Category : Evangelicals

Fulcrum Response to GAFCON 2018

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, GAFCON

(NPR) Southern Baptist Head Urges Evangelicals To Avoid Political Ideology Amid Crossroads

While the vice president talked about the importance of prayer and the moment he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, Greear noted that the Southern Baptists’ identity should not be intertwined with a conservative or Republican ideology.

“There are certain things on the Republican platform that Republicans have championed that evangelical Christians have identified [with]. However, we need to decouple the identity of the church from particular political platforms about which there can be disagreement,” he told Morning Edition host Rachel Martin.

Asked about those Christians who have sought to distance themselves from that political identity by shedding the “evangelical” label, Greear urges caution.

“What we need is not a change in label, what we need is a change of heart, a change in values,” he says.

Evangelicals, he says, have “got to be committed to living out the faith and listening to criticism, even from people on the outside.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CBC) Graham Singh is saving a Montreal church by first closing the doors, then opening them wider than ever

In 2015, Singh took over a beautiful, ornate church in the centre of Montreal’s bustling downtown. St. James the Apostle had a leaky roof, an uneven foundation, and its books were in rough shape.

With the bishop’s blessing, he became the pastor of the church. And then he closed it down. He closed it down for nine months, giving the existing congregation of about 30 a list of other Anglican churches they could attend.

He emptied the church of its pews and got rid of the choir. He changed the name from the old St. James the Apostle to the new and more modern St. Jax.

Singh started toward his ultimate goal of changing the building from an Anglican church — to a multi-faith community centre.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Covenant Seminary Statement On Marriage And Sexuality

As bible scholars committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, Covenant Seminary faculty are regularly asked to speak at churches and conferences, considering it a duty and privilege to share the truth and authority of the Bible in all areas of life. We believe that the unchanging veracity of Scripture is always relevant and has the inherent power to influence culture and lead people to the light of Jesus Christ.

In the last ten years, there has been a dramatic change in society’s views and perspectives on questions related to human sexuality. In light of this reality, Covenant Seminary faculty believes it vital to offer a Scriptural view of sexuality whenever possible to serve the church and offer the hope of the Gospel to anyone who may be seeking it.

As the denominational seminary for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we gladly uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, the Westminster standards, and the sanctity of marriage as being between one man and one woman. Our faculty firmly believes that God’s intent for sexuality, laid down in creation and reaffirmed by our Lord, is that it be expressed in marriage between a man and a woman (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 19:4-5). Outside of this context, sexual activity is sinful—whether heterosexual or homosexual—and requires wise pastoral care and discipline when committed by those in the church.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Important Reread from 1974–John Stott: The Biblical Basis of Evangelism

First, there were the gospel events, primarily the death and resurrection of Jesus. Sometimes the apostles began with a reference to the life and ministry of the man Jesus, and usually they went on to his enthronement as Lord and his return as Judge. But their message focused on his death and resurrection. Nor did they proclaim these (as some say) as non-theological history, just “you killed him, but God raised him.” Already they had a doctrine of both. His death was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23), and the Cross on which it took place they deliberately called a “tree” to indicate the divine curse under which he died (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29; Deut. 21:22, 23; Gal. 3:10, 13; 1 Pet. 2:24), while the resurrection was a divine vindication, snatching him from the place of a curse to the place of honor and authority at God’s right hand (e.g., Acts 2:32, 33).

Second, there were the gospel witnesses. That is, the apostles proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus both “according to the Scriptures” (Acts 2:25ff, 3:18, 24; cf. 1 Cor. 15:3, 4) and according to the evidence of their own eyes. “We are witnesses of these things, “they kept saying (e.g., Acts 2:32, 5:32). So we today have no liberty to preach Christ crucified and risen according to our own fancy or even according to our own experience. The only Christ there is to preach is the biblical Christ, the objective historical Jesus attested by the joint witness of the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New (cf. Acts 10:39-43). Our witness is always secondary to theirs.

Third, there were the gospel promises. The apostles did not proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus merely as events, even when enriched by doctrinal significance and biblical witness. For the good news concerns not just the historic but the contemporary Christ, not just what he once did but what he now offers on the basis of what he did. What is this? In Peter’s Pentecost address, the very first Christian sermon ever preached, he was able to promise them with complete assurance that they could receive both “the forgiveness of sins” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Salvation is more than this, but it is certainly not less. It includes the remission of past guilt and the gift of an entirely new life through the regenerating and indwelling Holy Spirit.

Fourth, there were the gospel demands, namely repentance and faith….

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Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(BP) SWBTS: Paige Patterson terminated ‘effective immediately’

During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.

Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.

Under the leadership of Interim President Dr. Jeffrey Bingham, SWBTS remains committed to its calling to assist the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by biblically educating God-called men and women for ministries that fulfill the Great Commission and glorify God.

Further, the Seminary stands against all forms of abuse and grieves for individuals wounded by abuse. Today, Dr. Bingham made it clear that SWBTS denounces all abusive behavior, any behavior that enables abuse, any failure to protect the abused and any failure to safeguard those who are vulnerable to abuse. Additionally, Dr. Bingham called for the SWBTS community to join the Body of Christ in praying for healing for all individuals affected by abuse.

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Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Baptist Apocalypse

As a non-Baptist with a fellow Christian’s interest in evangelical battles, I’d like to tell a simple story that describes the Patterson scandal as an inflection point — after which Moore’s kind of Baptist will inevitably increase while Jeffress’s kind diminishes, as the “judgment” that Mohler describes leads to a general reckoning with the pull of sexism and racism within conservative-leaning churches.

But to assume that’s necessarily going to happen is to fall into the same inevitabilist trap that ensnares both arc-of-history progressives and providentalist Trump supporters. Instead it’s wiser to regard an era of exposure like this one as a test, which can be passed but also failed. A discredited “old guard” doesn’t automatically lose power; a chauvinism revealed doesn’t just evaporate. And the temptation to dismiss discomfiting revelations as fake news, to retreat back into ignorance and self-justification, is at least as powerful as the impulse to really reckon with the truth.

So the question posed by this age of revelation is simple: Now that you know something new and troubling and even terrible about your leaders or your institutions, what will you do with this knowledge?

For Baptists as for all of us, the direction of history after Trump will be determined not just by Providence’s challenge, but by our freely chosen answer.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Men, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(LA Times) Fuller Theological Seminary leaving Pasadena, Calfironia and putting campus up for sale

Fuller Theological Seminary will move to Pomona by 2021, freeing its 13-acre campus in Pasadena’s central business district to be sold for new uses and development.

Fuller is acquiring downtown land in the eastern San Gabriel Valley city where it will build a more accessible campus with lower surrounding housing costs, acting provost Mari Clements said Tuesday….

Fuller has more than 3,000 students pursuing graduate degrees in theology, intercultural studies and psychology, with 1,200 students studying on the Pasadena campus.

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

(CT Gleanings) Southern Baptist Women Launch Petition Against Paige Patterson

A growing group of Southern Baptist women called for Paige Patterson to be removed as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) on Sunday, due to what they claimed was his “unbiblical view of authority, womanhood, and sexuality.”

Patterson, one of the most influential leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has faced widespread criticism in recent weeks for old remarks, including a discussion of divorce in cases of abuse and multiple comments on women’s appearances.

“We cannot defend or support Dr. Patterson’s past remarks,” stated an open letter to SWBTS trustees, which grew from 100 to more than 1,000 signatories on Sunday night. “No one should.

“The fact that he has not fully repudiated his earlier counsel or apologized for his inappropriate words indicates that he continues to maintain positions that are at odds with Southern Baptists and, more importantly, the Bible’s elevated view of womanhood,” states the letter. “The [SBC] cannot allow the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way.”

The letter comes from scores of Southern Baptist women, including leaders such as: Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University professor and research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention; Lauren Chandler, an author, worship singer, and wife of The Village Church pastor Matt Chandler; Jennifer Lyell, a vice president at SBC-affiliated B&H Publishing Group; Amanda Jones, a Houston church planter and daughter of Bible teacher Beth Moore; and Mary DeMuth, an author, speaker, and victims’ advocate.

Read it all and there is more related material here.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence, Women

Beth Moore–A Letter to My Brothers

I have accepted these kinds of challenges for all of these years because they were simply part of it and because opposition and difficulties are norms for servants of Christ. I’ve accepted them because I love Jesus with my whole heart and will serve Him to the death. God has worked all the challenges for good as He promises us He will and, even amid the frustrations and turmoil, I would not trade lives with a soul on earth. Even criticism, as much as we all hate it, is used by God to bring correction, endurance and humility and to curb our deadly addictions to the approval of man.

I accepted the peculiarities accompanying female leadership in a conservative Christian world because I chose to believe that, whether or not some of the actions and attitudes seemed godly to me, they were rooted in deep convictions based on passages from 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.

Then early October 2016 surfaced attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning. I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.

This is where I cry foul and not for my own sake. Most of my life is behind me. I do so for sake of my gender, for the sake of our sisters in Christ and for the sake of other female leaders who will be faced with similar challenges. I do so for the sake of my brothers because Christlikeness is at stake and many of you are in positions to foster Christlikeness in your sons and in the men under your influence. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.

About a year ago I had an opportunity to meet a theologian I’d long respected. I’d read virtually every book he’d written. I’d looked so forward to getting to share a meal with him and talk theology. The instant I met him, he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, “You are better looking than _________________________________.” He didn’t leave it blank. He filled it in with the name of another woman Bible teacher.

These examples may seem fairly benign in light of recent scandals of sexual abuse and assault coming to light but the attitudes are growing from the same dangerously malignant root.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Men, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

(SJ) Awaiting The King: An Interview With James K. A. Smith

Summers: This leads me to my next question. In Awaiting the King, you talk about solidarity, particularly in relationship to the political. You write, “Solidarity points to liturgy. And insofar as solidarity is at once the ground and goal of the political, the political requires us to consider the liturgical.” For folks who might be unfamiliar with your use of terminology here, could you define the term “solidarity,” and then your use of “the political” and “the liturgical”?

Smith: Let me do that in reverse order. What I call liturgies are not just churchy, institutional religious things. I’m broadening the term. Liturgies are love-shaping practices; they are communal social rhythms, routines, and rituals that we immerse ourselves in, that we give ourselves over to, that aren’t just something that we do, but they’re doing something to us. They’re forging in us an orientation to the good life. They’re inscribing in us a conception of what we think flourishing is. And because there are competing versions, so there are rival liturgies.

As for the political, let’s say the most generous conception of political here isn’t just governmental. It’s not only the institutions and practices and systems of government, though it includes that. It’s harkening back instead to something like Aristotle’s notion of the polis, so that our political life here now is broader than government. It’s our civic life that we share in common that comprises a polis, that makes us a people, that gives us some sort of shared sense of responsibility for one another, to one another.

In terms of the idea of solidarity, I think at risk right now in our cultural moment is the loss of any concept or lived reality of solidarity. And by that, I mean a sense of shared life together and a co-responsibility for and to one another.

What’s been most disheartening about our political discourse over the past generation is how it has devolved to a kind of atomism and autonomism, and that has left us as these individual authentic selves who are all trying to forge our own sense of the good.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Abigail Rine Favale–Evangelical Gnosticism

I teach in a great books program at an Evangelical university. Almost all students in the program are born-and-bred Christians of the nondenominational variety. A number of them have been both thoroughly churched and educated through Christian schools or homeschooling curricula. Yet an overwhelming majority of these students do not believe in a bodily resurrection. While they trust in an afterlife of eternal bliss with God, most of them assume this will be disembodied bliss, in which the soul is finally free of its “meat suit” (a term they fondly use).

I first caught wind of this striking divergence from Christian orthodoxy in class last year, when we encountered Stoic visions of the afterlife. Cicero, for one, describes the body as a prison from which the immortal soul is mercifully freed upon death, whereas Seneca views the body as “nothing more or less than a fetter on my freedom,” one eventually “dissolved” when the soul is set loose. These conceptions were quite attractive to the students.

Resistance to the idea of a physical resurrection struck them as perfectly logical. “It doesn’t feel right to say there’s a human body in heaven, when the body is tied so closely to sin,” said one student. In all, fewer than ten of my forty students affirmed the orthodox teaching that we will ultimately have a body in our glorified, heavenly form. None of them realizes that these beliefs are unorthodox; this is not willful doctrinal error. This is an absence of knowledge about the foundational tenets of historical, creedal Christianity.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Theology

Fuller Seminary President Dr. Mark Labberton’s recent Address at the Wheaton Gathering–The Crisis of Evangelicalism

Only the Spirit “who is in the world to convict us of sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) can bring us to clarity about the crisis we face.  As I have sought that conviction, here is what I have come to believe: The central crisis facing us is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been betrayed and shamed by an evangelicalism that has violated its own moral and spiritual integrity.

This is not a crisis imposed from outside the household of faith, but from within.  The core of the crisis is not specifically about Trump, or Hillary, or Obama, or the electoral college, or Comey, or Mueller, or abortion, or LGBTQIA+ debates, or Supreme Court appointees. Instead the crisis is caused by the way a toxic evangelicalism has engaged with these issues in such a way as to turn the gospel into Good News that is fake. Now on public display is an indisputable collusion between prominent evangelicalism and many forms of insidious racist, misogynistic, materialistic, and political power. The wind and the rain and the floods have come, and, as Jesus said, they will reveal our foundation.  In this moment for evangelicalism, what the storms have exposed is a foundation not of solid rock but of sand.

This is not a crisis taking place at the level of language. This is not about who owns or defines the term “evangelical,” and whether one does—or does not—choose to identify as such.  It is legitimate and important to debate if and how the term “evangelical” can currently be used in the United States to mean anything more than white, theologically and politically conservative. But that is not itself the crisis. The crisis is not at the level of our lexicon, but of our lives and a failure to embody the gospel we preach.  We may debate whether the word “evangelical” can or should be redeemed. But what we must deal with is the current bankruptcy many associate with evangelical life.

This is not a crisis unfolding at the level of group allegiance, denomination, or affiliation.  The varied reality that is American evangelicalism is evidenced in this room.  We have no formal hierarchy, leadership, or structure and form no single organization, but are sorted and divided today as we have been—for better and worse—for much of our history.  Some might wish for a clearer distinction between those who call themselves fundamentalist and those who call themselves evangelical. We might look to varying traditions or geographies to explain our division. These distinctions matter but can easily devolve into scapegoating or blaming, diverting us from our vocation as witness to God’s love for a multifaceted world.

This is not a recent crisis but a historic one.  We face a haunting specter with a shadow that reaches back further than the 2016 election—a history that helps define the depth of the sorrow, fear, anger, anxiety, and injustice around us. Today’s egregious collusion between evangelicals and worldly power is problematic enough: more painful and revealing is that such collusion has been our historic habit. Today’s collusion bears astonishing—and tragic—continuity with the past.

Right alongside the rich history of gospel faithfulness that evangelicalism has affirmed, there lies a destructive complicity with dominant cultural and racial power. Despite deep gospel confidence and rhetoric, evangelicalism has been long-wedded to a devastating social self-interest that defends the dominant culture over and against that of the gospel’s command to love the “other” as ourselves.  We are not naïve in our doctrine of sin that prefers self over all, but we have failed to recognize our own guilt in it.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NBC) Evangelical Christians divided on human role in global warming

Preaching an environmental message to evangelicals is a bit like, as the New Testament says, casting seeds on rocky ground.

And few people know that better than atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who recently ran into a pair of climate change skeptics while speaking at the Presbyterian Church in Granada Hills, California.

“These were two men who were leaning back and looking stern, with their arms folded across their chest and shaking their heads while I was speaking,” said Hayhoe, who is both the director of the Climate Change Center at Texas Tech University and a pastor’s wife.

“So I finally said, ‘The real reason most people reject the science of climate change has nothing to do with the science and everything to do with the solutions … they’re afraid of having the government regulating their thermostat,'” she recounted.

“One of the two guys said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly it!'”

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Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals

(Wash Post) Michael Gerson–Perhaps the recent Wheaton gathering will provide an alternative narrative to that of the (so-called) Trump evangelicals

Enter the group that met at Wheaton, which included some of the most prominent pastors, theologians and writers of the evangelical world. Many are disturbed by the identification of their faith with a certain kind of white-grievance populism, which cuts them off from the best of their history, from their nonwhite neighbors, from the next generation and from predominately nonwhite global evangelicalism.

But the stated goal of the leaders who gathered at Wheaton is not to push a politicized faith in a different political direction. It is to provide an alternative evangelical narrative — a more positive model of social engagement than the anger, resentment and desperation of many Trump evangelical leaders.

People like me can point out the naivete and political self-sabotage of the president’s evangelicals. But the groundwork for a new narrative will ultimately be theological, which makes the Wheaton consultation strategically significant. Many political views and denominational traditions were represented in the room. But any thinker who takes the authority of the Bible seriously must wrestle with the meaning and implications of one idea: the kingdom of God.

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

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology