As the rioting, looting and burning of homes and businesses that erupted earlier this week threatened to overshadow the weeks-long peaceful protests that have been ongoing in Baltimore, the word "thug" began rolling off of lips and popping up on social media accounts, including on those belonging to some Christians shocked by the violent scenes playing out on TV networks like CNN. However, one Baltimore pastor, recalling the Apostle Paul's transition from the persecutor Saul, warned against simply condemning "rioters as unsalvageable thugs."
"Resist the temptation to condemn rioters as unsalvageable thugs and instead pray that God would transform these Sauls into Pauls," Dan Hyun, lead pastor at The Village Church in Baltimore, tweeted just after midnight on Tuesday.
Hyun added the hashtag "#MyStory" at the end of his tweet, suggesting that his testimony bears semblance to the radical conversion of Paul, who, before changing his name, terrorized and imprisoned Christians in the Roman Empire. The devout Jew, who the Bible says was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," experienced a vision of Jesus and eventually became a believer himself. The Apostle Paul remains one of Christianity's most influential leaders and the New Testament's most prolific author. more >>
Commenting on the devastating violence that took place on Monday in Baltimore, outspoken Christian professional football player Benjamin Watson explained that the pain, anger and tension that the city and its residents are experiencing can only be healed through the power of Christ.
The 34-year-old 11-season NFL tight end, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, is a frequent commentator on current events and has never been afraid to let his Christian convictions be heard. On Tuesday, Watson took to Facebook to voice his thoughts on the rioting, looting, injuring of cops, destroying of police cars, and homes and businesses that took place in Baltimore after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody.
Watson noted that Baltimore is not the first city to go through a violent uprising over police negligence, and likely won't be the last. He further asserted that the problems Baltimore faces right now are shared by the nation as a whole. more >>
The pastor of a youthful and racially-diverse congregation located just a few blocks from the CVS pharmacy set on fire by rioters amid otherwise peaceful protests in Baltimore says it's time for white Christians to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in America and to listen to those who are angry and hurting in order to help find meaningful solutions.
"There are deep systemic issues. There is no surface issue that's really the cause. There's some deep stuff that's been going on that's been going on for a lot of years," Joel Kurz, lead pastor of The Garden Church in Central/West Baltimore, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Some of those "deep systemic issues" are believed to have been at play when Baltimore police officers chased and arrested Freddie Gray and placed him inside a van on April 12. Gray, who was arrested for having a switchblade-like knife in his possession, was admitted to a hospital less than two hours later, and was dead by the end of the week. The 25-year-old died at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center where he had received surgery for his severely injured spinal cord and crushed voice box — injuries sustained while he was in police custody, according to The Baltimore Sun. Protesters had already taken to the streets the day before Gray's death, and when news of his passing came with no information on what might have befallen Gray during his arrest, their numbers swelled. more >>
Former Florida governor and potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush stated that Christians in America and abroad should have protection to act upon their beliefs.
In a speech at a major Hispanic evangelical gathering, the former Florida governor shared his thoughts on religious liberty and other issues.
"There is no more powerful or liberating influence on this earth than the Christian conscience in action and today in America it is important to respect and to protect Christians acting on their faith," said Bush. more >>
Oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges are now complete, and there is just a bit less triumphalism from the Left than expected. It turns out that Justice Kennedy — the presumed deciding vote — was not uniformly enthusiastic about expanding the definition of marriage, noting at one point that he had "a word on his mind, and that word is 'millennia.'" He seemed to be indicating reluctance to step in and redefine an institution that has existed across cultures, for thousands of years, as a union between a man and a woman.
While that comment was promising, most observers said he was far more animated and impassioned in his statement sympathetic to same-sex marriage. Later in the argument, for example, he spoke forcefully about granting "dignity" to gay couples. From The Wall Street Journal live blog:
He [Michigan special assistant attorney general John Bursch] again said the states' position focused on the importance of marriage for childbearing. The institution of marriage was never meant to be about bestowing dignity on couples, he said. This drew a sharp response from Justice Kennedy. "I thought the whole purpose" was to bestow dignity, he said. more >>
It's easy to understand why nearly all non-Christians, secularists, and the media misunderstand Christianity. Today words and their definitions are nearly meaningless because the same words are used to support particular, even opposite agendas. Relativism and proof-texting are the means to this end, justifying the terms people use about themselves and others.
Division among denominations, churches, organizations, and even personalities advocating their own version of truth certainly hinders non-believers from understanding Christianity.
However, identifying real Christianity and the people of the Cross is straightforward. more >>