Mass Shootings Are a Mammon Problem: Money and its role in our political system is a tool of sinful division

The NRA has poured millions into congressional campaigns, particularly the campaigns of Republicans in battleground states and districts. Gun advocates’ true wickedness is in how they use lofty goals of freedom and justice to mask their profit-making motives. [The NRA] engages in a fearmongering strategy to mislead responsible gun owners into believing their rights are threatened whenever the public calls for commonsense regulations on firearms. The firearms industry is awash with related symptoms of brokenness masquerading as the cause of the problem — from the faux-absence of God from civic life to mental illness and violent people. It is time for us to recognize the sin in allowing ourselves to not view money and its role in our political system as a tool of sinful division in our communities and our churches.

Source: Mass Shootings Are a Mammon Problem | Sojourners

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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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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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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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For a lot of people “evangelical” is just another cultural signifier, a tribal designation

It turns out that for a lot of people “evangelical” is itself just another cultural signifier, a tribal designation rather than a serious adherence to Christian teachings. They undoubtedly go to church from time to time and think of themselves as Christians [but] are being seduced by Trump’s crude nationalism and nativism, largely as result of religious leaders politicizing religion and turning it into a vehicle for their own secular power.

Source: Not keeping the faith: Donald Trump and the conning of evangelical voters – Salon.com

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For early church fathers like St. Basil, “friendship with the world” meant attachment to wealth, power, and other worldly idols

James 4:4 says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” For early church fathers like St. Basil, “friendship with the world” meant attachment to wealth, power, and other worldly idols that get in the way of our connection with God. But for many white evangelicals today, being addicted to wealth and power is not a problem as long as you don’t associate with liberals. Whenever anything good or beautiful or true happens, God is at work no matter whose human agency God is using to accomplish his work. — 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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2018 will be a year where interfaith work will protect the most vulnerable

2018 will be a year where interfaith work will be about recalibrating our nation’s moral and ethical social agenda. 2018 will be the year that churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, Gurdwaras and sacred spaces will work together to protect the most vulnerable. I see more people of faith coming together motivated to heal the divides and ugliness not just in their societies, but in their neighborhoods.

Source: What’s next for religion in 2018? | National Catholic Reporter

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Christianity, what the hell is it about if it’s not this?

The Gubbio Project at St Boniface church in San Francisco opens its doors every weekday at 6am to allow homeless people to rest until 3pm.

Apart from St Boniface and its sister church, no other place of worship in San Francisco welcomes homeless people. In fact, many have begun, even at this season of goodwill, to lock their doors to all comers simply so as to exclude homeless people.

Source: A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America | Society | The Guardian

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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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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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I am Mennonite, and we are Racist

“Segregation is one face of racism. The Mennonite tradition perpetuates through family. It shows charity to the outsider, but does not necessarily allow the outsider to be included unless they assimilate into everything – the faith, the culture, the family traditions. Despite being a people who endlessly preach peace and justice, who claim to be fighting against the evils of prejudice, most of us aren’t even aware how complicit we are with our own racism. I need transformation. We all do.”

Source: I am Mennonite, and we are Racist | Pastors in Exile

Pastors in Exile (PiE) is an Anabaptist-rooted movement of community pastors outside of church walls. We believe that church is evolving into something beyond just a specific community in a specific place at a specific time. Everyone who seeks to join God’s loving and transforming work in the world is invited to be a pastor in exile with us.

Follow them on Twitter at: @pastorsinexile.

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Is The White Church the AntiChrist?

Without a clear commitment to telling the truth about the impact and manifestation of white power and white privilege within the church, and within the culture because of what the white church fulminated with both sins of commission and sins of omission, if there is any contemporary meaning of the Antichrist, the white church seems to be a manifestation of it.

Source: Is The White Church the AntiChrist? | HuffPost

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The church condemns white supremacy but can’t ignore white privilege

“White Christians need to acknowledge and confess our privileged status and our conscious and unconscious complicity in the ongoing reality of white supremacy in the U.S.” – Joseph Reiff

Source: The church condemns white supremacy but can’t ignore white privilege

Joseph Reiff is religion professor at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va. Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/jtreiff

 

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Racism, white supremacy are ‘a Christian problem’ 

“We need to be much more vocal and proactive in speaking out against racism in all its forms — individual and structural. If we can’t do that, we’re going to be irrelevant as a church.” – Floerke Scheid

Source: Christian ethicists: Racism, white supremacy are ‘a Christian problem’ | National Catholic Reporter

Anna Floerke Scheid is associate professor of theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Her research interests are in the area of Christian social ethics.  In particular she is concerned with ethical issues surrounding human rights, conflict, and post-conflict reconciliation.  She explores Christian perspectives on war and peace-especially just war theory and just peacemaking theory-and studies how restorative justice has been enacted in truth and reconciliation commissions around the world.

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The church is still asleep in the light

“How can you be so dead when you’ve been so well fed?” — Keith Green

Keith Green was an American contemporary Christian music pianist, singer and songwriter best known for his strong devotion to Christian evangelism and challenging others to the same. Often considered controversial for his frequently confrontational lyrics and spoken messages, he died in a plane crash on July 28, 1982.
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Take the Politics of Disruption to Church

“We worship a man who marched into the Temple during its most busy week, disrupted its market place, and proceeded to occupy it for a week while telling stories that overtly undermined the authority of the priests and scribes and exposes their complicity with Rome.” — Mark Van Steenwyk

See: Take the Politics of Disruption to Church

Mark Van Steenwyk is the Executive Director of the Center for Prophetic Imagination and the founder, along with his wife Amy, of the Mennonite Worker in Minneapolis. For nearly 15 years, Mark has sowed seeds of subversive spirituality throughout North America. Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/markvans

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Most churches are divorced from the culture, unable to build strategic bridges to reach Generation Z

[Generation Z] are the first post-Christian generation in American history. “Post-Christian” means “after” the dominance of Christian ideas and influence. The history of the Christian church can be divided into segments of 300-400 years, and that each of these “ages” began — and then ended — in crisis. Instead of testimonies about lives changed through Christ, [Generation Z] question why lives currently lived by Christians aren’t more changed, but are instead marked by judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and intolerance.

Source: Forget millennials. How will churches reach Generation Z? | Religion News Service

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We want freedom and we want it now

“Resist when they try and tell you who is and ain’t your neighbor. Resist when they tell you that the love of money’s your only goal. We want freedom and we want it now.” — Rev. Sekou, Resist (2017)

Rev. Sekou (Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou) is a third generation Pentecostal-Holiness Church minister from Zent, Arkansas, who stepped out of the pulpit, taking his motivational message to the streets with In Times Like These. As critical civil rights issues continue to be in the national spotlight, Sekou draws on the functional intent of music to chronicle the frustrations of a mistreated population.

See: Rev. Sekou: In Times Like These

From the album: In Times Like These

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Abused grace much better than abundant legalism

“Grace appropriately received creates a desire to do good, not a desire to do bad. Abused grace is still much better than abundant legalism.”

Source: Max Lucado on Why Grace Isn’t Good Enough for Us

Max Lucado is a best-selling Christian author, writer and preacher at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. Lucado chose to speak out against what he calls Trump’s “antics,” insisting that, “such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election.” Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/MaxLucado

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