Subscribe: ChristianityToday.com: Most-Read Articles
http://feeds.christianitytoday.com/christianitytoday/mostreads
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
christian  church  continue reading  continue  god  jesus  ldquo  mdash  people  rdquo  reading  trump  white jesus  white 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: ChristianityToday.com: Most-Read Articles

Christianity Today Magazine



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



Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:48:57 PDT

Copyright: Copyright 2017, Christianity Today
 



Cover Story: Facing Our Legacy of Lynching

How a memorial could help lead America—and Christians—to repentance from a dark history.

(image)

In 1902 a black man named Alonzo Tucker was lynched from a bridge in the coastal town of Coos Bay, Oregon, a few hours south of my home. It is the only lynching on record in the state, and the limited known details were enough to catch my throat. Tucker had been accused of assaulting a white woman, and an angry mob had formed to take his life in the streets. He was jailed, partly to protect him from the crowds. But at some point, he panicked and somehow escaped, hiding for a night beneath some docks.

In the morning, a band of men found Tucker and shot him as he tried to run away. Tucker may have died from his wounds—no one knows for certain—but to make sure he was dead and to make a spectacle of the event, the crowd hung Tucker from the Fourth Street Bridge, right in the heart of that small Oregon coal-mining town.

I stumbled upon Tucker’s story while researching racial injustice in Oregon and couldn’t get it out of my mind. We had a family beach trip coming up, and I told my husband we needed to detour through Coos Bay to visit the site where Tucker died. He drove to the hardware store, bought some lumber, and made a large white cross to bring with us.

Once in town, I couldn’t find the Fourth Street Bridge. My husband dropped me at the local history museum and took our kids to play in a park. I awkwardly brought up the lynching with the man at the museum, who knew exactly what I was referring to. He gave me as much information as he had, making copies from local history books. I asked him if the museum would ever consider making an exhibit about Tucker, but the man shook his head sadly. “We just don’t have enough information” he said. “There isn’t even a single photo ...

Continue reading...

(image)



'House of Cards' Keeps Scraping the Bottom of Evil’s Barrel
After five seasons, it’s high time the Underwoods’ crimes come home to roost. This article contains potential spoilers for House of Cards, Seasons 1–5. Netflix’s House of Cards is now in danger of overstaying its welcome. At five seasons, the story feels bloated, its characters stretched thin. Despite its largely depleted resources, however, there remain a few slender elements that could salvage the show. Though I rolled my eyes at the final episode’s open-ended conclusion, I’ll reluctantly concede that another season of House of Cards might restore some of the show’s bite. With its muted color palette, finely crafted dialogue, and expert performances, House of Cards wears its prestige drama getup well, but that’s not enough. As the promising but lackluster Ozarkhas recently demonstrated, high production values don’t guarantee a story’s success, and House of Cards season 5 doesn’t quite convince us that what’s happening on its elaborate sets really matters. The series has always struggled with one major challenge: How do you make a static character interesting? Francis (Frank) Underwood arrives onscreen as a fully-formed monster. From his callous killing of a wounded dog in the show’s opening scenes to his gleefully blasphemous antics in an empty sanctuary, we know immediately that Frank’s insatiable appetite for power is matched only by his ruthless ambition—that he’ll do anything to get what he wants. We may be horrified at the lengths to which he’ll go to secure his wishes, but we’re certainly not surprised. Compare this to a show like Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, where we witness a moral transformation that’s as plausible as it is horrifying. (Gilligan pursues a similar trajectory in the stunning ...Continue reading... [...]



Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections. Following his much-anticipated confab with nearly 1,000 evangelical pastors and leaders, Republican candidate Donald Trump has released a long list of his born-again advisory board. Not everyone on the board endorses Trump—but they’ve agreed to consult with him as he continues to reach out to an evangelical movement solidly split between the already on-board, the hesitant, and the decidedly #NeverTrump. Some of the 25 figureheads on Trump’s board have relationships with him that go back several years. Some first connected at earlier campaign events targeting clergy. The breadth of his list serves as a reminder of the wide reach of American evangelicalism, from the institutional leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention to the prosperity gospel preachers made famous through Christian TV programming. Below are brief explainers on each of the evangelicals who have signed on to influence the theology of Trump: The Big Names James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Who he is: Dobson led national Christian ministry Focus on the Family from its founding in 1977 through 2003. He now hosts a radio program called My Family Talk. He also founded the Family Research Council, a Christian lobbying group currently led by Tony Perkins. Dobson, a pioneer Christian psychologist, has penned dozens of books about family life. His wife, Shirley, was the head of the National Day of Prayer Task Force until this year, when she handed over the reins to Anne Graham Lotz. His evangelical ties: Dobson’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all pastors in the Church of the Nazarene. Dobson and the organizations he launched are household names among American evangelicals, synonymous with “family values” stances. ...Continue reading... [...]



Interview: The 'Prophets' and 'Apostles' Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion
A Christian movement characterized by multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism. A quiet revolution is taking place in America religion, say Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, authors of The Rise of Network Christianity: How Independent Leaders Are Changing the Religious Landscape. Largely behind the scenes, a group of mostly self-proclaimed “apostles,” leading ministries from North Carolina to Southern California, has attracted millions of followers with promises of direct access to God through signs and wonders. Their movement, which Christerson and Flory called “Independent Network Charismatic” or “INC” Christianity, has become one of the fastest-growing faith groups in the United States. Apostles like Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, and Ché Ahn claim millions of followers. They’re also aided by an army of fellow ministers who fall under their “spiritual covering.” Many of these apostles run megachurches, including Bethel Church in Redding California, HRock Church in Pasadena, and the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. But their real power lies in their innovative approach to selling faith. They’ve combined multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism to connect directly with millions of spiritual customers. That allows them to reap millions in donations, conference fees, and book and DVD sales. And because these INC apostles claim to get direction straight from God, they operate with almost no oversight. Nashville-based religion writer Bob Smietana spoke with Christerson (professor of sociology at Biola University) and Flory (senior director of research and evaluation at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California) about ...Continue reading... [...]



Are Christians Donating Too Directly to Missions?
When helping hurts the professional helpers. Long before Google Maps, a couple of guys in a garage in California figured out how to use personal computers to create a digital map of the global church. It was 1983, and their two-year project—meant to help organizations see where to send missionaries and who still needed translations of the Bible—grew into an organization called Global Mapping International (GMI). GMI spent the next 34 years supplying products such as missions maps and studies on how missionaries could thrive. It didn’t charge missions agencies very much and supplemented by asking for donations. In June, GMI closed its doors, unable to draw enough funding from today’s givers. “The attention span of the donor is much shorter, and their desire for tangible, immediate impact from their gift is much higher,” said GMI president and CEO Jon Hirst. Up-and-coming donors are bringing with them a new set of priorities. Nearly a quarter of millennial Christian givers (22%) say efficiency and effectiveness are good reasons to support an organization, compared to 12 percent of those over 35, according to a groundbreaking study by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). It asked about the motivations of more than 16,000 donors to Christian ministries. Younger donors also are more likely than older donors to research an organization before giving (96% vs. 88%), as well as to choose ministries that do long-term humanitarian work such as caring for orphans (89% vs. 85%) or providing education (76% vs. 68%). They’re less likely to favor things such as making the Bible available (90% vs. 96%), teaching Christians to live as disciples (77% vs. 83%) or strengthening marriages and families (70% vs. 76%), ECFA reported. ...Continue reading... [...]



Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous? I have seen a man dance holding a translucent scarf, the fabric billowing around his spinning form like a garment made of stars. I have prayed for strangers’ healing from high-blood pressure and unspecified neurological disorders. I have wept with salt-faced abandon as four women prayed over me; I have walked through a “fire tunnel”; I have seen a woman bob in Hasidic fashion over the Bible app on her smartphone. I experienced all this at the increasingly famous (and, to some, infamous) Bethel Church, and I did so as an evangelical Christian of Reformed persuasion. My parents named me for the Welsh pastor-theologian Martyn Lloyd-Jones. My father is a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Jonathan Edwards is one of my guiding lights, Wheaton College is my alma mater, and I attend a Presbyterian church in Toronto where I have never heard anyone speak or pray in tongues. Yet Bethel has been on my mind since a friend prayed for my healing at a campground in Wisconsin in 2010. She introduced me to the teachings of Bethel’s senior pastor, Bill Johnson, and gave me a few of his books. As Bethel grows, you might very well hear from a few people in your congregation who have traveled to Redding to find out if Bethel is “real”—and who come back proclaiming that revival is under way. When I set out for Bethel Church—a hub of a global revival movement—I half-expected to discover a rogue organization of hucksters intent on subverting the faith. And I half-expected to discover a community of believers more earnest and devoted to God than anyone I’d ever met. In the end, what I discovered in Redding, California, didn’t fit either narrative neatly. Bethel Church sits ...Continue reading... [...]



I’m a Rare Breed: An Elite Chess Player Who’s Open About His Faith
Why I follow Jesus publicly, even when people warn that my career will suffer. On the small planet where elite chess players dwell, very few people worship Jesus Christ. If anyone discovers that you’re one of those “superstitious,” “narrow-minded idiots,” you’re likely to see nasty comments accumulate on your Facebook fan page. On a regular basis, I receive emails from strangers lecturing me about the dangers of following Jesus. Out of pity or disgust, they wonder how I, the world’s second-ranked chess player, can be so “weak-minded.” I have been assured that identifying openly as a Christian will interfere with sponsorship, support, and invitations to events. I have been told that spending time reading my Bible, praying, and going to church will inevitably weaken my performance. People plead with me to at least keep quiet. They say thanking God publicly makes me look ridiculous. So why did I make such a risky move? Playing it Safe The Philippines, where I grew up, is a country of God-seekers. People mention God all the time, in just about every context. Everyone believes he exists, even if they’re unwilling to claim much more than that. As a child, I was informed that you needed to be a good person so that God would give you certain blessings, like food and jobs—which are very important in such a poor country. But this confused me, because it seemed like the bad people received more than the good people. I knew of many famous crooks who went to church, wore religious symbols, and got tattoos of Jesus or a crucifix—and they were pretty rich. Clearly, many popular beliefs and practices were less a matter of worshiping God than of appeasing the god of luck. One legend had it that if you rubbed a particular part of a particular statue, ...Continue reading... [...]



What the Alt-Right Tells Us About Christianity and Politics
The role religion plays in the white nationalist group behind the Charlottesville protests. President Donald Trump’s campaign coincided with the increasing mainstream awareness of the alt-right, a group which has gained recent national attention after it organized an ultimately violent protest in Charlottesville last weekend. But while public name recognition of this group has increased in the past two years, the full extent of its breadth and popularity is not always clear. For starters, one important way this group differs from previous far-right movements is its relationship with Christianity. “The alt-right is now mostly ignoring the religious question,” said George Hawley, the author of the forthcoming book, Making Sense of the Alt-Right. “That sets it apart from earlier far-right movements. Obviously, the KKK presented itself as an explicitly Protestant movement. … The alt-right seems to be of the view that Christianity is becoming marginally irrelevant, at least in American politics, and as such, it seems to be largely avoiding the subject.” Hawley joined assistant editor Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli on Quick to Listen this week to discuss the true influence and popularity of this community, its connection—or lack thereof—with Christianity, and what role the church could play in fighting its message. What is “Quick to Listen”? Read more. Subscribe to “Quick to Listen” on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Facebook and Twitter Follow our guest on Twitter: George Hawley Follow our host on Twitter: Morgan Lee Subscribe to Mark’s newsletter: The Galli Report Quick to Listen is produced by Richard Clark and Cray AllredContinue reading... [...]



The Gospel of Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook and others have started to imitate, but can’t replace, church community. From the late 1980s, many churches made the decision to run like businesses and now, in a surprising twist, businesses in 2017 are running like churches. At Facebook’s inaugural Communities Summit earlier this summer, CEO Mark Zuckerberg lauded the role churches historically played in society, from providing support in community to stoking charitable volunteerism. In the face of declining church membership, he suggested that Facebook could now fill the void left behind. “It’s so striking,” he stated, “that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one quarter. That’s a lot of people who need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.” At Facebook, he continued, “we started a project to see if we could get better at suggesting groups that will be meaningful to you. We started building artificial intelligence to do this. And it works. In the first six months, we helped 50 percent more people join meaningful communities.” There’s much that Zuckerberg gets right. The much-discussed “nones”—those unaffiliated with any particular religion—have indeed been on the rise for decades, and their growth isn’t just obvious in emptying churches. Instead of Catholics or white evangelicals, it was religious nones that represented the largest religious voting bloc in the 2016 election. Another set of affiliations, major political parties, also saw allegiances drop with the rise of the independent voter, who refuses to align with either party. In 2000, Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam first noted the collapse of civic engagement in American society. Since the 1960s, fewer Americans had been investing in “social ...Continue reading... [...]



Hope for America’s Opioid Epidemic Is Grace in a Syringe
Why addiction ministry can include fellowship, the gospel and Narcan. The man in front of me is almost dead. His lips are blue. He isn’t breathing. His eyes are half open and still. His arms fall limply off the stretcher, and he doesn’t flinch as needles are threaded into his veins and his clothes are stripped away. His wife is wailing in the doorway. His pulse—a barely palpable flutter beneath my fingertips—is the only indication that something might be done. We have only a few seconds to act before the faint, fast rhythm slips away entirely and he is gone. Irreversibly. Irretrievably. We secure a syringe to his IV, we push the plunger, and we wait. He gasps. He coughs, he flails, then screams and kicks. He rips his IV out and tumbles to the floor: wild, naked, and incoherent. He is in agony. But he is alive. Resurrected. This is Narcan. This is the scene that plays out daily in my emergency department at a community hospital fighting for lives deep in the heart of opiate country. We have only a few tools to combat the overdoses that will take more lives this year than car accidents or guns, and Narcan—the opioid reversal medication also known as Naloxone—is the most effective. A spray up the nose, a shot in the thigh, or a push through an IV and within seconds: a miracle. The dead live. A sin is forgiven. The hopeless receive hope. For a Christian doctor, Narcan looks like grace in a syringe. As our country slips deeper into an epidemic that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Thursday, the debate around Narcan for opioid overdoses has surfaced as a unique pro-life issue. While this medication has the power to prevent the majority of opioid deaths, its efficacy relies on it being administered quickly, within minutes, to an overdose victim. ...Continue reading... [...]



The Centuries-Old Habits of the Heart
How our accomodation of sin found us out in Charlottesville. The tragic events in Charlottesville have captivated the attention of the nation, plunging us, yet again, into another period of deep soul-searching over our anguished racial history. President Donald Trump drew criticism from both sides of the aisle for his reluctance to condemn white nationalism specifically in his initial remarks. As a scholar of political rhetoric, I understand, yet strongly disagree with Trump’s strategy in refusing to condemn white nationalism specifically. A vocal part of his base aligns with this philosophy, leaving him little incentive to risk alienating them. When former Klansman David Duke endorsed Trump during the campaign, the candidate expressed similar hesitancy in distancing himself from white nationalism. Trump deserves strong criticism for his failure to specifically and clearly condemn white nationalism. The lure of power and votes do not justify his silence. Yet, to criticize an unpopular president is easy. Perhaps the harder, more difficult task we face in the wake of Charlottesville is to consider how we as citizens and Christians engage in a similar type of silence on a regular basis. Many of us mobilize in defense of ideals of equality every time an incident like Charlottesville occurs but quickly retreat to our comfort zones when public attention dies down. Daily battles for equality in church, education, employment, and the criminal justice system are much harder to maintain. Trump’s silence on white supremacy was not an aberration but a cultural norm. Our disgust with his statement threatens to blind us to the ways in which the American imagination has consistently made room for the ideas of white supremacy to exist alongside core values like freedom, justice, and equality. ...Continue reading... [...]



Why Jesus’ Skin Color Matters
That he was an ethnic minority shapes how we minister today. After one of my recent lectures, a Christian college student approached me and asked if black people are uncomfortable with the fact that Jesus is white. I responded, “Jesus is not white. The Jesus of history likely looked more like me, a black woman, than you, a white woman.” I wasn’t shocked by this student’s assumption that Jesus was of European descent, or the certitude with which she stated it. When I am in US Christian spaces, I encounter this assumption so often that I’ve come to believe it is the default assumption about Jesus’ appearance. Indeed, white Jesus is everywhere: a 30-foot-tall white Savior stands at the center of Biola University’s campus; white Jesus is featured on most Christmas cards; and the recent History Channel mini-series The Bible dramatically introduced a white Jesus to more than 100 million viewers. In most of the Western world, Jesus is white. While Christ the Lord transcends skin color and racial divisions, white Jesus has real consequences. In all likelihood, if you close your eyes and picture Jesus, you’ll imagine a white man. Without conscious intention or awareness, many of us have become disciples of a white Jesus. Not only is white Jesus inaccurate, he also can inhibit our ability to honor the image of God in people who aren’t white. Jesus of Nazareth likely had a darker complexion than we imagine, not unlike the olive skin common among Middle Easterners today. Princeton biblical scholar James Charlesworth goes so far as to say Jesus was “most likely dark brown and sun-tanned.” The earliest depictions of an adult Jesus showed him with an “Oriental cast” and a brown complexion. But by the sixth century, some Byzantine ...Continue reading... [...]



In ‘The Case for Christ,’ Experience, not Evidence, Is the Real Clincher
Pure Flix's adaptation of the apologetics classic succeeds most where it preaches least. In his 2008 anti-religion documentary Religulous, Bill Maher was on a mission: His goal was to put religious people in their place once and for all by demonstrating how ridiculous and harmful their beliefs are. With its sub–Michael Moore grandstanding and utter lack of self-awareness, it was an astonishingly foolish film. In lieu of mounting a serious investigation into what makes faith—and the faithful—tick, Maher preferred to point a camera at whichever believers would agree to sign a release, and then badgered and mocked them into oblivion. In only an hour and a half, Maher and his director conducted a master class in how to make a bad film about religion: Prize glibness over substance, treat people like props, and never interrogate your own assumptions. Movies from Christian film studio Pure Flix are on a mission as well. As the studio’s stated purpose makes plain, they’re out “to influence the global culture for Christ through media,” and that single-minded approach is apparent in the media it produces and distributes. Pure Flix’s output and Maher’s Religulous couldn’t be farther apart on the ideological spectrum, but more often than not, they represent two sides of the same coin when it comes to their inability to conceive of a universe that doesn’t conform to all of their presuppositions. It’s a failure not only of imagination, but also of humility—a failure that may not trouble Maher, but should trouble Christians. It’s a relief, then, to find that Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ, released in theaters last week, makes an effort to shed the constraints of the “faith-based film” in favor of a more well-rounded vision. ...Continue reading... [...]



Defending the Accuracy of Scripture, One Coincidence at a Time
How the Bible’s little details can pack a big apologetic punch. Asked whether it is rational to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, many of us instinctively turn to what is known, in apologetics, as a minimal facts approach. We’ll note that virtually all scholars of any persuasion will agree with certain basic facts surrounding the resurrection: Jesus was crucified and died. His tomb was found empty. Later, his disciples sincerely believed he had appeared to them, alive. Saul of Tarsus, a Jewish persecutor of Christians, had a similar experience. The most reasonable explanation of these basic, agreed-upon facts, we argue, is that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. Perhaps the foremost presentation of this argument comes from Michael Licona’s The Resurrection of Jesus. This approach is good and useful, but Lydia McGrew wants to resuscitate another method for vindicating the reliability of the Gospels and their accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. McGrew’s book, Hidden in Plain View, uncovers the importance of what she calls “undesigned coincidences” sprinkled across different New Testament passages. Puzzle Pieces McGrew defines an undesigned coincidence as “a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned. . . . Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a puzzle.” In other words, an undesigned coincidence occurs when multiple passages of Scripture include details that at first seem unrelated but which, upon further reflection, fit together in a way that only makes sense if both accounts are based on the same underlying historical truth. And therein lies the apologetic value of this approach. Undesigned coincidences are subtle enough that it would be pointless ...Continue reading... [...]



Directions: You're Divorced—Can You Remarry?
Q: The New Testament seems to support divorce for a narrow range of reasons, but does it support remarriage?—K.A.Miller, Wheaton, Illinois A: There are three New Testament passages that bear most directly on the subject of divorce and remarriage. I suggest that when they are carefully considered, they prove to be both more demanding and less restrictive on the question of divorce and remarriage than evangelicals have often acknowledged. Luke 16:18 is a very bold, straightforward saying that seems to settle the issue quickly: "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery" (all quotations from the NRSV). Both divorce and remarriage are just plain wrong—right? Almost all New Testament scholars agree that this saying is an abbreviation of a saying of Jesus that appears in its fuller form in Matthew 5:31–32 in the Sermon on the Mount. After discussing his views contrasted with those in Judaism, Jesus remarks, "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." It is noteworthy that Jesus clearly sees some circumstances that legitimize divorce. A marriage continues to be valid until one party dissolves the marriage through unfaithfulness. This so-called exception clause appears here in Matthew 5 and again in Matthew 19 but does not occur in either Mark or Luke. In a similar passage in Mark 10:11–12, Jesus widens the scope of the teaching to show that such dissolution may apply to the behavior ...Continue reading... [...]