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

[335] BJ Thomas

The ragingly successful country/pop/Christian star, BJ Thomas, died recently. He was 78. Thomas was, indeed, ragingly successful. Known as a Country singer, he had no less than fourteen Top 40 hits on the Pop charts and a dozen more on the Christian charts.

Thomas has quite a spiritual biography. After descending into severe drug addiction, he became a believer on January 28, 1976, shortly after his wife, Gloria made her commitment to Christ.

And from that point on, his biggest adversaries were not the secular media, but rather his evangelical fans. You see Thomas cut some of the best-selling Christian singles and albums of all time, but when he performed holistically (including some of this Pop hits along with the Christian material) he was openly heckled, shouted at, and abused by these followers of Jesus–Christian bullies who profess to believe in the Fruits of the Spirit.

There is no reason to believe BJ Thomas ever recanted his faith. He did, however, have little use for this kind of unjustified condemnation and avoided venues in which he would have to endure this incredibly indefensible treatment.

It is experiences like those of Thomas that feed my reluctance to describe myself as an evangelical or born-again Christian. I do not want to be associated with so many of those who so identify themselves. While our calling is to love God and love others, so many who proudly bear these labels are unintentionally tearing up the Kingdom of God, and are understandably better known for their judgmentalism and things they are against than their dedication to the First and Second Great Commandments.

What is so sad, is that the singularly accomplished Thomas perhaps did more for the Kingdom by publicly confessing his faith and singing to the glory of the Savior, than his detractors who stood in judgment of him.   DC

[334] The New Bullying

To make sense out of “cancel culture” necessitates a definition of this rather recent and insidious fad. It is a form of extreme ostracism, a public shunning, aimed at removing the object of cancellation from any cultural acceptance. Not infrequently, the victim is visited with a blizzard of rejection–and sometimes attacks–from those among the masses who uncritically buy into the initial thrust.

Cancel culture should be regarded as nothing more or less than what it is: bullying. Despite bullying becoming a universally condemned behavior, this form has thrived, because it rides the wave of what I call “consensus morality,” a sense of right and wrong based on nothing more profound than popular opinion. When people, or ideas, are not aligned with prevailing secular values they are damned.

By now, we Christians should see where this new bullying is heading: an effort to cancel the Christian faith by accusing believers of not only preaching foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18), but doing so in a spirit of intolerance toward any other version of truth.

Empowered by social media and instant worldwide communication via the Internet, cancel culture attempts are easily launched and can be devastatingly effective. In an age of increasing religious persecution, the faith is an inviting target for the bullies. But the church has endured worse. In fact, it will endure anything, because its founder has assured us the very “gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  DC

[333] Jennifer Clarke

Recently I read blogger Jennifer Clarke’s “What Would Jesus Really Say to a Homosexual?” 

I don’t, but evidently Clarke thinks she knows.

Here are Clarke’s self-reported credentials. She describes herself as “a Virginia girl, born and bred. I’m someone’s wife and best friend. I’m ‘Mama’ to three smaller someones. I’m a foster mom, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter. I am a church member. Some call me ‘friend.’ Some have called me teacher. “

At the expense of sounding elitist, I do not see the foregoing as making a sufficient case to accept Clarke as an expert on complex issues confronting the Christian community. Especially when she is presumptuously enough not to cite any recognized experts that may share her opinion.

Clarke may be brilliant. She may be lots of things. But one thing is clear. She is a white, married heterosexual commenting, in a less than informed way, on a population about which she apparently knows very little–one whose life experiences could hardly be more alien from hers if it tried

Make no mistake. I am not trying to tuck in a subtle, pro-gay statement here. Clarke may very well be correct in her condemnation of homosexuality, but in a world awash in blogging “experts,” I am concerned that simplistic renderings like hers do more to polarize than inform. DC

[332] Need More of This

It seems every time some prominent member of the evangelical community tosses in the spiritual towel and goes rogue, the Christian and secular press cannot get enough of it.  Paul Maxwell, Kevin Max, Abraham Piper, Joshua Harris, Marty Sampson, Jon Steingard, Rob Bell, Bart Campolo, Franky Schaeffer, and others have had their apostate stories highlighted.

Well, recently Seth Mahiga, formerly the secretary of the Atheists in Kenya Society resigned his post because he became a Christian.

Why don’t we hear more of this sort of thing?  Especially from the Christian press.

God is still at work.  Not every person is deconstructing her faith.  People are still coming into his kingdom–some rather well-known ones. If the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10) we might want to reported it on earth. DC

[331] Finally

The state of California has taken it in the shorts on its prejudicial treatment of churches. The state has to pay $2MM in legal fees to those who challenged its practice of placing greater C-19 restrictions on churches than on retail establishments.

Finally, the religious community has used the very weapon secular progressives have long employed to advance their causes–the law.  

Rather than silly demonstrations, letters to the editor, or acts of disorder, the churches involved based their actions on one of God’s attributes: justice.  And they won. DC

[330] It’s About Time

Last month Lori Lightfoot, the beleaguered mayor of the Windy City, refused one-on-one interviews with the Chicago press because of the overwhelming whiteness of its reporters.

And I loved it.

Not because I am a fan of Lightfoot, but because no faction of our society has been more zealous in charging public figures with racism than the press.  The slightest slip of the tongue or moment of weakness that can be interpreted as an indicator of racism seems to bring an avalanche of negative press coverage. 

From people who live in a house entirely made of glass.

Is there any institution with a richer old (white) boy’s tradition than the news media?  Of course there has been some movement in a more diverse direction. But it has been slow, and often more in the lower ranks than in the oligarchy of power.  The historical hypocrisy of the press in mattes of race has been appalling.

So on the Lightfoot front, I say, “It’s about time.”  DC

[329] Potato Nonsense

Recently, the Idaho House passed a bill aimed at preventing public and charter schools from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT). More specifically the bill would keep educators from having students “affirm, adopt, or adhere to” systems of thinking that holds individuals of various demographics responsible for past actions performed by their group.

This is nonsense in the state of potatoes. Yes, there are some genuine intellectual holes in CRT, but every time a largely white non-academic group goes after CRT two things usually emerge. First, they do not really understand the historic insidiousness of what is now called systemic racism (formally termed institutional racism). Second, they set off a firestorm of opposition that only further polarizes the races.

I advocate the position Gamaliel took when the Pharisees of his time were on the attack against Paul and his followers. In Acts 5:38-39 he urges they show leniency, because if the gospel were indeed foolishness it would come to nothing, but if it were the truth, it could not be overthrown. Of course, CRT ranks well behind the gospel in import, but I say leave it alone and let history render its verdict. Trust me, it has plenty of critics in the intellectual community. DC

[328] Online Insights

Cary Nieuwhof (careynieuwhof.com) reported the findings of a study of 20,000 online events held by 100 leading companies (Nestle, Conde Nast, Volkswagen, etc.) that could well be instructive for Christian colleges, many of which have been dragged kicking and screaming into the cyber world.

The goal for these companies was engagement–a critical factor in college student persistence.

Here are two of Nieuwhof’s preliminary findings.

–51% of the respondents indicated they had attended their first online event within the past calendar year.

–58% said they would invest more time in events in the future.

Summarizing the full report, Nieuwhof unearthed three lessons for the church that also could work well for the Christian college.

Online Events Drive Engagement and Awareness

With over 45% stating online events increasing engagement, it becomes important to move people out of the role of passive viewing and into chat environments or downloading free resources. As for awareness, it is critical that people know who we really are and what we are about.

Evolving Tech Platforms

While just over 50% of the businesses said that Zoom was their primary online event, there are myriad software platforms available for online events (YouTube, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live, Instagram Live and on and on).  You can go channel-specific or customize content to the chosen platform.

Online is Not Going Away

A half year ago, less than half of the business leaders in the study had run an online event. The future is online. More than ever since C-19 made remote the norm. DC

 

[327] Pfleger

Father Michael Pfleger, the 71-year-old high profile Chicago priest who regularly invited biblically-centered Protestant groups to minister to his African-American congregation, has been removed from active ministry by the Chicago Archdiocese due to an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. It allegedly occurred over 40 years ago. Later, another alleged victim came forward, the brother of the first. In March, a third person claimed that Pfleger provided him with alcohol and marijuana before sexually assaulting him when he was 18.

Pfleger denies these decades-old allegations.

Where do we go with this?

Because of the Catholic Church’s history of covering up unspeakable misdeeds by its priests and the constant stream of accusations, there are no clear paths to resolution. According to the 2004 John Jay Report, 11,000 allegations had been made against 4,392 priests in the US alone. That’s approximately 4% of the priests who had served during the period covered by the survey (1950–2002).

If any of these accusations against Pfleger is accepted as true by the Archdiocese, it will bring to an end his courageous ministry, one in which he has consistently stood up for those who are the least valued in the eyes of the world.

Even if they are not deemed valid, Pfleger may well be forever tarnished, as the sexual assault label doesn’t come off just because a tribunal says it should. will stick in the minds of many.

If he is guilty, I pray he confesses. If he is innocent, may God intervene and save his ministry. DC

 

[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