Category : Evangelicals

John Stott’s regular morning prayer for Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
Creator and Sustainer of the universe,
I worship you.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Savior and Lord of the world,
I worship you.

Holy Spirit,
Sanctifier of the people of God,
I worship you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day your fruit will ripen my life:

Love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,
Three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.

–Ted Schroder, John Stott: A summary of his teaching (Manchester: Piquant Publishing, 2021) pp.7-8

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

(CNN) The evangelical church faces a ‘state of emergency’ over the pandemic and politics, Andy Stanley says

When you hear about something like the Southern Baptists report, do you get concerned about what the evangelical church will look like in, say, 10 years if current trends continue?
No, I don’t worry about it. And I don’t worry about it because of the way the church started. The deck wasn’t just stacked against them. There wasn’t even a deck. It’s Jesus and a group of teenagers and 20-year-olds, and he says, I’m going to start something new. And it won’t end with my death. This is for the world. And it’s forever. It’s until the end of this age.
One of the best books I’ve read recently is called “Bullies and Saints.” The author takes in all the embarrassing parts of Christianity through the years, and he says all these things are true. All these things are embarrassing, he said, But Christianity has a built-in self-correction ethic. When things go awry, reformers come along and correct it.
Do you think the White evangelical world can self-correct in this country?
Yes, most white evangelicals are not extreme. You sell things in the extremes. You raise money in the extremes. You get elected in the extremes, but most people can’t live in the extremes unless you have one of those jobs where the only way you’re going get paid is by ginning up fear.
Most people in the middle are like, ‘Hey, I just need to get my kid to school and get them home safely. And I just need to keep my job and pay the bills.’ Most white evangelicals are not how they are presented in culture. And neither are people on the other side.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(The Critic) Sebastian Milbank–Rod Dreher comes home: The conscience of the New World is here in the Old

According to Daniel French there is an increasingly “underground” aspect to conservative Christian life in the UK — believers have woken up to the fact that the culture is against them, and in many cases even traditional religious leaders too.

Another of his UK allies, Dr James Orr, believes that Rod Dreher is destined to have a significant impact on our conservatism. “His insights are proving more salient with every week that passes, not only for Christians but for all those who are beginning to feel the consequences of rejecting the West’s Christian inheritance.

“As hyper-progressivism continues to colonise the UK public square with neuralgic imports from the US culture wars, I predict that more and more people in the UK will start to take Dreher’s jeremiads seriously and pay attention to his constructive proposals.”

Whether or not James Orr is right, Dreher is interesting not just for who he is, but for what he represents. He stands at a newly emergent nexus of traditional European conservatism, English realism, and American romanticism and religiosity. With an increasingly sterile politics, caught between technocratic centrism and the hollow battles of the culture wars, there’s a desperate need for new ideas, and fresh approaches. This is a man worth listening to.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, England / UK, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(RNS) Jesus saved Beth Moore’s life. Twitter blew it up. A new memoir will tell the story.

For the past few years, Bible teacher and best-selling author Beth Moore has been one tweet away from disaster.

Moore, perhaps the best-known ex-Southern Baptist in the country, will recount her Twitter battles, her split with her former denomination and, more importantly, her lifelong journey with Jesus, in a new memoir titled “All My Knotted-Up Life,” due out from Tyndale in April 2023.

News of the memoir was first reported by Cathy Lynn Grossman of Publishers Weekly. Tyndale publisher Karen Watson told PW that the memoir will be a “southern literary reflection on an unlikely and winsomely remarkable life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Books, Church History, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Women

(CT) Sexual Harassment Went Unchecked at Christianity Today

For more than a dozen years, Christianity Today failed to hold two ministry leaders accountable for sexual harassment at its Carol Stream, Illinois, office.

A number of women reported demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior by former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye. But their behavior was not checked and the men were not disciplined, according to an external assessment of the ministry’s culture released Tuesday.

The report identified a pair of problems at the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism: a poor process for “reporting, investigating, and resolving harassment allegations” and a culture of unconscious sexism that can be “inhospitable to women.” CT has made the assessment public.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(CT) Birth Behind Bars: Christians Fight ‘Cruel,’ Outdated Prison Policies

Vanessa Franklin lost her mother, her father, and her husband in a 12-month span. But the grief of their deaths paled in comparison to parting with her three teenage daughters in the same year, 2008, when she went to prison for fraud.

“Being separated from them was worse,” said Franklin, who served four years in Oklahoma.

She couldn’t imagine a deeper hurt until a few years later, when her daughter, Ashley Garrison, was sentenced while pregnant. The 20-year-old went into labor the day she checked into prison.

Garrison had a boy and named him William. She held him for an hour before she was forced to relinquish custody to his father’s family.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Prison/Prison Ministry

(CT) Russell Moore–The Most Dangerous Form of Deconstruction

John the Baptist was not being unreasonable when he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:20) And when the disciples on the road to Emmaus said to their traveling companion, the recently crucified Jesus, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (24:21)—Jesus revealed to them that their hopes has been met in ways they couldn’t have imagined until that very moment.

The question is not whether we will deconstruct, but what we will deconstruct.

Will it be the wood, hay, and stubble that is destined to burn up and burn out? Or will it be our own souls? Sometimes the people we think are “deconstructing” are just grieving and asking God where he is at a moment like this. That has happened before.

By contrast, sometimes the people who appear most confident and certain—who are scanning the boundaries for heretics—are those who have given up belief in the new birth, in the renewal of the mind, and in the judgment seat of Christ. For them, all that’s left is an orthodoxy grounded not in a living Christ, but in a curated brand.

And that may be the saddest deconstruction of all.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks–The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself

Of course there is a lot of division across many parts of American society. But for evangelicals, who have dedicated their lives to Jesus, the problem is deeper. Christians are supposed to believe in the spiritual unity of the church. While differing over politics and other secondary matters, they are in theory supposed to be unified by their shared first love — as brothers and sisters in Christ. Their common devotion is supposed to bring out the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,” say the opening lines of a famous Christian song commonly known as “By Our Love.” In its chorus it proclaims, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.” The world envisioned by that song seems very far away right now. The bitter recriminations have caused some believers to wonder if the whole religion is a crock.

Russell Moore resigned from his leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention last spring over the denomination’s resistance to addressing the racism and sexual abuse scandals in its ranks. He tells me that every day he has conversations with Christians who are losing their faith because of what they see in their churches. He made a haunting point last summer when I saw him speak in New York State at a conference at a Bruderhof community, which has roots in the Anabaptist tradition. “We now see young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches,” he said, “but because they believe that the church itself does not believe what the church teaches.”

The proximate cause of all this disruption is Trump. But that is not the deepest cause. Trump is merely the embodiment of many of the raw wounds that already existed in parts of the white evangelical world: misogyny, racism, racial obliviousness, celebrity worship, resentment and the willingness to sacrifice principle for power.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(CT) Evangelical churchgoers are pretty happy with how things are going at their churches

At a time when pastors feel particularly under pressure, here’s some good news from the pews: Evangelical churchgoers are pretty happy with how things are going at their churches.

Most don’t think the sermons are too long; if anything, they’d like to see more in-depth teaching from leaders. They aren’t bothered by too many messages about giving. They don’t think social issues and politics play an outsized role in the teaching.

That’s according to a new survey of evangelical churchgoers in the US, the Congregational Scorecard conducted by Grey Matter Research and Consulting and Infinity Concepts.

Around three-quarters are satisfied with their congregation approach to various areas of church life and wouldn’t want it to change, the survey found.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

How Did Billy Graham Respond to an Invitation to Meet with Notorious Los Angeles Mobster Mickey Cohen?

A few days after a tearful Vaus made his way to the front of the tent to publicly commit his life to Christ, he came to visit Mr. Graham, and he had an unusual request. He asked if the evangelist would be willing to meet with Mickey Cohen.

“I’ll go anywhere to talk to anybody about Christ,” Mr. Graham said.

As he wrote in his autobiography, Just As I Am:

“By arrangement then, we slipped out of the tent by a back exit after the meeting one night, in order to avoid the press, and got away undetected in Jim’s car. As he drove toward Mickey Cohen’s home, I had mixed feelings—a little uncertainty and hesitation, to be sure, yet a deep-down boldness as well.”

He said the boldness came from knowing he was going in the name of Jesus Christ to share the Gospel.

Seeing Cohen reminded Mr. Graham of Zacchaeus, a notorious figure from the Bible who was short in stature.

Read it all; from a story that was used in yesterday morning’s sermon by yours truly.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(World) Sophia Lee Talks to Tim Keller on coming to Christ and learning to love the city

How does New York City set the culture for the rest of the country and the world? In the ’90s I heard New Yorkers discussing and expressing their views on gender and sexuality in ways that are now, many years later, mainstream on a national level. The city is a pacesetter for the culture, whether we like it or not. Some might think therefore that Christians should stay away from cities, but when you look at Scripture, you can’t deny that Jesus went from city to city in his ministry, or that Paul was willing to argue with the cultural intelligentsia in city centers such as Athens and Ephesus. In fact, I went back to Acts 17 over and over while I was in NYC to learn how to interact faithfully with center-city people.

How can Christians influence New York City for good? I started wondering, “What if there could be a movement of the gospel in one of the most religiously hostile and influential cities in America?” That was a goal. And it has been partially realized. A great number of people who became Christians here are now serving as salt and light in all sorts of places you’d never expect to find Christians.

At the time were there other contemporary pastors who preached about loving and investing in the city? Well, we have to start by pointing out that this question is something of a white-centric question. Or at least it’s the kind of question an upper-middle-class professional would ask. Because black, brown, and Asian churches never left the city. When white evangelicalism grew so much from 1965-1995, it was shaped by this “white flight” mentality and so had a very anti-urban bias to it.

However, during my five years teaching practical theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia alongside Harvie Conn and Manny Ortiz, I was exposed to a host of thoughtful, dynamic, and theologically informed African American, Hispanic, and Asian pastors and their ministries. They had thriving ministries at a time when U.S. inner cities were in terrible shape. But there they were. When Kathy and I announced we were moving to New York City, a number of people told us we were sinning against our children by taking them to the city, that they would lose their faith—and maybe their lives. (The opposite was true.) But the white evangelical view of the big cities as complete “spiritual wastelands” was wrong. So yes, in the 1980s, there were not many white and middle-class pastors talking about loving and investing in the city.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

New Vicar Chosen For Holy Trinity Brompton

Holy Trinity Brompton (known as HTB), the largest church in the Church of England, is to have a new Vicar lead its 4,000-strong congregation.

The former curate who pioneered its first ‘plant’ outside of London – the Revd Canon Archie Coates, 51, currently Vicar of St Peter’s Brighton, has been chosen as HTB’s Vicar Designate. It is expected that Canon Coates will become Vicar in September 2022, taking over from the Revd Nicky Gumbel, 66, who has announced his intention to resign his post from July 2022. Mr Gumbel has been Vicar of HTB since 2005 and has overseen considerable growth in that time. His books, which include Why Jesus? and Questions of Life, have been international best-sellers.

HTB is located in Knightsbridge, west London, and comprises a large, young and diverse congregation including a significant number of students, youth and children. Eleven services take place each Sunday across six sites in South Kensington, Earl’s Court and on the Dalgarno estate in west London.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Cultural change is needed at Titus Trust, says independent review

A narrow focus on public schools, a hierarchical structure in which Bible teachers enjoyed greater levels of authority, and a lack of diversity among its leaders, drawn from the conservative Evangelical wing of the Church of England, are among the factors that have increased the risk of abuse at holiday camps run by the Titus Trust, an independent review concludes.

The review, carried out by Thirtyone:eight, an independent Christian safeguarding charity, and published in full on Wednesday, was commissioned by the trust in the wake of revelations about abuse perpetrated by a former chairman of the Iwerne Trust (now part of the Titus Trust), John Smyth (News, 10 February 2017, 27 August). It focuses mainly on the past five years, and responses come largely from current leaders on holidays, campers, current staff, and supporters. Visits to camps were also undertaken this summer.

It notes that “a significant amount of contributors were happy with the culture of the trust and its camps and did not have any issues with how they had been treated, nor any concerns about safeguarding,” but cautions that few responses were received from young people who had stopped going on the holidays.

The report explores nine themes, commenting that “some of these are not problematic in themselves, but it is the way in which they interrelate which increases the potential for abuse occurring.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Violence

(Church Times) Evangelicals encouraged to engage in soul-searching after abuse

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has published material intended to initiate conversations about “issues of culture, power and abuse” within its constituency.

The materials, published on Wednesday, are “designed to help Evangelical churches review, repent and reshape their cultures on the back of the recent Thirtyone:eight independent reviews into two prominent Evangelical churches and their leaders”, a press release says.

The reviews to which it refers are those of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, in Wimbledon and the Revd Jonathan Fletcher (News, 26 March), and the Crowded House, a non-denominational Evangelical church in Sheffield, at which “some instances of emotional and/or psychological abuse took place as a result of persistent coercive and controlling behaviour”.

The resources include an introductory film and a “liturgy of lament” for churches to use. There is also a booklet, Church Cultures Review Questions, which contains more than 100 questions for churches.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A NYT article on Marvin Olasky and World Magzine

When Marvin Olasky gets angry emails from readers — more often than not about an exposé of wrongdoing at an evangelical church, or about a story that reflects poorly on Donald Trump — he has a stock reply.

“We think this is useful to the Church,” he tells disgruntled readers, “because we are also sinners.”

As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls “biblical objectivity.”

It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

-–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Russell Moore–We Need a Savior More Than a State

He said, “I know you all want to reach people—but it seems to me, when you’re choosing between comfort and blood, too many of you are making the wrong choice.”

I think of that conversation often when I think of the way many of us have grown alarmed by what’s sometimes called Christian nationalism—either in its more common and less virulent strain of “God and country” civil religion, or in the more explicit and terrifying ways we have seen Christian symbols co-opted by demagogic and authoritarian ethnocentric or nationalist movements.

Yes, this degrades the credibility and witness of the church. It grants delegated legitimacy to what the Bible itself denounces, and it turns the church into a captive servant to what can only be called an idol. What we often miss, though, is that what these nationalistic movements trade away is blood.

There’s a reason we see an American church riven apart by resurgent heresy trials. These inquisitions are far less likely to be about essential matters of Christian doctrine—the Trinity or the Virgin Birth or the bodily resurrection—than to be about some talking point of populist politics. In our world, politics is no longer about philosophies of government but about identity (“Whole Foods vs. Walmart”). And in such a world, nationality and politics, even in their smallest trivialities, seem far more real to people than kingdom-of-God realities that Jesus described in terms of a seed underground or yeast working through bread or wind blowing through leaves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Died: Evelyn Mangham, Who Convinced Evangelicals to Welcome Refugees

Churches weren’t always ready to help Evelyn Mangham. When she cold-called them in 1975 seeking sponsors for refugees from the Vietnam War, they often had other plans and other financial commitments.

But in call after call with Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) churches, and then any congregation affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Mangham pushed, quoted Scripture, told stories about Vietnamese people from her 20 years as a missionary, and applied moral pressure.

One pastor told Mangham his congregation couldn’t help because they were in the middle of a building project—working on a new parking lot. She sputtered, “But these are people.”

By the end of the year, she had convinced evangelical churches to sponsor 10,000 refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Immigration, Vietnam

(NPR) NIH Director Francis Collins is stepping down after 12 years

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, the largest funder of basic and clinical biomedical research in the world, says he will step down by the end of the year.

Collins, who has served three U.S. presidents as head of the institute for more than 12 years, made the announcement on Tuesday. An interim director has not been named. President Biden will nominate a permanent replacement, who must be confirmed by the Senate.

“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade,” he said in a statement. “I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family. I am proud of all we’ve accomplished.”

He said he believes that “no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it’s time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future.” He praised the NIH staff and the scientific community for its “lifesaving research.”

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Churchman [1997]) Mark Thompson–Being Clearly and Positively Evangelical

I want to encourage us to be clearly evangelical and to be positively evangelical. I am convinced that the answer to the challenges to which I have alluded lies, not in pointing the
finger at the bad guys or even trying to identify them, but in speaking the truth clearly, simply, and without compromise, and exercising a bold confidence in the God who is sovereign in his
world….

May I suggest that if we are to be clear about the message we have to proclaim in the world there are at least five things we need to do…

1.1 Recommit ourselves to the careful study and preaching of the Bible as the Word of God

1.2 Aim at clarity and simplicity

1.3 Recognize the pressures that are on us to be unclear

1.4 Identify the points at which evangelical truth is under attack today

1.5 Shun the false antitheses others try to thrust upon us

This paper is essentially a plea to stay clear and stay positive. We do not have to jettison clarity for the sake of being positive, nor do we have to abandon all hope for the sake of clarity. Do not fall into the twin dangers which face us: the danger of fudging on what it actually means to be an Evangelical and the danger of falling into a pit of despair and negativity. God has spoken. He has not left us in the dark, nor has he revealed his mind in faltering, obscure tones. And God will triumph. His purposes will be fulfilled. The day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

So let us be clear about the task that lies before us. Let us be clear about what we believe. Let us be clear about what we do not believe as well. And above all, let us renew our confidence inthe one who loves us and will one day return to take us home.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church History, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Evangelical Colleges Join Effort to Promote Vaccination

Dozens of evangelical schools belonging to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) have joined an interfaith effort called Faith in the Vaccine, designed to recruit students and faculty to help inform their communities about vaccination and recognize the role religious identity might play in people’s hesitation.

“This was not about hounding people into getting the vaccine or shaming them if they were hesitant,” said Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Corps (IFYC), which launched the effort last spring and has disbursed $4 million to fund the campaign so far. “It was very much about engaging with great respect and sensitivity … and helping them kind of talk their own way into vaccination.”

Nearly 50 CCCU member schools signed up for the program. IFYC, along with medical professionals from the Rush University Medical School, trained campus ambassadors in conversational tactics and medical information about the vaccines.

But what started out as a campaign to promote education around vaccination within these faith communities has shifted to efforts to actually get shots in arms. The Faith in the Vaccine ambassadors, according to IFYC, have helped promote or host hundreds of clinics and events across the country, accounting for an estimated 10,000 or more vaccinations.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Young Adults

(GR) Lisa Beamer on the hard spiritual lessons learned in a media spotlight after 9/11

After the press blitz, Beamer tried to withdraw from the spotlight. It was especially painful, she said, that critics called her a hypocrite who was seeking fame, while some believers put her “on a pedestal as God’s chosen woman for such a time as this.”

Nevertheless, “Todd was gone,” she said. “I was called a ‘widow’ and a ‘single parent,’ titles that literally made me sick to my stomach. My sweet husband had become a mythic figure to the public, an idealized version of manhood who died valiantly defending his country.”

In the end, Beamer said it was crucial to strengthen her “core identity,” focusing on her faith and trust in “God’s goodness and his greatness.” She was convinced that, facing the crisis aboard Flight 93, her husband had managed to do that.

That’s the final lesson, she told the students in chapel: “If God is bigger than we can image, we are wasting our time to chase after something or someone lesser. … We must place our ultimate identity not in who we are, but in who we know God to be. That’s it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance on Wilberforce’s Feast Day

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations

(CT) Mainline Protestants Are Still Declining, But That’s Not Good News for Evangelicals

This rapid shift in American religion was driven primarily by evangelicals becoming more prominent in American culture. The rise of televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson coincided with the Religious Right beginning to assert itself in electoral politics. Because the nones were relatively small at this point, there’s ample reason to believe that significant numbers of mainline Protestants became evangelicals through the 1980s.

By the late 1980s, evangelicals had become 25–27 percent of the population, and the mainline population was stuck around 20 percent. In 1993, evangelicals hit their peak in the data at just under 30 percent and have since gone into a slow and steady decline over time.

Between 2000 and 2018, the decline among evangelicals has been relatively modest—just about two percentage points. The mainline also declined three times as fast during this same time period, dropping from 16 percent in 2000 to just over 10 percent in 2018.

When you look at where both traditions started in 1972, evangelicals are slightly up, while the mainline is significantly smaller.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(PCN) Tributes to ‘hero of the faith’ Joel Edwards who has died from cancer

Former General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance and senior UK church figure, Rev Dr Joel Edwards, has died from cancer.

On Wednesday morning, the family confirmed the passing of the 70-year-old pastor by posting a letter Rev Edwards had written thanking people for their prayers.

“This is to say a final goodbye. First, my incredible thanks for your prayers, love and holding on with me to that fingernail miracle,” the letter said.

“Words cannot express the depth, breadth and height of my gratitude, but I have gone home.

“My earnest prayer is that your faith and tenacity on my behalf will not be considered a pointless religious exercise, but that it will have strengthened your faith in a God who is marvellous, mysterious and majestic in all that He does: The Faithful One.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(RNS) At 71, Christian author Philip Yancey still believes in amazing grace, despite the county’s divisions

If you could talk to evangelical leaders right now or to people in the pew, what would you tell them?

I go back to that beautiful discourse in John Chapters 13 to 17, which is Jesus’ last time with his disciples. He’s turning over the whole thing to them. And they haven’t really proven themselves. In fact, they’ve proven themselves unreliable. So, what did he do? He washed their feet. And he said to them, this is your stance in the world. You’re a servant, you’re not the leaders. Then he said, you should be known by your love. And you should be known by your unity. Those three things.

Yet so often the church seems more interested in cleaning up society, you know, returning America to its pristine 1950s. That’s the myth we have — we are making America pure again, cleaning it up.

Jesus lived under the Roman Empire, Paul lived under the Roman Empire, which was much worse morally than anything going on in the United States. They didn’t say a word about how to clean up the Roman Empire, not a word. They just kind of dismissed it.

So, why are we here? Well, we’re here to form the kind of community that makes people say, ”Oh, that’s what God had in mind.” We’re here to form pioneer settlements of the kingdom of God, as N.T. Wright puts it. It’s about demonstrating to the world what the whole human experiment is about.

Let’s remember why we are here. We love people, we serve and we show them why God’s way is better. Let’s concentrate on that rather than tearing people down or rejecting them or denigrating them in some way. We’re here to bring pleasure to God. I believe we do that by living in the way God’s son taught us to live when he was on earth.

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Posted in Books, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

Interesting food for thought from Christ City Church Vancouver BC

The Evangelical Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in Canada, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology

(Cardus) Timothy Keller–The Fading Of Forgiveness: Tracing The Disappearance Of The Thing We Need Most.

A recent interview with an actress in Global Heroes, a magazine insert in The Wall Street Journal, perfectly exemplifies the therapeutic turn. When asked, “What is one good choice that everyone can make to improve the world around them?” she answered, “Look for your own truth, LIVE your own truth instead of repeating anyone else’s.” She elaborated: “What’s crucial to me is to make my audience . . . [question] old beliefs.” She counsels her fans to engage in a daily practice of asking, “What do I need today?” and then to go and get it.

Gregory Jones sees this therapeutic turn as perhaps the greatest reason that we have such “impoverished contemporary understandings and practices of forgiveness in modern western culture. . . . If all that matters is individual autonomy, then forgiveness and reconciliation—which are designed to foster and maintain community—are of little importance.” Today, Jones argues, forgiveness is either discouraged as imposing a moral burden on the person or, at best, it is offered as a way of helping yourself acquire more peaceful inner feelings, of “healing ourselves of our hate.”

In contrast, the Bible orients us toward “Christian life embodied in eschatological community.” The church is to be a foretaste of the future world of love and perfect community under the lordship of Jesus. Our sin inclines us to behaviour that regularly weakens and breaks relationships, but through the Spirit we are given the ability to realize—partially, never fully in this life—something of the beauty and joy of those future relationships through practices and disciplines of forgiveness and reconciliation now.

In October of 2006 a gunman took hostages in a one-room Amish schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He shot ten children ages seven to thirteen, five of whom died, and then he committed suicide. Within hours members of the Amish community visited both the killer’s immediate family and his parents, each time expressing sympathy for their loss. The Amish uniformly expressed forgiveness of the murderer and his family. The forgiveness and love shown toward the shooter and his family amazed many. Numerous voices called Americans to emulate the Amish and become more forgiving.

Four years later a group of scholars wrote about the incident. One of their main conclusions was that our secular culture is not likely to produce people who can handle suffering the way the Amish did. They argued that the Amish ability to forgive was based on two things. First, at the heart of their faith was a man dying for his enemies. Through communal practices this self-sacrificing figure was seen, sung, believed, rehearsed, and celebrated constantly. For Jesus to give his life and forgive his tormentors was an act of enormous love and spiritual strength, and so within their worldview orientation, the Amish saw forgiveness as the greatest gift and virtue. In American culture, in which church attendance is declining, this view of Christ is slipping more and more out of daily view.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(EF) Michael Oh–John Stott: The head and heart of the Lausanne Movement

The two leaders with whom the Lausanne Movement is most closely associated are Billy Graham and John Stott.

Billy was the face and voice of the movement. That voice echoed through the halls of the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974 on the first night of the First Congress on World Evangelization exclaiming, ‘Let the earth hear his voice!’

John Stott, however, was the head and heart of Lausanne.

I first met Uncle John 25 years ago while I was a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where I had the unexpected blessing of lunch with him. It was like meeting a real-life hero. Not the kind that you watch in movies, but the kind that we all truly need. Not a man of fame and fortune, but a godly, wise, and humble servant.

The topic of our conversation was birds—a topic Uncle John was always animated about. After sharing with me some of the fascinating lessons on life and faith to be learned from birds, he expressed his hope to one day write a book on his favorite hobby.

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Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Theology