Category : Evangelicals

(Wash. Post) Michael Gerson, Post columnist and Bush speechwriter on 9/11, dies at 58

Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues as diverse as President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP and his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.

The cause of death was complications of cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.

After years of working as a writer for conservative and evangelical leaders, including Prison Fellowship Ministries founder and Watergate felon Charles Colson, Mr. Gerson joined the Bush campaign in 1999. Mr. Gerson, an evangelical Christian, wrote with an eye toward religious and moral imagery, and that approach melded well with Bush’s personality as a leader open about his own Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General

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) Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth’

Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying “Gordon Fee Is Dead.”

Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it.

Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Evangelical Creation Care Expert Shares Lessons Learned from Global Tour

Can you give an example about how we have missed this message in Scripture?

The central passage I use is Colossians 1:15–20. It begins by speaking about Christ creating all things and ends with how the blood of Christ on the cross is redeeming all things. Most people read this redemption in terms of people. But if you zoom out and realize that the “all things” being redeemed are grammatically the same as the “all things” he has created, then you have a universal picture of redemption.

This is reinforced by Romans 8: how creation is waiting for the redemption that will come through the revealing of the children of God.

The church has sometimes struggled over the correct prioritizing of evangelism and social outreach. Does adding a third issue of creation care become too much for some?

Actually, it is the opposite. People working in poverty have realized for a number of years that they are on a treadmill and moving backwards. You cannot make progress in development and ministering to the poor if there are environmental problems that haven’t been addressed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(Current) Marvin Olasky–A Wrinkle in Journalism History

As I began editing World thirty years ago I was proposing policies regarding poverty-fighting and related issues that became known as “compassionate conservatism.” The magazine reflected that viewpoint. Today, “national conservatism” or “Christian nationalism” has little room for compassion. As World resisted paranoid lines regarding vaccines, masks, and church closings—all part of a big government plot—our resistance became part of a larger conspiracy theory: World had gone woke.

American journalism history has valuable lessons on how to deal with conspiracy mongers. In 1955 wealthy William F. Buckley, Jr. started a magazine, National Review, that invigorated a conservative movement in disarray. Within a few years Buckley as editor had to fight off the John Birch Society, which asserted—among other oddities—that President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. Buckley said Birch founder and head Robert Welch inferred “subjective intention from objective consequences”: Because bad things had happened, U.S. policy makers must have intended them to happen.

John Birchers scrutinized book-buying decisions by local librarians and demanded that some books be removed. When National Review opposed the Birch campaign to impeach Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, many subscribers complained. When one donor said he had supported National Review financially and wanted it to support his concerns, Buckley said the magazine was “not for sale.”

Buckley owned the magazine and maintained his emphasis on independence even when the business side, led by publisher Bill Rusher, worried about reader and revenue loss. Rusher said a “substantial fraction” of readers “bled away” during 1962 and 1963. A direct mail campaign flopped as many on the mailing lists sided with the Birchers.

Buckley stuck with his principles and wrote to Barry Goldwater, “It is essential that we effect a clean break” with the Birch Society.

Read it all.

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

(CT) Christianity Today Names Russell Moore Editor in Chief

We aspire at Christianity Today to advance the stories and ideas of the kingdom of God. The basic question that animates our work is What does it look like to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ in our time? We hope to be for a new generation what we were for Moore himself when he came across Christianity Today at the age of 15: a capacious and compelling vision of Christian life that opens a path through a fallen world and into the kingdom of God.

That’s why appointing Moore to this position is so important. As president and CEO, I have held the editor in chief position in stewardship for a brief time, but it needs someone to inhabit it fully, and Moore exhibits that way of following Jesus that is deeply rooted, beautifully orthodox, thoughtful and compassionate, and committed to serving the kingdom even at great cost to ourselves.

Significantly, we are also bringing longtime communications and publishing veteran Joy Allmond onto our team to serve as editorial chief of staff. One of the primary charges for Moore will be to continue advancing the Public Theology Project. Allmond will work alongside him to see that project flourish. With an extensive background at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Decision magazine, and Lifeway, Allmond will bring considerable editorial, executive, and interpersonal gifts to the smooth functioning of our publishing enterprise as well as forthcoming events and programs.

Ours is an era of great peril and great promise for the church. We are determined at Christianity Today to do everything we can to serve the church in a turbulent and divisive time, and to love the world God made. We were honored to bring Russell Moore onto the team a little over a year ago. Now we look forward to what he, Allmond, and our extraordinary editorial team can accomplish in the years ahead.

Read it all.

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

(CT) With an Eye to Mission and Money, More Evangelical Universities Go Green

There are two reasons to put solar panels on the roofs of Calvin University.

One, renewable energy can provide power for the private Christian campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without adding to the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide that are driving climate change.

Two, it will save the school some money.

At Calvin, the environmental reason is primary. The budgetary help is a bonus.

“I think taking care of the planet is a prerequisite to being a Christian,” Tim Fennema, vice president for administration and finance, told CT. “And as a Christian university, it’s something we want to do.”

Calvin is on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2057. The school got a little closer last month when it announced a partnership with the Indiana-based Sun FundED to come up with a plan to install solar arrays on university buildings, offsetting the high-carbon energy sources Calvin currently uses to heat, cool, and power the campus.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(CT) Craig Keener–Ron Sider Was the Real Deal

Ron’s loyalty was to Scripture. He was no more radical than John Wesley or Charles Finney (and certainly far less radical than Saint Anthony and Saint Francis).

As I once pointed out to him, he was much more conciliatory than the biblical figures of Amos; Jeremiah; John the Baptist (Luke 3:11); and, most important of all, the Lord Jesus, who said we cannot be his disciples unless we surrender all our possessions (Luke 12:33; 14:33).

Although Ron was often associated with the evangelical Left, he remained consistently pro-life and insisted that the church should maintain biblical sexual ethics. I’m pretty sure that he and I didn’t always vote the same way, despite our agreement on ethics, but I never doubted that his vote was informed by his biblical conscience.

In conversation, I found him ready to embrace what he saw as the best solutions from either side of today’s (tragically polarized) political aisle, and he maintained contacts on both sides of that split. He always remained the consistent evangelical Anabaptist that he was—living simply and sacrificially and working on behalf of the needy. The 2013 book of essays dedicated in his honor is fittingly titled Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals

(CT) Ron Sider RIP, An Evangelical Who Pushed for Social Action

Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,’ died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider had suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest.

For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors.

“Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,” he said. “Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Andrew Atherstone–The Alpha Course will continue rebranding Christianity

The Christian faith always has direct social implications. It is not a privatised religion but overflows into practical action and community transformation. This is seen clearly in the Alpha movement, which has been putting on courses for 45 years. Alpha is a global phenomenon, one of the leading brands in Christian evangelisation, created at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in central London. More than 28 million people have attended the course worldwide, nearly five million in the UK, and many have become Christians as a result. Alpha’s pioneer, the former barrister Nicky Gumbel, has won plaudits as a Billy Graham for the modern age.

Alpha’s ambition, expressed in its famous catchphrase, is to see not only “lives changed” but also “society transformed”. Alpha has matured over three decades, with frequent revision of Gumbel’s books and films, and this emphasis has become increasingly explicit. For example, he suggests that to pray “Your Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer is to pray for the nation to be transformed in the areas of politics, economics, social justice, crime and education. Drawing lessons from church history, he praises John Wesley, the father of Methodism, as not only a preacher by also “a prophet of social righteousness”. Gumbel’s other heroes include campaigners such as William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Questions of Life, the core Alpha text, has sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Recent editions reveal a great leap forward in the maturing of Gumbel’s social theology. “We experience the Holy Spirit not just so that we have a warm feeling in our hearts,” he declares, “but so that we go out and make a difference to our world.” Another of his popular paperbacks, The Heart of Revival, was published in the late 1990s, when many churches were excitedly looking for evidence of “revival”. Gumbel wrote: “True and lasting revival changes not only human hearts but also communities and institutions. Love for God and love for neighbour go hand in hand.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Adult Education, Atonement, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

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.

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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.

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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.”

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