May 7, 2013
As 95th birthday approaches, evangelist preparing message for "My Hope" campaign.
Billy Graham is planning to preach publicly one last time—and he wants to do it in homes across the country.
May 7, 2013
As 95th birthday approaches, evangelist preparing message for "My Hope" campaign.
Billy Graham is planning to preach publicly one last time—and he wants to do it in homes across the country.
May 4, 2013
(Updated) Statement from Southern Baptist Convention rejects conspiracy theories but notes "troubling lack of respect for true religious diversity in our military."
Update (May 7): Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and North American Missions Board (NAMB) have released a statement on the recent rumor over court martials for military evangelism.
According to the three-page statement,
We reject any and all attempts to sensationalize or misrepresent situations, in this or any other context. Having said that, we are concerned. While rejecting any conspiracy theory linking the reports above, we believe there are in some of these cases elements that are indicative of a troubling lack of respect for true religious diversity in our military.
Similarly, LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer writes on his blog that the false alarms and "anti-Christian conspiracy theories distract from real religious liberty concerns."
The military is putting to rest any rumors that Christian service members could face court martial for sharing their faith.
According to the Tennessean, the Defense Department has clarified its position, saying that members of the military are free to evangelize, as long as they don’t harass others.
April 9, 2013
(UPDATED) New York Times journalist resigned in 1970s in order to spread the gospel in New York City.
John McCandlish Phillips, an award-winning reporter and columnist for The New York Times who became an evangelist later in life, has died in New York City at age 85.
February 28, 2013
Canadian evangelicals find reason to cheer Supreme Court's unanimous ruling against Christian who distributed anti-gay pamphlets.
The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled yesterday that a Saskatchewan Christian who distributed anti-gay pamphlets "violated the province's human rights rules." However, the ruling encouraged Canadian evangelicals because it also narrowed the definition of hate speech, striking down some sweeping, unconstitutional language.
October 9, 2012
Jury finds no racial motivation in case of former BGEA employee who lost her job.
A North Carolina federal district court has found that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) did not discriminate against Kimberly McCallum, formerly the only African-American employee in the group's Global Ministries office, in terminating her employment as an administrative assistant.
August 15, 2012
New LifeWay research indicates that 1 in 5 churchgoers do not even pray for non-Christians.
Although nearly three in four Christians say they feel comfortable sharing the gospel, the majority do not do so.
New findings from LifeWay Research -- self-described as "distressing results" -- indicate that 61 percent of evangelical Christians fail to share their faith on a regular basis, even though they believe it is their responsibility to do so. Moreover, nearly half of those respondents said they have not invited a non-Christian friend to church in the past six months.
June 22, 2012
Presbyterian Church in America takes firmer stand on debate over translating "Son of God" for Muslims.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has officially rebuked Wycliffe Bible Translators' approach to translating the phrase "Son of God" for Muslims, and recommended that the small denomination's churches withdraw financial support from such Bible translations if they remain uncorrected.
Wycliffe, already at risk of losing support from the 3-million-member Assemblies of God over its guidelines for Muslim translations, has agreed to a review of its practices by the World Evangelical Alliance. The Assemblies of God has delayed its decision until the review is completed, likely by year's end.
But yesterday the 40th General Assembly of the 347,000-member PCA overwhelmingly approved an investigative committee's recommendation that "Bibles should always translate divine familial terms using common biological terms" because "social familial terms fail to capture the biblical meaning of 'Son' (huios) and 'Son of God' (huios tou theou) applied to Jesus and 'Father' (pater) applied to God."
The resolution is similar to last year's PCA condemnation of "translations of the Bible that remove from the text references to God as 'Father' (pater) or Jesus as 'Son' (huios), because such removals compromise doctrines of the Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Scripture.” However, this year's report also recommends that "PCA churches and committees should redirect missions resources away from projects which deviate from the translation principles articulated in this report," should "loving attempts" at correcting such translators fail.
The report also expresses skepticism of past explanations by Wycliffe regarding its approach to Muslim translations. "Current evidence from agencies points at best to a lack of unanimity, and in some cases to frank resistance, concerning a strong commitment to biological divine sonship terminology," notes the report. "Given the inadequate attention they have given heretofore to the theological implications of Jesus’ begotten-ness, we lack confidence at the present time to accept blanket statements made by translation agencies or their representatives that there exist languages in which the use of non-biological kinship terms constitutes best practices."
The committee will spend one more year assessing what specific actions the PCA should take on "insider movements" more broadly.
Missionaries to Muslims recently agreed to soften criticisms of each other over contextualization practices.
June 19, 2012
(Updated) After fallout at last year's event, organizers cancel nation's largest Arab festival for one-year hiatus.
Update (May 21): This year's Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, has now been cancelled in order to allow event organizers "to better prepare for the new venue," reports The Macomb Country Advisor and Source.
According to Religion Clause, "This year the Festival was to be moved to a local park that police would be able to better control—particularly in light of anti-Muslim proselytizers that were planning to attend."
Update (May 14): A federal judge has dismissed a First Amendment lawsuit filed by members of the Bible Believers, who say "their rights were violated when they denounced Islam at last year’s Arab International Festival in Dearborn and were pelted with debris." The group plans to appeal its case to the 6th Circuit District Court.
Update (May 7): The city of Dearborn, Michigan, has agreed to apologize to Christian missionaries who were arrested during the annual Arab International Festival in 2010. The three missionaries, members of the Acts 17 Apologetics group who were making an interview video with festival attendees, filed suit against the city saying they had not violated peace.
As part of the settlement, Dearborn must post an apology to the missionaries on its website for three years. Part of the apology specifies that the missionaries "were not guilty of the criminal offense of breach of peace."
March 1, 2012
The organization is shifting towards more online evangelism.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is laying off 10 percent of its staff as it shifts resources to make online evangelism a priority.
Some 50 people on the 500-member staff will lose their jobs between mid-March and this summer, said Brent Rinehart, a BGEA spokesman, on Thursday.
About 20 of the affected staffers work at the association headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Others have worked as field staff across the globe or at The Cove, the BGEA's training center in Asheville, N.C.
"It's definitely not a reflection of the financial health of the organization," Rinehart said. "It's really more redeploying resources to focus on those areas of great impact."
December 6, 2010
Wrongful termination? Donor theft? Who's on first?
Lawsuits are breaking out all over Canada's Messianic Jewish ministry community, as one of the largest organizations dedicated to reaching Jewish people for Christ is exchanging legal actions with a man who went to work for another one.
Marcello Araujo is suing Jews For Jesus Canada for wrongful termination. The organization let him go in 2005 for getting married without their counsel or consent, which they say violated the organization's Worker's Covenant. Araujo responds that he never signed the covenant. Jews For Jesus Canada, meanwhile, is suing Araujo right back, saying that when he went to work for another group, Chosen People Ministries Canada, he took a donor's list with him. Araujo counters that he has only contacted donors he personally brought in for his former organization.
According to the National Post, a trial has not been scheduled.
October 15, 2010
Lausanne delegates from China were turned back at the airport.
As thousands of evangelical leaders from 200 nations prepare to convene in Cape Town on Sunday, it looks like the more than 200 delegates from China have slim odds of attending.
Organizers of the third Lausanne Congress asked for "urgent prayer" Friday about signs that there may be "a concerted effort to prevent all Chinese participants from attending the Congress." NPR first reported Thursday that all 230 Lausanne delegates from China's house church community may be turned back at the nation's airports. Compass Direct gathers many details here. News even hit the NYT.
The National Association of Evangelicals is calling on China to retract the travel ban. China Aid points out that 200 seats were left vacant at the second Lausanne Congress in 1989 because Chinese delegates were prevented from making the trip to Manila
China's Foreign Ministry defended the actions to NPR by saying Lausanne organizers communicated secretively with illegal congregations and did not invite members of China’s state-controlled church. "This act has openly challenged China's principle of an independent, autonomous, self-governing church. It is a flagrant interference in China's religious affairs," the statement said.
Compass Direct said a Chinese paper reported that members of the Three-Self Protestant Movement had wanted to attend but "were required to sign a document expressing their commitment to evangelism, which members of official churches could not do due to regulations such as an upper limit on the number of people in each church, state certification for preachers, and the confinement of preaching to designated churches in designated areas."
On the good news side, Lausanne organizers reported that the Cuban delegation successfully left Cuba and will arrive in Cape Town via London on Thursday.
CT covered the visa difficulties often faced by attendees of Christian gatherings in the U.S. here.
February 25, 2010
Pastor Frank Amedia gives background on his comments to the Associated Press.
Yesterday’s Associated Press report on Christian-Voodooist tensions in Haiti was shocking enough. One group interrupted another’s religious service (there are of course differences in perspective on who “started it”) and eventually Christians in Cite Soleil destroyed the Voodooists’ religious objects. “Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols,” Paisley Dodds reported. “When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.”
But later in the story, the comments from Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries were perhaps more surprising: “We would give food to the needy in the short term but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”
A Christian aid organization demanding conversions in exchange for food is a rare thing in the 21st century. It’s bad theology, bad missiology, and impractical (“rice Christians” tend to be nominal at best). So it’s rare to see such a stark suggestion that non-converts could be “cut off” from aid.
But late yesterday Amedia said his comments weren’t so stark after all. On his organization’s Touch Haiti Now site, he wrote:
Let me be clear that we have not and do not judge the need of someone we can help by the measure of their faith. Not once have we qualified a single person prior to giving them what we had, nor is this a program standard for our assistance during the crisis mode of this mission. … We do visit and qualify the organization or “camp” that is requesting assistance to do our best to assure that the supplies actually make it to those who are in need, and are not pilfered or re sold.
What was not included in this AP report was the essential body of my comments. I explained that our commission as ministers of the Gospel is to have compassion on whomever we can, to respond to their need with what we have. I responded to a direct question from Paisley which asked: “What would I do if I knew the person in need was a voodoo worshipper?” I responded that we would help them, but that everything we do is for the Glory of God and that we are committed to share our hearts. She then expanded her question to ask “Would I continue to help them knowing they were still practicing Voodoo?” I responded that I would show them our love by helping them and that I would hope to become their friend, and then as their friend, that our compassion and love might be the difference to lead them to Christ. She then asked “How long would we continue to supply them?” To that I answered that “I am not sure we could continue to support them in the long term because we would not want to perpetuate that process. We equate [voodoo] with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel.”
Let there be no doubt that the love of God is our driving force, and He loves everyone. … That is why we have indiscriminately worked so hard, day and night, to help out urgently during this crisis mode for Haiti.
Amedia’s comments were apparently sparked not just by the Associated Press report but by responses to it. He concluded his post by saying, “To those of who you have written hate mail to me, please know that I do love you and forgive you and I can only hope that your judgments were premised on a lack of understanding of the full story. To the few who were wise to call and discuss this with me, I thank you that we were able to reason together and count you as my friends.”
Amedia’s “full story” still suggests there’s a cut-off point of sorts for aiding non-Christians. Thoughts? Does aid to Voodooists help Voodoo? Would you keep helping someone if they remained hostile to the gospel? If you aided someone for years and years and they never became a Christian, would you consider your efforts wasted?
September 3, 2009
Graham daughter speaks at Bowery Mission in New York City
(Editor's note: As of Sept. 5, this posting was revised. We regret the errors in the earlier version.)
Anne Graham Lotz wowed the homeless crowd at the Bowery Mission in New York City yesterday.
Taking time off from a tour promoting her new book about Abraham, The Magnificent Obsession, Lotz told the men and women at the mission about how she deeply wanted a more vital relation to God.
She asked the audience if they “ever felt left out, felt shut out, that the world has discarded you?”
“Listen to me,” she said to the group. “No matter how shut out you are, this is not all there is. There is nothing at all that God won’t forgive.” (Click here for Time magazine's author interview.)
From the crowd of homeless, some nine individuals came forward during her altar call to pray with Lotz that Jesus would come into their lives.
January 9, 2009
Everybody's searching for John 3:16 this morning.
We've come a long way since the days when only clowns brought John 3:16 to football stadiums.
At last night's BCS championship game, Tim Tebow changed the Scripture reference on his eye black. It had been Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Last night it was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The Florida quarterback accomplished more than one goal last night: Google Trends says John 3:16 is currently the hottest search term.
November 11, 2008
A trend that just won't go away.
Old news is not interesting. Unless it keeps repeating itself. And then, like a defective CD that keeps sticking at the same place, it's time to do something.
An article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune announces:
Here's the steeple; open the door, and where are the young people?
A survey finds that many youths draw a line between being spiritual and participating in an organized religion.
The story is based on the release of a survey conducted by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute, in which nearly 7,000 people were queried about their attitudes towards religion and spirituality.
"Spirituality is bigger than religion," said Peter Benson a co-directors of the Institute's Center for Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. "One of the things we have to focus on now is disentangling spiritual development from religious development."
And this Colorado Springs, in a story about a new congregation called Amplify Church:
The church also ignores traditional Christian rites and rituals in favor of an ultracasual atmosphere. It's just young adults with Bibles, hanging out to rap about their faith.
"Churches have become corporations," [The Rev. Dan] MacFadyen said. "We are trying to take away the corporate baggage and be real."
Being real apparently amounts to meeting in a bar, sitting "at bar tables in near darkness while blinking lights bathed the musicians in bright hues," "where Miller Lite and Budweiser posters, not crosses, hang on the walls," and where the pastor is "forgoing suit and tie in favor of worn jeans, sandals and T-shirt."
Again, not much new or creative here, and yet it speaks to an ongoing distrust among many people (and not just youth) of the church. Then again, we know from other stories, there is a counter-movement towards traditional churches with rich and even complex liturgies.
Actually both movements--away from mere religion and toward liturgy--may be driven by the same thing, something the Minneapolis survey tries to quantify: "The good news for faith communities is that 93 percent of the young people surveyed believe there is a spiritual aspect to life."
Despite rumors to the contrary, we don't live in a secular age. People remain hungry to know God. To me it is silliness to abandon the rich history and tradition of the church. At the same time, it is foolishness for churches to carp at the shallowness of so much spiritual searching.
November 10, 2008
No better time to reach out.
... some 71 per cent of those surveyed by Faithbook, a new multifaith page on Facebook, believe that a spiritual recession is more worrying than a material recession. And 80 per cent do not see the financial situation as a crisis but an economic watershed with moral and social opportunities.
So says an article in the Times Online: "Fears written on the pages of Faithbook."
Naturally, people who sign up for Faithbook are going to be more sensitive to moral and spiritual trends. But these people have economic woes as well as anyone else. And it's not blinded them to the deeper realities of what is going on right now.
It's a good reminder for evangelicals--we were made for times such as these, when people are groping for answers that transcend. And just at the moment we cannot afford the time or money to reach out to them--well, that's just the time when people may be most responsive to Jesus Christ.
What is your church doing to reach out at this time? We'd love to hear about it.