Among various Christian groups in the United States, evangelicals were found to be the most "Christ-like," according to the findings of a recently released study on Christians.
Overseen by the Barna Group, the results, released Tuesday, showed that 23 percent of evangelical respondents exhibited both Christ-like actions and attitudes. The 23 percent number puts evangelicals above the other categories, which included "Practicing Protestant" (16 percent), "All Christians" (14 percent), "Practicing Catholic" (14 percent), "Non Evangelical Born Again Christians" (13 percent), and "Notional" (13 percent).
The findings were derived from 1,008 telephone interviews of which 718 respondents self-identified as Christian from Nov. 11 until Nov. 18, 2012. Respondents who identified themselves as Christian were asked 20 questions, ten of which compared their responses to Jesus' actions and attitudes and ten of which compared their responses to the Pharisees of the New Testament. more >>
A couple of months back I wrote about the issues of school-based violence and how it is killing our school system and our students. I noted that over 857 students drop out of school each hour of the school day and that some 4,500 commit suicide each year as a result of this violence.
To combat this, I proposed the use of Collaborative Justice principles that marry Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice practices so that victims are given an actual voice and that offenders atone for their offenses through the use of Reintegrative Shaming techniques among others. Finally, I suggested the use of my own Shalom-centric Holistic Intersocial Forgiveness Transformation (S.H.I.F.T.) Theory. Specifically, S.H.I.F.T. is a three-fold understanding of forgiveness based on three distinct definitions of forgiveness as it relates to the three parties to an offense: the victim, the offender and the community. In regards to S.H.I.F.T., I contended that all parties had to forgive in order for them transcend past the conflict.
Since that time, it would appear that I have struck a chord with multiple groups. Non-Christians want to ignorantly throw Deuteronomy in as an alleged "Christian" way of handling conflict and therefore claim that my position is "un-Christian" – which is both absurd and laughable. Some Christians disagree with my stance only because I suggested treating others more as Christ would rather than converting them to Christianity – a difference in theology where I contend that people must see Christ in you so that they can see a compelling justification to turn to Christ as their one and only Savior. Finally, actual professionals in the field of Peace and Forgiveness Studies took exception to by my S.H.I.F.T. Theory because they felt that the use of "must" can easily be translated to mean "forced" in regards to forgiveness – which is a valid point but any forced forgiveness is truly no forgiveness at all if it does not come from the heart. more >>
Thanks to the publication of Kathryn Joyce's new book, The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption (excerpted here in Mother Jones, and Ms. Joyce is interviewed here at NPR), there's been an online wave of criticism/examination of Evangelicals' so-called orphan fever. To some, conservative Christians are incentivizing child-trafficking, engaging in a form of cultural imperialism by yanking children from their native cultures and evangelizing them into Christianity, soothing pro-life consciences wounded by lack of concern for babies after they're born, and trying to engage in charity without adjusting underlying world views about social justice and the need for systemic change.
Before I go any further, let me be clear about my biases: I'm the adoptive father of a beautiful girl from one of the countries highlighted in the NPR interview, Ethiopia. My sister has adopted a special-needs child from China, and our church is full of adoptive families, mostly with international adoptions. Many of these kids also have special needs. In short, adoption has been a great blessing in my family's life, and in the life of our church.
I have two reactions to the criticisms outlined above. The first, more emotional response is to reaffirm something I've said before: To many on the left, if you are conservative then there is nothing you can do that is virtuous. Even the good that you do will be dismissed as cynical or destructive. The idea that my friends and family, who love their adopted children more than they love their own lives, have "orphan fever" is disgusting. Given that much of this criticism comes from unapologetic advocates for abortion-on-demand, I'm reminded of the words of Isaiah: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." more >>
The teaching ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, has launched a "Missing Persons Project" campaign to encourage local faith communities to "recognize and receive [their] forgotten members," those who might be considered social outcasts or even marginalized by their churches.
"Today, the Body of Christ is missing many of its members. Too often we're guilty of assigning greater value to one part than the others," says Stanley in an introductory video on In Touch Ministries' website.
In Touch Ministries, founded in 1972 as "The Chapel Hour," has been releasing a series of special reports in an effort to encourage local churches to "welcome all people with open arms of love," according to Stanley, who referenced at the start of the video James 1:27. The Bible verse describes "pure and faultless" religion as looking after "orphans and widows in their distress" and keeping oneself "from being polluted by the world." more >>
Eugene Cho, lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and co-founder of international anti-poverty movement One Day's Wages, takes his message of generosity and justice to Willow Creek Community Church's Celebration of Hope 2013 this weekend. Pastor Cho shared with The Christian Post his message for the Illinois megachurch, his hopes for ODW and why he believes Christians are compelled by their faith to practice both righteousness and justice.
Cho and his wife, Minhee, and their children founded One Day's Wages over three years ago after the Washington pastor came back convicted from witnessing the challenges faced by impoverished communities in Burma. They felt a need to act and sought God for guidance. The response Cho and his family received, however, was not at all what they were expecting. But they obeyed, took up the challenge and sacrificed a year of their family income to launch a movement that has since inspired people and organizations all over the world to join the fight to eradicate extreme global poverty. One Day's Wages and its partners have managed to award grants that are helping to provide necessities like electricity to the maternity ward at a South Sudan hospital, HIV treatment for children in Togo and nutritional support and education for malnourished children and expectant mothers living in rural Guatemala.
Pastor Cho told CP that he hopes his message inspires two things this weekend among those who gather to hear him and others speak at Willow Creek Community Church. more >>
Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church tells Esquire magazine in its newest issue how he overcame extreme nervousness and finally found the confidence to speak before thousands. The evangelical Christian leader of America's largest church also reveals the biggest mistake he has made as a preacher, which he says happened early in his career.
Talking with Rachel Richardson for the Esquire essay on public speaking, or "How to Own the Room," the megachurch pastor said that before taking over full-time for his father in the pulpit, he used to be a nervous wreck just making church announcements.
"I was so nervous and I so dreaded doing it, I had to hold on to the podium because I felt like my hands would shake," Osteen told Richardson. "My first thought was 'Why are all these people staring at me?'" more >>