As a child growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I learned my place in American culture through rapture movies. These films—based on a pop-dispensationalist reading of prophecy—pictured a time when the church would be suddenly ripped from the earth, sailing through the air to be with the invisible (to the viewer) Jesus Christ.
No one in American life is more committed to religious liberty for all than the Latter-day Saints. We disagree strongly on crucial matters of faith—including the question of what the gospel is and what the church is, even over the question of who and what God is.
The Vatican announced today that they will host, in a matter of weeks, a colloquium on marriage and the family, bringing together leaders from virtually every religious tradition in the world, to talk about the complementarity of man and woman in marriage. Here's why I, a Baptist, accepted the invitation from the Pope to talk about this.
The controversy in Houston rages on, after City Hall subpoenaed sermons from pastors and churches on issues of sexuality and gender identity. The obvious violation of basic American principles of religious liberty and separation of church and state here have united even those who are opposed to one another on all sorts of other issues, including sexuality and gender. But there are some who wonder why not simply comply with the subpoenas and hand the sermons over?
A Catholic friend texted me this morning: "Any Baptist churches have services in Latin? Asking for a friend." His was a sort of gallows humor, as he watched with dismay what some are calling a "pastoral earthquake" in the Roman Catholic Church on questions of marriage and family. We don't yet know exactly what the report means, but reports indicate that the synod is asking for a more "pastoral" and "more inclusive" approach to cohabiting couples, same-sex partners, and others, while retaining the traditional Catholic views on sexuality and the family.
The Supreme Court has declined to take up appeals from states in which the courts have found same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. This paves the way for same-sex marriage in many, perhaps most, places in the United States. Many Christians may be unaware of how momentous this is, since the denial of cases doesn't come with quite the shock and awe of a ruling handed down.
This week my denomination, through its executive committee, voted to "disfellowship" a congregation in California that has acted to affirm same-sex sexual relationships. One of the arguments made by some, though, is that this is hypocritical since so many ministers in our tradition marry people who have been previously divorced.
Male violence against women is a real problem in our culture, one the church must address. Our responsibility here is not simply at the level of social justice but at the level of ecclesical justice as well.
Today the trustees of our SBC International Mission Board elected my friend David Platt to serve as president, and I am radically happy. Here's why.
The violent scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, are not what most Americans expected to see in 2014 America. The simmering tensions in this town, following the shooting of an unarmed teenager, ought to remind the Body of Christ of our responsibility to model reconciliation in Christ.
It is one of the most disturbing articles I've ever read. The current issue of Esquire magazine profiles the "abortion ministry" of Willie Parker, a doctor who flies in and out of my home state of Mississippi to perform abortions at the state's only abortion clinic. The word "ministry" isn't incidental. Dr. Parker says he aborts unborn children because Jesus wants him to.
In recent days, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter have kicked up a lot of social media dust about the Christian missionaries being treated for Ebola.
Christians around the world are changing their social media avatars to the arabic letter "n." In so doing, these Christians are reminding others around them to pray, and to stand in solidarity with believers in Iraq who are being driven from their homes, and from their country, by Islamic militants. The Arabic letter comes from the mark the ISIS militants are placing on the homes of known Christians. "N" is for "Nazarene," those who follow Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps it's a good time to reflect on why Nazareth matters, to all of us. The truth that our Lord is a Nazarene is a sign to us of both the rooted locality and the global solidarity of the church.
As the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is being released in theaters, I'm reminded of a few years ago when I launched a new semester of my Doctrine of the Last Things class with the showing of a clip from the original film, Planet of the Apes.
My denomination is dealing these days with a pastor in California who reversed his position on homosexuality. The pastor said that his shift coincided with his 15 year-old son's announcement that he is gay. This is a situation every Christian should think through, now. As I've said before, at stake on the issue of a Christian sexual ethic is the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what if, sitting across from you, is your child or grandchild?
Next week my denomination will receive the report from a special committee tasked with seeking unity between Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the Southern Baptist Convention. The report concludes what I've long suspected: we have much more uniting us across these questions than dividing us, and most of us are ready to love one another and work together.
It's not just that Mariam is displaying the sort of fearless faith Peter commends. It's also that she's displaying the sort of fearless faith Peter himself lacked, at least at first. Simon Peter, when faced with potential execution, denied even knowing his Lord.
Last week's online dispute between Tullian Tchvidjian and The Gospel Coalition reminded me of what it is like to see a couple, both friends, go through a divorce. I'm friends with Tullian and with the TGC leadership, and I hated to see all this. More than that, I cringed to see one more evangelical social media cagefight. But Tullian's apology today is something we all can learn from, and ought to reflect on.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) often tells audiences, "Republican Party events need more people with tattoos." It struck me, as I heard him say this, that this is kind of what evangelical Christians ought to be saying about our churches. It struck me further when I read this tribute my former student Spencer Harmon wrote about his new wife and her past that this is precisely the issue facing the next generation of the Bride of Christ, the church
Sometimes I learn a lot from conversations I was never intended to hear. This happened once as I was stopping by my local community bookstore. It's a small, quiet store, so it was impossible not to eavesdrop as I heard a young man tell his friend how much he hated Christmas. And, you know what, the more he talked, the more I understood his point.
We tend to idealize holidays, but human depravity doesn't go into hibernation between Thanksgiving and New Year's. One thing that will hit most Christians, sooner or later, are tensions within extended families at holiday time. Some of you will be visiting family members who are contemptuous of the Christian faith and downright hostile to the whole thing.
The most difficult math problem in the universe, it turns out, is 70 x 7. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in the Christian life is to forgive someone who has hurt you, often badly. But Jesus says the alternative to forgiving one's enemies is hell.
The recent profile in the Wall Street Journal highlighted a generational change in terms of the way evangelicals approach cultural and political engagement: toward a gospel-centered approach that doesn't back down on issues of importance, but sees our ultimate mission as one that applies the blood of Christ to the questions of the day. The headline, as is often the case with headlines, is awfully misleading. I am not calling, at all, for a "pullback" from politics or engagement.
Hip-hop artist Flame, a Dove, Stellar, Grammy nominee, and graduate of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's undergraduate Boyce College, recently released his seventh album, "Royal Flush." Flame joined Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, to discuss the opportunity Christian hip-hop artists have to be salt and light in the music industry, and how hip-hop can be an avenue for gospel witness.
It's another week and thus another interview with Pope Francis. This one, I'm sorry to say, is more than just confusing. It's a theological wreck.