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

[326] Revival

According to Nick Hall of Pulse, people have accepted Christ at a high than normal rate during Covid-19. Hall told The Christian Post that Pulse had shared the gospel online with over 120 million households in 140 countries during Easter of 2020.  Over 130,000 made decisions for Christ.

“There’s a lot of people who are now seekers. There’s been a massive increase in hunger for God,” said Hall, whose ministry focuses on young people. He believes the ubiquitous nature of the internet has created opportunities to communicate the gospel to what in some ways has become a single culture.

“There is more openness than ever before. In the history of Christianity, when things get hard, those are the best times for the church,” says Hall.

While we pray for relief from Covid-19, it appears as if God is at work redeeming the times. DC

[325] SDA

Biden had hardly taken his hand off the Bible in his inauguration before a group called Secular Democrats of America (SDA) swung into action with some aggressive proposals. Wanting to halt what it called the “Christian nationalist movement,” supported by Trump, the SDA is pushing politicians to avoid phrases like “God and country,” advocating for humanistic chaplains in the military, and the removal of the “In God We Trust” motto.

So what is the point of all this?

With just 17% of the country claiming to be atheist or agnostic, secularists know the only avenue by which they can advance their agenda is through the law and governmental executive orders. The danger in this is that the forward march of secularism takes place as it has for decades–largely outside the public eye.  But a forward march it is, and Christians need to be alerted to this.  Loudly.  If we continue to sleep while this march goes on, many of our freedoms may be gone by the time we awaken. DC

 

[324] Get Over It

Now that Creighton’s basketball season is over, it is time to address the woes of its coach, Greg McDermott.  Late in the season, after a Creighton loss, the coach addressed his team thusly. “Guys, we need to stick together…We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation.”

An unfortunate choice of words in the current hyper-intense, racially sensitive environment.

And that’s all it was.

His statement was about staying together. It was not a sign of overt or latent racism on the part of McDermott who immediately apologized for his use of “plantation.” There is no reference to African-Americans here, and while we are at it, McDermott was also appealing to white players’ unity on his racially mixed team.  In short, to label the use of this commonly used–though now archaic–phrase as such is to demean the viciousness of what racism truly is.

McDermott’s apology should have been sufficient. It wasn’t. The university bellowed outrage at its beleaguered coach and suspended him from all team activities for four days.

Worse, McDermott buckled and obsequiously offered to resign, only reinforcing the university’s overkill.

Creighton University should be ashamed of itself, making an historically common phrase, uttered spontaneously by its coach, the basis for formal punitive action, and McDermott should have shown more intestinal fortitude.  The university’s response smacks of image protection not genuine outrage over racism.  Think about it. How well do you think Creighton would do were it the subject of a withering diversity audit?  Diversity in hiring, leadership, and authority is where racism usually lies.  How do you think this traditional Jesuit university is doing where it really counts?  And how about the Jesuit order in general?  How it is doing?

I am not calling for an attack on the university or the Jesuit order.  I am calling for an end to hypocrisy.  Over and over again we see it.  Some well-known person makes a public verbal blunder and in come the institutional political correctness forces, feigning shock and outrage.  Once the poor transgressor has been ground under with the steel shoes of the image-protecting mob the matter is closed.

It shouldn’t be.  If an institution wishes to deliver the third degree to those who commit verbal foibles it should use the action as a gateway to a more holistic audit of evidences of racism elsewhere in the corporate enterprise, rather than standing four-square for racially sanitized verbiage.

If Creighton wanted to lay the lumber to McDermott, let’s open the books on the entire university environment.  Let it all hang out. If not, get over it and move on.  DC

[323] Can’t Stop It

No institution in history has been targeted for extinction more than the Christian church.  But you can’t stop the gospel from reaching souls. According to Ron Boyd-MacMillan of Open Doors International the number of Christians in China, a country unalterably opposed to the existence of the church, could reach 300 million in ten years–up from the current number of 97 million.

Regrettably, with growth comes persecution–continued attempts to kill the church. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is tracking this growth and engaging in aggressive forms of persecution. Among them is banning Christian funerals, forcing pastors to go through government training, removing references to God in textbooks, and making programmed attempts to remove religious imagery everywhere, including in homes.

Pray for Christians being persecuted around the world.  There is more religious persecution now than ever in history. But trying to stop the gospel is a losing enterprise.  You can’t stop God’s institution. Just look at China. DC

 

[322] Unnecessary Wars

Recently the Christian Headlines website printed an article provocatively entitled, “Mohler: Biden is Leading a ‘Transgender Revolution’ in Conflict with Religious Liberty.”  Mohler is Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. The article decries Biden’s appointment of a transgender woman to the assistant secretary of health and human services post.

Mohler sounds the clarion as loudly, tossing an abundance of red meat out to enraged Christian groups. Biden is leading a “moral revolution,” says the theologian. Such an action will bring “coercion.”  It is being “celebrated” by the secular media. It is a step toward “normalizing” aberrant sexual conduct. “You’re going to have biological males in the girls’ locker room.”

There is genuine merit to much of what Mohler says, but I get tired of reading this stuff.

Not the merits of the argument. Indeed, these matters are worthy of reasoned discussion, but I find the hyperbolic presentation style to be an example of Christians fighting unnecessary wars. First, should anyone be surprised at all this?  The LGBTQ lobby has been gaining ground since the 1970’s.  As for Biden, did he not run on a secular progressive agenda, an ideology the mainstream media regales as progress?

And while we’re at it, let’s be clear that there is no genuine consensus, even among biblical Christians, on homosexuality. What people like Mohler might better concern themselves with is the crisis believers with a homosexual orientation face. The Religion News website recently published an article entitled, “Study Finds That Christians Who Identify as Queer Quit The Church Twice As Much As Others.”  The article includes the story of a former Gordon College student, who first spoke in tongues at 7.  She came to a place where she “wanted to stop living in shame. To stop lying and living in fear. I wanted to be transparent about what I believed and who I was.”

The issue of homosexuality is an agonizingly difficult one for the church.  We may never reach a consensus on how to deal with it, but attempting to take a redemptive approach to this difficult issue seems more worthwhile than taking a combative tone with secular groups. Most important, we are living in an age in which many people have no understanding of the gospel.  We need to make our primary mission fighting the war for the souls of our unbelieving fellow citizens. DC

 

[321] Self-defeating

Recently, Focus on the Family had its Twitter account locked over a phrase in one of its Tweets about Dr. Rachel Levine, Biden’s nominee for Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary.  In it, the staff writer referred to Levine as “a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”

Twitter suspended the account for violating its prohibition against hateful content.

With that came an explosion of protest from Christian publications. The tone of much of it is that Twitter is persecuting believers, deliberately victimizing people of the faith.

Methinks not.

Indeed, secular organizations like Twitter and Facebook are hardly Christian-friendly, and because I oppose censorship in almost every form, I object to Twitter’s action.

Nonetheless, I also think the Tweet in question was typical of so much self-defeating behavior among aroused Christian groups, more particularly, their use of provocative, condemnatory language about people and issues with which they disagree, only to cry “Foul!” when the predictable pushback comes.

I understand Focus on the Family’s position that a transgender woman is a man who believes he is a woman, but I also find such wording—though perhaps not hateful—less than respectful. It has a provocative, demeaning, sarcastic tone. There are many more benign yet accurate ways of defining transgender status that do not elicit unnecessary anger from secular quarters.

In short, taking the edgy road is self-defeating.

But it goes on all the time.  Christian publications, having had a bellyful of secular policies and practices, lash out in ways that (a) are clear, and (b) make unnecessary enemies among those outside of their readership. We are living in a post-Christian era, one in which we believers are ever-more spiritual strangers in a strange land.  In short, we have many enemies. We do not need to engage in behaviors that will generate more. DC

[319] Rush Reaction

Upon hearing of the death of Rush Limbaugh, I quickly “googled” his name to see what was being said about him.  Here is some of what found. The NPR website, in announcing Rush Limbaugh’s death, stated that “he embodied a counterpunch to what many on the right contended was a liberal media establishment — even as he offended millions with his racist, sexist and homophobic routines and diatribes.”

Huffpost trumped NPR with the following headline, “Rush Limbaugh, Bigoted King Of Talk Radio, Dies At 70.”

Rush Limbaugh was deliberately provocative, polarizing, and shoot-from-the-hip. Much of his success came from his style.  And yes, some of his statements were understandably received as bigoted.  But to slap the “bigot” label on him, as if that is all he was, is unfair. It is shabby journalism.

This is what’s wrong with what currently passes as journalism.  It engages in the unhealthy practice of injecting a blatantly partisan perspective into reportage. Imagine if you did not know who Limbaugh was, but heard of his death, and clicked on these websites?  Simply seeing the word bigot might lead you to dismiss Limbaugh as little more than a latter-day Archie Bunker.  That is not only unfair to the memory of Limbaugh. It diverts the reader away from what Limbaugh really was: an ideological architect of political conservatism.

The left is really good at this slanting, given their heavy influence in mainstream media. But they are not the only ones. You can get a good helping of this on many Fox News outlets as well.  Some will say Rush, himself, contributed a good deal to this patent bias, but he gets a pass here as he made no secret of his political leanings. He made no pretense to simply presenting the news.

We need to halt this propagandistic slide in reporting the news. This practice is the ideological equivalent of the nuclear arms race. Each partisan thrust invites a more polarizing counter until all that is left are two hostile, groupthink camps.  Unlike the arms race, however, we are not fighting a foreign enemy.  We are destroying ourselves. DC

 

[318] Harry Edwards

Apparently seventy-eight-year-old civil rights activist Harry Edwards still wants to be a “tuff guy” and scare those “comfy middle-class folks” into doing the right thing. Adorned in black garb, with a black stocking cap covering his bald pate, and sun glasses shading his eyes, the scowling scholar speaks in a menacing tone in his NFL ad on behalf of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. His words and appearance have the effect of demands, reminiscent of the Black Panthers’ pronouncements of the 1960s, as Edwards orders us to “move the sticks.”

Such nonsense.

I find Edwards and the ad silly and offensive. Silly because of its patently obvious attempt at casting this septuagenarian relic as an intimidating force. Offensive because the Second Great Commandment is not about identity politics, intimidation, or demand. It is about humility, love and the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 says the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Those don’t comport well with the use of macho clothing, shades, and an unsmiling, threatening demeanor to encourage people to engage in charitable actions. DC

 

[317] Chad Curtis

On September 22 of last year, Chad Curtis, the former Major League Baseball player convicted of sexually assaulting teens girls, was released having served the minimum seven years.

He had been convicted in 2013 for assaulting four female high school students the previous two years, while working as a part-time weight trainer in their high school.

The Curtis story is particularly sad and disturbing because during his 10-year big league career he had been an outspoken Christian. He labeled himself a “Bible-believing Christian” who never drank, swore, or was unfaithful to his wife. I remember meeting him once and was struck by his serious demeanor.  It was serious enough that Curtis got into a number confrontations with teammates over everything from rap music to not attending Baseball Chapel.

One of his alleged victims said she had become close to Curtis in part because of their common Christian faith and her friendship with Curtis’ daughter. Charged with six counts of criminal sexual assault, Curtis has never admitted guilt, but the evidence is compelling.

What does one make of this?  Was he a charlatan? A believer who slipped?  One with a dangerous sexual quirk?

There is no simple explanation. But if King David, a man after God’s own heart, could commit a planned adultery and arrange for the military death of his lover’s husband, then we are all vulnerable. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” says Jeremiah (17:9).

Indeed, who can know it?  DC

[316] Aaron’s Grace

I got the late Henry Aaron’s autograph when I was 8-years-old, and caught a batting practice home run off his bat—and got that autographed—years later.  Henry Aaron was a big part of my Wisconsin childhood.

But he looms much larger now.  The barely 6-feet tall man born in Jim Crow Alabama was a giant. And not because of his iconic baseball achievements.

The reason is grace. If ever a man had reason to be bitter, inhospitable, and resentful it was Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. Neither he nor his family could enjoy his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s 714 home run record, as they were besieged with death threats, and driven into protective isolation.  In Aaron’s 1990 autobiography, I Had a Hammer, he published some of the mounds of hate mail he received during that early ‘70’s time.  It is about as despicably vile and nauseatingly racist garbage one can imagine. Every hateful effort was made to strip him of his human dignity.  And this after spending the early years of his major league career relegated to segregated accommodations.  The superstar could not eat or be lodged with his less-accomplished white teammates. Aaron was a life-long victim of prejudicial venom.

But Henry Aaron was a believer.  His niece, Wonya Lucas said, “he always chose to forgive those who meant him harm or ill will. He publicly and privately forgave others, which set a lifelong example for us.”  Aaron said the first thing he did when he went home after hitting home run #715 was get on his knees and thank God. Prayer was a daily staple in his Roman Catholic life.

Jesus tells us it is by the fruits of people’s lives that we can know their spiritual state. Henry Aaron consistently evinced almost, if not every single one of the fruits of the Spirit. While speaking to the issues of race in baseball in his principled style, he maintained a humble, kind spirit. We know Henry Aaron had an understanding of grace that few have, because he radiated that grace amid the most trying of circumstances.  For believers, that achievement exceeds all the professional accomplishments that make him perhaps the greatest player ever to play the game. I know it does in God’s eyes. DC

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