Archives for Christian - Page 284

Christian

News: What Arab Christians Think of Wheaton-Hawkins 'Same God' Debate

By Jayson Casper in Cairo Controversy echoes what Christians in Middle East have dealt with for centuries. Larycia Hawkins has a fan in Egypt. Theresa, the nine-months-pregnant wife of a Coptic Orthodox juice stand owner, could not hide her admiration when told how a Christian professor donned a hijab in solidarity with Muslims facing prejudice in America. “It is a beautiful thing she has done, going beyond the norm to better approach others,” she said. “But it would not work here.” Her comment came on the heels of her husband Hani’s discomfort. He called the symbolic act “extreme.” In doing so, the humble man mixing mango and strawberry mirrored the reactions of most regional theologians. All commended Hawkins’s intentions, but only one—the Palestinian head of a seminary—praised it as a stand for justice. One pastor called it “excessive.” A bishop, “unnecessary.” An Egyptian former seminary vice president even raised the idea of “second-class citizen.” And therein lies the rub. Whether considering donning the hijab in solidarity or debating if Muslims and Christians worship the same God, Arab Christians operate in a vastly different religious context. Only recently have American Christians had to deal with issues raised by Muslims in their midst. The 9/11 tragedy birthed a political culture that seeks unity through theological …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

'Hail, Caesar!' — A Tale of the Christ?

By Alissa Wilkinson “Hail, Caesar!” is both a romp through Hollywood’s Golden Age and an unlikely Passion Play. Look, I know there’s no bigger cliché than a Christian critic sitting around identifying “Christ figures” at the movies. But in their latest, Joel and Ethan Coen show their hand so obviously—the subtitle for the Ben Hur-like film-within-a-film, also called Hail, Caesar!, is “A Tale of the Christ”—that I’m either being trolled or baited. I’ll bite. Among many (many, many) things, Hail, Caesar! is a passion play: a canny bit of work on the Coens’ part, given this year’s proliferation of Biblical epics both remade and reimagined. In just the next few months, that includes Risen, The Young Messiah, Last Days in the Desert, the Tyler Perry-hosted The Passion Live, and the ABC show Of Kings and Prophets—and, yes, a Ben Hur remake. The Coens (being Coens) come at it as a farce, with about eighteen different things rumbling beneath the surface. On its basic level, Hail Caesar! is an affectionate celebration, mild critique, and winking pastiche of Hollywood’s Golden Age, when studios owned actors’ contracts and shot everything from swashbuckling song-and-dance numbers to sword-and-sandal epics on the back lot. Josh Brolin plays Eddie …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Why Are Today’s Pro-Lifers Borrowing Pro-Abortion Supporters’ Philosophy?

By Daniel K. Williams Pre-Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement vehemently denounced the idea that the end justifies the means. Last week, a Texas grand jury indicted activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt last week for allegedly using fake IDs and attempting to buy fetal tissue. Both of the Center for Medical Progress, the pair concealed their identities while attempting to frame/highlight the willingness of Planned Parenthood employees to sell fetal tissue, capturing their conversations on a series of videos first released last summer. Christianity Today reached out to Daniel K. Williams, a historian of the pro-life movement, and Focus on the Family president Jim Daly to provide their perspective on the ethics of the pairs’ actions.” Before Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement vehemently denounced the idea that the end justifies the means. Abortion legalization advocates argued from a utilitarian perspective, maintaining that societal well-being, women’s health, and population pressures could be improved through the legalization of at least some abortions. Pro-lifers argued that no cause could justify the destruction of innocent unborn human life. It’s therefore ironic that a number of pro-life activists during the past few decades have unwittingly adopted a utilitarian ethic that their movement’s founders opposed. When pro-lifers break the law …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Joseph Fiennes Talks About Playing a Skeptic in ‘Risen’

By Alissa Wilkinson The star of the upcoming Bible film talks about his new film, the nature of belief, gladiator school, and Eric Liddell. The film Risen—which will hit theaters on February 19, 2016—is not quite like any film based on the Bible that I’ve seen before. Directed by Kevin Reynolds, the film stars Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) as Clavius, a Roman centurion who is assigned to figure out where the body of Jesus of Nazareth has gone after it disappears from the tomb. Clavius is a world-weary, ambitious man of Rome, but as he interviews various people from Jesus’ life, he starts to realize that more is going on here than meets the eye. I spoke with Fiennes by phone last November about playing Clavius, the nature of belief, going to gladiator school, and his upcoming role as Eric Liddell in The Last Race (which covers the period of Liddell’s life as a missionary in China, following the events of Chariots of Fire). The following transcript of our conversation was edited for clarity. Christianity Today: What attracted you to this project? Joseph Fiennes: I met with our director, Kevin . He is extremely intelligent—I loved his films and identify a lot with them. He had …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Kanye West’s Work-in-Progress

By Jason Bellini Why the rapper’s new “gospel” album, The Life of Pablo, has Christians curious. Earlier this month, rapper Kanye West described his latest release as “a gospel album with a lot of cursing.” The phrase exemplifies the sense of confusion and apparent contradiction surrounding The Life of Pablo—which came out February 14, after lots of hype and speculation. Christians also wondered about what was to come from the famous husband of Kim Kardashian (and foil to Taylor Swift): How much gospel will be in this “gospel album”? Who exactly is Pablo? For starters, it isn’t a typical album in any sense. Following its digital release, it has yet to be transferred to a physical format (no CDs, no vinyl). The Life of Pablo is not, and may not ever be, available for purchase. So while we’re told the album exists, it requires a certain amount of faith to experience. It is not available on iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify. No man cometh unto The Life of Pablo except through Tidal—the online music-streaming site run by Kanye’s figurative “big brother” Jay-Z offers the only legal way to listen to the project. During the final months of production, the album went through a spiritual …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

4 Responses to Cultural Change

By Ed Stetzer Christians must know how to engage culture. As followers of Christ, we won’t always fit into the world in which we live. In fact, we’ll often find ourselves going against the flow of popular culture in certain areas of life. It’s necessary for us to have a solid biblical foundation to stand on in the midst of a rapidly shifting cultural landscape. We need to know how the eternal Word of God shapes our understanding of current issues and how we can share the gospel compassionately and courageously with the people around us. Here are four possible responses to cultural change. 1. WE CONFORM. We start compromising what we believe and the way we act in order to appeal to and appease the surrounding culture. We may even genuinely believe that doing so is both loving and strategic, hoping somehow people will be attracted to Jesus through a less offensive form of Christianity and will ultimately be saved. However, we have to realize that our goal isn’t to make following Jesus easier. The message of the gospel is necessarily countercultural and offensive to the human heart. 2. WE CHECK OUT. The opposite extreme is to secede from culture, distancing ourselves so completely that we never have …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Is Bernie Sanders Religious?

By Yehiel Poupko No. But he’s deeply influenced by the modern Jewish experience. The following exchange took place between Anderson Cooper of CNN and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the March debate in Flint, Michigan: Cooper: “Senator Sanders, are you intentionally keeping your Jewish faith in the background during your campaign?” Sanders: “I am very proud to be Jewish, and being Jewish is so much of what I am. Look, my father’s family was wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust. I know about what crazy and radical and extremist politics mean. I learned that lesson as a tiny, tiny child when my mother would take me shopping and we would see people working in stores who had numbers on their arms because they were in Hitler’s concentration camps. I am very proud of being Jewish, and that is an essential part of who I am as a human being.” Once again we are in presidential election season. The candidates are, each in their own way, projecting what they want the electorate to know about their faith. We Americans are used to this quadrennial exercise. This election cycle, however, is exceptional. Senator Bernie Sanders has advanced further in the presidential campaign than any other Jewish citizen before him. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Cox Killing Shows Why Brexit and Trump-Clinton Need 'Civil' Religion

By Daniel Webster Disagreement without division must be possible in UK and US politics. Christians can get us there. I have been involved in British politics for more than a decade. Suddenly, everything has changed. One week before the United Kingdom votes whether to continue its membership in the European Union (EU), Jo Cox, a Labor member of Parliament (MP) representing a constituency in Northern England, died after being stabbed and shot in the street in Birstall, West Yorkshire. I’ve worked in parliament, been a lobbyist, and now help evangelical Christians engage in politics. I’ve never known anything like these past few months as the UK prepares to vote in the EU referendum, popularly called “Brexit.” The wrangling of recent weeks pales into insignificance in the wake of the death of a public servant who was doing what MPs regularly do: meeting with constituents to hear their concerns. These one-on-one meetings, which take place up and down the country in offices, town halls, and local libraries, are the front line of politics. Political systems where a single person represents a constituency foster this sort of connection. But alongside the value, it brings incredible vulnerability. Michael Deacon, paid to write political sketches for the Daily Telegraph, gave one …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

The Nations Have Come to Our Cities

By Ed Stetzer We cannot overlook the influx of “the nations” ready for the gospel. Our first public service for Church of the Beloved launched on a cold Saturday afternoon in the diverse Near West Side of Chicago, surrounded by different African American, Mexican, Chinese, even historically Italian neighborhoods. Within walking distance is the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the more internationally diverse universities in the country. We didn’t know it at the time, but from this location we started a church that would welcome people from different cultures and backgrounds. Within a few months of planting, I felt prompted to ask my new congregation to stand if they were born outside of the States. I wondered what God was up to when more than half of the church stood up. The nations were coming to our church. Our first conversion was a Thai American anesthesiologist. The day after his conversion, he shared his testimony with a group of international students who had just moved from Thailand. Through a translator, I was also able to share the gospel in their heart language. Only one person in the group had an idea of who Jesus was. This was their first time ever hearing of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Weekend Edition—July 1, 2016

By Ed Stetzer Care for Refugees, America Divided, Church Signs, and more! Evangelicals and refugees: Care first, conversion maybe later—Adelle M. Banks Love and care may open the door to the gospel, but even if not we should love and care. Today’s Betrayal of Women by the Female Bloc on SCOTUS—Dr. Gerard Nadal Razor sharp analysis of how the three female SCOTUS justices betrayed women. The Plight of the Falling Pastor—Daniel Darling interviews Scott Sauls Pastors can never have too much encouragement toward faithfulness. Dream, Believe, Do, Repeat.—Audrey Assad A Syrian-American worship leader reflects on the refugee crisis. DIVIDED AMERICA: Evangelicals Feel Alienated, Anxious—Associated Press Without an intervention of God I don’t see this changing. The Associated Press also produced this video based on the above article. Don’t forget to subscribe to the The Exchange Podcast in iTunes. Click here to listen to my interview with Bruce Ashford. Earlier his week on The Exchange Wise Decision-Making in God’s Economy Issues in the Future of Evangelicalism 3 Challenges in Urban Ministry What to Expect When You’re Expecting (a Church) Gospel-Centered Evangelism for a Multiethnic World The Nations Have Come to Our Cities California’s …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Alcohol, Perry Noble, and the Church—What Now?

By Ed Stetzer By now, you’ve probably read that Perry Noble is no longer the pastor at New Spring Church. The Greenville Online newspaper explained: The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor. Early in Sunday’s 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1, after the NewSpring board of directors had “made a difficult and painful decision” to make a change. Duffey said the termination by the state’s largest and richest church came after Noble “had made unfortunate choices,” and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol. I don’t know what the “unfortunate choices” are and won’t speculate. For the record, I also think adding “richest church” is both silly and offensive. But, I do want to stop and think about the one detail that NewSpring has been clear about: alcohol issues and pastoral ministry. First, the view of many Christians has changed toward alcohol. A few years ago I shared an interview with an anonymous pastor about this very topic. Here are some excerpts: It appears that views of alcohol are changing …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Justice and Church Planting: August CPLF Gathering

By Ed Stetzer Join us at the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship For the past few years we have hosted a gathering of denomination and network church planting leaders from across North America to consider process and practices of church planting. We call this group the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship. This is a peer group, specifically focused on those who are leading church planting efforts in their denomination and/or network. This group is unique, in fact I’m pretty confident that it’s the only one of its kind. It regularly features leaders who represent around 75% of all North American Evangelical church planting in a given year. In the past we have featured speakers like Tim Keller, Rick Warren, Linda Stanley, Neil Cole, Dhati Lewis, Leonce Crump, Derwin Gray, and many, many others. What makes this gathering so special, though, is not just the learning we get (though it’s pretty spectacular), but the opportunity for peers to sit down and learn from each other. This August, we will host our next gathering focusing on Justice and Church Planting. Not only will this event be particularly relevant, due to recent current events, but it will also be the first time that the Billy Graham Center …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

The Dinner Table Taboo Americans Would Rather Break

By Bob Smietana – Facts and Trends Who wants to talk politics vs. religion, and whether they have more to share or learn. Of the two subjects most likely to be banned from the dinner table, most Americans would rather talk about politics than God. Yet Christians are split on whether they want more spiritual conversations or fewer ones, and whether they have more to share or learn during such chats. LifeWay Research surveyed 1,004 Americans in order to compare how often Americans talk to others about politics to the number of times they talk about spirituality. Two-thirds of Americans (64%) say they had at least three conversations about politics in the last month. Eight percent had no conversations about politics. By contrast, fewer than half (44%) had three or more spiritual conversations in the same time frame. Twenty-two percent had no conversations about spirituality. Overall, 6 in 10 Americans (59%) say they’re more comfortable discussing their political views than their spiritual beliefs. But there are distinctions among certain groups. Women (51%), those who go to church at least once a week (57%), and those with evangelical beliefs (63%) prefer to talk about their spiritual views. Men (69%) and those who don’t have evangelical beliefs (65%) prefer to talk about politics. Most Americans also say …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Pete's Dragon

By Alissa Wilkinson David Lowery is a great match for reimagining the classic Disney film. Writer and director David Lowery (whom we interviewed after his 2013 film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) is a great match for this reimagining of the classic Disney children’s story. It’s still got Pete and a dragon named Elliott who can become invisible, but with Lowery’s touch the film is less camp, more wonder. Pete is no longer a runaway; instead, he’s an orphan, his story told in a heartwrenching prelude. The adult characters (played by Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard, Karl Urban, and Wes Bentley) are still largely stock and two-dimensional, but in a way that recalls old live-action Disney films. To understand why Lowery is such a great match for the story, it’s worth revisiting his 2009 film St. Nick, in which a brother and sister run away from home and live in an abandoned house. It’s a work of realism that is still infused with magic: the games of make-believe and the pleasure of playing house is filtered through the children’s eyes. We sympathize with them and grow to see the world through their eyes, which means when reality intrudes, it’s sharper and more stunning. The same …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

This Is a 'God Moment' on Race

By Mark Galli What Christianity Today believes our Lord is saying in recent events. Evangelicals are sensitive to what we call “God moments”—when circumstances fall together in a way that suggests God is at work in our lives in a fresh way. Mainstream white evangelicals have experienced collective “God moments.” In the 1970s, few churches concerned themselves with the relief of world hunger. Then Ron Sider wrote Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and before long, we just assumed that evangelicals should be concerned about hunger. Before Roe v. Wade, abortion was sidelined as a Catholic concern. But after the advocacy of Francis Schaeffer and others, we quickly saw the great evil that abortion is. These were God moments—times when our Lord graciously gave us moral clarity about an issue he was calling us to engage. We are currently experiencing a new “God moment,” when God is shining his burning light on how our nation and our churches are fractured by racial division and injustice. In the past two years, we’ve seen image after image of injustice perpetrated against black Americans. We’ve studied the statistics. And most important, we’ve heard the anguished cry of a suffering community that is understandably hurting, angry, and demanding progress. Moderate …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

The Louisiana Flooding, Part 3: On The Ground With Relief Agencies And How You Can Get Involved

By Ed Stetzer More on what’s happening and how you can help. Ed: What is your organization doing right now to help those impacted by the flooding in Louisiana? Tim Haas, Manager of U.S. Disaster Relief, Samaritan’s Purse: Samaritan’s Purse is leading volunteer teams to mud-out homes that have been flooded in this deadly event. That work includes taking out furniture, flooring, sheetrock, soaked insulation, so that the house can eventually dry out. Currently, we have two base locations of operation: one in Baton Rouge, the other in Lafayette. Our sites are designed to work 100 or more volunteers a day per site. We will be working for several weeks, even months from now to continue to give relief assistance to homeowners. Kevin Watterson, Response Director, ReachGlobal (EFCA): We are currently gutting damaged homes, gutting and cleaning up a church in order to host volunteer groups, and collecting needed items to help families rebuild their homes when gutting is complete. We are mobilizing local churches in the area to serve with us until we get more volunteer teams from throughout the country. Gary Fairchild, Director of Global Response, CAMA (the relief and development arm of the U.S. Alliance): CAMA has partnered with the Alliance …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 1

By Daniel Im Is something stopping you from starting a new church plant? In every story and aspect of life, there always seem to be opposing forces. On our planet, you have night and day. In Romeo and Juliet, you have the Capulets and the Montagues. In Star Wars, you have the Rebellion and the Empire. In Marvel, you have the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra. And in life, you have the close talkers, who don’t know what a breath mint is, and everyone else, who seems to have a good handle on personal space and emotional intelligence. In the same way, we see similar forces when it comes to church multiplication. There are characteristics that lead to multiplication, as well as factors that prevent multiplication. In the same way, there are characteristics that can lead your church to becoming a Level Five church, as well as factors that will prevent that and stall you at Level Two or Three. In this blog post, we will examine barriers that prevent a church from multiplying. 1. Fear Church planters would do well to heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). Paul …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Interview: Randy Alcorn: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place

By Interview by Jen Pollock Michel Why happiness and holiness don’t have to be in conflict. God is happy and desires the happiness of his people. To many, that statement sounds almost heretical—what about holiness? Randy Alcorn, bestselling author and founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries, wants to set the record straight. His latest book, Happiness, is an encyclopedic exploration of the biblical reasons for holding happiness in high esteem. Jen Pollock Michel, author of Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith, spoke with Alcorn about experiencing happiness the way God intends. How did you decide to write a book on happiness? Did your book Heaven inspire an interest in the topic? After writing Heaven, I heard many stories about the losses of loved ones. People were asking, “How can I be happy”—they probably wouldn’t use that word because it sounds so unspiritual—“when my seven-year-old has just died of leukemia?” I began to think more and more of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, when he describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). He doesn’t say “rejoicing, yet always sorrowful.” It’s rejoicing that’s the constant, even as this leaves plenty of room for sorrow and struggle. Something would be terribly wrong if we weren’t grieving for …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Evangelical Views of the 2016 Election: Refusing to Play the Game, Profaning the Idol of Presidential Politics

By Noah Toly Author and professor will vote down-ballot, but will not vote for a candidate for president. I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump this November, but it’s not that both candidates are equally unworthy. According to my analysis, Clinton is worthy of at least consideration. Trump is a non-starter. (You can read more about the differing opinions of each in this series on The Exchange.) But I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Additionally, I won’t vote for any of the third-party candidates, either. This year, I won’t be playing the game. My conviction is that not voting can be a responsible way to actively profane the idol that presidential politics have become this campaign season. Idolatry has been a major theme of recent conversations about evangelical support for Trump. Many of Trump’s evangelical supporters throw their weight behind the candidate in hopes that he will deliver on promises of provision, protection, and power in the face of a supposedly apocalyptic tide of political, cultural, and legal change. Seeming to take Trump’s campaign slogan – “Make America Great Again!” – at face value, they believe that he’ll restore their fortunes, protect them from foreign powers and domestic threats to religious …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

‘13th’ Introduces America to the Dark History of Our Criminal Justice System

By Jeffrey Overstreet The new Netflix documentary makes the case that to save the future, we need to stop defending the past. “Defend the past. Save the future.” Those words are lighting up TV screens this week, promoting the new NBC time-travel adventure series Timeless. But really, it’s ridiculous. No matter how many people want to go back and “kill Hitler,” the past cannot be changed. Right? Right? I don’t know. Last night, director Ava DuVernay took me back to familiar figures from my childhood. She didn’t “defend the past.” She revealed politicians I remember as heroes to be complicit in things I find difficult to accept. And if you take that journey with me, we might yet become a church that helps “save the future” by refusing to defend our past. DuVernay, who directed Selma—a gripping historical drama that has the gospel blazing through its veins—has just delivered a brilliant lesson in time travel, and its streaming now on Netflix. It’s called 13th. With startling interviews, ugly statistics, kinetically charged animation, and shocking man-on-the-street footage of American history, 13th reintroduces Americans to their very own criminal justice system. I say “reintroduces” because DuVernay films through lenses that reveal a cancer running unchecked. Full disclosure: Despite Jesus’s call for …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »