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[Cfamily]Jesus Is Your Lord and Savior. Is He Also Your Philosopher King?
« Reply #1768 on: September 22, 2020, 01:00:13 AM »

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Jesus Is Your Lord and Savior. Is He Also Your Philosopher King?

Why the church should learn to appreciate Christ as the world’s greatest thinker.

Let me begin with a brief lament. As a Christian philosopher who teaches future ministry leaders and speaks to lay leaders and pastors, I frequently defend the need for philosophy. Allowing for some slight exaggeration, a typical student comment goes like this: “Why do I need to learn logic? Will I ever perform a logical proof in a Bible study?” Whenever I speak, teach, or preach at a church, I find a similar suspicion. Philosophers are viewed as a kind of novelty act: “Look what we found! A philosopher! Let him babble a bit to see if any koans drop out of his mouth.” All too often, the church assumes that Christianity and philosophy mix as well as oil and water.

In every generation, certain books profoundly influence individuals or entire cultures, serving as catalysts for new ideas, enlarged possibilities, and fresh perspectives on ancient truths. The Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, claimed that reading David Hume awakened him from a dogmatic slumber. I hope that Jonathan T. Pennington’s Jesus the Great Philosopher plays a similar role in the contemporary church, reminding us to value the brilliance of Jesus the Philosopher King. Pennington, who teaches New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, makes three arguments: that the Bible addresses the big philosophical questions, that Christianity is a philosophy, and that Jesus is a philosopher. Each of these claims seeks to recover a key truth lost by the contemporary church.

Modern secular philosophy is anemic and disconnected from everyday life; it was not always so. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a rich conception of philosophy. For the ancients, philosophy was a way of life: the love and pursuit of ...

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[Cfamily]Every Fourth of July, I Celebrate My Spiritual Independence Day
« Reply #1769 on: September 23, 2020, 01:00:16 AM »
Every Fourth of July, I Celebrate My Spiritual Independence Day

How God transformed my life at a church conference I didn’t even want to attend.

I was born to religious, hard-working parents in 1990 in Cairo. At 40 days old, I was baptized by triple immersion like every good Coptic Orthodox Christian.

Growing up in this kind of religious atmosphere leaves its mark on your soul forever. I can still recall the routine—but much-dreaded—confession times with the priest. Those experiences were especially deflating. Even well into my teens, I remember finishing confession, being instructed to do some penance so that God would like me again—at least that’s how it felt—and then inevitably returning to my same old sins. My attitude toward God was that he was mean, like my teachers from the Jesuit school I attended who would physically punish me (and other students) for falling short of their academic or behavioral standards.

In 2002, my family moved to America. The middle-school years were rough for me: Imagine trying to make friends in the aftermath of 9/11 as a chubby Middle Eastern kid who spoke no English. To add to my school woes, I was bullied at the one place no one ever should be: the church. Our family continued to attend Coptic Orthodox services, but my heart quickly soured on the church of my youth, which never appealed to me much to begin with. By the time I reached high school, I was so disillusioned with the faith that I swung from being a “good religious kid” to the opposite extreme.

A Different Breed of Christian

High school afforded opportunities to hang out with new friends, experiment with dating and drugs, and—after I got my driver’s license—go wherever I wanted. Before long, I had given myself over to a lifestyle of partying, fornication, and drug addiction. Things got so bad that I eventually found ...

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[Cfamily]When It Comes to Sacrifice, God Doesn’t Play Fair
« Reply #1770 on: September 24, 2020, 01:00:14 AM »
When It Comes to Sacrifice, God Doesn’t Play Fair

Humans have a penchant for sacrifice, but it’s the Lord who makes it possible.

Over the years, one thing that has fascinated me about the gospel is the way it takes our familiar human longings and instincts and transforms their common, sinful manifestations in liberative ways.

Take the almost universal human impulse to sacrifice, for instance. Jewish philosopher Moshe Halbertal notes in On Sacrifice that sacrifice is the “most primary and basic form of all ritual.” In Greco-Roman religion, the principle do ut des (I give that you might give) governed sacrificial ritual: You gave gifts to the gods to put them in your debt so they might bless you—or to appease their wrath on the chance you angered them. In ancient times, sacrifice was the anxious, human end of the bargain.

We may think we’re too modern, enlightened and humane to practice the sacrifices that marked the worship of our ancestors, but a quick scan of our contemporary culture says otherwise. We too have rituals of sacrifice.

We put on sacred vestments and sacrifice sweat (and blood, even) at the gym so the gods will bless us with sex appeal (Aphrodite) or spare us from sickness (Apollos). We sacrifice time (and our families) at work so Mammon will shower us with possessions and recession-proof 401(k)s. We sacrifice our neighbors’ reputations in ritualized social media posts to Pheme, goddess of fame and rumor, that we might protect our own in exchange.

When it comes to Scripture, then, we shouldn’t be surprised to find sacrifices. But we should slow down and notice that sacrifice works a bit differently there. Halbertal says that in Scripture, sacrifice in its most basic form is still a gift to God. It is either offered to bring about communion and intimacy or to atone for a breach and restore that communion, ...

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[Cfamily]Sign Language Bible Complete After 39 Years
« Reply #1771 on: September 25, 2020, 01:00:18 AM »
Sign Language Bible Complete After 39 Years

Translation was led by deaf people trained in the biblical languages.

When Renca Dunn talks about having the Bible in her own language for the first time, she emphasizes the adjectives. In English, she has no problem understanding the people, places, and things of Scripture. But in her own language, the nouns vibrate with life and emotion.

“The clapping trees. The singing birds. The dancing meadows,” Dunn says. “The persistent Esther. The revengeful Saul. The weeping Magdalene. Most of all, our loving Jesus.”

With the translation of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel in the fall of 2020, Dunn and 3.5 million other deaf people finally have the complete Bible in American Sign Language (ASL). It’s been a long time coming. The translation has been in the works since 1981, when Duane King, a minister in the Independent Christian Church, realized that English was not the heart language of deaf people in America. ASL was.

King, who is a hearing person, started learning to sign after meeting a Christian couple in 1970 who didn’t come to church much because they couldn’t understand what was going on. He and his wife, Peggy, were moved to meet this need and started a church and a mission for the deaf near one of the nation’s leading deaf schools in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Then, after years of church meetings, small groups, and Bible classes, the Kings became convinced it wasn’t enough to sign the English Bible; the Bible needed to be translated into ASL.

“Most hearing people don’t understand how difficult it is to learn to read what you cannot hear,” Duane King said in 2019. “Deaf people rely so much on their eyesight that they want everything to be tangible—they want to be able to see everything. This sometimes makes it harder ...

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[Cfamily]The Kingdom of God and the Supreme Court of the United States
« Reply #1772 on: September 26, 2020, 01:00:20 AM »
The Kingdom of God and the Supreme Court of the United States

Thoughts on the kingdom of God and the common good.

The phrase, “The Kingdom of God,” has been in the news recently given Amy Coney Barrett’s reported use of the phrase. She is, it appears, on President Trump’s short list of nominees to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died last week.

The Kingdom of God was even trending on Twitter.

As one can imagine given our tense and toxic political environment, many Democrats (and a few Republicans) are unhappy about the prospect of President Trump nominating a Supreme Court Justice between now and the election on November 3rd. Many of them, including former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, believe that President Trump should postpone the nomination until after the election.

Not only are many Democrats upset that President Trump may proceed with a nomination, some are uncomfortable with Amy Coney Barrett, the supposed front runner for the nomination.

Why would many Democrats be uncomfortable with Barrett? There are many reasons, I am sure. Aside from being mentored by Antonin Scalia and a proponent of originalism, statutory interpretation, and stare decisis, we also know (from a past hearing) that some are uncomfortable with her devout Roman Catholic beliefs. As I wrote during her last nomination hearing, for some Democratic senators, this dogma won’t hunt.


See my full article: This Dogma Won't Hunt: Feinstein, Durbin, Sanders, and the New Religious Test for Office

For Barrett', her faith clearly intersects with her vocation. While speaking to graduates of the Notre Dame Law School years ago, Professor Barrett addressed what it meant to be a “different kind of lawyer.” She stated, a “legal career is but a means to an end. . . and that end is building the kingdom ...

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[Cfamily]Thai Church Holds Record-Breaking Baptism Despite COVID-19
« Reply #1773 on: September 27, 2020, 01:00:18 AM »
Thai Church Holds Record-Breaking Baptism Despite COVID-19

“We believe it is the merciful hand of God to allow the gospel to spread at this crucial time.”

Things weren’t looking good for the Thai church at the start of 2020. The southeast Asian nation was the first outside China to report a coronavirus case, and analysts feared a long, overwhelming outbreak.

Instead, Thailand is now being praised as one of the only places that was able to effectively contain the pandemic. After a countrywide lockdown in the spring and continued precautions, it celebrated 100 days without a case COVID-19 at the start of September.

Later that week, an evangelical church-planting movement in central Thailand celebrated a milestone of its own—one that wouldn’t be possible without the word of mouth conversations, house gatherings, and in-person testimonies it relies on to spread the gospel.

The Free in Jesus Christ Church Association (FJCCA) held the largest baptism in its history and, it says, the history of the church in Thailand. FJCCA, a Thai-led movement that focuses on village-level evangelism, baptized 1,435 people in a single day on September 6.

Twenty ministers lined up across the same waist-deep reservoir waters that some of them were baptized in, waiting for new believers to come one-by-one from the shore to proclaim their faith and be submerged for the sacrament. The event took two hours.

CT covered FJCCA’s historic growth in a 2019 cover story. That year, the association held a baptism of 520 people that national church leaders said was the largest they’d ever seen in their majority-Buddhist country. This month’s baptism was nearly triple its size.

“It is truly a mystery to the world as to why Thailand has been spared during the COVID pandemic,” said Bob Craft, whose Reach a Village ministry supports FJCCA. “We believe it is the merciful ...

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[Cfamily]Rediscovering the Pedagogical Power of Narnia
« Reply #1774 on: September 28, 2020, 01:00:14 AM »
Rediscovering the Pedagogical Power of Narnia

C. S. Lewis’s fiction can teach virtue, according to a new curriculum. But the true potential is so much more.

My mother read The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother and me at night, while the four of us—my father half-listening while reading a novel of his own—lay on my parent’s enormous bed. I remember such strong emotion. When we got to The Last Battle, the final installment, I felt warm affection for the foolish donkey Puzzle, grief at the fall of Narnia, sharp frustration at the dwarves who couldn’t see the truth of a remarkable feast set before them.

As a parent myself, now, and a teacher and an Anglican priest, I’ve been revisiting the Lewis of my childhood. What did I learn in Narnia? Did the stories of the Pevensie children encourage me towards virtue? More importantly, through loving Aslan was I better prepared to love Jesus?

According to a new character curriculum, Narnian Virtues, the Narnia stories can powerfully move, mold, and direct young readers. Designed by education professors Mark Pike and Thomas Lickona, the curriculum teaches “universal virtues” to children ages 10 to 14 using The Chronicles of Narnia. It is supported in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and has been taught at a variety of schools, both secular and Christian, as part of a pilot program designed to test the possibility of teaching virtue in Narnia.

This program is not aimed at mere “behavior management,” according to the educators. Rather, it is designed to teach students “to know the good, to love the good, and to do the good” based on the belief that “the Narnia novels have the capacity to motivate a wide range of readers to make efforts to develop the will as well as the skill needed for good character.”

The pilot program’s qualitative results show ...

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[Cfamily]Pandemic Denial Sows Division and Endangers Others
« Reply #1775 on: September 29, 2020, 01:00:12 AM »
Pandemic Denial Sows Division and Endangers Others

When pastors and church leaders deny that we are even in a pandemic, it can cause wide-ranging problems.

Yesterday, as the United States passed a grim milestone, I tweeted:


As of today, 200,000 dead in the United States. Just a reminder that we are still in a global pandemic, even if your pastor says it is not.

Most pastors were overwhelmingly positive—the tweet was widely shared, with hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes. Many pastors and church leaders indicated they shared the same concern.

However, some were upset. Some pastors felt attacked, which may be understandable if you denied a global pandemic.

If not, there seems to be no reason to see my statement as controversial.

Let me explain.

Pastors who deny the pandemic are wrong and spreading misinformation.

I’ve been trying to understand why some pastors would deny that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. I had hoped that pastors would not be easily fooled by a recent Facebook meme saying this pandemic has been downgraded to an outbreak.

USAToday easily debunked this claim with, “Fact Check: COVID-19 is still a pandemic, even if CDC site calls it an 'outbreak'


We rate this claim as FALSE. The meme is wrong. No element of it is true. The COVID-19 outbreak, while often described in that way, is still a pandemic and has been since March 11.

And, I hope they did not join in the misunderstanding of the 6% stat, which was not “quietly updated,” and has been clearly debunked by just about everyone in the medical establishment.

As a professor of epidemiology and statistician explained in USAToday:

None of us will live forever, so death is always a matter of when, not if. That many people who have died of COVID-19 may have been closer to death than the rest of us does not change the fact that the virus killed them before their time.To argue that ...

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