+- +-

+- User

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

+-Stats ezBlock

Members
Total Members: 135
Latest: Studyman
New This Month: 1
New This Week: 1
New Today: 1
Stats
Total Posts: 32794
Total Topics: 1168
Most Online Today: 1701
Most Online Ever: 46271
(March 28, 2021, 08:01:47 pm)
Users Online
Members: 1
Guests: 76
Total: 77

Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020  (Read 1838 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« on: November 05, 2020, 05:33:52 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/november/evangelical-election-trump-biden-wait-vote-count-pa.html








Christian Trump and Biden Voters Wait on the Lord ... and Ballot Counts




Without a clear victory, Americans keep praying for candidates and the country.


Blessed are those who wait on the battleground states.

Evangelicals have joined the rest of the United States praying and anticipating the results of the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden after election night came and went without a definitive winner.

Each told supporters they were confident of their chances in critical states that needed more time to finish counting votes: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Trump told a crowd at his campaign headquarters that he was ahead in the undeclared states and claimed that “we will win this, and as far as I’m concerned we already have won this,” though the races in several states had not yet been called.

At an event in Delaware, Biden said to “keep the faith” while votes were still being tallied late into the night—and may continue to be counted for days to come. “We’re going to have to be patient,” the former vice president said. “And it ain’t over until every ballot is counted.”

Biden went into the night with a substantial lead in the national polls, but Trump did better than expected in Florida and maintained an edge in Georgia and North Carolina. Among white evangelical and born-again Christians, he earned 78 percent of the vote, according to the first 110,000 voters surveyed by the Associated Press for its VoteCast poll. Trump garnered several percentage points more in key Southern states.

With the unusual difficulties of this year, an ongoing pandemic and social unrest, the election delay can feel like a particularly cruel limbo. After a prolonged early voting season and record-high turnout, enthusiastic supporters on both sides are holding on to hope that their candidate will win.

“I am so optimistic,” Delaware Senator Chris Coons said in a prayer call Monday for the Biden campaign, “but in everything we work and pray for, we need to submit ourselves to our Lord and Savior and whatever is the outcome.”

Coons, a lifelong Presbyterian who has spoken up about the former vice president’s faith, called the election a “kairos moment” when “the arc of history may well turn to justice,” but also told supporters that if the outcome goes the other way, they must be prepared to “accept the judgment of our Lord and our nation.”

Dozens of evangelical pastors and worship leaders lifted up the president on the day before the election and specifically prayed that Christians would vote their values.

“We thank you for a president who has embraced you, embraced people of faith,” said Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. “Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name that you will give us victory, a victory that will resound to the ends of the earth.”

“We have seen you move in the past…,” he said, “and now we are believing and trusting in you O God to do it again.”

Overall, Trump appeared to maintain his support among white evangelicals. High evangelical turnout in Southern states, notably Florida and North Carolina, seemed to keep Trump competitive in the electoral college.

Despite Trump’s notoriously brash personality, “I haven’t seen anything the president has done in the last four years that has dissuaded evangelicals that he isn’t their man: his judicial appointments, his executive orders pertaining to religious freedom, the positions of his justice department in key issues,” said Biola University political science professor Scott Waller.

Evangelical support may not help Trump in Pennsylvania, however. Mainline Protestants and white Catholics both make up larger portions of the electorate, and Catholics appear to be the critical swing vote. In a late October poll, just 37 percent of white Catholics approved of Trump’s job performance, and only about one-third said he’d done a good job handling the coronavirus.

The majority of white evangelicals in the state were leaning the other way: Seventy-five percent said the president cares about people like them and 65 percent said they strongly approved of his job performance.

Evangelicals also make up a smaller percentage of the electorate in the yet-to-be-called midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

The undecided election puts pressure on evangelical leaders who—sensing the strain of increasing partisanship in their congregations—have preached a message of Christian unity, pluralism, and a gospel that transcends earthly divisions.

With the country split over its next president and awaiting the results of a tight election, political scientists say now’s the time to put those ideals into action.

“Trust in our political system and each other is the defining political issue and cultural issue for our time,” said Amy Edmonds, political science professor at Milligan University. “That is something all of us can try to help remedy. Civil society like churches can make a huge difference. We can learn to dialogue, to listen to people who we disagree with, and love our neighbor despite differences.”

Edmonds said if the election results turn contentious, or even if the country sees incidents of violence, it will be important for Americans to uphold a sense of trust in one another and in common decency. This election, the US has faced threats of foreign forces trying to sow discord in the election process and exploit growing ideological divides.

The 2020 race has been compared to the contest 20 years ago, when voters had to wait until December 13 to know the presidential outcome.

“I lived in Florida in the year 2000, and the anxiety only grew as the days went on, and I would expect something even worse this time given that the partisan divides represent something akin to the Grand Canyon compared to a creek, 2020 to 2000,” said Waller at Biola. “There were certainly partisan divides between Bush and Gore, but the divides between Biden and Trump are exponentially higher.”

In his remarks in the early hours of Wednesday morning, President Trump called the delayed counts a fraud and an embarassment, threatening a legal challenge.

As Christians rallied to pray on Election Day, in Zoom calls, text threads, and church gatherings, they prayed for protection against any forces—spiritual or earthly—that would use the election to divide the country.

The church—in its own already-but-not-yet existence waiting for the true kingdom—is particularly well positioned for this moment, leaders say. Many churches continue to gather Americans of differing political persuasions under the banner of Christ. White evangelicals voting for Biden, for example, are more likely than any other demographic to have close friends on the other side of the aisle.

And Christians’ trust in God’s sovereignty and his ultimate rule should free them up for more honest, humble dialogue with those who disagree. “Regardless of our circumstances, we can engage in this messy and uncertain world because we trust that God is in control,” wrote law professor John Inazu, author of the book Confident Pluralism. “Because of our confidence in the gospel, Christians should see not only the challenges of pluralism but also its opportunities.”

Both presidential candidates made faith a major part of their campaign strategy this year. Trump continued to appeal to conservative Christians with Evangelicals for Trump events that enlisted local pastors and members of his evangelical advisory board.

The Biden campaign’s faith outreach included evangelical discussion groups online, op-eds in evangelical media, and radio ads on Christian stations. Though “Never Trump” evangelicals remained a minority, they grew more organized and vocal through groups like Republican Voters Against Trump, Christians Against Trumpism, Evangelicals for Biden, Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden, and the Not Our Faith super PAC.

“Whoever wins the presidential race will face the daunting task of leading a deeply divided country in the midst of a growing pandemic and serious economic disruption,” said Amy Black, who teaches political science at Wheaton College. “I hope and pray the person inaugurated on January 20 will do everything in his power to bring people together, instill hope, and guide us out of the pandemic.”

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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 06:36:00 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november/phoebe-paul-women-new-testament-first-interpreter.html








Paul’s Most Beloved Letter Was Entrusted to a Woman





Meet Phoebe, the first interpreter of Romans.


Sometimes the ordinary moments of life stick with you. I (Jennifer) recall running errands with my mom when I was seven years old. We had stopped at the bank and, as was customary at the time, my mom gave her name as “Mrs.” and then my dad’s first and last name. The combination of “Mrs.” and my dad’s first name sounded strange to my ears, and I laughed out loud in genuine amazement. “Mom, that’s Dad’s name,” I insisted, baffled. “You have your own name!” I still recall how she and the bank teller looked back at me with surprise. Our exchange turned out to be a microcosm of a shift in generational perspectives taking place across 20th-century America.

Long before American culture began grappling with how best to create space for the given names of women, Scripture was ahead of the curve. In fact, Scripture consistently defied the cultural practices of its own times by recording the names of ordinary women throughout its pages. Recording the names of ordinary women in the grand story of God’s creation and redemption is one of the most unsung, remarkable examples of the Bible’s textual coherence.

Of course, some women’s stories are more accessible in Scripture than others. Without the benefit of expertise in the New Testament, any mention of “Phoebe” (Rom. 16:1–2) is more readily connected in our cultural context with the lovable, ditzy blond musician from the NBC hit show Friends than the woman called out in Romans. A faith that seeks understanding will always probe the text further. Who was Phoebe, and what was her relationship to this most influential letter?

The Purest Gospel
All Scripture is God-breathed, but not every book of the Bible has had the same kind of reception and influence in the history of the church as Romans. It is hard to quantify the letter’s seismic impact on the theology of the church and the formation of its leaders. Reading Romans has never been for the faint of heart.

In the history of Christianity, Romans has a track record of transforming some of the most significant church leaders. When Augustine heard the words “take up and read,” at that life-changing moment, he opened the Bible to Romans 13:13. Medieval Scholasticism was shaped by Romans through Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences, the theological textbook of the medieval period until Thomas Aquinas made his mark.

Growing interest in the Pauline Epistles during the Reformation generated the publication of over 70 new commentaries on Romans alone with the benefit of the printing press. Martin Luther’s own transformative experience involved his reading of Romans 1:17 on the issue of righteousness. He stressed the significance of the epistle in his preface:

This letter is truly the most important piece in the New Testament. It is the purest gospel. It is well worth a Christian’s while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes. . . . It is in itself a bright light, almost bright enough to illumine the entire Scripture.

Centuries later, hearing Luther’s preface to Romans at Aldersgate Street on May 24, 1738, led to John Wesley’s heart being “strangely warmed” and his faith transformed. Further down the line, Swiss theologian Karl Barth’s shift from liberal Protestantism to the “strange new world of the Bible” was encapsulated by the publication of his Römerbrief, famously described as “a bombshell on the theologians’ playground.”

When we think about Romans, we associate the book with church history titans from Augustine to Barth. Yet the first person to interpret and explain Romans was the one who bore the letter, and her name was Phoebe.

Trailblazing the Roman Roads
The woman Paul entrusted with such an important task is mentioned in only two verses of the New Testament, but with that one reference, Paul leaves a treasure of insight into the early Christian community.

As he reaches the end of his weighty theological letter, his tone becomes incredibly personal. He mentions 29 people, greeting 28 of them and commending one: Phoebe. To commend someone is to vouch for them, stand with them, attest that they can be trusted. Paul throws his apostolic weight behind Phoebe.

By what he says, it seems that she has proven herself worthy of it. She is a believer in Christ (he calls her “our sister”), a member of the community “in the Lord,” and worthy of being received as a saint. Paul gives specificity to her faith by describing her with two titles: diakonos and prostatis.

What do these terms mean? What is Phoebe’s role?

The first term, diakonos, from which we get our English word deacon, is the masculine form of the word servant and certainly indicates that she has made it a regular practice to help others, as Jesus recommends (Mark 9:35; 10:43) and demonstrates (Rom. 15:8). It might also indicate that she held the office of deacon in her church in Cenchreae, a port city just a few miles east of Corinth. This is the same term Paul used in 1 Timothy to describe the qualifications for this important role (3:8–13). Whether your English translation says “servant” or “deacon,” the only translation not fitting to the New Testament is “deaconess.” A feminized form of the character trait or office does not exist in Biblical literature. Later developments that posited the role of a female deaconess as subordinate to a male deacon had no grounding in Scripture. All servants or deacons, whether male or female, equally follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who came to serve all.

The second term, prostatis, appears only here in the New Testament, but it is widely known in the Greco-Roman world. As it is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament, it can indicate a leader. Paul says, however, that she was a prostatis to him, and he is normally adamant about his co-leadership with others under God. The use of this term could be as basic as stating that Phoebe helped others, but most agree that Paul is using it as was common in the secular texts of his day: She is a benefactor, one who uses her wealth and social influence to advocate for others.

All of this leads to a further question: What was Phoebe’s role specifically in Rome?

Interpreters widely agree that by placing her first in his list, Paul introduces Phoebe as the bearer of the letter. While in our own context we are grateful for the work of our postal service employees, we do not need to know their background in order to trust that we can accept the mail from them. That Paul spends several sentences to describe Phoebe and uses several emphatic phrases to admonish the Christians in Rome to treat her well indicates that she is more than just a mail carrier who drops off the scroll. She will play some role in how they experience the letter, so Paul wants them to trust her.

One line of thought, popularized by N. T. Wright, is that Phoebe, as the letter carrier, would have read the letter as well. He states, “The letter-bearer would normally be the one to read it out to the recipients and explain its contents.”

Scholars including Peter Head have questioned the first part of Wright’s conclusion. In his analysis of ancient letters, Head suggests that there is little evidence that the carrier was the reader of the letter. Instead, members of the group receiving the letter would read it out loud.

Does that return Phoebe to the sidelines as a silent helper?

Not in the least. Head acknowledges that even if she did not read the letter, she “would have had a role in explaining the contents of Romans.” She would have been present, as Paul’s representative, to answer questions about it. People have had a few questions about Romans through the years, to put it mildly, and Phoebe would have been the first to respond to those.

The uncertainty about the words used to describe Phoebe should not overshadow the consensus on her role. Wrangling over what offices Phoebe might have held distracts us from the more signifi cant reality of these verses: Paul trusted her to explain Romans. What do we miss when we do not acknowledge the importance of Phoebe’s role?

From Rome to the Reformation
Although Paul paired Phoebe’s name with the masculine form of “servant” (diakonos), the term was quickly feminized to “deaconess” by church tradition. Importantly, both John Chrysostom and Origen interpreted Phoebe’s mention in Romans as evidence that women were ordained to the particular church office of deacon.

The female diaconate persisted among the offices of the church to varying extents until the sixth century. Radegunde (circa 520–587 ), who contributed to the expansion of Christianity in the sixth century among the Franks, was one of the last notable female deacons ordained by a bishop. In the medieval period, the office of deacon lost further distinction as it became subsumed in the ordination process to the Roman Catholic (male) priesthood.

By the time of the Reformation, Phoebe gained prominence again in part because the book of Romans garnered disproportionate attention from biblical commentators. Moreover, church traditions where preachers expounded Scripture verse by verse (called lectio continua) were sure to engage her directly. In the end, it was John Calvin’s Geneva that led the way in restoring the female diaconate among the Protestant tradition.

The four-fold office of the church—pastor, elder, deacon, doctor—represented the backbone of Calvin’s ecclesiology, and women were not excluded from these ranks in the context of the diaconate, according to Calvin’s Institutes. As “lay ecclesiastical ministers,” deacons were distinct from elders (presbyters). Furthermore, Calvin took from Romans 12:8 the idea to divide the diaconate into two distinct roles: almsgiving to the poor and care of the poor and sick. Calvin attributed the second role to the work of widows, according to his reading of 1 Tim. 5:9–10, a passage used by the Roman Catholic tradition as a basis for monastic vows. Establishment of a diaconate open to women served the city of Geneva well as the city navigated how to care for thousands upon thousands of religious refugees passing through the city from all over Europe and especially France.

Because reform under Calvin involved clarifying the responsibilities of its various leaders and distinguishing them from political rulers , the diaconate was a church office, and he believed it should include women. Although female deacons were not limited to Geneva, as Elsie McKee’s work has pointed out, “the Calvinist Reformed diaconate was the only Protestant or Anabaptist church order that included the teaching (if not often the practice) of a (subordinate) place for women in the regular offices of ministry.” Calvin’s Geneva is, therefore, a model and an outlier for what it means to take Phoebe seriously.

Phoebe’s significance was further highlighted in French Reformed Bibles. Sections called colophons were printed at the end of each epistle of the New Testament to provide information about the authorship and geography of each letter. From the 16th century through the 18th century, Phoebe’s special relationship to Romans was described in these colophons as letter carrier, servant, or deaconess for the church. She is the only female to be remembered this way in the tradition of Reformed New Testament colophons.

Pass It On
Although dispute over the significance of Phoebe persists in scholarship today, wide agreement over Phoebe’s letter-carrier role moves the needle toward greater clarity in ways that cannot be ignored. For one, the conclusion that Paul barred all women from exegetical and theological discussion, and even instruction, is ruled out. What that looks like will play out differently in churches and institutions of differing commitments , but Phoebe’s story will not allow any Christian who seeks to understand Scripture in its historical setting to believe that being a woman disqualifies someone from the realm of theology. If Paul did not disparage women’s ability to converse about the most intricate of theological documents, neither should we.

The inclusion of Phoebe’s name and role as a gospel bearer is another reminder to the church today of how Scripture highlights women as integral and faithful contributors to God’s plan of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ. When Paul introduced Phoebe to the church of Rome and encouraged the believers there to receive her with honor, he was also introducing us to her today. We too are being asked to welcome what she brings. As Calvin writes, “it would be unbecoming [to] the servants of Christ not to show her honor and kindness. And since it behooves us to embrace in love all the members of Christ, we ought surely to regard and especially to love and honor those who perform a public office in the Church.”

Moreover, by entrusting Phoebe with the communication of this letter, Paul established a precedent that we follow today—whether we recognize it or not—every time we listen to Scripture being read and explained. We hear God’s Word proclaimed through the voices of others, just as Phoebe spoke and explained Paul’s words to the church of Rome. Anyone who takes up Romans and shares it with others walks in the footsteps of its first interpreter, Phoebe.

What is Paul communicating in Romans? In this one letter, he is aiming to respond to the local church’s issues and work out his own, but he responds to both—their challenges of intermingling Jew and Gentile and his of faithfully proclaiming the gospel—with the same consistent affirmation: God is trustworthy.

Romans is well known for its towering spiritual truth: God can be trusted with the problem of sin, the threat of death, and the ultimate salvation of all. Since this is true, Paul also argues in Romans that God can be trusted with the more mundane realities of division and anxiety. The message of Romans is that God can be trusted to handle them all.

And that message finds resonance in the messenger. God is trustworthy, so Paul can trust a somewhat surprising person to deliver this, his most influential message. He neither argues for her nor defends her skill or wisdom. His introduction is powerful but succinct. No special pleading necessary. He trusts her because she trusts God, and that is enough. When we all, no matter who we are, trust in the trustworthy God, we like Phoebe can pass it on as well.

The truth is that everyone who has put faith in Christ is charged with passing on the Good News. By this act, as the priesthood of all believers, we live into what it means to be connected across time to one another in the body of Christ and by the power of the living God. Our daughters and our sons both should be fully equipped to know the hope that lies within them, because God will send them into the world as gospel-bearers, where they will be called to answer pressing questions about our sacred texts.

When we pass on the Good News, we are not only living into the legacy of writers like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We are also living into the legacy of Mary Magdalene to the upper room, Priscilla to Apollos, and Phoebe to the church of Rome.

We too act as letter carriers within an apostolic chain that reaches back to the gift of God’s revelation, which is the basis for our witness to the hope that we have in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.







Jennifer Powell McNutt is the Franklin S. Dyrness Chair in Biblical and Theological Studies at Wheaton College, parish associate at First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and co-founder of McNuttshell Ministries Inc.

Amy Beverage Peeler is associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and associate rector of St. Mark’s Church in Geneva, Illinois.
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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2020, 01:16:56 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/evangelical-leader-pastor-scandal-prevent-accountability.html








How to Prevent the Next Evangelical Leadership Scandal




Working in PR, I’ve stepped in to help ministries after a crisis hits. What they need is more accountability before it happens.


It’s a far-too-common story: A pastor or prominent leader of a faith-based organization resigns because of sexual misconduct or abusive or controlling leadership.

In 2020, we’ve seen a fair amount of cases like these among evangelicals. When moral failure befalls our communities’ leadership, it can be a gut punch to our faith. Sexual misconduct and abusive leadership can hurt marriages, impair our institutions, forever damage the lives of those impacted, and harm our witness to a watching world.

Working as a public relations professional in the Christian world, I’ve had an up-close and personal view of how quickly crises can develop and how easily they can engulf an organization in controversy and confusion. I have been called on to help numerous ministries in crisis, many of which were struggling to come to terms with revelations of sexual impropriety or abusive leadership. My role is to try to minimize the public damage. But in many situations, it becomes clear that organizational problems existed far before the sin was ever made public.

Exposing the truth is necessary and helpful. We have a duty to name and call out sin in our communities, churches, and ministries. Open and honest media coverage can be a part of that process. But we can and must do more than expose sin within leadership when it happens. We must fight to prevent it from taking root in the first place.

We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; none of us is perfect. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure….” Each of us is prone to sinful temptations in different ways. To deny this about ourselves is in itself a prideful flaw. This is exactly why evangelical ministries must do more to create systems and structures to prevent and protect our leadership from moral failure.

More often than not, organizations are catapulted into crises almost solely because they had little to no accountability procedures in place to prevent abuses of power. When it comes to protecting against sexual misconduct or preventing abusive and controlling leadership, prayer and regular meditation on God’s Word are key. However, there are also some simple, practical measures Christian organizations should take to build accountability and keep leaders in check.

1. All leaders should be faithfully attending a local church.
This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many Christian leaders don’t commit to a local community of Christians. Leaders and staff must support each other in finding and committing to a local community of believers (Heb. 10:24–25). Some Christian leaders use travel or ministry burnout as an excuse to stop going to church and submitting to a pastor of a local church. This is dangerous. No one can uphold God’s Word without regular, faithful church attendance and loving biblical community. If you serve on a board of a Christian ministry, you should ask the organization’s leadership about this.

2. All leaders within the organization should be in relationships in which they are accountable.
Every leader needs both professional accountability and personal accountability. This could happen through the local church but can be met in other contexts too. Leaders must regularly meet with Christians with whom they can face hard questions about their actions, thoughts, and temptations.

We are all prone to pride and power. Ironically, the very personality traits that help leaders rise in popularity and influence are sometimes the very things that lead to arrogance and controlling behaviors. These sins fester when leaders are allowed to act and make decisions in isolation. Though accountability is not fail-safe, it’s much more difficult for leaders in transparent accountability relationships to fall into sexual, prideful, or controlling sin.

3. Prohibit the board from being stacked with family members and friends.
Sometimes a board has to make tough decisions that may mean the dismissal of an organization’s president or pastor. This becomes even harder for leaders who are ministry founders. Too often, hard choices are delayed or even avoided altogether because the board members are too close to the leader. This dereliction of duty inevitably impacts the organization, no matter the circumstances. But with regard to sexual impropriety or abusive leadership, it can also exacerbate the victims’ pain or even lead to further victimization and persecution.

A board should also be mindful of the language in the employment agreement with the organization’s leader. A recent incident of reckless moral failure stemmed from the board giving carte blanche to the organization’s president to lead however he saw fit. The board must set clear expectations for a leader—regardless of that leader’s perceived virtue or track record.

4. Question whether a Christian organization should be named after an individual.
For the sake of longevity, a Christian organization should think twice before naming an organization after its founder. When that leader dies, the ministry bearing his or her name almost inevitably struggles for survival. However, an even bigger issue is the potential for the leader of such an organization to become prideful and start seeing the organization as an extension of himself or herself. As the Book of Proverbs tells us repeatedly, pride comes before the fall. If a leader falls, the eponymous organization could fall with them.

5. Be thoughtful about the organization’s travel policy.
A Christian organization should not just be mindful of the per diem and how receipts should be submitted. Careful consideration should also be given to how much time staff should be separated from their families, whether spouses are encouraged to join staff on longer business trips, and how much downtime is factored into company-sponsored trips. It’s common sense to ensure that families are together more often than not. Everyone within an organization has a vested interest in their leader having a vibrant, healthy marriage and family life.

None of us is without fault, and all of us are susceptible to sin. The question is how are we being held accountable. With the right structures and expectations in place, a faith-based organization is more likely to not only avoid a PR crisis but also to protect its community and foster a faithful ministry that better reflects the heart of God.

And don’t think of leadership crisis prevention as a PR exercise or lesson in political correctness. This is a vitally important part of living out our Christian witness. Matthew 5:16 reminds us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The world is watching our good deeds as well as our bad ones. Our response to failures and our dedication to preventing them will speak volumes to the culture about the hope that we have in Jesus, and our dedication to his righteousness.








Heather Cirmo is a public relations professional based in Washington, DC, with 25 years of experience.

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


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 01:20:21 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/november/bible-readers-in-foxholes-combat-vets-bible-engaged-abs.html








Bible Readers in Foxholes: Combat Vets More Engaged in Scripture





The most popular topics for military Bible study are suffering, hopelessness, and loneliness.


While a majority of military service members identify as Christian, the demands of active duty—frequent moves, long hours, and overseas tours of duty—can strain faith and family.

Ministries have long targeted evangelistic efforts at men and women in uniform in hopes of providing spiritual support, particularly as mental health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicides continue to climb.

The American Bible Society (ABS), which launched a Veterans Day challenge to recruit a half-million military personnel to engage in Bible study, has found that half of service members who open Scripture hope to find a message that addresses pain and suffering (51%), hopelessness (50%), and loneliness (48%).

According to the ABS’s State of the Bible survey with Barna Research, veterans and active duty service members (33%) are about as likely as Americans on average (31%) to read the Bible once a week or more. However, members of the military who have been deployed more often are more likely to engage Scripture.

Bible Gateway reported on the research, saying those deployed to combat zones were more than twice as likely to belong to the highest category of Bible engagement, “Bible centered” (10% of combat veterans compared to 4% of all service members). They were also less likely to fall into the “Bible disengaged” category (43% of combat veterans compared to 53% those who did not see combat).

The ABS reports that it has distributed 60 million Bibles and related resources to members of the military.

Top Stories
Fired Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz Apologizes for Infidelity
John Piper’s Liberty Convocation Pulled After Election Post
On a Mail-In Ballot and a Prayer, Biden Wins White House
Trump Becomes the First President Since Eisenhower to Change Faiths in Office
Christian Trump and Biden Voters Wait on the Lord ... and Ballot Counts
Bible Readers in Foxholes: Combat Vets More Engaged in Scripture
The most popular topics for military Bible study are suffering, hopelessness, and loneliness.
KATE SHELLNUTT
|
NOVEMBER 11, 2020 10:30 AM
Bible Readers in Foxholes: Combat Vets More Engaged in Scripture
Image: Chris Hondros / Getty Images
While a majority of military service members identify as Christian, the demands of active duty—frequent moves, long hours, and overseas tours of duty—can strain faith and family.

Current Issue
NOVEMBER 2020
SUBSCRIBE
November
READ THIS ISSUE
Christians Invented Health Insurance. Can They Make Something Better?
Meet the TikTok Generation of Televangelists
I Was a World Series Hero on the Brink of Suicide


Free Newsletters
Your daily news briefing from the editors of CT.Stay informed with updates from CT's Daily Briefing, Today in Christian History, and CT Weekly newsletters.
Email Address
submit
MORE NEWSLETTERS
Ministries have long targeted evangelistic efforts at men and women in uniform in hopes of providing spiritual support, particularly as mental health issues, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicides continue to climb.

The American Bible Society (ABS), which launched a Veterans Day challenge to recruit a half-million military personnel to engage in Bible study, has found that half of service members who open Scripture hope to find a message that addresses pain and suffering (51%), hopelessness (50%), and loneliness (48%).

According to the ABS’s State of the Bible survey with Barna Research, veterans and active duty service members (33%) are about as likely as Americans on average (31%) to read the Bible once a week or more. However, members of the military who have been deployed more often are more likely to engage Scripture.

Bible Gateway reported on the research, saying those deployed to combat zones were more than twice as likely to belong to the highest category of Bible engagement, “Bible centered” (10% of combat veterans compared to 4% of all service members). They were also less likely to fall into the “Bible disengaged” category (43% of combat veterans compared to 53% those who did not see combat).

The ABS reports that it has distributed 60 million Bibles and related resources to members of the military.

Earlier this fall, the Department of Defense strengthened religious liberty protections for members of the military, implementing Religious Freedom Restoration Act guidance, and last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs revised its policies to allow religious symbols including Bibles to be displayed in VA facilities.

The religious makeup of the military broadly mirrors the population overall, with about 70 percent of active duty personnel identifying as Christian and about 25 percent not affiliating with any religion in particular.

However, the 3,000-member chaplains corps has skewed evangelical Protestant, with Southern Baptists being the most popular denominational affiliation. CT recently covered how a growing number of US military chaplains are foreign born, including 1 in 5 Army chaplains and 1 in 10 Navy chaplains.
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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2020, 05:37:50 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/bible-is-our-blazing-fire-women-engagement-scripture.html








The Bible Is Our Blazing Fire





A look inside our special issue exploring women's passionate engagement with Scripture.


Imprisoned by the Nazis in Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and the other women in her barracks regularly gathered to covertly read from a smuggled Bible. “The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God,” ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place. They’d crowd around the Bible “like waifs clustered around a blazing fire … holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.”

Though ten Boom had believed and loved the Bible throughout her life, in the brutal conditions of a concentration camp—enduring daily threats and violence, surrounded by evil and death—God’s Word spoke to her with a new potency. “Sometimes I would slip the Bible from its little sack with hands that shook, so mysterious had it become to me,” she said. It was as if “it was new; it had just been written. I marveled sometimes that the ink was dry.”

We, too, can open the familiar Book and encounter unexpected mystery. Well-worn passages we can recite by heart suddenly speak in new ways directly to our hearts. Stories we already know somehow know us. We read, and the living and active Word does its sharp work, convicting us about our innermost thoughts and attitudes (Heb. 4:12). We study, and amid the words we pore over, we encounter the Word of Life himself (1 John 1:1).

Evangelical women have a high commitment to Scripture; in fact, several studies demonstrate that American Christian women read the Bible more frequently than Christian men. The articles below were all featured in our CT special issue, “Why Women Love the Bible.” In these articles, we highlight Scripture’s power in the lives of those facing persecution, persevering amid racism, and enduring life’s storms. We highlight women in church history who studied Scripture as well as women today who turn to it for prayer and evangelism.

For many of us, 2020 has been a difficult year. While the Bible always speaks to us, in good times as well as bad, hardships can deepen our sense of how profoundly we need and desire the “blazing fire” of God’s Word. May it ever burn bright in our lives.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2020, 05:42:00 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november/aaron-griffith-gods-law-order-evangelical-prison.html








Share the Gospel with Prisoners. Then Apply It to the System.





Evangelicals are superb at the first task. To what extent do they embrace the second as well?


In 1979, Charles Colson, the nation’s best-known evangelical prison ministry director, visited the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Colson, who had been in prison himself only five years earlier for his role in the Watergate scandal, was known for his sympathy to prisoners’ concerns.

When he found out that the men in Walla Walla’s solitary confinement facility had to live with human waste and rotting food that the warden refused to clean up, he promised to lobby the state legislature for change. The effort succeeded, and Colson expanded his campaign for prison reform nationwide. But because Colson was no liberal, his ministries depended on a close alliance with law-and-order evangelicals and even law-and-order politicians who helped create the prison system that Colson found so troubling.

This paradox is central to the historical narrative that Aaron Griffith presents in God’s Law and Order: The Politics of Punishment in Evangelical America. With an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College and a history of personal involvement in prison ministry, Griffith sympathizes with many of the evangelicals profiled in the book—especially Colson, whom he describes as genuinely compassionate and sincerely interested in prisoners’ well-being.

But with a doctoral degree from Duke University Divinity School, Griffith is also well-versed in liberal Protestant critiques of evangelical politics, and he shares the concerns of critics who question whether evangelical support for law and order can be squared with a gospel-centered theology. Have evangelicals adopted their seemingly contradictory views of the prison system in spite of their theology, or because of it?

Centers of Law and Grace
Prisons have long held an irresistible theological attraction to evangelicals, Griffith argues, because conservative Christians have seen them as centers of both law and grace—that is, places where sinners are punished but also places where many find redemption. As early as the 1920s, American evangelicals saw a moral dimension to the nation’s crime wave. While liberal Protestants thought that social reform could reduce crime, evangelicals saw crime as a consequence of rejecting God—which made gospel preaching the best antidote. Billy Graham made this argument frequently in the 1950s, and his ministry produced films to celebrate the stories of notorious criminals who renounced their wicked ways after finding Jesus at one of Graham’s crusades.

With their strong faith in the power of conversion, evangelicals devoted more time to prison ministry than any other Christian group in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. And as Griffith argues, this faith in conversion was, in some sense, at odds with law-and-order politics. In the 1950s and early 1960s, evangelicals seemed more interested in converting criminals than locking them up. The gospel, they thought, could produce far better results in criminals’ lives than long prison sentences.

This was the belief, for instance, of David Wilkerson, the charismatic minister who became famous for his evangelistic work with New York youth gangs, as described in his best-selling memoir The Cross and the Switchblade. It was also Graham’s message. But in the 1960s, this changed. Amid widespread conservative fears of rising crime rates and racial unrest, many white evangelicals, including Graham, embraced law-and-order politics. Even Wilkerson became convinced that troubled youth faced greater problems than gospel preaching alone could solve. He came to believe that the problem of the cities was heroin and that tougher drug laws were the answer.

In the early 1970s, a few black evangelicals—Tom Skinner, most prominently—challenged white evangelical support of conservative law-and-orderpolitics and tried directing their attention to racial injustice within the prison system. But most white evangelicals were not receptive to Skinner’s message. When he became more outspoken on racial issues, Moody Bible Institute dropped his radio program, and the director of the National Association of Evangelicals criticized him.

For a few years in the late 20th century, it seemed that Colson might turn evangelicals away from law-and-order politics and restore the conversion-centered approach that characterized earlier evangelical thinking about prisons. Before his born-again conversion in 1974, Colson had worked as a White House aide to the Republican president most associated with the politics of law and order: Richard Nixon. But after Colson was indicted for breaking the law himself, he found Jesus and changed his views.

Driven by a new spirit of compassion and a desire to see as many criminals as possible come to know Jesus, he launched a national prison ministry and began speaking out against the death penalty. Execution, he told the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979, ended all chances of conversion. If Baptists believed in saving the lost, they should never support prematurely ending the life of someone who might not know Jesus.

This was the classic conversionist approach that viewed a personal relationship with Jesus as the antidote to every social problem while rejecting state solutions—punitive or rehabilitative—as beside the point, if not actively harmful. At first, Colson’s ministry focused almost entirely on evangelism in prisons rather than campaigns for prison reform. But after repeatedly hearing complaints about inhumane prison conditions and seeing a few examples firsthand, he began lobbying for reform, partly to remove barriers to the gospel but mostly out of genuine compassion for people he didn’t want to see suffer unnecessarily. He advocated alternatives to prison sentences for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, and he called for restorative-justice approaches that would prioritize making amends to victims over simply locking people up.

Griffith finds much to appreciate in Colson’s approach, but he also notes Colson’s unwillingness to challenge his law-and-order allies, whether politicians or fellow evangelicals. In the early 1990s, he reversed his stance on the death penalty and endorsed it. Although Colson went further than most evangelicals in perceiving problems in the prison system, he, like nearly all of his white evangelical peers, subscribed to a colorblind racial ideology and individualist ethos that made it very difficult to denounce the structural inequities of the criminal justice system.

For more than half a century, white evangelicals (and even a few black evangelical allies) assumed that prison was fair—that pretty much everyone there deserved to be there. Crime resulted from personal sin, and sinners were punished in jail, which prepared them to encounter the life-transforming power of the gospel. But what if the criminal justice system was not fair? What if, as many nonevangelical liberals of the early 21st century argued, it was a tool of racial oppression that functioned to control a disproportionately poor and nonwhite population? What if the greatest sin behind the prison system is not the wrongdoing of the convicts behind bars but the injustice of the legal system itself? Could evangelical theology offer an effective tool to fight such structural sin?

Theological Retooling
Griffith seems conflicted about this. On the one hand, evangelicals’ belief in the power of conversion has led them to spend more time with those in prison than any other group of Americans. When it comes to showing personal compassion to individual prisoners, evangelicals motivated by Jesus’ exhortations in Matthew 25 have outshone adherents of any other religion or philosophy.

And yet, to the extent that challenging structural deficiencies in the criminal justice system is now a pressing matter, evangelicals who have long held to an individualist view of sin and a strictly personal view of salvation will need to do some theological retooling. Liberal Protestants, not evangelicals, are the Christians who have most often seen sin in structural terms and viewed their theology as a resource for fighting systemic injustice.

In Griffith’s opinion, convincing most white evangelicals to see the prison system in these terms will require a theological shift and a movement-wide repentance radical enough to constitute what he calls a religious “conversion” in its own right. This would involve admitting that individualistic views of sin and salvation need to be supplemented with liberal Protestant theologies of structural sin that white evangelicals have eschewed for the past century.

As long as one remains committed to an evangelical theology of personal sin and salvation, Griffith’s proposal will be difficult to accept in its entirety. But perhaps addressing the issues that concern Griffith will not require such a wholesale theological revision, because evangelicals who adhere to the ethics of the New Testament can likely find more resources in their own theological tradition to address injustice in the prison system than Griffith seems to acknowledge.

If the apostle Paul, for instance, could do evangelistic work within a prison system that he and other early Christians knew was unfair, perhaps contemporary American evangelicals can as well. And perhaps they can also renounce their view that the law is colorblind and begin to acknowledge the vast racial disparities in the nation’s prison system, even while continuing their evangelistic prison ministries.

When it comes to proclaiming the power of the gospel to transform every sinner, including those behind bars, an evangelical Christian cannot compromise without, in some sense, ceasing to be an evangelical. But if Griffith’s book prompts evangelical believers to apply the gospel not only to individuals in prison but also to the structure of the prison system itself, that would undoubtedly be a good thing. And maybe in the process, as Griffith suggests, the gospel will induce repentance not only among those behind bars but also among some evangelicals who voted for the policies that put so many there in the first place.








Daniel K. Williams teaches history at the University of West Georgia. He is the author of Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade and God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right.
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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2020, 02:52:32 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/talking-back-purity-culture-rachel-joy-welcher.html








Don’t Overstate the Rewards of Sexual Faithfulness. Don’t Understate Them Either.





The false promises of purity culture shouldn’t overshadow the true promises of God.


In his classic book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton described the surprising, even subversive, nature of truth: “Whenever we feel there is something odd in Christian theology, we shall generally find that there is something odd in the truth.”

He gave the example of celibacy as an illustration: “It is true,” Chesterton wrote, “that the historic Church has at once emphasized celibacy and emphasized the family; has at once … been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colors, red and white. … [The Church] has always had a healthy hatred of pink.”

Chesterton’s words serve to frame the helpful approach of Rachel Joy Welcher in her recent book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality. Welcher registers substantial criticism against the evangelical movement that brought pledge cards, books, and rallies to sex-crazed American teenagers. But she does not deconstruct 2,000 years of orthodox teaching on Christian sexuality. Sexual purity matters, if not exactly in the way that purity culture defined it. “As with most earnest, human responses,” writes Welcher, “we didn’t get everything right.”

Good Intentions and Gross Errors

Welcher, a daughter of a pastor, was a high school student in 1997 when Joshua Harris’s book I Kissed Dating Goodbye “captured the attention of the evangelical world [and] inspired countless other books on dating and sexual purity,” she writes. She helpfully situates the movement in its context, reminding readers that purity culture grew up during a period of soaring rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs. Given the cultural conditions of the time (and what she calls the “age-old problem of immorality”), Welcher believes the church had ample reason to look for ways to affirm the good of marriage and the good of sex within it. “Practicing purity,” she writes, “is a form of worship.”

Unlike many other purity-culture critics—writers in the vein of Linda Kay Klein and Nadia Bolz-Weber—Welcher does not propose to replace historic understandings of sexual faithfulness. Extramarital sex is not an important act of “freedom” or an authentic expression of “love.” It’s meant for the glory of God. “Beloved, do not be deceived by … the gospel of self,” Welcher warns in the tradition of the biblical prophets. She refuses to cry “peace” in the face of pending disaster. It is possible to sin sexually—and to suffer for that sin—and Welcher has every intention to teach her own children these truths.

What she refuses to tell them, however, is that “virginity makes them pure.”

However well-intentioned purity culture might have been, it was also guilty of gross errors. It made Christian purity a function of sexual history and behavior, not spiritual rebirth. It saddled women with the responsibility for male lust and failed the victims of sexual abuse. Further, it made unqualified promises of marriage, children, and great sex to everyone who pledged to wait.

Welcher’s story is particularly illuminating here, as she played by all of purity culture’s rules—and got burned. She saved her first kiss for the man who would become her husband, but the couple did not live happily ever after. In a few short years, her husband left the faith and left the marriage, leaving her to hold purity culture’s promissory notes at 30, without virginity to offer to another husband. Welcher realized that purity culture had promoted one temporary (albeit important) expression of sexual faithfulness (waiting to have sex until marriage) to the neglect of the more enduring call to lifelong sexual self-control, a call binding upon all Christians, married and unmarried, opposite- and same-sex attracted, young and old. “We are called,” writes Welcher, “to pursue purity until the day we die or Jesus returns, whichever comes first.”

This is one of Welcher’s most instructive critiques: that purity culture abstracted sexual purity from a larger discipleship conversation. It neglected to offer a “whole-person theology,” one teaching us to offer every square inch of our lives to God. If there is a better way forward, says Welcher, it’s by means of a more robust (and far more regular) conversation: one informed by Scripture and guided less by rules (although those matter). It’s a conversation that makes room for “for the young married couple in their twenties, the divorced father of three, [and] the same-sex attracted teen.”

The goal, she argues, is never “chaste Pharisees” but “imperfect disciples.”

‘Unblushing Promises of Reward’
I think Welcher has put her finger squarely on the problems of purity culture (many of which I haven’t had room to address here) and has rightly suggested that the conversation about sexual faithfulness is a conversation for everyone at every stage.

The faithful witness of the church today is as bold a counterpoint to our culture’s prevailing sexual ethic as it was in the earliest centuries of the church. Our sexual witness (or martyrdom, as the Greek word might also be translated) isn’t simply about waiting to have sex until marriage or even about affirming that marriage remains a covenant between one man and one woman. Our radical sexual “otherness” should be apparent as we honor our promises of marriage; as we invite the unmarried into our homes and families, making celibacy a far less lonely call; as we affirm the good of embodiment and refuse any disembodied form of sexual expression; even as we say, with Welcher, “Sex is not necessary for a full, God-honoring life.” There are numerous ways for the church to ask: How do we radically follow the narrow road of Christ, even if it chafes against our sexual desires and affronts the sexual commitments of our culture?

Importantly, the conversation about sexual purity requires us to speak faithfully about the nature of obedience—its real costs and real rewards. And if there is anywhere I might have pressed Welcher a bit further, it was here. Understandably, she wants to illumine the health-and-wealth nature of purity-culture teaching, which sings the siren song of the prosperity gospel. Many in the movement, including Welcher, understood the commitment to wait for true love as a kind of ironclad promise that true love was waiting for you. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage! But these are not promises to make or keep in a broken, bruised world where husbands leave, where infertility persists, where disease and death hang like Damocles’s sword over every temporary happiness. We can’t hope for everything in this world.

“We have become accustomed to seeking satisfaction for every fleeting desire and long-term want on our terms,” Welcher warns. She’s right. And yet: We can’t moderate any of the good promised to God’s people in Scripture. To return to Chesterton, we’re warned against “the silent swerving from accuracy by an inch.” As C. S. Lewis explains in The Weight of Glory, Jesus often issued “unblushing promises of reward.” Christianity is not a grin-and-bear-it life, as if we’re always choosing the difficult in place of the satisfying; nor is it a mercenary affair, as if we should apologize for wanting the blessings Christianity offers. The losing of our lives for the sake of Christ is not ultimately loss. It’s gain. Somehow we have to grapple with what Christ means when he says to his people that while the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, he has come to give us abundant life (John 10:10).

This isn’t to say that there is no cost to following Christ, no real death to undergo. But it is to say that Christianity is more than masochism—that it could even, paradoxically, be the most self-interested commitment we ever make.








Jen Pollock Michel is the author of Surprised by Paradox: The Promise of “And” in an Either-Or World. She lives with her husband and their five children in Toronto.
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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2020, 08:46:52 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/november/sony-acquires-pure-flix-affirm-faith-streaming-entertainmen.html







Sony’s Pure Flix Acquisition Could Raise the Bar for Christian Movies






As a major Hollywood studio invests in on-demand inspirational content, the question becomes how they’ll approach the sprawling offerings targeting the Christian market.


In a shakeup of the niche faith-based streaming market, Sony Pictures plans to acquire streaming service Pure Flix and its hundreds of thousands of subscribers committed to “clean entertainment” and “feel-good movies.”

Pure Flix, one of a half-dozen streaming platforms targeting Christian viewers, will be fully owned by Sony subsidiary Affirm Entertainment pending regulatory approval, the company announced last week.

Affirm already has a strong track record of what executives call “uplifting, inspirational content,” with popular titles aimed at Christian audiences: Miracles from Heaven starring Jennifer Garner, War Room from filmmaker brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, and The Star, an animated re-telling of the Nativity co-produced by DeVon Franklin and The Jim Henson Company.

Keith Le Goy, president of networks and distribution at Sony, said the acquisition allows Affirm to create and share more stories that are “both impactful and entertaining.”

Pure Flix CEO Michael Scott and chief content officer David A. R. White—who has starred in many Pure Flix releases himself—said they plan to stay on board, joining Affirm Entertainment after the deal is done to manage the service and help develop future programming. However, the independent studio Pure Flix Entertainment will remain a separate entity and retain its library of films—notably its God’s Not Dead trilogy, which collectively earned $96 million at the box office.

This move by a major studio reveals the value Hollywood places on reaching Christian consumers, particularly as most entertainment has been moving to in home and on demand.

“The shift to streaming has been a long time coming, with the pandemic accelerating it,” said Erik Lokkesmoe, president of Nashville-based Aspiration Entertainment. “But there’s not a clear path on how to find an audience. Most players in the market are still feeling their way up the staircase in the dark.”

With most theaters closed during COVID-19-related lockdowns, streaming has ruled the entertainment landscape. Sony’s announcement came on the same day Disney revealed that its Disney+ streaming service has attained more than 73 million global subscribers. Meanwhile, market leader Netflix has recently risen to 195 million subscribers worldwide.

By contrast, Pure Flix reported 350,000 subscribers last December, and has since stated their streaming service has seen a “40 percent increase in membership” this past spring. (Pure Flix and Sony Pictures did not respond to requests for comment.)

Despite current subscribers being a fraction of top streamers, one industry insider noted a relevant marketing adage: Riches are in the niches.

“As audiences fragment, we see tremendous opportunities,” said Lokkesmoe, distributes films and has promoted such hits as Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and Dark Waters to the faith market. “Streaming has become a great option. Families can enjoy many movies early, at a price point where it’s cheaper than movie theaters.”

Streaming video-on-demand services have disrupted Hollywood’s business model by bringing film production, funding, marketing, and distribution under one brand, accessible in home. Major players Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and HBO Max all reach somewhat different consumers. A parallel ecosystem of streaming competitors targeting Christian families, notably Minno, VidAngel, RightNowMedia, and Pure Flix, have attempted to replicate that model.

Yet major streamers have kept faith-driven consumers coming back with consistent releases. Disney+ catered to Christian audiences with recent inspirational film Clouds—given high marks from Christian outlets—while Netflix features a robust slate of faith titles like Sony’s Soul Surfer, The Young Messiah, and the new docuseries Voices of Fire.

“Today, more Christians are watching Netflix and Disney+ than any self-described ‘faith-based streaming service,’” said Lokkesmoe. “But there’s no better leader than Sony Affirm led by Rich Peluso to try to compete. They have the credibility and size to be taken seriously by everyone: trade publications, industry producers, and the audience.”

Sony’s acquisition of Pure Flix streaming marks the first major studio attempt to create a must-see destination for faith content. Its dozens of Christian-themed films, including the Kendrick Brothers’ conversion-oriented movies, will be merged with the Pure Flix library, which recently added season 1 of VidAngel’s acclaimed Gospel adaptation The Chosen. (Crowdfunded by over 20,000 backers who have raised $20 million to date, the production outshines other titles on the Pure Flix app.)

But the varied filmography of Sony’s Affirm label, helmed by executive vice president Peluso since its founding, encapsulates decades of hits and misses in reaching Christian consumers. It also shows how retaining talent has proven a challenge.

After several Sony blockbusters, including Heaven is for Real, which earned $101 million worldwide, producer DeVon Franklin decamped to rival studio Paramount. Affirm released the Erwin Brothers comedy Moms’ Night Out in 2014, but missed out on their $86 million windfall I Can Only Imagine, which released in 2018 through Lionsgate instead. That studio has since inked the filmmaker brothers to a multi-year deal.

With films targeting Christian audiences ranging from the evangelistic furor of God’s Not Dead to avant-garde faith-conscious films like Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Sony will have to define the brand of the Pure Flix service and its expanded offerings.

“Figuring out what their faith film library is about will be a good challenge,” said Lokkesmoe. “Is it inspiring stories? Is it the good, true, and beautiful? Or is it an absence of sex, violence, and explicit language? Or just what appeals to conservative white evangelicals?”

With the skepticism of an insider, he added: “My fear is [their approach] may miss out on honest, authentic storytelling that wrestles with the dark, broken world we actually live in.”

Currently, for $12.99 a month, Pure Flix invites viewers to “have faith in their entertainment.” Its most-watched titles include The Chosen; The Case for Christ, about skeptical journalist-turned-biblical-apologist Lee Strobel; and Palau, a biopic on the famous evangelist.









Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public policy issues for media outlets including The Stream and The Federalist.
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: 2755
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • My Friend
  • Location: Tennessee, USA
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2020, 08:57:52 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/november/sony-acquires-pure-flix-affirm-faith-streaming-entertainmen.html







Sony’s Pure Flix Acquisition Could Raise the Bar for Christian Movies






As a major Hollywood studio invests in on-demand inspirational content, the question becomes how they’ll approach the sprawling offerings targeting the Christian market.


In a shakeup of the niche faith-based streaming market, Sony Pictures plans to acquire streaming service Pure Flix and its hundreds of thousands of subscribers committed to “clean entertainment” and “feel-good movies.”

Pure Flix, one of a half-dozen streaming platforms targeting Christian viewers, will be fully owned by Sony subsidiary Affirm Entertainment pending regulatory approval, the company announced last week.

Affirm already has a strong track record of what executives call “uplifting, inspirational content,” with popular titles aimed at Christian audiences: Miracles from Heaven starring Jennifer Garner, War Room from filmmaker brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, and The Star, an animated re-telling of the Nativity co-produced by DeVon Franklin and The Jim Henson Company.

Keith Le Goy, president of networks and distribution at Sony, said the acquisition allows Affirm to create and share more stories that are “both impactful and entertaining.”

Pure Flix CEO Michael Scott and chief content officer David A. R. White—who has starred in many Pure Flix releases himself—said they plan to stay on board, joining Affirm Entertainment after the deal is done to manage the service and help develop future programming. However, the independent studio Pure Flix Entertainment will remain a separate entity and retain its library of films—notably its God’s Not Dead trilogy, which collectively earned $96 million at the box office.

This move by a major studio reveals the value Hollywood places on reaching Christian consumers, particularly as most entertainment has been moving to in home and on demand.

“The shift to streaming has been a long time coming, with the pandemic accelerating it,” said Erik Lokkesmoe, president of Nashville-based Aspiration Entertainment. “But there’s not a clear path on how to find an audience. Most players in the market are still feeling their way up the staircase in the dark.”

With most theaters closed during COVID-19-related lockdowns, streaming has ruled the entertainment landscape. Sony’s announcement came on the same day Disney revealed that its Disney+ streaming service has attained more than 73 million global subscribers. Meanwhile, market leader Netflix has recently risen to 195 million subscribers worldwide.

By contrast, Pure Flix reported 350,000 subscribers last December, and has since stated their streaming service has seen a “40 percent increase in membership” this past spring. (Pure Flix and Sony Pictures did not respond to requests for comment.)

Despite current subscribers being a fraction of top streamers, one industry insider noted a relevant marketing adage: Riches are in the niches.

“As audiences fragment, we see tremendous opportunities,” said Lokkesmoe, distributes films and has promoted such hits as Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and Dark Waters to the faith market. “Streaming has become a great option. Families can enjoy many movies early, at a price point where it’s cheaper than movie theaters.”

Streaming video-on-demand services have disrupted Hollywood’s business model by bringing film production, funding, marketing, and distribution under one brand, accessible in home. Major players Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and HBO Max all reach somewhat different consumers. A parallel ecosystem of streaming competitors targeting Christian families, notably Minno, VidAngel, RightNowMedia, and Pure Flix, have attempted to replicate that model.

Yet major streamers have kept faith-driven consumers coming back with consistent releases. Disney+ catered to Christian audiences with recent inspirational film Clouds—given high marks from Christian outlets—while Netflix features a robust slate of faith titles like Sony’s Soul Surfer, The Young Messiah, and the new docuseries Voices of Fire.

“Today, more Christians are watching Netflix and Disney+ than any self-described ‘faith-based streaming service,’” said Lokkesmoe. “But there’s no better leader than Sony Affirm led by Rich Peluso to try to compete. They have the credibility and size to be taken seriously by everyone: trade publications, industry producers, and the audience.”

Sony’s acquisition of Pure Flix streaming marks the first major studio attempt to create a must-see destination for faith content. Its dozens of Christian-themed films, including the Kendrick Brothers’ conversion-oriented movies, will be merged with the Pure Flix library, which recently added season 1 of VidAngel’s acclaimed Gospel adaptation The Chosen. (Crowdfunded by over 20,000 backers who have raised $20 million to date, the production outshines other titles on the Pure Flix app.)

But the varied filmography of Sony’s Affirm label, helmed by executive vice president Peluso since its founding, encapsulates decades of hits and misses in reaching Christian consumers. It also shows how retaining talent has proven a challenge.

After several Sony blockbusters, including Heaven is for Real, which earned $101 million worldwide, producer DeVon Franklin decamped to rival studio Paramount. Affirm released the Erwin Brothers comedy Moms’ Night Out in 2014, but missed out on their $86 million windfall I Can Only Imagine, which released in 2018 through Lionsgate instead. That studio has since inked the filmmaker brothers to a multi-year deal.

With films targeting Christian audiences ranging from the evangelistic furor of God’s Not Dead to avant-garde faith-conscious films like Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Sony will have to define the brand of the Pure Flix service and its expanded offerings.

“Figuring out what their faith film library is about will be a good challenge,” said Lokkesmoe. “Is it inspiring stories? Is it the good, true, and beautiful? Or is it an absence of sex, violence, and explicit language? Or just what appeals to conservative white evangelicals?”

With the skepticism of an insider, he added: “My fear is [their approach] may miss out on honest, authentic storytelling that wrestles with the dark, broken world we actually live in.”

Currently, for $12.99 a month, Pure Flix invites viewers to “have faith in their entertainment.” Its most-watched titles include The Chosen; The Case for Christ, about skeptical journalist-turned-biblical-apologist Lee Strobel; and Palau, a biopic on the famous evangelist.









Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public policy issues for media outlets including The Stream and The Federalist.


so for $12:99, one can  get faith-based films and most likely lead down the wrong road, the wide one.

Blade
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."
Agree Agree x 1 View List

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2020, 07:04:56 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/november/islam-christianity-evangelical-theology-society-ets.html








Muslims Join Evangelical Theology Conference





Annual gathering of Christian scholars seeks better engagement with Islam.


It is not often that a Muslim appears at an evangelical theological gathering.

Al Mohler invited three.

The trimmed-down 72nd annual conference of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), held virtually this week, usually welcomes up to 2,000 top scholars to present on the most salient issues facing evangelical scholarship.

This year’s theme: Islam and Christianity.

“We are called to truth, and to understanding the world around us more accurately and thoughtfully,” said Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), who also served as ETS program chair.

“That certainly includes our understanding of Islam, which has from the beginning represented an enormous challenge to Christian evangelism, apologetics, theology, and cultural engagement.”

Roughly 15 percent of the 130-plus events addressed these challenges, including the three official plenary sessions—in typical academic parlance:

“The Authority and Function of the Quran in Islam,” by Ayman Ibrahim of SBTS
“Through the Prism: The Trinity and the Islamic Metanarrative,” by Timothy Tennet of Asbury Theological Seminary
“American Christians and Islam: From the Colonial Era to the Post-9/11 World,” by Thomas Kidd of Baylor University
But it was the challenge of “cultural engagement” that led ETS to reach out to the Muslim panelists. Each was invited to share their view of evangelicals, and address the issues that concern them. It could “scarcely be more relevant and urgent,” said Mohler.

Three Christians joined them on the panel, focused on “Understanding Our Neighbor.”

“We don’t resist the idea we must love Muslims,” said John Hartley, a research fellow at Yale, “but we hesitate and keep silent, because the politics is so messy.

“This leaves the field open for those who spread hate.”

Asma Uddin, a religious liberty lawyer (previously interviewed by CT) and a fellow with the Inclusive America Project at the Aspen Institute, described the well-funded Islamophobia network that tars Muslims and the political left in a joint conspiracy to take over the world.

The effort seems to be working.

Uddin cited Pew Research Center statistics that found white evangelicals to be twice as likely as Americans overall (76% vs. 38%) to support President Donald Trump’s 2017 “Muslim ban.”

And according to the 2019 American Muslim Poll, only 20 percent of white evangelicals had a positive opinion of Muslims, with 44 percent feeling unfavorable.

Only 14 percent of Muslims had an unfavorable view of white evangelicals, with one-third feeling favorable—but the damage has been done.

“Political tribalism drives how these communities see each other,” Uddin said, “and Muslims view evangelicals as intrinsically linked to the Trumpian other.”

It was not always this way.

Hamza Yusuf, cofounder and president of Zaytuna College in California, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, said strong Muslim support for George W. Bush helped him to the presidency in the razor-thin 2000 election.

But after 9/11, Republicans “anathematized” them.

“Muslims had a huge shift to the left in response to the love showed them by Democrats,” he said.

“It changed the dynamics of our community.”

But being a religion of jurisprudence, Muslim obligation remains.

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?”, he told a story.

Islam, Yusuf said, defines the neighbor as up to 40 houses away.

Mohamed Majid, imam and executive director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center, in Virginia, is going much further.

Partnering with Baptist pastor Bob Roberts, he has traveled to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and other Muslim world hotspots to promote better treatment of minority Christian communities.

But when invited to Roberts’s Texas, Majid said that local pastors politely asked not to be pictured with corresponding imams.

After three days of ta’arruf—the Arabic word for “getting to know each other”—they volunteered to exchange visits in each other’s houses of worship.

“We have so much in common with evangelical Christians,” Majid said.

“But to be true to our faith we have to get out of our comfort zone—which makes us better believers.”

Hartley agreed with the common evangelical dodge that says not all believers are called to engage Muslims in their community. But pressing the issue, he asked how many evangelical churches have appointed a deacon to do so?

Uddin, who appeared in a second ETS panel with Matthew Kaemingk of Neighborly Faith, offered political encouragement. The 2020 American Muslim Poll found 49 percent of that community willing to build coalitions with conservatives to support religious liberty.

Both she and Yusuf cited the importance of the ministerial exception, which bars the application of anti-discrimination laws to religious institutions. Muslims face many of the same culture war challenges affecting Christians, and community leaders need the freedom to impart their moral values, without fear of being sued.

If this issue can help bridge the divide, maybe it can help heal the nation?

“Evangelicals and Muslims are only a microcosm of political tribalism in America,” Uddin said. “If we can work together, it will provide a clue about how to overcome it nationally.”

Roughly 100 people viewed the online panel.

But not all were pleased.

“This is nothing more than Muslim propaganda,” wrote Derek Newton in the ETS online chatroom, citing violent statements of Muhammad in the Quran.

“Why would I take the word of a lesser teacher, over the one they claim to follow?”

Martin Accad, chief academic officer at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lebanon, wished the panelists might have taken a more confessional approach toward Islamic history. Their tone was a bit apologetic, he said—though understandable in a sea of evangelicals.

But they represented “the best of Islam.”

Accad was invited to a separate panel to discuss his book Sacred Misinterpretation, describing how both Muslims and Christians view each other’s scriptures through the lens of their own. It calls for a “kerygmatic” approach, in which the good news can be proclaimed without having to make Islam look bad.

Doing so is counterproductive—and not only in evangelism.

“Showing the uglier side of Islam does not help our social theology,” Accad said. “It makes it harder for us to love our Muslim neighbor.”

Calling for evangelical leaders to normalize Islam in America, he said the only way to do so is to promote the positive image of Muslims.

Though incomplete, the image is not false.

Academics will always wrestle with the full picture. In his writing Accad deals with the difficulty of understanding who Muhammad was historically, as well as the complex textual history of the Quran. As an Arab Christian, his hope is that the scientific inquiry Muslim scholars encounter in America will filter back to the Middle East.

But while scholars engage with complexity, experience drives the perception of most Christians in the pews. Media discourse and politics must not prevent the exchange of hospitality.

“I’m willing to risk painting the positive aspects of Islam, even if it lacks nuance,” Accad said, “for the sake of avoiding the alternative—more conflict at the personal, community, and international levels.”

Uddin’s approach is similar.

“My advocacy also for Christian rights lowers their feelings of threat,” she said. “This reduces the likelihood of hostile reactions, opening a space for connection.”

Even so, Uddin confessed feeling “pretty demoralized” before the conference. She grows tired of facing the same evangelical questions, often asked with hostility. But her left-leaning friends show little appreciation for the moral goodness of most evangelicals. And sometimes when speaking in front of Muslim audiences, she has been given a bodyguard.

“I want to plant a seed, so people will question their assumptions,” Uddin said.

“Perhaps the academics at this conference will now do so with the next generation.”

Mohler, in his welcoming remarks, called evangelical scholars to ever greater faithfulness to Christ and his gospel.

Hartley, like Yusuf, invoked the Good Samaritan.

“When you see people suffering wounds and injustices, you go to be their neighbor,” he said.

“So many of us feel a threat to our religious liberty. Can we recognize that Muslim suffering parallels our own?”
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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2020, 07:10:35 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/coronavirus-as-evidence-of-creation-in-freefall.html








Is The Coronavirus Evidence of a Creation in Freefall?





How does theology explain a pandemic? Basic biology, human sin, or the Devil?


When I first asked whether the coronavirus is evil, the virus was still novel and the panic not quite a pandemic. But as I type now, almost 1.5 million people have died worldwide and the virus proliferates relentlessly, a conflagration with plenty of wood yet to burn as we await a vaccine and its dissemination. What may have seemed to be a controllable fire in the beginning now rages nearly out of control in the United States, India, Brazil, Europe, and elsewhere. Viewing the virus as part of God’s “good creation” presses against our theological sensibilities. Is the coronavirus evil? How can it not be?


“COVID-19 pandemic has wide implications for what Christians mean by the goodness of creation,” wrote theologian Hans Madueme, who leveraged my “hornet’s nest” of a query for an online symposium. As this array of brilliant respondents has written, a virus, no matter how destructive, cannot carry the moral equivalence of human willfulness. But the mere lack of moral willfulness does not make it good.

Viruses are not free agents, but I still wonder about a kind of created freedom in the nature of things—akin to what we know about uncertainty in the quantum realm undergirding the reality we experience. Inasmuch as humans are made from the dust in God’s image (Gen. 2:7), there exists a continuity between Creator, creation, and creature. The free will of God manifests in the moral choices humans make, and is reflected, perhaps, in what we perceive as the random nature of nature.

John Stackhouse labels the virus “a pestilence with no place in the messianic kingdom to come.” Katherine Sonderegger aptly narrated the dreadful landscape wrought by this microscopic legion, a link to Mark 5:9 and to the tyranny of Satan persuasively argued by Gregory Boyd, a virus victim himself. The New Testament easily attributes viral pestilence to the Devil’s work, though God can use it for his own glory. Whether or not we believe this is what we’re witnessing with the pandemic depends on our theology.

As Jim Stump asserted, “science doesn’t get to answer theological questions, but it can certainly prompt us to reconsider whether we’ve done our theology well.” Science prompted me as a pastor to rethink certain aspects of my theology. As Christians, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), which means there’s more to reality than what we see. But it doesn’t mean we ignore what we can see. Faith is not fantasy. If theology is going to matter, it too must correspond with the way things are rather than with the way we believers want things to be.

I’ve never been fully satisfied by the delineation of labor between science explaining the how and theology the why. As creator of all things, God authored all that science discovers. We know death and viruses preceded humanity’s appearance on earth, and both play an essential part in biological evolution. “A bad thing might be a good thing,” as Stackhouse reminds. Conversely, a good thing can become a bad thing too, as Sonderegger allows with her mention of privatio boni (the absence of good). I wrote a follow-up editorial in praise of St. Augustine’s reasoning of evil as essentially nothing, a basic nonentity with wholly derivative power. Like a virus, evil extracts its life from the goodness it perverts. Thus evil often gets spoken in terms of what it is not: injustice or iniquity or ingratitude, disorder, disobedience, faith lessness, law lessness, god lessness, and the rest.

By laying the pandemic at Satan’s feet, Boyd asserts that to “take the New Testament’s perspective seriously” is to regard creation as “corrupted at some point by an enemy, to one degree or another.” As for how Satan becomes the Devil, science can’t help us. Tradition surmises he mutated through free will of his own. Theology grants moral agency on Satan’s part, a fallen angel before the fall who then provoked the fall of humans. Stackhouse notes the slithering serpent in Eden (and talking, no less, Gen. 3:1) as evidence of evil’s pre-Fall intrusion. Nevertheless, why allow an angel to become a demon? And why allow a snake in Eden’s grass—not to mention physical death and mosquitoes and the biological necessity of bacteria and viruses?

The best I have to affirm remains the free will defense, the logic of love. God so loves the world that he sent his Son to save it (John 3:16), but love can’t be coerced and also be love. Thus God, of his own eternal free will, purposely factors free will into the system for love’s sake and for genuine relationship with people made in his image. Allowing freedom to love means freedom to reject love. Extrapolate this logic to nature as a whole and you have what some see as a hint behind the why of random uncertainty.

Granted, God doesn’t desire a personal relationship with creation the way that he does with people, but the Creator’s relational nature still shows up in the symbiosis of nature. The freedom we experience as humans made from the dust corresponds to the free process wired into dust itself. But just as the free will of people (and angels) can reject God’s love—and do wrong and commit evil—so the free process of creation results in mosquitoes and the diseases they carry—not to mention genetic deformities, hurricanes, and earthquakes, all outcomes of a creation free to evolve and become what it becomes.

To the extent that such explanations remain unsatisfactory, I remind us that theological conjecture at its best remains a sinners’ endeavor. Moreover, as Gerald Bray rightly adds, “God is under no obligation to explain himself to us.” We debate “the problem of evil,” which isn’t really a problem if by problem we mean a puzzle to be rationally solved. Among the factors making evil so evil is its defiance of logic. Even if you blame the Devil, how do you determine what made the Devil decide to become the Devil? Adam and Eve, created as good, had no good reason for choosing badly. They just did it. We do it too. By choosing wrongly, we prove free will exists, but the tyranny of evil is that as soon as we choose it, we are no longer free. As the apostle Paul made clear in Romans 7, our choices set boundaries, and our unavoidably bad choices set inescapably tight boundaries that affect our futures not only in finite time and space but for eternity too. Our freedom constrains to such a severe extent that Paul could only speak of it in terms of enslavement.

Whether due to the wiles of the Devil, the randomness of a very good creation not yet fully free, or the mysterious providence of God, this coronavirus pandemic threatens, constrains, and destroys. It also eventually ends. Immunity and vaccines will take hold. The God who loves us gives us agency and creativity to overcome. But no human-generated immunity or vaccination exists against evil. Sin infects our souls over and over again. That the Son of God had to die to deliver us from evil attests to its truly hideous and destructive nature. Our only hope, thank God, is through Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:25), who starves evil of its power with his own sinless life. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Into this glory, creation groans for its own redemption (Romans 8:21) and one day will have it.







This piece, adapted, was originally published in Sapientia, a periodical of the Henry Center for Theological Understanding, as a rejoinder to a series on the coronavirus and the goodness of creation.




Daniel Harrell is editor in chief at 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: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2020, 07:14:47 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/chappelle-america-pastor-snl-monologue-comedy-black-church.html








Dave Chappelle Is the Cultural Pastor America Needs





Let incisive comedy give us “eyes to see.”


The weekend after the election, I was exhausted like the rest of the country, and my spirit was in need of a good sermon. Thankfully, all I had to do was tune into Saturday Night Live to hear from the great American preacher himself: Dave Chappelle.

As he stepped onto the iconic SNL stage to bring his long-awaited word, I smiled at his familiar Washington, DC, swagger. I’ve been a fan of Chappelle since he played comic Reggie Warrington in the Eddie Murphy classic The Nutty Professor. He has shaped the voice of comedy over three decades, and as he has evolved, comedy has grown with him.

Standups historically have pushed boundaries, skewered politics, and forced us to see the absurdity in our society. But Chappelle has been willing to do so with moral heft and ethical grounding rather than comedic detachment. He jokes, smokes, curses, and shouts, but like a preacher in the heat of a sermon, there’s a point to it. He is a pastor among comedians, and once again he’s got a message for us.

“Don’t even want to wear your mask because it’s oppressive? Try wearing the mask I been wearing all these years. I can’t even tell something true unless it has a punchline behind it,” Chappelle said during his 16-minute SNL monologue. “You guys aren’t ready. You’re not ready for this. You don’t know how to survive yourselves. Black people, we’re the only ones that know how to survive this. … You need us. You need our eyes to save you from yourselves.”

The best comedians, like the best preachers, give us eyes to see. For black comedians, though they’re after laughs, their perspective stems from trauma and suffering.

“If we really took a closer look at the role of comedy or humor in the black community, it’s always been a way of expressing discontent, of expressing a critical view of the society,” said Mel Watkins, an expert in African American comedy. “In a way, it’s a survival tactic for blacks.”

When Chappelle tells a crowd that “you need our eyes,” he is speaking about the awareness black Americans have to the harsh reality of our country and the experience wading through its unfavorable waters. For centuries, black Americans have navigated the threat of genocide, enslavement, political and economic oppression, and persecution—all the while leaning on a “we shall overcome” faith.

Black comedy, like the black church, is a hub not only for expressing pain and anger but also for turning suffering into an instrument of healing. Chappelle’s career is a pinnacle example of this. His humor and insight have a purpose as they expose the harsh realities that black Americans have had to face.

Chappelle’s newest Netflix special, 8:46, was recorded just a week after George Floyd was killed. The comedian was offering his commentary just as black preachers took to their (mostly virtual) pulpits with messages of anger and grief. And the approaches weren’t as different as you might expect.

A good preacher knows that a sermon is only as good as the setup. The job of the messenger is to capture the audience’s attention and to invite them to be a part of the story. A sermon takes us on a journey that both assesses the reality of the world we live in and offers a path to a better future—the Good News we can put our hope in.

Preaching and comedy can take on a similar cadence and dynamic with the audience. “We still use things like call and response, where we talk to our audience and our audience talks back to us,” said standup Darryl Littleton, author of Black Comedians on Black Comedy. “It gives us that feeling of community.”

Though Chappelle is a Muslim convert speaking on secular stages, he has the black church tradition in his blood, and a hallmark of black preaching and black comedy is acknowledging their ancestral roots.

The comedian opened his SNL monologue by mentioning his great-grandfather, William D. Chappelle, a formerly enslaved South Carolinian who became a historic leader in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. After gaining his emancipation, William D. Chappelle went on to become president of his alma mater, the historically black Allen University, and an AME bishop. (Dave’s father, William David Chappelle III, was a professor and dean at Antioch College.)

Dave Chappelle joked that his great-grandfather would say he’d been “bought and sold” more in his comedy career than his great-grandfather had as a slave. Chappelle famously left Chappelle’s Show because he felt emotionally and spiritually unsettled by the direction of his career. The network reportedly used old clips to make a third season against his wishes.

After that, Chappelle withdrew from the spotlight. He had his own 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness (or rather, his home in small-town Ohio). After the years-long hiatus from comedy, he reemerged with a new message to preach. It sounds like an oxymoron, but he became a more serious comedian, more willing to use his work to unravel the complexities of the American consciousness.

Early on in his career, he spent a lot of time joking about comparisons between white and black people, drug dealing, being pulled over, “crack babies,” and being afraid to call the police. That approach was replaced with the kind of commentary offered by 8:46, which—if the setup were different—could be adapted from a standup set to a dissertation on the egregious racism that led to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

Comedians have the power to distract us and invite us to turn away from the real world. Or they can force us to look at it squarely in the eyes. Chappelle has grown into the kind of comedian we want to teach us a lesson, which is rare and admirable at a time when we’re also so desperate for escape.

After the election, more people tuned in to watch Chappelle on SNL—9.1 million viewers—than any other episode of the show in the past three years. His set acknowledged the political moment but looked more broadly to the American plight that extends beyond the current president.

“This morning after the results came in, got a text from a friend of mine in London. And she said, ‘The world feels like a safer place now that America has a new president.’ And I said, ‘That’s great, but America doesn’t,’” Chappelle told the audience. “Do you guys remember what life was like before COVID? I do. There was a mass shooting every week. Anyone remember that? Thank God for COVID. Someone had to lock these murderous whites up, keep them in the house.”

The set was punctuated by uncomfortable laughter as much as release. The complexities of our current moment don’t go away just because Chappelle is speaking on a comedy stage. This is his exegesis, his revelation. It may seem like an unlikely source—a black Muslim man on a sketch comedy show—but I hope we are willing to shift our perspective just the same.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus ordered a man to be brought to him. “When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied” (18:40–41). The man immediately “received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God” (v. 43). This example of healing represents something only an encounter with the living God can offer.

And while humor and commentary can bring us to see our society more clearly, even bringing black people to see their own deep faith perfected through the fires of white supremacy and racism, our greatest understanding of what is wrong with the world and our greatest opportunity for healing still comes through Christ himself.

By preaching about a brown Savior who fled to Egypt as a political refugee, who was executed as a political prisoner, and who shook the political elite with his radical message of power through weakness and strength through suffering, pastors offer more to the historically marginalized, black, poor, and politically disfranchised than even the sharpest comic ever could.

America has a long way to go toward being an equitable, politically empowering, and just country, but I think a figure like Chappelle can help along the way—especially when many are unwilling to listen to the spiritual and civic leaders who are exposing the same truth without a punchline. Our culture needs a “pastor,” someone who can deconstruct the issues that divide us while offering a path forward to redemption and understanding.

Comedy gives Chappelle a unique outlet with both black and white audiences. During this tumultuous time, maybe Americans will heed as a benediction the line from his monologue: “You got to find a way to live your life. You got to find a way to forgive each other. You got to find a way to find joy in your existence.”

His advice can seem idealistic or even impossible right now. This is a scary time for all of us, including for white Americans who haven’t historically been on the margins. In addition to the threat of COVID-19, there’s drug use rampaging through white suburban communities, shifting norms as the country becomes browner and more diverse, and the fallout of the upcoming political transition.

By God’s grace, black Americans have made it through before. We have long sorted through the chaos and the atrocities in this country and found ways to experience joy. We can “find a way” to hope in a better future. If you do not know if you have the strength or courage to embark on this journey alone, follow us as we walk in faith.








Cameron Friend is a minister, speaker, and writer in Atlanta, where he works for The King Center. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s of divinity from Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary.

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


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

patrick jane

  • Trade Count: (0)
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22810
  • Karma: +1010/-0
  • Research Jesus Christ - Research Flat Earth
  • Location: Homeless in God's Flat Earth
  • Referrals: 47
    • Theology Forums
Re: Christianity Today Magazine - November 2020
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2020, 07:25:04 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/november-web-only/thanksgiving-pilgrim-thankfulness-faith-providence-belief.html








For Pilgrims, Thanksgiving Was a Way of Life





The commemoration we recognize each year came out of a deep view of providence and everyday gratitude to God.


Studying all extant eyewitness accounts of the first Thanksgiving is not difficult. It requires reading just 152 words, written in late 1621 by Plymouth colony statesman Edward Winslow:

Quote
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after have a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

The celebration bore marked differences from some traditional portrayals. The 90 Wamponoags present were nearly double the 50 Englishmen still alive after their first grueling winter in Plymouth, down from 102 who arrived on the Mayflower. It probably took place outdoors, in September or October rather than November. They ate more venison and seafood than turkey, berries rather than pumpkin pies.

In some quarters, it has become popular to suggest even deeper differences between traditional American Thanksgiving celebrations and what occurred at Plymouth in 1621. Contrary to the traditional portrayal of families gathered around their tables with heads bowed in prayer, some historians question whether Christian spirituality should be associated with the first Thanksgiving.

James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz claimed, for example, that “Thanksgiving as we think of it today is largely a myth.” The original celebration was a “secular event,” which “transformed over time,” because America “needed a myth of epic proportion on which to found its history.”

Indeed, of the surviving Englishmen at the first Thanksgiving, only about half were Separatists, those who came to the New World in search of freedom to live out their Christian faith. The rest were “strangers,” who made the journey out of nonreligious motives.

New England historian Joseph Conforti described the first Thanksgiving feast as “disorderly,” not the mythologized “placid feast dominated by pious settlers.” American religious historian Sydney Ahlstrom described the Pilgrim Fathers as “not theologically minded, nor ... self-conscious in their churchmanship.”

Yet Americans long have assumed a spiritual heritage in their Thanksgiving celebrations, from President George Washington’s proclamation “rendering unto [God] our sincere and humble thanks” to Donald Trump’s last year, harkening back to the Pilgrims and saying, “we remember with reverence and gratitude the bountiful blessings afforded to us by our Creator.”

Conflicting interpretations of the 1621 Thanksgiving celebration may make us wonder whether it is reasonable to draw spiritual lessons from the first Thanksgiving. Was it merely a secular harvest festival, or did the Pilgrim Fathers celebrate in deep gratitude for God’s providential care? Even the most cursory reading of Pilgrim literature strongly favors the latter option.

Despite the relative scarcity of primary sources and the wave of historical revisionism, a wealth of spiritual instruction may be gleaned from the first Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims’ approach to providence, gratitude, and the priesthood of all believers.

Thankfulness Flows From a High View of Providence
The Pilgrim Fathers’ assessment of themselves as “partakers” of “plenty” on the first Thanksgiving comes into sharper focus when we consider the mediocrity of their first harvest. Though they brought in 20 acres of corn thanks to the help of their native friend Squanto (who showed them how to grow the strange North American crop), all the Pilgrims’ English crops failed. Yet amid that failure, the Separatists still deemed their first harvest “plentiful” by “the goodness of God” and worthy of a thanksgiving celebration.

The Pilgrim Fathers could be thankful for mixed success because they viewed every good thing in life—no matter how small—as the provision of a sovereign God. A True Confession, the 1596 creed adopted by the Separatists who set sail on the Mayflower, declared, “God hath decreed in himself from everlasting touching all things, and the very least circumstances of every thing, effectually to work and dispose them according to the counsell of his own will, to the prayse and glorie of his great name.”

This was the same doctrine of meticulous providence articulated by the Reformers and upheld in the Reformed tradition up to the present. As John Calvin put it, “God’s providence governs all” such that “nothing takes place without his deliberation.” A quarter century after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the Westminster divines expressed the same doctrine: God “doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least.”

When the Pilgrims decided to leave the Netherlands for America—seeking better economic prospects, continued religious freedom, and a removal from the influence of poor Dutch morals on their children—they knew their journey would be difficult. Yet they believed many potential difficulties “by providente care and the use of good means might in a great measure be prevented.”

In hindsight, “endured” might have been a more appropriate word than “prevented.” The Mayflower encountered serious storms in the mid-Atlantic for days on end, growing so leaky that there was discussion of turning back. However, the captain declared his vessel seaworthy, and the Pilgrim Fathers “committed themselves to ye will of God.”

During their first winter in Plymouth, disease struck the Pilgrims hard. Over a span of three months, half the English settlers died. Of all the married couples among them, both husband and wife survived in just three instances. Still, the Separatists saw God’s providential care. “The Lord so upheld these persons,” Pilgrim statesman William Bradford wrote. After native people fell victim to illness too, the surviving tribes caused the Pilgrims no harm, which they also attributed to providence: “It has pleased God so to possess the Indians with a fear of us, and love unto us.”

Such a high view of providence led naturally to thanksgiving. The smallest positive occurrence in life could not be overlooked because it was a gift of God no less than the major victories. That’s why the Pilgrim Fathers could pause for a thanksgiving holiday following their mediocre harvest and abominable first winter in Plymouth.

Celebrations Stem From a Life of Thankfulness
One of the Pilgrim Fathers’ most striking moments of thankfulness occurred the first Sunday after they reached North America. A scouting party of 16 men returned to the Mayflower with a good report about the land. The collective sense of relief spurred an impromptu worship service. As Bradford put it, “They fell upon their knees and blessed ye God of heaven.”

This scene was not an isolated incident. Bradford’s history of Plymouth references the giving of thanks no less than 30 times. The first Thanksgiving, rather than being an anomaly amid the drudgery of forging a new colony, fell within a rhythm of gratitude in the Pilgrims’ life.

Indeed, the first Thanksgiving may have been the 1621 observance of an annual English harvest festival known as Harvest Home. Some have noted this fact in attempt to deny the first Thanksgiving’s spiritual character. In actuality, it underscores the cyclical nature of thanksgiving in Plymouth colony.

Before the Pilgrims faced each day, they first turned to God in gratitude and intercession. The pattern persisted as half their company died that first winter and as crops failed the next year. Weekly, they took seriously observance of the Sabbath, making preparations each Saturday so Sunday could be spent in uninterrupted worship and rest.

By the time their first harvest was gathered, the Pilgrim Fathers’ response was predictable. Despite a winter of widespread death and a fall of crop failure, they gave thanks, confident of God’s providential care. Leaders of the colony doubled the weekly corn ration, and a holiday was declared so all could “after a more special manner, rejoyce together.”

Collective Thanksgiving Enhanced by Individual Theology
For the Pilgrim Fathers, every believer was responsible before God to apprehend biblical teaching and live it out. Neither theology nor ecclesiastical authority was limited to clergymen. Historically, this doctrine is known as the priesthood of all believers.

For the first nine years of Plymouth’s existence, the colony did not include a single ordained minister. The church, they said, is Christ’s “spirituall kingdome” on earth, which has been separated “from emongst unbelievers” as “a royall Priesthood.” Every believer in the congregation possesses equal worth and responsibility before God.

The concept of the priesthood of all believers predated the Pilgrim Fathers. Yet Separatists—especially the Pilgrim Fathers—lived out the doctrine with unique consistency. A comparison of Plymouth colony with its Puritan neighbors to the north in Massachusetts Bay Colony proves helpful in this regard.

While both groups believed the church should comprise only “visible saints” and that each believer bore individual responsibility before God, a Puritan could not “pursue the implications of his principles the way the Separatists did.” That was because Puritans never separated from the Church of England and its practice of regarding every Englishman as a church member. Only Separatists demanded a confession of faith as a prerequisite for church membership.

In light of that distinction between Pilgrims and Puritans, it is interesting that Plymouth became famous for its community-wide Thanksgiving celebration while Massachusetts Bay attained notoriety largely for the theological contributions of its individual ministers and the universities it founded to train them.

Their daily, weekly, and occasional expressions of thankful worship were communal, not decreed by clergy. Perhaps rigorous adherence to the priesthood of all believers is why the Pilgrims could, at the first Thanksgiving, “rejoice together” that “by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

‘Their Trust in Heaven, Their High Religious Faith’
Historians who characterize the first Thanksgiving as more legend than fact, more revelry than spirituality, have cited New England statesman Daniel Webster’s 1820 speech at Plymouth Rock as a key step in formulating the Pilgrim “myth.” While Webster took poetic license with some details (like the importance of Plymouth Rock itself), his characterization of the Pilgrim Fathers as thankful people of faith is borne out by the historical record.

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of Plymouth colony’s founding, he recalled “their conscious joy for dangers escaped; their deep solicitude about danger to come; their trust in Heaven; their high religious faith, full of confidence and anticipation; all of these seem to belong to this place, and to be present upon this occasion, to fill us with reverence and admiration.”

With the passing of 200 more years, we still have reason to celebrate the Pilgrim Fathers’ faith and look to them for enduring lessons on providence and gratitude.








Adapted from Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth: Remembering the Mayflower Pilgrims, 1620–2020 (H&E Publishing). Used with permission.
[/size]
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and REPENTING, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise - EPHESIANS 1:10-14 KJV - The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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

 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
14 Replies
2396 Views
Last post January 19, 2021, 05:31:43 pm
by patrick jane
21 Replies
1921 Views
Last post January 19, 2021, 05:35:01 pm
by patrick jane
41 Replies
2158 Views
Last post January 19, 2021, 05:37:05 pm
by patrick jane
27 Replies
1992 Views
Last post January 19, 2021, 05:38:01 pm
by patrick jane
24 Replies
1923 Views
Last post January 19, 2021, 05:38:17 pm
by patrick jane

+-Recent Topics

Scriptures - Verse Of The Day and Discussion by Chaplain Mark Schmidt
July 31, 2021, 11:44:40 pm

THREAD FOR POSTING ANYTHING JUST TO RAISE THE POST COUNT by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 10:08:15 pm

Biblical Theology - For Serious Students by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 09:51:28 pm

VIDEO MINISTRY BY LION OF JUDAH by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 09:15:28 pm

TOMMY TRAVELS YOUTUBE CHANNEL by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 05:20:35 pm

THE RAPTURE by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 05:02:37 pm

ANGELS & DEMONS by patrick jane
July 31, 2021, 04:27:02 pm

Killer Whale Channels - YouTube Live Streams by Bladerunner
July 30, 2021, 08:03:55 pm

Philosophy and Theology with Jay Dyer by Bladerunner
July 30, 2021, 08:02:22 pm

Prayer Forum by Bladerunner
July 30, 2021, 07:56:02 pm

PATRICK JANE FORUMS MILESTONES by Bladerunner
July 28, 2021, 05:46:45 pm

Salvation, Doctrine and Rightly Dividing - MAD by Bladerunner
July 28, 2021, 05:43:23 pm

FACE LIKE THE SUN - CANARY CRY NEWS TALK (CCNT) by patrick jane
July 26, 2021, 10:31:53 pm

Your Favorite Music, Images and Memes by patrick jane
July 26, 2021, 11:23:28 am

What's on your mind? Chat Thread by Bladerunner
July 25, 2021, 02:14:39 pm

Just curious... by Bladerunner
July 25, 2021, 01:10:24 pm

Fear and Loathing In The Flat Earth by patrick jane
July 25, 2021, 11:07:32 am

Christian Music by truthjourney
July 25, 2021, 10:05:23 am