended church as kids and whether their mother and father attended church. This information enables an estimate of household-wide church attendance that can be compared to adult religiosity in later years.

These surveys together provide enough data to explore a very interesting question: If we control for the intensity of a parent’s religious beliefs and also control for their specific denomination, how much does a greater level of family religious activity influence the odds that a teenager stays in the faith at age 30?

In preparing for this report, I tracked three different measures of religious retention.* One simply asks if the teenagers in question are still Christian at age 30. (“Christian” is defined as self-identifying with any denominational family that has historically confessed a belief in the Trinity.) Another measure gets more specific and asks if those teenagers are still located in the broad tradition they were raised in: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox.

Finally, another tracks 18 denominational families. Sample sizes are too small to track specific denominations, so rather than track odds that a child remains Southern Baptist, I track the odds that they remain Baptist of any kind. (This caveat is significant, since most denominational groups have major theological variation.)






In all cases, a higher frequency of family religious activity for a child is associated with greater odds of remaining Christian, remaining within a broad religious tradition, or remaining within a given denomination family. The size of the effect varies and is not enormous, but nonetheless the major results are still statistically significant. More than being statistically meaningful, however, they are spiritually meaningful: They show that what happens in the family really does matter.

Worship Where You Live

So how does this all cash out? Families who pray and worship together tend to continue praying and worshipping together. The key to successful transmission of Christian faith across generations is not more youth groups or hipper pastors but the Holy Spirit working through the vocation of parenthood as parents take the time to share their faith with their own children.

That said, Christian parents do not catechize their children because social science says that catechesis works. We catechize our children because we are commanded to do so by God in Proverbs 22, Ephesians 6, Deuteronomy 4, 6, and 11, 1 Timothy 4, and by the very words of Christ in Matthew 19. When we fail to catechize our children, we sin against them, and the warning of Christ in Matthew 18—that “it would be better for [us] to have a large millstone hung around [our] neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:6)—must weigh heavily upon us.

But nonetheless, we can be encouraged by worldly evidence that backs up this calling and tells us that, yes, what we do at home has an enormous impact on our kids’ future faith. Controlling for parental religious beliefs, the odds that a child will leave the Christian faith are between one third and seven times greater in a household with little or no in-home catechesis than in a household where the family has regular religious practice together.

During the current coronavirus scare and other parallel situations, both small and large, this data can be comforting for Christians. We can anchor our children against the chaos of the outside world on the steady rock of faith. These times of upheaval reduce our ability to guarantee our kids a prosperous, educated, and stable life, but they simultaneously make it easier for us to find time to talk to them about the eternal life Christ has given us.

If we seize the opportunity handed us to initiate a practice of faithful family togetherness, then whether we get our kids enough masks and hand sanitizer, we can still be confident of the endurance of their faith unto life everlasting.












Lyman Stone is an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, and the chief intelligence officer of the consulting company Demographic Intelligence.

* Each survey uses different measures of parental religiosity and religious activities. NLSY97 has the most extensive detail on parental religiosity and also explicitly asks about family religious practice, thus its estimate is most reliable. Add Health estimates of parental religiosity are of good quality, but teenage religious practices include both family-centered activities and also youth group activities. Because families that send their kids to youth group or youth retreats, or which attend religious services together, are probably more likely to also pray together at home, I include these non-family activities. But the Add Health measure of teenage religious activities is better seen as a loose index of those activities, not a literal count like NLSY. GSS has the worst-quality data, with no direct measure of parental religious feeling or belief and only family-wide church attendance as a childhood religiosity variable, thus it should be seen as only a very suggestive measure.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2020, 10:05:04 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/february/gospel-found-in-translation.html






The Gospel–Found in Translation






When our evangelism is lost in translation, it might be time to consider how we can cross the communication divide?


UK tourists have a pretty terrible reputation when it comes to our behaviour in other countries. “Brits abroad” are often stereotyped not only as the ones most likely to drop litter and binge drink, but also who expect others to speak our language.

When met with a non-English speaker, “Brits abroad” tend to resort to one of two methods of communication, neither of which involves making an effort to learn the native language.

Method one is to speak more intensely, carefully enunciating ev-er-y syll-a-ble. Method two is to speak MORE LOUDLY, as though it were the faculty of hearing, not the linguistic education of the listener that were lacking.

If neither method achieves the desired result, “Brits abroad” tend to walk away with a dismissive shrug whilst, ironically, complaining about the other person’s rudeness in not learning our language.

Sometimes, the church adopts a similar attitude to evangelism.

Christians often behave as if the world were our own colonial empire, and the natives should be reasonably expected to understand and speak our language.

But words commonly used in our church signage, our evangelistic preaching, and our evangelistic resources often fail to convey the meaning we assume or meet with the comprehension and conversion figures we expect. Our messages are too frequently recycled from previous generations when the church could rely on a different cultural authority and a wider familiarity with the Bible and Christianity.

When they are met only with blank or confused expressions, we often believe that if we just shout the message more loudly or repeat it more intensely, then surely we should be heard and understood. If, finally, those efforts do not pay off, I have heard some Christians, not unlike those classic misunderstood “Brits abroad,” bemoan the culture’s inability to speak our language.

When our evangelism is lost in translation, it might be time to consider how we can cross the communication divide? Is it time for us to study the languages of our cultures and work out how to express the gospel to those to whom Christianity appears as gibberish?

In the pursuit of new models of genuine conversation, a good starting point is the life and ministry of Jesus. It is here we see two complementary ways of translating the truth of the gospel into the power to change lives.

First, Jesus employs creative contextualisation. Second, he adopts an authentic altruism. Let’s look at each in turn and see how, if applied today, our gospel still has the potential to be heard and understood.

Creative Contextualisation

I have lost count of the times I have heard the phrases: “Get Brexit Done” and “Make America Great Again.” Jesus was not like our modern-day politicians who can always be counted on to repeat and repeat their mantra of the moment. He never made the gospel feel like vapid sloganeering or a tired stump speech or a cliché-ridden sales pitch.

In fact, reading the New Testament, I am constantly surprised by the diversity of ways that Jesus and the early church found to express the gospel message.

Jesus could stand beside a well and talk about “living water” one moment, and the next explain what it means to be “born again” or liken the gospel to “treasure hidden in a field,” depending on where he was and who he was talking to.

He used the language of his first century listeners who were all too familiar with the importance of pruning vines, or separating sheep, or harvesting the fields, or losing a precious coin.

There is beauty, creativity, variety, and care taken in Jesus’ evangelism. These efforts connect not only with the context of the individual listener, but also reflect something of the beautiful diversity and complexity of the gospel.

In contrast, in a bid to make evangelism easier, we have taught generations of Christians a fixed ‘one-size-fits-all’ bullet-point gospel-lite message.

Although this might seem like a very efficient way of working, it fails both to represent the fullness of the gospel, and to recognise the uniqueness of each listener. Christians know from their lived experience that a bullet-point gospel is not up to the task of providing the life-giving sustenance needed for the life of faith.

Instead of boosting our confidence to share the gospel, it is instead undermined by any attempt to shrink our evangelism into bite size formulae.

The best evangelism I have seen is when Christians are given the freedom and confidence to help people explore the beauty and wonder of the gospel narrative in a variety of different contexts.

When we realise that the whole life, teaching, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus are all part of the myth-busting, darkness-defeating, life-giving, hope-filling gospel, then it becomes ever more compelling to find ways of communicating this to our neighbours.

One example of this kind of approach that is finding increasing traction in the UK university scene is something called the Mark Drama.

Typically, Christian students take a week to learn, memorise, and perform the entirety of Mark’s Gospel as a 90-minute theatre production on their campuses. Their friends come and see the stage play, which takes place in the round and often interactively with the audience.

This approach has been surprisingly incredibly successful on two fronts. Christian students are becoming immersed in the story of the gospel, thus breaking free of the bare-bone bullet-form straight-jacket presentations and as they are helped to translate the narrative into a familiar yet foreign context, they develop good practice in relevant gospel communication.

Apart from the incredible resilience and depth of understanding that are being built into the Christian students who participate, there is also enormous benefit to the audience. They are exposed not just to a series of logical statements, or the odd sound bites, but the full grand sweep of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection.

They see something of the creativity, variety and beauty of the gospel, hear something of the truth and breadth of the gospel, and grasp something of how this narrative inspires hope, dedication and creativity in their peers.

Authentic Altruism

In an age of fake news, where even political conservatives are challenging the nature of truth and talk is cheap, evangelism has to be more than mere words.

But evangelism has too often portrayed by the church as simply the verbal proclamation of the gospel, without the embodiment of that message. This is a most ironic contradiction, as the gospels tell the story of the incarnation. Jesus, the Word of God, did not just come to earth to speak, but to live amongst us as the Light of the world. A disembodied evangelism is not Jesus’ evangelism.

This is how Paul described Jesus’ evangelism:

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:37-38)

And Jesus’ own instruction to his disciples is: “Let you light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

A gospel based only on deeds will not help audiences to grasp the truth of the message; just as a gospel that is restricted to words only will also become lost in translation. We need to communicate in a language which integrates words and deeds, evangelism and justice, speaking out and living out the gospel.

One innovative example in the UK seeking to find a language that tells and shows the gospel to the poorest in the country is the charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP).

Set up in 1995 to help those struggling with debt and poverty in the UK, their debt centres are run by Christians in partnership with local churches. They are very clear and open about their Christian identity and yet they receive widespread recognition in the secular media because their debt advice and support is second to none.

In 2018, their 300 debt centres helped 2575 of their clients to become debt-free. On top of this, 633 people found work through one of CAP’s job clubs, and some 885 people made a response to the gospel as a direct result of their connection with the charity.

CAP centres provide a front door for many people who would not otherwise engage with a church to find help for their practical and financial needs. Although there are no strings or conditions attached to a CAP client’s help, and counselling and care is offered in an unbiased way, CAPs deliberate openness about their Christian identity has led to many authentic conversations about Jesus.

If the church were to recapture a greater degree of authentic altruism alongside creative contextualisation, following Jesus’ example, I believe we would find our gospel communication would become much more intelligible to the world around us.

It is time to lose the disembodied bullet-point message and recover the full-blooded whole-hearted biblical Christianity. Found in translation, this gospel could change the world.








Dr. Krish Kandiah is the author of God is Stranger: Finding God in Unexpected Places and is teaching a summer class on the Shine Like Stars: The Lost Art of Christian Witness at Regent College Vancouver this summer. http://rgnt.net/shinelikestars

The Exchange is a part of CT's Blog Forum. Support the work of CT. Subscribe and get one year free.
The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of 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 -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 5129
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ and then Research Flat Earth
  • Location: homeless in God's flat earth
  • Referrals: 39
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2020, 11:07:26 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/baseball-trashcans-signs-numbers-astros-moses.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Baseball, Trashcans, Signs and Numbers




Why Moses struck out during spring training.


Hope springs eternal every winter as baseball teams assemble in warmer climes to make ready for the long and glorious season some still call our national pastime. Baseball surely takes time, whether it be the interminable hours of a single game or the 162-game season itself. Still, I love baseball. I love the stats and the strategy. I love that failure is status quo (the best hitters still only manage success 3 times out of 10). I love the bursts of delirium amid all the tedium. And I love the peanuts and Cracker Jack—still sold in ballparks mostly because you sing about it every seventh inning stretch.

This spring baseball reels from a self-inflicted integrity crisis. The crux centers on the Houston Astros being found guilty of sign-stealing, a sin as old as baseball itself. In case you somehow missed the news, the 2017 World Champion and last year’s American League leader employed a deviously high-low technology scheme to cheat their way to their World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A center field camera aimed at the opposing catcher caught signs sent to the pitcher, enabling Houston hitters to know what pitch was coming. The stolen signs were relayed to the Astros’ dugout using a “dark arts” technology called Codebreaker. Players would tip off their teammate at the plate batter by banging a trashcan if the pitcher was throwing a breaking ball or a change up. No bang meant a fastball.

A whistleblower led to an investigation and verdict, though latest reports say everybody already knew (and thus the Nationals beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series). Managerial heads rolled, though no players were fined. Dodger fans clamor for Major League Baseball to revoke Houston’s championship and award it to Los Angeles. Listen for trashcans to bang incessantly throughout the stands in every ballpark Houston visits this coming season.

That sports abets cheating is nothing new. Obscene amounts of money and celebrity fame bountifully award professional athletes who rise to the top of their game. Banging trashcans is only the latest in a long history of subterfuge that’s gone so far as pharmaceutically enhancing the human body itself. Rationalizers offer well-worn excuses: “Everybody does it,” or “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” But where is the bottom? Is sports still sports if baseline honesty no longer applies?

In The Big Inning…
There’s no explicit mention of baseball in the Bible (aside from that Genesis 1:1 pun about “in the big inning…”). There are pitchers (the pouring kind, Gen. 24:15) and catchers (the fishing kind, Luke 5:4), as well as plenty of errors and walks. There’s also the clear prohibition against stealing in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:15). The closest we get to banging a trashcan might be Moses striking that rock in the desert to induce an outflow of water for a parched Israelite people.

It’d been a long and dry season—forty years walking in circles. In Numbers 20, the final desert year, Moses is old and tired, worn down by the wandering and Israel’s constant complaining and blaming him for their own failures (v. 3-6). Moses sought God for help, and the LORD responded by instructing Moses to take his brother Aaron’s bat, step to the plate (so to speak) and knock it out of the park without ever taking a swing. “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink” (v. 8).

Water from a rock? No big deal. Moses had done it already back in Exodus 17. Moses marched over to the rock and gathered a crowd just as God commanded. But then something snapped. Moses lashed out at the people and labeled them “rebels.” He snarked about having to produce water from stone as if somehow he owed them or had something to prove. And then, in a fit of anger, Moses took his bat and struck the rock, not once, but twice. BANG! BANG! And it led to a home run! Water gushed forth!

But Moses got called out. He was told to talk to the rock, not strike it. The LORD said to Moses, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

A Sacrifice Fly
Centuries of biblical research have tried to make sense of what seems like a punishment unfit for the crime. Forty years of faithfulness and Moses gets disqualified for one lousy error? A justifiable fit of anger aimed at people who deserved it? But Moses’ sin was not so much a loss of temper as a loss of faith. He did not trust God enough to honor him as holy in the sight of the Israelites. The rock symbolized God’s gracious presence among his people. The psalmists would declare God to be their rock and their redeemer (Ps. 18:2; 31:3). The apostle Paul would later name this very rock from which streams of living water flowed to be Christ himself (1 Cor. 10:4). Banging on the rock threatened the integrity of the entire Exodus enterprise. If God can’t be trusted, how will the gospel survive?

The Astros held a cagey press conference at the start of spring training. Players and management conceded they “broke rules,” but said it didn’t impact the game. So then why do it for three years if it didn’t make any difference?

Integrity in baseball is symptomatic of what’s been reported as an overall loss of faith in most every institution, churches included. Yuval Levin labels the loss as a collapse of essential social structure, what he calls “a failure even to attempt to form trustworthy people, and a tendency to think of institutions not as molds of character and behavior but as platforms for performance and prominence.” Levin recalls Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who upon his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, implored fellow players to remember “that learning how to bunt and hit-and-run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light on the dugout camera.”

The rock-banging saga concludes in Numbers 20:13. “These were the waters of Meribah [meaning quarreling], where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he was proved holy among them.” We don’t like that Moses had to forfeit his trophy. But it was the right thing to do.






Daniel Harrell is editor in chief of 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 -


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

Bladerunner

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1449
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • My Friend
  • Location: Tennessee, USA
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - February 2020
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2020, 07:23:21 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/february-web-only/baseball-trashcans-signs-numbers-astros-moses.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+christianitytoday%2Fctmag+%28CT+Magazine%29






Baseball, Trashcans, Signs and Numbers




Why Moses struck out during spring training.


Hope springs eternal every winter as baseball teams assemble in warmer climes to make ready for the long and glorious season some still call our national pastime. Baseball surely takes time, whether it be the interminable hours of a single game or the 162-game season itself. Still, I love baseball. I love the stats and the strategy. I love that failure is status quo (the best hitters still only manage success 3 times out of 10). I love the bursts of delirium amid all the tedium. And I love the peanuts and Cracker Jack—still sold in ballparks mostly because you sing about it every seventh inning stretch.

This spring baseball reels from a self-inflicted integrity crisis. The crux centers on the Houston Astros being found guilty of sign-stealing, a sin as old as baseball itself. In case you somehow missed the news, the 2017 World Champion and last year’s American League leader employed a deviously high-low technology scheme to cheat their way to their World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A center field camera aimed at the opposing catcher caught signs sent to the pitcher, enabling Houston hitters to know what pitch was coming. The stolen signs were relayed to the Astros’ dugout using a “dark arts” technology called Codebreaker. Players would tip off their teammate at the plate batter by banging a trashcan if the pitcher was throwing a breaking ball or a change up. No bang meant a fastball.

A whistleblower led to an investigation and verdict, though latest reports say everybody already knew (and thus the Nationals beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series). Managerial heads rolled, though no players were fined. Dodger fans clamor for Major League Baseball to revoke Houston’s championship and award it to Los Angeles. Listen for trashcans to bang incessantly throughout the stands in every ballpark Houston visits this coming season.

That sports abets cheating is nothing new. Obscene amounts of money and celebrity fame bountifully award professional athletes who rise to the top of their game. Banging trashcans is only the latest in a long history of subterfuge that’s gone so far as pharmaceutically enhancing the human body itself. Rationalizers offer well-worn excuses: “Everybody does it,” or “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.” But where is the bottom? Is sports still sports if baseline honesty no longer applies?

In The Big Inning…
There’s no explicit mention of baseball in the Bible (aside from that Genesis 1:1 pun about “in the big inning…”). There are pitchers (the pouring kind, Gen. 24:15) and catchers (the fishing kind, Luke 5:4), as well as plenty of errors and walks. There’s also the clear prohibition against stealing in the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:15). The closest we get to banging a trashcan might be Moses striking that rock in the desert to induce an outflow of water for a parched Israelite people.

It’d been a long and dry season—forty years walking in circles. In Numbers 20, the final desert year, Moses is old and tired, worn down by the wandering and Israel’s constant complaining and blaming him for their own failures (v. 3-6). Moses sought God for help, and the LORD responded by instructing Moses to take his brother Aaron’s bat, step to the plate (so to speak) and knock it out of the park without ever taking a swing. “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink” (v. 8).

Water from a rock? No big deal. Moses had done it already back in Exodus 17. Moses marched over to the rock and gathered a crowd just as God commanded. But then something snapped. Moses lashed out at the people and labeled them “rebels.” He snarked about having to produce water from stone as if somehow he owed them or had something to prove. And then, in a fit of anger, Moses took his bat and struck the rock, not once, but twice. BANG! BANG! And it led to a home run! Water gushed forth!

But Moses got called out. He was told to talk to the rock, not strike it. The LORD said to Moses, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

A Sacrifice Fly
Centuries of biblical research have tried to make sense of what seems like a punishment unfit for the crime. Forty years of faithfulness and Moses gets disqualified for one lousy error? A justifiable fit of anger aimed at people who deserved it? But Moses’ sin was not so much a loss of temper as a loss of faith. He did not trust God enough to honor him as holy in the sight of the Israelites. The rock symbolized God’s gracious presence among his people. The psalmists would declare God to be their rock and their redeemer (Ps. 18:2; 31:3). The apostle Paul would later name this very rock from which streams of living water flowed to be Christ himself (1 Cor. 10:4). Banging on the rock threatened the integrity of the entire Exodus enterprise. If God can’t be trusted, how will the gospel survive?

The Astros held a cagey press conference at the start of spring training. Players and management conceded they “broke rules,” but said it didn’t impact the game. So then why do it for three years if it didn’t make any difference?

Integrity in baseball is symptomatic of what’s been reported as an overall loss of faith in most every institution, churches included. Yuval Levin labels the loss as a collapse of essential social structure, what he calls “a failure even to attempt to form trustworthy people, and a tendency to think of institutions not as molds of character and behavior but as platforms for performance and prominence.” Levin recalls Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who upon his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, implored fellow players to remember “that learning how to bunt and hit-and-run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light on the dugout camera.”

The rock-banging saga concludes in Numbers 20:13. “These were the waters of Meribah [meaning quarreling], where the Israelites quarreled with the LORD and where he was proved holy among them.” We don’t like that Moses had to forfeit his trophy. But it was the right thing to do.






Daniel Harrell is editor in chief of Christianity Today.

everybody falls at least once.
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
4 Replies
2724 Views
Last post September 18, 2018, 03:11:32 pm
by patrick jane
9 Replies
1840 Views
Last post February 22, 2019, 09:23:40 pm
by patrick jane
20 Replies
1667 Views
Last post February 10, 2020, 08:48:39 am
by truthjourney
20 Replies
1657 Views
Last post March 31, 2020, 11:57:57 am
by patrick jane
0 Replies
13 Views
Last post Today at 12:03:44 pm
by patrick jane

+-Recent Topics

John MacArthur: Comments by Bladerunner
Today at 01:47:03 pm

Black Spring With Autumn Political Commentary by patrick jane
Today at 12:15:00 pm

Christianity Today Magazine - April 2020 by patrick jane
Today at 12:03:44 pm

An Experimental Approach to a Long Accepted Belief: Comments by Jon Wood
Today at 11:20:51 am

Coronavirus hoax to declare martial law (FEMA) by Firestarter
Today at 11:08:19 am

Rwanda genocide, Kagame, the RPF and looting the Congo by Firestarter
Today at 10:21:59 am

Two Plans: One Jewish - One Gentile: Comments by Bladerunner
Today at 09:06:43 am

SALVATION IS A FREE GIFT by doug
Today at 08:26:49 am

Trump 2020 - Winning !!! by patrick jane
April 01, 2020, 11:55:29 pm

Politics Today by patrick jane
April 01, 2020, 11:55:17 pm

Re: Trump 2020 - Winning !!! by patrick jane
April 01, 2020, 11:55:00 pm

Re: Politics Today by patrick jane
April 01, 2020, 11:54:44 pm

John MacArthur by Bladerunner
April 01, 2020, 11:17:41 pm

Two Plans: One Jewish - One Gentile by Bladerunner
April 01, 2020, 11:04:46 pm

How long were Adam and Eve in Eden by Bladerunner
April 01, 2020, 10:05:13 pm

Great Quotes ... by patrick jane
April 01, 2020, 09:53:57 pm

Jesus Christ, Our Lord GOD by Bladerunner
April 01, 2020, 09:23:32 pm

New Bible Translation by Bladerunner
April 01, 2020, 09:07:04 pm