Category : Evangelicals

(WSJ) Case Thorp–A Seminary Snubs a Presbyterian Pastor

Today’s identity theology merely replaces northern European, male, cisgendered theology with another set of adjectives seeking to exercise power over others in the name of justice. But this is a false justice, because it lacks the divine righteousness that gives meaning to all lesser forms of justice. Call it retribution theology, a form of tribalism at its worst.

Christians need a theology that prophetically denounces sexism, homophobia and racism—in the past and in the present—without the divisiveness inherent to identity theology. This sort of inclusive theology is central to Mr. Keller’s preaching and ministry, which is done in one of the most diverse places in the world, New York City. Theologians like Mr. Keller focus on God, scripture, loving others, and missionary work. They’re not very concerned about their own navels.

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools,” Martin Luther King said in 1964. Is Mr. Keller not our brother? I am sad that my alma mater chose to undermine King’s vision and succumb to the demands of identity theology. When Mr. Keller stands before the seminary community next month, he will not deliver an acceptance lecture for the Kuyper Prize. Instead, he’ll demonstrate grace and magnanimity, for Mr. Keller’s unity with his detractors will truly be in Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality

Princeton Seminary Rescinds its Award of the Kuyper Prize to Tim Keller

Dear Members of the Seminary Community,

On March 10 I sent a letter to the seminary community addressing the emerging objections to the Kuyper Center’s invitation to the Reverend Timothy Keller to speak at their annual conference and receive the Kuyper Prize. Those who are concerned point to Reverend Keller’s leadership role in the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination which prevents women and LGBTQ+ persons from full participation in the ordained Ministry of Word and Sacrament.

As I indicated in my previous letter, it is not my practice to censor the invitations to campus from any of our theological centers or student organizations. This commitment to academic freedom is vital to the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community. In talking with those who are deeply concerned about Reverend Keller’s visit to campus, I find that most share this commitment to academic freedom. Yet many regard awarding the Kuyper Prize as an affirmation of Reverend Keller’s belief that women and LGBTQ+ persons should not be ordained. This conflicts with the stance of the Presbyterian Church (USA). And it is an important issue among the divided Reformed communions.

I have also had helpful conversations about this with the Chair of the Kuyper Committee, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Reverend Keller. In order to communicate that the invitation to speak at the upcoming conference does not imply an endorsement of the Presbyterian Church in America’s views about ordination, we have agreed not to award the Kuyper Prize this year.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality

(JE) Opposing Tim Keller at Princeton Seminary

Unfailingly thoughtful and cerebral, frequently appearing in secular media as a religious and cultural commentator, Keller is one of the most influential pastors and Christian thinkers in America today. He is a guru of the rebirth of urban evangelical Protestant Christianity. His theology like his denomination’s is orthodox and Reformed. Keller typically avoids culture war issues and hot button debates. He affirms traditional Christian sexual ethics and marriage teaching but rarely speaks about it. His churches are full of New Yorkers who are socially liberal but drawn to his intellectually vibrant presentation of Christianity.

One Princeton graduate, a minister in the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA), has been quoted in The Christian Post denouncing Keller’s scheduled appearance at her alma mater in her blog, which declares:

…An institution designed to train men and women for ministry shouldn’t be awarding fancy prizes to someone who believes half the student body (or is it more than half?) has no business leading churches. It’s offensive and, as I have taught my four and five year olds to express, it hurts my feelings.

She also complains that “he (and the denomination he serves) is also very clear in its exclusion of LGBT people.”

Read it all.

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

For Thomas Cranmer’s Feast Day: Ashley Null–Thomas Cranmer and Tudor Evangelicalism

If More’s self-fashioned persona was as a Renaissance worthy with easy wit and worldly wisdom in equal measure, Cranmer’s model, as befitting a spiritual rather than temporal magnate, was public monastic self-mortification. According to Ralph Morice, his principal secretary,

he was a man of such temperature of nature, or rather so mortified, that no manner of prosperity or adversity could alter or change his accustomed conditions: for, being the storms never so terrible or odious, nor the prosperous estate of the time never so pleasant, joyous, or acceptable, tothe face of [the] world his countenance, diet, or sleep commonly never altered or changed, so that they which were most nearest and conversant about him never or seldom perceived by no sign or token of countenance how the affairs of the prince or the realm went. Notwithstanding privately with his secret and special friends he would shed forth many bitter tears,lamenting the miseries and calamities of the world.

Alexander Alesius, one of Cranmer’s ‘secret and special friends,’confided to Elizabeth I that those tears were shed on at least two occasions by severe setbacks for his Gospel of justification by faith, namely, the death of Anne Boleyn and the Act of Six Articles. While More hid the intense traditional piety of his mortifying hairshirt under the fine robes of his high worldly status, Cranmer wore mortification on his face to hide his hopes and fears for the new piety that had captured his heart.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals

Tim Challies review of The Shack: ‘the book has a quietly subversive quality to it’

So where does all of this leave us? It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.

Despite the great amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodox Christianity. For example, at one point Mack states that,despite years of seminary and years of being a Christian, most of the things taught to him at the shack have never occurred to him before. Later he says, “I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing life with youhas been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”

Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Books, Evangelicals, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(NYT Op-ed) David Brooks on Rod Dreher’s new Book–The Benedict Option

Rod is pretty conservative. “There can be no peace between Christianity and the sexual revolution, because they are radically opposed,” he writes.

Specifically, “L.G.B.T. activism is the tip of the spear at our throats in the culture war. The struggle over gay rights is what is threatening religious liberty, putting Christian merchants out of business, threatening the tax-exempt status and accreditation of Christian schools and colleges.”

Rod shares the fears that are now common in Orthodox Christian circles, that because of their views on L.G.B.T. issues, Orthodox Christians and Jews will soon be banned from many professions and corporations. “Blacklisting will be real,” he says. We are entering a new Dark Age. “There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization….”

Maybe if I shared Rod’s views on L.G.B.T. issues, I would see the level of threat and darkness he does. But I don’t see it. Over the course of history, American culture has tolerated slavery, sexual brutalism and the genocide of the Native Americans, and now we’re supposed to see 2017 as the year the Dark Ages descended?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NR) David French–The Baptist Battle over Russell Moore Really Matters—Here’s Why

Did Trump’s zealous supporters “embrace and act” on this conviction in 2016? It’s clear that Moore most certainly did. If the Baptists do fire Moore (or force his resignation), I hope they also have the integrity to revoke and rewrite their 1998 resolution. Insisting on “consistent honesty, moral purity, and the highest character” will be left to the primaries, at best. After that, it’s all partisanship, and the “lesser of two evils” will be the only moral guide that matters.

Baptists should consider carefully the consequences of their decisions. Some might say that it’s “just about politics,” and one shouldn’t judge the nation’s largest Protestant denomination on the basis of how it handles what some dismissively call its “lobbying arm.” But for the church, every part of its operation is measured against the standard of Christ, not realpolitik or populism.

Moore may have offended with his rhetoric (some of it was harsh, but some Christians are snowflakes). Was he wrong, though, to argue that the church fundamentally should have a more prophetic than partisan role in our culture? How much is God calling Christians to compromise other values for the sake of perceived progress on life and religious liberty? Should the church defend the liberties of others that it would like to exercise itself? Was Moore wrong to cling to the principles outlined in the church’s own resolutions

These are the questions at issue not just for Southern Baptists but for all Christians. Moore’s fate matters because these questions matter. The church is not a partisan interest group. Moore understands this reality. Do his critics?

Read it all.

Posted in Baptists, Evangelicals, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

Scott Sauls–My Tribute to Tim Keller

A decade or so ago, I moved with my family to New York City thinking I was going to get to serve alongside and learn from one of the greatest preachers and visionary leaders of our time. Indeed, I did get to do that, along with a few others. But even more than this, the man gave me (and us) what McCheyne said is the most important thing a minister can give to his people — his own holiness. For me, Tim’s life has painted notable pictures of integrity that exceeds imperfections, character that exceeds giftedness, prayerfulness that exceeds pragmatism, other-centeredness that exceeds personal ambition, generosity that exceeds personal comfort, and humility that exceeds (even a stellar) impact.

And now, Tim is beginning to paint for us a picture of what it can look like to finish well. He is providing glimpses of what it can look like to say with one’s life and not merely with one’s lips, “I am, and always have been, unworthy to untie the straps on Jesus’ sandals. He must increase, and I must become less.”

And yet, in becoming less, the man is becoming more. For as the man himself has said in sermons, “The less we presume to act like kings, the more like kings we shall be.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The Open Letter to EGGS (Evangelical Group on General Synod) Members on same-sex relationships

There is wide recognition on all sides that one of the central issues revolves around how Scripture is interpreted both in and across cultures. It is our conviction that the hermeneutic task is not simply a matter of ”˜correctly’ interpreting Scriptural texts, but must involve reading any given text in the light of the whole gospel, with a heart that is open to what the Spirit is saying to the Church in each and every generation. The Reformation principle of scriptura sui ipsius interpres (scripture interprets itself) must give us cause to pause and consider such texts in the light of Jesus’ overriding call to ”˜“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Luke 10:27)

There are three issues that we believe we, the evangelical community, need to be honest about.

The first, which causes us significant concern, is that of the high levels of homophobia that appear to go unacknowledged and unchallenged. Obviously, we understand that to assert a traditionalist position on same-sex relationships is not in itself homophobic, and that those who take a conservative line may not be individually hostile towards LGBT people. However, we would plead for some recognition, reflection and repentance of the fact that Christian teaching on this continues to function as the lynchpin, not just in the Church but also in secular society, of a widespread and sometimes subterranean nexus of negative attitudes that frequently manifest in overt homophobic behaviour. LGBT people are all too familiar with the impact of this, and whilst some are able to withstand it, many find themselves internalising feelings of shame and self-hatred, which all too frequently then result in depression, self-destructive behaviours, and even suicide. Are these really to be seen as the side-effects of the good news of Jesus Christ? Credible Christian witness cannot just be a matter of repeated verbal denials of homophobia but must involve active steps to combat it. Should not the churches be as well known for their efforts in this area as they are for, say, supporting issues of social justice? The issue is even more pronounced in countries across the world where Christians are known to be condoning and at times positively supporting proposals for severe penalties, including capital punishment, for homosexual behaviour. Should not the repudiation of this by churches in this country be immediate, public, and categorical?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Why Tim Keller, Max Lucado, and Hundreds of Evangelical Leaders Oppose Trump’s Refugee Ban

ore than 500 conservative evangelical pastors and leaders representing all 50 states are urging President Donald Trump to reverse his temporary ban on refugee resettlement and his “dramatic reduction” of the total America will accept this fiscal year.

The open letter, published Wednesday as a full-page ad in The Washington Post with more than 100 of the signatories listed, was notable for two reasons. First, it contained only conservative evangelicals, instead of the mix of progressive names that usually sign such open letters. And second, topping the list were Tim Keller and Max Lucado””two well-known and well-respected pastors and authors who rarely speak out on political matters.

Other key signatories include Kathy Keller, Willow Creek’s Bill and Lynne Hybels, authors Stuart and Jill Briscoe, author Ann Voskamp, Southern Baptist seminary president Daniel Akin, and pastors Joel Hunter and Derwin Gray, among many others [full ad available in the linked article].

Read it all from CT.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Hill) Evangelical leaders buy ad denouncing Trump refugee ban

“As Christians, we have a historic call expressed over two thousand years, to serve the suffering. We cannot abandon this call now.”

The evangelical leaders acknowledge the world is dangerous, adding that they “affirm the crucial role of government in protecting us from harm and in setting in terms on refugee admissions.”

“However, compassion and security can coexist, as they have for decades,” the ad says. “For the persecuted and suffering, every day matters; every delay is a crushing blow to hope.”

“While we are eager to welcome persecuted Christians, we also welcome vulnerable Muslims and people of other faiths or no faith at all,” the ad says.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LICC) Transforming labor–Discover a richer way of working

Transforming Work is an innovative, liberating resource for Christians in the workplace – whether you’ve been working for one year or forty years – offering a distinctive blend of ingredients. It brings together a group of like-hearted people for eight sessions over a year, creating space between gatherings to reflect, to try things out, and to pray… and leaving time for seeds to grow, discoveries to be made, change to happen and for God to do what only he can do.

You may find out more about this there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Wesley Hill–Henri Nouwen’s Weakness Was His Strength

What had prompted [Henri] Nouwen to embrace a spirituality and a ministry model like this one? Born in the Netherlands in 1932, Nouwen had grown up a pious, conscientious””and ambitious””eldest child. By the time he was five years old, Nouwen had acquired specially made child-size priestly vestments so that he could say Mass at a play altar. “I did all the proper things,” he would later write, comparing himself to the elder brother in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, “mostly complying with the agendas set by the many parental figures in my life””teachers, spiritual directors, bishops, and popes.” Two decades later, having already graduated from two seminaries, Nouwen was ordained to the Catholic priesthood at Utrecht, ready to fulfill a calling””an inevitability, it seemed to those who knew him best””he’d sensed from boyhood. In short, a walking specimen of oozing spiritual wounds, Nouwen most certainly was not. Gregarious, theatrical, often childishly playful, his priestly work led him from strength to strength.

But Nouwen’s deepest self-identification was with the younger son in the parable, not in his outward behavioral choices but in what he described as an inner pain of lostness. This accounts, it would seem, for his constant talk of woundedness. His distance from God the Father’s heart, as he would put it in what is probably his second most-loved book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, had to do not with public rebellion but with an acute inner sensitivity and susceptibility to feelings of rejection. At one of his life’s crucial turning points, he recorded the following sentiment in his journal: “What I am craving is not so much recognition, praise, or admiration, as simple friendship. There may be some around me, but I cannot perceive or receive it.” This insensibility would dog him through his exit from the academy, through his twilight years spent as a carer in a home for disabled persons, through his quieter days of writing, until, en route to St. Petersburg for another viewing of Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son which had renewed his faith years earlier, he died.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Church History, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

The full Text of the Evangelical Alliance Statement–The Reformation, evangelicals+Roman Catholicism

Same-sex relationships and marriage. Drawing especially on the biblical creation narrative (Gen. 2:23-4) and on the teaching of Jesus and Paul (Matt. 19:1-12; Eph. 5:22-3), evangelicals and Catholics have widely co-operated in recent times in the promotion, support and defence of marriage as a one-flesh union of one man and one womanfor life. Marriage in this sense has been presented by both as the foundational institution of human society ”“ a corollary to the common good which delivers better outcomes overall for spouses, children and communities than other forms of co-habitation. Alongside this convictionabout monogamous, heterosexual marriage, evangelicals and Catholics have also agreed in highlighting biblical representations of sexually active same-sex unions as falling outside God’s purposes for human relationships and human society. In more recent times, this has meant widespread joint action to oppose legislation approving same-sex marriage. Where same-sex marriage has been legalised, it has meant working together to protect the rights of churches and their ministers to reaffirm heterosexual marriage, and to retain the right to conduct only heterosexual marriages. At the same time, however, evangelicals and Catholics have worked more closely together on welcoming same-sex attracted people and same-sex couples in the church context, and on dialoguing with LGBTI groups to ensure mutual respect and understanding in this contentious area of Christian ethics, ministry and
pastoral care.

Read it all (8 page pdf).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Evangelical Alliance–Evangelicals and the Reformation – 500 years on

The statement makes clear that we owe a great deal of our doctrinal, spiritual and cultural identity to the Reformation, and goes on to consider:

The enduring importance of the Reformation for evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more generally.
The core theological emphases of the Reformation, and the vital recovery of authentic gospel Christianity that they represented.
The divergences between evangelical and Roman Catholic faith and practice that are rooted in the Reformation, and which persist today.
The attempts that have been made, especially in recent decades, to promote greater understanding, convergence and common action between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture