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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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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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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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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Wovenhand’s David Eugene Edwards speaks at length to pastor Jonathan Hanley

Everything is through his Son at the moment, so it’s just being shown who he is. You know, this is eternal life – to continue to know who he is. The whole meaning of his Word is mercy. That’s the point of the Word. There is no religion that is real. There is just God and he’s there. He is merciful. We are not merciful. I am in need of the eternal intercession of my Saviour.

Source: Wovenhand: David Eugene Edwards speaks at length to pastor Jonathan Hanley – Wovenhand

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US History, Structural Racism, NFL Protests, and the Kingdom of God

We have a James 2:17 responsibility to put our faith into action for voiceless persons. Their issues were ‘unarmed black people being killed by police,’ ‘systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system, and President Trump’s referral ‘to us with slurs but the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., as “very fine people.”’ We must serve as mediators and translators between two worlds.

Source: US History, Structural Racism, NFL Protests, and the Kingdom of God

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Franklin Graham Continues To Be The Worst Thing To Happen To God In A While

“Franklin Graham appears intent on making Christianity more unappealing than a Pauly Shore comeback. I’m not saying Franklin Graham isn’t a Christian, but I don’t find his twisted version of Christianity when I read the Gospels. He gave an interview to The Atlantic in which he sang from his now tired set list of self-indulgent grievances, blissfully unburdened by any debt to the truth. It’s clear that about the only people not offended by Donald Trump are white evangelicals—enabled and incited by religious charlatans like Franklin Graham.” — Derek Penwell

See: Franklin Graham Continues To Be The Worst Thing To Happen To God In A While

Derek Penwell is an author, editor, speaker, and activist. He is the senior minister of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky and a former lecturer at the University of Louisville in Religious Studies and Humanities. Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/reseudaimon

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What ‘The Leftovers’ Can Teach Us About Hope and the Christian Faith

“Think of people you consider fanatical. They’re overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive and harsh. Why? It’s not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving or understanding – as Christ was. Because they think of Christianity as a self-improvement program they emulate the Jesus of the whips in the temple, but not the Jesus who said “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). What strikes us as overly fanatical is actually a failure to be fully committed to Christ and his gospel.” — Timothy Keller

See: What ‘The Leftovers’ Can Teach Us About Hope and the Christian Faith

Timothy Keller is an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist. He is best known as the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York, and the author of The New York Times bestselling books The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, and Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/timkellernyc

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Jim James wishes Trump would deal with his issues and insecurities and become a better man

“I feel very sorry for him. I wish he would go to therapy and deal with his issues and insecurities to become a better man and thus a better President. There are clearly so many outdated defense mechanisms he developed as a child because he still behaves like one. I wish he could go in and really address those and become a man who values honesty and equality. It is possible but I fear it is too late for him. I am done projecting hate of any kind towards him or anyone else.” — Jim James

See: My Morning Jacket’s Jim James on hope, change, and President Trump

James Edward Olliges, Jr., professionally known as Jim James or Yim Yames, is an American vocalist, guitarist, producer, and primary songwriter of the rock band My Morning Jacket. Although chiefly known as the frontman of My Morning Jacket, Jim James played a wider role in indie rock during the early 21st century, appearing on albums by several artists while also pursuing a small solo career under the alias of Yim Yames.

He made his solo debut with 2009’s Tribute To, a short collection of George Harrison covers recorded shortly after the guitarist’s death in 2001. In 2008, during a My Morning Jacket tour, James fell off the stage and was seriously injured, forcing the band to cancel the rest of its dates. During his recuperation, he did a great deal of self-reflection. He read the 1929 graphic novel God’s Man by Lynd Ward, which had been given to him by the artist Gary Burden. James was deeply affected by the book. In 2010, he began writing and recording on his own in bits and spurts. He played all instruments, sang all vocals, and produced the album, Regions of Light and Sound of God in 2013. In 2016 he released his second solo album, Eternally Even, his most political statement since emerging from the Louisville, Kentucky, indie rock scene in the late 1990s.

James positions himself as a seeker. He’s practiced transcendental meditation since 2009, and he has long incorporated Christianity and Zen musings into his lyrics. But where his songs have often achieved an easy spiritual take-off, his latest dwells on eschatological matters. The end, James seems to sing over and over again, is nigh.

His song “The World’s Smiling Now” (video below) samples “It’ll All Be Over” released in 1980 by the Supreme Jubilees, a group of brothers and cousins (and an unrelated guitarist) from the Witness of Jesus Christ church in Fresno, California.

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The Christian life is a relationship that begins to change everything now

“The Christian life is not about pleasing God the finger-shaker and judge. It is not about believing now or being good now for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything now. Spirituality is about this process: the opening of the heart to the God who is already here.” — Marcus J. Borg

Marcus J. Borg (1942 – 2015) was an American New Testament scholar, theologian and author. He was among the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity. See: The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion To A More Authenthic Contemporary Faith and marcusjborgfoundation.org.

 

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Unholy alliance of Political Right and Religious Right

“The unholy alliance of the Political Right and the Religious Right threatens to destroy the America we love. It also threatens to generate a revulsion against God and religion by identifying them with militarism, ecological irresponsibility, fundamentalist antagonism to science and rational thought, and insensitivity to the needs of the poor and the powerless.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner

The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right is a 2006 book by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Rabbi Michael Lerner is an American political activist and the editor of Tikkun, a progressive Jewish interfaith magazine.

Follow him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/rabbilerner

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Evangelical Dominionist Christianity with the heavy taint of prosperity gospel

“Donald Trump’s reign — there’s no other way to describe the term of a dictator — ushers in an era of evangelical bullying and enforced conformism hitherto unseen. He surrounds himself with apostles of cruelty, who will gleefully inflict it on those marginalized and less fortunate than they, all in the name of the twisted, hateful, Dominionist version of the Christian god. The flavor of religious fervor being promoted is clear: evangelical Dominionist Christianity with the heavy taint of prosperity gospel. ” — Michael Weinstein

See: Bigots, racists and Dominionist Christians rejoice in Trump presidency

Michael Weinstein, Esq., is founder and president of the seven-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

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An Invitation to Justice from The Justice Conference

Esteemed Old Testament scholar, Dr. Walter Brueggemann gives insight into the nature of justice and offers you an invitation to participate.

One of the misfortunes in the long history of the church is that we have mistakenly separated love of God from love of neighbor, and always they are held together in prophetic poetry.  Covenant members who practice justice and righteousness are to be active advocates for the vulnerable and the marginal and the people without resources, and that then becomes the way to act out and exhibit one’s love of God.  So, love of God gets translated into love of vulnerable neighbor.  The doing of justice is the prophetic invitation to do what needs to be done to enable the poor and the disadvantaged and the neglected to participate in the wealth and resources of the community.  Injustice is the outcome of having skewed neighborly processes so that some are put at an unbearable disadvantage.  And the Gospel invitation is that people intervene in that to correct those mistaken arrangements. — Walter Brueggemann

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