Wednesday, January 22, 2014

All Around the Web - January 22, 2014



HT: Justin Taylor


Russell Moore - Evangelical Retreat?
Indeed, often the “broader” agenda items reinforce their social conservatism. Evangelicals working with the poor see the devastation of family breakdown, substance abuse, predatory gambling, and so on. Not that this changes the way they’re spoken of in public. When Evangelicals adopt, the secularist Left accuses them of “stealing” children for “Evangelism,” though if they didn’t the left would accuse them of caring about “fetuses” without providing them homes.

These Evangelicals actually go to church and so represent the future. The problem is that “young Evangelical” is a confusing term, especially for a media culture that often defines the concept in terms of marketing rather than theology or ecclesiology. It would be a mistake to lump the convictional Evangelicals of whom I speak in with the professional dissidents who make a living marketing mainline Protestant shibboleths to Evangelical college audiences by questioning everything from biblical inerrancy to a Christian sexual ethic. As one wag once said of Al Gore, that he is “an old man’s idea of a young man,” these Evangelicals are usually an Episcopalian’s idea of an Evangelical, just as the “nuns on the bus” are secularizing America’s idea of a Catholic.

But these sorts aren’t, demographically speaking, where the future is, among those who are actually filling and building churches. The “red-letter Christian” who speaks as though the Sermon on the Mount is a pretty good Galilean first draft of the 2024 Democratic party platform isn’t likely to be launching an Evangelical church-planting movement. Or an Evangelical adoption agency, soup kitchen, or halfway house for people just out of jail. The pop-left of Evangelicalism usually has quite little to do with Evangelical churches and is usually ephemeral even by the standards of Evangelical faddishness. Rob Bell once pastored a megachurch; now, last I heard, he was talking about starring in his own reality show.

Of course, much of the perception is fabricated. A study by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution suggested—to much press fanfare—that religious progressives will soon outnumber religious conservatives, and that the new “moral majority” will be a liberal one. The Christian religion, after all, isn’t an ideology but a body. A lot of people saying to a pollster that they identify as Christians hardly represents a movement. The question is, “Who goes to church?” Congregationally speaking, Protestant liberalism is deader than Henry VIII. Where are the Episcopalian revival movements, the Unitarian megachurches?

Kristen Powers - The New Age of Christian Martyrdom
Lions have been replaced by firing squads and concentration camps as record numbers of Jesus’ worshipers are persecuted from Syria to North Korea.

The concept of Christian martyrdom may seem like something from a bygone, uncivilized era when believers were mercilessly thrown to the lions. Not so. This week, Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, reported that Christian martyrdom has grown into a pervasive and horrifying human rights crisis.

In their annual report of the worst 50 countries for Christian persecution, Open Doors found that Christian martyr deaths around the globe doubled in 2013. Their report documented 2,123 killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. In Syria alone, there were 1,213 such deaths last year. In addition to losing their lives, Christians around the world continue to suffer discrimination, imprisonment, harassment, sexual assaults, and expulsion from countries merely for practicing their faith.

Once again, the worst persecutor of Christians is North Korea, where an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 followers of Jesus are suffering in prison camps for “crimes” such as owning a Bible, going to church, or sharing their faith. In November 2013, it was reported that 80 prisoners were publicly executed, many for possessing Bibles. Last year, North Korea sentenced an American missionary, Kenneth Bae to 15 years of hard labor in a prison camp. The U.S. State Department has lobbied unsuccessfully for his release.

The Gospel Coalition - Trends Among Evangelicals Entering Ministry




Pastors Today - 5 Warning Signs Your Relationship with God Is Strictly Professional

  1. Your prayer life and personal Bible study is limited to church responsibilities. Is your prayer limited to asking God’s blessings on your meals, meetings, and messages? Do you only study the Bible to prepare sermons? If your devotional life would evaporate should you exit the ministry, that’s a sign you and God only have an on the job relationship.
  2. You check your pastoral ministry at the door of your home. Our first congregation is our family, not our church. When everyone else is punching out for the day, do you punch out with them? Or do you view your evenings as your most critical time of discipleship and ministry?
  3. You are not confronting sin in your preaching. Are you afraid of losing numbers and tithe money if you call out sin from the pulpit? Are you avoiding the controversial topics of today – you know, the ones Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus focused on? Then you are defining success in terms of your congregational approval rating rather then your faithfulness to God and his word.
  4. You’re more concerned about your digital ministry than your church ministry. What is the ratio of time spent preparing your sermons and meeting with your sheep to your time spent tweeting and blogging? Our digital pulpits are not unimportant, but neither are they the primary place of our ministry.
  5. You resist temptation because caving could cost you your job. The woman you are counseling. The sermon you found on the internet. The cash payments from the church dinner. Do you keep your hands off because, like Joseph, it would grieve your heart to do something so unloving before your Heavenly Father? Or are you concerned only with the horizontal consequences being fired?

The Blaze - New Study About Religious Hostility Around the Globe Isn’t Very Encouraging
On the heels of an Open Doors USA report highlighting worsening conditions for religious freedom around the globe, The Pew Research Center has released new analysis showing equally disturbing results.

According to the study, social religious hostilities — acts carried out by private groups against people or groups of faith — across the globe have reached a six-year high.

Thirty-three percent of the 198 localities included in the review had high social religious hostility in 2012. This was an increase from 29 percent in 2011 and 20 percent in 2007.

The only place in the world where religious social hostilities did not increase was the Americas, a press release explained, going on to note that the Middle East and North Africa saw the biggest upticks.

The Blaze - What a Man Who Apparently Hasn’t Bathed in 60 Years Looks Like | You know you want to know.
Iranian media are claiming that an 80-year-old man has broken the world record for the number of years he has let elapse since he last bathed himself.

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and the Tehran Times reported that one Amou Haji of southern Iran has not bathed for 60 years.

The Tehran Times described Haji as a sort of recluse who took to the countryside after experiencing “emotional setbacks” as a young man.

According to the paper, Haji believes cleanliness brings on illness, and therefore avoids showers at all cost.

Here's an interesting Air1 interview with the lead singer of Switchfoot.

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