Category : America/U.S.A.

(LARB) James KA Smith on INC Christianity: How to Find God (on YouTube)

What [Chuck] Smith, [John] Wimber, and [Pater] Wagner shared was an aversion to hierarchical authority and a penchant to set up their own shops whenever they encountered resistance. All of them moved from more traditional denominational affiliations to looser nondenominational “fellowships,” eventually setting up their own independent ministries such as the Wagner Leadership Institute, which is “perhaps the largest and best-organized promoter of INC teachings.” This pattern will be repeated and sacralized in INC Christianity. The demand for autonomy will be baptized as “religious entrepreneurship.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that leaders in this movement would also retrieve the title of “apostle.” Most traditional forms of Christianity understand the office of apostle as restricted to the first century of the Church. Apostles are those who, having witnessed the resurrected Christ in person, were then sent (the Greek root from which we get the word means a “sent one”) with a unique authority. But Wagner, for example, has described the INC movement as a “New Apostolic Reformation.” And the network is really one of leaders who claim the title “apostle” by virtue of supernatural manifestations in their ministries, and thereby seek the allegiance of followers. In turn, these apostles provide “spiritual covering” for other leaders and practitioners. To claim to be an apostle is to claim some kind of unquestioned authority and power.

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Posted in --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

A graphic of U.S. young adults living with their parents by age, 1980 vs. 2016

Posted in America/U.S.A., Census/Census Data, Young Adults

(IVP) James W. Sire, “A Keystone in the Intellectual Renewal of Evangelicalism,” Dies

James W. Sire, longtime editorial director at InterVarsity Press (IVP), prolific author, and groundbreaking apologist, passed away on Tuesday evening, February 6, 2018, at the age of eighty-four.

Sire was a renaissance man of publishing. Not only did he author over twenty books, but his thirty-year career at IVP also included contracting and developing works by Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, Calvin Miller, Rebecca Manley Pippert, J. I. Packer, John White, J. P. Moreland, and others.

“Jim Sire was a keystone in the intellectual renewal of evangelicalism in the 1960s and 70s, championing the work of Francis Schaeffer and contributing his own landmark books on world views,” said Andy Le Peau, former associate publisher, editorial, for IVP. “He was also first to publish other influential figures such as Os Guinness and philosopher C. Stephen Evans. But his finely tuned radar for quality was not limited to the academy. He had a major influence on the church when he saw the potential in the poetry of Calvin Miller’s The Singer, the power for church renewal in the work of Howard Snyder, as well as the evangelistic insight of Rebecca Manley Pippert. Personally, he taught me more about editing and publishing than probably anyone. I will miss his wit, his insight, his integrity, and his love for Jesus.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Apologetics, Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Theology

(Phil Inquirer) After decades pining for a Super Bowl win, euphoric Eagles bring it home to Philadelphia

This night will be remembered for decades in Philadelphia, when old friends reminisce about where they were on Feb. 4, 2018, and parents tell their children about the moment the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. They’ll remember when Doug Pederson called the trick play at the goal line, when Zach Ertz dove into the end zone in the fourth quarter, when Brandon Graham stripped Tom Brady of the ball, and when the greatest dynasty in NFL history fell to an improbable champion from Philadelphia.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl. You can read that again. It’s not going away. The Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33, at U.S. Bank Stadium to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in franchise history. A team with a backup quarterback and with players who wore underdog masks throughout the playoffs because they were never favored to win sent Brady and Bill Belichick home with a Super Bowl loss.

Pederson gathered his team together in the postgame locker room after the players danced and sang and chewed cigars and sipped scotch and enjoyed a euphoria that can only be experienced after winning a Super Bowl. He recited what had become a mantra for the team.

“An individual can make a difference,” Pederson told them,” but a team makes a miracle!”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Sports

(Times Picayune) Ted Jackson offers a stunning portrait of a former NFL star who played in 2 Super Bowls–The search for Jackie Wallace

One foot in front of the other, the hulking old man trudged up the ramp to the Pontchartrain Expressway. A cold wind stiffened his face, so he bundled tighter and kept walking. His decision was made. A life full of accolades and praise meant nothing to him now. A man who was once the pride of his New Orleans hometown, his St. Augustine alma mater and his 7th Ward family and friends was undone. He was on his way to die.

The man was tired. In his 63 years, he had run with the gods and slept with the devil. Living low and getting high had become as routine as taking a breath. A hideous disease was eating his insides. He was an alcoholic, and he also craved crack cocaine. He was tired of fighting. He was tired of playing the game.

He crossed the last exit ramp and continued walking the pavement toward the top of the bridge. He dodged cars as they took the ramp. No one seemed to notice the ragged man walking to his suicide. If they did notice, they didn’t stop to help.

Only a half-mile more and it would all be over. One hundred and 50 feet below, the powerful currents of the Mississippi River would swallow his soul and his wretched life. He dodged another car. But why did it matter? Getting hit by a car would serve his purposes just as well as jumping.

How did it come to this? This was long after Jackie had turned his life around, or so we both thought….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Sports, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) In America, being religious does not make you greener

Mr Konisky set out to fill that gap by micro-analysing the annual surveys of public attitudes undertaken by Gallup, a pollster, since 1999. He devised a set of eight markers by which sensitivity to the planet’s fate might be measured: whether people prioritised economic development or conservation, how they felt about pollution, whether they considered climate change a threat, and so on. He came to a sobering conclusion:

Analysis of multiple measures of environmental attitudes reveals little evidence that Christians have expressed more environmental concern over time. In fact, across many measures, Christians tend to show less concern about the environment. This pattern generally holds across Catholic, Protestant and other Christian denominations and does not vary depending on levels of religiosity. These findings lead to a conclusion that there is little evidence of a “greening” of Christianity among the American public.

As the article acknowledges, environmental discourse among religious leaders has shifted over the past half-century. In 1967, the American historian Lynn White gained much attention when he argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition was directly responsible for the planet’s depradation because it assigned man “dominion” over the earth. This triggered a powerful countervailing trend among religious leaders. They argued that belief in God implied a duty to care for the natural world and all forms of life. A high point in this process was the publication in 2015 of the Pope’s “green” encyclical, Laudato Si. The missive combined high theology with an appeal for practical measures, such as the abandonment of fossil fuels.

Mr Konisky’s findings do not necessarily imply that Americans in the pews have simply ignored these high-level pronouncements. Rather, they suggest that religion in America is as deeply divided as other parts of society: not so much between denominations as between liberals and conservatives….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (III)–His Obituary in the New York Times, Nov. 2, 1963

Dr. Shoemaker did not confine his preaching to his church. He would mount a box on a street corner if he thought he could bring religion into someone’s life. And he often did.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (II)-the importance of soul surgery

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

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

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (I)–a man concerned with USA’s internal enemies

It was America’s enemies within that interested Shoemaker most. After the country entered World War II, the cleric addressed the nation’s cause in several sermons, eventually published in Christ and this Cause. In one of those sermons, “God and the War,” he lashed out at the nation’s immorality.

This nation has had the greatest privileges ever given to any nation in all time. America has been God’s privileged child. But America has become a spoiled child. We have been ungrateful to the God under whom our liberties were given to us. I believe it is high time for someone to say that this war today is God’s judgment upon a godless and selfish people.”

Shoemaker did support the war effort; in his sermon, “What Are We Fighting For?” he admitted that the war was a “grim necessity,” the means by which nations would once again have the opportunity to choose democracy. But he abhorred any self-righteous cause:

“No war can ever be a clear-cut way for a Christian to express his hatred of evil. For war involves a basic confusion. All the good in the world is not ranged against all the evil. In the present war, some nations that have a great deal of evil in them are yet seeking to stand for freedom ”¦ against other nations which have a great deal of good in them but yet are presently dedicated to turning the world backwards into the darkness of enslavement.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

(Federalist) Glenn Stanton–New Harvard Research Says U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger

“Meanwhile, a widespread decline in churchgoing and religious affiliation had contributed to a growing anxiety among conservative believers.” Statements like this are uttered with such confidence and frequency that most Americans accept them as uncontested truisms. This one emerged just this month in an exceedingly silly article in The Atlantic on Vice President Mike Pence.

Religious faith in America is going the way of the Yellow Pages and travel maps, we keep hearing. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total and happy extinction, chortle our cultural elites. Is this true? Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in “widespread decline” so much so that conservative believers should suffer “growing anxiety”?

Two words: Absolutely not.

New research published late last year by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington is just the latest to reveal the myth. This research questioned the “secularization thesis,” which holds that the United States is following most advanced industrial nations in the death of their once vibrant faith culture. Churches becoming mere landmarks, dance halls, boutique hotels, museums, and all that.

Not only did their examination find no support for this secularization in terms of actual practice and belief, the researchers proclaim that religion continues to enjoy “persistent and exceptional intensity” in America.

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

(Wash Post) A retirement account Boom leads to an Urge for Some Americans to Splurge

The remarkable stock market rally of 2017 – in which the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index shot up 22 percent and the Dow Jones industrial average 25 percent – has boosted the nation’s retirement accounts to record heights, making the painful 2008-2009 stock market crash feel like ancient history. And that fervor has not faded with the new year.

That feeling of optimism could spread as more Americans receive their year-end retirement account statements in the mail and online this month, providing concrete evidence of newfound paper wealth.

And some are so confident that they are taking money out – despite it being taxed and potentially hit by an early-withdrawal penalty – assuming it will be replaced as markets continue to surge upward.

“I’ve seen more money requests for extraneous items in the last six weeks than I have in the last five years,” said Jamie Cox of Richmond-based Harris Financial Group, which manages $500 million in savings for about 800 middle-class families.

“There’s a lot of people that are feeling comfortable spending their retirement money right now,” Cox said.

Cox said he is seeing more people take larger withdrawals, $20,000 to $40,000, to fund dream vacations or home improvement.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(WSJ) China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials

In a hospital west of Shanghai, Wu Shixiu since March has been trying to treat cancer patients using a promising new gene-editing tool.

U.S. scientists helped devise the tool, known as Crispr-Cas9, which has captured global attention since a 2012 report said it can be used to edit DNA. Doctors haven’t been allowed to use it in human trials in America. That isn’t the case for Dr. Wu and others in China.

In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans. His hospital’s review board took just an afternoon to sign off on his trial. He didn’t need national regulators’ approval and has few reporting requirements.

Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.

In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

Food for Thought from Patrick Deneen in 2014–The Coming Persecution

From there:

[Michael] Shermer lauds the liberal society being brought ever more fully into view under the liberal dominion as one of equality, liberty, prosperity, and peace. This is at the very least a willful misreading of the signs of the time. The society that comes ever more clearly into view is one that efficiently and ruthlessly sifts the “winners” from the “losers,” the strong from the weak. It has transformed nearly every human institution – from the family to the schools to the universities to the government – to assist in this enterprise. Modern liberalism congratulates itself on its liberation of disadvantaged minorities – so long as some of their number can join the side of the winners – but is content to ignore or apply guilt-assuaging band-aids to the devastation of life prospects experienced by the “losers.” Tyler Cowen has described this aborning world as one in which “average is over,” in which you will either be one of the 10-15% of the winners, or 85-90% of the losers destined to live in the equivalent of favelas in Texas where you will be provided an endless supply of free Internet porn. This is the end of history, if we follow the logic of liberalism.

So, since Shermer ends with a prediction, let me make one also. Those Christians and other religious believers who resist the spirit of the age will be persecuted – not by being thrown to lions in the Coliseum, but by judicial, administrative, and legal marginalization. They will lose many of the institutions that they built to help the poor, the marginalized, the weak, and the disinherited. But finding themselves in the new imperium will call out new forms of living the Christian witness. They will live in the favelas, providing care for body and soul that cannot not be provided by either the state or the market. Like the early Church, they will live in a distinct way from the way of the empire, and their way of life will draw those who perhaps didn’t realize that this was what Christianity was, all along. When the liberal ideology collapses – as it will – the Church will remain, the gates of Hell not prevailing against it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(CC) Bruce Marshall–George Lindbeck was the best teacher I ever had

For me the impact of The Nature of Doctrine, and even more of years spent with Lindbeck, was to make real the possibility of being an intellectually responsible Christian in our own place and time. He showed me how the whole ecumenical Christian tradition was a world in which I could be at home. Each generation of Christians has to find its own way of doing that, and for many of my generation Lindbeck pointed the way.

Lindbeck was a person of great but understated learning and a quietly exacting teacher. He was remarkably free of the vanity that easily besets academics. As a teacher, he had no interest in being agreed with. If you thought you could get ahead by tipping your hat to him or to the Yale School, you were likely to find your hat blown off. His interest was that you think better about whatever you were talking about. That meant seeing the topic at hand from many different points of view, understanding the arguments for positions you didn’t like, and looking sympathetically for the underlying concerns of the people who made them. Only when you had done all that would he let you venture your own views on the matter. In my case it was a hard lesson. He might say I never did learn it as I should have, but to the extent that I did, I owe it to him.

Over the years George Lindbeck gave me a great deal of his time. Only gradually did I come to realize the sacrifice that involved for him, a sacrifice he made for a great many others besides me. He was an intellectual and an academic who evidently valued the good he could do for other people, as teacher and friend, above his own status and career. In the last conversation I had with him, I observed that I liked teaching doctoral students but hadn’t realized what a labor-intensive enterprise it is. “Oh,” he said. “I suppose that’s right. I never really thought of it that way.” He was, by a long shot, the best teacher I ever had.

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

(CT) How Protestant Churches Are Involved with Adoption and Foster Care

About 4 in 10 Protestant churchgoers say their congregation has been involved with adoption or foster care in the past year, according to LifeWay Research.

That may be because the Bible tells them to, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“Foster care appears to come naturally for churchgoers,” he said. “It’s not surprising, since the Bible commands them to care for widows and orphans.”

Since the early 2000s, many Protestant churches have commemorated Orphan Sunday every November to draw attention to the plight of orphans around the world.

In the past, they’ve often focused on international adoption and orphanages. But in recent years, foster care—both in the United States and abroad—has become a focus as well.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture