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  • The Church Mothers Teach Us to Delight in Scripture
    by Han-luen Kantzer Komline on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Monica and Macrina didn’t just influence Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa. They were biblical interpreters in their own right. ”What are you doing? In those books which you read, have I ever heard that women were introduced into this kind of disputation?” This almost awkwardly direct question comes from Augustine’s mother, Monica, when she finds out he is recording her comments for his book On Order. She is not so much honored as dismayed by the censure her inclusion may bring him. In response, Augustine concedes that some may dismiss him for including the voice of a woman in his writings. But he doesn’t give a whit for such critics, he says; such “proud and ignorant men” should attend more to the substance and less to the “dress” of what they read. Though he expects some superficially minded people will look down on him for including a woman’s ideas, Augustine incorporates Monica’s contributions because her ideas are so good. He wants her to be a part of the discussion because her spiritual inclinations and intellectual chops make her indispensable. He writes of his mother, “By long intimacy and diligent attention I had by this time discerned her acumen and burning desire for things divine … her mind had been revealed to me as so rare that nothing seemed more adapted for true philosophy. Accordingly, I had determined to do my best that she be not absent from our conversation.” And so, through Augustine’s account, we gain a precious glimpse of this brilliant mother of the church. Of the few early Christian women commonly known today, Monica, along with her near-contemporary Macrina, are perhaps the most familiar. But despite the records we have of their extraordinary spiritual and intellectual gifts, they are not commonly known for their own abilities. Instead, these ...Continue reading...

  • Evangelical Biden Voters Straddle Partisan Divides
    by Kate Shellnutt on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Unlike most Americans, they say many of their close friends will vote differently from them in 2020. In another divisive election year, here’s one demographic that personally feels the strain of the nation’s partisan tensions: white evangelicals who plan to vote for Joe Biden. The Pew Research Center recently found few Americans, Republicans or Democrats, have many close friends who support a different presidential candidate in the 2020 race. In religious breakouts provided to Christianity Today, evangelical Biden supporters emerged as the exception. Just under half say their close friends disagree with them over the upcoming election. These longtime Democrats, former Republicans, and previous third-party voters represent an increasingly rare group straddling partisan lines, a position they’re in largely due to their faith. White evangelicals who back Biden are about twice as likely (46%) as Biden supporters overall (22%) to say that many of their close friends plan to vote for Trump. And they are three times as likely to have close friends who support a different candidate as their fellow white evangelicals who plan to vote for Donald Trump (16%). “Most of my family, friends from home, and a decent number of friends from college are Trump supporters,” said Clayton Job Myers, who graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in May. He plans to vote for Biden this year because of his opposition to Trump’s rhetoric and what he sees as religious posturing. “I do my very best not to let that change how I view them and how I treat them.” As the country becomes more polarized, Americans may be drawn to the idea of friendships that overcome political divides. Many read and shared accounts of the unlikely relationship between Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ...Continue reading...

  • Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic and Scalia Protégé, Nominated by Trump
    by Mark Sherman – Associated Press on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    With an abortion record opposite Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, Barrett has said her faith does not shape her decisions behind the bench. Amy Coney Barrett paid homage to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her White House speech Saturday as a shatterer of glass ceilings. She said she would be mindful of the woman whose place she would take on the Supreme Court. The conservative Catholic even commented that her seven children think their father is the better cook, much as Ginsburg used to talk about her husband’s prowess in the kitchen. But the replacement of the liberal icon Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, by Barrett, who would be the fifth, would represent the most dramatic ideological change on the Supreme Court in nearly 30 years and cement conservative dominance of the court for years to come. Barrett, a judge on the federal appeals court based in Chicago, made clear in her Rose Garden address that she looks to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she once worked, and not Ginsburg, on matters of law. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too. Judges must apply the law as written. Judges are not policy makers,” Barrett said. She was referring to their common method of interpreting laws and the Constitution based on what they were understood to mean when they were written. Ginsburg, who died this month at age 87, and Scalia were dear friends, but they were on opposite sides of the most divisive issues of the day. Barrett’s conservative judicial record, her writings, and speeches suggest that she too would be Ginsburg’s polar opposite on a range of issues that include abortion and guns. Conservative evangelicals have applauded Trump’s decision to nominate Barrett, who would be the third Supreme Court justice added during his term. “There is no question that Judge Barrett is qualified by intellectual ...Continue reading...

  • Eritrea Frees Evangelical Prisoners Due to COVID-19
    by Julia Bicknell - World Watch Monitor on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Dozens of persecuted believers released on bail. But hundreds reportedly remain imprisoned in the “North Korea of Africa.” The Eritrean government has released on bail more than 20 prisoners detained for years because of their faith, the BBC reports. Sources told the British broadcaster that the prisoners are from evangelical and Pentecostal denominations, some held at Mai Serwa prison outside the capital Asmara. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) confirmed the news, putting the number released at 27. In 2002, Eritrea introduced a new law that forbids all churches except for Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Lutheran ones. Sunni Islam is also officially recognised. The Horn of Africa nation is No. 6 on the Open Doors 2020 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian. According to a religious freedom campaigner from Asmara but now based in North America, Hannibal Daniel, believers who’d been in prison for up to 16 years have been freed on bail. A regional spokesperson for Open Doors International said that, for some time, the group had heard discussion that prisoners might be freed on bail due to the coronavirus pandemic—as has happened in other countries—but could not independently confirm the reports: “If true, this could be quite significant.” According to CSW sources, the group released consisted of 19 men and 8 women detained without charge or trial for 2 to 16 years. About 54 total releases were anticipated. However, CSW stated no detained church leaders were released, while a handful more were arrested in Asmara weeks before. “It is a government strategy,” stated CSW, quoting one of its sources. “They cannot detain everybody, so they keep you for some time, hoping that you will become weak or frightened. Then they put in other people. They release and ...Continue reading...

  • Atlases No More: Parenting During the COVID-19 Crucible
    by Jake Johnson, Ph.D., LMFT on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    How to lead your family well through times of transition. Transitions in family life are inherently difficult. They require us as parents to be open to change while also maintaining a sense of family cohesion. When we are able to anticipate, communicate about, and plan for major family transitions, we adapt better. When we avoid acknowledging or are taken unawares by a necessary transition, we can struggle to preserve a sense of balance as a family and stressors can begin to pile up quickly. And, when under the burden of such a pile up of stressors, we can so easily buckle under the weight, failing to live up to our usual standards for loving our spouses and our children well. We haven’t been able to plan for all of the changes COVID-19 has produced in our lives. It has stripped away many of the supports we have relied upon to uphold our family structures (e.g., school, sports, friends, extended family, church). It has upended our routines. Such changes have left many of us as parents feeling the need to, like the Greek mythological figure Atlas, support the weight of the world all by ourselves to keep it from crushing us and our families. Unfortunately, no one knows for certain if and when we will be able to resume our “normal” lives and make use of our old family supports and routines once more. Thus, we must ask how we can transition our families to adapt to life in a world of social distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation. I believe that one of the founders of the field of family therapy, Dr. Salvador (“Sal”) Minuchin, can assist us in this endeavor. During his lifetime, Sal helped families to make sense of the way they organized themselves as a unit. He paid particular attention to the structure of the family (e.g., the roles played by each member ...Continue reading...

  • Leading From A Healthy Soul
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Resilient Church Leadership invites you to join us in rest and reflection. What do you need? My friend’s words hung mid-air, like a half-deflated helium balloon. They didn’t fall; neither did they rise. Slightly deflated, just impossibly suspended in mid-air, right in front of my face. I could practically reach out and touch the question. At that time in my life, it seemed everything in my circumstances was hopelessly falling apart. Broken relationships, failed initiatives, financial free-fall, conflict, and a deep mistrust amongst family members and my church team. What I needed couldn’t possibly be more irrelevant, or pointless to consider, in the midst of this storm. Like many of us in ministry, I had become skilled at anticipating, driving, and at times, even accommodating, what other people, leadership challenges, or organizational priorities required. I had no idea what I needed. Even worse, I was not sure that what I needed really mattered in the grand scheme of things. For me, this important question was simply invalid. But there it hung, mid-air. Didn’t rise, didn’t fall. What did I need? You need to get quiet & connect Over many years, I have learned to welcome that question, and let it lead me to some areas of my soul that deeply need time and space to connect with God. Not to decide, fix, explain, defend, push hard, pretend, or anything else. Just a time to connect. I know my experience is not unique. Throughout the history of the Christian faith, those who sought to transcend the circumstances and drivers of their “time” intentionally withdrew from the demands and pressures of day to day life. This would happen in little or in large ways, in order to hone their ability to heed the still small voice that generally will not shout above the noise ...Continue reading...

  • Let My People Meet: Capitol Hill Baptist, and Inconsistent Government Rules
    by Ed Stetzer and Josh Laxton on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Real violations of religious liberty occur when the government singles out churches, not when everyone has to follow the same rules. In recent news, Capitol Hill Baptist Church has filed a complaint against the mayor of Washington D.C. Muriel Bowser. The basic message of the complaint centers around “…the right to gather for corporate worship free from threat of governmental sanction.” For those who may not be familiar, here are some of the applications of Mark Dever’s (and CHBC’s) ecclesiology: CHBC doesn’t offer multiple services, CHBC doesn’t utilize a multi-site model, CHBC doesn’t offer worship online (not even during the pandemic) Since mid-March, CHBC has not gathered as a corporate body. Interestingly, because of their close proximity, they have fled the city limits of D.C. and journeyed over into Virginia to hold outdoor services during the summer. Moreover, during the summer they filed an application with the Mayor’s Office seeking a waiver from the ban on large gatherings. When they heard nothing, they filed again. Finally, earlier this month, they received a response: rejected. For months, Dever and CHBC tried to go through the proper channels in order to plead their case to be able to gather corporately as a body. Having exhausted their channels, and not wanting to incur civil and administrative penalties, Dever, the leadership, and the church have chosen to take their case to court. Religious Liberty Needs Defending One would imagine that the complaint would be rooted in the First Amendment—the right to assemble. While this is true in part, the primary issue that CHBC has with Mayor Bowser is her inconsistency in upholding the First Amendment. In other words, the Mayor has been “discriminatory” in the application of large gatherings. The complaint notes, … on four occasions ...Continue reading...

  • Mental Illness and the ‘Medical Theodicy’ Trap
    by John Swinton on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Why do we feel such a palpable sense of spiritual relief when the problem is with the body rather than the mind? Five years ago I received a telephone call from a friend. She told me that one of our mutual friends had taken his own life. No one knew why. Brian was a successful health-care professional, with a wife, a family, and an apparently very bright future. Many of us had not seen any indications that something was wrong, although those in close contact with him knew there were problems. He just got up one morning and was never seen alive again. Everyone was devastated. What do you do with such news? One of the most painful human experiences must be to say goodbye to a loved one in the morning and then never see that person alive again. I was asked to do the sermon at the celebration of Brian’s life. I preached on the psalms of lament and the unending, unfailing love of God. I tried to help people see that the joy that God promises includes suffering and that the psalms of lament offer faithful language to express our hurt, brokenness, anger, and disappointment at what my friend had done and what God had seemingly not done: save him. Two Affirmations Brian was a Christian; he was a lover of Jesus, as were his family and many of his friends. And yet, despite the profound consolation of the gospel, for some, the first response to his death by suicide was not comfort but fear. In spite of the apostle Paul’s firm assurance that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39), they were afraid for Brian’s eternal future. I guess that is the problem with hypercognitive theologies that assume ...Continue reading...

  • Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Sues to Not Forsake the Assembly
    by Kate Shellnutt on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Without online preaching or multiple services, the DC church crossed state lines to gather legally during the pandemic. Capitol Hill Baptist Church this week became the first house of worship to file suit against Washington, DC, for its ongoing restrictions on religious gatherings meeting indoors or outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post reported. The move by Capitol Hill Baptist—a 1,000-person congregation led by Mark Dever, the founder of the 9Marks church network—resembles arguments for equal treatment and First Amendment rights launched by churches in Nevada and California amid COVID-19 shutdowns. However, the DC congregation’s legal fight is uniquely tied to its theological beliefs around how a church should gather. Dever has long resisted multi-site, multi-service models of church, though they are very popular among fellow Southern Baptists. The DC Baptist church does not stream services online, and hasn’t made an exception to that rule during the pandemic. As noted in the lawsuit filed Tuesday, “Gathering as one church in a single worship service is an essential component of [Capitol Hill Baptist]’s exercise of religion.” In the current phase, the District’s coronavirus precautions limit socially distanced indoor or outdoor gatherings to 100 people or half of a building’s capacity, whichever is fewer. The city has, however, let non-religious groups gather far beyond the COVID-19 limits. The suit points out that the mayor allowed outdoor rallies that numbered in the thousands over the summer and even attended some of these events. The church supports the mayor’s participation, but argues that religious gatherings should not be treated differently. According to the lawsuit, “the First Amendment protects both mass protests and religious worship.”Continue reading...

  • Why the Supreme Court Makeup Matters Beyond Abortion
    by Compiled by CT editors on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    Legal experts cite religious freedom and free speech among the major issues for evangelicals in a post–Ruth Bader Ginsburg court. Last week’s death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg represents the third opportunity for President Donald Trump to nominate a Supreme Court justice. A third of evangelicals by belief cited Supreme Court nominees and abortion stance as reasons for voting for Trump in 2016. Many evangelicals and pro-life Americans have celebrated the possibility that another conservative justice could shift the Court toward overturning Roe v. Wade and reshaping abortion law in the country. Yet the new makeup of the Court will address crucial issues for the church that extend far beyond abortion. CT asked legal experts how a new Supreme Court appointment replacing Ginsburg stands to affect evangelicals outside of Roe v. Wade. Here are their responses, calling out issues such as religious freedom, racial equality, child protection, and free speech. Barry P. McDonald, law professor at Pepperdine University: As it stands, the Supreme Court is controlled by a majority of five solid conservative justices who either have a strong record of supporting religious freedom rights or give every indication that they will develop such a record. If President Trump succeeds in appointing Justice Ginsburg’s successor, that will likely add one more justice to this coalition. While an additional vote is not necessary to maintain this trend, it could prove important to religious freedom proponents in cases where Chief Justice John Roberts might moderate his vote in an attempt to shield the Court as an institution from charges that it has become too political and divisive (or where any conservative justice moderates his or her vote for whatever reason). This is most likely to occur in cases where religious beliefs might conflict with laws prohibiting discrimination ...Continue reading...