Rampant issues like plagiarism and pornography led the National Association of Evangelicals to address pastoral conduct.
by Url Scaramanga
Do you know the difference between right and wrong? If you don't, the National Association of Evangelicals is here to help. Luder Whitlock, chairman of the committee for the NAE that created the new clergy code of ethics, says we can no longer assume that pastors have not succumbed to moral ambiguity in the current culture.
The code, released earlier this week, focuses on trust, integrity, purity, fairness, and accountability. Read the full document at NAECodeofEthics.com.
David Neff, editor in chief of Christianity Today, interviewed Whitlock about the code. Here's an excerpt. Read the full interview here.
Neff: Why do clergy need a code of ethics? Won't they do the right thing if they are walking with the Lord?
Whitlock: Clergy intend to do the right thing, but given the eroding moral standards of recent years in our country, in many instances there isn't adequate clarity and a strong enough sense of obligation to what's right.
What my suburban enemy teaches us about our spiritual enemy.
by Skye Jethani
It isn't just people that congregate at my church. The lawn between the building and parking lot attracts Canada geese. For those of you unfamiliar with the species, or who are blessed to live in a region beyond their imperial ambitions, allow me to explain. Canada geese are evil.
They swoop in like alien invaders and occupy a community's grassy areas, especially golf courses, parks, and playing fields. At first their presence is viewed as benign, particularly as their little goslings add a storybook charm to the scene.
But these are not graceful swans or timid ducks. Draw too near and the birds extend their wings, lower their heads, and release an unholy hiss like a fell beast of Mordor. If the warning is unheeded, they will charge and attack with astonishing speed—something I witnessed firsthand in high school as a friend on rollerblades nearly lost his ear to a rogue goose. With their lifeless black eyes and taste for blood, Canada geese are the Great Whites of suburbia.
Why are they attracted to my church? I cannot say for certain. But the presence of these demon birds (I'm convinced they were the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's film) illustrates something about the spiritual enemy we contend with.
Like the unseen "powers and authorities" the apostle Paul says we strive against (Eph. 6:12), the geese are not always visible on Sunday mornings. But their presence is still felt by all as we dodge their copious droppings on the sidewalk.
Every week as we prepare to exit our minivan, my four-year-old daughter pauses and reminds us of the danger: "We're going to church. Watch out for poop." Indeed, I think to myself.
Evangelicals, politics, and the decline of the American empire with Os Guinness.
by Url Scaramanga
This week’s special guest on the Phil Vischer Podcast is Os Guinness!
Os Guinness is an author, a social critic, and Senior Fellow of the East-West Institute in New York. Great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War Two where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of London and his D.Phil in the social sciences from Oriel College, Oxford. Os has written or edited more than twenty five books, including The American Hour, Time for Truth, The Call, Invitation to the Classics, Long Journey Home, and Unspeakable: Facing up to the challenge of evil. His latest book The Case for Civility – and why our future depends on it was published by Harper One in January 2008.
A mom learns if you can't say something nice about a church....
by Url Scaramanga
Pastor Charles O’Neal of the Beaverton Grace Bible Church is suing a former attender for writing a negative review of his church online. After a bad experience with the church, Julie Anne Smith decided to share her impressions. "I thought, I’m just going to post a review,” Smith said. “We do it with restaurants and hotels and whatnot, and I thought, why not do it with this church?”
The pastor claims Smith’s review amounts to defamation. He is suing Smith, as well as her daughter and three others, for $500,000.
Even though “we” want to identify ourselves as evangelical, Evangelical Christianity has become a battle ground of proof texts. No matter what the particular battle is.
“I’ll see your 1 Tim. 2:12 — Paul not suffering a woman to teach, with Paul lauding the apostle Junia in Romans 16:7, greeting his co-laborers, Priscilla & Aquila in Romans 16:3–4 and 2 Timothy 4:19 and writing of their house church leadership in 1 Cor. 16:19. Winning!”
On this particular battle, Smith writes,
The Bible seems to say many things that can be reasonably read and theologized in various ways. In studying the various sides of this heated debate, one gets the distinct feeling that it is actually the divergent prebiblical interests of the many interpreters—both traditionalist and feminist—that drive their scriptural readings, as much as the texts themselves. That too presents problems for biblicism. But the more pertinent point here is this: apparently smart, well-intentioned scripture scholars in fact do read the same set of texts and come away making arguably compelling cases for opposing if not incompatible beliefs on a matter of significance for Christian personal and church practice. — Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible, Loc. 780–85 (Kindle Edition)
Do we worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or the Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures?
by Bill Kinnon
Some might be surprised. Others will say, “I knew it all along. He’s not to be trusted. He’s slid so far down the slippery slope he’s a nanometer from Hell’s Gates.”
What am I talking about? The Bible. Sorry. The Holy Bible.
I don’t believe it’s inerrant.
Automatic handwriting under the control of the Holy Spirit? Ummmm… I don’t think so.
Scot McKnight notes:
…many Christians grow up with a view of Scripture that it is inerrant, and that means for them – and I speak here of the populist impression – that it is not only true but that is more or less magically true – true beyond its time, true when everything else says something else. Connected to this view of inerrancy is a view of Bible reading that takes a sound Christian idea called the perspicuity of Scripture, that the Bible’s message is clear to any able-minded Bible reader, and ratchets it up one notch so that the Bible reader thinks whatever I see in the Bible is what the Bible is saying. This is my way of saying that one’s interpretations of Scripture become as infallible as the Bible itself, and since everything interlocks, giving in one inch is the first step in apostasy.
A conversation with the award-winning author of "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy."
by Url Scaramanga
Join Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani as they spend the afternoon with NY Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy). Download and listen from iTunes.
Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, which was named “Book of the Year” by the ECPA. Bonhoeffer also won the 2011 John C. Pollock Award for Biography awarded by Beeson Divinity School and a 2011 Christopher Award in the Non-fiction category. Called a “biography of uncommon power,” Bonhoeffer appeared on numerous 2010 “Best of the Year” lists and was featured in the Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The New Republic, Harper’s, Kirkus (starred review), NPR, FoxNews, C-SPAN’s Book TV, Christianity Today, The Weekly Standard, and First Things. Metaxas was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, an event attended by the President and First Lady, the Vice President, members of Congress, and other U.S. and world leaders. Previous keynote speakers have included Mother Theresa, Bono, and Tony Blair.
Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.
In 2011, Metaxas was the 17th recipient of the Canterbury Medal awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. Previous medalists include Mitt Romney and Elie Wiesel.
No other church has been more innovative online than the Oklahoma-based LifeChurch.tv. With over 40 online services each week, as well as a virtual campus in Second Life, the megachurch has seen digital communication as a key to its influence and mission. LifeChurch.tv was also the team behind the free YouVersion Bible app that has become one of the most downloaded apps on iTunes.
Now the church is seeking to pioneer a new online frontier. LifeChurch.tv has officially applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for ownership of the .church domain name. If successful, LifeChurch.tv would control the distribution of all .church domains worldwide.
Bobby Gruenewald, Innovation Leader at LifeChurch.tv said:
"When people are searching for answers, one of the first places they go is online. Exploring matters of faith is no exception, and many individuals experience a church's website before they ever step through its doors. There are countless examples of the church creatively utilizing technology to maximize its ministry. The '.church' extension is another way the church can meet people where they are in this digital era."
In Episode 3 of The Phil Vischer Podcast, Phil, Skye, and Christian discuss pop culture, Lady Gaga, and Hindu weddings before interviewing Wake Forest biophysicist Jed Macosko. Download and listen from iTunes.
Macosko is a leading physicist at Wake Forest University whose dedication to making science more appealing to middle-schoolers and masters’ candidates alike has been celebrated by other scholars and the White House. With research interests spanning biophysics, thermodynamics, and drug discovery, Macosko helped develop a video game that teaches middle school students advanced cellular science, and more importantly, how to love it. He discusses the challenges, and blessings, of at the center of the science versus faith debate.
Are we cultivating living disciples that produce good fruit, or merely decorating the dead?
by Skye Jethani
Trees are a reoccurring symbol in the Bible. There is a tree at the beginning in the garden, and a tree at the end in the city. There is a tree in the middle on which Jesus was hung. Trees are also used to describe the people of God. Psalm 1 says the righteous man is “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” And Jesus uses the imagery of a tree to describe our communion with him in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Likewise, in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15-20) and again in Matthew 12:33 Jesus compares people to trees. A person, like a tree, is known by its fruit. A good tree yields good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. The principle is simple and profound. As a friend’s bumper sticker reminded me: Fruit Happens. Who we are will ultimately be revealed by what we do. If our lives are marked by love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness we can conclude that what is in us is from God and good. But if our fruit is anger, discord, jealously lust, hatred, greed, selfishness, and pride...
Still, despite the simple nature of this truth, we are stubbornly reluctant to accept it.
A simple illustration to understand the difference.
by Url Scaramanga
When Rob Bell's book, Love Wins, debuted last year it sparked a debate about the nature of salvation (and damnation). Some recognized elements of Orthodox theology in Bell's view. But if you're confused about the difference between the Protestant and Orthodox views of salvation, this short video helps explain each tradition's approach. Is one right and the other wrong? Or are they two facets of a greater mystery?
Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani talk about The Avengers and movie making, discuss religious protest art and how to relate to atheists, and why it is important to read the Bible as more than just a guide for morality. Listen here.
Two prominent young pastors are leaving their influential churches.
by Url Scaramanga
Shane Hipps, teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church, has announced that he will be leaving the church once a new pastor is found. Hipps came to Mars Hill at Rob Bell's request to share teaching responsibilities as Bell's ministry was taking him away from the church more regularly. Last December Bell announced he was leaving Mars Hill to relocate to Los Angeles. (Skye Jethani interviewed Bell about this departure.)
Mars Hill has had a challenging year. The controversy surrounding Love Wins, Rob Bell's best-selling book, led some to leave the church. And Bell's departure has also taken a toll. In the wake of these events, leaders at the church decided to restructure the staff and adjust the teaching pastor role. They want this person to preach 40 Sundays a year and report to the church's executive director. Hipps said that he "knew instantly my internal shape did not fit the role they created" because it would "dramatically reduce my service to the broader church which is an integral part of my sense of call." Hipps has two new books in production and plans to start a leadership development company.
Part of Christian teaching is not just the hope that the world will be transformed in an age to come, but that the world experienced a similar transformation long ago in reverse. The universe we presently experience does not behave the same as the universe God originally created and declared "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Paul can speak of a day to come when the universe will be "set free from its slavery to corruption" because he believed there was a time long past when it was "subjected to futility." In theological language we call this event the Fall.
The story in Genesis is a familiar one and the subject of much debate between science and religion. It speaks of humanity rebelling against God to seek autonomous rule. By breaking their communion with the Living God they subjected themselves, and all of creation, to death. Genesis 3 speaks of the cursing of God's good creation; it's subjugation to sin, slavery, and decay. This corruption sets the scene for the redemption narrative of Judaism and Christianity; it creates the need for the liberation of God's creation which is accomplished by Christ, inaugurated by his resurrection, and will be fulfilled at his unveiling in glory.
But if Christ's resurrected body offers us a preview of creation set free from the curse, might it also provide a glimpse of the world before the curse?
Introducing a new podcast with Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani.
by Url Scaramanga
Join VeggieTales and What’s in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer and co-host Skye Jethani (author, senior editor Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal) for a fast-paced and often funny conversation about pop culture, media, theology and the fun, fun, fun of living a thoughtful Christian life in an increasingly post-Christian culture.