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Discussion | Christian News | Chaplain's Office => Christian and Theological News => Topic started by: patrick jane on September 12, 2018, 11:04:26 am

Title: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 12, 2018, 11:04:26 am
(https://d3cdtxx03omvla.cloudfront.net/25552775_1531142411477.png)


Making Strides Against the Opioid Crisis: Churches and Government Working Together for Good




09/12/18


https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/september/making-strides-against-opioid-crisis.html


Many Americans wonder what to do and, most importantly, who to turn to for answers.


Last October, President Trump declared the opioid crises a public health emergency. With the loss of 72,000 lives in 2017 due to an overdose of prescription drugs, our country is still firmly in the midst of an opioid epidemic, leaving many Americans wondering what to do and, most importantly, who to turn to for answers.

The difficult truth is that drug overdoses are currently our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In an otherwise healthy country with widespread access to medical care, thousands are literally dying in their excess—losing their lives to drugs purchased out of dependency rather than dire need.

Deaths by drug overdose particularly pain us because they feel senseless. All around us, friends, family members, and loved ones are slipping through the cracks of addiction, hiding from help, and trying to cope with the effects of these deadly drugs all on their own.

After all, isn’t that the greatest lie? That we’re all alone? That no one understands?

Chris Eisele, president of Warren County Fire Chiefs’ Association in Ohio, alluded to one of the greatest challenges of the opioid epidemic: “This epidemic,” he said, “It’s got no face.” People from all walks of life, economic backgrounds, professions, and cultural contexts are finding themselves battling the bitterness of substance abuse and addiction. There’s no ‘type’ or typical victim—and, most importantly, everyone is in hiding.

It is into this environment—one ripe with shame and fear—that the church has the opportunity to walk and speak boldly.


First, with biblical truth


The nation of Israel was in a state of disrepair, immersed in sin and desperately in need of repentance. During this period, it was the prophet Isaiah who was chosen to speak God’s words of forbearance to this disobedient people.

Despite their shortcomings—no, really, they always fell short—the God of Israel had a plan of redemption in the works that was both bigger than they could ever imagine and better than they could ever deserve.

In Isaiah 35, the prophet described in detail what would happen upon the arrival of this coming Messiah:

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”

This Messiah, as it turns out, would be a master healer—one who freed individuals from the bondage of all sorts of infirmities. And that’s just what Jesus did. He attended to the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead—there was no person too infected, too debilitated, or too far gone for his healing touch. It is in Christ’s attitude towards the suffering in his day that we see the heart of God.


He was the Great Physician.

Looking at Scripture, it becomes clear that God cares deeply for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of people. As his faithful followers, we should do the same.

Second, with treatment programs

Amidst our nation’s opioid crisis, one of the ways we can care for those affected is through access to treatment and recovery support programs.

The church should be a place where substance abuse and addiction aren’t swept under the rug, but boldly and lovingly confronted. Followers of Jesus—whether they be pastors or laypeople—should take seriously their duty to connect individuals with the resources they need to find healing.

Study after study have demonstrated the effectiveness of faith-based addiction recovery support efforts in rehabilitation centers everywhere. Drug and alcohol abuse don’t just affect people physically—if they did, doctors, nurses, and simple medications alone could rid this whole earth of addiction without delay. But as most know, addictions to opioids and other substances have an inherently spiritual component—one that can’t be adequately addressed from the confines of a hospital bed.

Faith-based treatment programs aren’t just a solution, they are a key solution to helping individuals confront and beat the root cause of addiction once and for all.

Steven Mosma, professor of political science at Pepperdine University has studied the effectiveness of faith-based social programs coming to the conclusion that “faith-based programs working with people who experience social ills will bring with them an added resource and degree of effectiveness that secular programs do not have.” Professor Mosma cites studies performed on the effectiveness of one particular faith-based rehabilitation program: Adult & Teen Challenge USA.

Adult and Teen Challenge USA is a nationwide, faith-based group dedicated to providing individuals with a “holistic model of drug and alcohol recovery.” Convinced that a restored relationship with Jesus Christ is central to the healing process, folks at this organization work diligently to teach program participants about the God of healing who created and loves them.

On Teen Challenge’s website, resources are available to help connect students and adults struggling with addiction to programs nearest to them.

Third, in cooperation with government partners

Where there is room for churches and faith-based institutions to work together in this struggle against opioid addictions, so too are there opportunities for these groups to work cooperatively with governing authorities.

This morning, I testified at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA, in cooperation with the HHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, convened a one-day expert panel on “The Role of the Faith-Based Community as Bridge Builders to the Treatment Community for People with Serious Mental Illness.”

This is one of the two areas where some of this work is intersecting with the work of Director Shannon Royce, Esq., and the Partnership Center team.

The other is opioids.

Recently, I shared the Partnership Center’s tool kit that offers practical resources for communities and faith-based entities. The Practical Toolkit for Faith and Community Leaders, along with additional information and resources, can be found on the Rural Matters Institute website with permission from the office of The Partnership Center. A downloadable version is also available.

Through our Rural Matters Initiative we will be helping churches connect with resources that will help serve their communities, like the toolkit.

However, there is another opportunity here. This September, State Opioid Response Grant (SOR’s) funds will be going into communities around the country. A helpful letter from Shannon Royce and SAMHSA’s recently released Frequently Asked Questions affirms that states are allowed to use a portion of these funds to support services offered by faith-based providers —yes, faith-based providers—through indirect funding or voucher programs.

Efforts like this demonstrate that cross-sector partnerships between public and private entities are making a path forward amidst this opioid crisis. And now is the time for more faith-based providers to step forward and leverage all the resources available to them.


Where from here?


In a Washington Post op-ed last year, I explained, “Addiction is a health crisis because it affects people of all backgrounds. We can treat it as such.”

My exhortation to you, if you are a pastor or a church leader, is that you and members of your congregation might join Jesus on his mission of being the Great Physician. He is looking for churches, pastors, and people to see the need and to become part of the solution.

Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.




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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 13, 2018, 09:57:11 am
Preparing to Witness an Act of God


https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/preparing-to-witness-an-act-of-god.4123/

(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83449.jpg?w=700)


09/12/18


Science can explain why Hurricane Florence is threatening my home. But it can’t interpret it.

On Ash Wednesday 1962, the dead didn’t just rise again. They floated.

The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 was one of the worst storms to hit the Eastern seaboard in modern memory. One of the places hardest hit was Chincoteague Island, a tiny barrier island off the coast of Virginia. As the island flooded, and residents scurried into their upstairs bedrooms, the tidal surge was so great that it sucked the wooden burial vaults out of the ground. The dead floated down Taylor Street.

Everyone alive has experienced the storm—maybe it was a hurricane, maybe it was a nor’easter, maybe it was a tornado, or gale, or earthquake. I grew up hearing the stories of my grandparents being airlifted off of Chincoteague by US Navy helicopter the day after the 1962 storm. In 2015, I watched as the flood waters of the 1,000-Year Flood rose across my yard and ran under my house. Each one is a unique event, the sum and total of which is unexplainable from our limited, human perspective.

Beyond Our Understanding

The night before the Chincoteague storm, waterman Herman Fitchett told his daughter, “The barometer is the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my life. Something bad is going to happen.” Still, in 1962, the residents of places like Chincoteague had relatively little warning.

Times have changed. As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Eastern seaboard, coastal communities like Chincoteague are under mandatory evacuation. At time of writing, Florence is a Category 4 hurricane, a tropical cyclone with winds of up to 130 mph. In 1962, the Weather Service wasn’t able to predict the Ash Wednesday Storm. Today we have Doppler radar that allows us to watch the hurricane’s every move.

Modern science has provided us with the remarkable ability to explain weather patterns on Earth—explanations that ancient people would never have understood. But just as storms make us stop and pay attention today, they did the same to ancient people. One of the most well-known passages of the Bible that speaks of the storms of our world is Job 37. When Job writes about storms, no easy answer is given. Prophetically, Job tells us, God “does great things beyond our understanding” (Job 37:5).

Christians spend an inordinate amount of time trying to explain God: who God is and how God works. And this is a good thing; our wonder and curiosity reflect the image of God in our lives. But often when God acts, there is no explanation. We can only be a witness to it.

When we read the stories in the Bible of how Jesus walked on water, multiplied the loaves, and calmed the sea, the temptation that sets in for modern readers is to try to explain in human terms what God is doing. Yet, as our power to explain the natural world has increased in the modern era, our ability to experience the acts of God have decreased. That’s because when God acts, it may be that we are not meant to explain it in human terms but only to be a witness to what God does.

Bearing Witness

I love the way Matthew records an unexplainable event in his gospel. After Jesus’ death on the cross, he writes: “The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:51–53).

And that’s it. Matthew writes of an event that if experienced today, the amount of explanation we modern people would try to give for it would be limitless. Yet, Matthew’s matter-of-fact description suggests that what happened simply cannot be explained. You had to be there to see it.

As I watch the radar images of Hurricane Florence bearing down on my location, I am reminded of the great blessing modern science gives us in its power to explain phenomena that our ancestors could only guess at. But the explanatory power of scientific theories is eternally limited. As G. L. Pandit points out, theories explain problems that we know of beforehand, but their use also always introduces us to new problems that require further explanation.

The miracles that Jesus did point us to the power of God that works in our world and in our lives. Jesus didn’t ask his disciples to explain his miracles to others, he simply asked that they be witnesses to it.

When we see God act in powerful ways, we bear witness. When we see people serve others in weak ways to God’s glory, we bear witness. We grieve over the devastation wrought by storms like Florence, we do we all can to help storm victims in Christ's name, yet we still acknowledge even in our grief that "his way is in the whirlwind and the storm" (Nahum 1:3). In these and every circumstance, we serve as witnesses so that who God is may be known throughout our world (Acts 1:8 ).

You can predict the storm, you can track the storm, you can prepare for the storm, but you can’t interpret the storm. You can only witness it.

Douglas Estes is associate professor of New Testament and practical theology at South University. He is the editor of Didaktikos, and his newest book is Braving the Future: Christian Faith in a World of Limitless Tech.





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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 13, 2018, 10:04:21 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83445.jpg?w=700)


The Dark Night of the Dark Knight's Soul


https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/the-dark-night-of-the-dark-knights-soul.4137/#post-61998


The hype declared Batman an atheist. There’s more to it than that.

A young boy kneels by his bed, lit by a single candle. His hands clasped in a prayerful posture, he pronounces a vow that will shape the rest of his life: “And I swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals.”

In the original telling of Batman’s origin, the traumatized young Bruce Wayne, days after witnessing the brutal murders of his parents, has committed himself to a path that will become a double life, torn between light and darkness. When he eventually takes on the likeness of a night creature to terrify criminals and to ensure no one else will suffer his losses, he will succeed so well that the being he created leads to an identity crisis of faith—one that might resonate in our own hearts.

Weeks ago, the news circulated that in Batman #53, Batman would be declared an atheist. There was little surprise, since Batman is the most self-made superhero in the comic book pantheon, and the one least likely to feel dependent on a supernatural God. But fans were intrigued to hear that writer Tom King was going beyond the implications that Bruce Wayne acknowledges no Higher Power, and exploring the dynamics of how this rejection of faith came to be and its consequences.

Yet in a tweet, King himself questioned whether Batman is actually a practicing atheist: “That’s not how I read that comic.” Indeed, the issue ends with a hint that Bruce Wayne is at a crossroads of faith in God versus faith in himself.

Jury Room Debate

The three-part story, “Cold Days” (in Batman, issues #51-53)—written by King and beautifully illustrated by veteran artist Lee Weeks, an outspoken Christian—picks up after Bruce has been left at the altar by Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman, who had decided that marriage would hinder Batman’s mission. Standing on the edge of a skyscraper in his groom’s apparel, abandoned, Bruce quickly reverts to his other identity, leaving any chance of mourning and recovery behind. Investigating the deaths of three young women, he finds evidence pointing to his old enemy, Mr. Freeze. He finds Freeze and viciously attacks him, leading quickly to Freeze’s confession and trial.

But then, a twist: Bruce Wayne is called to serve on the jury. He becomes the one “not guilty” vote and questions whether there might be another explanation for the murders. “If we follow the actual facts, take out Batman’s … I don’t know … the presumption of supercompetence. His infallibility,” Bruce argues, maybe they can avoid rushing to judgment based on the Dark Knight’s reputation for always seeing what others miss. It’s obvious that Bruce fears his hasty conclusions may lead to a miscarriage of that which obsesses him, justice, and that Batman’s excessive force had terrified Freeze into confessing to the police. Bruce is at war with his alter ego.

https://asburyseminary.edu/resources/seedbed/

But the jury needs more than Bruce’s theory, and so the millionaire explains how his father, a Christian, took him to church. “He held hallow the immortal soul, heaven, the Father and the Son, giving your will to the Lord, trusting him with that will. He wanted me to believe too. But he wanted me to come to it on my own. We went to church. He told me all the stories. Talked a lot about what we can control, what we can’t.” After the loss of father and mother, “I was upset. I … put aside believing in … a deity. Or believing in anything my father thought had saved him. I couldn’t really see that anything had saved him. … After my parents died, I sought transcendence. I found Batman.”

What the jury hears as Bruce’s source of relief from the fear that had stalked him since childhood, the readers see as Bruce’s tortured confession of his search for an alternate savior, who became himself. When a juror asks if Bruce thinks Batman is God, he responds: “If you define God as the infallible, the responsible, the one who determines life and death, then yes. That’s my argument. I thought he was God.” He asserts that the jury’s confidence in Batman is tantamount to that owed to deity. “God is above us. And he wears a cape.”

Who Am I? What Have I Become?

Despite the comic book trappings of “Cold Days,” Bruce Wayne’s journey toward realization of his idolatry of Batman has real-world parallels. It’s painful when we, in our search for peace and fulfillment, discover instead that we are ourselves the source of our anxieties, fears, and conflicts.

Like all the little fires we build to light our way, which ultimately cause us to lie down in torment (Isa. 50:11), the light emanating from the Bat-signal, intended as a means of healing, has become a dangerous idol. Even if the people of Gotham didn’t actually worship Batman, Bruce has discovered that he does.

Similarly, what keeps me awake at night, or in distress through the day, might be a signal that I have my own dueling identities—the diurnal right-believing identity that finds in myself a nocturnal creature whose desires and emotions diverge from my beliefs. Anger, conflict, and frustration undermine my striving to do right.

Bruce Wayne’s drive to realize his commitment to justice by transforming his body and mind into the perfect avatar of justice made him more a Nietzschean ubermensch than a servant of righteousness. Now, in his brokenness, he sees how he’s fallen short. Sometimes, in our own dark night of the soul, we finally see how we have made a little god out of a good thing—a calling, gift, or even family and church—and held it, burning, close to the heart, until God shouts in our pain and our eyes are opened.

“He tries … and he fails, and he tries again. But he can’t,” Bruce is finally forced to admit of Batman. “He does not provide solace from pain. He cannot give you hope for the eternal. He cannot comfort you for the love you lost. God blesses your soul with grace. Batman punches people in the face.”

If his suffering finally brought about his abandonment of Batman as a substitute god, is Bruce ready to also return to faith in his father’s God? He confesses to Alfred, his butler, that he’s “lost” and needs to remember who he is. The caption at the bottom of the last page depicting Bruce, now back in his original suit, quotes Job 1:20–21: “Then Job arose and rent his mantle, and shaved his head. He fell down upon the ground and worshipped. He said: Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Emphasis in original)

Who is Bruce Wayne? Bruce Wayne is us.


Alex Wainer is professor of communication and media studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He is the author of Soul of the Dark Knight: Batman as Mythic Figure in Comics and Film.




Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 14, 2018, 01:00:48 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/82835.jpg?w=700)

https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/with-sexual-sin-truth-and-mercy-triumph-over-judgment.3532/


With Sexual Sin, Truth and Mercy Triumph over Judgment


What I've learned from both sides of a hard conversation.

In today’s cultural climate, conversations around human sexuality unravel before they even get started. Those of us who hold to the traditional biblical view are often told we’re judgmental, yet the accusation is issued so often that it’s hard to tell a false alarm from a true indictment. As followers of Jesus Christ, we long to embody beautiful orthodoxy. Although the phrase “grace and truth” is shouted from every rooftop, we’re painfully aware of how difficult it is to practice in the context of real relationships and real conversations.

The tension is palpable: It manifests itself as a physical tightness in your chest when someone discloses their sexual attractions for the first time. You feel it, too, as tears on your face, when you can’t figure out how to express your love for your same-sex attracted friend and also affirm God’s singular plan for sex between a married man and woman.

As someone who came to Christ after years of sexual and romantic relationships with women, I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. I was once the person receiving a hard word; now I’m the one giving it. Some of us—I’m raising my hand, here—tip more easily toward truth telling and less easily toward grace. Others err on the side of permissiveness, loving their friends enough to show grace but maybe leaving out the Bible’s clear teaching on sex.

I recently spoke to a father who confided in me, face fallen, that his response to his daughter coming out several years ago was to put up a wall of theology. He desperately wanted to know if he could make it right without sacrificing his convictions or his relationship with his daughter. Another woman approached me detailing how she had for decades kept up her loving relationship with her gay sister, convinced that simple friendship embodied Jesus to her. She was scared that her failure to speak truth would ultimately bring harm and felt very unsure of how to enter into the conversation after so many years of staying out.

There are many, many stories like these. Where can we turn for a model? Scripture declares that Jesus Christ is the one who took on flesh and lived full of grace and truth, and oh, how we need his guidance.

Although John 8 is debated by scholars, feminists, and others, nonetheless the passage offers us a powerful case study. In the story, we find Jesus teaching in the temple. The scribes and Pharisees walk in, bringing with them a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery. The text says they’re trying to trap Jesus by asking: “What should be done to this sinful woman? Should they treat her as God’s law demands?”

To the grace oriented, notice that the scribes and Pharisees are not wrong in naming the woman’s guilt and also appealing to the law. Sexual sin is called out by God and is morally culpable. To the truth oriented, notice how easy it is to use another human being to make a point, to use an image bearer for one’s religious agenda. The scribes and Pharisees never speak to the woman, only about her.

Jesus doesn’t immediately respond. He bends down to sketch in the dirt and keeps them waiting. When he does answer, he stands up and delivers a blow. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

It’s a dangerous move since Jesus is dealing with people who are sure they are right. (Indeed, according to the Law and the circumstances, they are.) In his response, Jesus essentially agrees with their theology; He doesn’t argue that the adulterous woman didn’t sin or that the Law doesn’t really prescribe death. He disagrees, however, with their methodology. Jesus knows exactly what’s in their hearts—their motivation and their own sin. He demands that those of us with a passion for the truth always take care to train that critical light upon ourselves as much as others.

Once everyone has left, Jesus stands and asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” This is the first time she’s addressed. He invites her to speak for herself by asking her a question about her accusers. In response, she simply acknowledges that nobody has condemned her. “No one, sir,” she says.

Jesus’s response is famous. It’s also scandalous. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declares. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Although it might seem that Jesus isn’t concerned about holiness, in fact, he cares about it more than anyone. He forgives her sin and from that deep forgiveness grows the possibility of love and holiness. She walks, lives, and breathes as a testimony that Jesus saved her from death and from sin. Had she received her required punishment, justice would have been done. But sin would have also won its own pyrrhic victory, destroying a daughter of Abraham. Instead, Jesus is more than a conqueror. From the pit he calls forth holiness, and in his death on the cross, he takes the stones for this woman. We can only imagine her wonder as she walks away, having been on the knife’s edge of a shameful death.

We, of course, are not Christ. Do we have the right, then, to do make these bold proclamations? Yes, in fact, we do! As members of Christ’s body, we are commissioned as ministers of reconciliation. We have the freedom to communicate the truth, just as Jesus did, that sexual sin is dangerous for our souls. But we’re also invited to offer this truth in the context of Christ’s saving grace, forgiveness, and love.

For those who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria, more often than not, the more pressing need is for grace. Most of them expect the judgment part; I know I did. Many of them have been the disowned daughter or the expelled youth group kid. I know because I’ve talked with many of them, and their pain is real.

I also speak from personal experience.

Very early in my Christian life, I was caught up in a trap of sin. I was growing in Jesus and feeling truly captivated by him, but my heart was also tangled up with a girl I had fallen for. I was involved not only with my heart, to my deep regret, but also with my body. These two new loves tugged at me from opposite directions and began to rip me apart at the seams. I knew I had to end my relationship with the girl, but I found myself weak in resolve. I finally told my best friend, a Christian. Sitting across from me with tears in the brims of her eyes, she told me with a trembling voice that I had to end it. It was a plea, not a command, and exactly what my heart needed. She gave me the strength to do what I needed to do.

In that moment, had she equivocated, had she communicated doubt about the nature of holiness, she would have kicked my knees out from under me. Alternately, had she been cruel and condescending, I would have recoiled in shame. Through my friend, Christ administered his truth in his way: full of grace.

The person you are ministering to might not yet be at the same place in her journey that I was—ready to receive the truth. There is no script for how to minister to the people we love, and yet the story of the adulterous woman offers us these simple invitations: Meet each person where she is at that moment. Carefully discern when to talk, what to say, and when to listen. If compelled to speak the truth, do so in humble love. Prioritize listening. Prioritize praying, too. Try to learn and grow. Most importantly, lean on the sovereignty of God, trusting that he will lead us.

Like the woman in John 8, those who struggle with sexual sin often expect us to slam a rock into their face. But when we demonstrate a real care for their lives in how we speak and act, we gain a hearing for the most important message of all: the gospel of Christ—the way that triumphs over judgment.



Rachel Gilson is director of theological development at Cru Northeast. She blogs at rachelgilson.com and can be found on Twitter @RachelGilson.





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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 16, 2018, 11:57:12 am
Mac Miller OD at age 26 | September 2018


Must watch, Mac Miller, Odell Beckham and More


16 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylsZ2X087Ak&t=174s



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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 17, 2018, 12:34:57 pm
Judge Napolitano on if Kavanaugh's nomination is in jeopardy


After sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee are made by California professor Christine Ford, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explains what's next.


7 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaaeBVOYuCk




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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 18, 2018, 11:15:05 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83508.jpg?w=700)

https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/the-metoo-movement-has-educated-pastors-and-left-them-with-more-questions.4187/


The #MeToo Movement Has Educated Pastors. And Left Them with More Questions.

More pastors say they are addressing these issues from the pulpit. Still, half say they lack training in how to address sexual and domestic violence.

In recent months, churches have been rocked by high-profile accusations of sexual misconduct among clergy.

While the Catholic church’s continued abuse scandal has dominated the headlines, Protestant churches have also seen high profile pastors accused of sexual misconduct.

More accusations are likely to come—from congregations big and small.

One in 8 Protestant senior pastors say a church staff member has sexually harassed a member of the congregation at some point in the church’s history. One in 6 pastors say a staff member has been harassed in a church setting.

Two-thirds of pastors say domestic or sexual violence occurs in the lives of people in their congregation. And many pastors believe the #MeToo movement has made their churches more aware of how common sexual and domestic violence are.

More pastors say they are addressing these issues from the pulpit. Still, half say they lack training in how to address sexual and domestic violence.

Those are among the findings of a new study on pastors’ views on #MeToo and sexual and domestic violence in churches from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The study, sponsored by IMA World Health and Sojourners, is a follow up to a 2014 survey.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, says the #MeToo movement—and more public discussion of sexual and domestic violence—seems to have gotten pastors’ attention.

“Pastors are starting to talk about issues like sexual harassment and domestic abuse more than in the past,” McConnell said. “They don’t always know how to respond—but fewer see them as taboo subjects.”

Most aware of #MeToo


For the study, LifeWay Research conducted a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors earlier this year—then compared the results to a similar survey in 2014.

Researchers also asked additional questions specifically about the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.

Eighty-five percent of pastors in the survey say they have heard of the #MeToo movement. Fewer pastors (16%) have heard of the #ChurchToo movement, which focused specifically on sexual harassment and abuse in the church. Eighty-four percent have not heard of #ChurchToo.

Three-quarters of pastors (76%) say they know someone who has been sexually harassed. Mainline pastors (82%) are more likely to say they know someone who has been harassed than evangelical pastors (71%).

Twelve percent of Protestant pastors say someone on church staff has sexually harassed a congregation member at some point in the church’s life. Eighty-five percent say no staff member has been found to have done so. Three percent don’t know. Pentecostal (94%) and Baptist (89%) pastors are more likely to say there has been no harassment found. Christian/Church of Christ (79%) and Presbyterian/Reformed (79%) pastors are less likely.

Sixteen percent say a staff member has experienced sexual harassment in a church setting. Eighty-two percent say that has not happened. Two percent don’t know. Mainline pastors (22%) are more likely to say a staff member has been harassed than evangelical pastors (11%).

Eighty percent of pastors say their church has a policy for sexual harassment allegations against staff. Nineteen percent say they don’t have a policy. Two percent don’t know.

A few pastors have firsthand knowledge of abuse. One in 5 pastors say they personally have experienced domestic or sexual violence. Four out of five say they have not.

#MeToo Leads to Action, Confusion
The #MeToo movement has prompted some pastors to action. It also appears to have led to some confusion among pastors and their congregations.

Forty-one percent of Protestant senior pastors who have heard of #MeToo say they are more inclined to preach about sexual and domestic violence in response to the movement. Forty-eight percent say they are inclined to speak about the issues about the same amount as they had in the past. Twelve percent say they are less inclined to speak as a result of #MeToo.


Methodist (57%) and Presbyterian/Reformed (52%) pastors are more likely to say they will preach more about sexual and domestic violence. Fewer Lutheran (37%), Church of Christ/Christian (36%), Baptist (30%) and Pentecostal (24%) pastors say they are now more inclined to preach on those topics.

Forty percent of those who have heard of #MeToo say they understand issues of sexual and domestic violence better because of the movement. Twenty-one percent say their understanding of the issues has not changed. Thirty-nine percent say they now have more questions.

Congregation members also have questions, according to pastors.

A third of pastors (32%) who have heard of #MeToo say their congregation is more confused about sexual and domestic violence. Sixty-two percent say their congregation has more empathy for victims. Fifty-eight percent say their congregation is more aware of how common sexual and domestic violence is.

A few (14%) say their congregation has become callous toward the issue.

Among other findings about pastors who have heard of #MeToo:

49 percent of mainline pastors are inclined to preach more about domestic and sexual violence.

32 percent of evangelical pastors are inclined to preach more about domestic and sexual violence.

48 percent of mainline pastors say they understand more.

32 percent of evangelical pastors say they understand more.

70 percent of mainline pastors say their churches have become more empathetic.

57 percent of evangelical pastors say their churches have become more empathetic.

44 percent of Christian/Church of Christ ministers say their churches have more confusion.

27 percent of Methodist pastors say their churches have more confusion.

18 percent of Baptist pastors say their churches are callous.

10 percent of Presbyterian/Reformed pastors say their churches are callous.

“We are encouraged that more and more pastors are speaking out and seeking training to make their churches safer sanctuaries for survivors of violence, but the results also show that we—as a Christian community—still fall short,” said Sojourners President and Founder Jim Wallis.

“If we believe that how we treat the most vulnerable is how we treat Christ, we must be in deep solidarity with the women and men who experience domestic or sexual abuse at some point in their lives,” Wallis said. “If we believe we are all created in the image of God, we cannot tolerate that only half of pastors feel prepared to respond to domestic and sexual violence situations.”

Domestic abuse less taboo
For the study, LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors a series of detailed questions about how they handle the topics of sexual and domestic abuse.

Three-quarters (77%) say they speak about domestic violence at least once a year. That includes 26 percent who speak about it once a year and 51 percent who speak about it more than once a year.


By contrast, only 34 percent of Protestant senior pastors spoke about domestic violence more than once a year in a similar study in 2014.

Many pastors (75%) who address sexual or domestic violence at least once a year or more say they do so because they have seen the impact of such violence firsthand. Eighty-seven percent say sexual or domestic violence is an issue in their community. Ninety-six percent know of resources to help victims.

Only 1 in 5 (18%) say they address domestic or sexual violence because it is an issue in their congregation. Almost half (46%) speak about it because they have been trained in domestic violence issues.

https://www.lifeway.com/en/shop/the-gospel-project/free-session-sign-up?cid=clandes-tgp-cti-blue-aug18
Almost half (46%) of pastors who don’t address sexual or domestic violence say it is not an issue in their congregation. Twenty-nine percent say other topics are more important. Nineteen percent say they don’t know the issue well enough. Nineteen percent also say it is not an issue in their community. Sixteen percent say it is not appropriate to address domestic or sexual violence publicly.

“Despite the widespread public conversation, 1 in 5 pastors don’t feel compelled to address domestic or sexual violence,” McConnell said.

Action steps
LifeWay Research found that pastors often take action when they learn about cases of domestic and sexual violence.

Pastors believe victims need help from outside of their families when abuse occurs in the home. Eighty percent say in cases of domestic or sexual violence that occur in the home—including physical violence, child abuse, or marital rape—outside intervention is needed. Nine percent say such violence should be resolved primarily within the family. Eleven percent don’t know.

(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83514.jpg?h=970&w=1200)


In cases of domestic violence, 82 percent of Protestant senior pastors say they would counsel a victim to seek support from a domestic abuse expert. Eight percent say they would tell a victim to try and improve the relationship with their spouse. Ten percent don’t know what they would counsel a victim to do.

Sixty-four percent of pastors agree that sexual or domestic violence occurs in the lives of people in their congregation—including 24 percent who strongly agree. Thirty percent disagree—including 13 percent who strongly disagree. Sixty-two percent say their church has taken action against domestic or sexual abuse at least once a year.

Ninety-six percent of pastors say they have a responsibility to ask church members about possible abuse if they see signs of domestic or sexual violence. Three percent disagree.

When responding to a case of domestic or sexual violence, 81 percent of pastors say they have provided a referral to an agency that assists victims. Seventy percent have provided marriage or couple’s counseling. Forty-six percent provided counseling for the abuser. Forty percent did a safety risk assessment for the victim.

Despite their willingness to help, many pastors still feel ill-prepared according to the study.

Only about half (55%) of pastors say they are familiar or very familiar with domestic violence resources in their community. And half say they don’t have sufficient training to address sexual or domestic abuse.

“Pastors want to care for victims of domestic and sexual violence,” McConnell said. “And they are often called to care for victims. But they don’t always know what to do.”

And some of the ways they respond can cause more harm than good according to experts, said McConnell.

Domestic violence experts, for example, say providing safety for victims should come first. Yet, less than half of pastors have done an assessment. And many pastors provide couples counseling in response to violence, something experts say can put victims at risk, said McConnell.

“We know caring faith communities respond to need. But in responding to abuse and harassment, we have much work left to do,” said Rick Santos, president and CEO of IMA World Health. “Our next generation of faith leaders need to be prepared to preach about prevention from the pulpit, create a safe space within their churches and lend their voices to the movement for lasting change in our society.”




Methodology:

The phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted June 19-July 2, 2018. The study was sponsored by IMA World Health and Sojourners. The calling list was a stratified random sample, drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Quotas were used for church size. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.2 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Comparisons are made to a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors conducted by LifeWay Research May 7-31, 2014 using the same methodology.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.




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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 19, 2018, 05:05:57 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83516.jpg?w=700)

https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/here%E2%80%99s-who-willow-creek-chose-to-investigate-bill-hybels.4195/


Here’s Who Willow Creek Chose to Investigate Bill Hybels


Independent advisory group of four evangelical leaders—two women and two men—hope to complete work by early 2019.


Today Willow Creek Community Church (WCCC) and the Willow Creek Association (WCA) announced who will lead the promised investigation of the numerous allegations that led to the early retirement of their founder, Bill Hybels, and the resignation of his heirs and elders.

The new Willow Creek Independent Advisory Group (IAG) is co-chaired by Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita of The Wesleyan Church, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The other two members are Margaret Diddams, provost of Wheaton College, and Gary Walter, past president of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Their task:

“Consider allegations related to Bill Hybels as founder and pastor of the church and founder and spokesperson of the association”
“Review organizational culture of the church and association”
“Make recommendations to the church and association for future actions”

Members for the group were nominated by evangelical leaders outside of both the church and the association, which jointly stated:


The IAG will work autonomously. WCCC and WCA have pledged their full cooperation, but neither will be represented on the IAG nor party to the group’s work except for providing information as requested.


The advisory group “has decided to decline press inquiries and interviews while they complete their review and develop their recommendations.” Its members “hope to complete their work in early 2019.”

Willow has also posted an FAQ that explains, among other matters, that the church is not paying Hybels’s legal fees, faces no lawsuits, and has made no financial cuts yet. It notes:

“Why are we having an investigation into the women’s stories?”

We want to pursue truth however we can, and we specifically want to make things right with the women and the others who have been hurt. Ultimately, we want to lay the foundation for a new and better Willow that honors God in all dimensions, whatever that looks like.

Funding the investigation is an anonymous donor “not connected to Bill, Willow Creek, or those who made allegations in order to avoid bias,” stated Willow. “The donor will have no influence or involvement in the investigation, and the funds will be deposited by the donor into an account maintained by a third-party organization.”

https://www.lifeway.com/en/shop/the-gospel-project/free-session-sign-up?cid=clandes-tgp-cti-blue-aug18
“We acknowledge that rebuilding trust takes time,” stated the church, “and our heart is to take many steps to demonstrate an openness and desire for transparency.”

One of Hybels’s heirs, Steve Carter, explained to Religion News Service today why he quit last month. (He’s even written a book about it, releasing in November.)




CT’s Quick to Listen podcast assessed why the Hybels saga isn’t just another pastor sex scandal, while CT editor in chief Mark Galli editorialized on how true loyalty can heal the historic congregation.




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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -

Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 30, 2018, 06:31:43 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/79513.jpg?w=700)

https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/when-combat-trauma-tests-a-marriage.1305/#post-4815

When Combat Trauma Tests a Marriage


PTSD impacts not just veterans but their spouses and children too. How can the church help military families heal?

“I feel like a silent warrior,” a fellow military wife told me. “I don’t want people to think badly of him. They have no idea what he’s been through. But they also have no idea what I’m going through.”

Though she felt isolated, this military spouse was far from alone. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) disability claims by military veterans have soared to over 940,000 cases. More concerning is the fact that many veterans are unlikely to speak up about their symptoms due to fear of being viewed as weak or experiencing negative repercussions in their military career. Spouses often fear that speaking out to others about PTSD-related struggles at home may permanently sever an already strained marriage. Though this military wife had sought my advice as a counselor, she could not have anticipated how deeply I understood.

As the wife of a soldier who served for three years in Iraq, I had wrongly assumed that because my husband was so strong, he would somehow be immune to the toll war would take. He shared only tiny glimpses of war with me at first: describing car bombs targeting mosques and the pandemonium that ensued or what it was like watching hysterical family members search for loved ones in piles of charred bodies that included women and children. The sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of horror and helplessness he experienced mingled to form memories that would stay with him indefinitely. He was just 22 years old.

Over the years, he shared even less with me. I would question how he earned awards, including a Bronze Star, and he would give vague answers to dismiss my questions. He’d share bits occasionally, but he mostly sought to forget—and to protect me from—the kind of evil that civilians have trouble comprehending.

A hidden injury
PTSD was first accepted as a diagnosis in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association, but it is not a new phenomenon. The symptoms that can afflict combat veterans have existed throughout history. It was described as “soldier’s heart” after the Civil War, “shell shock” after World War I, and “battle fatigue” after World War II. Today over 2.7 million service members have deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Many have deployed multiple times. Studies have shown that while some individuals experience an improvement in symptoms of combat stress, many experience a chronic problem. Despite the availability of counseling, the US Department of Veterans Affairs reports that the risk of suicide is still 22 percent higher among veterans than non-veterans.

Just as ignoring a physical wound causes it to fester and get worse, failure to deal with combat-related trauma exacerbates injury. But deployed soldiers don’t have the luxury of stepping off the battlefield to process all they’ve encountered and experienced. They must lace up their boots and get back to the mission. Many spend months in situations in which their lives are in constant danger—being shot at, receiving frequent mortar fire, and traveling areas where any roadside object could be disguising an improvised explosive device (IED). As a defense mechanism, they often become desensitized to fear and operate on instinct. Their vigilance serves them well and keeps them alive.

Eventually, when these soldiers return home, they are met with messages that tell them they can relax and be happy now. Unfortunately, the hypervigilance they’ve developed as a survival mechanism can’t always be suddenly shut off. The brain never forgets. The memories and grief follow them home. If they manage to suppress them throughout the day, nightmares are often waiting to remind them when they try to go to sleep.

PTSD may be diagnosed when symptoms last longer than three months and fall into four categories:

Re-experiencing the event, whether through intrusive memories, flashbacks, or nightmares.
Avoiding situations, people, or activities that serve as reminders of the traumatic event.
A negative perception of people, circumstances, and life in general.
Hyperarousal, trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, and anxiety.
The diagnosis also requires that the individual has been exposed to a traumatic event in which they felt intense fear, helplessness, or horror. In fact, many now argue that PTSD should be viewed as an injury rather than a disorder. Symptoms may have delayed onset, first appearing months or even years after the initial trauma.

Families in crisis
The trauma of war often follows combat veterans home—and can cause further trauma, pain, and confusion in families. Spouses and children who have been waiting with bated breath to reconnect with their loved one may be confused when their hero seems emotionally detached. Personality changes, constant criticism, and angry outbursts can be common for PTSD sufferers—and can be frightening and devastating for the entire family. Bewildered spouses often don’t have enough information to understand what is causing the outbursts, especially if they first appear years after the deployment. They can’t understand why their once easygoing spouse would blow up and punch holes in the wall or seemingly reject the love of a family that needs them. Without counseling, the soldier may not fully understand either. If he or she could explain it, verbalizing his or her struggle would build empathy in the relationship and make it easier for the spouse to forgive and offer support. Unfortunately, though, sharing often feels difficult or impossible for the PTSD sufferer.

“We walk on eggshells to make sure we don’t trigger his temper,” the military wife seeking my counsel confided. “I can’t seem to do anything right, and he’d rather isolate himself in front of the TV than have anything to do with me or the kids. I miss the man he used to be.” Though this woman attends church regularly, she can’t bring herself to tell others at church about the chaos she lives in behind closed doors. “It’s hard enough to get people to take a chance on getting to know you when they think you might only be here for a couple of years,” she explained. “If they knew this, it would really scare them away.”

Her dilemma is common. Multiple studies have found that spouses of veterans with PTSD can become socially withdrawn or suffer from depression. One study found that nearly half of spouses of PTSD sufferers have felt “on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” Further, children with a family member that has deployed have greater odds of experiencing sadness or hopelessness, depressive symptoms, and even suicidal thoughts.

Spouses often deal with intense loneliness. “He lost his sense of humor and was always aggravated with me or the kids,” one wife told me. “He even lost interest in me physically. I worried he might be having an affair but never dreamed it was PTSD. One day we were arguing about how he wouldn’t go to church with me, and he said God could never forgive him. That’s when I started putting the pieces together.”

What the church can do
Treatment of PTSD requires the expertise of mental health professionals. However, the need for a professional counselor never negates the need for a loving church family. The church is uniquely positioned to wrap around both veterans and their families: loving them, supporting them, and praying for them. A strong support system—like what a church family can offer—is crucial for healing.

But are we meeting the needs of these hurting families in our pews? We fail them if we treat our churches like miniature seminaries, where we simply come to hear good teaching from pastors on Sundays. As the church, we must build deeper relationships that enable us to recognize when there is a problem. We must foster the trust that hurting families need in order to feel safe sharing honestly. Many civilian Christians may feel ill-equipped to help military families. In reality, there is a great deal the church can do.

• Provide a safe place to wrestle. Pat answers and Christian clichés are not helpful for anyone in crisis, and this is especially true for those dealing with PTSD. Yes, “God is good all the time.” But it is difficult to reconcile that truth with memories of an IED ripping through a buddy’s Humvee or watching with horror as innocent victims suffer and die in the wake of a terrorist attack. Not unlike a young mother diagnosed with cancer or a parent who has lost a child, veterans need a safe place to wrestle and ask the difficult questions. Who better than the church to love them as they do?

• Draw close. It wouldn’t be appropriate for civilians who have not experienced the same combat-related trauma to say, “I understand.” Nonetheless, Christian brothers and sisters can provide tremendous and meaningful support. When my husband returned from battle, he and I learned a great deal from friends and mentors who knew nothing about the evils of war but who still choose to walk with us through the messy, broken places. In the process, they not only helped us heal, but they modeled how we could serve others by inviting them into our circles and loving them unconditionally while they grappled with the effects of war. This is biblical hospitality at its best.

• Love faithfully. Along with prayer support, these families need us to take the initiative to ask how they are and care about the answer. They may need our assurances of confidentiality. They likely need encouragement from others to seek out professional counseling. Most of all, they need to be loved with Christ’s unconditional love. Someone dealing with PTSD will likely try to push you away. Don’t let them. We must be consistent in these friendships even when they seem like they don’t want or need it. They do.

A different kind of warrior
The Bible is not silent on the kind of pain and struggle associated with PTSD. King David was a man who knew about military battle and the effects of war. He was also no stranger to depression or anguish. An accomplished warrior, he also penned prayers like this: “You, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me” (Ps. 109:21–22).

Trauma changes a person, but that doesn’t mean healing will elude them forever. Often, our scars can be a reminder of God’s redemptive work in our lives. Even the resurrected Christ still bears his scars. Whether these “silent warriors” with PTSD are non-believers or wounded saints, great need can precede great redemption. PTSD sufferers may initially bristle at verses like Romans 8:28, which promises that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB). They may wonder how something so horrific could ever be used for good. Yet, the wisdom and intimacy with God they’ll gain as they heal can be used to shine a powerful light into someone else’s darkness. It will not happen without the courage to make the daunting journey through their own healing process, hopefully with the faithful support of a church family.

Churches can rally around these families, speaking life and encouragement into their darkest days. We do not need to know or understand the details of their trauma. We simply need to know, and continually point them to, the One who does.

God is not naïve about the evil that humans are capable of, and he is not oblivious to the trauma many have endured because of it. He does not recoil at deep wounds or abandon families when they are falling apart. He is a faithful companion who walks through the messy, painful places with us. May the same be said of his church.





Bridget Kessler is a freelance writer, wife, and mother of six. She holds a master of arts in human services counseling: marriage and family. You can read more of her writing at TheKesslerDiaries.com.




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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection, the gospel of our salvation, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. 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 -
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on October 04, 2018, 04:09:13 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83683.jpg?w=700)

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/october/one-on-one-bryan-loritts-stranger-in-white-evangelicalism-e.html


One-on-One with Bryan Loritts on Being a Stranger in White Evangelicalism


If God can raise a dead Jesus, then he can step into the divisive sociological milieu we find ourselves in and bring healing."


Today, I am excited to welcome Bryan Loritts to The Exchange. Bryan is the lead pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Silicon Valley and author of Insider Outsider: My Journey as a Stranger in White Evangelicalism and My Hope for Us All.

Ed: Share with me a little of your story of feeling like an “insider outsider” in white evangelical circles.

Bryan: Great question. I grew up in a home where my parents served on staff for what was formally known as Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru), which is a predominately white organization, but attended an all-black church on Sunday mornings. I graduated from a conservative white evangelical Bible college and seminary, but worked at all-black churches in Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

What’s kind of disorienting in a great way is that I never felt fully at home in either homogenous setting, thus the title “Insider, Outsider.” I didn’t have the language to articulate it at the time, but my disequilibrium stemmed from the fact that I was a C2 leader (a point I explain in my book, Right Color, Wrong Culture).

Now your question wants me to drill down into how I felt like an insider outsider in the white evangelical space. Naturally, with much of the theology I was taught and exposed to in white evangelicalism, I felt at home—like I was an insider. But there were some aspects where I felt like an outsider, much of which was because I was an ethnic minority in those spaces.

However, I also felt like an outsider because there was this emphasis on individual responsibility to the detriment of systemic culpability. I remember being in Bible college when the Rodney King verdict was read, and being overwhelmed with grief. More crushing was not a single professor on my Bible college campus even referenced the event. Moments like that is when I was deeply acquainted with my outsider status.

Ed: What is your hope for Christians of all races? Is racial healing possible?

Bryan: I wasn’t around during the turbulent sixties, but today feels like the most divisive time of my life. I remember reading Ta-Nehisi’s book, Between the World and Me, and thinking that is exactly how I feel as a black man. It’s an accurate depiction from a sheer emotive level, but it is exceptionally dark without a vestige of hope—the hope that comes from the gospel.

Hope is not a feeling as much as it is a biblical truth. As a believer, my hope is tied into the Christ who overcame the grave. And if God can raise a dead Jesus, then he can step into the divisive sociological milieu we find ourselves in and bring healing. Am I hopeful? Yes.


But hope is always ethical. Because Jesus is coming back I need to steward money well, share my faith, love my neighbor, and so on. And because Jesus is coming back, I don’t sell my house and sit on a side of a hill awaiting his return, but I roll up my sleeves and wade into issues of injustice and labor to be a vessel of reconciliation.

What’s the old saying? “Work like an Arminian, sleep like a Calvinist.” That’s right. So yes, racial healing is possible, but not easy. We must be willing to pay the price. Racism is America’s historic sin, and the product of a fallen human heart along with centuries of intentional, strategic, systemic effort.

Therefore, racial injustice will not be undone by osmosis, but must take the same intentionality times one thousand in the other direction. We must put a full court press on racism using the weapons of the gospel which supplies a renewed heart, along with prophetic courage that will speak truth to power, calling out the systems of injustice.

Ed: You write a lot about the history of white Evangelicals in America. Their abuses of power, owning slaves, the role they played in stealing land from Native Americans, and how many were passively refusing to participate in the civil rights movement. Why is this history important? How does it impact the church today?

Bryan: We all come with a story, a context. When a man and a woman come together in marriage, two stories collide. Now let’s say, for example, that a major part of the narrative for the wife was one riddled with a trail of broken relationships with men who hurt her. Because of this, the husband now feels as if he’s placed in the box with all of the irresponsible men who inflicted pain on the woman who is now his wife. She struggles to trust him. Her default is to assume the worst in her husband and to question his integrity.

Now he can push back and cry unfair, and beg that she just wipe the slate clean and accelerate the trust process. Or this husband can do the hard work of embracing the story of his bride with care and compassion, and slowly display to her that he truly is different while apologizing for the actions of the gender he is in solidarity with, who stands rightfully condemned.

I hope one readily sees the ethnic parallels. One of the challenges this poses for our white familia is they see themselves as more of a collection of individuals than as a collective whole—a point Dr. Robin DiAngelo points out in her book, White Fragility (she is white herself). Because whites see themselves in individual terms, they will bristle at an ethnically collective culpability, but this is what the process for reconciliation requires—a rehearsing and embracing of the narrative. This is what I do briefly in my book.

Ed: You end your book with some practical steps to realizing the desired Kingdom, one where Christians of all ethnic backgrounds can worship together. What are some of these steps?

Bryan: The book ends with me outlining a four-step process to experiencing what I call “the desired Kingdom”—one marked by deep authentic multiethnic community:

The Choice to See
The Choice to Empower
The Choice for Decisive Action
The Choice to Cultivate Relationships
Notice all four points begin with “the choice to.” In my experience, issues of diversity tend to bottleneck in passivity. We will never experience the desired Kingdom without Christ-exalting intentionality.




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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on October 04, 2018, 04:13:25 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83695.jpg?w=700)

https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/october/breaking-bread-with-broken-people-brings-wisdom.html


Breaking Bread with Broken People Brings Wisdom



Scripture calls us to seek God’s goodness in community, not in private.


There’s a small note pinned to my refrigerator asking me to bring ham biscuits to the church dinner. It’s signed with a quick heart and a simple B. It’s also two years old.

Although my husband and I both grew up in rural communities, neither of us grew up in the one where we now live, having moved here when Small Brick Church called him as pastor. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to live here long term. It was only an hour from his parents, and our children were beginning to need the kind of stability that comes from living with the same people for years rather than months. So we bought a house and started to put down roots.

But knowing that we wanted to live with this community is not the same thing as the community knowing whether they wanted to live with us. The established rhythms and distinct identity that we find so appealing of small communities also have a way of keeping outsiders at arm’s length. Ours is the kind of community where children attend school in the same building their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and even grandmothers and grandfathers once did—the kind of community to guard who brings the ham biscuits to church dinners. I have hope that our children will eventually be able to lay claim to it, but my husband and I will always be from Somewhere Else.

Besides being an outsider, I don’t think I’m what folks had in mind for a pastor’s wife. Sure, I can make pie and play the piano and wear my pearls. But I also grew up just far enough north of the Mason-Dixon Line to not know how to say “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” convincingly. I can be pretty stubborn when the moment calls for it. And my work as an author and speaker takes me away from home, if not on a frequent basis, at least a regular one. So when Bea Cundiff handed me a slip of paper with the words “ham biscuits” on it, I knew something remarkable had happened.

To be entrusted with making the ham biscuits for a church dinner felt like being asked to carry the Olympic torch, but to have Bea Cundiff entrust me with them felt like being asked to light the flame. Bea has been planning church socials for years, and she might just be the most efficient, reliable, and methodical woman I’ve ever met. She’s everything I am not. Which is exactly why we need each other.

Just as none of us can pull off a church dinner on our own, none of us can become discerning on our own, either. In fact, as Alan Jacobs notes in his book How to Think, none of us can actually think for ourselves. Designed to live in community, human beings process information and come to decisions in “necessarily, thoroughly, and wonderfully social” ways. This can be hard to admit, especially for those of us who like to imagine ourselves independent thinkers. But the leaders we follow, the communities we’re part of, and the organizations we support all play a role in shaping the decisions we make.

That’s why Proverbs 13:20 predicts that “the one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm” (CSB throughout). It’s also why Paul calls us in Philippians 4:9 to “do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me.” When Paul calls us to follow him, he knows that we will be following someone, so it’s important that we follow someone who is following Christ. He’s also affirming the importance of seeking wisdom through community. Even if we could think for ourselves, we’d be foolish to do so. None of us are so wise, so educated, so experienced, or so insightful as to be able to see everything clearly all the time. Instead of seeking a private experience of wisdom, we’re called to seek common wisdom.

This common wisdom begins when we gather as family at the Table.

In the medieval world, Italian peasants used the idiomatic expression vivere a uno pane e a uno vino to describe belonging to the same family: “To live on one bread and one wine.” When Christ wanted to teach us the goodness of finding life together in him, he used the same imagery of bread and wine. When we come to the Table, we are pursuing more than sustenance; we are seeking the goodness of belonging to Christ and to each other. We are seeking the goodness of knowing we have a place, of knowing that there will always be room for us. We are seeking the goodness of home and family and community.

I don’t think we’re so naïve as to expect to find such welcome in the world around us. We know the brokenness that exists there; we’ve lived it in our families and schools and workplaces. When it comes to the church, we long for a communion of goodness where we could—if only for a moment—be safe and secure from the world around us. But even here, the brokenness creeps. Even here we have to discern between good and evil. Even here we experience pain, confusion, loss, and rejection. In response, we often find ourselves retreating from the church, feeling guarded and withdrawn, unable to see the goodness that still exists there.

But I wonder if this tendency isn’t exactly the point of Communion, and why part of testifying to the Lord’s death must involve joining with those who have sinned against us and whom we have sinned against.

In coming together, we defy the brokenness and proclaim a greater, shared good. We learn to see the goodness of those with whom we “live on one bread and one wine,” to know, as Paul writes, that “because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, since all of us share the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). This is no small thing, especially for those of us who have been harmed in churches, who have been betrayed, devalued, and manipulated by those we thought we could trust. These wounds do not heal easily, and when they do, they scar. But who better to understand this than the One who carries the scars of betrayal in his own body?

As we come to the Table, we can’t help but remember that he was broken long before we were. We can’t help but remember his willing sacrifice. We can’t help but remember that the God who led him through the valley of the shadow of death and raised him to new life will one day prepare a table for those who come from east and west and from every tribe and tongue and nation to feast on his goodness. Surely, this God can make a way for us to dwell in his house.

Our church will be 96 years old this year, and as we do every fall, we’ll gather to celebrate our time on this beautiful, broken earth. For days before, we’ll bake and cook and plan and prep. We’ll bring in a special preacher, and when what needs to be said is said and what needs to be sung is sung, we’ll head down to a pavilion on the edge of the woods where a quiet stream trickles past.

And there, like a table in the wilderness, goodness will be waiting for us in the form of fried chicken, hash brown casserole, ham biscuits, deviled eggs, and Crock-Pot upon Crock-Pot of baked beans. We’ll load our plates while we eye the banana pudding, berry cobbler, and Mag’s chocolate cake with fudge icing as thick as the cake itself. And then under the sycamores and maples and oaks, on hard wooden benches and even harder metal folding chairs, we will gather together and feast on all that’s good.

Hannah Anderson lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of Made for More, as well as Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul and the newly released All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment. You can find more of her writing at sometimesalight.com, hear her on the weekly podcast Persuasion, or follow her on Twitter @sometimesalight.




This essay was adapted from All That's Good (October 2018) with permission from Moody Publishers.


Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on October 09, 2018, 03:23:23 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/83523.jpg?w=700)

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october/perfectly-human-sarah-williams.html




A Dying Child and a Living Hope

How prayer and friendship helped an expecting mother through a devastating fetal diagnosis.


Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian is a profoundly moving and wise book. In it, author and historian Sarah C. Williams tells the story of welcoming her daughter, Cerian, after a routine, 20-week ultrasound discovered a severe skeletal disorder typically resulting in stillbirth or neonatal death. Beginning with the initial diagnosis, Williams sketches a portrait of a family that loves, suffers, and endures in faith.

It would be a mistake to characterize this book merely as a grief memoir. Williams shifts seamlessly between intimate reflections on love in the midst of tragic loss and incisive commentary on the social structures that framed her experience of receiving an adverse in utero diagnosis. She sees with the loving gaze of a parent and the disciplined mind of one trained to wrestle with difficult questions. “What does it mean to be human?” she asks. “This is the question our daughter Cerian raised for me, and this is the question that lies at the core of this book.”

But it is not enough for her to raise questions about the pressures families face after a life-limiting diagnosis. She writes honestly about her own faltering attempts to comprehend Cerian’s value. She confesses that ethical and religious principles alone could not give her family the courage and hope they needed to fulfill this work of love. What they needed, they received in disciplines of prayer and the mercy of friendship. In prayer, they discerned a call—a vocation to receive Cerian as a gift to be loved. Through friendship, they received the grace to answer this call with unflinching fidelity.

The choice to welcome Cerian opened Williams to a deeper understanding of what it means to be made in the image of God. In a culture that extols strength, health, and achievement, Cerian was frail, vulnerable, and dependent. She had no agency and no capacities for choice. But she had the power to summon great love. She was perfectly human. Cerian’s name is significant; its Welsh meaning is “loved one.” And she was entrusted to those who loved her well.

What difference would it make to our culture if individuals, families, and institutions learned to welcome those with profound vulnerabilities as beloved gifts entrusted to their care? How would this change our attitudes about value, suffering, and vocation?

Williams invites her readers to ask these questions. But the narrative offers something more. It offers answers with important implications for medical practice and theological reflection.

https://calvin.edu/discover/ask-boldly/?utm_source=christianity-today&utm_medium=digital&utm_campaign=fa19&utm_content=ask-boldly-shiny

First, the story gives a glimpse into how professional communities could offer care to families in need. Throughout the book, Williams describes tangible ways her community sought to honor Cerian’s life. During the pregnancy, they recorded her heartbeat, created special gifts for her birth, and encouraged her siblings to express their love. Although Cerian died shortly before her birth, after delivery they bathed and dressed her. They held her body and introduced her to family and friends. As a community, they mourned together.

These acts of love were vital to their identity as a family. They were crucial channels of grace. And they reveal an important opportunity for those working within medical institutions. Too often, families in these circumstances are pressured to terminate the pregnancy. They are left on the threshold of care by those indifferent to their need for welcome, hope, accompaniment, and consolation. But there is a life-giving alternative. Physicians, nurses, social workers, counselors, and hospital chaplains can support families through perinatal hospice—a novel extension of hospice care that takes the entire family into its embrace.

Second, Williams asks Christians to consider the theological significance of suffering with fresh eyes. She does not shy away from describing the devastation and sadness she experienced. And she does not attempt to make it tidy for our comfort. But instead of wallowing in her grief, she practices the holy discipline of faithful lament. She speaks of the trust one needs to “find God in the pain, not in the avoidance of it.” Her reflections point to an important truth: Entrusting our lives to God is not a technique that keeps us from suffering. Our fidelity is not a bargain for comfort. Rather, we are invited to trust in the goodness and mercy of a God who entered into the depths of sorrow—a God who has shared our tears and laments.

This is an important word for those of us wrestling with suffering and struggling for hope. And it is word given flesh in this beautiful story.




Aaron D. Cobb teaches philosophy at Auburn University at Montgomery. He is the author of Loving Samuel: Suffering, Dependence, and the Calling of Love (Cascade Books).




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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on November 15, 2018, 11:21:42 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/81254.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2018/march/joni-eareckson-tada-suicide-everybodys-business-euthanasia.html




Joni Eareckson Tada: Why Suicide Is Everybody’s Business



Society’s moral resolve hinges on the interdependence of the sick and the well.

 
Just a few months ago, Britain announced the appointment of a Minister of Loneliness. The post reflects a rising epidemic that’s unique to 21st-century Western society: Many of us are hyperconnected online but simultaneously disconnected from substantive community. We have dozens of “followers” but few true friendships. We can connect with the world with the touch of a button—or the command of our voice—and yet we hardly know our neighbors. The net result? Loneliness. The increasingly common response: suicide.

Each year, more than 44,000 people die by suicide in the United States. It is estimated that 25 times that number attempt suicide each year. And the numbers have steadily risen since 2006. Add to that the number of individuals who have chosen physician-assisted suicide—in 2015, 301 people died under Death with Dignity acts in the states of Oregon and Washington alone—and we’re facing a lot of people who have answered “Why not die?” with an empty silence.

The vast majority of suicides of elderly or terminally ill people or those with disabilities occur quietly within homes and institutions, far from the media, the courts, and the public eye. These are hurting, despondent people who never make the news and only rarely appear on your Facebook feed. These are the ones living a quiet desperation: The woman with cancer, seesawing in and out of remission. The young boy in a semi-comatose condition, making eye contact, half smiling, and then drifting away again. The carpenter who broke his neck falling from a second-story window and now, abandoned by his wife, lives in a nursing home.

I, too, have lived in this space of despondence—particularly during the first few years after my diving accident.


Years ago, when my husband, Ken, was a high school government teacher, he asked me to speak to his classes on the subject of legalizing euthanasia. This was well before California had legalized medically assisted death, but plenty of initiatives were testing the waters. Ken wanted me to talk to his students about the implications of a right-to-die law. The classroom was crowded with kids standing along the back and leaning against the chalkboards covering the walls.

I was surprised by how interested they were as I divulged my despair of earlier days. I admitted my relief that no right-to-die law existed when I was in the hospital and hooked up to machines. I then underscored how critical it was for every student to become informed and involved in shaping society’s response to the problem. Then I added, “What role do you think society should play in helping people decide when it is right to die?”

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A few hands went up. I could tell by their answers that they felt society should take action to help hurting and dying people—some students insisting on life no matter how burdensome the treatment and a few wanting to help by hurrying along the death process. One student shared how his mother was getting demoralized by the burden of taking care of his sister with developmental delays. He felt society should, in his words, “do something.”

“Like what?” I challenged.

“Like ... I’m not sure, but society ought to get more involved in the lives of people like my mother.”

I glanced at Ken. He nodded, as if to give the go-ahead to take a free rein with this young man. “May I ask what you have done to get more involved?”

The student smiled and shrugged.

“How have you helped alleviate the burden? Have you taken your sister on an outing lately? Maybe to the beach?” I teased. “Have you offered to do some shopping for your mother? Maybe your mom wouldn’t be so demoralized, maybe she wouldn’t feel so stressed or burdened, if you rolled up your sleeves a little higher to help.”

A couple of his friends by the chalkboard laughed and threw wads of paper at him. “Okay, okay, I see your point,” he chuckled.

I smiled. “My point is this: Society is not a bunch of people way out there who sit around big tables and think up political trends or cultural drifts; society is you. Your actions, your decisions, matter. What you do or don’t do has a ripple effect on everyone around you. And on a smaller scale, your participation can even make a huge difference in what your family decides to do with your sister.” I paused, scanned the face of each student, and closed by saying, “You, my friends, are society.”

Years later, I still hold to this fundamental truth: that the sick and the well are inextricably connected in community. Those on the margins—the depressed, the ill, and the dying—need us. But the converse is also true: We need them, too.

Many of us who have experienced disability or depression (or both) tend to be private people; we would like to be able to make a life or death decision in a vacuum or even at an arms-length distance from others. But we can’t.

When people maintain that their death is their own business and the business of “those I love,” they do not consider the significance of their decision on the wider circle of life. A decision to cut life short, even if only a few months, does not stop with “those I love,” but affects a whole network of relationships: friends, former colleagues, teachers, distant family members, casual acquaintances, and even nurses and doctors who occasionally stop by your bedside.

In other words, it matters to society. The cultural drift is channeled by your decision to either pull the plug or hold on to life.

Just what effect might your decision have? Your gutsy choice to face suffering head-on forces others around you to sit up and take notice. It’s called strengthening the character of a helping society. When people observe perseverance, endurance, and courage, their moral fiber is reinforced. Conversely, your choice to bow out of life can and does weaken the moral resolve of that same society.

Years after my hospitalization, my mother continued to receive letters from nurses, cafeteria workers, and a family whose daughter had suffered a severe brain injury and had been hooked up to machines two beds away from me in the intensive care unit. My parents made gutsy choices that involved facing suffering head-on. And the decisions they made regarding my care had a lasting impact on these people. And who knows what ripple effects have come from the choices they have made in the years since?

As the apostle Paul writes in Romans 14:7, “None of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone.”

The life of Christ gives us an example. In the face of profound pain, even he was tempted to give in. He sought, if possible, to avoid the suffering of the cross, pleading, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” In Gethsemane, as the shadow of his death approached, Jesus felt alone and distressed. So he turned to his Father, the only one he could talk to. Scripture tells us that, as his anguish increased, “he prayed more earnestly.”

But although Jesus suffered, his decision to face the Cross squarely secured a deeper meaning for the suffering of us all—more meaning than we could possibly imagine.





More than 50 years after a 1967 diving accident left her paralyzed, Joni Eareckson Tada leads an international disability ministry (Joni and Friends) and is a best-selling author and sought-after speaker. In addition to living with quadriplegia, Joni is a breast cancer survivor and suffers from chronic pain. This adapted excerpt was taken from When Is It Right to Die?: A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying by Joni Eareckson Tada. Copyright © 2018 by Joni Eareckson Tada. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.




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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on November 28, 2018, 03:04:47 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/85391.png?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/november/christians-drink-alcohol-survey-protestant-churchgoers.html


Can Christians Drink Alcohol? Here’s What 1,000 Protestant Churchgoers Think


Most say the Bible doesn’t ban booze, but they abstain anyway.

 
Views on Christians drinking alcohol have stayed steady among Protestant churchgoers over the past decade, according to a new study.

While 41 percent of Protestant churchgoers say they consume alcohol, 59 percent say they do not, according to a survey released today by Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

In a 2007 phone survey, LifeWay found 39 percent of Protestant churchgoers said they consume alcohol while 61 percent said they do not.

Gallup surveys over the last 75 years have typically shown that two-thirds of all American adults have occasion to drink alcoholic beverages, including 63 percent in 2018.

“While alcohol consumption continues be seen as mainstream in the United States, churchgoers’ attitudes about drinking haven’t changed much in the past decade,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

Almost 9 in 10 of churchgoers (87%) agree that Scripture says people should never get drunk. That’s up from 82 percent in 2007.

But when it comes to total abstinence, fewer than a quarter (23%) of Protestant churchgoers believe Scripture indicates people should never drink alcohol. A majority (71%) disagree.

The share of churchgoers who say Scripture teaches against any kind of alcohol consumption has decreased six percentage points over the last decade. In 2007, 29 percent said Scripture directs people to never drink alcohol; 68 percent disagreed.

When Christians drink socially, many churchgoers believe they could cause other believers to stumble or be confused. In 2017, 60 percent agree and 32 percent disagree. (The portion who say drinking socially could cause others to stumble dropped slightly from 63 percent in 2007.)

Researchers also found slightly more than half of churchgoers say Scripture indicates all beverages, including alcohol, can be consumed without sin (55%) and that Christians exercise biblical liberty when partaking of alcohol in reasonable amounts (54%).

Attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol use vary based on age, geography, denominational affiliation, and other demographic factors.

Male churchgoers are more likely to say they drink alcohol compared to women (48% vs. 37%).

Lutherans (76%) and Methodists (62%) are more likely to say they imbibe than Baptists (33%), non-denominational churchgoers (43%), and Assemblies of God/Pentecostals (23%).

Churchgoers ages 18-34 are evenly split on their alcohol consumption, with 50 percent saying they drink and 50 percent saying they do not; 41 percent of churchgoers ages 35-49 say they drink, while 59 percent do not; and 44 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds say they consume alcohol, while 56 percent do not. Churchgoers age 65 and above were the least likely age group to say they drink alcohol, with 32 percent saying yes and 68 percent saying no.

ChurchSalary
Among churchgoers, those with a higher education are more likely to say they drink than those with less education. Churchgoers with a graduate degree are most likely to say they drink alcohol (62%) followed by those with a bachelor’s degree (59%), some college (46%) and those who are high school graduates or less (26%).

“Churchgoers’ perspectives on alcohol are not changing very fast,” said McConnell. “The majority believe that biblically they can drink, but they choose not to.”




Methodology:


LifeWay Research conducted the study of 1,010 American Protestant churchgoers Aug. 22-30, 2017. The survey was conducted using the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. For this survey, a nationally representative sample of U.S. Protestant and non-denominational adults (18 and older) which attends religious services once a month or more often was selected from the KnowledgePanel®. Initially, participants are chosen scientifically by a random selection of telephone numbers and residential addresses. Persons in selected households are then invited by telephone or by mail to participate in the web-enabled KnowledgePanel®. For those who agree to participate, but do not already have internet access, GfK provides at no cost a laptop and ISP connection.

Sample stratification and base weights were used for gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, metro/non-metro, home ownership, education, and income to reflect the most recent U.S. Census data. Study specific weights included for gender by age, race/ethnicity, region, and education to reflect GSS 2016 data. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Comparisons are made to a LifeWay Research phone survey conducted in April-May 2007 among 1,004 Protestant churchgoers.

For more information on this study, visit LifeWayResearch.com or view the complete report.



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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on February 14, 2019, 10:43:19 am
Chart Lesson: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfHONEg-GeI





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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on March 29, 2019, 12:40:15 pm

(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/90089.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/march-web-only/jesus-his-life-history-chosen-tv-series-vidangel.html



Jesus’ Life Chosen for Two Very Different TV Series




One is scholarly with a big cable budget, the other is gritty and crowdfunded.

 
This month brings two profoundly different takes on the biblical Gospels to the small screen. In Jesus: His Life, which premiered Monday and runs through Easter, History seeks to commemorate the Lenten season with a reverent, fast-paced, inclusive miniseries.

“The story of Jesus is one of the cornerstones of Western civilization,” says Mary Donahue, executive producer of the series and senior vice president of programming for History. “Our production partners at Nutopia came to us with this new angle on the life of Jesus. As a network always looking for fresh ways to tell great stories, we were fascinated by the concept.”

History’s docudrama series combines dramatic vignettes filmed on location in Morocco with a wide spectrum of talking-head faith scholars. Its narrative scenes bring to life first-century Judea with desert vistas, elaborate palace sets, and other fitting locales over eight episodes.

Meanwhile, the other TV project has less emphasis on visual spectacle and more on character development. Independent show The Chosen is already turning heads in Hollywood. When upstart platform VidAngel Studios pitched the concept to followers online, they brought in $11 million—a new crowdfunding record for any media project.

Debuting online April 15, The Chosen will reimagine the radical ministry of Christ upending societal norms in a multi-season show. Creators aim for it to be faithful to the biblical text while gritty in tone. “A lot of Jesus projects on-screen are intentionally formal, which often means emotionally detached and less human,” says writer/director Dallas Jenkins.

“We’re striving in this show to lift the curtain and get to what is authentic and real,” he says. “The approach to storytelling and how we film it, often with handheld cameras, is very raw.”

Top Cable Network Comes to Jesus
Behind-the-scenes on History’s Jesus: His Life, New Testament scholar Scot McKnight of Northern Seminary served as an advisor. After script revisions, he praises where the miniseries has landed.

“Coming at Jesus from the angle of eight different peoples’ views of him is helpful and realistic,” says McKnight, noting the installments on Peter, Pontius Pilate, and John the Baptist as standouts. “Each episode affirms a positive, accurate presentation of the Gospels.”


https://youtu.be/f7DH5PQJNes


Over two dozen faith leaders provide on-screen commentary including Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the Obama administration. Calling the series’ diversity of Christian perspectives “unprecedented,” he points to scholarship from McKnight and Miroslav Volf of Yale University Divinity School as grounding the narrative.

“Sometimes you’re forced to choose,” says DuBois. “Either you have a historically rigorous documentary approach, but you feel like they’re trying to critique the Bible. I’m not comfortable with that. Or you have an approach that is more about the spiritual themes but lacks historical scholarship. This weaves both of them together in a powerful way.”

Though only two of eight episodes have aired, Jesus: His Life already has its critics. One Catholic writer claims it “reinterprets and questions the authenticity of certain Bible passages.”

Other reviewers are wary of featured voices like televangelist Joel Osteen, known for his emphasis on believers receiving prosperity and blessing; and Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, the minister who presided over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding and whose views on the sacrament of marriage do not comport with many orthodox Christian traditions.

“At times, I was surprised by the people chosen to offer commentary,” McKnight says diplomatically, in answer to critics. “But if one canvasses the broad church of the United States, one can see why the various people were chosen—from Michael Curry to Joel Osteen.

“In this series, they are not criticizing what the text is rather they share their perspective and angle on what it says.”

Entrepreneurs Reshaping How TV Works
With every segment wrapped up before the next commercial break, viewers of History’s docudrama always have clarity on what Gospel events are being depicted and discussed. By contrast, the first episodes of The Chosen drop audiences midstream into the story with little context.

Episode one opens mysteriously. A young girl and her father light a candle and repeat a sacred promise in dim light, referenced visually at show’s end during a significant character reveal. It reflects how the small-budget drama seeks to surprise viewers while faithfully retelling events from two millennia ago.

https://youtu.be/Iv8RsbPFyw8


“We make these characters so human,” says Jenkins, whose previous credits include faith-based comedy The Resurrection of Gavin Stone released by Walden Media in 2017.

“For example, we portray Matthew the tax collector as someone with Asperger’s, which I’ve had experience with personally,” notes the writer/director. “Because of what we can glean from the Gospels, we thought: That’s not completely out of line. Matthew was a numbers and facts guy, and he didn’t mind a job that made him socially unacceptable.”

With its storytelling approach yet to be seen, headlines have focused on the funding model pioneered by VidAngel Studios—producers of viral sensation Dry Bar Comedy. Using a little-known online public offering, or Regulation A+, The Chosen drew over 16,000 mostly small-dollar investors to back season one at $11 million. These backers receive equity in the show.

“This is not like Kickstarter or Indiegogo,” says Jenkins. “Anyone who contributed to this project wasn’t just donating; they are actually investing. It took us a few months to get approved by the SEC. Once we did, we released the pilot for free out on Facebook and said to people: ‘If you’re interested in investing in a show like this, join us in this equity crowdfunding.’”

Last year, Jenkins and his team scouted locations and landed in Weatherford, Texas—an hour outside of Dallas. They built up an existing Capernaum Village that had been used for religious tourism, in addition to filming interior scenes on a sound stage. Producers found some topography in rural Texas “similar to Israel,” they say, while visual effects will also supplement.

Four initial episodes have been filmed, with pre-production underway on the next four. Despite Jenkins’ résumé—mostly light dramas and comedies for Hallmark and PureFlix—he warns that this subject matter is hardly for children. Set to be distributed by VidAngel, a streaming service that filters profanity, violence, and mature content, the series will have its own filtering options.

“This is for sure a TV-14 show,” says Jenkins. “In fact, episode one of The Chosen is not for kids—there is demonic possession and physical violence. The setting in which Jesus came was a very depressed and oppressive time period. On the surface, little about the Gospels is bright, happy, clean, fun, and family-friendly.”

“What makes the redemption of the gospel so powerful is the depth of what they’re being redeemed from, which this show will portray.”

Seeking to Engage Diverse Audiences
Producers of both TV series say they aspire to reflect historically accurate Mideast ethnic diversity—and, through the power of story, bridge what divides various faith traditions.

History’s miniseries has a “beautifully diverse tapestry,” notes DuBois. “Angels are portrayed by actors of African descent, as well as other roles with people of color,” he says. “Even more, it’s the voices who shape the series. People like Reverend Otis Moss III and Professor Nyasha Junior from Temple University represent strong black church traditions as on-screen commentators.”

The series seeks to appeal to three different audiences, according to Donahue. “Devout Christians will find new insights they may not have heard before,” she says. “Our History fans will learn more about Jesus’ time and his political context. And people who just love great stories will find a lot of drama, excellent acting, and powerful storytelling from each episode.”

Nearly 30 advisers and faith leaders helped craft Jesus: His Life, from Fr. Jonathan Morris, who often appears on Fox News, to evangelical scholar Ben Witherington III of Asbury Theological Seminary to Rabbi Joshua Garroway of Hebrew Union College.

“Just as Pilate saw Jesus in a very different way than how his mother Mary saw him, each person brings their own relationship to this story to the table,” says Donahue. “We each have our own contexts and experiences. Having a diverse team of contributors helped us consider and hold all of those perspectives into one telling.”

The team behind The Chosen also rejects past Gospel adaptations’ “traditional white European look,” to quote Jenkins. Filming in Texas, their casting process proved challenging.

“Capernaum, where season one is based, was a melting pot,” says the showrunner. “It was on a trade route, so there were travelers from all over: people with Asian influences, Latin influences, and African influences. When you’re shooting outside of Hollywood or New York, it’s harder to find that, [yet] we were aggressive in looking to reflect the ethnic diversity of that time.”

To ensure accuracy in the storytelling, a board of three scholars reviewed all scripts. They include Fr. David Guffey of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Santa Monica, California; New Testament professor Doug Huffman of Biola University; and Messianic Rabbi Jason Sobel, who grew up in a Jewish family and has since “become a follower of Yeshua,” his website states.

“Each of them has impeccable credentials in biblical, historical research,” says Jenkins. “They provided facts and context on the political and social structures of the day. Each has said: “This character wouldn’t say it that way.” Or, “She wouldn’t be in that location.” They had an impact on several episodes, which were going to go some other directions.”

In addition, The Chosen team welcomed input from religious experts to open up broad appeal to Judeo-Christian audiences. “From the Jewish and Catholic perspectives, because I am neither one of those, I always wanted to know how their communities would view each episode,” says the director, son of evangelical author Jerry Jenkins.

“At times, we changed how characters express themselves to have the widest audience,” he says. “We don’t mind offending people—we just want to be doing it for the right reasons.”

Will History Repeat Itself?
Among the highest-rated cable TV networks, History clearly hopes to replicate its success with 2013’s hit series The Bible. Yet advisers contend Jesus: His Life is more than a ratings ploy.

“This is not a series that avoids tough stories and issues,” says DuBois. “The life of Jesus is central, but there’s also Judas and Pilate. It grapples with evil in the world, as we have to engage with these things today. There is an element of hope, as ultimately Jesus overcomes.”

Days from its premiere, The Chosen showrunners are forging ahead with plans for a multi-season retelling of the Gospels. However, the recent demise of a similar show invites comparisons.

After premiering Easter Sunday on NBC in 2015, an episodic adaptation of the Book of Acts called A.D.: The Bible Continues faced a ratings decline. Only one third into its source material, plans for further seasons never materialized.

With its novel funding and distribution model, production of The Chosen will not be dependent on TV network metrics. Nonetheless, Jenkins, who says he admired the 2015 show, sees its fate as a cautionary tale. “To be honest with you, I don’t know that we’re going to succeed where others have fallen short,” he says. “But we are in this for the long haul.”

“Hopefully, these first few episodes people see will excite them for how much time we really are going to spend with Jesus and the characters around him.”






Josh M. Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public policy issues for media outlets includingThe Stream and The Federalist. A graduate of the University of Colorado, he previously worked on staff at The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. Josh and his wife live in the Washington, DC, area with their son.













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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on May 01, 2019, 08:17:04 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/76678.png?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/april/when-failure-isnt-option-how-to-press-forward-in-sharing-je.html




When Failure Isn't an Option: How to Press Forward in Sharing Jesus Even When We Stumble



Failure and repentance secure for us a more ample conception of the grace of God.

 
When I was in college, one of my InterVarsity leaders introduced me to the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. Even though it was published in 1967, the guidance I found in those pages changed my life.

One summer break, when I was back home with my family, I found the same book on my father’s shelf. Like many college kids, I was sure that I knew more than my parents. So you can probably guess how surprised I was to learn that my father and I had both been shaped by the same writer! All these years later I still find direction and wisdom in that dog-eared copy my father passed to me.

Chapter 15 is titled “Searching Tests to Leadership,” which Sanders lists as compromise, ambition, the impossible situation, failure, and jealousy. Recently, I was reflecting on his comments about failure:

If we could see into the inmost hearts of many men whom we think are riding on the crest of the wave, we should experience some great surprises. Alexander Maclaren, the peerless expositor, after delivering a wonderful address to a large gathering, went away overwhelmed with a sense of failure. “I must not speak on such an occasion again,” he exclaimed, while the congregation went away blessed and inspired. Allowance must always be made for the reaction which comes from the rebound of the overstrung bow. Nor can we ignore the subtle attacks of our unsleeping adversary.The manner in which a leader meets his own failure will have a significant effect on his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that Peter’s failure in the judgment hall had forever slammed the door on leadership in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the depth of his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ reopened the door of opportunity to a yet wider sphere of service. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but who refused to continue lying in the dust. Their very failure and repentance secured for them a more ample conception of the grace of God. They learned to know Him as the God of the second chance to His children who had failed Him – and the third chance, too. (1967, 124)

The pressures of ministry often leave us feeling like failures, whether because we actually mess up (and moral failure is all too common these days), or because people are unhappy with us (which again is far too normal in the Church), or because we don’t see any fruit from our labor (or at least not as much as we hoped). This last pressure seems to be especially true in the area of evangelism. Sometimes, we can toil for months, or in some cases years, and not see significant growth. Other times, we are given what seems to be a great opportunity and totally blow it by pushing or arguing, or being at a loss for what to say to a serious challenge to the faith.

I still vividly remember passionately sharing the gospel with a college friend who became so upset that she not only rejected Christ but also told all our classmates what a pushy, judgmental person I was. In retrospect, I probably was pretty judgmental, and I felt like Alexander: “I must not speak on such an occasion again.” In fact, I felt like such a failure that it was a while before I was able to share the gospel with someone else.

Among other things, what eventually changed my attitude toward evangelism was gaining that “more ample conception of the grace of God” as Oswald Sanders says. When I keep in mind how patient God is with me in my spiritual journey, I become more willing to allow someone to wrestle, question, and doubt without feeling like I’m the one who has to answer all their questions and resolve all their issues. I know this is not a revolutionary idea; many other Christians have said as much. But when I’m stuck in the feeling of failure, sometimes it’s hard for me to be patient with myself, never mind this non-Christian in front of me.

Ministry is not easy, and I often find myself needing God’s grace. When I share the gospel, I am inviting that person to join me, to come find that same grace at the foot of the cross. We are not called to evangelize from a place of knowledge or success, but from a place of humility that knows the good news from our daily experience: we need God’s provision and saving, and He graciously provides it. Like Peter, we can say, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you [or solutions or quick fixes or …]. But I’ll give you what I have” – Jesus! (Acts 3:6).

For those of you who have lost heart or felt like a failure in your efforts to witness, let me encourage you to start with remembering the “ample conception of the grace of God.” It’s only from that place of resting in God’s loving salvation that we can truly testify to the good news of the cross and the resurrection.



















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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on May 12, 2019, 01:13:39 pm
(https://d3cdtxx03omvla.cloudfront.net/25552775_1531142411477.png)


Making Strides Against the Opioid Crisis: Churches and Government Working Together for Good




09/12/18


https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/september/making-strides-against-opioid-crisis.html


Many Americans wonder what to do and, most importantly, who to turn to for answers.


Last October, President Trump declared the opioid crises a public health emergency. With the loss of 72,000 lives in 2017 due to an overdose of prescription drugs, our country is still firmly in the midst of an opioid epidemic, leaving many Americans wondering what to do and, most importantly, who to turn to for answers.

The difficult truth is that drug overdoses are currently our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In an otherwise healthy country with widespread access to medical care, thousands are literally dying in their excess—losing their lives to drugs purchased out of dependency rather than dire need.

Deaths by drug overdose particularly pain us because they feel senseless. All around us, friends, family members, and loved ones are slipping through the cracks of addiction, hiding from help, and trying to cope with the effects of these deadly drugs all on their own.

After all, isn’t that the greatest lie? That we’re all alone? That no one understands?

Chris Eisele, president of Warren County Fire Chiefs’ Association in Ohio, alluded to one of the greatest challenges of the opioid epidemic: “This epidemic,” he said, “It’s got no face.” People from all walks of life, economic backgrounds, professions, and cultural contexts are finding themselves battling the bitterness of substance abuse and addiction. There’s no ‘type’ or typical victim—and, most importantly, everyone is in hiding.

It is into this environment—one ripe with shame and fear—that the church has the opportunity to walk and speak boldly.


First, with biblical truth


The nation of Israel was in a state of disrepair, immersed in sin and desperately in need of repentance. During this period, it was the prophet Isaiah who was chosen to speak God’s words of forbearance to this disobedient people.

Despite their shortcomings—no, really, they always fell short—the God of Israel had a plan of redemption in the works that was both bigger than they could ever imagine and better than they could ever deserve.

In Isaiah 35, the prophet described in detail what would happen upon the arrival of this coming Messiah:

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”

This Messiah, as it turns out, would be a master healer—one who freed individuals from the bondage of all sorts of infirmities. And that’s just what Jesus did. He attended to the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead—there was no person too infected, too debilitated, or too far gone for his healing touch. It is in Christ’s attitude towards the suffering in his day that we see the heart of God.


He was the Great Physician.

Looking at Scripture, it becomes clear that God cares deeply for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of people. As his faithful followers, we should do the same.

Second, with treatment programs

Amidst our nation’s opioid crisis, one of the ways we can care for those affected is through access to treatment and recovery support programs.

The church should be a place where substance abuse and addiction aren’t swept under the rug, but boldly and lovingly confronted. Followers of Jesus—whether they be pastors or laypeople—should take seriously their duty to connect individuals with the resources they need to find healing.

Study after study have demonstrated the effectiveness of faith-based addiction recovery support efforts in rehabilitation centers everywhere. Drug and alcohol abuse don’t just affect people physically—if they did, doctors, nurses, and simple medications alone could rid this whole earth of addiction without delay. But as most know, addictions to opioids and other substances have an inherently spiritual component—one that can’t be adequately addressed from the confines of a hospital bed.

Faith-based treatment programs aren’t just a solution, they are a key solution to helping individuals confront and beat the root cause of addiction once and for all.

Steven Mosma, professor of political science at Pepperdine University has studied the effectiveness of faith-based social programs coming to the conclusion that “faith-based programs working with people who experience social ills will bring with them an added resource and degree of effectiveness that secular programs do not have.” Professor Mosma cites studies performed on the effectiveness of one particular faith-based rehabilitation program: Adult & Teen Challenge USA.

Adult and Teen Challenge USA is a nationwide, faith-based group dedicated to providing individuals with a “holistic model of drug and alcohol recovery.” Convinced that a restored relationship with Jesus Christ is central to the healing process, folks at this organization work diligently to teach program participants about the God of healing who created and loves them.

On Teen Challenge’s website, resources are available to help connect students and adults struggling with addiction to programs nearest to them.

Third, in cooperation with government partners

Where there is room for churches and faith-based institutions to work together in this struggle against opioid addictions, so too are there opportunities for these groups to work cooperatively with governing authorities.

This morning, I testified at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA, in cooperation with the HHS Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, convened a one-day expert panel on “The Role of the Faith-Based Community as Bridge Builders to the Treatment Community for People with Serious Mental Illness.”

This is one of the two areas where some of this work is intersecting with the work of Director Shannon Royce, Esq., and the Partnership Center team.

The other is opioids.

Recently, I shared the Partnership Center’s tool kit that offers practical resources for communities and faith-based entities. The Practical Toolkit for Faith and Community Leaders, along with additional information and resources, can be found on the Rural Matters Institute website with permission from the office of The Partnership Center. A downloadable version is also available.

Through our Rural Matters Initiative we will be helping churches connect with resources that will help serve their communities, like the toolkit.

However, there is another opportunity here. This September, State Opioid Response Grant (SOR’s) funds will be going into communities around the country. A helpful letter from Shannon Royce and SAMHSA’s recently released Frequently Asked Questions affirms that states are allowed to use a portion of these funds to support services offered by faith-based providers —yes, faith-based providers—through indirect funding or voucher programs.

Efforts like this demonstrate that cross-sector partnerships between public and private entities are making a path forward amidst this opioid crisis. And now is the time for more faith-based providers to step forward and leverage all the resources available to them.


Where from here?


In a Washington Post op-ed last year, I explained, “Addiction is a health crisis because it affects people of all backgrounds. We can treat it as such.”

My exhortation to you, if you are a pastor or a church leader, is that you and members of your congregation might join Jesus on his mission of being the Great Physician. He is looking for churches, pastors, and people to see the need and to become part of the solution.

Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.




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Trump's efforts to tackle opioid epidemic overlooked due to link in border crisis



Charmaine Yoest says President Trump declaring the opioid epidemic as a crisis set the tone for his administration.



4 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVcQ-hOn2Zg&list=WL&index=13&t=0s
















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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on May 18, 2019, 04:06:54 pm
Artificial Intelligence: it will kill us | Jay Tuck | TEDxHamburgSalon



US  defense expert Jay Tuck was news director of the daily news program ARD-Tagesthemen and combat correspondent for GermanTelevision in two Gulf Wars. He has produced over 500 segments for the network. His investigative reports on security policy, espionage activities and weapons technology appear in leading newspapers, television networks and magazines throughout Europe, including Cicero, Focus, PC-Welt, Playboy, Stern, Welt am Sonntag and ZEITmagazin.

He is author of a widely acclaimed book on electronic intelligence activities, “High-Tech Espionage” (St. Martin’s Press), published in fourteen countries. He is Executive Producer for a weekly technology magazine on international television in the Arab world. For his latest book “Evolution without us – Will AI kill us?” he researched at US drone bases, the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and AI research institutions. His lively talks are accompanied by exclusive video and photographs.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at
http://ted.com/tedx

17 minutes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrNs0M77Pd4&list=WL&index=20&t=0s



















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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on July 02, 2019, 08:48:46 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91133.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/satan-demonic-devil-lives-in-mirror.html






The Devil Lives in the Mirror



Demonic lies hide as truth. They also lurk close to home.

 
I stood before the dazed librarian as she scanned each questionable title: The Death of Satan, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, By Authors Possessed, the books about demons piling up before her. I remember my discomfort and lame apologies about what appeared to be a sinful attraction to evil. This was a Christian university library, after all, and I had a stack of demonic literature rising to evil proportions at the checkout counter.

A similar discomfort confronts me now when I sign the author’s page of my book Giving the Devil His Due—its cover depicting a half-naked demon donning a red cape. Or when a radio personality invites me on his show in the hopes that I will denounce America’s absorption with that “demonic” holiday Halloween. Extended family members often confess their demonic encounters to me, trying to convince me that The Screwtape Letters is no mere caricature but the accurate epistolary adventures of an ancient monster.

Most discomfiting of all, I have stood before an audience of nonbelievers numbering in the hundreds and begged, “Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not listen to any little voice inside you; it may be the devil’s.” I can hear everyone thinking, What’s a nice girl like you doing reading and writing books like this? Instead of comfort, I have chosen to prize truth, in imitation of the two writers I admire most—Fyodor Dostoevsky and Flannery O’Connor. Both of them give the devil his due in order to save us from losing our souls.

The demonic has been a literary trope for centuries—think Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, Mephistopheles from Faust, or somewhat recently I, Lucifer. So, when I began writing a book about Dostoevsky and O’Connor, I was not discovering something new by pointing to the devils in their work. No one who reads their stories will miss the demonic overlays. Rather, as I wrote about the two novelists, I began learning the identity or whereabouts of the demonic. Unlike Frank Peretti—whose demons lurk in shadows and wage war from outside of us—Dostoevsky and O’Connor depict the devil within us. O’Connor defines the novelist’s job as reflecting “our broken condition, and through it, the face of the devil we are possessed by.” If you read her stories, you will be shown a mirror that reflects a scandalous image—yourself as possessed.

Her stories, like Dostoevsky’s, describe the demonic as parasitic evil that detracts from our being, gaining energy and power by our complicity. For example, in her novel The Violent Bear It Away, the main character is a 14-year-old boy named Francis Marion Tarwater who rejects his destiny as a prophet of God. When he does, a stranger’s voice begins whispering within his mind. At first the voice irritates him, soon it sounds the same as his voice, then he sees the stranger’s eyes, and finally, the devil assaults him. Likewise, in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, readers witness Ivan Karamazov dialoguing with a devil in his apartment. Apparently, this is the little demon’s third visit. Over time, the devil has gained power in Ivan’s life.

The question should tug at us: How does this happen? How do we wittingly or unwittingly court evil until it claims authority over us?

The devil’s greatest wile is to convince us that he does not exist. When Tarwater’s demon first addresses the boy, he lies by saying, “[T]here ain’t no such thing as a devil. I can tell you that from my own self-experience. I know that for a fact. It ain’t Jesus or the devil. It’s Jesus or you.” In other words, the choice between Jesus and “you” is the one decision that we all have to make on a regular basis. But here’s what the devil doesn’t explain: The choice to follow one’s self actually enslaves a person to demonic whim.

I found similar truths while reading The Brothers Karamazov. The characters who succumbed to pride—and thus to the influence of the demonic—lived according to false narratives about their identity. One calls himself a buffoon. Another poses as an intellectual. Yet another is torn between being a romantic hero or a sensualist. The holy figure in the novel, Father Zosima, cautions these characters: “Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth.”

When we believe that we are our own, we conform to a falsehood given to us by the “father of lies” (John 8:44). The more we believe in ourselves, the less capacity we have for discerning truth. As Paul reminds us, “You are not your own, but have been bought at a price.”

Now as ever, the devil’s lies hide as truth— in common mottos of our culture that sound appealing, inspiring, and desirable. We want to be in charge of ourselves, in control of our future, and able to make ourselves better. That sounds nice and good. But when “you do you,” as the saying goes, you become the supreme self. “If pushed too far, the quest for a ‘Supreme Self’ can blur into the most ancient human temptation,” writes Ross Douthat in Bad Religion, “the whisper in Eden that ‘ye shall be as gods.”

For believers, this struggle between good and evil, between God and Satan, comes down to our view of authority. We Protestants often cringe at this word in part because we recall abuses of power and authoritarian overreach. However, the word should also evoke the one who authored us into being. If we reject all authority in order to “think for ourselves” and “be our own guide” in the world, Dostoevsky and O’Connor (and I alongside them) suggest that we will unwittingly fall prey to demonic authority. But God is the ultimate authority.

When I wrote about “giving the devil his due,” I didn’t mean the horned figure with his bright hot poker. Rather, I wanted to partner with Dostoevsky and O’Connor to remind readers of the real devil, whose contagion of lies and violence draws on every human heart. This devil plagues each one of us. Through our media culture, in particular, he lies sweetly and constantly. Every children’s film seems to depict a hero staring at his or her image in a mirror or a pool of water and discovering that the secret to life is to believe in oneself or to trust oneself.

But “the heart is deceitful above all things,” Jeremiah warns us in Scripture (Jer. 17:9). The devil must be unmasked so that we can each see ourselves for who we are—as souls in need of a savior.






Jessica Hooten Wilson is an associate professor of humanities at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and the author of three books, Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov (which received CT’s 2018 book award in Culture and the Arts), Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence, and Reading Walker Percy’s Novels. She is currently preparing O’Connor’s unfinished novel for publication.





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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: Jesus Truth on August 26, 2019, 12:00:56 pm
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The Five Heart Hopes: How God Speaks the Love Language of Our Souls





God speaks into the unique longings deep within each of us.

 
I was a newly married man when I first heard the phrase ‘The Five Love Languages.’

The concept put so much into perspective for me, both for myself and for my understanding of how to love my wife. I’m grateful that I encountered Dr. Gary Chapman’s simple little test that has helped me to see why I need ‘words of affirmation’ in order to feel loved. I understand that my words of affirmation to my wife, however, fall flat and that she doesn’t feel love from me in the same way I do.

My wife feels my love when I share ‘acts of service’ with her and my son through ‘quality time’ and my daughters through ‘gifts,’ (of course!). The point is that we all need love—we crave it—but we experience it deep in our souls through different ways. Dr. Chapman has helped the world understand this through a simple and powerful construct—the Five Love Languages!

I believe that there is an associated concept to the Five Love Languages that can be equally powerful when it comes to helping people experience God’s love. God, in fact, is fluent in our love language and is striving to make himself known to us in a way that is radically oriented around our deepest soul longing.

I believe that every single one of us has a love language and that God speaks it to us in a way that we can understand. In many ways, we cry out to God through our love language with what I call our ‘Heart Hope.’

A Heart Hope is a specific type of longing that is associated with our love language. It is the question behind the question, the drive that fuels our lives and, as you probably guessed, there are five of them!

I believe these Five Heart Hopes drive us and our spiritual journey over the course of our lives. As I describe the Five Heart Hopes, try to figure out what your own as you read the description (Hint: knowing your Love Language will be a helpful key. If you haven’t taken the free test, you can do so here).

I Am Seen: People who experience love through ‘words of affirmation’ are crying out to be seen. They want to know that what they do and who they are isn’t going unnoticed. Being seen is a powerful experience.

Think back to when you were a child learning to do something for the first time—perhaps bravely jumping off a diving board or doing your first cartwheel. The words are palpable, “Daddy, watch me!”

There is something deep within us that longs to be seen, to know that we are not invisible and that someone cares enough to see us. I believe people with the love language ‘words of affirmation’ are crying out to be noticed. As this is my primary love language, I can tell you with all assurance that my Heart Hope is to be noticed, to be loved by being seen and recognized.

I Matter: People who experience love through ‘acts of service’ are crying out to know that they matter. They want to know that they are having an impact and making a difference, regardless of whether they are ever known for it or seen doing it. This is very unlike people like me who need to be seen.

The Heart Hope ‘I Matter’ drives us to ask over and over questions like “What’s the point?” “What kind of legacy am I leaving?” “Am I having an impact?” There is something deep within us that strives to make a true difference and people with the love language ‘acts of service’ cry out to know that their lives and actions matter.

I Have Worth: People who experience love through ‘gifts’ are crying out to know that they have worth. Very frequently, they give gifts and long to receive gifts because it is in the giving and receiving where they feel their worth.

Gifts have a way of tangibly symbolizing a person’s value to the gift giver. A thoughtful, well-timed, and sincerely given gift causes our hearts to soar. It is in that moment a person who longs to be loved through gifts will tell you that he or she feels his or her worth. The Heart Hope ‘I have worth’ is so powerful that many will spend all they have to feel this euphoria again and again.

I Am Known: People who experience love through ‘quality time’ want to know and be known intimately. Unlike ‘words of affirmation’ people who want to be seen and known widely, ‘quality time’ people want to be known deeply.

They are crying out for deep, intimate connection; this is what quality time is all about. Being known is at the core of what it means to be created in the image of God and this Heart Hope burns within us and will never be fully met until we are with God in eternity. For now, however, our Heart Hope can be met through deep meaningful relationships with others and, most importantly, with Jesus.

I Belong: People who experience love through ‘physical touch’ want to know that they belong. Touch for these kinds of people is the vehicle through which they experience attachment, a sense of inner peace that comes from knowing that they are connected to others around them. The Heart Hope ‘I belong’ is a cry for deep and meaningful acceptance through embrace.

We feel this Heart Hope met when we collapse into our loved one’s arms after a long journey, wake up to the kiss or cradle of a spouse, or are clung to by our children. To be embraced is to know that we belong.

In some ways, all of us have all five of these Heart Hopes, but based on our love language type, we are usually driven by just one of these burning quests. At the very core of each and every commercial, sermon, self-help book, inspirational speech, or 12-step program is an attempt at answering the cry of one or more of these Heart Hopes. They are compelling on their own, but the great news is God speaks our Love Language and answers our Heart Hope.

We could take each of these Heart Hopes and demonstrate how Jesus, in fact, spoke the love language of his disciples as he called them, loved them, and gave his life for them.

Because I am a ‘words of affirmation’ person whose Heart Hope is to be seen, I’m particularly drawn to the calling of Nathanael. In John 1:47-49, Jesus answers Nathanael’s Heart Hope by seeing him and loving him through his words of affirmation:

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” (NIV, emphasis added)

What is your Heart Hope? What is the Heart Hope of those around you? Knowing a person’s Love Language can help us know their Heart Hope and connect the good news of Jesus to their story in such a way that is powerful and transformative!





R. York Moore is an author and serves as National Evangelist and National Director for Catalytic Partnerships for InterVarsity USA. York is a convener of leaders for evangelism and missions in America, and a founder of the Every Campus initiative.
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 03, 2019, 02:59:16 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91889.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/august/efca-drops-premillennialism-evangelical-free-church-teds.html







EFCA Now Considers Premillennialism a Non-Essential



The denomination drops end times doctrine from its statement of faith in a move to “major on the majors” and “minor on the minors.”

 
The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) changed its position on end times theology, voting this summer to drop the word “premillennial” from the denomination’s statement of faith.

Many of the 350,000 people who belong to EFCA churches still believe Jesus will return to earth to reign as king for 1,000 years, but the denomination no longer considers that doctrine essential to the gospel.

An internal document explaining the rationale for the change says premillennialism “is clearly a minority position among evangelical believers.” Premillennialism has been a “denominational distinctive” for the EFCA, according to the document, but shouldn’t be overemphasized.

“The thought was, we must either stop saying we are a denomination that majors on the majors … and minors on the minors, or we must stop requiring premillennialism as the one and only eschatological position,” said Greg Strand, EFCA executive director of theology, in an interview with Ed Stetzer.

The revised statement says, “We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Whether or not Jesus will set up a literal kingdom on earth for a millennium is left to individual discretion.

The EFCA has been considering the change for more than a decade. John Woodbridge, a professor of church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), the ECFA-affiliated seminary in Deerfield Park, Illinois, spoke in favor of the shift back in 2008.

“People really saw high stakes in the move. One person of great stature told me that if you give up premillennialism, you will give up biblical inerrancy,” Woodbridge told CT. “For me, I never made that connection. John Calvin, Martin Luther, and others, certainly in the Reformed tradition, had a high view of Scripture, but they were never premillennial.”

The US church didn’t accept that argument in 2008, but the Canadian branch of the denomination did.

“It just happened to be easier for us,” said Bill Taylor, executive director of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada. “There’s a stronger dispensationalist history in the US than we have in Canada.”

Taylor said, looking back, the change was good for the Canadian evangelicals—and the darker predictions didn’t come true. “We’ve had no slippery slope to an allegorical approach to the Word,” he said. “There’s no pull toward liberalism, so there’s no negative impact in that way.”

When issue came up again in the EFCA leadership conference this year, a majority of US delegates were ready to vote to drop the word premillennial. The revision passed 79 percent to 21 percent.

Matthew Avery Sutton, a US historian at Washington State University and the author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, was surprised by the timing.

“Emphasis on premillennialism waxes and wanes,” Sutton said. “There are moments of tremendous global chaos in which the church returns to premillennialism, and there are moments of more peace and stability, during which premillennialism takes a back seat. I am surprised that this is one of those moments in which the Evangelical Free Church of America is backing away from it. Things seem pretty chaotic to me, and the future looks pretty dark.”

The change was met with nonchalance at TEDS, where the faculty signed the revised EFCA statement of faith before the start of the school year.

“It’s not a huge topic,” said Graham Cole, the academic dean. “I’m not aware, of all my years here, of any big controversy over the issue.”

Dropping “premillennial” from the faith statement will mean one big change for Trinity, though.

“We’ll have a much larger pool from which to hire,” Cole said. “Our faculty have to hold to an inerrant Bible and the gospel of grace, but that eschatological barrier is removed.”





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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on October 04, 2019, 09:07:10 am
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https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/january/christian-culture-three-ways-to-engage-with-your-neighbor.html




The Christian & Culture: Three Ways to Engage with Your Neighbor




The Great Commandment and the Golden Rule make us better listeners.


One of the things I enjoy doing is following politics and public discourse. I think it’s important for all of us to stay in the loop on what is happening in the world and in American life. More than that, however, I think it’s important to engage in these things. But it’s an understatement to say that much of what happens in public discourse is less than pretty. Unfortunately, this often includes Christians.

The last several U.S. Presidential elections have revealed the division in our culture. The amount of true discussion and debate over the issues of greatest importance has taken a back seat to well-crafted one-liners delivered at just the right time for maximum rhetorical impact. A lot of time is spent talking past each other instead of listening to each other.

But this goes beyond politics. I have seen an increasing entrenchment in our views and a vilification of people with other views. When this is the case, we are not going to work together. How do we dialogue for the common good and with the goal of solutions? I don’t hear a lot of people talking about that.

Sure, Evangelicals have many problems with where culture is going, and rightly so. But we aren’t getting far with the culture in our discourse with them. Why? I think the answer is engagement. In my book, Subversive Kingdom, I argue that we shouldn’t be about control. Rather, we should be seeking to live as agents of the kingdom who are showing and sharing the love of Christ to a world that’s hurting. But how do we get to that place of engagement?

Let me list three simple and biblical ways to wisely engage with our neighbors and our culture, regardless of how difficult an issue may be.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
First, love your neighbor as yourself. As many of us have heard this preached or taught it ourselves, to love our neighbor is to see him or her as God does and to care for him or her as God would have us.

While we can, and should, describe love as more than feelings (which I’ll do below), I want to focus here on that feeling of love—to truly feel love for our neighbor. Love means we see people as creatures made in God’s image.

If you want to cultivate a heart that loves your neighbor, know your own heart better. Once we begin to seek to understand our own hearts, we will realize that we (not those with whom we are dialoguing) are the chief of sinners. Realizing this will break us, humble us, and open our eyes to see people as we’ve never seen them. That, in turn, will enable us to love them as we’ve never loved them. This leads to my next point.

Practice the Golden Rule
Second, love leads us to practice the Golden Rule: “Whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them” (Matt. 7:12). It’s unfortunate that one of the most practical and powerful teachings in scripture and from the lips of the Savior is often too quickly said and too rarely practiced. When love for neighbor is genuine and deeply felt, it changes not only what we feel for others, but also how we treat others.

The Bible includes many passages that illustrate what treating others as we want to be treated looks like. We are to consider others as more important and to look out for their interests (Phil. 2:3-4). We are to bear others’ burdens (Gal. 6:2). What if we looked at those with whom we disagree through the eyes called to bear burdens? What if we were more concerned for them than ourselves?

If we are honest, we want to be understood and be listened to. Unfortunately, too often we don’t remember that others may feel the same. They, too, are just looking for affirmation and a listening ear.

Without love, we are just clanging cymbals (1 Cor. 13:1) in the public sphere or in our coffee shop conversations. Love is the fuel for disagreeing without being disagreeable. Love elevates our dialogue and seeks the greatest good.

My goal when I critique someone else’s position is that he or she would say that I have articulated his or her position correctly even though we disagree on the position itself. Without love, people and arguments are demoted to caricatures.

Be Quick to Hear, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Anger
Finally, we need to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Following these words, James explains that our anger doesn’t accomplish God’s righteousness. This may be one of the best ways to explain what the Golden Rule looks like in an actual conversation.

As we engage with those who have different perspectives and opinions, we should focus on listening. Too often, we ‘engage’ by preparing our responses while others are still laying out their case. We can do better by listening well.

It not only makes us respond better, but it shows that we respect the person with whom we are dialoguing. We speak best when we know what someone says, what we are saying, and how we should say it. Good listening leads to good understanding, and good understanding leads to good and accurate responses.

Then, when the person responds, we refuse to get easily angered and offended. We keep focused on the discourse and not the attacks.

True Christian Discourse
Christian leaders must teach the values of civil public discourse. Before we expect it from others, we must model the path. This starts with obeying the Great Commandment to love your neighbor and following the Golden Rule. It makes us better listeners, wise as to when and how to use our words, and not easily offended or angered.

More than a good zinger or a clever quip to try to win an argument, we should desire real discourse for the good of the causes we believe in and for the good of the world that we care to convince.





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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on November 02, 2019, 10:03:29 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/92779.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/kirk-franklin-boycotts-tbn-dove-awards-cut-race-prayers-spe.html






Kirk Franklin Boycotts Dove Awards for Cutting His Prayers for Black Victims



This year’s broadcast wasn’t the first time TBN had edited the gospel artist’s acceptance speeches.


Prominent gospel musician Kirk Franklin says he will boycott the Christian music Dove Awards, citing frustrations with the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) for editing his past acceptance speeches to remove mentions of race and police shootings.

Franklin made the announcement on Monday in a pair of videos posted to Twitter. Speaking directly into the camera, he explained that after winning a Dove Award—which is affiliated with the GMA—in 2016, he called for racial healing during his acceptance speech, noting the shooting of both police officers and black men in general.

“When we don’t say something, we’re saying something,” Franklin said during the speech, after which he received a standing ovation and led the assembly in prayer.

In his Twitter videos, Franklin said that when the speech later aired on TBN, that section of his speech was edited out of the broadcast.

“I made my disappointment and frustration known to the Dove Awards committee and to the Trinity Broadcasting Network,” he said. “I never heard from TBN, and the Dove Awards committee promised to rectify the mistake so that it wouldn’t happen again.”

Franklin won another Dove award in 2019, when he again made mention of police shootings during his acceptance speech—this time noting the death of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot by a white police officer in her own home in October, according to published reports.

During the awards ceremony held October 15—which marked the 50th anniversary of the Christian music awards—Franklin asked those in the audience and those watching to pray for both Jefferson’s family and the family of the police officer. Those remarks did not appear when the award show was broadcast on TBN a few days later.

“Again, that part of my speech was edited out,” he said.

Franklin said that after meeting representatives from the Dove Awards committee and TBN, he has decided to boycott the awards.

“I have made the decision after prayer, consultation with my team and my pastor Dr. Tony Evans, to not attend any events affiliated with or for the Dove Awards, Gospel Music Association, or TBN until tangible plans are put in place to protect and champion diversity, especially where people of color have contributed their gifts, talents, and finances to help build the viability of these institutions.”

Franklin stressed that his ultimate goal is reconciliation, but also accountability.

“Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” he said.

GMA President Jackie Patillo issued a statement in response, stating that “we had to significantly edit the Dove telecast to 2 hours” and that “many were disappointed because there were so many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches absent.”

Patillo also apologized, saying the GMA “would like to publicly acknowledge that we are deeply apologetic for the missteps that happened relating to the editing of Kirk Franklin’s Dove Awards acceptance speech.”

She added: “We accept the responsibility of our error. Although completely unintentional, we understand it caused great harm and deeply wounded many in the African American and Gospel community.”

Patillo said TBN has made an unedited version of the ceremony available through Video On Demand and that GMA plans to announce new “initiatives” developed after meeting with Franklin and his team.






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Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: Bladerunner on November 05, 2019, 07:43:36 pm
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/92779.jpg?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/kirk-franklin-boycotts-tbn-dove-awards-cut-race-prayers-spe.html






Kirk Franklin Boycotts Dove Awards for Cutting His Prayers for Black Victims



This year’s broadcast wasn’t the first time TBN had edited the gospel artist’s acceptance speeches.


Prominent gospel musician Kirk Franklin says he will boycott the Christian music Dove Awards, citing frustrations with the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) for editing his past acceptance speeches to remove mentions of race and police shootings.

Franklin made the announcement on Monday in a pair of videos posted to Twitter. Speaking directly into the camera, he explained that after winning a Dove Award—which is affiliated with the GMA—in 2016, he called for racial healing during his acceptance speech, noting the shooting of both police officers and black men in general.

“When we don’t say something, we’re saying something,” Franklin said during the speech, after which he received a standing ovation and led the assembly in prayer.

In his Twitter videos, Franklin said that when the speech later aired on TBN, that section of his speech was edited out of the broadcast.

“I made my disappointment and frustration known to the Dove Awards committee and to the Trinity Broadcasting Network,” he said. “I never heard from TBN, and the Dove Awards committee promised to rectify the mistake so that it wouldn’t happen again.”

Franklin won another Dove award in 2019, when he again made mention of police shootings during his acceptance speech—this time noting the death of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot by a white police officer in her own home in October, according to published reports.

During the awards ceremony held October 15—which marked the 50th anniversary of the Christian music awards—Franklin asked those in the audience and those watching to pray for both Jefferson’s family and the family of the police officer. Those remarks did not appear when the award show was broadcast on TBN a few days later.

“Again, that part of my speech was edited out,” he said.

Franklin said that after meeting representatives from the Dove Awards committee and TBN, he has decided to boycott the awards.

“I have made the decision after prayer, consultation with my team and my pastor Dr. Tony Evans, to not attend any events affiliated with or for the Dove Awards, Gospel Music Association, or TBN until tangible plans are put in place to protect and champion diversity, especially where people of color have contributed their gifts, talents, and finances to help build the viability of these institutions.”

Franklin stressed that his ultimate goal is reconciliation, but also accountability.

“Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” he said.

GMA President Jackie Patillo issued a statement in response, stating that “we had to significantly edit the Dove telecast to 2 hours” and that “many were disappointed because there were so many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches absent.”

Patillo also apologized, saying the GMA “would like to publicly acknowledge that we are deeply apologetic for the missteps that happened relating to the editing of Kirk Franklin’s Dove Awards acceptance speech.”

She added: “We accept the responsibility of our error. Although completely unintentional, we understand it caused great harm and deeply wounded many in the African American and Gospel community.”

Patillo said TBN has made an unedited version of the ceremony available through Video On Demand and that GMA plans to announce new “initiatives” developed after meeting with Franklin and his team.






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Then maybe he should just be a gospel musician instead of a want-to-be activist....If he wants to talk about that, the Dove Awards is not the time for them. Use your speech some other time.

Blade
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on January 06, 2020, 05:22:44 am
(https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/77730.png?w=700)
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/july/what-does-it-really-mean-to-bear-much-fruit.html





What Does It Really Mean to Bear "Much Fruit"?




Jesus always seems to say things that hit straight at the heart and make you squirm.

For as long as I can remember, I had been extremely bothered by one of His affirmations: “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit…”

“Much fruit,” He says.

But does He explain what He means by fruit? Does He tell us what He even means by the puzzling conditional of “remaining” in Him? Does He tell us where to get the fruit?

Not so clearly. Yet He does expect not just “some fruit,” but “much fruit.”

A few verses later, in John 15:8, Jesus will go as far as saying that bearing “much fruit” will serve as a sign of a true disciple because the plentiful harvest will bring much glory to the Father.

A couple years ago I had been pastoring full time for almost a decade and my heart was beginning to feel a deep sense of anxiety. I was awakening to my lack of competency and my scattered focus. I was truly bothered by this lack of “much fruit.”

Don’t misunderstand me. For our small, mainly Mexican, immigrant congregation on Chicago’s west side, we had done well. We love our neighbors and God has granted us a thriving ministry with a truly influential presence in the life flow of our community.

Externally, our church has surfed a constant wave of growth. A couple of times in those ten years we had gone through the cycle of growing our attendance to the capacity of our building, leading us to plant congregations in other areas of Chicago’s southwest side. Over those ten years we’ve baptized an average of 30 people per year. On top of that, together with a couple of other partners, our church has begun to plant congregations in other parts of Latin America.

Yet down deep in my soul, I knew that we, and I as a pastor, were nowhere near Jesus’ “much fruit” expectation. And that bothered me...much!

A battle had been looming in my heart. After all, we are a church in America. When all things have been said and done, we are not so bad. Perhaps we could be considered, if not “a great booming church,” at least a “lively community” church or so. And hey, maybe I could ride that wave into speaking at conferences, or writing articles… all the while feeling okay about a mediocre harvest.

But what would that be? Is it not an empty shell, a childish game that we are constantly tempted to play! If the Lord of the harvest expects, desires, and promises “much fruit,” then that is what we must pursue. Shouldn’t we seek to give our Lord what He desires?

My heart ached and still does to give my glorious King “much fruit”—all the fruit He desires!

But how?

At the end of that first decade of ministry I found myself losing my compass. What American Christianity has taught me to aim for and what Jesus clearly desires seem to be two very different things. I no longer wanted to be content with a meager harvest.

I confess, my fire had gone out and I did not know what to do.

My frustration was met with God’s graciousness during a time when our citywide church was engaged in a period of prayer and fasting. God answered my angst, and it was just what I needed.

The answer came in the form of a trip to Nicaragua, where I would not speak or be known at all. All I would do is shut up, sit, and learn along many other Nicaraguan believers at a T4T training. I took in the same 16-hour training three times in one week in three different far off communities. Two eight-hour days for each training three times in a period of seven days. It was like being in a blender.

Most importantly, every day I sat down and learned fresh ways for loving the harvest next to many humble brothers and sisters, some who could hardly read or write, but who truly love the Lord of the harvest. They travelled far at great personal cost, and were willing to try anything suggested in the trainings.

Throughout those hours of training, it became clear that in order to love the harvest, three changes of heart would have to take root in me. I am now convinced that these attitudes are changing my view of the harvest to a love I had never known.

I found that, first, I had to repent from a harvest-less life. It all begins at a true self-evaluation.

Then, I had to humble myself, my Bible-university-seminary-trained-years-of-preaching self in order to learn the skills that, clearly, I did not know.

Finally, I would have to change my passions to loving the Lord of the harvest and His harvest above many competing loves and interests.

I still remember the moment while sitting at one of those trainings in a hot and unbearably humid day, at a little chapel under a tin roof, when the Holy Spirit came on me and pressed on my heart. It almost felt like a heart attack. I think He wanted me to envision what Jesus means by “much fruit.” But my low expectations had been so deeply rooted…

The contrast was so vivid that I began to weep and I asked to be excused.

I walked out alone on a little path along a very rural area. As I walked, I wept and repented before God for my lack of care for His harvest.

Eventually, I arrived at a place where the terrain was still marked by a river that had dried out many years before. On the other side, there were the biggest corn stalks I had ever seen. I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking into my soul, “On the other side of your dry river there is a mighty harvest like you have never seen before.”

So I crossed the river and admired those amazing stalks.

Further along, I found myself at a place where a volcano came into clear view. Again, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking into my heart, “This volcano is sleeping, but if it were to awake, it would reach every community around it with its fire.”

I came back home a few days later. I am no longer frustrated. Today, I am much more focused. My heart has been ignited with a fire that many throughout our world share. Those are our brothers and sisters who will do anything to give our king “much fruit.”






Paco Amador pastors the New Life congregation in a Mexican immigrant neighborhood in Chicago. He enjoys running, dancing with his four daughters, wrestling with his three sons, and bike riding through the city. Pastor P and his wife, Sylvia, have been married for 20 years.
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on September 25, 2020, 10:49:12 am
Good thread
Title: Re: Christianity Today and Other Theological Topics
Post by: patrick jane on October 10, 2020, 09:01:29 am
Good thread
👍