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News: Died: Ian Howard Marshall, Courageous and Winsome Bible Scholar

By Bob Smietana A tribute to the New Testament expert who kept the flame of evangelical scholarship from burning out. Ian Howard Marshall, a gentle giant among New Testament scholars, died December 12 from pancreatic cancer. He was 81. Marshall was the honorary research professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland, where he taught for three decades. He was former editor of The Evangelical Quarterly and author of Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away, Luke: Historian and Theologian, The Origins of New Testament Christology, and many other works. Marshall was one of the great British evangelical scholars of the second half of the 20th century. “New Testament interpretation will be much poorer as a result of his death, and I doubt we will see another like him for some time,” said Stanley E. Porter, professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity School in Hamilton, Ontario. Porter, one of Marshall’s former doctoral students, said Marshall was also a fabulous mentor and example to younger scholars. He was “honest, interested, and humble—besides, of course, being firmly evangelical in the best sense,” said Porter. At the beginning of his career, Marshall’s approach to the New Testament seemed antiquated, and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: Orthodox Rabbis Say Christianity is God's Plan, Vatican Says Stop Evangelizing Jews

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Experts assess letter exchange marking 50th anniversary of famous detente. Five decades ago, the Roman Catholic Church famously acknowledged the unique relationship between Jews and Christians. In the wake of World War II, the Vatican officially rejected anti-Semitism and a common manifestation—charges of deicide—and affirmed the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetete declaration, a group of Orthodox rabbis signed and released a statement this month acknowledging that “Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations.” In separating Jews and Christians, God was not separating enemies but partners with significant theological differences, the rabbis wrote. “Both Jews and Christians have a common covenantal mission to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty, so that all humanity will call on His name and abominations will be removed from the earth.” A week later, the Vatican honored the Nostra Aetete anniversary by releasing its own statement, this time saying that Catholics should not evangelize Jews—at least in an organized way. The back-to-back events weren’t unrelated: Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs, signed the first document and spoke …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The AIDS Epidemic and the Refugee Crisis: Faithfulness, Not Fear, Is Our Call

By Ed Stetzer When a situation is not understood, the Christian response is often defined by fear. In New York City in the early 1980’s medical doctors began to diagnose a strange and frightening disease. The New York Times reported: A SERIOUS disorder of the immune system that has been known to doctors for less than a year — a disorder that appears to affect primarily male homosexuals — has now afflicted at least 335 people, of whom it has killed 136, officials of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said yesterday. Federal health officials are concerned that tens of thousands more homosexual men may be silently affected and therefore vulnerable to potentially grave ailments. It was initially called GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency). The disease wreaked havoc with the immune systems of its victims, in many cases opening the door to a rare skin cancer type: Kaposi’s sarcoma, which until that point was uncommon in younger men. The early death toll from GRID was higher than toxic shock syndrome and Legionnaire’s disease combined. The population that contracted the disease was primarily in New York City, New Jersey, and California. Those early victims, according to the Times, were primarily male homosexuals “in …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Review: Joy

By Alissa Wilkinson The film is uneven, but Joy knows just who she is. mpaa rating:PG-13 (For brief strong language.) Genre:Drama Theatre Release:December 25, 2015 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation The text at the beginning of Joy, the latest film from director David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook), says it is “inspired by the true stories of daring women . . . one in particular.” That “one” is Joy Mangano, played here by Jennifer Lawrence, who is always fun to watch and certainly holds the film together. The character and her story are based on Mangano’s true story of inventing the Magic Mop, hawking it on the still-new QVC, and overcoming difficulty to become a business mogul able to support other inventors and entrepreneurs. Russell makes weird and frenetic movies that aren’t to everyone’s taste. They lurch around a bit and at times seem more infatuated with style than substance or coherence. That shows up again in Joy, which is narrated by Joy’s grandmother (Diane Ladd) and includes a montage introduction and a couple early black-and-white scenes from a melodrama, shot in soap opera style. Soon we segue into a whirling-dervish madcap romp through Joy’s house, with Joy as the axis, populated …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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A Christian College Chapel's Bold New Windows

By Lisa Ann Cockrel Hand-blown glass and color combine in Peter Brandes’s strikingly contemporary installation. Blue, yellow, and red—those are the letters,” says celebrated Danish painter and sculptor Peter Brandes. “They’re like alpha and beta in the Bible: they are the beginning of everything. I could go on and make any language with those colors.” Color is the language Brandes speaks fluently in his most recent project, his third in the United States: four large contemporary stained glass windows for the newly constructed Christ Chapel at Cornerstone University, an evangelical college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For Christ Chapel’s westerly window, Brandes employed 250 sheets of hand-blown glass in 48 different shades of blue to explore the idea of baptism and rebirth. In the east, red represents the resurrection morning. To the north, yellow brings joy into the crucifixion scene, foretelling resurrection. To the south, a trio of complementary colors—green, violet, and orange—pays homage to the relationship between blessing and sacrifice in the Old Testament. Each window is made of about 1,000 pieces of glass. The glass used for all of the windowpanes was blown by hand in France at a factory that is 300 years old. The $14 million building is the first dedicated worship space …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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InterVarsity, #BlackLivesMatter, Criticism, and Three Suggestions for the Future

By Ed Stetzer What are we to make of the recent InterVarsity comments on #BlackLivesMatter? For more than 60 years, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been a leader in discussions about race and diversity among evangelicals. It began after an incident in the late 1940s, according to former InterVarsity president Alec Hill, who stepped down earlier this year, after being diagnosed with cancer. Here’s how Hill tells the story: ‘One of my favorite InterVarsity stories involves a Trustee, who in 1945 volunteered to host a Bible study in her home,” Hill wrote in 2003. “Unexpectedly, a staff member invited several Black students. When the Trustee objected and threatened to report the staff member to the entire Board, the latter responded—a la Dirty Harry— “please do.” As a result of this incident, the Board passed a resolution forbidding racial segregation at InterVarsity events and calling for unity in the body of Christ. This was a gutsy decision, a clarion call for biblical justice in an era when Jim Crow was alive and well. Today, InterVarsity has become one of the most diverse evangelical ministries in the United States. Of its more than 40,000 students, only 46% identify as White Americans. Conflict is Inevitable in Conversations about …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response

By Ed Stetzer How can Christians respond to this crisis. On December 17th, a number of evangelical leaders gathered together to meet about how the Church in America might engage the refugee crisis in a Christlike way. At our meeting, we drafted and signed the following statement: Impacting nearly 60 million people, the global refugee emergency is a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented size. Never have so many people been recorded as being displaced, put in danger, and sent on the move. In Syria alone, more than 13 million children and their parents need humanitarian aid. Nearly 4.4 million have been forced to flee to neighboring countries for safety. Moments like these are when Christians cannot remain silent and still. In light of this crisis, we commit ourselves and our churches to actively care for and minister to global refugees with mercy and compassion, both here and abroad, based on God’s compelling concern for all people in need and especially refugees. In light of these concerns, we affirm the following: Refugees possess the image of God and, as such, are infinitely valuable to God and to us. We are commanded to love our neighbor, and it is our privilege to love refugees. As Christians, we must care sacrificially …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Gettys Spearhead Call For a Global Hymn Sing

By Ed Stetzer Acclaimed hymn writers to reintroduce “Facing a Task Unfinished” on a global scale Last week, my daughter and I visited with Keith Getty a bit, talking about music, ministry, and her plans. Keith left our meeting to head to a conference call about a new project they are launching. I asked for some info on that to share with you. As you may know, Keith and Kristyn Getty are prolific and highly-regarded hymn writers. They have reinvented the hymn-form creating a noteworthy catalog of songs, known and sung the world over by young and old. They’ve connected traditional and classical composition with contemporary, accessible melodies. An estimated 40 million people sing their song “In Christ Alone” (co-written with Stuart Townend) every year in churches around the world. You can watch my interview with Stuart on The Exchange video page. The Gettys are joining with OMF International to promote a “global hymn sing,” February 21, 2016, featuring the near-100-year-old hymn, Facing a Task Unfinished. Our church will be participating and I want to invite yours to as well. The Gettys didn’t write the hymn. In fact, China Inland Mission (now OMF International) worker Frank …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Don’t Force the Celebration at Funerals

By Courtney Reissig Even knowing the truth of the resurrection, it’s still okay to cry. In college, I told my friends that I wanted the Jars of Clay cover of “All My Tears” played at my funeral: “When I go don’t cry for me / In my Father’s arms I’ll be.” I disliked the thought of my loved ones saddened at my death, since I knew I would be “in a better place.” For Christians, the phrase is no mere euphemism; our death brings us to Jesus, sin clawing at our heels no more. In my youthful zeal, I thought my funeral should be a joyous celebration. I wasn’t alone. Many funerals today are not about mourning death but a “celebration of life.” As our culture discards all-black attire and other formalities of a traditional funeral, families create more personalized—and often more upbeat—experiences to honor the deceased. Earlier this year, the BBC reported on the trend of “happy funerals,” noting that Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” had become the UK’s most popular song played at memorial services—replacing Verdi’s Requiem. After celebratory memorial services, we are encouraged to “move on,” comforted by memories and knowing that the person we’ve lost …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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"Lord, I Thank Thee That I am not Like Those Evangelical Trump Supporters"

By Ed Stetzer Extending grace should not depend on the voting booth. In the 18th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells a story about two men who go up to the temple to pray. One is a Pharisee, known for his strict piety: he fasts twice a week, tithes faithfully, and doesn’t cheat on his wife. The other, a tax collector, is a train wreck who has sold out his people by collaborating with their Roman overlords. He’s the worst person in their world. “God,” the Pharisee prays, “I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, even like this tax collector.” This parable came to mind recently, inspired in part by some of the response to the surprising popularity of Donald Trump among evangelical Christians. In recent decades, white evangelicals—and yes, that’s a statistically identifiable voting bloc and I’m using it as such in this article—have been among the most consistent supporters of the Republican Party. Most of the time, they’ve been so-called “values voters” who demanded that their leaders be people of faith, committed to traditional moral principles, and who stand up for the 10 Commandments. Trump Evangelicals Yet they’ve turned out in droves to vote for Trump, who has certainly broken a few of those commandments. …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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A Tale of Two Billy Graham Statues

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Dual delays on efforts to honor ‘America’s pastor,’ while researchers rank his admiration in 30 countries. Yesterday, contractors working to dismantle the familiar 9-foot statue of Billy Graham outside of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville ran into trouble. LifeWay, which sold its 15-acre downtown campus last year, plans to move the statue to the entrance of its Ridgecrest Conference Center near Graham’s home in North Carolina. But today the statue still stands in Nashville, delayed “because it was attached to the ground differently than expected,” LifeWay stated. The removal has been rescheduled for June 25, LifeWay spokesperson Marty King told CT. It was secured by grout, reportedThe Tennessean. When the statue does come down, it will be stored until its new site is ready in the fall. LifeWay’s new headquarters is only three acres, making the mountain retreat “the most optimal location,” King told the Nashville newspaper. The statue depicts Graham in a three-piece suit, standing by a 17-foot cross. His arms are outstretched; his left hand is wrapped around a Bible. The piece was sculpted by pastor Terrell O’Brien and donated to LifeWay by two Southern Baptist businessmen in 2006. “Ridgecrest is a perfect location for the Graham statue,” stated …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Weekend Edition—June 17, 2016

By Ed Stetzer The SBC and Refugees, Ministering in Disaster, Pastor Mistakes, Church Signs, and more! Southern Baptists Split With Donald Trump On Refugee Resettlement —Sarah McCammon Tips for helping a loved one after a tragedy, from a Christian disaster expert—Jamie Aten My Marriage to an Undocumented Immigrant—Sarah Quezada Let’s Love First—Marty Duren 4 Ways Pastors Enable Dysfunction in their Churches—Joel Rainey Want to read a weekly digest of The Exchange blog? Click here to subscribe to Christianity Today’s Newsletter for The Exchange to get weekly wrap-ups direct to your inbox. Don’t forget to subscribe to the The Exchange Podcast in iTunes. Click here to listen to my interview with Dr. Bruce Ashford. Earlier this week on The Exchange Singled Out The Dangerous Divide Between Theology and Practicality 3 Ways Suffering Produces Sanctification The Future of Southern Baptist Evangelism: A New (Closing) Series Saturday is for Seminars—Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting More Church Planting—Not Less—Is Needed Church Signs There are a couple of “uh, no” levels in this one. I like truth in advertising as much as the next guy, but really? Then there are the ones that …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Let Deuteronomy Awaken Your Inner Child

By Myrto Theocharous The Israelites needed a little less grown-up good sense, and a little more childlike wonder. So do we. W hen I am around children, I enjoy asking what they want to be when they grow up. This exercise fascinates me. It offers a rare opportunity in life: the freedom to spell out whatever the imagination dares to dream, uninhibited by other people’s expectations or fears. Usual replies include, “I want to become a ballerina,” “I want to be an astronaut,” and my favorite, “I want to be a princess!” The purity of these moments has the brevity of the morning dew, before “reality” rises with its harsh interrogating light to dry up each trace of these jewel-like droplets. “Let’s get serious now,” says reality, clearing her throat like a strict governess with no time for silly games that deliver no tangible returns. I remember my shock a few years ago when I put this question to a ten-year-old boy, and he declared boldly: “an actuarial analyst.” I had no idea what that was, and I doubted whether he did either. Now, I have nothing against actuarial analysts, and I am sure they perform an important service, but it requires little effort to see this …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: When Tithing Comes With a Money-Back Guarantee

By Kate Shellnutt How did churches like NewSpring and Life.Church get thousands of Christians to start giving? By offering a refund if God isn’t faithful. This month, hundreds of Christians at a South Carolina megachurch can request a refund on all the money they’ve given since March. NewSpring Church, led by pastor Perry Noble, is one of hundreds of congregations across the country that have offered 90-day tithing challenges. Participants sign up with a commitment to give 10 percent of their income or more, and if “God doesn’t hold true to his promises of blessings” after three months, they can request their money back—no questions asked. It’s the church’s version of “satisfaction guaranteed.” The challenge pulls inspiration from the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, which states: Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Mal. 3:11, NIV). “God literally says, ‘Test me out, see if I’m God,’” Noble preached. “You and I cannot out-give him.” About 440 Christians joined NewSpring’s most recent …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Health Is About Way More than Weight

By Matthew Loftus Our bodily well-being can’t be reduced to a number on a scale. Which is worse: being overweight or being ashamed of being overweight? In recent years, some advocates have urged that we take a new approach to obesity. They argue that shame over body size only makes overweight people more anxious, depressed, and prone to disordered eating habits. Some go so far as to argue that obesity isn’t a real problem. The most rigorous research, however, still identifies obesity (defined as a high body fat percentage) as a risk for many diseases and early death. (It’s worth noting that many of those who downplay obesity receive money from Coca-Cola.) And excess weight isn’t the only problem. People who eat unhealthily and don’t exercise are also at greater risk for diseases like diabetes, even if their metabolism allows them to maintain a normal weight. But here’s some encouraging news: research suggests that people who change their lifestyle but don’t lose weight (or only lose 5 to 10 percent of it) still reduce their health risks if they maintain those healthy behaviors. And this provides a window of opportunity for local churches. Christian communities have not always taught a holistic view of what our bodies are …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: Lamentations: A Bottle for the Tears of the World

By Interview with Rob Moll Christopher J. H. Wright explains what one of the Bible’s most neglected books teaches about our cries of grief. We live in a world with untold amounts of pain from war, famine, and oppression. But our worship sometimes leaves little room for emotions of lament. In The Message of Lamentations (IVP Academic), Christopher J. H. Wright, Old Testament scholar and international ministries director for Langham Partnership International, introduces readers to one of the Bible’s most heartbreaking, poetic, and neglected books. CT editor at large Rob Moll interviewed Wright about the role of Lamentations in understanding—and protesting—human suffering. What is the likely setting in which Lamentations was written? Almost certainly, it is the immediate aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. It was the most traumatic moment in Israel’s Old Testament history. The writer paints a portrait of utter devastation and appalling suffering: starvation, disease, slaughter, rape, scavenging, looting, and the desecration of holy things. Unlike in Job and many of the Psalms, God says nothing to the writer of Lamentations. What should we make of his silence? One commentator, Kathleen O’Connor, calls God’s silence “inspired.” This resonates on three levels. First, God allows the suffering people to have their full …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why Every Christian Should Be Ambitious

By Katelyn Beaty How drive and dogged pursuit are aspects of bearing God’s image. An adapted excerpt from ‘A Woman’s Place.’ One of the most ambitious people I’ve met used to drive a pink pickup truck covered in flowers, with the words MISS TEA PARTY painted across its flanks. Surely it was the most feminine Ford F-150 to have graced the highways of Henrico County, Virginia. Kim Newlen was a South Carolina native who had a penchant for adding the word sweet in front of everyone’s name. In 1995, the stay-at-home mother was itching to reach other women with Christian witness and friendship. She began hosting women in her Virginia home, and eventually her ministry, Sweet Monday, expanded to homes and college campuses in every state. Always hospitable, Newlen broke the Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Tea Party in 2005, hosting more than 7,000 people on the campus of the University of Richmond, where many of the attendees wore pink. Who knows how many tea-drinkers that day knew that Newlen was walking the campus battling one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. The year prior, at 47, Newlen had undergone a lumpectomy, radiation, a full mastectomy, then full chemotherapy, then full radiation—“every …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Manny Pacquiao, Championship Boxer, Has a New Opponent: Philippine Poverty

By Andrew Johnson Why the prize fighter is entering politics in his home country. A political candidate was recently elected who is a bigger celebrity than Donald Trump, talks more about his personal relationship with God than Ted Cruz, and understands poverty more intimately than Bernie Sanders. As the winner of world titles in eight different weight classes, the candidate is also considered by many fans and fighting experts alike to be the most dynamic boxer to lace up the gloves since Muhammad Ali. Manny Pacquiao, who has been a congressman in the Congress of the Philippines since 2010, won a seat in the Filipino Senate on May 9. He retired from boxing this spring shortly after defeating welterweight Timothy Bradley in a 12-round decision in Las Vegas. From street kid to world boxing champion to national hero and global icon, Pacquiao, 37, will continue his unlikely career trajectory by pursuing a new vocation: that of evangelical politician. From ‘Nothing’ to $400 Million A week before his fight with Bradley, I sat and talked to Pacquiao in the basement of Hollywood’s famous Wild Card Boxing Gym as he prepared for a training session with his longtime coach, Freddie Roach. We talked a bit about his upcoming match, but …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Egypt's First 'Official' Christian Convert Quits, Returns to Islam

By World Watch Monitor After years of harassment and imprisonment, Mohamed Hegazy abandons his unprecedented legal quest. In 2007, Mohamed Hegazy became the first Egyptian to seek to change the religion on his identification card from Muslim to Christian. But after nine years of harassment, imprisonment, and torture, last week Hegazy publicly declared his return to Islam. In a YouTube video, Hegazy blessed Muhammed as “the chief-most among Allah’s creation,” spelled out the Shahada (the Islamic proclamation of allegiance), and apologized to his family. “I want nothing from this video,” Hegazy said in an apparently rehearsed statement. “I have no desires. I will not appear again in the media. I will not appear again publicly. … I say this out of my complete free will. I am under no pressures from anyone. I am not being held by any agency, nor am I under any pressure of any kind. And that’s it.” Hegazy broke new ground in 2007 when he sued to change his religious identification from Muslim to Christian. The judge <a target="_blank" …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Weekend Edition - August 12, 2016

By Ed Stetzer Church revitalization, honoring a family of five, Phil Ryken, church signs, and more! What I Have Learned From 5 Years of Church Revitalization: Part One – Jonathan Akin John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five A Conversation with Phil Ryken about the Darkest Period of His Life: “I Started to Wonder How I Would End It All” – Justin Taylor with Phil Ryken Ten Things Pastors Would Love to Hear from Their Church Members – Thom Rainer Want to read a weekly digest of The Exchange blog?Click hereto subscribe to Christianity Today’s Newsletter for The Exchange to get weekly wrap-ups direct to your inbox. Earlier This Week on The Exchange Can Evangelism Emerge From The Next Generation? Are Young Evangelicals More Liberal Than Their Parents? When The Church Becomes Complicit In Sin: Lessons On Preventing and Combatting Sexual Abuse How Evangelism Can Be Woven Into All Parts Of An Academic Institution Saturday Is For Seminars: Gideons Gospel Impact Conference and Missio Nexus Leadership Legacies: Why Character Trumps All Church Signs In this case, gas is a good thing I think? It’s good they are saving the best for last! Thanks to Dennis and Tobin for this week’s church …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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