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I Know Why the Government Went after Pro-Life Investigative Journalists

By Jim Daly For Americans determined to speak out according to our deeply held beliefs, the price tag is becoming increasingly steep. 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. I watched in horror last year as undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) surfaced showing the alleged sale of baby body parts by executives at the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. A few months later, I’m shaking my head in disbelief over reports that a Texas grand jury has indicted CMP’s David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. The charges? Tampering with a government document—in other words, using a fake ID—and attempting to buy fetal tissue. The first offense is one for which minors around the country are …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Give Us a King!: Leadership Theory for Election Season

By Halee Gray Scott Historic trends bring context to Trump’s confounding popularity. Thousands of political pundits, commentators, writers, and bloggers have attempted to understand and explain Donald Trump’s appeal. As a registered Independent, I’ve struggled alongside them. What would make people—and 37 percent of evangelical Christians especially—overlook such bad behavior? Judging by the dismissive attacks toward Trump supporters, one common explanation is to question their sanity or their character. While some share his fringe views, and some simply enjoy the Trump circus, I suspect Trump’s Christian backing—enough to earn him a spot among the top candidates in yesterday’s Iowa caucus—has less to do with contemptible biases and more to do with leadership theory. “Leadership is like beauty,” wrote leadership expert Warren Bennis. “It’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.” Part of the reason leadership is so difficult to define is because, contrary to popular notions, what we look for in a leader changes and evolves. Since the early 20th century, scholars have marked several different approaches to leadership—each corresponding to people’s values and needs in a particular time. … Over the past century, we moved from looking for “Great Man,” commanding leaders like Winston Churchill …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Exploring Evangelicalism: An Interview With Brian Brodersen of Calvary Chapel—Part 2

By Ed Stetzer Brian Brodersen explains what some Evangelicals have misunderstood about Calvary Chapel ES: What do many Evangelicals often misunderstand about your movement? BB: One of the most common misunderstandings about Calvary Chapel that I’ve encountered is on the issue of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It seems that the non-Charismatics think we are Charismatics, and Charismatics think we are non-Charismatic. Or, the Baptists think we are Pentecostals, and the Pentecostals think we are Baptists. As already mentioned, we believe in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today and give room in many of our services for ministry in the gifts to take place; but we are very careful to maintain an orderly environment. Another subject of misunderstanding would be in relation to the Calvinism / Arminianism debate. This is one more area where we seemed to have landed in a bit of a different place from other Evangelicals. We are not Calvinists, yet we enjoy fellowship with and glean much from our Calvinist friends. However, we are not Arminians either, and we also enjoy fellowship with and glean from our Arminian friends. What we have sought to do when it comes to the subject of soteriology is to be as biblical as …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Exploring Evangelicalism: An Interview With Brian Brodersen of Calvary Chapel—Part 1

By Ed Stetzer Brian Brodersen explains the uniqueness of Calvary Chapel’s approach to ministry Ed Stetzer: What are some of the distinctives that make you different from other evangelical groups? Brian Brodersen: The best way to answer that is to tell you a story. Years ago, when I was pastoring overseas, a prominent Evangelical pastor invited me to visit with him so we could get to know one another since we were pastoring in the same area. As I sat down with him in the meeting, I quickly discovered that he was very upset that I had planted a church so close to his, and he wanted to know what justified my presence in the city. He asked what our ministry offered that couldn’t already be found in the city we were in. I cited three things: First, we taught chapter by chapter through the whole Bible. I didn’t say we were the only church doing that, but I knew that if there were others, they were few and far between. And in a city of several million, I thought there was plenty of room for another church with a high priority on Bible teaching. So this is one of the Calvary Chapel distinctives: teaching through the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Dispatch from Sundance – 'Love & Friendship'

By Alissa Wilkinson Whit Stillman adapts Jane Austen, and the results are sublime. For Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco) adapted a novel by Jane Austen that was unpublished at her death. Later published under the title Lady Susan, it’s Austen at the height of her affectionately satirical powers. And it’s terrific. I’ve seen most Austen adaptations (including Clueless and Bridget Jones’ Diary), but they seem to get the genre wrong: they act like romances with comedic elements, but Austen’s books are classic comedies, stories in which all is set right by the end, in the Shakespearean manner, with wry character descriptions and witty banter. Because the genre is off, many Austen adaptations spend so much time setting up emotionally resonant characters that it feels (to this Yank) that they counteract the essential reserved British-ness of any comedy of manners. Not a problem in Love & Friendship. With one genius fell swoop (I won’t give it away, because it’s such a delightful surprise), Stillman hurdles the character set-up problem in a manner I think Austen would have liked. The audience sure did. This isn’t surprising. Stillman is a perfect match for Austen’s sensibilities: he’s a master of clever, erudite dialogue that also …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Court: Turkey Failed Malatya Martyrs and Must Pay Back Their Families

By Morning Star News But it’s not quite the good news Turkish Christians have been waiting for since 2007. The Turkish government neglected its duty to protect three Christians who were tortured and killed in 2007, a Turkish court ruled on Tuesday. The Malatya Administrative Court has ordered the government to pay damages to the victims’ families, after ruling that the Turkish interior ministry and Malatya governor’s office ignored reliable intelligence that Turkish nationalists were targeting the three Christians days prior to their murder. Five young men with alleged links to Turkish nationalists killed three Christians on April 18, 2007, in the office of the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya in southeastern Turkey. Ugur Yüksel, 32, and Necati Aydin, 36, both Turkish converts from Islam, and Tilmann Geske, 45, a German national, were bound, interrogated about their Christian activities, and then mutilated and killed with knives, according to court evidence. According to several Christians close to the victims, one or more of the accused suspects cultivated relationships with the three Christians, one even going so far as to pose as a new convert to the Christian faith. The court ordered the interior ministry to pay the families close to 1 million Turkish lira (US$333,980) in damages. Susanne Geske …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Confessions of a (Sinful) Overachiever

By Nana Dolce, guest writer Praise or mockery: The problem with our reactions to “super-moms.” Someone once told me that in another life and time I could have been a good monk. (The thought had crossed my mind too—albeit, I saw myself as a nun instead.) The truth is, I enjoy the disciplined Christian life. I embrace prayer, study, and fasting as ordinary means of grace. I’m discouraged by passivity and compelled to practice the spiritual disciplines with intentionality and purpose. It’s been this way since my sophomore year in college, when my conversion brought a sudden and abiding appetite for God’s Word. I’d finish my homework just to have free time for the Bible. As I studied, I spent days fasting and hours in prayer. These early habits have persisted with the years, despite the natural changes that marriage, motherhood, work and schedules bring. My practice of faith, like most things in my life, is sustained by a propensity for difficult work. I’m a hard driver, often choosing the coarse road. As a mother, I give birth without epidural, nurse for fourteen-months, make my own baby food, homeschool my little ones—all the while working part-time and teaching small groups. It’s admirable—if not for the pesky tendency to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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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       ...
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'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       ...
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Messages from the Edge: Suicide Notes on Social Media

By Halee Gray Scott How Facebook turns the left-behind into horrified witnesses. They say she drove to a small, isolated chapel in the woods, shared her suicide note on Facebook, and then carried out a decision that was both final and fatal. Not too long after my friend posted the note, I watched in horror as the events unfolded. Each update came in real time on my newsfeed: the timid, then panicked inquiries about her welfare, the frantic attempts to pinpoint her location for the authorities, and then finally, the death knell blow: “She has been found. She has taken her life.” Over 40,000 Americans and more than a million people worldwide die by suicide each year. It’s the country’s tenth leading cause of death overall and one of the most common causes of death among young people and people in middle age. As social media becomes a mainstay in our day-to-day lives, recent research probes the relationship between our online activity and suicide. Studies indicate that social media can intensify depression and suicidal behavior, especially among girls. The more we submerge ourselves in the faux-reality of carefully crafted posts and curated photographs, the greater our risk of depression and suicide due to social …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: Hating the Way Jesus Hates

By Interview by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun Why more believers need the courage to get angry at sin. As a young woman, Sarah Sumner never allowed herself to be angry, until her parents divorced when she was 22. The experience was one inspiration behind her doctoral dissertation (at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) on godly anger, which has blossomed into a book, Angry Like Jesus: Using His Example to Spark Your Moral Courage (Fortress Press). San Francisco–based Her.meneutics writer Dorcas Cheng-Tozun spoke with Sumner, former dean of A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, about bringing a healthy dose of righteous anger to today’s church. Why is the topic of godly anger so significant to you? Over the years, working in Christian organizations, I have seen fudging and compromise and blatant refusals to do things in a Christian way. And then people want to cover it up. That makes me angry. I don’t mean blustery anger, where I want to slam the door. It motivates me to try righting wrongs in a structured, strategic way. What’s the difference between sinful and godly anger? Sinful anger does not trust God, while godly anger does. Sinful anger is prideful, while godly anger flows from humility. Sinful anger participates in evil, while godly anger abhors evil. But the …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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If We Can’t ‘Fear Not,’ Let’s Fear Better

By Amy Simpson How to show love in a time of terror. Remember the color-coded terror threat alert system implemented by the Department of Homeland Security after September 11? Each color represented a different threat level; the greater the threat, the more vigilant citizens should be. That scale was replaced in 2011 with the National Terrorism Advisory System, which offered more specific designations and steps communities, agencies, and private citizens can take to protect themselves or prevent an attack. According to Homeland Security, this newer system “recognizes that Americans all share responsibility for the nation’s security, and should always be aware of the heightened risk of terrorist attack in the United States and what they should do.” In other words, it’s more realistic and more helpful to simply accept significant risk as reality. The old alert system never went to green (low risk) or blue (guarded). It stayed at yellow (elevated risk) most of the time and occasionally moved to orange (high risk). Yellow became the color of everyday life. Yellow became easy to ignore as we learned to live in a new normal. While such adaptation can turn into complacency, it’s also a healthy process—we are not designed to be chronically on guard. In …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Pro-Life Activism Became Personal Again

By Krissie Inserra, guest writer After years of being ‘too busy’ to help, I found myself getting involved once more. In 2002, I found myself in an all-day training session to become a peer counselor at my local crisis pregnancy center. Looking back, I have no idea how I even knew about the opportunity. Perhaps I heard something about it from my church or by word of mouth, but I was there, listening. As I listened to all the possible scenarios the center finds itself ministering in and heard about the immense need for caring and compassionate counselors, something clicked. This was my calling! I was getting a minor in psychology, so of course my 21-year-old self thought that made me an expert on all things counseling. I knew this was what I was meant to do. Because I was in college, I was assigned to the moms and babies room, where material assistance is provided for mothers who have chosen life for their babies. Every Thursday night, I would go up the stairs above a little Italian restaurant in a Winn-Dixie shopping center and spend two hours volunteering. I would fold baby clothes, read pamphlets and articles, and spend time getting to know these precious pregnant …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How 'No Country for Old Men' and 'Spotlight' Help Me Serve a Broken Church

By Elijah Davidson Do I really want to count myself among Christians if they let injustice continue? As I left the theater after seeing Spotlight, two members of the film’s publicity team asked for my thoughts on the film. I fumbled for words and said I was heartbroken. My wife mercifully pulled me away before I broke out in tears. Spotlight left me helpless. The film, which tells the true tale of the Boston Globe investigative journalism team that uncovered the child molestation scandal in its local Catholic archdiocese in 2002, ends with a list of cities in which similar abuses have been discovered. I was overwhelmed by the scope of the atrocity, the knowledge that this sin-crime is not solely a Catholic problem, but a Christian problem, and the horror of realizing I, too, am complicit in this systemic injustice. (Read CT‘s review of Spotlight.) Spotlight focuses on the little things that accumulate over time to create systems that either function well or deplorably. We watch characters have endless conversations with lawyers who won’t say anything; knock on doors hoping to get impromptu interviews, only to have them slammed instead; wait in government offices for hours only to be told they’ll have to …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Here’s What Evangelical Experts on Missions and Muslims Think of Wheaton's ‘Same God’ Debate

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Special journal looks at whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God, why it matters, and better questions to ask. Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Nearly two dozen evangelical experts on missions and Muslims have compiled their thoughts on how the answer affects Muslim missions, why it’s a bad question to begin with, and propose better questions to ask instead. A 32-page, special edition of the Occasional Bulletin from the Evangelical Missiological Society (EMS) seeks to constructively contribute to the highly publicized dispute over whether Wheaton College should discipline professor Larycia Hawkins for stating in a Facebook post that Christians and Muslims “worship the same God.” Robert Priest, a mission and anthropology professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) and current EMS president, has “watched with interest” the unfolding Wheaton-Hawkins debate because, for evangelicals worldwide, “what Wheaton does affects us all.” “As I’ve observed the unfolding drama, I’ve had concerns over the way Wheaton has framed the issues, over the repercussions of this for Christian witness, and over the failure to include missiologists and missionaries as interlocutors,” wrote Priest. “That is, for most evangelicals in America, our encounter with people who are Muslim is relatively recent, relatively superficial, and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Evangelism, Church Planting, and Alpha Course

What bridges between denominations and churches need to be built for the trust to make collaboration possible? In the UK, over 8,000 church buildings have been closed over the past 25 years. In Canada, where I live, just one of our mainline denominations has announced that over the next 5 years, 1000 of their buildings will follow suit. It doesn’t take much of a news scan to see this repeated throughout the Western Church. Maybe this is a good thing? Maybe it is a shake-up, a wake-up, an opportunity? There is also a dark side: as one of our Anglican leaders in the UK said, “a closed church appears to a city like the empty palace of a long-forgotten King!” Just over 10 years ago, Nicky Gumbel (pioneer of Alpha and leader of my home network & church, Holy Trinity Brompton) wrote a letter to the national church authorities in England telling them that, “over my dead body will you close another one of these buildings—you name the building and we’ll send a team!” A generation of us stood up to say “over our dead bodies too” and as a team by God’s miraculous intervention, some 45+ London UK churches have now been …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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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       ...
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7 Signs You’ve Become Too Busy for Your Own Good

By Alli Worthington An excerpt from the new book Breaking Busy. My granddaddy used to say, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” That’s some good Southern preacher wisdom right there. Before I broke busy in my own life, I proudly wore my busy badge of honor. I was the queen of busy. I even had the tiara and sash to go with it. Busyness made me feel productive and needed, and I overlooked the havoc it was wreaking in my life. Oh, there were warning signs, but I just kept straightening my tiara and assuring myself I was a strong, confident woman, who could handle the stress and chaos. But contrary to what many of us have been told, we can’t handle it all, nor should we. So how do we know when we are reaching our limits? We aren’t like our phones with flashing numbers that tell us we’ve reached our capacity. But there are signs our body gives us if we’re paying attention, signs that may look different for each of us. For some the warning signs may be emotional. For others they might be physical, relational, or spiritual. But rest assured, if you are over capacity, you will …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Why 734 Pastors Quit (and How Their Churches Could Have Kept Them)

By Lisa Cannon Green – Facts & Trends LifeWay Research studies how churches can help pastors last longer. No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what’s expected. Hundreds of former evangelical pastors say these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate. A recent study by LifeWay Research points to ways churches can encourage pastors to stay in the ministry, said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Nashville-based organization. “Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help,” Stetzer said. “Having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest, and having people help with weighty counseling cases are key things experts tell us ought to be in place.” LifeWay surveyed 734 former senior pastors who left the pastorate before retirement age in four Protestant denominations: the Assemblies of God, Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Trouble begins early, the survey indicates, with 48 percent of the former pastors saying the search team didn’t accurately describe the church before their arrival. Their churches were unlikely to have a list of counselors for referrals (27%), clear documentation of the church’s expectations of its pastor (22%), a sabbatical …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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When Planned Parenthood Praised Ed Dobson

By Marshall Shelley The unlikely friendships the former Religious Right leader built while serving AIDS victims. I first met the late Ed Dobson when he was a columnist for Fundamentalist Journal, a publication published by Jerry Falwell. I was raised not far removed on the theological spectrum from fundamentalists, so I read each issue of the publication with great interest—and a tinge of fear. Would they represent the fundamentals in a positive or a cringe-worthy manner? I came to depend on Ed Dobson’s column as one place you could always find clear biblical convictions—as you would expect from one of the architects of the Moral Majority—but articulated with great compassion. To Ed, people weren’t just souls to be won (and tallied for their PR value), or voters to be recruited, but individuals to be loved as Christ loved. When Ed became pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it wasn’t long before I was tapping him for Leadership Journal (LJ). I was impressed that some of his first contacts in Grand Rapids were with local leaders of Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women. This certainly wasn’t in any pastor’s manual at the time. But because Dobson took Jesus’s words so seriously, he …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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