Culture

Poverty, Abortion, and the Culture War

Matthew Loftus, writing for Mere Orthodoxy, in response to Freedom Road's recent statement calling for Evangelical women to "hit pause" on the culture war: 

I am wholly in favor of ensuring that everyone in the world has access to quality healthcare; I have spent my short career working towards this goal and writing about why this is a moral imperative for the state. I subscribe to many similar ideas about the crucial importance of poverty reduction. Yet I cannot accept the canard that other legal interventions against abortion can somehow be rendered unnecessary by reducing poverty, and it is a failure of both imagination and courage to suggest otherwise. Poverty and abortion are both the natural outworkings of evil systems that exploit and abuse human beings made in the image of God; simply replacing Anthony Kennedy with another justice like him will only keep the status quo of culture war where it is now and fail to transform the Christian political imagination as it needs to be transformed. Let us fast, pray, and listen, yes—but let us not accept a lesser solution.

I appreciate Loftus's unwavering desire to protect the lives of the unborn, while making both left and right-leaning Christians uncomfortable in the process. The above quote serves as a summary, but the entire post is worth a read.

 

United Pastoral Statement on Racism

I read the following "United Pastoral Statement on Racism" at our worship gathering last Sunday. At the time, it had been affirmed by over sixty pastors in the city of Lincoln NE—a list that grows still today.

As Pastors in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska we believe that all people are created in God's image. However, not all ideologies are godly. Any ideology, such as White Supremacy or Neo-Nazism, which states that one person is superior to another is blatantly sinful. We call upon the leaders of our city, state, and country to take a stand against the numerous groups in Charlottesville and throughout our country who claim these evil ideologies. We will be united as Christian brothers and sisters and will be preaching that there is no room for racism at any of our churches. We pray for healing, for accountability, and that racism will be condemned by all people in our city and in this country. Lastly, we pray that Jesus' message of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) would echo through our churches.

As I pointed out Sunday evening, this is only one small step. But, for the church in Lincoln, it seems to be a step in the right direction.

The Consequences of the Fall in the Political Realm

Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo in their book, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics:

So, the political realm has everything to do with our relationships to other people. In the aftermath of the fall, the political realm remains structurally good but has been corrupted directionally. In other words, God structured the world in such a way that we would have politics and public life, and the fact of its existence is good. But because of the depravity of the human heart, politics and public life are always to some extent directed toward idols rather than toward God.

They continue:

The problem runs deep, deeper than most political analysts even conceive. But the problem is never politics, per se. Liberals aren't the problem. Conservatives aren't the problem. Politicians aren't the problem. We are. We all are—because we all have the entrenched tendency to twist God's created order into idolatry. Pointed toward Christ, anything in creation becomes a blessing. Pointed away from him, the greatest blessing becomes a curse.

Can We Still Weep Together After Orlando?

Russell Moore:

Our national divisions increasingly make it difficult for us not just to work together, but even to pause and weep together. We become more concerned about protecting ourselves from one another’s political pronouncements than we do with mourning with those who mourn.

This is especially true of gun violence. Is our nation even capable of mourning a tragedy together when guns are involved? I'm not so sure any more.

Moore ends his piece with this exhortation to Christians:

How then do we weep with those who weep?

Let’s call our congregations to pray together. Let’s realize that, in this case, our gay and lesbian neighbors are likely quite scared. Who wouldn’t be? Demonstrate the sacrificial love of Jesus to them. We don’t have to agree on the meaning of marriage and sexuality to love one another and to see the murderous sin of terrorism. Let’s also pray for our leaders who have challenging decisions to make in the midst of crisis. Let’s mobilize our congregations and others to give blood for the victims. Let’s call for governing authorities to do their primary duty of keeping its people safe from evildoers.

[...]

As the Body of Christ, though, we can love and serve and weep and mourn. And we can remind ourselves and our neighbors that this is not the way it is supposed to be. We mourn, but we mourn in the hope of a kingdom where blood is not shed and where bullets never fly.

The Churchgoing Evangelical Vote Split

Justin Taylor via Twitter:

Jason Snell on David Letterman

In anticipation of David Letterman's final show this week, Jason Snell gives his take (an interviews others about theirs) on Letterman's significance and legacy on The Incomparable podcast.

I didn't get a chance to listen until after Wednesday, but I found it to be really interesting. If you're a fan of David Letterman, Johnny Carson, or late night talk shows in general, I'd recommend giving this a listen.

The Missional Legacy of Saint Patrick

Bob Thune:

It’s no accident that St. Patrick’s Day is identified with all things Irish. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was a Christian nation. One man gave his life to see a nation reached with the gospel – and today that nation still celebrates his influence.

Thune's post honoring "one of the greatest Christian missionaries in history" is a must-read this St. Patrick's Day.

New York Times on the 'Calvinist Revival'

Denny Burk on a Friday New York Times article about the recent resurgence of Calvinism among evangelicals and comparisons between the reformed resurgence and the emergent church:

The emergent church represented theological innovation. The reformed resurgence is a rallying around something old. The emergent church comprised a theologically liberal impulse. The reformed resurgence comprises a conservative one—one rooted in the rallying cry of the reformation Sola Scriptura.

Read the NYT article here.

Race & the Christian

Last night I had a chance to watch this video from a March 2012 event at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. From the Redeemer website:

John Piper and Tim Keller, two white pastor-scholars who think we should be talking about race, will discuss ‘Race and the Christian’ at the Ethical Culture Society on Wednesday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m. Speaking from their experiences ministering in multi-ethnic urban contexts for a combined 60 years, they will examine the individual and structural roots of racism and make a case for the pursuit of ethnic harmony from a gospel perspective. Their conversation will be moderated by Anthony Bradley, Professor at King’s College and author of Black and Tired.

Watch this—all of it. It's well worth your time.

 

 

The History of Valentine's Day

Where did Valentine's Day come from? Is it a holiday invented by the greeting card industry to get into my pocket book? Justin Holcomb and The Resurgence shed a some light on the subject:

No one is quite sure where Valentine’s Day comes from. While any specific theory of its origins must be held at arm’s length, most people do agree that the holiday, as we know it today, contains a blend of practices inherited from a pagan Roman festival, fifth-century Christianity, and the Middle Ages.

Along with a helpful and interesting history lesson, Holcomb offers a healthy challenge for Christians celebrating Valentine's Day today:

Whereas a holiday like Halloween is still quite contentious among some Christians because of its history and the pagan symbolism tied up with its contemporary practice, Valentine’s Day today is almost completely disconnected from its pagan origins and has evolved into a completely different holiday. Few Christians would argue that participating in Valentine’s Day in 2013 means immersing oneself in pagan practices, yet the question still remains: How can Christians celebrate the holiday in a way that does justice to the deep Christian concept of love and doesn't turn into a trite piece of consumerist memorabilia?

If you find yourself rushing around today to buy last–minute cards, teddy bears, flowers, and chocolates, then it might be worthwhile to spend a little time giving this question some thought. The clock is ticking—you only have 365 days left to plan for Valentine's Day 2014.



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