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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« on: March 01, 2021, 09:46:49 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/march-web-only/assyrian-christians-iraq-aramaic-chaldean-syriac-pope-visit.html








Why Christians Who Speak Jesus’ Language Can’t Agree on Their Name





It took Aramaic speakers 1,500 years to agree on Christology, now their main debate is over Assyrian identity. Could Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq encourage unity?


Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Iraq in March is bound to attract attention to the nation’s peculiar Christian minorities. These fascinating groups have a uniquely Middle Eastern history that is far too little known and appreciated in the West, even though they are now present in sizable diaspora communities in North America, Europe, and Australia.

When over 20,000 Iraqi asylum seekers came to my home country, Finland, in 2015, I realized that as a half-Iraqi theologian it was finally time for me to find out about my roots. I knew they went deep and had something to do with Arameans, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs—but who was who, and what was the difference?

Welcome to the heated debate over the identity of the Christians who still speak the language of Jesus.

Assyrian continuity and churches


Who are the Assyrians? There is no country called Assyria on today’s map, but from Old Testament history we remember the Assyrian Empire. Its capital city, Nineveh, was destroyed in 612 BC, and its ruins lie in modern-day Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Could it really be the case that Assyrians have existed since then and converted to Christianity?

Indeed, the average Assyrian Christian sees himself as belonging to the people that once ruled one of the greatest empires of the Middle East, which repented at the preaching of Jonah. According to this narrative, the Assyrians survived under the Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks, as well as in small kingdoms of their own like Osrhoene in northern Mesopotamia.

According to tradition, Osrhoene’s king, Abgar V, exchanged letters with Jesus and converted to the new faith following a later visit from one of the 70 disciples. Assyrians therefore consider themselves to be the first Gentile Christian nation.

In the following centuries, Assyrian Christianity developed independently of Rome, with a profoundly biblical and poetic form of theology. But there was contact with the West, and the Nicene Creed was accepted.

Further Christological developments divided the Assyrians, however, as did geographic realities. East Assyrians of Persia (in modern-day Iraq) were labeled Nestorians for rejecting the “mother of God” moniker for Mary. This name held until the 19th century, as did the Jacobite name for the Monophysite West Assyrians from Byzantine Syria. They got the label in reference to their relentless underground organizer, bishop Jacob Baradaeus (d. A.D. 578).

Today, these traditions are represented by the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syrian Orthodox Church, respectively. But both churches also have their Uniate branches, formed when certain patriarchs united with Rome in the 18th and 19th centuries to create the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Syrian Catholic Church.

The old Christological disagreements, however, were settled with joint declarations in the 1980s and 1990s, following important ecumenical meetings organized by the Pro Oriente Foundation in Vienna, Austria. After 1,500 years of separation, all parties could see that the others, too, accept Jesus Christ as fully divine and fully human, perfect God and perfect man.

In all the above-mentioned churches, the liturgical language is a form of Aramaic (Syriac), best known as the language of Jesus. Aramaic was widely spoken in the Assyrian Empire in the first millennium B.C., and by the time of Christ it was the lingua franca of the Middle East.

Less known is that it is still the mother tongue of many Iraqi Christians, who call it Sureth. Translating it is tricky: Some prefer Modern Syriac, others prefer Assyrian, and a third group prefer Chaldean. Linguists speak of North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic, which includes as many as 150 dialects. The largest Aramaic-speaking Christian town is Qaraqosh, near Mosul, which the pope is scheduled to visit on March 7.

Assyrian identity and nationalism
But at this point, we begin to enter the heart of the whole controversy. Not all the members of the aforementioned churches see themselves as Assyrians. This is especially the case in the Uniate branches, where people might prefer identities such as Iraqi, Christian, Syriac, Aramean, Chaldean, or even Arab. For example, my own Iraqi roots are in the Syrian and Chaldean Catholic churches, and I was never taught an Assyrian identity.

Am I an Assyrian Christian? It depends on whom you ask.

The debate today is no longer about Christology; it is now about politics and identity. Some dream of an autonomous Assyria or a safe haven for religious minorities in northern Iraq, while others argue that we should try to construct a safe and stable Iraq for all.

Some Chaldean Catholics consider themselves ethnically Assyrian, others think that Chaldean represents a separate ethnic identity stretching back to the ancient Babylonians, while yet others see Chaldeans as Eastern Syriacs or Arameans.

A war of citations has consumed academic articles of historians, Assyriologists, and Syriac scholars, as well as Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac/Aramean social media channels. In Sweden, one can even watch the Assyrians and the Syriacs battle it out on the soccer field.

Critical questions for Iraqi Christians
What is wrong with the Assyrian identity, then, according to the critics? David Wilmshurst, a leading historian of the Church of the East, says the moniker is “false” and has “little or no historical basis.” Rather, the Jacobite and Nestorian churches were multiethnic: They included descendants of Arameans, Jews, Persians, Greeks, and Arabs, even the so-called Saint Thomas Christians of India. Are they all Assyrian, too?

According to this narrative, modern Assyrian identity is a product of the 19th century, during which archaeologists excavated the ruins of the ancient empire, causing worldwide enthusiasm. Syriac Christian minorities were filled with a sense of pride and continuity: They were heirs to a great and ancient culture. Assyrian sounded much better than Nestorian, and so Western sympathies were won.

Assyrian nationalism gained momentum in the 20th century, especially after the trauma of World War I, of which some countries have recognized an “Assyrian genocide” alongside the Armenian one. Children were given ancient Assyrian names. An Assyrian calendar and flag were created. Several magazines and associations were founded.

And in some cases, the admiration also extended to Assyrian pagan and polytheistic religion, which provided critics with another strong reason to resist the newfound identity.

In sum, Assyrian Christianity is a complex issue covering historical questions spanning almost 3,000 years. Personally, I’ve changed my mind more than once in the past few years, and I am still open to new evidence.

But although I find the debate about ethnic continuity interesting, for me the richest and most inspiring heritage of the Christians of Iraq is found in the forgotten history of Syriac Christianity. This ancient expression of the faith includes martyrs and mystics, monks and missionaries, patriarchs and poets, and a whole new world of church fathers and biblical commentary.

On the official logo of Pope Francis’ upcoming apostolic journey to Iraq, the Syriac script used is the classical Estrangela, which predates the ecclesial divides and thus underlines the common heritage of the various Aramaic-speaking churches. And although the motto, chosen from Matthew 23:8, is certainly meant for Iraqis more widely, it is also fully appropriate within the Syriac-Assyrian-Chaldean identity dispute:

“You are all brothers.”








Emil Anton, PhD, is a Finnish-Iraqi theologian and author who recently published a book in Finnish about Mesopotamian and Iraqi Christian history (an English summary is available on academia.edu). He is also the Finnish language contributor to Vatican News.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2021, 07:39:06 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/march/conservative-umc-split-postponed-global-methodist-church.html








Conservative United Methodists Plan Breakaway Denomination





The new Global Methodist Church will leave the UMC regardless of the General Conference decision, which has been delayed until 2022.


Conservative United Methodists have chosen a name for the denomination they plan to form if a proposal to split the United Methodist Church is successful: The Global Methodist Church.

The Global Methodist Church unveiled its new name, logo, and website on Monday, days after the United Methodist Church announced it was once again postponing the May 2020 meeting that was set to consider the proposal to split.

That puts the likely launch of the planned denomination at least a year and a half away.

“Over the past year the council members, and hundreds of people who have informed their work, have faithfully and thoughtfully arrived at this point,” the Rev. Keith Boyette, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and chair of the Transitional Leadership Council that is guiding the creation of the Global Methodist Church, said in a post on the WCA website.

“They are happy to share with others a wealth of information about a church they believe will be steeped in the lifegiving confessions of the Christian faith.”

The United Methodist Church’s General Conference, its global decision-making body, is now scheduled to meet August 29 to September 6, 2022, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

Delegates are expected to take up a proposal to split the denomination called the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.

The proposal negotiated by 16 United Methodist bishops and advocacy group leaders from across theological divides, would create a new conservative “traditionalist” Methodist denomination—that’s the Global Methodist Church—that would receive $25 million over the next four years. Individual churches and annual conferences could choose to join the new entity; otherwise, they’ll remain in the existing denomination by default.

Calls to split one of the largest denominations in the United States have grown since a 2019 special session of the General Conference approved the so-called Traditional Plan strengthening its bans on the ordination and marriage of LGBTQ United Methodists.

At the time of the 2019 special session, Boyette’s WCA made clear it planned to split from the United Methodist Church if delegates to the special session had not approved Traditional Plan.

On its website, the Global Methodist Church says it similarly would move forward with a split if delegates to the General Conference meeting in 2022 do not approve the proposed protocol — or if support for the protocol wanes in the intervening year and a half.

The website describes the planned denomination as a “new church rooted in Scripture and the historic and life giving teachings of the Christian faith” and emphasizes its desire to be a global church.

It also includes downloadable versions of a proposed Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline in multiple languages.

“True to our roots, we’re a patient and methodical people,” Boyette said on the WCA website.

“We want to do our very best to help theologically conservative local churches, laity, and pastors navigate the transitional period as smoothly as possible. And then we look forward to the Global Methodist Church’s convening General Conference where we hope the duly elected delegates will find what we have done to be helpful. It will be their great task and responsibility to discern God’s will and so help all its local churches and people live fully into the body of Christ.”

Already, one group of progressive United Methodists has announced it isn’t waiting for a vote to form its own denomination.


The Liberation Methodist Connexion launched last November with a virtual worship service and introductory presentation. The LMX—which doesn’t expect members to leave their current denominations or faiths to join—stresses action over doctrine and emphasizes the full inclusion of people of all gender expressions and sexual identities, races and ethnicities, mental and physical abilities, sizes and ages.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2021, 06:45:03 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/march/matthew-barrett-simply-trinity-evangelical-revisionist.html








Evangelical Thinking on the Trinity Is Often Remarkably Revisionist




Theologian Matthew Barrett diagnoses our drift away from an orthodox understanding of Father, Son, and Spirit.


By and large, American evangelical Christians have conservative views of Scripture and morality. According to theologian Matthew Barrett, however, their most basic claims about God are often remarkably revisionist.

Barrett, professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive editor of Credo Magazine, is the author of Simply Trinity: The Unmanipulated Father, Son, and Spirit. The book—a follow-up to his 2019 work None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God—does two things. First, it shows how a good portion of evangelical theology on the Trinity has drifted from the classical Christian tradition. Second, it recruits a veritable “dream team” of teachers from across that tradition to lead readers back to the safe harbor of biblical orthodoxy. The tone is accessible, but the sources are deep.

How has evangelicalism gone wrong in its understanding of the Trinity? Barrett ranges broadly, but he fixes on the development, in recent theology, of what he calls “social trinitarianism.” Proponents of this view, which is more of a common posture than a monolithic school, tend to conceive of the oneness of God as a community of persons. Barrett introduces some of its major figures, including liberal theologians like Jürgen Moltmann and Leonardo Boff and American conservative counterparts like Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware.

The hallmark of social Trinitarianism is its willingness to appropriate the relationships between the persons of the Trinity as a model for various social projects. For liberals like Moltmann and Boff, this can mean invoking the equal status of Father, Son, and Spirit to advance an egalitarian vision of society. Conservatives like Grudem and Ware sometimes point to supposed hierarchies within the Trinity—namely, what they call the Son’s “eternal submission” to the Father—as grounds for their complementarian views on gender roles. (Plenty of complementarians disagree. Liam Goligher, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, raised the alarm several years ago in a viral blog post accusing Grudem and Ware of undermining the unity that exists between Father, Son, and Spirit.) Simply Trinity provides a thorough analysis of how revisionist trends in Trinitarian theology have settled into the seemingly conservative world of American evangelicalism.

What’s the way home? In part two of his book, Barrett retrieves classical Trinitarian teachings, addressing the relationship of eternity and history while affirming the oneness and simplicity of God. The doctrines he covers—the “eternal generation” of the Son, the “eternal procession” of the Spirit, and the “inseparable operations” of the triune God—can sound rather elevated, but Barrett explains them with ease and clarity.

Amid these chapters, Barrett also offers a single chapter examining the claim by Grudem, Ware, and others that the Son is “eternally subordinate” to the Father. He rightly shows that the relations of origin between Father, Son, and Spirit profoundly affect our understanding of salvation.

The book isn’t perfect. Barrett doesn’t always go deep enough in addressing either the root causes of recent revisionism or the glories of classical Christian understandings of the Trinity. And he fails to locate the work of Trinitarian reflection within larger questions of Christian spiritual formation, which restricts the book’s focus mainly to matters of intellectual debate and biblical interpretation.

This doesn’t quite match the mode of classical Christian thought. Take the fourth-century church father Gregory of Nazianzus, for example. In his Five Theological Orations, he certainly addresses Bible passages about the Father, Son, and Spirit—but only after reflecting on the spiritual preparation needed for Trinitarian conversation.

In his Confessions, Augustine demonstrates that God, as characterized in Scripture, is a person unlike any other. But Social Trinitarianisms, of the left or the right, tend to make the mistake of drawing false analogies between God and other people. Unless we address that root malady, we’ll continuing seeing symptoms of theological error pop up from time to time.

Still, Simply Trinity goes a long way toward identifying and excising some of these harmful tendencies. For anyone who has read confusing blog posts about the Trinity in recent years, the book will help you regain your theological bearings. And for anyone seeking to recover the riches of worshiping one God in three persons, Barrett will prove a more than able guide.







Michael Allen is the John Dyer Trimble Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. He is a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Reformed Theology.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2021, 06:51:08 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/march-web-only/every-moment-holy-liturgy-prayer-interview-douglas-mckelvey.html








How Prayer Can Prepare Us For Death




The author of Rabbit Room’s “Every Moment Holy” liturgies on what he has learned about grief and hope in 2020.


Douglas McKelvey has been writing short prayers for years. Formerly a lyricist for artist Charlie Peacock and other Christian bands, McKelvey was also involved in the early work of Art House America, a self-described “artistic hub” and nonprofit founded by Peacock and led by Christian creatives such as Sara Groves.

In 2017, McKelvey published a book of daily liturgies called Every Moment Holy, Vol. 1 through a creative collective called Rabbit Room founded by singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson. McKelvey’s recently published second volume is filled with liturgies for grief, death, and dying, released 12 months after the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States and killed hundreds of thousands. CT interviewed McKelvey about how his latest volume and the past year’s events shaped his beliefs on death and dying.

What was your inspiration for Every Moment Holy?

I was working on a science fiction novel but kind of felt like I was spinning my wheels. A lot of days I just wasn’t making any progress. And at a certain point, I thought, I really need a prayer that I could pray when I sit down in the morning to work—to write something that would reorient me in terms of my relationship to my Creator and my relationship to my craft and whatever gifts I’m a steward of. So, I wrote this prayer and called it a liturgy for fiction writers.

That was a couple of months before a conference where I was speaking with Andrew Peterson and author Heidi Johnston. I emailed that prayer for fiction writers to Andrew, and he responded pretty quickly and said, “Hey, this is great, but man, I wish I had a liturgy for beekeeping” and a couple of other things.

That was the immediate moment where the lightbulb just turned on and I realized there’s actually something here that might really be of service to the body of Christ—to create a collection of prayers that that would help people to unpack moment by moment in their lives what it might mean that God is present and active in this moment. It’s his pleasure to work in and through us as our hearts are yielded to that process moment by moment. To look at different moments of our lives in light of Scripture and say, okay, if we’re changing a diaper, how does that touch on eternity? How is that tied to the advancing kingdom of God, to the coming new creation?

What would you say is the value specifically in the Every Moment Holy liturgies?

I find that it is helpful to define terms because people can mean very different things when they use the word liturgy because there is the overarching meaning of the word, which is just the order and content of a worship service. Then there’s the sense of the word that means those rhythms of our lives, those repeated practices that have the power to shape our hearts into something that better reflects the image of Christ or to misshape them away from that. So there are negative liturgies as well as positive liturgies.

An example that I’ve used before is that, if I am habitually posting dozens of selfies every day, there’s nothing in and of itself that’s inherently wrong with posting selfies. But if that becomes this repeated rhythm in my life, then it’s likely that it could begin to shape me, to shape my heart, or misshape my heart toward caring an awful lot about what other people think of me.

And that could be an overriding and consuming and shaping factor in my life as opposed to if I have the regular practice of taking walks in the woods and taking time to pause and consider the creation and the beauty that God has created there. Well, there’s nothing that is inherently righteous about taking a walk in the woods, but that practice is going to be much more likely to draw my heart to the beauty of my Creator.

With the Every Moment Holy project, my hope has been that these will be liturgical in the sense that individuals or families or small groups or churches would be able to find a number of the prayers in these books that they could incorporate naturally into the rhythm of their lives. There’s a liturgy for the first hearth fire of the season, or if a family incorporates the daily meal prayers and liturgies, that the theological truths that are contained in those would be things that over time would shape and frame the thinking and theology for children and adults.

The second volume is coming out during Lent and after a really hard year that reminded us of our mortality in a lot of ways.

Yeah, it took two years to write volume two. It predated COVID. Through most of 2020, I was continuing to write, and the events that were happening were continuing to shape the content of it. I think one of those was a liturgy for a time of widespread suffering. Even more than current events shaping these there was the absolutely necessary involvement of probably at least 150 people that I corresponded with during that time who either were navigating grief or were facing their own mortality during that season.

There was a woman who had just lost her husband and her seven- and nine-year-old daughters. A mutual acquaintance contacted me to ask if I had anything that might be appropriate for the memorial service. So I sent them a couple of things, and then this woman contacted me within the next couple of weeks to thank me for that. And then we just began this correspondence where she would look at prayers I had written and would give me her honest feedback on what was accurately articulating what was on her heart and what I might be missing on some of those things or things I was completely clueless to. There were a number of heavier topics that it was just so crucial to have this community of grieving people weighing in and ultimately signing off.

Based on the dedication to Jay Swartzendruber, it sounds like you also had some personal experience with grief this year.

Well, yeah, Jay has been a friend for many years. The afternoon that I was finishing the final edits on this book, I got a phone call from another friend giving me the news that Jay had just died unexpectedly earlier that day. So for the next couple of hours, I continued to work on the manuscript, but it was through tears. But it was also with such an assurance of the reality of the things I had just spent two years writing about. And knowing that it was okay to live in that tension of feeling great grief, but also having a real sense of celebration and hope at the same time. And those things don’t contradict each other for a follower of Christ. Those things are completely interwoven and intermingled, and we should allow ourselves to feel both fully at the same time.

That’s powerful. Do you have a specific liturgy in volume 2 that is most meaningful to you?

Yeah. In volume 1 the book closes with the liturgy of praise to the King of creation. It’s this exuberant worshipful song of a prayer just praising Christ. The final prayer [in volume 2] is a liturgy of praise to Christ who conquered death. I think that’s become one of the most meaningful ones for me. I was saving it for the end because I recognized it as something that I needed after having spent two years wrestling through these topics of death and mortality and grieving.

I wanted to end the experience of writing the book with letting all of that be summed up in an expression of the great hope that we have and turn all of that into worship of Christ. Because he is the one who has conquered death, who has given us this hope that is so powerful that it undercuts, transcends, and ultimately transforms our dying and the grief that we do encounter in this life. That’s one that definitely comes to mind as a contender for the one that’s most meaningful to me.

There’s a prayer in the new book giving voice to the costly confession. When everything is going well for us, it doesn’t really ask much of us to give thanks to God or to declare his worthiness. But in those times when life is a struggle or in the most extreme scenario when we are facing our own imminent death, what does it mean at that point to say to God, “Even so, you are worthy of all glory, all praise whether I live or die”? The collective suffering that we’ve experienced over the last year does put us in a place where it’s more sobering and it’s more costly to make those kinds of declarations.

Speaking of formation, how has your view on death and dying grief been formed? And what is your hope for this specific volume coming out in 2021?

The answer to both of those questions is probably the same answer. I did a lot of reading of books written by people chronicling their own grief process or theological works about death and dying and grief. I began to realize through all of that was that the church, at least in the West, no longer has a robust theology of dying based on Scripture. And there are a number of reasons for that. One of them, I think, has to do with medical advances and the fact that we no longer find ourselves in a time and place when most of us have experienced a number of deaths firsthand growing up.

So often our experiences around death and grief are awkward because we’re not prepared. We don’t know how to really serve those who are dying. We don’t know how to mourn with those who are mourning. And we don’t know how to navigate our own dying when each of us reaches that season. Part of my hope for what volume 2 might do—in addition to serving individuals who are walking through these seasons—is to be a catalyst for churches to begin to have these conversations and to develop a more robust theology of dying.

Part of what I think we’ve lost is an understanding of how we are crucified with Christ. At the moment we begin the journey as followers of Jesus, we are learning to die to ourselves. We’re baptized into his death. Baptism is the symbol of us who we were dying, of laying down our own desires. And then as we follow him throughout the rest of our lives, it’s this ongoing process of sanctification, of becoming more and more like him. So much of that has to do with continuing to lay down our own dreams, our own desires.

Our last crossing of the valley of the shadow of death is an expected and final part of that journey. It’s the point where we at last will willingly or unwillingly lay down all of those final things that we’ve still been carrying and fully embrace the life that we have in him. That’s not to say that death is not unnatural and an enemy. Scripture tells us that it’s the last enemy that will be destroyed, but it will be destroyed. And that’s great cause for rejoicing. That’s one element of that theology of dying that I hope that the church in the West can reclaim in a more holistic way that’s not just relegated to a funeral service.

For the believer, hope is that is the common theme that runs through all of the death, the dying, the suffering and the grief. And of those three—death, grief, and hope—hope is the only one that is eternal. Its fulfillment is eternal.

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


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2021, 05:24:06 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/march-web-only/new-dead-sea-scrolls-discovery-bible-translation-israel.html








Dead Sea Scrolls Discovery Reveals New Details About the Bible’s Earliest Translations




Tiny fragments of the minor prophets in Greek show that scribes adapted texts in similar ways to our contemporary versions.


Israeli researchers and archaeologists unveiled this week several groundbreaking discoveries, including dozens of biblical scroll fragments that represent the first newly uncovered Dead Sea Scrolls in more than half a century.

The Dead Sea Scrolls contain some of the earliest known Jewish religious documents, including biblical texts, dated from the third century B.C. to the second century A.D. The manuscripts were first unearthed in the immediate aftermath of World War II in the caves near Qumran and the Judean Desert.

Even an initial review of the new fragments—which will be analyzed and scrutinized for years to come—offers some exciting findings about how the earliest biblical texts were translated and adapted in ways like our own.

The discovery comes at a time when demand for antiquities has skyrocketed, spurring looting and forgeries over the past several years as wealthy collectors hope to acquire any remaining scraps of the priceless scrolls.

Starting around 2002, a number of widely publicized “Dead Sea Scroll” fragments emerged with questionable origin stories. After a series of illegal attempts to acquire artifacts and scrolls, Israeli Antiquities Authority conducted a series of archaeological surveys to reexamine the interiors of the caves along the cliffs of the Judean Desert.

Beginning in 2017, its researchers uncovered two dozen scroll pieces, each measuring only a few centimeters across, from the so-called Cave of Horror near the western shore of the Dead Sea. It’s a site where insurgents were believed to have hidden during the uprising led by Simon bar Kokhba against the Roman empire in A.D. 133–136. It gets its name from the discovery of 40 bodies during initial excavations decades before.

Unlike most of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written in Hebrew and Aramaic, the fragments from the Cave of Horror contain Greek letters. Scholars determined they came from a Greek translation of the Book of the Twelve in Hebrew, what many Christians call the Minor Prophets.

The job of reconstructing the original document is akin to trying to assemble a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle with only a handful of pieces. The largest fragment contains portions of Zechariah 8:16–17, and some smaller bits are identified as Nahum 1:5–6. These pieces appear to be connected to other previously discovered fragments from the same cave along the ancient gorge of Nahal Hever and were part of a single large scroll including all of the minor prophets.

The text comes from the oldest physical scroll of the Greek Bible we have, but it likely represents a development or revision of the standard Greek translation—often referred to as the Septuagint, LXX, or Old Greek.

Two characteristics found for the first time in this ancient Greek translation correspond in remarkable ways to our modern English Bibles.

First, the newly discovered pieces show a special treatment for the four letters of God’s name, the Tetragrammaton (see Exodus 3:14–15). Instead of rendering the name in typical fashion with the Greek word Kyrios, the name of God is represented in Hebrew letters written right to left. It would be similar to us using the Hebrew letters יהוה (YHWH) or possibly the Latin DOMINUS in the middle of an English sentence.

This representation is significant because using specialized characters for the divine name has carried through to our modern Bibles. Most English Bibles represent the name as “the LORD” with small capital letters, rather than representing its supposed pronunciation Yahweh, as many scholars suggest. This substitution follows the ancient tradition of reading Adonai, a Hebrew word meaning “Lord,” or even HaShem “The Name,” in place of representing God’s name according to its sound.

Moreover, the lettering for God’s name is not typical of most of the other Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew manuscripts. It is an even older script, sometimes called paleo-Hebrew, which was mostly abandoned in everyday writing during the second temple period. Think of it as the difference between our modern Latin lettering and the calligraphic Fraktur or Gothic script, or possibly even like Greek letters. Putting these representations into a translated text provides both a foreignness to the writing and a type of reverence for the name’s uniqueness.

The second correlation we find in the new fragments is evidence of changing words to try to improve a new translation. The Minor Prophets scroll represents a revision of an older Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. The original version was used widely by Greek-speaking Jews in the first century throughout the Mediterranean world, but at some point, a new translation became warranted.

For Zechariah 8:17, the Old Greek translated the first word in the Hebrew text (אִישׁ) as a distributive term meaning “each other, another,” which put at the end, similar to every major English version. For example, the NIV reads, “Do not plot evil against each other.”

In the new fragment, the same term is translated by a different Greek word at the beginning. Using an interlinear approach—finding a corresponding word without accounting for the context of its use—the verse starts by representing the same Hebrew word as “man.” It forms an overliteral translation: “As for a man, do not plot evil against his neighbor in your heart.”

It would seem that the efforts to render the Bible accurately into common languages date back to our earliest textual evidence of the Scriptures. Yet this difference anticipates the various modern opinions about how best to represent God’s word in our vernaculars.

These texts will undoubtably launch an array of research in years to come, with other features possibly revealed through multispectral imaging and digital magnification. As a biblical scholar, I can imagine these ancient readers striving to translate the Hebrew Scriptures that we read today and then carrying these meaningful texts into the darkest moments of their history to help them better understand God and their world.

Our connection to these people through this ancient text—now brought forward in tiny pieces, bit by bit—demonstrates the profound human desire to seek God especially in our moments of greatest trial and uncertainty.







Chip Hardy is associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Exegetical Gems from Biblical Hebrew: A Refreshing Guide to Grammar and Interpretation.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2021, 06:33:01 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/april/single-unmarried-christians-fill-foster-adoption-gap.html








Christian Singles Aren’t Waiting for Marriage to Become Parents




As more unmarried women and men foster and adopt, how can the church provide what some nontraditional families cannot?


Heather Creed grew up in suburban Indiana and attended Taylor University, expecting her life trajectory to be similar to that of many of her friends. “I always thought I would marry and have seven kids and be a stay-at-home, homeschool mom,” Creed said. “That’s clearly not what happened.”

Creed, 45, is now an attorney who settled in Columbus, Ohio, after stints in Waco, Texas, and New York City. Her family isn’t the traditional midwestern one of her childhood. She never married. But that didn’t stop her from adopting two boys and recently becoming licensed, for the second time, to foster children in her home.

Andy Jackson, 33, was single when he started fostering a decade ago while working as a special education teacher in Pell City, Alabama. He adopted his first child when he was 23 and went on to adopt two more children, one with special needs.

Now married, he and his wife have eight children—including a toddler they are in the process of adopting together, three biological children from his wife’s previous marriage, and one she adopted with her deceased husband. Collectively, they estimate, they have fostered more than 50 children through foster and respite care.

Angelle Jones, 64, was one of the first in her community to foster or adopt when she took in a five-year-old girl in Cincinnati in 1978. She was 21 then and hadn’t met another single African American adoptive parent like her—or even a black couple who had adopted from an agency. (Kinship adoption was more common, she said.) More recently, she’s had multiple conversations with single women around her who are considering adoption.

While adoption and orphan care have long been core causes for evangelicals, they have largely had the nuclear family at their center. In his 2010 case for “Why Every Christian Is Called to Support Adoption,” Russell Moore wrote in CT that “the fatherhood of God is better understood in a culture where children know what it means to say ‘Daddy’ and ‘Mommy.’”

Creed, Jackson, and Jones represent a small but significant number of Christian women and men pursuing foster care and adoption while single. Like other single parents, these single parents by choice often face immense financial and lifestyle challenges. But in evangelical churches, such parents also have to swim against the current of long-held norms around family.

As many Christians remain single longer and later, however, advocates say that singles who foster and adopt are finding increased acceptance and support among their fellow conservative Christians.

Singles—mostly women—accounted for nearly 30 percent of all public adoptions in 2019, taking in more than 19,000 children. The Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t track adoptive parents by religion and doesn’t distinguish between never-married and divorced individuals, but limited data from the National Survey of Family Growth shows that unmarried evangelical and nonevangelical women express similar levels of interest in adopting.

Jedd Medefind, president of the advocacy and support group Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), said he has seen singles involved in foster care and adoption throughout his career, but he’s noticed it a lot more in the past five to seven years, as foster care and adoption in general have surged in the church.

“It’s been a steady increase in both interest and engagement by singles in every facet of working with vulnerable children—foster care, adoption, mentoring,” Medefind said. “There is a desire to live out God’s call in practical ways, for their faith to not just be theoretical but to serve in hands-on ways.”

Atlanta’s North Point Community Church is one place where that desire is evident. More than 100 families are involved in its Fostering Together ministry, which supports foster and adoptive families across the multisite church’s seven locations. At the Buckhead campus alone, nearly half of the 13 families with foster children are parented by single adults.

Alison Feyereisen, who helps lead the ministry, hasn’t seen any recent surge in singles taking in children, but she has noticed that “the church seems to be more welcoming and supporting it better than [in] years before.” Fostering Together aims to bolster that support—for singles and couples—by providing both adults and children with what Feyereisen calls “wraparound care” that is holistic and practical and by engaging in churchwide activism and prayer.

“Psalm 68 says that God puts the lonely in families. And that’s not primarily just talking about a biological nuclear family; it’s talking about the people of God,” said pastor and The Gospel Coalition editor Sam Allberry in a TGC video in early 2019. “A single person may be thinking, ‘I’m just a mum or just a dad and I can’t do the role of both parents,’ but actually, with the support of a wider church family, that child should be growing up in a very, very healthy family context. I think it’s a great thing for singles to adopt.”

Helping singles who are already caring for vulnerable children seems like a natural role for churches. But how much they should encourage singles to pursue foster care—and especially adoption—is far less clear.

Historically, married couples have been upheld as the ideal family model, including for foster care and adoption. The Child Welfare League of America standardized its commitment in 1958, stating that adoptive families should include both a mother and a father. Efforts to recruit single adults to adopt began in the 1960s, according to the University of Oregon’s Adoption History Project, when the Los Angeles Bureau of Adoptions tapped single African Americans to help place black children.

The church, in particular, has had a “high view of the nuclear family and a hesitancy about intentionally forming families that are something other than a traditional, two-parent home,” according to Jonathan Reid, the founder of Fostering Hope, a New England–based group that supports local churches in foster care and adoption.

Steve Roach, the executive director of Catholic Charities of Springfield, Illinois, told The Heritage Foundation in 2018 that “our preference for non-relative foster placements was with married couples to give children the opportunity for a mother and a father figure in their lives. We would work with single parents as long as they were not cohabitating with another adult.”

While most states allow for adoption by an unmarried person, in Arizona and Utah, married couples are explicitly preferred over single-parent households. Individual agencies have their own preferences, which often stem from religious objections to cohabiting or same-sex parenting and have been challenged in court. Policies at some faith-based agencies that prohibit placement with LGBT couples, for instance, are at the center of a case currently before the Supreme Court.

Many studies have shown detrimental effects on children who grow up in single-parent households instead of two-parent households. And children who are adopted or fostered are more likely to struggle socially, emotionally, and academically, said sociologist and National Marriage Project director W. Bradford Wilcox.

“Single parents and single mothers may struggle with the challenges of raising a kid in foster care without having a second parent to support them and support the child,” he said.

In some situations, that could be dangerous, he said, putting the parent, the child, or both at risk. Foster children especially are already in a difficult situation, and Wilcox believes that in most cases, agencies should prioritize placements with married, two-parent households for the sake of stability and support for the children.

But for singles like Clarise Cannings, running up against the traditional agency preference for married parents can feel like a personal rejection. The 42-year-old originally applied to a private Christian agency when she was pursuing foster care in Bowie, Maryland.

“They were looking for a certain type of person to be an adoptive parent,” she said. When the agency found out that she was single and worked full-time (even though she worked from home and her company was supportive of foster care), Cannings said they told her they “have moms we use.”

“It hurt a lot,” she said. “Maybe they didn’t think I was motherly enough.”

That agency referred Cannings to a public agency, and she has since fostered eight different children from newborn to 19 years old over the past two years. The only time she declined a placement was when the agency asked if she could take both a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Despite her desire, she felt that wasn’t wise as a single person.

“I had a yearning to be a mother. I recognized that there were children who need a mother. The Lord allowed me to have these rooms, this space, and allowed me to have room in my heart,” she said.

Advocates like Reid think evangelical attitudes toward single parenting by choice are shifting. One reason could be reduced stigma toward single parenting generally, given the prevalence of divorce within the church and the desire among Christians to support mothers who otherwise might choose an abortion, said R. Marie Griffith, a professor of humanities at Washington University in St. Louis who has studied trends among evangelical women.

Marriage rates, too, are declining inside and outside the church, leaving more single women childless. Reid, who said his own views on the issue have evolved, noted that singles have other entry points beyond fostering and adoption: There is respite care (a trained position to aid foster families), or working with emergency placements that are as temporary as a day or a weekend.

“Is it ideal for a kid to be in foster care with two parents? Yes, of course,” Reid said. But there are so many kids and the need is so urgent that there is “absolutely a place” for singles to provide direct care for at-risk children.

For a child coming from an unstable background, living with just one stable parent can be a huge improvement. And in some cases, singleness can be an advantage: Children with a history of sexual or physical abuse, refugee children, or teen boys with a violent history toward men (for instance, protecting their mother from her batterer) might benefit from placement with a single woman, said Cheri Williams, who oversees Bethany Christian Services’ domestic programs.

“There’s the myth of the perfect family or stay-at-home mom,” Williams said. “There is no perfect family, but there can be a ‘just right fit.’ You’re not meeting family’s needs; you’re meeting the kid’s needs.”

Bethany estimates that about 20 percent of its foster parents are unmarried. The agency saw a 3 percent increase in single foster parents from 2019 to 2020, according to a spokesperson. There are more than 400,000 children in foster care nationwide, with 120,000 of them eligible for adoption right now.

In March, Bethany announced it would allow LGBT couples to foster and adopt nationwide, in a move to be inclusive toward different arrangements of parents (it was already allowing such foster placements in some states).

Williams’s team watches for certain red flags when they consider placements with single people. They try to weed out those who may be motivated by the financial “benefits” of foster care (which is a myth, Williams added) or by overly strong maternal instincts, which she calls the “motherhood motivation.”

Single parenting by choice is a calling. It’s not for people who simply want to “experience having kids,” said Robin Gerardi, head of WeFoster, a ministry of First Baptist Church Woodstock in Georgia. WeFoster provides extra support for single foster moms—who make up 12 of the 60 foster families at the church—including laundry services, handyman volunteers, and meal trains when a family receives a placement.

“We’ve proven that single moms are some of our best foster moms. They get it, they focus on the kids,” Gerardi said.

Heather Creed agrees. “I don’t have to worry about the health of my marriage and myself and my husband and any biological children,” she said. “I can give so much more focus to the healing and restoration of the child.”

Still, like Gerardi, Creed cautions those in particular who want to adopt simply out of a parental desire to have kids. “There are a whole lot of issues that will emerge from that,” she said.

Cristen Simcox, 31, also believes that singles don’t have to adopt. There’s a waiting list for adoption, she said, but not for foster care and “in the gap” care.

Simcox felt led to foster while a pediatric emergency room nurse in Temple, Texas, after seeing the awful circumstances her young patients faced. She and a friend—also a single Christian and an ER nurse—had wanted to house children in need but felt their unpredictable schedules would make it too difficult.

“Logistically, neither of us could do it alone, but maybe we could together,” she said. So, they moved in together. Though their parenting styles were different, Simcox said, they were able to support each other and lean on the wraparound care of their community.

“I really wanted to show [the kids] the love that God has for them for whatever period I had with them in my home.” Simcox ultimately adopted her first two placements before meeting her future husband, Stephen. They met on a dating app, and she wasn’t able to hide the fact that she was a single mom.

“I had baby clothes in a bag on our first date,” Simcox said. “So, I told him right away. He was surprised but was attracted to my heart for the Lord.”

With widespread evangelical enthusiasm for adoption and foster care, it can be easy to forget those institutions only exist because of widespread brokenness.

In some ways, singles are catching the sharpest pieces when families and communities break.

Health and Human Services data shows that, in public adoptions nationally, singles have been more likely than married couples to adopt children with special needs. It’s difficult to know exactly what this means, since many adoptions happen privately and each situation is unique. But it suggests that often, “single parents offer families of last resort for desperate children who have no other choices,” according to the authors of the Adoption History Project.

Creed, a white woman, feels she has stepped into the pain of broken families in new ways as she parents 13- and 5-year-old fatherless black boys. It’s part of the reason she moved to New York City from Texas.

“I will never understand what it means to be black, a black man, adopted, and raised by a single mom. But they both do, and they have each other,” she said. “It wasn’t their choice; they didn’t have any say whether they were going to be raised by a single mom.”

While her church is very supportive and several men there are good role models for her boys, Creed realizes they can never fully substitute for a father.

“It’s not how it’s supposed to be,” she said. “I don’t think that makes [adoption as a single person] wrong, and certainly not sinful, but I think it’s a result of brokenness.”

Angelle Jones was raised without the picture-perfect nuclear family, and she didn’t see that as a barrier to her own desire to provide a home for children.

“I grew up with a single mom. She made it look easy. I realize in my community and context there were more single parents than married. It was a norm for me,” said Jones, who never married and who adopted her daughter in 1984 after two years of fostering. Sixteen years later, she also raised her granddaughter. “For years I didn’t meet any single African American women who adopted.”

Now, she is having more conversations with unmarried women in their 40s who are considering adoption, but she doesn’t necessarily recommend it to them. It’s hard, she says, and foster care may be the better route as a single person. But she recognizes the benefit: She learned deep sacrifice and found a “level of love that single women who never marry and never have children have the opportunity to experience.”

While many singles say that fostering and adopting are isolating experiences, others have found a wider network. There are global or national communities on social media, such as the 5,000-member “Single Foster Mommas” Facebook group. “Please remember that we are looking for women who are unmarried and doing this without a spouse,” wrote the administrators in the group’s description.

But Christian community is harder to find. Singles who might already feel overlooked in the church can feel even more like outsiders when they begin foster care, said CAFO’s national director for church initiatives Jason Johnson. The feeling of not belonging can be “compounded with singles,” he said.

Many men and women interviewed by CT mentioned that around the same time that they started considering taking children into their homes, they had changed churches to find a more supportive community.

Jillian Hazel, 33, is a preschool teacher and has fostered children of all ages over the past two years from her home in Tulsa. At-risk children have always been a big part of her life through professional and volunteer engagements. But fostering a different child every few months “felt like whiplash,” she said. She has at times struggled to find her place in her church’s social structure as an unmarried working woman, parenting kids in constantly changing stages.

“My church is incredible. They do trauma-informed care, and even still I feel like people don’t know how to think of me,” Hazel said. With her current placement, a 13-year-old girl, she gets together with families that have older children. But she socialized with different families when she housed a two-year-old boy.

This year, during the pandemic, caring for a child “who is experiencing the effects of trauma, isolation, and puberty has made this the hardest year of my life so far,” she said. No one else is there to help her, to take the child for a minute while she does chores. Although she worked through the desire to be married before fostering, she said, she felt the weight of her singleness again while fostering. But she has learned to lean on the sufficiency of Christ.

“When I come up against the fact of my own weakness as one person to be everything they need in a parent, I remember that I can trust myself and them to his hands,” she said. She recalled rocking her two-year-old to sleep, singing his favorite worship song: “King of My Heart.”

“As I rocked him to sleep, overwhelmed with the children’s needs and my own fears and inadequacy, the words I was singing were, ‘[You’re] never gonna let me down. You are good, good.’”

Despite the unprecedented challenges of parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers of families interested in foster care and adoption have actually increased. Bethany saw a 55 percent jump in families
expressing interest.

Sarah Cruz is one of them. Spending time in quarantine during 2020 crystallized her desire to adopt. Never married at 41, Cruz had chewed on the idea for 10 years but now has begun fundraising and working with an adoption consultant—someone to walk her through the process. It was not an easy decision.

“The scriptural command to care for widows and orphans is very clear, but I believe it’s ideal for a child to have a mom and a dad, so I never considered being a single parent,” said Cruz, who is also the creative director for Saddleback Church in Southern California.

For Cruz, as for many people, quarantine exacerbated feelings that singles like her don’t have much support in the church in general, let alone if they are considering adoption. “Single people struggle to find their place since the church is built a lot around the nuclear family,” she said.

Only after starting her process did she learn of other single people involved in foster care and adoption at her church. “While I feel like I intellectually know there’s support for adoptive parents, I have yet to know how much support there will be for me,” she said.

Cruz wrestles with plenty of questions: Am I just adopting because I want to force God’s hand? Do I just want to move into the next chapter? Is it okay to start a family while you’re single? Is this really God’s will?

“There’s a big gap in conversation in the church that I know, for myself, I’m having to sort through it by myself and I don’t have the answers,” Cruz said. “I trust, as I move forward in this, that God will continue to lead me and guide me.”

Move forward she will. Cruz was recently matched with a birth mom. Her little girl is due in April.








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


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2021, 07:10:16 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2021/march/equality-act-people-of-faith-and-religious-freedom.html








The Equality Act, People of Faith, and Religious Freedom




When sexual freedom conflicts with religious freedom, who will take precedent?


H. R. 5, known as “The Equality Act,” was introduced in the United States Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, the credit system, and jury duty. H. R. 5 seeks to create a new protected class for people experiencing same-sex attraction or gender discordance from discrimination of any kind. At the heart of this effort is an attempt to dismiss ontological sexual differences as unimportant by redefining gender as only a matter of social construct.

The Equality Act, which has an appealing name, does not actually support equality for everyone. To the contrary, it targets people of faith for whom human sexuality is not merely a matter of personal opinion. Several advocates for The Equality Act claim that the proposal allows both sexual freedom and religious freedom to coexist, doing so by understanding faith primarily, if not entirely, as a private expression in one’s heart. Under this law, religious faith is limited to a narrow, personal, subjective, and privatized understanding of faith. For years, the brilliant sociologist Peter Berger insightfully and prophetically reminded us of the trends in our culture not only toward secularization and pluralization, but toward the privatization of faith.

Fellow citizens who hold positions of religious faith, however, understand that one’s faith is both objective and subjective, vertical and horizontal, as well as personal and communal. Faith possesses certain public dimensions that should not be outlawed simply because of changes in a public opinion poll. Human dignity must remain vital for every person since all humans are created in the image of God. Thus, all persons, regardless of their religious beliefs, should be treated with compassion and respect without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, or biological sex.

Unjust discrimination or harassment must never be tolerated in a pluralistic society and the desire to protect people from such unwelcomed actions is commendable. Where genuine unjust discrimination and harassment exists, all Americans, regardless of religious identity, should work together in a pluralistic society to seek to address such actions. As a nation founded with a commitment to principled pluralism, we want to honor every person’s right to gainful employment and to basic goods and services needed to live and flourish. People of faith want to work with others, demonstrating neighbor love, to ensure that these basic rights are protected and that nondiscrimination principles are protected. We want to see this take place, however, without confusing ontological differences between male and female.

When sexual freedom conflicts with religious freedom, The Equality Act devalues religious freedom, stating that “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993,” which was sponsored in the House of Representatives by then Congressman Chuck Schumer and in the Senate by Senator Ted Kennedy, and passed almost unanimously by Congress before being signed into law by President Bill Clinton, “shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.” This language removes traditional religious freedom protections that have characterized Constitutional discussions since the days of the Bill of Rights. Appearing to target those who might disagree with the ideas put forth in the legislation, it effectively brings an end to the kind of dialogue that has long been important for a pluralistic society.

The Equality Act would become the first major piece of legislation in the history of the United States to exclude protections for religious freedom. The bill does not even recognize the sacred rights of religious congregations, communities, or denominations. In fact, it would discriminate against people of faith by adversely affecting religious schools, benevolence organizations, women’s sports, sex specific facilities, and conscience rights. If religious freedom entails the ability of people on their own to reach conclusions about their religious beliefs and to live out those beliefs in the community, the marketplace, and the public square in an unhindered way, then the so-called Equality Act will violate the religious freedom of millions of people in this country.

H. R. 5, which was passed in the House of Representatives this past month, and which President Biden has promised to sign into law, reveals the divisions in American culture. President Biden commented that “every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”

Yet, this legislation has been called the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America because of its intent to mandate understandings of sexual orientation and gender identity as expectations for all aspects of society. Anyone who maintains a traditional understanding of human sexuality, gender identity, and marriage will no longer be allowed to disagree out of good will and commitment to one’s beliefs but will treated as one guilty of discrimination. The bill also addresses abortion by including the language of “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition” as that which is forbidden by law. By including this language in the discussions of sexuality, anyone who refuses to perform an abortion would be guilty of sexual discrimination

As others have observed, The Equality Act, which reaches far beyond its basic goals, fails to differentiate between views that are morally repugnant from those that are culturally disfavored. It should be recognized that this would not just affect one particular religious group. This legislation moves against people represented across the entire landscape of the United States, all of whom cherish historical protections for the diversity of religious convictions.

Beliefs regarding sexual ethics held by Muslims, Jews, Roman Catholics, and Evangelical Protestants are supported by centuries of tradition, reason, and natural law, as well as by teachings viewed as special revelation by these various faith communities. The proposed legislation pushes against these perspectives and seeks to contain them in certain legal spaces deemed appropriate by public law. By doing so, it delegitimizes diverse points of view held by people of good will. Looking ahead, these perspectives will be viewed to represent malevolent ill will, labeled as a form of discrimination similar to racism.

Religious communities have also maintained an anthropological understanding that the human person is a unity of body and soul, a whole person. They have maintained that a person’s identity is not separable from one’s body. Sexual difference is a sacred dimension of human life and the beautiful complementarity between male and female should be celebrated. The Equality Act would thus burden people who have religious-based questions about the gender ideology movement.

If passed by the U. S. Senate, this legislation would create a hostility toward religious ethics in the court of public opinion resulting in the narrowing of opportunities for people of faith to serve in the areas of education, social work, counseling, healthcare, as well as other spheres. Extending beyond the impact of the Obergefell (2015) and Bostock (2020) Supreme Court decision, the missional, legal, financial, and cultural impact of The Equality Act on religious schools, non-profits, and benevolence organizations would be immediate and wide ranging.

Raising the LGBTQ community to a protected class at the federal level would greatly affect hiring rights, behavioral expectations, federal funding, and accreditation. Moreover, it would change the way that graduates of religious colleges are viewed when it comes to graduate school opportunities, job placement, and internships, making it more difficult for these schools to carry out their mission in a faithful manner, limiting their ability to serve society at large. Frankly, the bill is so pervasive, almost nothing would escape its sweeping influence, having implications for private businesses and individuals as well.

The Equality Act expands the meaning of public accommodations in ways that would violate the privacy of women and men, forcing a gender ideology not only on schools, but healthcare organizations and those who provide benevolence and charitable services. Some entities that would not normally be classified by law as public institutions will be considered such by H. R. 5. As a result of this legislation, if a Jewish synagogue, for example, rents its banquet hall for certain events, then they would be mandated to host events that they may consider immoral in their facility.

The Equality Act is anything but a step toward ensuring that America lives up to its foundational values of equality and freedom for all. With no ability to appeal to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the protection of conscience and religious liberty will be lost. People of faith, while recognizing that they now live as a cultural and cognitive minority, will need to work together, exemplifying conviction as well as civility and kindness, to support religious freedom issues as a first priority, recognizing the broad implications for many areas of private and public life in what Charles Taylor has rightly called “our secular age.”








David S. Dockery serves as president of the International Alliance for Christian Education and as distinguished professor of theology at Southwestern Seminary.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2021, 07:36:57 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/march/pew-easter-church-attendance-evangelical-in-person-covid.html








Will Easter Resurrect Pandemic Church Attendance? Depends on Your Tradition.





More than half of evangelicals will be back in person, but most Catholics and black and mainline Protestants are still waiting to return.


When churches first shut down for the pandemic, many Christians hoped they would be back together within weeks for Easter. A year later, the holiday will be the first time more than half of evangelicals in the US plan to return to worship in person, according to a Pew Research Center report out Monday.

Even though most churches have reopened, the proclamation that “He is risen indeed” will be quieter than normal years, with sparser holiday crowds (and mask requirements muffling their voices). Among all American Christians, 39 percent say they plan to celebrate Resurrection Sunday in person, compared to 62 percent during a typical year.

Evangelical Protestants are more likely than any other Christian group to say they’ll be in church on Easter this year (52%). For many congregations, last year’s socially distant drive-up worship will be replaced by traditional sunrise services and egg hunts.

Easter is typically one of the most-attended weekends on the church calendar, and this year pastors anticipate that many Christians will want to get back to the familiar celebrations within their communities of faith.

Connection Point Church in Jackson, Missouri, which celebrated virtually last year, is expecting in-person attendance to spike for Palm Sunday and Easter. “With all the other turmoil that’s been on with our society, there is a longing [for] not only normalcy but hope,” pastor Chris Vaught said in an interview with KFVS.

But certain Christian traditions are holding out a little longer. Just 36 percent of Catholics and 27 percent of mainline Protestants say they’ll return for Easter, Pew found. Though historically black Protestants typically rank among evangelicals for the highest levels of Easter attendance, fewer than a third (31%) say they will attend services this year.

One North Carolina preacher shared with local news how his predominantly African American church, Deeper Life Church Ministries, will be reopening on Easter for the first time, but only at a quarter of its 1,000-person capacity. “I’m excited. For any preacher. Resurrection Sunday is their happy day,” he said.

Christians’ Easter plans reflect the ongoing gaps in church attendance. A third of regular churchgoers were back by July 2020, and the rest have incrementally become more comfortable with attending over the past few months.

The majority of churchgoers say their church has opened, either with modifications (64%) or as normal (12%). About half say they require social distancing and masks; 42 percent cap attendance capacity; and a quarter said that services restrict singing.

But most aren’t yet back into the habit of leaving their couches to worship together on Sundays. Among Christians who usually attend church regularly, only 43 percent showed up over past month, while two-thirds of Christians said they attended an online service.

Evangelicals were the only group to have a majority (53%) worship in person, up from 44 percent in July, according to the new report. Black Protestants—whose communities have been hard-hit by COVID-19—are half as likely as other Christians to return to in-person worship. Just 21 percent said they had been back in March.

Church attendance remains lowest in the West, with California’s gathering restrictions keeping many congregations from meeting inside. Just 37 percent of regular churchgoers in the West say they recently attended religious services, compared to 46 percent in the Northeast, 44 percent in the Midwest, and 42 percent in the South.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2021, 05:57:22 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/march-web-only/pastoral-care-counseling-journal-psychology-language.html








Study: Today’s Pastoral Counseling Is More Fluent in Psychology





Journal documents how clergy adapted as more people turned to therapy over religion.


One hundred years ago or more, if you had problems in your marriage or suffered from depression, you might turn to your pastor. In response, he’d address your problems in explicitly Christian terms.

“The problem was sin, and the solution was salvation,” writes John Bernau, a sociologist at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.

Christian clergy held the clear monopoly on helping people attend to their problems for centuries. But during the early 20th century, religion and medicine were engaged in a dialogue on emerging psychological care.

Offering a slice of that discussion, a February article in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion documents trends in the way pastors wrote about their role as counselors as it became commonplace for people to turn to psychologists rather than spiritual leaders with their problems.

Using computational text analysis, Bernau read through over 70 years of articles in the Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, an interdisciplinary journal including both spiritual care and psychotherapy.

The sociologist found the words God, Christian, Jesus, Christ, and church were used in about 5 percent of the article content in the early 1950s, dropping to about 1 percent today. Now, the word God is used alongside other words like love, heart, life, and care.

He suggests the religious language is replaced with individualistic language, favoring the kind of personal narrative and experience that came to be the norm in therapy by mental health professionals.

He noted that since the 1960s, pastors’ language lost its denominational specificity in favor of a more ecumenical and open approach, deferring to meeting on believers’ terms.

“(A person’s) stories, experience, and narrative construction are welcomed by an occupation whose professional identity is increasingly focused on listening, reflection, and conversation,” wrote Bernau.

By focusing on the terms used in the journal, the study can track a shift in how pastors portray their counseling work, but not necessarily whether the terminology they used with congregants changed as well. Bernau clarified that the analysis can offer researchers the ability “to map the broad currents of the profession but is not meant to replace close historical analysis.”

In another trend, pastors also became more likely to use psychological terms in their writing but less likely to discuss the related professions of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry.

Bernau wrote, “this decline may signal a solidification of jurisdictional boundaries” after the lively debate arising in the 1960s, which has resulted in a menu of spiritual and mental care options, from therapists—both secular and Christian—to nouthetic or biblical counselors to pastors. As CT reported, some pastors today have continued to view psychological counseling with suspicion, while others see differences in approach as “jurisdictions,” requiring pastors to partner with other mental health professionals to provide holistic care.

As more people stopped trusting pastors as an authority on mental health, the chaplaincy—religious positions within secular institutions like hospitals or the military—rose as a reaction, a way to offer faith-based guidance from within more trusted spaces. Since the 1980s, raw word counts of chaplain, clergy, pastor, and priest illustrate how chaplaincy has come to dominate the journal.

Bernau offers two takeaways. First, don’t be afraid to offer a distinct message. In fact, Christian counselors can be clearer about what their tradition offers over secular guidance. “If you believe the message of Christ has meaning in today’s world, don’t be afraid to communicate that message in clear and explicit language,” he said.

Secondly, he suggested that Christian theology can be reinterpreted for contemporary pastoral care. “Instead of the aggressive, proscriptive counseling of the past, Christian theology might be called to provide a gentler, more subtle message” vis-à-vis St. Francis of Assisi, who believed the gospel wasn’t communicated only through words—listening belongs in pastoral care, too.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - March 2021
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2021, 12:19:27 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/march/archegos-capital-bill-hwang-grace-and-mercy-foundation-evan.html








Wall Street Crisis Could Cost Evangelical Orgs






The CEO of Archegos Capital, now making financial headlines for risky trading, is also known for his generous commitment to Christian ministries.


It’s not often that a Wall Street Journal article on the latest stock market shakeup includes a line describing a Greek reference to Jesus from the New Testament.

The hedge fund at the center of massive selloffs in the market last week was the Christian-owned Archegos Capital Management—named for ἀρχηγός, the Greek word used to describe Christ as the “author” of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) and the “prince” of life (Acts 3:15).

Archegos has dominated the financial headlines over the past few days. The fund placed outsized bets on media stocks using money borrowed from banks, and when the lenders put a check on its high-risk trading, it had to sell off huge blocks of shares, sending the market into a frenzy.

Major corporations and banks lost billions, enough to “impact everyday Americans’ retirement accounts,” CNN Business reported. While investors and shareholders are bracing for the damage, the move could potentially impact evangelical ministries as well.

Archegos CEO Bill Hwang is also the co-founder of the Grace and Mercy Foundation, which shares an office with his New York-based firm and distributes millions in grants to Christian nonprofits every year. So far, it’s unclear how much the financial situation will affect the foundation and its beneficiaries.

Grace and Mercy’s 2018 tax filing (the most recent year available) listed $5.5 million to the Fuller Foundation, $2 million to Fuller Theological Seminary, where Hwang is a trustee, and $1.2 million to the Museum of the Bible, in addition to six-figure donations to A Rocha, International Justice Mission, Luis Palau Association, Prison Fellowship, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, The King’s College, and Young Life.

Annual giving totaled $16.6 million over 63 organizations, including many New York churches and ministries, like City Seminary of New York, Manhattan Christian Academy, and the Bowery Mission.

Though giving by individuals remains the largest source of funding for charities overall, foundations are becoming a bigger player in the landscape.

“We’ve seen a consistent and growing trend in giving by foundations comprising a larger share of total giving than it did 15 years ago,” Amir Pasic, dean of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, told Ministry Watch last year. “This change may reflect larger trends such as in the distribution of wealth and in asset growth across a decade of stock market expansion.”

Grant-giving private foundations is also subject to market forces. As Giving USA researcher Anna Pruitt explained:

Private foundations are required by law to give 5% of the average value of their assets, often held in an endowment. When the financial markets fare well, the assets foundations hold grow–and that 5% of their total value gets larger too. The opposite happens during downturns.

The Grace and Mercy Foundation distributed $79 million over a 10-year span, with its grant amounts increasing in recent years, and the highest levels given in 2017 and 2018. Forbes wrote, “It’s hard to know for sure to what extent Hwang’s hidden fortune was battered last week, though his charity’s filings in future years will show how much the crisis impacts his generosity.”

Hwang is part of a new “evangelical donor-class,” who are less concerned with using their wealth to advance political causes, as covered in The Atlantic in 2019. These newer players in the giving landscape include Asian American Christians who “aren’t necessarily beholden to the culture wars of the past,” Josh Kwan, president of the Christian philanthropic network called The Gathering, told the magazine.

Beyond his $500-million foundation’s investments in American ministries, Hwang sees his career in finance as led by God, saying, “I invest with God’s perspective, according to his timing,” when talking to a Korean audience about faith and work.

This is not Hwang’s first time at the center of a controversy over his financial strategy. Back in 2012, when he ran Tiger Asia Management, he was penalized by regulators in the US and Asia and ultimately had to shut down his firm, pleading guilty to wire fraud and fined over charges of insider trading.

When he shares his story, Hwang points to this time as a period where “money and connection couldn’t really help” and he had to turn to Scripture.

After struggling his whole life as a Christian to get into a habit of Bible reading, he finally was awakened to the power of hearing the Bible read out loud and in community. It was transformative enough that through the Grace and Mercy Foundation he has launched resources for Christians to gather to listen to Scripture together in-person or online.

Hwang has also spoken of how he sees his investment activity as a way to further God’s work in the world, both by serving as a Christian witness in Wall Street and supporting companies that build God-honoring culture and help human society advance.

“I’m like a little child thinking, ‘What can I do today, where can I invest to please our God?’” he said in a conversation with Fuller Studio. “Remember Jesus saying, ‘My Father is working, therefore I’m working’? God is working, Jesus is working, and I’m working—I’m not going to retire until he pulls me back.”
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 12:23:05 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 -


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