Recently in Faith Category

A Response to John Piper: Why Gun Ownership is Biblical and Good -Part A | Pulpit & Pen

"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."

'I Am Called a Cult Leader. I Really Don't Care.' | Christianity Today

A revolting story of spiritual, financial, and sexual abuse in an independent "evangelical" "teaching" "ministry."

How to Love God by Getting More Sleep - Joe Carter

"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.

The Left's Religious Ignorance | David French | National Review Online

"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."

This Is What It's Like To "Wait Until Marriage" - Buzzfeed

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."

Seven reasons to ban the Lord's Prayer

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."

What to Do If You Are Offended or Confused by Flannery O'Connor's Stories? | TGC

"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."

Exploring Evangelicalism: The Presbyterian Church in America | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer

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.

Through African Eyes by John A. Azumah | Articles | First Things

A Presbyterian pastor from Ghana teaching at PCUSA (liberal Presbyterian) church puts forth an African Christian perspective on the gay marriage debate in the Global North and gets to the heart of the different reaction in the Southern Hemisphere:

"As I have reflected on the consultation, I have come to the conclusion that the doctrinal differences between American liberals and African traditionalists originate in deeper conflicts. We may argue about what the Bible says about sexuality, but there is a broader, unstated disagreement over the Bible itself. For mainstream Western society, the Bible is an ancient text that might arouse intellectual curiosity or become the subject of historical analysis, but it is hardly a sacred book. It has no more authority in American culture than the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King's speeches, and other notable historic statements. Dropping the language of "obedience to Scripture" and "conformity to the historic confessional standards" from the PC(USA) Ordination Standards underscores this point.

"The Bible has a very different status in African societies. Where Christianity has become dominant in the last century, the Bible remains a sacred text, relevant and living. The Bible is more than a compilation of historical documents. It is, in very significant ways, an African Testament. For large segments of African Christian societies, the world of the Bible is contemporary. Old and New Testament narratives of sacrifice, polygamy, plague, agriculture, dancing, shepherds, tensions between nomadic pastoralism and peasant dwellers, epidemics, and war have immediate relevance. Andrew Walls remarks, "You do not have to interpret Old Testament Christianity to Africans; they live in an Old Testament world." The word of God is literally "living and active" in the African context. A leading African theologian, Kwame Bediako, has said:

"'In becoming Christian I discovered I was becoming African again. I was recovering my sense of the spirituality of life. I was recovering my sense of the nearness of the living God. I was recovering my African sense of the wholeness of life. I find in becoming Christian, I am being more African than I think I was. I am being more who I am. '"

He has much more on the contrast between the western and African churches -- the importance of community in Africa, the West's fixation on sex and its deification of choice.

"As an African, I'm aware that we too must address many of the issues raised by the sexual revolution, including homosexuality. We cannot pray or preach it away, and it is not just a "Western problem," as some in Africa would like to think. But my years here have convinced me that Americans are uniquely ill-equipped to help us find our way. American culture is distorted by a fixation on sex, and conversations about sex are dominated by ideologies that shut down discussion. To use the words of Desmond Tutu: "For goodness' sake, leave us alone to do our own thing, even if it means making mistakes. At least they will be our mistakes.""

Baptist Theological Seminary campus at Rüschlikon, Switzerland, now conference center

The Swiss Re Center for Global Dialogue is on the grounds of Villa Bodmer in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, near the shores of Lake Zurich. The 40-room mansion was built by industrialist Karl Martin Leonhard Bodmer in the late 1920s. It was formerly home to the Baptist Theological Seminary, which purchased the estate for $240,000 in 1948 and began classes on the site in 1949. Mrs. Bates sang there in the early '80s as part of the University Baptist Church (Fayetteville, Ark.), collegiate choir, New Creations, and she and I walked around the campus and ate a picnic (tinned meat and fresh bread) in the car park during a trip to central Europe in September 1990. After defunding by the Southern Baptist Convention and the liberation of the former Warsaw Pact countries, both happening in 1991, the seminary changed its name to the International Baptist Theological Seminary and moved to Prague in 1997. The seminary's chapel remains on the site and is home to the International Baptist Church of Zurich.

The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives has a collection of papers on the Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon, Switzerland.