Recently in Faith Category
Tim Stanley says that the Christian faith was at a low ebb in the late 18th century.
"Easter Day in St Paul's Cathedral in 1800: can you guess how many people took communion? Six. Six people took communion. In the late 18th century the Church of England was in a dire crisis. Churches stood empty, clerical numbers were dwindling, people complained that priests were out of touch with their congregations. Worse: scepticism was on the rise - even atheism - and Jacobinism, which was violently anti-clerical, was on the march in Europe. Every complaint made about contemporary Christianity was made in 1800. Including the sad decline of Christmas, although the problem back then was one of uninterest. Most public workers just got one day off work. Scrooge was the rule, not the exception....
"Most critical, however, was the rise of evangelism in the 19th century. The Anglicans turned things around by launching missions: they treated Britain as if it was near-pagan and needed to be brought back to the faith. They decided that the faith had to be seen to be relevant to people's needs - so it was the churches that campaigned for workers' protections, the outlawing of child prostitution and the creation of the welfare state. The early Labour Party was dominated by Methodists, many of them obsessed with the evils of alcohol. But the Victorians didn't just pursue social justice for its own sake - as many contemporary liberal Christians do - they saw it as a tool of religious mission. They sought to feed both the belly and the soul....
"Imagine, say, that the Anglican Church was like Tesco. If Tesco stopped advertising, people would stop shopping there. If Tesco constantly banged on about how its own products are old fashioned and in need of updating, people would stop shopping there. If Tesco said that it would be nice if you'd visit once in a while but entirely understood why you don't, people would stop shopping there. Christians have become their own worst enemy - killing their faith with silence.
"Advertise. Speak up. Tell people about your beliefs. At the centre of the faith is the truth that Jesus died and rose from death to herald a new era. The power of the Good News is so great that it cannot fail to win converts. Time to share it."
"Now, it is just as impossible, therefore, for a paedobaptist parent to be sure that his child is elect as it is for a Baptist parent. Paedobaptists may feel better about themselves by labeling the child a covenant member, but those children have no better standing before God than the children of Baptists....
"1) We view them as gifts of God, blessings of God, to be loved and served (Psalm 127:3).
"2) We view them as responsibilities that we have been given by God to bring up in the teaching and discipline of the Lord. That is, we are to lavish them with the Word of God and with love and with wisdom morning, noon, and night.
"3) We view them as objects of daily mercies in prayer in the hope that God would exercise his saving sovereign grace in their lives.
"4) We view them as little ones before whom God has charged us to rejoice so that they can see what it is like to taste that the Lord is good.
"5) Finally, we view them as little pilgrims in hope on the way to faith, woven into the fabric of relationships in the family and the church. And we have nothing to be ashamed of in this relationship with our children. It is every bit as hopeful for a good outcome of eternal covenant membership as any other way of viewing children."
"First, Piper needs to understand that stopping a crime in progress is not bearing the sword in a Romans 13 fashion. Romans 13 deals with trial and penology. The man stopping his wife from being kidnapped and raped by a Muslim man in a gas station restroom (like what happened in North Dakota a few weeks ago) is not 'bearing the sword' Romans 13 style. He's not enacting vengeance. He's stopping a crime in progress. Throughout this article, Piper repeatedly cites verses that speak against vengeance, misapplying them to his position on self-defense. Any serious Bible student or teacher should know better than this simple but subtle difference-turned-distraction."
A revolting story of spiritual, financial, and sexual abuse in an independent "evangelical" "teaching" "ministry."
"My poor sleep hygiene was affecting my family, my work, and my physical health. And it was also affecting me spiritually....
"Sleep is a sign of trust and humility. But it's also a spiritual discipline. As D. A. Carson says, 'Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night's sleep--not pray all night, but sleep. I'm certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I'm merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need.'"
Carter offers some practical tips to improving sleep hygeine -- avoiding blue light, regular sleep and wake times, limiting alcohol and caffeine.
"During my own time in places like Cambridge, Mass., and Ithaca, N.Y., I frequently encountered people who claimed they'd 'never met' another Evangelical or 'never heard' one of my relatively standard conservative arguments. Their ignorance was matched only by their condescension, as they were convinced they knew the 'true' motivations for my deeply held beliefs.
"That's not to say that nothing else matters besides religion, but when encountering people who proclaim faith-based motivations for their actions, it is generally prudent to take them at their word and evaluate their actions and intentions from within their own frame of reference. If the Left applied this framework to jihadists abroad and Christians at home, it would understand that the reality is both worse than they fear and better than they hope. Jihadists are more deadly and vicious than they understand, while the religious neighbors the Left so despises turn out to be among America's most kind and generous citizens.
"In other words, when it comes to religion, the credentialed Left needs an education. Its ignorance is making our nation weak and tearing it apart."
A British couple explains why they're waiting for marriage, and how they're able to handle the pressure. A very winsome presentation. "We don't want to portray ourselves as these holier-than-thou people. But it's actually possible to have a functional relationship, in which you express physically that you care for someone, without having sex. There is a middle ground, and that's what we're trying to get across really, by agreeing to do something like this. I've had people ridicule me, and they get really explicit. They cannot get their heads around it.
"And I think another thing that is really a motivation is that, well, the Bible says that our faith is not just for ourselves, but for other people. Ore and I are trying to be a light for others. If there's one person who sees what we're doing and thinks, "I want to do that too," then thank God for that. It's another added pressure but at the same time we're honoured to carry that burden."
British cinema chains have banned an advertisement for justpray.uk which features people saying the Lord's Prayer. As Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield, goes through the seven petitions of the prayer, he explains why its understandable that the Lord's Prayer would be offensive in the context of a cinema.
"We are created and loved and called into friendship with God who is our father and into community with our fellow human beings who are therefore our sisters and brothers. Only someone who has found this new identity can stand against the advertising culture which night and day seduces us to define who we are by what we spend....
"Third, and most powerfully, the Lord's Prayer teaches us to live with just enough. This is the most dangerous reason why it cannot be shown with the adverts at the cinema. It teaches us not to want more. It teaches contentment, the most subversive virtue of them all....
"There are only 63 words in the Lord's Prayer. It takes less than a minute to say them.
"Yet these words shape our identity, give purpose to our lives, check our greed, remind us of our imperfections, offer a way of reconciliation, build resilience in our spirits and call us to live to the glory of our creator.
"No wonder they have been banned in the boardrooms of consumer culture."
"Jesus's parables would offend us, too, if we hadn't heard them so many times--or if we were paying better attention.
"In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we can all understand why the older brother, the one who has kept his nose clean, is offended by his father's eager welcoming of the wayward brother. It's a little shocking to realize that Jesus presents the older brother as just as big a jerk as the younger brother. Consider how much more shocking it would have been for Jesus's original audience, who hadn't already been told what they were supposed to think about the story.
"The parables are driven by that dissonance between the truth and the way we feel about the truth. Jesus shows us what the kingdom of God looks like; if we allow ourselves to be offended by that vision, we begin to see what needs to happen in our hearts."
This entry includes audio of Flannery O'Conner reading "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and quotes her comments about the story.
MORE: Flannery O'Conner says that Ayn Rand "makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky."
Bryan Chapell, former chancellor of the denominational seminary, describes in detail the distinctives and history of the Presbyterian Church in America -- the largest Bible-believing Presbyterian denomination in the US.