Archives for Christian - Page 308

Christian

Dispatch from Sundance: 'Agnus Dei'

By Alissa Wilkinson A must-see film that quietly suggests a surprising answer to the problem of evil. One of the oldest refrains in the world is the theodicy question: how could a good God let bad things happen? That question animates Agnus Dei, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday. But the film’s answer is expansive, complex, and subtly subversive. Directed by Anne Fontaine (CocoBeforeChanel, GemmaBovary) and led by an all-female cast, the movie tries to approach (but not fix) the repercussions of unspeakable cruelty with the quiet balm of beauty. It’s a must-see for CT readers. Agnus Dei is set in 1945, amid the ruins of World War II. Mathilde (Lou de Laâge) is a young French doctor working with the Red Cross in Poland. Through an unusual set of circumstances, she comes into contact with a convent of Polish nuns who, she discovers, are in advanced stages of pregnancy. Months earlier, a group of Russian soldiers had broken into the convent and raped the women repeatedly, staying for several days. The horror haunts them still, even while they have tried to regain their faith and practice their vocation. Full of shame, they’re convinced of the need to conceal their condition, lest …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

A Christian College Brings Contemporary Art to Chapel

By Lisa Ann Cockrel Hand-blown glass and color combine in Peter Brandes’s striking glass windows. 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       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Why I Gave in to Barbie, Even Before Her Size Change

By Laura Goetsch, guest writer Barbie teaches my girls to play. I’ll let other examples teach them about being a woman. After 57 years, Barbie has a new shape. Several, actually. In an effort to boost declining sales, Mattel unveiled curvy, petite, and tall Barbies late last month. These new dolls will be sold alongside traditional Barbies. While mothers around the country will appreciate this historic change, a few millimeters difference in size cannot reverse the cultural message about women’s bodies that has already reached many young girls. My three daughters have collected Barbie dolls for years. Given her reputation as impossibly skinny, usually white, and overly commercialized, Barbie’s presence among our kids’ toys has caused well-meaning friends to silently question our parenting: Don’t they know that Barbies foster body image issues? Can’t they see that they teach destructive ideas about being a woman? Of course I can see it. Barbie’s traditional proportions make no sense, and her look implies that beauty is exclusively defined as thin, white, and silky blond. For five whole years, we intentionally kept Barbie out of our home. But after our oldest daughter’s fifth birthday, we could hold out no longer. We threw her a butterfly-themed party, and one guest …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Kathie Lee Gifford: How Billy Graham Led Me to Christ

By Kathie Lee Gifford, as told to Kate Shellnutt My Christian faith got me to and through Hollywood. For most of my childhood, my family honored God in a general sense but didn’t know him personally. We were culturally Jewish on my father’s side and culturally Christian on my mother’s side. But our faith—and indeed everything about our lives—began to change one night when I was 12. I came home to see my mother and sister in our living room, sobbing in front of the television. A couple years prior, President Kennedy had been assassinated, so I walked in thinking, What cataclysmic event has happened this time? But I discovered that my mother and sister had been watching one of Billy Graham’s televised crusades. That night they both came to Christ. A few months later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association released its first movie in theaters, The Restless Ones. It is about a girl at the cusp of making big decisions in her life. She asks herself whether she’ll follow the way of faith or the way of the world. I went to see it at a small theater in our town, Annapolis, Maryland. As I watched, I heard a voice speak to me directly. Although it wasn’t audible, I sensed God …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

7 Spiritual Lessons from Running

By Halee Gray Scott What hitting the running trail taught me about the Christian life. I can trace my zeal for running back to a single moment: Summer 2003, at Yosemite National Park. My friends and I sat down to eat chips and deli sandwiches in the park’s Village Store when I realized I’d left my water bottle in the car. As I trudged the dusty 100 yards back through the dirt parking lot, I was appalled by my own dejection. How did I become a person too lazy to walk the length of a football field? That single moment catapulted me into more than a decade of fitness fanaticism. I’ve benched my body weight; scaled 14ers, some of the biggest mountain peaks in the US; hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, and finally, last year, completed my first marathon. This year, as the running season ramps up, I’ve already begun hitting the pavement here in Colorado to train for my first triathlon and my second marathon (and okay, the Bolder Boulder). Of all my fitness endeavors, running has done the most to improve both my physical and spiritual fitness. Given all the lessons I’ve learned on the running trail, Hebrews 12:1 resonates deeply with me …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Kids Want What We Teach Them to Want

By Jen Pollock Michel Habit proves to be powerful liturgy. “Do your kids ever complain about going to church every week?” my friend asks. She and her husband were raised in small countryside churches in the south of France, and while they were never zealous for the faith, they dutifully attended mass on Christmas and Easter until recent years. My friends accept the seeming inevitability of spiritual lapse. Sunday worship, hardly exhilarating in its own right, stands to compete with birthday parties, competitive sports, and the luxury of sleeping late. Remarkably, our five children don’t complain. This isn’t to say that our 13-year-old son doesn’t occasionally look bored during the sermon. It isn’t to deny that our twin eight-year-old boys wiggle distractedly during prayer, asking in loud whispers, “When is this going to be over?” On any given Sunday, our children may be more or less engaged in the 90-minute liturgy that moves us from a call to worship to a final benediction, but they do come willingly. Everyone is a worshiper, and every habit is a liturgy. This is the central premise of James K. A. Smith’s research in the last several years, whose work David Brooks highlighted in his recent New York Times column, <a target="_blank" …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

3 Ways Suffering Produces Sanctification

By Ed Stetzer Suffering for the believer is never without purpose. “Why?” is the question many of us ask of the Lord when something tragic happens in our lives or in the life of someone we know. There’s story after story of suffering in the Bible, but very seldom do we know why the people suffered. On this topic Paul wrote: We also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance products proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 Rejoicing in the midst of suffering focuses our attention on the knowledge of what the Spirit produces in us through that suffering. The result is threefold: suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Suffering Unleashes Endurance Endurance in the Bible means steadfast adherence to a course of action in spite of difficulties and testing. As we go through trials, we develop greater perseverance to deal with increased challenges. Consider James’s words on the subject: Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Gender and the Trinity: From Proxy War to Civil War

By Caleb Lindgren The latest complementarian debate isn’t over women’s subordination—but Christ’s. Last week, a group of evangelical theologians who normally agree on many controversial issues began a heated debate, prompting claims that scholars are getting God’s nature so wrong that they should quit their jobs. The topic: the Trinity. The group: Reformed complementarians, i.e. Christian thinkers who affirm a broadly Calvinist view of theology and are also committed to the view that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, and religious leadership. Debates about the Trinity and how to understand it are not exactly new in the history of Christian theology. But in recent years, such disagreements among evangelicals have usually been divided along the lines of other hot-button theological issues—namely gender roles in the church. So what makes this latest discussion significant—beyond the increasingly fiery rhetoric on blogs and Twitter—is the surprise of seeing theologians who agree on so much (including gender roles) breaking ranks with each other around such a core component of Christian belief. What’s more, the opposing sides are calling into question each other’s commitment to historic Christianity. Accusations of “constructing a new diety” and “reinventing the doctrine of God,” are flying fast and thick, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

The Purge: Election Year

By Alissa Wilkinson The opportunity for biting social critique gets swept away in a torrent of bloody destruction. Few, if any, of CT‘s readers probably ought to see (or bother seeing) The Purge: Election Year. Like its predecessors (The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy), its world is drawn thinly in ways that don’t actually help the very interesting concept of the plot: that in an alternate universe very close to our own, the U.S. is ruled by the NFFA—the New Founding Fathers of America, a party of apparently mostly white guys who got sick of “hypocrisy” and believe that instead of sublimating our aggressive urges, we ought to just let them all out in a twelve-hour annual “holiday” where all crime is legal, including murder. Lest you complain that this seems unsubtle, be warned, there is nothing subtle about The Purge. The idea obviously draws on some Foucaultian idea that outright violence, in a strange way, is more “civilized” than the faux-humane social engineering of an oppressive surveillance culture—an idea the film both rebuts and seems to accept. (Drones show up in this one, by the way.) The people who suffer most from The Purge are the poor, defenseless, and homeless, who can’t defend themselves …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

ChristianMingle Lawsuit Forces Site to Add Options for Gay Daters

By Kate Shellnutt For the first time in 11 years, same-sex couples can find “God’s match for you” on the site. ChristianMingle.com will open its 16 million-member site to gay and lesbian users following an anti-discrimination lawsuit. According to a settlement approved by a California judge last week, the country’s most popular Christian dating site will offer options for same-sex matches, rather than limiting searches to “a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man,” the Wall Street Journalreported. The plaintiffs in the case sued ChristianMingle in 2013 for violating a California civil rights law requiring “all business establishments of every kind whatsoever” to offer full accommodations regardless of a person’s sexual orientation (among more than a dozen other protected classes). A spokesperson for ChristianMingle’s parent company, Spark Networks Inc., said they recognize that “this is a divisive issue and hope that the greater good of our mission is what people appreciate about us.” ChristianMingle, known for its commercials promising to “find God’s match for you,” is the largest dating site owned by Spark Networks. The company brought in $48 million last year running niche sites including JDate.com, LDSSingles.com, CatholicMingle.com, and AdventistSinglesConnection.com, as well as sites for black, aging, and deaf daters. The …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Leadership Development According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

By Daniel Im Bonhoeffer’s wisdom on leadership endures. Does your church have an intentional development plan to disciple and deploy believers to live out the Great Commission? Are you providing strategic pathways and opportunities for your congregation to participate in church planting so that they can be a part of the Kingdom of God invading into every crevice of society both locally and globally? Or, does this happen haphazardly when someone approaches you and they say that they feel called to ministry? Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38 HCSB) All Are Called When I look at those verses, I see them as a call to pray for more harvest workers. But as a pastor and as a church leader, I also see them as a call to disciple my congregation into being harvest workers for the harvest that exists around them both locally and globally. As a result, while a once-a-year sermon that challenges your congregation to consider full-time ministry may be helpful, it can actually create more harm than good. This sort of sermon unintentionally creates a culture that says some are …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

The Gift of My Anxiety

By Laura Turner How persistent fear has kept me tethered to God. My first memory is a memory of fear. At four or five years old, alone in my bedroom, I was gripped suddenly by the certainty that something would go wrong. I looked up at the pink bows my mom had painted on the walls, my stomach twisting in knots. The conviction that the future wasn’t friendly made itself manifest in my body. It was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with fear. “Feelings make excellent servants, but terrible masters,” Dallas Willard wrote. This is part of what Jesus is telling us when he commands us, “Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). The admonition not to fear is the most frequently repeated command in the Bible. It’s routinely appealed to as if it were a neat syllogism: Jesus said “do not fear”; Christians obey Jesus; therefore, I am not afraid. God said it; I believe it; that settles it. Would that it were so simple. Fear in the form of anxiety (owing to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which I have) is a constant companion. A persistent, irrational fear about the future is the best definition of anxiety I have heard, and it joins me daily as …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Pew: More Sermons Endorse Clinton

By Kate Shellnutt Fewer pastors are politically engaged this election; fewer still are speaking for Trump from the pulpit. The candidate behind the biggest Republican push to allow pastors to back politicians from the pulpit has received fewer sermon endorsements than his presidential opponent, who favors the current ban. According to a new Pew Research survey, 1 percent of churchgoers said their pastor has spoken positively of Donald Trump, compared to 6 percent who heard praise for Hillary Clinton. Trump was also the subject of more pastoral criticism: 7 percent said their leaders spoke against Trump and 4 percent against Clinton. Trump’s religious freedom platform centers around his promise to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which bars churches and other tax-exempt non-profits from endorsing or disavowing candidates, but still allows them to speak generally about political issues. “After 30 years of the so-called conservative leaders who have been elected by evangelicals, none of them thought to advocate for the repeal of the Johnson amendment, giving evangelical leaders political free speech,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University president and early Trump endorser, toldTime magazine. “ thinks it is going to be a revolution in the Christian world.” Even with the current the ban, which has been part of …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Trends Among Growing Churches: Some Reflections on the Fastest Growing and Largest U.S. Churches

By Ed Stetzer Large and fast-growing churches make sacrifices for the kingdom of God. Outreach Magazine just released their Outreach 100 issue for 2013. LifeWay Research does the research for this issue. I was particularly encouraged to see the list focus especially on fastest growing churches. You can subscribe to the magazine here. Here is my article with a bit of analysis of some of the fastest-growing churches in America. —————————- Each year at LifeWay Research, we work together with Outreach Magazine to create the Outreach 100 listings of the country’s Fastest-Growing and Largest Churches. On one hand, these lists are one of the most anticipated things we do each year. People seem to eagerly await the lists so they can learn from these churches about what God is doing to build his kingdom across the United States. On the other hand, there are those who complain about the lists. They seem to think this is a way of exalting “big churches” in an effort to make them look better than the churches that are not on the list, when nothing could be further from the truth. Remember folks: facts are our friends. I love to learn. I have spent …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

We Need More Politics on Social Media, Not Less

By Alicia Rollins, guest writer How our feeds feed popular opinion. I hesitated to sign up for a Twitter account years ago, knowing I didn’t need anything else to distract or disconnect me from my real-life relationships. These common stigmas of social media began to fade when someone pointed out to me: “An important conversation is happening and will continue to happen whether you are there or not.” I quickly learned that she was right. On Twitter, I tapped into new perspectives. I found myself in communication overload, following significant conversations on politics, race, theology, and art. Jon Stewart once said that “the Internet is just a world passing around notes in the classroom.” Except this time, the messages don’t just come from our friends and neighbors, but also world leaders, celebrities, experts, and influencers. Surrounded by so many voices, how could any one of us make a difference? What do I possibly have to offer to these conversations? And given the potential for controversy, wouldn’t it be easier not to try? A few years of tweeting, retweeting, and replying later, I still find myself scrutinizing and questioning my participation in social media. I’m no expert, and I worry whether it’s actually wise to speak out on every …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

Eight Barriers To Multiplication, Part 2

By Daniel Im Is something stopping you from starting a new church plant? In the previous article, we addressed the first four barriers to multiplication: Fear Perceived and Actual Scarcity Bad Math Church Centricity In today’s article, we will address the next four barriers to multiplication. 5. Don’t See the Need for Multiplication Before churches can multiply, they need to see it first. The problem is, many churches don’t see the need for multiplication. They assume that multiplication is not for them. Their reasoning is predicated on the assumption that other churches will multiply. While they may understand the vision behind multiplication, they just don’t have a personal conviction to multiply. We believe every church should not only embrace a vision of multiplication, but personally engage in multiplication. Leaders do need to assume that even some of the most committed Christians will not have a pre-existing favorable disposition towards multiplication, and will see multiplication as the church’s responsibility and not theirs. This is why it’s vital to share the vision for multiplication, consistently, clearly,
 and in different forms and fashions each time. We saw this clearly in our research. You can click here to get the State of Church Planting Research Report …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

News: Evangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers

By Caleb Lindgren Second study examines what Americans believe about 47 theological statements. How well does the average American understand basic Christian doctrine? For that matter, how about the average evangelical? Perhaps not all that differently. And perhaps it matters how the questions are asked. Reprising their ground-breaking study from two years ago, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries released an update today on the state of American theology in 2016. Researchers surveyed 3,000 adults to measure their agreement with a set of 47 statements about Christian theology—everything from the divinity of Christ to the nature of salvation to the importance of regular church attendance. About two-thirds of Americans said that God accepts the worship of Christians, Jews, and Muslims (64%); around the same number agreed strongly or somewhat that there is one true God (69%), that he is perfect (65%), and that he still answers prayers (66%). Of the 3,000 respondents, LifeWay identified 586 as evangelicals by belief: those who strongly agreed that the Bible is the highest authority for Christian belief; that personal evangelism is very important; that Jesus’ death on the cross was the only way to cancel the penalty of sin; and that trusting in Jesus is the only way to eternal salvation. In …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

'Birth of a Nation' Releases to Mixed Reviews and Moral Dilemmas

Things we’re reading and discussing this week. This week, the much-discussed Nat Turner biopic Birth of a Nation released to mixed reviews, partially on account of the controversy surrounding director Nate Parker’s past in the months before the release, partially on account of the film’s disputed artistic merits. CT interviewed Parker about his Christian faith this summer, then discussed whether rape accusations against Parker should deter moviegoers from watching his film, especially as it includes at least one graphic rape scene. Vinson Cunningham, writing for The New Yorker, argued that the film “is not worth the efforts of its defenders” for its problematic depiction of women: It’s hard even to call it a successful attempt at propaganda. The early euphoria surrounding the movie was prompted by the way it seemed to answer the demands of its time, sublimating the eye-for-an-eye Old Testament ethos of such fiery agitators as Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammad into the safer precincts of the screen. That fire was checked by a different political imperative: the need to listen to and respect the stories of women who have suffered at the hands of men. . . . Women, in this film, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

How I Stopped Seeing Privilege in Black and White

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun What God taught this second-generation, child of immigrants about the nuance of status. When I moved to Kenya earlier this year, I became white, powerful, and unfathomably wealthy. My little family of three lives in a five-bedroom home, and we employ a fulltime house helper and driver—all for less than we paid in rent in Silicon Valley. We have every comfort we could possibly want in a country in which 77 percent of the population doesn’t have access to electricity and 37 percent don’t have safe drinking water. As an Asian American who grew up in an immigrant, lower-middle-class family, this is the most privileged I have ever been. The everyday struggles of the majority of Kenyans—against unemployment, poverty, corruption, extrajudicial police killings, and more—are not struggles that I will likely have to face here. In this warm and polite culture, I am treated with extra respect because of the lightness of my skin and the depth of my wallet. It feels strange. Despite my discomfort with the idea, I cannot deny the abundance of my resources compared to those around me. When our helper tells me about her longstanding toothache, or when she muses how nice it …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »
Christian

After Trump, Should Evangelical Christians Part Ways?

By Mark Galli The 2016 election has revealed afresh a deep fissure—and a great opportunity. Donald Trump is now the president-elect. This fact is deeply discouraging for some evangelical Christians. Many fear that Trump’s ascendency will only encourage racism and misogyny. Others see his election as a blow to immigration reform. Those concerned about religious liberty for all worry about the future of Muslims in our land. But Clinton’s loss, and by extension, Trump’s win, brings deep relief to other evangelical Christians. Many feared an acceleration of President Obama’s progressive policies, including the use of their tax dollars to make abortion even more accessible. They are weary of being labeled bigots for their views on human sexuality, and being increasingly subject to social and legal penalties for such. Initial reports suggest that four out of five white evangelical Christians voted for Trump, continuing their pattern of support for the Republican candidate in US presidential elections since the 1980s. Not all did so with enthusiasm, and for that matter, Trump received a higher percentage of black and Hispanic votes than did his predecessors, Republican candidates Mitt Romney and John McCain. Still, what makes this election different is how many prominent evangelical leaders—from the Southern Baptist Convention’s …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
Continue Reading »