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Archive for the ‘F & L in the News’ Category

[345] The New Wave

According to Meghan Winter of The Atlantic, the new wave of Protestant evangelicals is Hispanic. One factor is demographic. It is projected that by 2060 there will be 110 million Hispanics in the US, up from 110 million now. More important are organized efforts to evangelize Hispanics. There is an attempt to plant churches. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) claims to represent more than 40,000 churches and intends to plant 25,000 more by 2030.

Much of this church planting is bankrolled by megachurches, though there are other networks as well. With a median budget of $5.3MM in 2019, these mega-entities have the resources to finance expansion.

There is a widespread belief that Hispanic churches are attractive to newcomers because they attempt to be apolitical. “People want love, they want joy, and they don’t to go to a church that is CNN vs. Fox,” said Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC. This does not mean people like Rodriguez are not involved in issues of justice. He has served as an advisor to George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump and believes Hispanic believers can help heal the nation. “We really do believe that the Latino Church will reconcile Billy Graham’s message with Dr. King’s march.”

In this church-threatened era, Winter’s article not only reminds us that God works in mysterious ways, but also calls to mind Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Moreover, for all those evangelical believers praying for a revival, we may have one coming, but from a source outside the traditional evangelical mainstream. DC

[344] Yancey

ChristianityToday.com reported on an interview of author, Philip Yancey, by Bob Smietana of Religion News Service. Among the questions was what would Yancey say to evangelicals if he had an audience with him.

Here is Yancey’s response.

I go back to that beautiful discourse in John Chapters 13 to 17, which is Jesus’ last time with his disciples. He’s turning over the whole thing to them. And they haven’t really proven themselves. In fact, they’ve proven themselves unreliable. So, what did he do? He washed their feet. And he said to them, this is your stance in the world. You’re a servant, you’re not the leaders. Then he said, you should be known by your love. And you should be known by your unity. Those three things.

Yet so often the church seems more interested in cleaning up society, you know, returning America to its pristine 1950s. That’s the myth we have — we are making America pure again, cleaning it up.

Jesus lived under the Roman Empire, Paul lived under the Roman Empire, which was much worse morally than anything going on in the United States. They didn’t say a word about how to clean up the Roman Empire, not a word. They just kind of dismissed it.

So, why are we here? Well, we’re here to form the kind of community that makes people say, ”Oh, that’s what God had in mind.” We’re here to form pioneer settlements of the kingdom of God, as N.T. Wright puts it. It’s about demonstrating to the world what the whole human experiment is about.

Let’s remember why we are here. We love people, we serve and we show them why God’s way is better. Let’s concentrate on that rather than tearing people down or rejecting them or denigrating them in some way. We’re here to bring pleasure to God. I believe we do that by living in the way God’s son taught us to live when he was on earth.

Yancey is right. Our call is to show the world what we are for–loving God and loving people, rather than what we are against.

DC

[343] And Again

In a recent blog I wrote of state of California having to pay $2MM in legal fees to those who challenged its practice of placing greater C-19 restrictions on churches than on retail establishments.

Well, here’s another Golden State special. The state has ruled that the LA public school district violated federal law by reducing funding for low-income students attending Catholic schools. It is likely the school district will have to fork over millions to the Archdiocese of LA, which filed the complaint.

Imagine that, a secular organization found snookering a religious one out of what is rightfully theirs under the law. Have we seen that before?

I love these stories, because for decades the secularists have made the law their #1 weapon in their war against Christianity. Abortion, pseudo interpretations of the separation of church and state, and outlawing the teaching of creation in public schools, are but a few examples. It is time to flip the coin on the use of the law and the archdiocese is to be commended for doing just that. DC

[342] Norm Mcdonald

Stand-up comedian, Norm Macdonald, suffering secretly from cancer the past nine years, died recently. He was 61. MacDonald was a bit of a spiritual enigma, claiming to be a Christian, but not a particularly good or practicing one.

As Terry Mattingly wrote in the September 25th Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Macdonald “was laced with paradoxes — an edgy, courageous comic who often seemed unconcerned if his work pleased the public or his employers. Nevertheless, superstars such as David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Newhart and others hailed him as a deadpan comic genius, and mourned his passing.”

Though his eternal destiny is in the hands of the Lord, while he was with us, he had no tolerance for the all-too-common practice among entertainers of mocking Christianity.

“I think if you’re going to take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about,” said Macdonald. The comedian was fearless.  “I’m a Christian,” Macdonald once said to Larry King. “It’s not stylish to say that now.”

The always probing King then asked, “Are you devout? … You believe in the Lord?”

“Yes, I do,” Macdonald said.

If he did, we know his destiny. DC

[341] Gutsy and Not

In Louisiana, the gutsy John Bel Edwards, of all things a pro-life Democrat, recently signed three pro-life bills into law. Meanwhile, the not so gutsy Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christians” organization openly takes a stand against the Religious Right, but not on third rail issues like abortion, apparently for fear of alienating the political left. DC

[340] Bobby Bowden

Fortunately, much was made of the life of the recently retired football coaching icon, Bobby Bowden. According to his son, Tommy, the openly Christian and ragingly successful (411 wins, 12 ACC titles, and 2 national championships) Bowden coached until he was 80, because “he wanted to coach as long as he could to advance the kingdom of God. 

And advance it, he did. Former Florida State and NFL quarterback Danny Kanell said, “You could not go through a week at FSU without hearing the gospel message.”

Bobby Bowden’s Christian legacy is among the most admirable. It is characterized by a public faith, a professional excellence that gave him enormous credibility, and a love for others. Well done, Bobby, you have been a good and faithful servant. DC

[339] Sociology of US Religiosity

George Barna and his Cultural Research Center has sounded the alarm bell with respect profound changes in the nation’s religious and cultural landscape. He notes a 30-year decline in Christianity and confidence in religion. “In its first 200 years, America could count on the consistency of its people’s faith commitments, and with that, common views about morality, purpose, family, lifestyle, citizenship, and values,” says Barna. “But as my recent worldview research clearly shows, the United States has become one of the largest and most important mission fields in the world.”

Here are some key shifts since 1991.

–86% of US adults held a biblical view of God; the number is 46% now

–Regarding the Bible as the “accurate word of God from 70% down to 41%

–Muslims have gone from 0.5% to 3%

–Percent of Nones among Hispanics has leaped from 3% to 31%  

–Eastern religion adherents are double what they were a decade ago

–36% self-identified Christians believe in the possibility of reincarnation

–Confidence in religion is now at 40%, down from 67% in the 1970s

Barna does not see a bright future. “Christian ministry as practiced [in America] for the last five decades will be ineffective in meeting these new challenges.” He believes churches need to focus on equipping parents and reaching children with “absolute moral truth,” reviewing current church services and practices, while generating “bold and creative leadership.”

DC

[338] Burn, Baby, Burn

Harsha Walla, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has advocated torching churches in response to uncovering unmarked graves on the properties of former church-run boarding schools for Indigenous children

“Burn it all down,” she tweeted in response to the report of two more Catholic church burnings.

While some Canadians have condemned the torchings, others view it as “understandable.”

Persecution is breaking out. The implicit hatred of the gospel is becoming explicit. DC

[337] Religious Illiteracy

A blog by Ken Chitwood on “Men’s Network” website discussed a recent Pew Research report addressing Religious Knowledge. It used a 32-item quiz with questions ranging from the Hindu Pantheon to who started the Protestant Reformation. The findings were startling.  

We are a religious and religiously diverse nation, but even professing Christians have a woeful lack of religious knowledge. Worse, non-believers are more religiously literate than believers. Religious literacy, particularly among Christians is important. It helps people know what they believe, how to reach those of different faiths, and most likely will create more tolerance and peace in a crazed world. DC

[336] Blacks’ Spiritual Practice

Christiannewsnow.com recently reported a study from Pew Research on race and spiritual practice. Here are a few findings.

Blacks attend church more often than Americans overall.

Blacks pray more frequently.

Of blacks, 66% are Protestant, 6% Catholic, 3% other, and 21% unaffiliated.

Blacks favor racially diverse churches.

Among blacks, there is a concern about not being “as bold and courageous as we used to be,” with respect to social evils.

So what can we conclude from all this? Black people are a spiritual population. The worship and pray more than the average American. They are particularly holistic in their faith. It is not just a vertical (relationship with God) phenomenon. It is horizontal as well, with a call to be prophetic to the society of which it is a part. DC