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Pro-Life Democrats Struggle with Clinton Challenging Status Quo

By Kate Shellnutt The Hyde Amendment joins Johnson Amendment in no longer being sacrosanct. Not much about the 2016 presidential campaign has been business as usual. In addition to nominating two divisive candidates, both parties are challenging major political measures that have long been off the table. On the Republican side, Donald Trump promises to repeal the Johnson Amendment—the 60-year-old tax code statute that bans churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits from endorsing political candidates. On the Democratic side, it’s the Hyde Amendment—the legislative provision that prevents the federal government from directly funding abortions. Hillary Clinton has taken up Hyde on the campaign trail, saying it keeps low-income women on Medicaid from affording the procedure, particularly with stricter regulations from states and tighter funding for Planned Parenthood. It’s an unusual move, even for pro-choice politicians, who typically accept Hyde’s restrictions as a compromise with pro-life counterparts. Her challenge shakes things up for Democrats who lean pro-life or support certain restrictions on abortions—including her Catholic running mate Tim Kaine. The Virginia senator reversed his support of the amendment once he joined the Clinton campaign. Former Obama White House faith director Michael Wear and Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore criticized the position …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How a Chicago Pastor Helped Rival Gangs Make Peace

By Interview by Morgan Lee After a neighborhood shooting left a toddler paralyzed, Corey Brooks knew it was time for the church to take action. When a six-month-old baby was shot and killed in gang-related violence in the Chicago neighborhood of Woodlawn three years ago, Corey Brooks and his New Beginnings Church ministered to the grieving family. This June, however, when another child—this time, a toddler—was paralyzed in a similar shooting on Father’s Day, Brooks decided to go further, inviting more than 100 gang members together so he could broker a truce that’s still going strong. Brooks recently spoke with Christianity Today assistant editor Morgan Lee about how he built rapport with gang members, his reputation in the neighborhood, and how he hopes other Chicago churches will support his work: How long have you been trying to broker this truce? We’ve been talking about it for over a year now. We had difficulties getting everyone to agree. Finally, we were able to get everyone to come to the table and at least discuss the potential of a truce. What did you address in your meeting? I talked about the pain that everyone has experienced as a result of these shootings. A lot of the individuals there had been …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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France and Nigeria Mourn Clergy Killed by Terrorists

By World Watch Monitor France’s Jacques Hamel wasn’t the only Christian leader killed this summer. Last week, France buried Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old Catholic priest murdered by Islamist extremists while celebrating mass on July 26. Thousands of people, including journalists from around the world, attended the funeral. Three days earlier, another pastor was buried, also a victim of a terrorist attack. She was the second of two pastors murdered in Nigeria this summer. Their funerals were local; their deaths largely unnoticed by the media. What pushed Hamel’s story onto Europe’s front pages was its location. Since the January 2015 mass shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris, France has suffered nearly 240 deaths in more than 10 attacks by people claiming allegiance to ISIS. Though Christians were among the victims of those attacks, Hamel’s killing was the first to target Christians specifically, in a church. “This tragic attack, so close to home and following other recent horrors, is another example of the persecution we see all too often in countries around the world,” stated Open Doors UK, the British arm of Open Doors, a global ministry that supports Christians who live under pressure because of their faith. In its World Watch List 2016, Open Doors …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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When The Church Becomes Complicit In Sin: Lessons On Preventing and Combatting Sexual Abuse

By Diane Langberg God wants those institutions that bear His name to be holy in the secret places. Only then are they truly His. Just a month ago Elie Wiesel, survivor of Auschwitz and a voice for justice, died. His words remain: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” In reading through the Professional Investigators International (Pii) report regarding sexual abuse in the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), it is clear that the Christian world needs to give heed to the words of Dr. Wiesel. Donn Ketchum, a missionary doctor in Bangladesh, allegedly abused those under his care. When it was exposed, the system of ABWE used its power to ignore, silence, and cover-up that abuse. Although the investigation was invited by ABWE, it was significantly hindered early on by a lack of cooperation and ongoing lies. The Christian world would do great honor to the victims of this tragedy, and many others in the evangelical world, if we would heed the lessons inherent in this grievous situation. Lesson One: Sexual Abuse Can Happen Anywhere The first lesson is recognition that sexual abuse is not a problem out there; it is in here. It sits in …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Louisiana Flooding: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

By Ed Stetzer What’s happening and how you can help. Ed: How is your organization responding to the disaster in Louisiana right now? Ross Johnson, Director of Disaster Response, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod: Right now we’re partnering with Lutheran congregations across Louisiana, particularly in Baton Rouge. The first phase of our disaster response is to partner with local congregations that are going to be doing muck-out and dealing with immediate needs of people who have been affected by the flooding. We’re anticipating the first eight to ten weeks we’re going to be bringing volunteer teams in. We already have volunteers who going to do the muck-out, tearing out the flooring and drywall. We’re also giving out flood buckets and emergencies supplies. We have elders at our churches and congregational pastors who are doing spiritual care during the immediate phase. We like to blend hands-on help along with spiritual care. I think that’s one thing that makes a church-based response slightly different than government-based responses is we don’t only help out with temporal needs, but we also help out with spiritual needs. We find that oftentimes when somebody has gone through a traumatic event in their life and has enormous economic loss or has been displaced, that they also …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Recovery After Disaster: Lessons From Katrina For Today

By Bill Day It’s been 11 years since Hurricane Katrina. And there is still much we can learn from that disaster. Eleven years ago on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina came ashore between Louisiana and Mississippi. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters in United States history. Katrina caused the deaths of almost 1,500 Louisiana residents. Approximately 80% of the city was flooded. The population of New Orleans fell from 455,188 before Katrina (July 2005) to 208,548 one year later (July 2006). While Katrina’s destruction happened years ago, it has important lessons for us today. As a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I began a study of the impact of Katrina on all of the 1,504 worship centers (all religions) in five parishes (counties) around New Orleans. After four years, over 25% of the worship centers in Orleans Parish were not yet operational. Today, most of the worship centers have not returned to their pre-Katrina numbers. Over 11 years, my research team and I have made repeated visits to churches that were not previously operating. Recently, I was excited to learn that two churches I thought would never recover were now operating. In one of these churches located in a remote …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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After Tweaking 29 Verses, Bible Translation Becomes Unchanging Word of God

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra The new permanent ESV echoes the example of the KJV. A popular Bible translation is now literally the unchanging word of God. The English Standard Version (ESV) received its final update this summer, 17 years after it was first authorized by Crossway, its publisher. More than 100 million printed copies have been distributed since the ESV was first published in 2001, including 30 million in the last year. The translation oversight committee changed just 52 words across 29 verses—out of more than 775,000 words across more than 31,000 verses—for the final “permanent text” edition. The board then voted, unanimously, to make the text “unchanged forever, in perpetuity.” The ESV is following the example of a much older translation. “The text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769),” Crossway announced. One difference: while the ESV copyright is held universally by Crossway, the KJV copyright held by the Crown of England is only valid in the United Kingdom. So modified versions of the KJV have been popping up in the United …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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When Prolonging Life Means Prolonging Suffering

By Kathryn L. Butler A trauma surgeon on when letting go of our loved ones is the most God-honoring thing we can do. His wife found him in the garden. He did not awaken to her touch. When paramedics arrived, they jammed a tube into his windpipe and supported his breathing with a bellows, shoving air into lungs already taut with scars from cigarette smoke and Allied gunpowder. Most people require sedation to tolerate such tubes, however, he neither coughed, nor flinched, nor gagged. His peacefulness was ominous. Although his heart still beat, his brain had receded into stillness. In the emergency room, a CT scan confirmed a ruptured aneurysm. Blood crowded out his brain and thrust it downward, through the narrow aperture at the base of his skull. The pressure was strangling his brain. I met his son in the conference room of the intensive care unit (ICU). Through the window behind him, the Boston skyline weaved a starlit backdrop. He faced me with his arms braced across his chest, his jaw set. Only his thumb and forefinger, grimed from the grease of machinery, worried the weave of his sweatshirt and betrayed his heartache. I explained that his father was dying. We could not save him. “The best we …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Evangelical Views of the 2016 Election: Why I Resigned My Evangelical Leadership Roles to Support Hillary Clinton

By Deborah Fikes Former National Association of Evangelicals board member endorses Mrs. Clinton. My support of Hillary Clinton in this election is a direct result of my life’s unexpected journey that put me in unique situations in WDC government circles for the past 15 years. This provided me with what I believe to be “providential” opportunities and experiences to observe Hillary professionally in her career as a senator and as the Secretary of State. Also on a more personal level, because Hillary and I shared close mutual friends, I have had opportunities and insights that contradict accusations of her “lacking character and strong values.” I also had opportunities to witness just how deep and personal her faith really is. Knowing what I know and believing that “to whom much is given, much is required,” as much as I wanted to continue to stay away from “politics,” I knew that I needed to contribute in the unique way I was capable of doing. So for the first time in my life, I publicly endorsed a political candidate. The path that led to my initial introduction and volunteer work with the White House, State Department, and Congressional offices in WDC surprisingly was the election of President G.W. Bush. As …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Future of the Church Is Analog, Not Digital

By Read Mercer Schuchardt New communications technology lets us preach to millions. It’s time to unplug most of it. ‘It is time,” the founder of this magazine once said, “for the church to use technology to make a statement that in the midst of chaos, emptiness, and despair, there is hope in the person of Jesus Christ.” It was classic Billy Graham, who was born two years after the invention of the condenser microphone. There was no technology he didn’t find of use in his evangelistic efforts. The Hour of Decision radio show immediately became one of the country’s most popular. He created a television version and a film production company in 1951, when most conservative Christians were still skeptical of both media. His 1954 London crusade experimented with relay transmissions to hundreds of venues across Britain. Four decades later, he was similarly testing the limits of satellite broadcasts. This magazine, too, is a result of Graham’s passion to bend every possible communications medium toward that “statement of hope.” In the mid-1950s, magazines like Life and The Saturday Evening Post literally cast a vision for what it meant to be an upwardly mobile American. Newspapers had long relayed the important events of the day (Graham has …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Church and the Huddled Masses

By Matthew Soerens Throughout US history, the church has had a complicated relationship with the “homeless, tempest-tost” looking for a better life. I wince at the image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, washed ashore on a Turkish beach one year ago. Or of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, bloodied and dusty after surviving a bombing in Aleppo. I think of my own one-year-old son—he wears little Velcro shoes like Alan’s and has mop-like hair like Omran’s—and my heart breaks. Then I begin to contemplate the terror that forces people to flee, and I am struck by a sense of fear, resolved not to let such violence reach my country—and my child. A Conflicted Country The United States, as a nation, has likewise been driven variously by both compassion and fear in its response to immigrants. There have always been voices insisting that the United States was a nation of immigrants ready to welcome others, even while others believed that the arrival of new immigrants was a menace threatening the country—with the center of public sentiment vacillating between these two competing narratives. These debates go back to the colonial era: Benjamin Franklin once fretted that the German immigrants arriving in Pennsylvania would “never adopt our …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Fruitful Near-Culture Church Planters: A Qualitative Study (Part 2)

By Gene Daniels and Pam Arlund A survey of near-culture church planters Fruitful Near-Culture Workers Use a Variety of Ministry Methods The near-culture workers we interviewed personified one of our Fruitful Practice statements in the area of communication methods: “Fruitful workers use a variety of approaches in sharing the gospel.” All of those we interviewed were skilled at selecting which of various approaches would be best for each situation. Also, we found it interesting that none of the interviews specifically mentioned any of the methods which are making the rounds among Western agencies for sharing Jesus with Muslims (e.g., Camel method, T4T, Any3, Discovery Bible Studies, Simply the Story, etc.). It is likely that at least some of them were using one or more of those methods or were aware of these methods, but none felt any of these important enough to mention by name. And while some interviews mentioned activities that sounded similar to these well-known methodologies, we cannot be sure whether they had been taught the methods mentioned here or simply discovered them on their own. What was clear, however, was that these workers did not feel it necessary, or even beneficial, to use only one method when sharing the gospel. No one directly said, “I use different methods …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Surprising Theological Possibilities of Virtual Reality

By C. T. Casberg VR’s greatest strength is not escapism, but empathy. The future arrived in a cardboard sleeve just before lunch on a rainy Wednesday morning. I don’t believe the delivery woman knew what she had in her hands—otherwise, she might not have dropped the parcel in a pile of soggy leaves and then vanished up the driveway with no more ceremony than a perfunctory rap on the door. I brought the future inside, followed the assembly instructions, and strapped it to my face. Moments later, I was yelping and flailing my legs as computer-generated seagulls flocked towards me on a stony cliffside in virtual reality. The future is not as graceful as I imagined. In the eyes of some industry observers, 2016 is the “year of virtual reality” for tech and entertainment. Three high-profile virtual reality (VR) consumer devices launched this year, each promising to deliver immersive visual and aural experiences that radically change the way we consume our media. Oculus Rift, Facebook’s $2 billion investment, released earlier this year, as did the Vive, produced by hardware manufacturer HTC and videogame developer Valve. Sony released its PlayStation VR accessory for the PlayStation 4 on October 13, which will likely be featured front …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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You Are Plural

By Clayton Carlson Trillions of foreign creatures in and on our bodies shape our health, desires, and behavior. Here’s why they matter. Let us make humankind in our image,” said the triune God. And then he made us plural, too. “Male and female he created them,” but we are even more plural than that phrase indicates. Each of us is plural. We might picture our “self” as a single body. We know we’re a grand collection of cells, trillions of microscopic units that do everything from moving blood to processing nutrients into energy. But when we think about these cells, we take comfort that together they’re all one “me,” a huge organism sharing one DNA code that all started from one fertilized egg cell. True, we are that. But we are more: Each of us is a collection of communities, millions of millions of organisms working together, with very different DNA. We have about as many bacteria and other microbes in and on our bodies as we do human cells. For decades biologists estimated that we had about 10 times as many microbial cells as our own. But a new study found that the average man has about 39 trillion bacteria in his body and about …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christians Win Nepal's First Anti-Evangelism Case

By Vishal Arora – World Watch Monitor Court frees grief counselors charged under former Hindu kingdom’s new constitution. A court in Nepal has dropped a case against eight Christians, the first religious freedom dispute since the country’s new constitution was implemented last year. The seven men and one woman had been charged with proselytizing after giving out a pamphlet about Jesus in a Christian school while helping children through the trauma following the 2015 earthquake. Anything perceived as evangelism is outlawed under the new constitution. Five are staff of the Christian teacher-training program Teach Nepal, while two others are school principals. They were arrested in June, and the pastor of Charikot Christian Church, Shakti Pakhrin, was detained a few days later. Nepali Christian leaders have welcomed their acquittal. Barnabas Shrestha, chairman of Teach Nepal, says they were “invited by a pastor to do the counseling in the school.” While it is a Christian school, not all pupils are Christians. Shrestha denies the counselors were trying to convert children. The police making the arrests “wanted our people to say yes, they have preached the gospel… which is not true.” The freedom of Nepal’s Christians is increasingly under threat. Last week, according to one missionary, the government announced to leaders of Christian orphanages …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What is Biblical Preaching? A New Series, starting with Kyle Idleman

By Kyle Idleman Southeast Christian Church Teaching Pastor is the first in a new series As early as Acts 2, Luke wrote that Christians were devoted to, “the apostles’ teaching,” which has at least something to do with what we would call “biblical preaching” today. Many scholars believe that much of the New Testament came from sermons that first were preached then written down to form our Bible. And before that, Jesus’s own ministry was marked by His preaching (Matthew 4:17, 23; Matthew 5-7; Mark 1:15; Luke 11 – just to name a few). Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection was the turning point of history. But unless that good news is proclaimed—and proclaimed in fresh, relevant ways to each new generation in their specific time and place—it is in danger of remaining merely a historical fact. God’s plan to keep the gospel alive and transformative for people in every generation is for preachers to faithfully proclaim it (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). So at its core, biblical preaching should always be the gospel, God’s good news about Jesus. I’m aware that most of you who are reading this already understand the foundation of the Gospel and the blueprint of the New Testament letters in answering the question “What …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Empowering Leaders for Strategic Evangelism Leadership

By Ed Stetzer Leaders have the capacity to affect great changes in their communities. This past January, I taught a class called “Missional Movements and Evangelism” at Wheaton College. One of the students in the class was Josh Fenska, who pastors Redeemer Community Church in Aurora, Illinois. Over the course of three days in class, I was reminded why I believe leaders have the capacity to affect great changes in their communities. Josh and his leadership team realized that they were not following Jesus’ example of prioritizing care for the vulnerable and marginalized around them. But rather than jump in front of a white board and strategize their way to a solution, they began by repenting and asking what they could personally do to live out Jesus’ call to preach the good news to those on the margins. These leaders began to seek out places in the community where they could serve and build ongoing, committed, personal relationships with men, women, and children. Before long, one of the elders developed a friendship with three Iraqi refugee children. Soon, they invited them to a Christian youth camp and those kids invited their friends. In the end, 25 Muslim and Hindu children …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Critics Roundup: ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ and ‘Beyond the Lights’

By Larisa Kline The critics are divided on a long-awaited sequel and a tale of pop stardom. It’s been twenty years since Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels made audiences laugh in the original Dumb and Dumber, and eleven years since the prequel Dumb and Dumber: When Harry Met Lloyd hit theaters. Well, Bobby and Peter Farrelly have answered fans’ prayers: Carrey and Daniels are back and dumber than ever in Dumb and Dumber To. And, despite some ghastly reviews, the movie is actually taking the box office by storm with a number one spot. This latest Dumband Dumber movie takes place twenty years after the first, when Harry (Daniels) finds out he needs a kidney. Lloyd (Carrey) decides to help his friend out and the movie follows their journey to find Harry’s long lost song. According to PluggedIn’s Bob Hoose, lewd jokes have “been the Farrelly brothers’ mode for lo these many years as they’ve spent decades perfecting the un-art of low comedy.” But, long gone are the days of fart jokes. This latest adventure fits right in with the raunchier comedies of today, and “in this far-off sequel, everything and everyone is as frantic and rabid as the protagonist dum-dums themselves.” Hoose believes …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Spiritual Openness of the Younger Unchurched

By Ed Stetzer What’s the status of the church and how might we share the gospel in this time? There’s an idea that Christianity in America is dying. No serious researcher—not one—thinks that. However, I still am surprised that some people think this. (For a quick analysis, see this article.) Facts are our friends, in this and in every situation, and what do the facts really show about the situation? The Unchurched Are Open A few years ago, LifeWay Research did some significant research on the faith of young adults to see where they stood. Here are a few stats from that study: 73% of unchurched 20- to 29-year old Americans consider themselves “spiritual” because they want to know more about “God or a higher supreme being.” 89% of unchurched young adults say they would listen to what someone believes about Christianity. 63% of young adults said they would attend church if it presented truth to them in an understandable way “that relates to my life now.” 58% of 20-somethings would be more likely to attend if people at the church “cared for them as a person.” Here is some more data from that survey in graph-form: What’s surprising to me is …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Remembering Andrae Crouch, Dead at 72

By Robert Darden The gospel music legend combined Saturday night with Sunday morning. On the stage of Waco Hall, I was worried that the world was about to come to an end way too soon and I just wasn’t ready. In 1972, I saw—for the first time—Andrae Crouch and the Disciples performing “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power,” “Soon and Very Soon,” “My Tribute,” “Through It All,” and “Bless His Holy Name.” I was both mesmerized and a little frightened. I had been a fan of black gospel music since childhood. But as a freshman at Baylor University, I knew that this was something different. I just knew. And it was something different for Jesus Rock (the term “contemporary Christian music” or CCM wasn’t in wide usage back then). Crouch was an innovator, a path-finder, a precursor in an industry noted for its conservative, often derivative approach to popular music. He combined gospel and rock, flavored it with jazz and calypso as the mood struck him and the song called for it, and is even one of the founders of what is now called “praise and worship” music. He took risks with his art and was very, very funky when he wanted to be. Tonight …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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