The Greatest Showman Is The Wake Up Call That the Church Needs

Racial discrimination? Check. Gender inequality? Check. Class warfare? Check. Prejudice based on physical ability and differences? Check. The choice between family values and power? Check. The undying pursuit of the American dream at all costs? Check. The Greatest Showman is an allegory about what the church should be. If we don’t address the fissure currently dividing the church now, we will never put out the fire currently raging through our halls and hearts. Like Barnum, we have forgotten to love. To love people who look, sound, think and feel differently to us. To love other Christians who didn’t vote the same way we did.

Source: The Greatest Showman Is The Wake Up Call That the Church Needs – RELEVANT Magazine

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America’s cult of guns has a lot of money behind it

Guns are a religion now. And too many of our fellow citizens — including evangelical Christians, of all people — will continue to heedlessly worship at this altar, despite the dead children, the dead teachers, the dead concertgoers and the innocent bystanders who must sacrifice their lives for others’ overriding faith in their weapons. It is safe to say that nobody in the cult of guns listens to Jesus. None of this will stop unless the cult of guns is curbed. This won’t be easy; the cult has a lot of money behind it.

Source: America’s cult of guns (opinion) – CNN

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Our desire to test theology, whether it is strange or not, reinforces our reverence toward God

Questioning the validity of orthodoxy is anything but spiritual error because Scripture calls us to test such things. Church authorities are the ones fighting opposition, refusing to allow there to be diversity among their lambs. We who are committed to the testing all things are not forsaking the LORD. Our desire to test theology, whether it is strange or not, reinforces our reverence toward God. I cannot imagine a scenario beyond one in which Jesus succeeds in drawing everyone to himself.
Christian Universalism is anything but heretical because it is built on a solid foundation—the unfailing love of God.

Source: Is Christian Universalism a Slippery Slope?

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Falwell’s family legacy and public platform allow him to perpetuate the illusion that he speaks for all evangelicals

Falwell, like many members of the old-guard evangelical right, have made the idea that Christian ethics should permeate government a central element of their lobbying work. While Jesus may have encouraged his followers to pay their taxes, “turn the other cheek” was also a mandate. Falwell is revealing that there’s more nationalism than Christianity in his Christian nationalism. Falwell’s family legacy, as well as his public platform, allows him to perpetuate the illusion that he is speaking for all evangelicals. Jesus was ultimately crucified by Roman authorities as a threat to the state on the understanding that his message was radical, subversive, and, yes, dangerous to the imperial status quo.

Source: Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. defends Trump: Jesus “never told Caesar how to run Rome” – Vox

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Robert Jeffress doesn’t care if Trump believes the positions he’s advocating

“I can’t look into the president’s heart to know if he really personally believes these positions he’s advocating, or whether he thinks it’s smart politics to embrace them because of the strong evangelical influence in the country. But frankly, I don’t care. As a Christian, I’m seeing these policies embraced and enacted, and he’s doing that.”—Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress is a Texas megachurch pastor and one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers.

Source: Evangelicals, Having Backed Trump, Find White House ‘Front Door Is Open’ – The New York Times

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Why evangelicals should rethink the Trump gospel

The choice is stark, unsettling and serious: between what Christians call the “Great Commission” and President’s Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). The Great Commission is racially and radically inclusive, while MAGA, as a matter of rhetoric and reality, is racially exclusive and divisive. Jesus praised a foreigner, an ethnic outcast, and religiously unpopular “good Samaritan” as an example of great compassion.—Cornell Brooks

Source: Why evangelicals should rethink the Trump gospel (opinion) – CNN

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There are Christians who are concerned that criticism will cause Trump to dump their issues

Trump and his core supporters see any criticism as betrayal. When the president is thin-skinned and lacks core convictions, there are Christians who are concerned that criticism will cause Trump to dump their issues. An enormous number of Christians — especially Christians in politics — suffer from a lack of faith [and] view the Left as presenting an existential threat to Christian faith. Trump has done a remarkable job at convincing conservative Christians that he’s the lesser evil compared to his enemies in the media and on the radical Left so they’ll find ways to rationalize their support for Trump.

Source: Understanding Conservative Christian Silence on Donald Trump’s Porngate | National Review

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The death of “cultural Christianity” is good

Churches are in serious decline. This fundamental shift away from churches is [caused by] the death of “cultural Christianity.” As the pressure to associate with a local church diminished in society, “cultural Christians” have integrated back into a church-less culture. Church attendance became the spiritual crutch for many cultural Christians; many churches lost their focus; [and] it has presented them with a clear choice: refocus or perish. The atmosphere of “cultural Christianity” actually discouraged honesty about your spiritual state and encouraged people to “blend in” to the cultural norms of religion.

Source: Is the church really dying? – Lifestyle – The Courier-Tribune – Asheboro, NC

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Conservative Gen-Xers simply don’t trust the right-wing religious establishment any more

We’re tired of the way so many Boomers seemed to bully through culture with very little regard for what was before or after them. For people of my generation and younger, we simply don’t trust the right-wing religious establishment any more. We saw one disaster after another emerge from the conservative religious right. Over time, moral duplicity began to define right-wing fervor for many of us. When we see someone crusading hard for legislated morality, red flags go up instinctively. It’s not that Gen-Xers are ungracious with sin. We know that everyone needs grace, and we are willing to extend that to the broken. But Boomer Conservatives tend to appeal to moral superiority when they ask for our political allegiance. This appeal means little to Gen-Xers. Some of the most disturbing, perverse, abusive stories we have heard have come from the religious right. When Jerry Fallwell Jr. tries to convince us that Trump is a good man, that spooks us. If a right-wing politician commits a foul deed, it seems like conservative leaders tend [to] minimize that fault while nailing a left-winger for the same exact wrong done. When we say that we are tired of the religious right, we are talking about a political movement that has adopted religious robes to promote its own causes. X-ers shoot straight, see. That’s how we roll.

Source: 7 Requests from a Right-Wing Gen-Xer: Why Boomers are Having Trouble Convincing X-ers to Vote for Trump — Rebecca K. Reynolds

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Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Armfield, says Donald Trump needs to clean up his act

I just don’t want [President Trump] to be held up as the poster boy for Christian evangelicals because he doesn’t represent most of us. I understand a lot of evangelicals supporting him because of his policies. I’d love to see a Christian leader come out and say that they support Trump for his policies, but that his behavior disgusts them, and he needs to clean up his act. I would love to just hear one of them say that. If they support his policies, they also feel like they have to stay hush(ed) on his behavior and I just feel that it’s sending the wrong message to the world about what Christianity is and what Evangelicals are, or I guess, have become. — Jerushah Armfield

Jerushah Armfield is an evangelical writer, the granddaughter of the iconic evangelist Billy Graham, and Franklin Graham’s niece. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jerushahruth.

Source: Billy Graham’s granddaughter: Donald Trump needs to apologize – CNN

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Idiot Wind: Stephen Strang’s “God and Donald Trump” Aims to Justify Christian Support

Unlike the alt-right, which is pretty forthright about its ideals, most high-profile Trump supporters, Christian or otherwise, are not intellectually honest. If they were, we’d see a book explaining what’s really behind all this cynical piety: that they want a white man in the White House, that they want conservative Christian values to be codified into law, that they want to hang onto their cash, and that everybody else can go to hell. Perhaps literally. — Gordon Haber

Gordon Haber writes about religion, money and culture. Follow him on Twitter @gordonhaber.

Source: Idiot Wind: Stephen Strang’s “God and Donald Trump” Aims to Justify Christian Support | Religion Dispatches

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Christian escapism is really bad theology

Christian escapism is really bad theology. If God so loves the world, then how does it makes sense that we’re trying to leave it? Rapture theology is dangerous theology because it essentially says that we aren’t stewards of creation – it’s all going to be destroyed anyway so why bother. Oh and war – no biggie, remember, all the unsaved will be killed by God and the earth will be ravaged, so why bother. Makes for great foreign policy, environmental stewardship, and more, doesn’t it? We are called to participate in the unfolding of the kingdom of God right now, here on earth. We’re called on to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and imprisoned, to go and make disciples. If God wanted to whisk us away, then why on earth would Jesus command us to do these things?

Source: OnFaith Commentary: Christian Escapism

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All people are capable of many good and beautiful things

The religious right understand themselves to be in an epic battle against what they call “humanism,” that liberals have too positive a view of human nature. I don’t think the Bible requires us to adopt a nihilistic, anti-humanist view of human nature. Sin is very real and very imprisoning to humanity. And yet, people are capable of many good and beautiful things, even people who have never “accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.” — Morgan Guyton

Morgan Guyton is director of the NOLA Wesley Foundation, which is the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans, LA. He is also a United Methodist pastor, blogger, and author of dozens of articles featured in Red Letter Christians, Huffington Post Religion, Think Christian, Ministry Matters, and others.

Source: If Donald Trump wins, I will blame toxic Christianity and here’s why

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Has the church become more of a luxury cruise ship than a rescue boat?

America has kicked God out of the country and now it is time for Christians to do their part to invite Him back in, according to contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Michael W. Smith. Even if this were true, (Ed Stetzer believes “The Church is not dying. It is just being more clearly defined. So for those who really don’t have any skin in the game, shedding the label makes sense.”) how do we invite Him back in? Luxury cruises or more care for the poor and needy out on the streets?

Tickets for his upcoming Unforgettable Christian Cruise to Alaska (and similar) are up to $10,000. “There’s just something about a gathering of the family of God in a gorgeous setting, on a luxurious ship, that leads to memories you never forget.” he says.

America’s homeless population has risen this year for the first time since the Great Recession, propelled by the housing crisis afflicting the west coast, according to a new federal study. The study has found that 553,742 people were homeless on a single night this year, a 0.7% increase over last year.

One ticket to Michael W. Smith’s Alaskan cruise (or something similar by a variety of singers and speakers in the Christian circuit) could buy 10,000 pairs of socks for the homeless. Has the church become more of a luxury cruise ship to keep people comfortable within the Christian bubble than a rescue boat? In times like these, perhaps we spend less on lavish cruises and tours and start handing out socks to the homeless. It could lead to memories they never forget.

Source: America’s homeless population rises for the first time since the Great Recession

 

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God’s hopes are to be performed through human agency.

If we talk about human possibility and human hurt and human pain and human suffering, then it doesn’t matter whether we are Muslims or Christians or liberals or conservatives. Very many of the ancient prophetic promises are about the re-ordering of the earth and I think too much Christian hope has been escapism.

Source: What Does It Mean To Be Prophetic Today? | Sojourners

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Christians and Coffee Cups

Starbucks red cups are not going to destroy the Christian faith. When Christians start to lose sight of gratitude and instead develop a major persecution complex then we have a huge faith crisis on our hands that is far bigger than whether the red cups at Starbucks make any reference to Jesus. Maybe this year we can set our sights a little higher than changing red cups, and instead buy someone in need a coffee.

Source: Christians and Coffee Cups | HuffPost

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Trump’s Evangelical support comes from “nominal Christians” woefully ignorant of their own faith

Trump’s evangelical support is strongest from those evangelicals who have dust on their Bibles and who have seen more NFL games on Sunday than sermons. The more a person goes to church and reads their Bible, the less likely they are to support Trump. To say that Trump is God’s chosen one, uncovers less about what Christians believe and more about how little they have engaged the Gospel. Trump unveils how far the culture of America has been dechristified and how those that claim to be evangelicals without actually engaging their faith are woefully ignorant of their own faith.

Source: Trump’s Evangelical support comes from “nominal Christians” – SpokaneFāVS

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Nominal Christians are becoming more secular, and that’s creating a startling change for the U.S.

America is undergoing a religious polarization. Today’s America is losing much of the general religious ethos that dominated the U.S. for hundreds of years. Historically, Christians have survived — and thrived — as a passionate and convictional minority. In the first century, Christians didn’t gain influence by protesting the Roman government’s “War on Christmas.” They faithfully followed Christ, at times in the face of persecution, while rescuing discarded infants, comforting the sick left to die alone and sharing the gospel to a not-always-receptive world. Our mission [is] not to moralize the unconverted, but to reach the broken and hurting.

Source: Nominal Christians are becoming more secular, and that’s creating a startling change for the U.S. – The Washington Post

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