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Black, White, and Blue: How Christians Rate the Police

By Kate Shellnutt Race influences views of US law enforcement more than religious tradition—except locally. In the wake of high-profile police shootings over the past several years, American Christians have joined movements to pray, march, and advocate for justice. Yet whether they find themselves supporting Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or somewhere in between depends more on their race than their particular Christian tradition. A recent poll found that most white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants, and white Catholics agree that America’s police officers are doing their jobs well. Compared to non-white Christians—black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics—they put more confidence in law enforcement and hold more positive views of police. These findings come from detailed data provided to CT from the Pew Research Center’s Behind the Badge report, released last month. “These data suggest that race is more strongly associated than religion in how people view the police,” said Rich Morin, one of the report’s lead writers. “This is not particularly surprising. We see the strong influence of race on a range of views, reflecting the deep divisions along racial lines in so many areas of American life.” A sizable majority of white Protestants (71%) said police around the country are doing an “excellent” or “good” job …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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As a Special Needs Parent, I Thought I'd Hate 'Speechless'

By Val Dunham Why I was wrong—and what the ABC comedy reveals about conviction and forgiveness. When I first saw the trailer for ABC’s Speechless, it was shortly after my son was diagnosed with autism, and I was prepared to self-righteously hate it. It conjured the first and only memory I have of my child being mocked: as my son head-butted the side of a car-shaped grocery cart, an older boy in line behind us did the same. Declan thought he was being included in a game. I knew he was being excluded from one. This is the sort of tone I feared Speechless might strike—one that generated humor by merely playing at inclusion. The thirty-minute sitcom features JJ DiMeo, a sixteen-year-old boy who is rendered speechless by cerebral palsy, and the other DiMeos as they grapple with life as a special needs family in Newport Beach, CA. Its premise reads like it should be a drama a la Parenthood. From the get-go, however, it promised to move against the sentimental current that drives most other shows about kids with special needs. Based solely on the trailer, Speechless seemed uncomfortably irreverent to me, siphoning humor from the special needs community. As I’ve continued to watch …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra More than 3,000 employees will be laid off in the liquidation of one of America’s largest Christian retailers. More than two years ago, suppliers forgave Family Christian Stores $127 million in debt so that it could remain open. Today, the chain—one of the largest Christian retailers in the United States—announced it is closing all of its stores. Family Christian, which employed more than 3,000 people in 240 locations, blamed “changing consumer behavior and declining sales.” “We had two very difficult years post-bankruptcy,” stated president Chuck Bengochea. “Despite improvements in product assortment and the store experience, sales continued to decline. In addition, we were not able to get the pricing and terms we needed from our vendors to successfully compete in the market. “We have prayerfully looked at all possible options, trusting God’s plan for our organization,” he stated, “and the difficult decision to liquidate is our only recourse.” Tyndale House Publishers chairman and CEO Mark Taylor called the stores “an important outlet for Christian books, gifts, and Bibles for many decades.” “All of us at Tyndale House Publishers feel a sense of grief over Family Christian’s decision to close the entire chain of stores,” he stated. “Family’s millions of customers now have even fewer options for …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Interview: Why One Standing Rock Pastor Didn’t Preach About the Pipeline

By Interview by Kate Shellnutt Tonya White Mountain lives out the Christian call to be a peacemaker. Assemblies of God pastor Tonya White Mountain regularly makes the nearly two-hour drive from her home on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to Bismarck, North Dakota, the closest place to shop at Wal-Mart and get medical checkups. During a recent trip, a truck tried to drive her off the road. After her twin sister recounted several incidents of aggression toward Native American drivers and cars with bumper stickers opposing the planned Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), she realized it might not have been a random case of road rage. For locals like White Mountain, the contentious pipeline debate isn’t constrained to the protest sites covered on the news. The tension spills over to the roadways, the hair salons, and even the church pews. “It’s been divisive, plain and simple,” said White Mountain, who has lived on the reservation since 1991 and served for two decades with the tribal housing authority. “Over the years, I thought this whole race issue, this ‘us and them’ attitude, was decreasing. With this whole DAPL business, it has resurfaced with a vengeance.” The greatest challenge for churches like hers, Good News Assembly of God Church in McLaughlin, South Dakota, …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Jo Saxton Q+A: What's Holding You Back?

By Interview by Kelli B. Trujillo We’re all enriched when women lead. Jo Saxton is passionate about leadership. A Londoner of Nigerian descent who now lives in the Twin Cities, Saxton is a church planter, leadership coach, and the author of More Than Enchanting. A sought-after speaker, Saxton also serves as chair of the board for 3DM, a global discipleship ministry. Saxton’s latest endeavor is “Lead Stories,” a podcast with co-host Steph Williams, in which they discuss themes like soul care; the “behind the scenes” life of leaders; and assessing leaders’ physical, relational, and mental health. We connected with Saxton to get her take on the unique experiences of women in leadership. Why are you so devoted to equipping women for leadership? In the Great Commission, we are all called, as men and as women, to be involved in what God is doing. He designed us to know him and make him known in the world around us. We need to be equipped and empowered to do that, and I don’t think we can do that with just 50 percent of the global population. We want to see 100 percent—both men and …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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White Evangelicals Grade Trump, Republicans, and the Media

By Kate Shellnutt Pew looks at satisfaction with the election, and what voters think the new president should do first. In one of the first surveys after the 2016 presidential election, the Pew Research Center asked voters to weigh in on what grade Donald Trump (and others) should receive, what he should do first, and whether they will give him a chance to succeed. Among white evangelicals voters—one of Trump’s strongest demographics—one in five (20%) graded the president-elect’s conduct during the campaign at an A, while a plurality (31%) gave him a B, according to new Pew Research Center data provided to CT. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of white evangelical voters gave him a failing grade of a D or F. Trump’s overall campaign grade is the lowest among any presidential candidate—winning or losing—since Pew began collecting data in 1988. “It’s important to note that white evangelicals, like so many voters this year, had significant reservations about both candidates,” said Amy Black, professor of political science at Wheaton College. “Although evangelicals were more satisfied with Donald Trump than other groups, half of them gave Trump a grade of C or lower, and 18 percent gave him an F. Those are not exactly good …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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What is Biblical Preaching? A New Series, starting with Kyle Idleman

By Kyle Idleman Southeast Christian Church Teaching Pastor is the first in a new series As early as Acts 2, Luke wrote that Christians were devoted to, “the apostles’ teaching,” which has at least something to do with what we would call “biblical preaching” today. Many scholars believe that much of the New Testament came from sermons that first were preached then written down to form our Bible. And before that, Jesus’s own ministry was marked by His preaching (Matthew 4:17, 23; Matthew 5-7; Mark 1:15; Luke 11 – just to name a few). Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection was the turning point of history. But unless that good news is proclaimed—and proclaimed in fresh, relevant ways to each new generation in their specific time and place—it is in danger of remaining merely a historical fact. God’s plan to keep the gospel alive and transformative for people in every generation is for preachers to faithfully proclaim it (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). So at its core, biblical preaching should always be the gospel, God’s good news about Jesus. I’m aware that most of you who are reading this already understand the foundation of the Gospel and the blueprint of the New Testament letters in answering the question “What …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Thriving at the Edges of the World

By Jon Hirst E. Stanley Jones calls us to radical conservatism and a conservative radicalism. The edges of the world capture our attention. Think of frontiers such as the frozen mountains of Antarctica, the Australian outback, or the Amazon jungle. They are places of great opportunity and, at the same time, filled with unknown threats. As Americans, we have long been cast in the mold of the pioneer, thriving at the edges. Think of Benjamin Franklin creating the first public library, the Wright brothers taking flight, or innovators such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs bringing us into the digital age. The interesting thing about the pioneering spirit is that it is equally conservative and progressive in its outlook. “How so?” you say. Well, first let’s define these terms (as delivered by Google): Progressive: a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas. Conservative: a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics. With these definitions in mind, think about pioneers in innumerable fields who innovated in creative ways. Their drive to come up with new solutions required innovation and progressive approaches. Yet, at the same time, they innovated to conserve their independence, values, and the opportunity …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Crown: Balancing Family and Calling Is a Royal Pain

By Laura Kenna The Netflix series focuses on the pressure around the monarch’s marriage. I recall sitting with my mother in my childhood living room and watching Diana Spencer—about to be Princess Diana—walk slowly down the aisle toward the altar and her prince. The year was 1981, and despite my tender age, the princess fantasy did not take hold. Nor did I become a “royals watcher”… at least not until Netflix released its Queen Elizabeth II bio series, The Crown, earlier this month. Why the change of heart? Maybe it was the promise of seeing Elizabeth, now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, as a young woman. Maybe it was the heady feminist air as the series debuted, just days before the US—it seemed—might elect its first female president. For others, maybe a love for British period dramas is enough to pull them in. Since I’ve been aware of the royal family, of course, but not particularly interested before, the effect of the series has been something like moving a piece of furniture in your grandparents’ house only to find that behind that bookcase, the wallpaper you’d taken for granted your whole upbringing had at one time been far more bold and colorful than …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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The Bible Never Says ‘All Men Are Created Equal’

By Andrew Wilson How the New Testament offers a better, higher calling than the Declaration of Independence. An Anglican man rang me out of the blue the other day to ask if the New Testament teaches “equality.” “Not really,” I replied. “The New Testament mentions equality once or twice, but when it comes to social relationships, it is far more interested in concepts like oneness, commonness, partnership, union, and joint-inheritance. If you make all those passages about equality, you flatten their meaning. And in any case, it’s become a blunderbuss word that means everything and nothing.” Considering the history of the past 50 years, let alone the last 2,000, it might seem unwise to dismiss “equality” so casually. Thankfully, the New Testament presents a better, higher vision. Two New Testament texts explicitly mention isotēs, the Greek word for equality, proportionality, or fairness. In 2 Corinthians 8:13–14, Paul urges the church in Corinth to give generously to the Jerusalem church, “that there might be equality.” And in Colossians 4:1, he tells masters to grant their slaves “what is right and fair.” Most of the famous “equality” passages use quite different language. Galatians 3:28 doesn’t say that there is no Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Sibling Rivalry: From Childhood to the Church

By Hannah Anderson Will they—or will we—ever stop fighting? “Stop it! Don’t touch me!” “She started it.” “No, I didn—” “Yes! You! Did!” In our Christian subculture, the words “brother” and “sister” tend to conjure up feelings of kinship, intimacy, and loyalty. This made sense to me once. But then I became a parent. My children—aged 12, 10, and 7—are not unlike most siblings. They have their “We Are the World” moments: those times that melt a parent’s heart and reassure us that there is hope for the future of humanity. Unfortunately, these moments are interrupted by equally frequent moments of rage, selfishness, and aggression. At times, it feels like the majority of my parenting is devoted to brokering peace between warring parties. Psychology offers us myriad explanations for sibling behavior—everything from birth order to the need to differentiate oneself from the other members of the family. Sometimes this can create a dynamic that an older granny in my church calls “pick and pluck”: that kind of bickering and agitation that seems to exist for the sheer sake of existing. As frustrating as it can be, though, the task of parenting through sibling conflict has changed how I read the New Testament. It’s also changed what I expect as normal …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Scarlet Hope

By Rachelle Starr Louisville-based ministry shares the love of Jesus with women in the adult entertainment industry I had been loving and serving dancers in strip clubs for several years when my teammates and I decided to do something special. While we usually just did hair and makeup, on this particular night we decided we would give the dancers pedicures. We were given our usual greeting as we walked into the club and began setting up in our usual spot near the back of the stage. “The Church Ladies are here!” While we have never called ourselves “Church Ladies,” and, in fact, don’t come from one particular church, for nearly ten years our ministry of Jesus-loving women who go into more than a dozen strip clubs around Louisville every week have been dubbed “the Church Ladies.” “Is your mom feeling better? I’ve been praying for her this week.” “How did your husband’s interview go?” After catching up with the dancers, many of whom we’d grown very close to, we began setting up. We had heated up water in a kettle before we left the house so that when we poured it into our basin it was the perfect temperature for a relaxing foot soak. Then we set out …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Realizing My Addiction Had Chosen Me Began My Road to Recovery

By Timothy King Framing addiction as a chronic disease gives a broader framework for understanding. I can’t remember much about the day when everything went wrong. No obvious moment indicated that the standard outpatient procedure would lead to weeks in the ICU, months in the hospital, and almost a year out of work. Memories of a dark hospital room and slowly blinking lights come back in fevered fits. Dislocated voices from intrusive floating faces were saying that things would be alright. I had known pain before: crutches, casts, and stitches. But until this moment, pain had always been experienced as something outside of myself. Now it was all that was left of me. The day turned into night turned into day turned into night. I had given up on crying for the pain to subside. My soul had turned to the guttural moan of Job. Dear God, if this is my fate, may I never have been born at all. I remember hearing the words “acute respiratory distress” and being moved to the ICU. I remember how my IV stand became a tree that blossomed with multi-colored ornaments hanging from stainless steel branches with cascading ripples of wires and tubes falling to my nose, arms, and chest. Also hanging …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Pastors, Your Sermons Do Matter If You Want To See People Come To Trust Jesus

By Paco Amador Every preacher at some point has experienced the painful vulnerability of baring their soul. For my wife and I, it’s a joy being Lucero’s pastor. A young, intelligent, and enjoyable mother of an exuberant boy, Lucero has recently abandoned herself fully into the arms of Jesus, a true testament of the gospel’s power to transform hearts from darkness to light. A few weeks ago she was telling me about her life before Jesus. “Tell me,” I asked, “what happened that finally made you trust your whole life into God’s hands?” (I never get enough of hearing the stories that flow in answer to that question.) Her response, however, took me aback. “It was you!” she promptly answered. Puzzled, I simply waited for her to continue. Surely, I must have heard wrong. I don’t recall ever having a deep conversation about spiritual matters with her before. She continued: Yeah. It was you. That Sunday you were preaching from Genesis about how when Jacob was returning to Canaan he had a choice to come back home with God or without God at the center of his life. Then you made a passionate call. You had tears in your eyes. You truly believed that this would …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Opposition to Assisted Suicide Dies Out

By Bob Smietana – Facts & Trends Most Americans, including 4 in 10 evangelicals, want doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives. The American Medical Association has described physician-assisted suicide as a serious risk to society and “fundamentally incompatible with a physician’s role as healer.” Millions of Americans disagree. Two-thirds say it is morally acceptable for terminally ill patients to ask their doctors for help in ending their lives, according to a new survey from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. A similar number says doctors should be able to help terminally ill patients die. Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, says Americans want more say over how they die. That’s especially true if facing a painful, terminal illness, he says. “If they are facing a slow, painful death, Americans want options,” he says. “Many believe that asking for help in dying is a moral option. They don’t believe that suffering until they die of natural causes is the only way out.” Widespread support Physician-assisted suicide first became legal in the US in 1997 under Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law. Since then, 991 patients in Oregon have ended their lives using medications prescribed by a doctor under the law, according to that state’s reports. Today six states allow physician-assisted suicide. The latest …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: Why Two Tombs Compete for Jesus’ Burial Place

By Gordon Govier Historic renovations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre won’t change some Protestants’ preference for the Garden Tomb. Beneath layers of ancient marble, renovators at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem say they have found what may be the limestone bench where the body of Jesus was laid after his crucifixion. For the first time in half a millennium, church officials have allowed access to a tomb even more famous than that of “King Tut,” the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. However, they can’t say for sure that it is the right tomb. The official purpose of the historic project is to rebuild the Edicule, the shrine in the middle of the church rotunda which encloses the tomb. Built in the early 19th century over previous constructions, the shrine was in danger of collapse and barely held together by iron girders added decades later. Beginning October 26 and working nonstop for 60 hours, a team from the National Technical University of Athens removed marble coverings and layers of fill and debris, before finally reaching the revered limestone level at the base of the tomb. They also discovered, surprisingly, that the limestone walls of the tomb were somewhat intact beneath the layer of marble. “We can’t say …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: Why Two Tombs Compete for Jesus’ Burial

By Gordon Govier Historic renovations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre won’t change some Protestants’ preference for the Garden Tomb. Beneath layers of ancient marble, renovators at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem say they have found what may be the limestone bench where the body of Jesus was laid after his crucifixion. For the first time in half a millennium, church officials have allowed access to a tomb even more famous than that of “King Tut,” the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. However, they can’t say for sure that it is the right tomb. The official purpose of the historic project is to rebuild the Edicule, the shrine in the middle of the church rotunda which encloses the tomb. Built in the early 19th century over previous constructions, the shrine was in danger of collapse and barely held together by iron girders added decades later. Beginning October 26 and working nonstop for 60 hours, a team from the National Technical University of Athens removed marble coverings and layers of fill and debris, before finally reaching the revered limestone level at the base of the tomb. They also discovered, surprisingly, that the limestone walls of the tomb were somewhat intact beneath the layer of marble. “We can’t say …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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News: Why Many Colombian Protestants Opposed Peace with FARC Fighters

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra Three seminary leaders explain how believers balanced justice vs. grace. The longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere finally came to an end yesterday, after Colombia’s congress approved a peace deal with its largest guerrilla group. However, in order to do so, lawmakers skipped over Colombian voters, who last month narrowly rejected a similar peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The government has been battling the FARC since 1964, when a group of poor farmers and workers took up arms to resist inequality. Half a century later, voters in October rejected the measure by the smallest of margins: 49.78 percent voted Yes to peace, while 50.21 percent voted No. Faced with the choice of peace or justice, many Colombians objected to the government’s willingness to let most FARC soldiers walk free or reduce their sentences. And some evangelical leaders, sensitive to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, spoke out against the deal’s “gender theory” language. While not all evangelicals voted against the measure, they were widely credited with turning the vote. The strength of the evangelical vote was surprising in the Latin American country, where 80 percent of the population is still …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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Incredible Indian Christianity: A Special Report on the World’s Most Vibrant Christward Movement

By Jeremy Weber Why it’s the best and worst of times for India’s burgeoning churches. The world’s most unexpected megachurch pastor might be an illiterate, barefoot father of five. Bhagwana Lal grows maize and raises goats on a hilltop in Rajasthan, India’s largest state, famous for its supply of marble that graces the Taj Mahal. He belongs to the tribals: the cultural group below the Dalits, whose members are literally outcasts from India’s caste system (and often called “thumb signers” because of how they vote). Yet every Sunday, his one-room church, with cheerful blue windows and ceiling fans barely six feet off the ground, pulls in 2,000 people. His indigenous congregation draws from local farmers, whose families’ members take turns attending so that someone is tending the family’s animals. The cracks in the church’s white outer walls are a source of pride: They mark the three times the building has been expanded. Thousands of colorful flags stream down the sanctuary along the blue beams that support the corrugated metal roof. Their rustling approaches a roar. When asked the reason for the flags, Lal responds, “For joy!” laughing heartily. The decorations are normally used at weddings. “The same feeling should be inside the church. People should feel this is …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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How Fidel Castro’s Death Will Affect Cuba’s Christian Revival

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra It won’t. And that’s (mostly) a good thing. The remains of Fidel Castro are being displayed in Havana as part of Cuba’s nine days of official mourning for the deceased dictator. Many world leaders will not attend the funeral next week for the man who raised literacy rates but kept a rigid grasp on civil rights. For Cuban Christians, his death isn’t likely to be a sea change in how the island nation’s Communist government approaches religion. Like most Cubans, Castro himself was raised Catholic, educated by Jesuit priests as a child. He rejected his faith during the 1959 revolution, after the church rejected his movement toward atheism and socialism. Priests were killed and deported, while Catholics (and other Christians) were discriminated against and banned from joining the Communist Party. But Castro—and his brother, current ruler Raúl—softened with time. Some credit the Catholic Church and its popes with influencing Cuba’s slow turn from Marxism. They were also good for religious holidays. Pope John Paul II visited the country in 1998; the next day, Castro reinstated Christmas. In 2012, Pope Benedict visited; soon after, the government allowed Good Friday observances. This year, Cuba was the site of a historic step toward religious reconciliation: …read more Source:: Christianity Today       ...
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