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Christianity Today Magazine



News and analysis from the world's leading Christian magazine.



Last Build Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:38:52 PST

Copyright: Copyright 2018, Christianity Today
 



The Rise of Reformed Charismatics

A 21st-century global movement sets the Word on fire with gospel preaching and powerful spiritual gifts.

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The rollicking worship pulsed for nearly an hour in the humid Sanctuary: energetic singing, hundreds of hands raised, prophetic words referencing the Spirit’s flames, and sparks of spontaneous prayer among strangers from different states and nations.

When the worship ended, the crowd sat down, opened their English Standard Version Bibles and settled in for a 35-minute expository sermon on Galatians from King’s

Church London teaching pastor Andrew Wilson, who brought a different kind of fire.

Each night of the Advance church planting network’s global conference featured this sort of hybrid—doctrinally rich, gospel-focused, Reformed preaching sandwiched between free-flowing charismatic worship—a combination that would make many a Presbyterian (and a few Pentecostals) squirm.

But for the crowd gathered at Covenant Life Church in suburban Washington, DC, including pastors from Kenya, Nepal, Australia, and Thailand, it flowed as naturally as it does in their own Reformed charismatic churches—more than 70 of them across the globe.

Advance is hardly the only group in the middle of this theological Venn diagram, with growing numbers of theologically savvy, Spirit-filled followers in the United States, Britain, and around the world. Five hundred years after the Reformation, Luther’s 21st-century inheritors are embracing the Holy Spirit in new and deeper ways.

Newfrontiers, a network of global “apostolic spheres,” has planted hundreds of churches over the last 30 years, many of which fit the Reformed charismatic mold. The movement’s founder, Terry Virgo, a British pastor, serves as a sort of elder statesman of Calvinist continuationists and authored the book The Spirit-Filled Church. ...

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Sometimes Our First Step in Evangelism Is Not Jumping in with a Gospel Presentation

Start each week with this encouragement to show and share the love of Jesus.

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Sometimes Our First Step in Evangelism Is Not Jumping in with a Gospel Presentation

Kerilee Van Schooten, Church Evangelism Research and Ministries Coordinator at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, talks to us about what it means to simply listen and be present when we enter into certain conversations. It can be difficult to just sit and be with someone in pain, but sometimes, that’s what God calls us to do. After we’ve done that and demonstrated our care and love, God just may open up doors to gospel proclamation.

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

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Why I’ve Spent Half My Life Helping North Korea
Despite political and military tensions in the region, the director of Christian Friends of Korea is committed to medical ministry. North Korea’s recent decision to participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics comes at a time when the country has arguably never been more isolated from the West. Recent actions and counteractions between the United States and North Korea have led to unprecedented tensions in a long-strained relationship. The State Department issued a travel ban that forced about 200 Americans working there to leave before it went into effect, and more recently, the United Nations initiated new sanctions against the country. Despite the risks and restrictions—some of which have been ongoing for decades—American Christians have found ways to minister to North Koreans in need. For some, it means teaching young people at the evangelical-founded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. For Heidi Linton, who serves as the director of Christian Friends of Korea (CFK), it means serving gravely sick North Koreans. CFK describes its mission as sharing “God’s heart of love and grace to the North Korean people primarily within the context of tuberculosis and hepatitis.” “These are both very serious diseases in North Korea that affect hundreds of thousands—probably millions,” said Linton, who has been working in the country since the mid-1990s. Linton, along with her American team members, must now secure special validation passports to continue working in North Korea. She spoke recently with CT about her family’s long connection to North Korea, her personal relationships with citizens of the closed country, and the role Billy Graham played in catalyzing CFK’s work. To what extent has fear factored into your work? How can you avoid fear when it comes to North Korea? That said, I ...Continue reading... [...]



What Persecution Is, and Isn’t, and How to Respond to Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List

Our misuse of 'persecution' disrespects believers for whom any public reference of their faith could mean death.

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Having just come out of the holiday season, many of you will likely remember recent rhetoric surrounding a certain conflict—one that some have called the “war on Christmas.” For those of you who aren’t aware or haven’t heard the news, some Christians felt they could not wish others “Merry Christmas” or were feeling disrespected when some would wish them “Happy holidays” instead of their preferred “Merry Christmas.”

Perhaps for perspective we should instead read Open Door’s 2018 World Watch List.

Just this past Wednesday, the organization released their annual report, which ranks the 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Among the worst of the worst were North Korea and Afghanistan, which claimed the first and second spots, respectively.

According to the list, the two were nearly tied. Pakistan scored highest in terms of incidents of church or church building attacks, abductions, and forced marriages. The rise of intense persecution in central Asian countries, as well as Hindu and Buddhist nationalism in other parts of the continent, were also noted by the report.

But we mustn’t overlook another important facet of the report—one that gives us a picture of the kinds of persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ experience on a day-to-day basis: during this most recent reporting period, Open Doors found that 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, 1,020 raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches attacked because of their expressed faith in Christ.

Persecution isn’t something we just read about in history books. It’s unfortunately alive and well—a tragic, yet very real, occurrence for many Christians ...

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Simone Biles, #MeToo, and How Christians Must Respond

This is a problem we all must address.

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Just tonight, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles joined the chorus of women who’ve bravely brought their stories of abuse into the public light. Biles, 20, made this announcement detailing the ways her former team doctor, Larry Nassar, abused both her and other teammates.

#MeToo, it seems, continues on, as it should until every story is heard and each and every church becomes a place of healing and restoration for all who have been treated as anything less than worthy of one made in the image of God.

We’re living in a time of confession—one focused on openness and honesty about the ways women have been abused and mistreated. This only comes after decades spent trying to deny truth and sweep exploitation under the rug.

Much of this started with one of the most shocking news stories this nation has seen in years—a story about one man’s desire to conquest not just one, but multiple unwilling women. Over the course of his career as a Hollywood mogul and movie producer, Harvey Weinstein took it upon himself to sexually harass and assault countless female coworkers and acquaintances.

Common Factors

Although the list continues to grow, many have already come forward to speak and share their stories about their encounters with Weinstein. Despite the differences between these women, several common descriptors can be used to characterize Weinstein perpetrators and his victims.

First and foremost, these encounters were exploitative.

Many victims of Weinstein and others are often young women forced to ward off approaches made by much older, aggressive men. Regardless of age, however, exploitation happens all to frequently and should be forcely condemned by all of us.

Women are not resources to exploit.

The exchanges were ...

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Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr., and Having a Dream

Lessons from the life of Dr. King

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Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day—a Monday dedicated each year to celebrating the legacy of a man who labored tirelessly for racial equality.

As the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, I’ve naturally taken particular interest in a certain relationship: that is, the friendship between Rev. Billy Graham and Dr. King. Graham spoke of this friendship in a press conference he gave in Bonn, Germany, in the spring of 1970. He remarked on King’s work, arguing that as a social reformer, his goal, ultimately, was to fulfill the same mission Graham worked towards—just through different means. (Be sure to read his actual words.)

Graham’s point, especially in today’s cultural context, is a critical one. Mission is a broad term, and is more than gospel proclamation alone. The message of Christ’s love and redemption is always at the heart of the work we do, certainly. But that doesn’t mean that all our day-to-day work looks the same.

Martin Luther King Jr. worked, among other things, to free African Americans living in the United States from the oppression of segregation. He worked day and night speaking, writing, and organizing events and groups of leaders with the goal of doing justice for those who are oppressed.

King ultimately dedicated his life to this cause because he had a dream—but not just any dream—a mission that led to a dream.

Our engagement of issues of race remind us that Jesus came not just to save those with a certain skin color, but every tongue, tribe, and nation on earth. His love wasn’t ‘color-blind’ because different colors didn’t scare him. His love, poured out on that old rugged cross, was for all people. ...

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Why Chile’s Churches Are Under Attack as Pope Francis Visits
Evangelical and Catholic churches targeted by radical members of a largely Christian indigenous group. Today vandals in Santiago, Chile, firebombed three Catholic churches just ahead of Pope Francis’s scheduled visit to the South American nation on Monday. Notes left at the scene warned that “Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe,” and indicated members of the Mapuche indigenous group were responsible. The Mapuche originate about seven hours south of the capital city, where radical members have burned down 27 Catholic and evangelical churches in the past three years. Responsibility for the attacks is claimed by an extremist group called Weichan Auka Mapu. It leaves behind messages with demands, such as the release of Mapuche prisoners or the return of Mapuche land which it says was taken by the Chilean government in the 19th century. A high percentage of Mapuches now identify as Christian: 55 percent are Catholic, and 32 percent are Protestant. But for others, Christians are still seen as invaders complicit in the government’s actions. Of the 20 churches burned down between 2015 and 2016, 12 were Catholic and 8 were Protestant. In 2017, a further 7 have been torched. These churches also served as schools, meeting places, and shelters for those fleeing natural disasters. Many belonged to the poorest sectors of the poorest region in Chile, and were attended by Mapuches themselves. The leader of an Assemblies of God church burned down in July recalled the moment his attractive wooden church—built 15 years ago using money raised by church members—was reduced to ashes. Juan Mella, who is also head of the local pastors’ council, said the event demonstrated an intolerance among the Mapuches. “Each human being can have their own views with regard to faith, spirituality,” he ...Continue reading... [...]



The Theology for Life Podcast
A weekly podcast co-hosted by Drs. Ed Stetzer and Lynn Cohick Sin, Patience, and Our Theology In this episode of Theology for Life Ed and Lynn talk to Dr. David Lauber about his works on both the doctrine of sin and the role of patience in the Christian life. David Lauber (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is associate professor of theology at Wheaton College. He is the author of Barth on the Descent into Hell and the co-editor of several volumes, including Theology Questions Everyone Asks, Trinitarian Theology for the Church, and The Bloomsbury Companion to the Doctrine of Sin. The Theology of Evangelism In this episode of Theology for Life, Ed and Lynn talk to Dr. Rick Richardson about developing a theology of evangelism. What is evangelism, and how is it different than witness or demonstrations of the gospel? Dr. Richardson talks about why we drift from evangelism and what we can do about it. Rick Richardson is evangelism fellow at the Billy Graham Center, professor of evangelism and leadership at Wheaton College, and director of the MA in Evangelism and Leadership and the MA in Missional Church Movements degrees. Rick consults widely with churches on evangelism and healing and reconciliation for the emerging generation and on contemporary missional churches and missional movements. Dr. Lynn Cohick is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. Dr. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.Continue reading... [...]



Does the Church’s First Spiritual Abuse Verdict Give Critics a New Weapon?
We emulate Jesus when we expose abuse. But dividing it into special categories may do more harm than good. For the first time, the Church of England has formally found one of its leaders guilty of “spiritual abuse.” The bishop’s disciplinary tribunal decided this past week that Timothy Davis, vicar of a large evangelical parish church in the Oxfordshire town of Abingdon, was guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.” The same weekend, the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) in the United Kingdom released a report on spiritual abuse which found that almost two-thirds of churchgoers who took an online survey (1,002 of 1,591) felt that they had personally experienced it. The report’s findings suggested more training is needed to help people recognize spiritual abuse and to equip churches to deal with disclosures. The research project was led by Lisa Oakley from the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work (NCPQSW) at Bournemouth University, and assisted by Justin Humphreys, one of CCPAS’s executive directors. I must admit to feeling conflicted by the increasing usage of the term spiritual abuse. As an NCPQSW research fellow, I have the utmost respect for my friends and colleagues Lisa and Justin. As a foster carer, I also know how vital it is to protect children and vulnerable adults from all types of abuse, and I greatly value the work of CCPAS in keeping safeguarding a high priority for churches. But I also have sympathy with critics of the term spiritual abuse, as well as those who fear the negative impact it could have—both internally in the life of the church and externally in the public perception of the church. Almost every public institution in the UK has had to face up ...Continue reading... [...]



Why We Need to Talk about Trump’s Haiti Remarks
Christians can expand their compassion by looking at the deeper story of development and immigration. Yesterday in a meeting about immigration reform, President Donald Trump questioned why he should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador, and nations in Africa, instead of places like Norway. Even in the constant onslaught of news and tweets, this particular presidential remark contains several issues that are important for us to consider as Christians. For 15 years I’ve lived in or traveled to Haiti as a development worker. On the eighth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake and in the midst of the ongoing congressional debate over immigration reform, here are six important points about the president’s comment: 1. He is naming the fact that life is hard in these countries. Daily life in Haiti is for many people a struggle to survive—even without the crises of violence, political upheaval, earthquakes, hurricanes, and mudslides. To add some specifics, recently a detailed report came out on an alleged massacre by Haitian police officers near an Evangelical Bible School that I’ve visited many times. On this earthquake anniversary, I’m thinking about friends like the motorcycle taxi driver I’ve ridden with hundreds of times. He lost siblings and dozens in his church who were crushed when the building collapsed during a prayer service. In Haiti, over 200,000 children are trapped in forced servitude, about a third of women report incidents of domestic violence, and families struggle to find good options for education. Yes, life is hard. Though the president put it in a crass way, we can pause to ensure we haven’t become numb to suffering of our brothers and sisters.Continue reading... [...]



The Religious Conflict at the Heart of Our Culture Wars

How theological differences over sex have fueled some of the bitterest political fights of the past century and more.

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If we want to understand the challenge of disintegrating sexual norms and the culture wars surrounding them, one of the most important things we need is history. This crisis did not just explode out of nowhere in the 1990s or even the 1960s. In Moral Combat, R. Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center for Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, reviews a century’s worth of American cultural conflict over sexuality, fueled by a growing divide between religious subcultures. Her account is subtly biased, but readers will benefit from her clear presentation of the longer history and larger significance of our sexual conflicts.

Griffith picks up the story in the aftermath of the conflict over the 19th Amendment. With women’s suffrage enshrined in the Constitution, the nation had hardly caught its breath before it was embroiled in a series of political conflicts over sexuality. Suffrage was followed by a series of what we would now call “culture wars” over birth control laws, censorship of pornography, marriage across ethnic lines, Alfred Kinsey’s sex research, and sex education in schools. These led straight into the battles over abortion, sexual harassment, gay rights, and transgenderism that are still raging today.

The first and most important takeaway from Moral Combat, then, is that the culture wars are at least a century old. Since the women’s suffrage movement began, there has never been a time when political conflict over sex was not an important presence in American public life.

The second takeaway is the centrality of sex to the culture wars. Other issues have been involved, of course. But there is a reason the controversy over abortion shot right to ...

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