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[Cfamily]The ‘First-Century Mark’ Saga from Inside the Room
« Reply #1320 on: July 04, 2019, 01:00:09 AM »

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The ‘First-Century Mark’ Saga from Inside the Room

My reflections after eight years of silence.


When one of the world’s top Greek scholars at a top university spread “first and second century” New Testament manuscripts on top of his office pool table, my colleague and I about fainted.


Surrounded by classical busts, Egyptian funerary masks, and a pile of medieval binder fragments, we stood mesmerized in the office of Dirk Obbink at Christ Church, Oxford. The “First-Century Mark” saga began. It’s still playing out.


Over the last eight years, we learned that much was not as it seemed. There seemed to be a manuscript fragment of a gospel dating to the first decades of the church. Not quite. The manuscript seemed to be for sale. It wasn’t, really. Now the world knows there were four early gospel fragments “for sale,” and at the helm was an esteemed professor, transitioning these days into a sort of Sir Leigh Teabing of Da Vinci Code lore.


Like the Harry Potter “moving staircase” at Hogwarts, filmed across in the Bodley Tower viewable from Obbink’s window, what was to unfold over the next several years would seem illusory for outside scholars and became sensationalized in the press. The sudden appearance of these manuscripts was dizzying even for the experts and owners, temporary and otherwise.


Scott Carroll and I, the two founding scholars for the Museum of the Bible, were there—we thought—for another research discussion. These were always enjoyable though long visits. As we were about to leave Obbink’s office, he stood and said, “I have something you two might like to see.” He pulled out a manila filing envelope and opened Pandora’s Box. He showed us four papyrus pieces of New Testament Gospels identified as Matthew ...

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[Cfamily]PCA Sides With the Nashville Statement Over Revoice’s Approach
« Reply #1321 on: July 05, 2019, 01:00:13 AM »
PCA Sides With the Nashville Statement Over Revoice’s Approach

Evangelicals in favor of traditional marriage debate the place of LGBT identity in the church.


Faced with more proposals addressing LGBT issues than any other topic, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) last night approved measures to affirm the Nashville Statement and launch its own study committee on sexuality.


The voting extended past midnight as pastors debated how their denomination could best clarify its positions, provide clergy helpful resources, and offer pastoral care for those raising questions around LGBT issues and same-sex attraction.


The decisions at this year’s PCA general assembly in Dallas follow months of controversy surrounding Presbyterian leaders’ involvement in Revoice, a conference featuring the voices of same-sex attracted Christians who affirm traditional beliefs around marriage and sexuality. The inaugural conference was hosted at a PCA church in St. Louis last July. Its second gathering was held earlier this month at another venue.


The Nashville Statement, a 14-point document released by the complementarian Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 2017, conflicts in part with Revoice’s approach, particularly article 7, which denies that “adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.” Some participants continue to self-identify as gay or same-sex attracted.


“Most of the Christians I know who describe themselves as ‘gay’ use the word in a similar way that Paul did when he called himself a sinner. They use the word not as a banner or as an identity, but as an honest recognition of their broken state as those affected by original sin,” wrote Christ Presbyterian pastor Scott Sauls, in a 4,700-word blog post urging his denomination against “unnecessary ...

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https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/august/complementarians-new-gender-identity-lgbt-cbmw-nashville.html
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[Cfamily]Seeing Immigrants Through God’s Eyes
« Reply #1322 on: July 06, 2019, 01:00:12 AM »
Seeing Immigrants Through God’s Eyes

Why their stories are always relevant, no matter the politics of immigration.


Recently, a pastor in San Antonio was speaking publicly about his work with immigrants. Someone in the crowd asked him how he defends his work against critics, those who say that he is misguided in his compassion for those coming to the US uninvited.


Rather than argue policy and sling data, the pastor said he always begins with, “Here is what I’ve seen with my own eyes …”


This is essentially the strategy that World Relief immigrant advocate Karen González adopts in her first book, The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. Knowing that she is writing into a world polarized by the issues she raises, González uses her autobiography and the stories of biblical immigrants to make the case for more welcoming immigration laws.


To See and Be Seen


González herself is an immigrant, from Guatemala, and she calls on that personal testimony to give a firsthand account of the fears, insecurities, and elations of the immigration process. She recalls finding dead bodies on the walk home from school, feeling lost as a non-English speaker in her first US church, and the difficult decision to leave her family home to attend college after the death of her mother.


The biographical portions of González’s story are broken up into thematic chapters following the sacraments of the Catholic church, a faith expression to which she feels some affinity, though she herself is Protestant and her parents were only nominally Catholic at most. The approach is reminiscent of Lauren Winner’s Mudhouse Sabbath, which does the same with Jewish traditions, pointing out their enduring relevance for Winner’s Christian faith.


Alongside her own story, González examines ...

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[Cfamily]Grieving Our Broken Border
« Reply #1323 on: July 07, 2019, 01:00:08 AM »
Grieving Our Broken Border

Max Lucado and five other leaders share their petitions: “Let’s pray. Let’s lament. Let’s groan.”


As CT’s immigrant communities editor, I was planning our coverage of the crises affecting immigrant children at the Texas border when I saw the now-infamous Associated Press photo: that little arm around the neck of her father, hanging on as they drowned in the Rio Grande.


Days of pent-up journalistic angst cracked, and I sobbed. I cried thinking of the fear of those last moments. I cried in dismay knowing that, if they had made it, they might have been safe. I cried in frustration knowing that, if they had made it, they might not have been safe.


She could have been one of the diaperless toddlers in a detention center. One of the 700 separated from her parents in the last year. One of 125 to be left behind after the parents were deported. She could have been one of the 1,000 or more children abused while in US shelters. Meanwhile, authorities continue to discover unidentified border-crossers dead in the South Texas desert—most recently, a young woman, toddler, and two infants found in Mission, Texas.


As I continue to report on Christians at the border—the humanitarian work ministries are doing there as well as efforts to lobby Congress for a better system—I realized we must begin with lament over the hopelessness and danger these image-bearers face.


Lament is a cry for mercy or help in a time of sadness and regret. Because we are uncomfortable in lament, we often look away in times of overwhelming tragedy. We don’t want to feel grief over the deaths of migrant children: Carlos Gergorio Hernández Vásquez, 16; Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16; Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, 10; Felipe Alónzo-Gomez, 8; Jakelin Call Maquin, 7; and Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, ...

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https://www-images.christianitytoday.com/images/91244.jpg?w=460
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Trump-administration-still-separating-hundreds-of-14029494.php
https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/family-separation
https://www.npr.org/2019/02/26/698397631/sexual-assault-of-detained-migrant-children-reported-in-the-thousands-since-2015
https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/24/us/woman-and-babies-near-border/index.html
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/july/evangelicals-help-at-border-children-government-catholic-te.html
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[Cfamily]Evangelicals Can Help at the Border. They Just Can’t Do It Alone.
« Reply #1324 on: July 08, 2019, 01:00:08 AM »
Evangelicals Can Help at the Border. They Just Can’t Do It Alone.

To make an impact among migrants crossing through Texas, churches rely on government advocacy and ecumenical partners.


When The New York Times reported on toddlers without diapers and children without toothbrushes at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, Christians joined the rest of the country in dismay.


They shared the stories chronicling poor conditions and promoted campaigns to donate money and send supplies, desperate to do something to help. But the facilities at the center of the reports have turned away donations.


This saga has brought new attention to the crises at the border, particularly for children of asylum seekers, and the role of US churches in offering a compassionate response. Where are evangelicals already at work among the latest wave of migrants? What more can be done?


Leaders like San Antonio pastor Max Lucado have urged Christians to pray and act. “This is a mess. A humanitarian, heartbreaking mess. As we are wondering what can be done, let’s do what we are called to do,” he wrote in a lament for CT. “Let’s pray. Let’s lament. Let’s groan.” (You can read a collection of six Christian leaders’ prayers for the border here.)


Grief over the conditions at the border has compelled many evangelical Christians to act, but they prefer to work directly with evangelical mercy ministries.


However, in these moments when the law stands between Christians and acts of mercy—like not being able to drop off donations at a detention center—they can be uncomfortable with idea of supporting government aid or state humanitarian efforts, said Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission.


“Even for Christians who tend to be leery of government intervention,” Freeman said, to get the diapers and wipes ...

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/us/migrant-children-border-soap.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share
https://www.texastribune.org/2019/06/24/texas-border-facility-donations-turned-away/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/july-web-only/grieving-our-broken-border-christian-leaders-lucado-lament.html
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Died: Apologist Norman Geisler, Who Didn’t Have ‘Enough Faith to Be an Atheist’

The masterful theologian leaves behind nearly 130 titles and a global impact.


Just two months after his retirement from public ministry, evangelical theologian Norman Geisler died Monday at age 86. He had been hospitalized over the weekend after suffering a blood clot in his brain.


Described as “a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham,” Geisler was a prolific author, apologist, and professor, as well as the co-founder and former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in North Carolina and co-founder of Veritas International University in California.


Many evangelical leaders consider Geisler among the top Christian thinkers in recent decades, with pastor Derwin Gray calling him “one of Christianity's greatest philosophers, apologists, & theologians” and Colson Center president John Stonestreet remembering him as “a towering figure in Christian apologetics and philosophy.”


Geisler was respected for the breadth and depth of his career of over 70 years, and his model of defending the faith and the Bible through classical apologetics.


“When Geisler began, there were few philosophers who embraced evangelicalism. Even more rare was a trained philosopher who was committed to helping ordinary believers in the defense of the gospel,” said Gregory E. Ganssle, philosophy professor at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. “Geisler paved the way for the kind of sophisticated apologetics we enjoy today,” by combining scholarly rigor with a desire to equip the church and writing books that “could be read and used by believers in all walks of life.”


Current SES president Richard Land described him as a powerfully refreshing voice that inspired conservative scholars, ministers, and fellow apologists.


“For ...

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https://twitter.com/NormGeisler/status/1123706032449105926
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https://twitter.com/DerwinLGray/status/1145693295823208448?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Enews%7Ctwgr%5Etweet
https://twitter.com/JBStonestreet/status/1145712587717218304
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[Cfamily]Why ‘Let Go and Let God’ Is My Lifeline
« Reply #1326 on: July 10, 2019, 01:00:15 AM »
Why ‘Let Go and Let God’ Is My Lifeline

Trusting in the Lord has made my life both easier and harder.


Not long before his death, Henri Nouwen wrote in Sabbatical Journeys about some friends who were trapeze artists. They shared with Nouwen about the special relationship between flyer and catcher on the trapeze. The flyer lets go, and the catcher catches. As the flyer swings high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when she must let go. She arcs out into the air, where her sole job is to remain as still as possible as she opens her hands and waits for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck her to safety. One of the trapeze artists told Nouwen, “The flyer must never try to catch the catcher.” The catcher will catch the flyer, but she must wait in absolute trust.


The gospel calls us to a similar spirit of open-handed living. Over several decades of following Jesus, I’ve learned that the essence of surrender is found in the posture of our hearts. In this place of yielding, we give the Holy Spirit free rein to direct and sustain our journey, and we also realize that our lives are part of a much greater narrative: God’s story of hope and restoration in the lives of individuals, families, communities, and local churches.


My first big surrender came shortly after beginning a relationship with Jesus in high school. My dad went through a midlife crisis—which included a fancy sports car followed by a perm (another story, another time)—and then he shared the news that we would be moving from Colorado to Hong Kong right before my senior year. Angry and confused, I unleashed my frustration and let God know exactly how I felt about the situation. But at the end of my tirade, I added a sincere prayer: “In my heart of hearts, I really want to know you and do your will.”


This prayer ...

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[Cfamily]Drilling for Oil, Contending for Truth
« Reply #1327 on: July 11, 2019, 01:00:10 AM »
Drilling for Oil, Contending for Truth

A historian shows how the pursuit of God and “black gold” went hand in hand—and how it changed the shape of American Christianity.


Editor’s note: CT’s June cover story considers the use and abuse of oil from a Christian lens.


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus frames a stark choice between God and money, declaring, “You cannot serve both” (Matt. 6:24). His warning has not exactly fallen on deaf ears in the modern United States, but it hasn’t kept many awake at night either. American believers have for generations possessed a buoyant confidence—one might call it a faith—in their ability to make money without being mastered by it. The righteous can pursue riches, so long as their hearts are in the right place.


Such bits of conventional wisdom have a history. In recent years, scholars have delved deeper than ever before into the longstanding synergies between American Christianity and American capitalism. Their efforts have yielded a wealth of excellent studies focused on everything from Wal-Mart to Chick-fil-A, from spiritual celebrity to Christian nationalism, and from the origins of fundamentalism to the rise of prosperity megachurches.


Darren Dochuk’s landmark book, Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America, at once builds on this important body of work and represents its most stunning achievement. Authors rarely deliver so fully on their titles. Through the stories of believers hot in pursuit of both God and “black gold,” Dochuk indeed opens a breathtaking new window onto the making of the modern nation.


Sparring Spirits of Capitalism


Oil is not incidental to Dochuk’s narrative. Its distinctive qualities, ranging from its hiddenness and explosiveness to its extraordinary value, make it an essential player. Dochuk underscores this point from the outset, characterizing ...

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