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Despite Disappointing Some, New Mark Manuscript Is Earliest Yet

By Elijah Hixson Bible scholars have been waiting for the Gospel fragment’s publication for years. The Egypt Exploration Society has recently published a Greek papyrus that is likely the earliest fragment of the Gospel of Mark, dating it from between A.D. 150–250. One might expect happiness at such a publication, but this important fragment actually disappointed many observers. The reason stems from the unusual way that this manuscript became famous before it became available. Second (or Third) Things First In late 2011, manuscript scholar Scott Carroll—then working for what would become the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C.—tweeted the tantalizing announcement that the earliest-known manuscript of the New Testament was no longer the second-century John Rylands papyrus (P52). In early 2012, Daniel B. Wallace, senior research professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, seemed to confirm Carroll’s statement. In a debate with Bart D. Ehrman, Wallace reported that a fragment of Mark’s gospel, dated to the first century, had been discovered. As unlikely as a first-century Gospel manuscript is, the fragment was allegedly dated by a world-class specialist. This preeminent authority was not an evangelical Christian, either. He had no apologetic motive for assigning the early date. The manuscript, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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A Woman’s Guide to Seminary

By Kristen Padilla Ministry is serious business. These 9 steps are key to pursuing your training. Shortly after making my calling public to my local church at age 15, I told my parents I wanted to go to seminary eventually. That’s what my father, a pastor, had done after college, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Once I started college, however, I wasn’t as zealous anymore. I didn’t think I could “do” seminary; I was timid and unsure if I were smart enough. Moreover, I was a Christian studies major at a liberal arts school who thought what I was learning there was sufficient training for ministry. But then my perspective changed. As I was praying and thinking through whether or not I should go to seminary, my Bible reading led me to 2 Timothy 3:14–15: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. This command—“continue in what you have learned”—propelled me into seminary those years ago, but it has also served me …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Prosperity Preacher Asks Followers for Donations to Obtain $54M Jet, Says ‘Jesus Wouldn’t Be Riding a Donkey’

By Editor Jesse Duplantis, the Destrehan-based prosperity televangelist with a global reach, is asking his disciples for money to buy a jet that costs $54 million “so we can go anywhere in the world in one stop.” He seeks the donations in a video posted last week on his organization’s website. “I really believe that if the Lord Jesus Christ was physically on the Earth… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Western Europe’s Christians Are As Religious As America’s ‘Nones’

By Griffin Paul Jackson However, Pew researchers find Christianity across 15 countries is “not just a ‘nominal’ identity devoid of practical importance.” Religiously unaffiliated Americans are, unsurprisingly, less likely than their Christian countrymen to attend church regularly or say religion is important in their lives. However, on several common measures, “nones” in the United States exhibit nearly equal levels of spirituality as self-identifying Christians in Western Europe. A new study by the Pew Research Center, surveying more than 24,000 individuals across 15 countries in Western Europe on their religious beliefs and practices, reveal striking disconnects between Western Christians across the Atlantic. Equally striking is how similarly religious nones in the United States and Christians in Western Europe match up: Only 27 percent of American nones say they believe in God with absolute certainty; only 23 percent of Western European Christians say the same. Only 13 percent of American nones say religion is “very important” in their lives; only 14 percent of Western European Christians say the same. Only 20 percent of American nones say they pray daily; only 18 percent of Western European Christians say the same. “By some of these standard measures of religious commitment,” stated Pew researchers, “American ‘nones’ are as religious as—or even …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why Japan Wants Its Past Persecution of Christians to Be World Renowned

By Kate Shellnutt A dozen “hidden Christian” sites on verge of gaining UNESCO World Heritage status. This month, a dozen Christian landmarks in Japan—where just 1 percent of the population claims Christ—have been officially recommended to be named World Heritage sites. Spanning across the Nagasaki and Amakusa region, these sites represent places where believers during the Tokugawa shogunate (1630-1867) suffered the harshest persecution and martyrdom in the Asian nation’s history. The list includes the Oura Cathedral in Nagasaki, which memorializes 17 Japanese Christians and 9 European priests who were crucified at the order of the ruler; Hara Castle in Minamishimabara, a battlefield during the uprising when Catholic rebels were massacred, their leader beheaded, and their faith banned; and other “hidden Christian” sites, where Christ-followers carried on their beliefs in secret for hundreds of years. These landmarks, if granted recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) next month, would join 14 other cultural World Heritage sites in Japan and over 800 around the world. Japan’s recommendation comes five years after local leaders submitted the Christian sites for consideration. The country learned in early May that an advisory panel, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, had endorsed the “hidden Christian” sites for inclusion on …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Least of These: Ministry with and to the Incarcerated

By Jerry Blassingame It is time for the church to be more engaged in criminal justice reform As we think about criminal justice reform, I am reminded of something Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Did what? What exactly was he referring to? Indeed, he was talking about taking care of those who could not take care of themselves. And who are the least of these? Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” For those of us who work in correctional ministry, our mission is to care for those who are incarcerated and released from incarceration. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 14 were written from a prison cell. We rarely hear about that. Many people in the Bible experienced imprisonment: Joseph, Samson, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Silas, Paul, and even Jesus himself, who was held in custody before his …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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20 Truths from Trevin Wax’s This Is Our Time

By Ed Stetzer Evangelism is not just convincing people the gospel is true but also that it is better. Christians who shine the light of the gospel on the myths of our world do not simply say, “This is right and this is wrong,” but “This is better.” The gospel tells a better story. Yes, the gospel exposes the lies we believe and promote in society, but once our eyes adjust to its brightness, we discover how the gospel also answers our deeper longings in ways that surprise us. Evangelism is not just convincing people the gospel is true but also that it is better. (12) It’s not what you’re looking at on your phone but that you’re always looking at your phone. It’s not what you might access on your phone that is most influential; it’s what your phone accesses in you. It’s not enough to ask, “What am I doing on my phone?” Instead, we’ve got to ask, “What is my phone doing to me?” The primary myth the smartphone tells you every day is that you are the center of the universe. If your phone is your world, and if the settings and apps are tailored to you …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Chinese Officials Interrupt Seminary, Arrest Pastors Without Warrants

By Editor (China Aid) — Officials interrupted a seminary class in China’s eastern Jiangsu province on Wednesday and brought away two pastors without displaying any warrants. Saying that the seminary lacked proper credentials for operating a school, approximately seven police officers and several agents from the local religious affairs bureau broke into the classroom at… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Reaching and Revitalizing Rural America: Overcoming Misconceptions, and Answering the Call (Part 1)

By Ed Stetzer To paint any people with a broad brush is not to see them for who they truly are. We live in a world of paradoxes. As in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it is the best of times and somehow also the worst of times. It appears to be the age of information and knowledge, yet proves to be an age of foolishness. It is an era of belief and a time of faithlessness, a season of light in a world of complete darkness, a spring of hope amidst the winter of despair. This seems to be the narrative of many churches in America, but especially in rural America. The story of rural America is one of grit, resourcefulness, independence, craftsmanship, and sheer determination. It is the story of community, lifelong relationships and family bonds. This image holds a nostalgic place in many hearts. Those who live in, or have spent significant time in, rural areas may have witnessed its endurance — the warm-heartedness of neighbors, the firmness of family values, the closeness of relationships and community. There are still examples of this today throughout rural America. It is a wonderful narrative to embrace and catalyze in ministry and mission, an ideal …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Reaching and Revitalizing Rural America: Overcoming Misconceptions, and Answering the Call (Part 2)

By Ed Stetzer In reality, rural America is in a perilous position — perhaps in greater danger of decay and decline than many cities. Misconception #2: Idyllic Life The second misconception is that rural America is doing fine, while the inner cities alone are in decline. Though the general population of rural communities is diverse, there are challenges that are increasingly pervasive and common among many of these people groups. This is due in part to national trends in population migration. Over the past century, the U.S. has seen ongoing urbanization. In 1900, roughly 35 percent of the population lived in metropolitan areas. Today, that number is 86 percent. Urban sprawl has overtaken many formerly rural counties, transforming and reclassifying them. Fewer than 50 million people currently live in the 1,976 counties that remain classified as non-metro today, and the collective population within those counties is shrinking. The result is a smaller American countryside comprised of slower-growing counties with a reduced and stagnant economic potential. Despite a resurgence of jobs and rising wages since the economic downturn of 2008, recovery in rural America is slower. In fact, rural employment rates remain below pre-recession levels. A 25 percent decline in rural manufacturing caused 700,000 jobs to disappear between …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Hawaii Governor Signs Bill Banning Help for Homosexual Youth, Claims ‘Sexual Orientation Is Not an Illness’

By Heather Clark HONOLULU, Hi.– The Democratic governor of Hawaii has signed a bill banning professional counselors from helping struggling youth resist homosexual feelings. “exual orientation is not an illness to be cured,” Gov. David Ige claimed during the signing at the state capitol building on Friday. “We accept you and love you just the way you are.” He asserted… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Ireland Votes to Allow Murder of Unborn Children as Rejoicing Breaks Out in Predominantly Catholic Country

By Heather Clark DUBLIN — Residents in the predominantly Roman Catholic Republic of Ireland voted on Friday to repeal the nation’s constitutional amendment banning the murder of unborn children, paving the way for lawmakers to propose legislation allowing mothers to obtain abortions. As the results were announced on Saturday at Dublin Castle, the hundreds gathered broke out into… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Tennessee Man Who Needed Heart, Kidney Transplant Credits God for Miracle Provision

By Heather Clark NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man who found himself in need of a heart and kidney transplant is giving all the glory to God after his doctors interestingly received notice that the needed organs were available just moments after they had gathered to pray. Bill Forsythe told the Jackson Sun that in 2016 he obtained hernia surgery at a local hospital, and as he… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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‘Courage in the Face of Evil’: Student Killed in Santa Fe High School Massacre Gave Up Life to Save Others

By Heather Clark Photo Credit: Crosby Church SANTA FE, Texas — A student who was killed in this month’s massacre at Santa Fe High School in Texas gave up his own life to save others, his pastor said during the student’s funeral on Friday. “Courage in the face of evil,” Keenan Smith, pastor of Crosby Church, said of Christian “Riley” Garcia, 15. “When evil tried to win,… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Pakistani Man Sentenced for Rape of 7-Year-Old Christian Girl

By Editor (World Watch Monitor) — A Pakistani court has sentenced a young man who raped a seven-year-old Christian girl four years ago to 14 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Pakistani rupees (c.US $2,000). The verdict has been greeted by activists as one of the few examples where prosecutions on behalf of Christians are finally seen through to a conclusion in… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Judge Rules City, Police Department Violated Constitution by Holding Community Prayer Vigil Against Crime

By Heather Clark OCALA, Fla. — A federal judge appointed to the bench by then-President George W. Bush has ruled that a Florida city and its police department violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution by hosting a community prayer vigil to combat a crime crisis within the municipality. He said the infringement existed because the government conducted the event as… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Christ at the Checkpoint in the Age of Trump

By Jayson Casper in Bethlehem As Christian Zionism influences US policy in Israel, Palestinian evangelicals seek greater acceptance from the American church. Fares Abraham grew up in the West Bank village of Beit Sahour, where tradition says the angels sang “Peace on Earth” to the startled shepherds. But his clearest memory is of his mother shot in the back by an Israeli soldier as she shuffled him and the neighborhood kids into her house during the first intifada (“uprising”). Now in his mid-30s, the Liberty University graduate created Levant Ministries five years ago to mobilize Arab youth to fulfill the Great Commission. And when he comes back home, he is at peace with his upbringing. “When I was young, I asked myself if I should join the resistance or be a bystander,” he said to the 500 attendees—including 150 local Palestinian Christians—gathered in Bethlehem from 24 countries at the fourth biennial Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference in 2016. “But now I can go up to a checkpoint, look a soldier in the eye, and say, ‘I forgive you and love you in the name of Jesus.’” Working also with global partners, Abraham believes the younger generations are pro-peace, becoming increasingly pro-justice the more their lives are transformed by …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Court of Appeals Declines Injunction Against District’s Policy Allowing Students With Gender Dysphoria to Use Preferred Restroom, Locker Room

By Heather Clark PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to grant an injunction against a Pennsylvania school district’s policy that allows students with gender dysphoria to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds with their “gender identity.” While a written opinion is forthcoming, according to reports, following oral argument on Thursday,… …read more Source:: Christian News Network       ...
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Memorial Day: For What Shall We Live?

By Roger Brady Whether we wear a uniform or not, we all have sacrificial service to offer. Memorial Day likely conjures up memories for all of us. Mine start from when I was too young to know what the day meant. When I was a young boy, it was a family time, a holiday from school or other obligations, and a time for picnics, multi-generational baseball games in an open field, and reunions with seldom-seen relatives. Over the years I have gained a much greater appreciation for this day and what it means. From my first assignment in Vietnam to my last in Germany, I was continually reminded of the extraordinary sense of commitment and service in the young men and women with whom I was privileged to serve. The Last Full Measure of Devotion During my last assignment, as 33rd commander of the US Air Forces in Europe, I routinely received invitations to speak at memorial events at one or more of the many cemeteries in Europe where young Americans are interred. I was particularly moved by an event in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe. The heavy traffic that normally circles that beautiful edifice at a frantic pace had been stopped, and a crowd had gathered …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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20 Truths from Faith Among the Faithless

By Ed Stetzer The life the Bible offers is not one that is safe from the tragedies of the world, but one in which God suffers with us and accompanies us through our hardships. 1. Secularism denies real transcendence. It might allow for the possibility of the experience of transcendence, but it must explain it via these material causes: What we call transcendence or religious experience is actually some combination of good hormones and happy neurons in the brain. It has some evolutionary cause— some root in the need to advance and preserve our species that has been written into our DNA. (pg. 13) 2. Secularists can tolerate religion as long as it doesn’t make claims on anyone else’s happiness or welfare— that is, as long as it doesn’t purport to be an all- inclusive picture of the good life. (pg. 14) 3. This is how most of our desires work: Through cultural stories, we’re offered images of the good life: pathways to love, romance, sexual fulfillment, power, money, and happiness. These stories grab hold of our hearts, and they shape what we think we want. (pg. 19, referring to James Smith, You Are Wheat You Love, 11-12) 4. When God’s people face opposition, including the cultural …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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