Thinking Out Loud

October 3, 2015

Weekend Link List

Thought we'd spend a Saturday on the links.

Thought we’d spend a Saturday on the links

blank calendarIf you’re the type that tracks blood moons and Shemitah years, in North America, the change to Standard Time this month is the same night as Halloween. I’m sure this must mean something to John Hagee and Jonathan Cahn.

Selections from the cutting room floor this week, and recent additions:

  • “‘Kids, put away the phones and iPads,’ I announced. ‘We’re going to watch a movie and all look at the same screen the way God intended.'” Skye Jethani looks at what it means to be alone together.
  • The campus newspaper of the state university in Idaho refused an advertisement from a creationist group saying, “many of their claims could be construed as overtly belligerent to our readership.” The university defended the newspaper’s actions.
  • Al Menconi reviews Joe Amaral’s The Story in the Stars DVD. “I’m convinced that Story In The Stars needs to be seen and understood by every Christian in the world and should be taught in every Bible class and science class at every Christian school in the world. This isn’t just an interesting documentary, it is a biblical way to understand what has been right in front of our eyes for thousands of years.”
  • Tensions in the SBC summarized: “We have been pulling on a loose thread for quite some time. Now, it is finally unraveling.” The author expresses five concerns, the fifth of which concerns the role of Dr. Russell Moore: “Moore speaks when I would be silent and remains silent when I would speak. Most of the time, I do not find him representing my views as a Southern Baptist in the public square. Rather, he lectures me on what he thinks my views ought to be.”
  • Zondervan releases a new book by Alan Chambers, former President of Exodus International: “After closing Exodus, the Chambers thought of starting a new organization, but realized quickly that they wanted off the public stage. ‘We wanted to be Alan and Leslie Chambers for a time,’ he said.Around the same time, the couple apologized to the LGBT community on national TV for any hurt Exodus may have caused with their assertion that reorientation of same-sex attraction is possible. “’We wanted people to know we had a sincere change of heart,’ said Chambers.” A review of My Exodus at Publisher’s Weekly.
  • “A Colorado court has issued an arrest warrant for Teen Mania Ministries founder Ron Luce for failing to appear at a hearing last month, according to court documents…in connection to Compassion International’s lawsuit against Teen Mania…Charity Navigator ranks Teen Mania as the nation’s fifth-most insolvent charity with a net worth of negative-$5.2 million.” More at World Magazine.
  • Essay of the Weekend: The new ABC-TV prime time version of The Muppets flies in the face of Jim Henson’s original vision. “…the show suffers from what, since the finale of Seinfeld, has become an overused writing gimmick: no real resolution to the characters’ problems.That’s a far cry from Henson’s original hope of leaving the world a little better than he found it.” I guess it’s not easy being green.
  • Canadian Corner: For this academic, with an federal election just a few weeks away, the problem isn’t that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is Evangelical, it’s that he’s not Evangelical enough. “Ironically, it might be well for the Prime Minister to be a little more afraid than he seems to be about the end of the world: whether brought on by global climate change, the proliferation of war, or the pent-up fury of oppressed peoples.” The environment is a critical issue in the October 19th vote.
  • Finally, the next time you’re eating pecans think of this: Federal labor law enforces say that children from the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, some as young as 6 or 7 were forced to work as much as 14-hour days, including kids who had peanut allergies.
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September 17, 2014

Wednesday Link List

T-Rex Eating Icthus Fish Eating Darwin Fish emblem

The Wednesday List Lynx still prowls the office here after dark.

The Wednesday List Lynx still prowls the office here after dark.

Welcome to this week’s link list to those of you who didn’t already have it automatically download to their phone.

My wife makes these. I didn't have a closing photo this week, so I thought you'd enjoy seeing the puppets in an international mood.

My wife makes these. I didn’t have a closing photo this week, so I thought you’d enjoy seeing the puppets in an international mood.

Paul Wilkinson failed to find a suitable Christian media link related to tomorrow’s historic separation vote in Scotland, but you can read him the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud or devotionally at Christianity 201.

August 4, 2014

Remembering Braxton Caner

Braxton CanerThe death of Braxton Caner, the 15-year old son of Baptist writer Ergun Caner has haunted me all weekend. I’ve followed various internet rabbit trails trying to extract some meaning from his sudden, untimely death, apparently at his own hand. Why?

From the obituary:

…Braxton loved three things: God, his family and sports. When he got to Texas, he added four things to that list: Football, his friends, weight training, and Hannah Spencer. Braxton only loved one girl in his whole life — He and Hannah were inseparable for these last two years, and reflected a godly love far beyond their respective ages… Before he died, Braxton began researching collegiate programs in sports fitness and kinesiology, and wanted to become a sports trainer. Braxton only lived 15 years and four months, but he did more in his brief life than many people do in a lifetime. He traveled with his parents, visiting 41 states. He attended over fifty weeks of church camp in his life, on every major ocean. He learned to surf in Hawaii, escaped a moose in Alaska, got chased out of Canada, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, and ducked out of the way of a lion in the Serengeti. He got to help do a chapel for his beloved New England Patriots and learned to drive his F150 pickup truck on dirt roads of Texas. Braxton’s faith in Christ was also reflected in his life: He was the best big brother to Drake, led his cousin to Jesus shortly after his own salvation, and was a positive role in the lives of many others. He traveled around the world on eight mission trips, including Kenya twice, Tanzania, Israel, Mexico, the Bahamas, England and Wales…

While there has been speculation as to what propelled Braxton to this action, I think this is one of the news stories that will only become clearer with time. His father is not without controversy, and some have noted* that Braxton was being bullied on his Twitter account by enemies of Ergun Caner. He left no note…

I leave the comment section open to anyone else who has followed this story and wishes to add their insights; please be respectful… 

*UpdateTuesday, August 5th, 10:30 PM EST: The investigative website The Wartburg Watch thoroughly chronicles the role that certain people would appear to have played in Braxton’s sudden death. Writer Darlene Parsons begins, “This is one of the hardest posts I have ever written;” and many gut-wrenching paragraphs later, concludes, “Things have gone way too far.” To read that article click here.


News search results from last week:

Evangelicals Grieve as Braxton Caner, 15-YO Son of Christian

Christian PostJul 30, 2014

June 25, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Church Organ - Air Conditioner Combo

While this is list number two-hundred-and-something at Thinking Out Loud — and probably about the 400th link list over all, it’s list #52 at PARSE. A year! Time flies when you’re having links. Since Leadership Journal owns this weekly piece, clicking anything below takes you to PARSE where you can then link to the item you wish to read first.

Thursday through Tuesday, Paul blogs at Thinking Out Loud, both writes and steals devotional material at Christianity 201, and provides hints of the following week’s link list on Twitter.

 

It's not every day that we see a Jaguar X16 with a Jesus fish in our part of the world. Mind you it's a gold fish, nicely framed and matted.

It’s not every day that we see a Jaguar X16 with a Jesus fish in our part of the world. Mind you it’s a gold fish, nicely framed and matted.

May 21, 2014

Wednesday Link List

John Wesley quotation

Out of several hundred potential links, these were some things that got my attention this week. Clicking anything below will take you to PARSE, the list’s owner, a blog of Leadership Journal in the Christianity Today family. From there, click the stories you want to see.

When not hunting down links for you, Paul Wilkinson blogs at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201, and Christian Book Shop Talk.

June 14, 2013

United Methodists Offer to Take Evicted Boy Scout Troops

Filed under: Church, issues — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:15 am

WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee reported yesterday that Boy Scout Troops which are looking — or will be looking — for a new home following the resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention to cease supporting the group will find a welcome waiting from the United Methodist Churches.

After the Southern Baptist Convention came out against allowing gay Boy Scouts, another denomination announces they will welcome all scouts with open arms.

The United Methodist Church said any troops who lose their Southern Baptist sponsorship can find a new home with them.

But here the story gets confusing. Perhaps like me you were told that 70% of the Scout Troops in America are currently under the roof of a Southern Baptist Church. Mathematically, I was trying to make this sentence in the WATE report work:

United Methodist Churches sponsor the second most Boy Scout troops in the country, topped only by the Mormons.

Apparently, the 70% figure that I and others heard is wrong, and the SBC is not the major player in the Boy Scout movement that some of the headlines suggest. The 70% figure  is made clear in a story in the Christian Science Monitor; it reflects the sponsorship by all religious groups.  (see chart below)

That article went on to say that the idea of churches creating a Boy Scouts of America alternative aren’t feasible:

Some effort will be made to offer alternatives, … but such efforts could be limited and difficult for churches because the churches are not in financial shape to start anything as elaborate and significant as the Boy Scouts.

The sheer scope of the organization is impressive. A Wikipedia article begins noting:

…2.7 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers  Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.

As a Reuters news story reported, the resolution passed at the SBC’s annual meeting is non binding.  It also stated:

Some at the Southern Baptist conference said the church should embrace gay members of scouting and guide them toward a more Christian life.

One pastor argued that a young boy who claims to be gay is most likely the victim of abuse or otherwise needs guidance, and that the church or scouts should not abandon him.

I‘ve said here and elsewhere that the gender issues in general, and the gay issue specifically remain the top challenge the church is facing. The BSA and SBC stories remind us that in addition to formulating response, the issue has the potential to foment division

 

Appendix:

Top 10 Chartered Organizations associated with the Boy Scouts of America, by Total Youth Boy Scouts of America Fact Sheet. Last updated December 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2012.

Name of Organization Total Units Total Youth
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 37882 420977
United Methodist Church 11078 371491
Catholic Church 8570 283642
Parent-teacher groups other than PTAs 3712 153214
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 3663 127931
Lutheranism 3902 119701
Groups of Citizens 3445 106852
Baptists 4099 109298
Private schools 2837 101563
Parent-Teacher Association/Parent Teacher Organization 1661 69812

June 12, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Texting While Driving - Reverend Fun

Copyright © 2011 The Zondervan Corporation

Wednesday List Lynx -- two, actually

Wednesday List Lynx — two, actually

Time for another round of Christian blog and news links for the whole family. In the past we would often begin and end here with cartoons, but the whole question of fair use gets muddy sometimes, especially when humor meets illustration. I’ve studied the permissions statements of some of these and can’t reconcile what I read with what seems to be ubiquitous online. So we decided to run one, since it’s been awhile. Click the image to visit Reverend Run’s site.

I Once Was Lost Golf Ball Don’t forget to get your link suggestions in by 6:00 PM, Mondays, EST; and as always, for breaking links, you can follow me on Twitter. Look for @PaulW1lk1nson (change the letter i to a number 1).

June 11, 2013

Calvinist Doctrinal Diatribe Continues Online

In the first place, Calvinistic Christianity is nothing more and nothing less than biblical Christianity. It follows, then, that the future of Christianity itself is bound up in the fortunes of Calvinism…

from the website Founders.org

This week I got an email which contained the following:

Over the years, I have noticed on your blog that you have obviously had some less-than-edifying contact with Reformed brothers and sisters (and I should add, publishers).

In replying, I suggested a friendly amendment, namely that my in-person interactions with Reformed people — particularly those from my local CRC church — are actually most pleasant; it’s the online persona of more militant Calvinists such as the author of the quote which leads today’s article that I find somewhat objectionable.

Here’s the full quote from Founders.org with emphasis added:

In the first place, Calvinistic Christianity is nothing more and nothing less than biblical Christianity. It follows, then, that the future of Christianity itself is bound up in the fortunes of Calvinism….

…For whoever believes in God’s redemption through Christ and recognizes his own utter dependence on God, whoever recognizes that salvation is of the Lord, whoever seeks to glorify God in his worship and life, that person is already implicitly a Calvinist, no matter what he calls himself. In such circumstances, to make the person an explicit Calvinist, all we are required to do (humanly speaking) is to show the believer the natural implications of these already-held fundamental principles, which underlie all true Christianity, and trust God to do his work, that is, trust God to reveal these implications to the person.

Chris Hubbs writes:

Did you get that? Calvinism is “nothing more and nothing less than biblical Christianity”. And if anyone recognizes salvation from the Lord, and seeks to glorify God, then that person is implicitly a Calvinist! And all the Calvinists need to do is explain it in a way that the unknowing Calvinist might understand.

Just think, reader; you might be a Calvinist right now and not know it.

A year ago it was the same people wishing that Calvinism could be the default doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention, North America’s largest Protestant denomination. Yes, that could be a Calvinist coup!

And just last week on this page it was our discovery of Calvinist kids being indoctrinated against Arminians in the form of children’s story books.

No wonder I despair.

Ironically, the post scheduled for today was a link to an article by Russell D. Moore — an obvious graduate of the Bible’s school of peacemaking — who talks about the commonality both Arminans and Calvinists have on the subject of religious liberty.

On the one hand:

Sometimes people caricature Arminians, and those who share some convictions with them. The Arminian tradition doesn’t believe that the human will is naturally free in this fallen era. They believe that God graciously empowers human beings with the freedom to choose. In fact, much of what some Christians call “Arminianism” is instead the sort of manipulative, emotional revivalism they’ve seen or heard about somewhere. Arminians are, above all people, opposed to manipulation.

They believe, after all, that the human will must make a free decision to follow Jesus or to walk away. That means a clear presentation of what the gospel entails, with all the “cost-counting” that Jesus tells us about. This must be a personal, free decision, and can’t be outsourced to or vetoed by some emperor or bishop or bureaucrat.

And on the other hand,

Well, like the Arminians, Calvinists are easy to caricature. Some assume they believe the will is like a computer program operated by God, or that the gospel isn’t freely offered to all people. Evangelical Calvinists believe in the free offer of the gospel to all people, just as they believe in the universal command of the law of God. They believe that, left to ourselves, we will all run away from the law and we will all run away from the gospel. We see the light of Christ, and we hide because, in our sin, we don’t want to meet our God.

The Calvinist doctrine of effectual calling means that the Spirit works through preaching to overturn the power of the devil, to liberate our wills so that we can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t overpower our wills; he frees us from occupation by the deceiving demonic powers.

Toward the end, Dr. Moore concludes:

We will seek to search the Scriptures on everything God has told us. But we’re not that far apart. And even when we disagree, we can listen to the important emphases that each tradition brings, emphases that are grounded in God’s word and God’s gospel.

(here’s another link to Moore’s article, Why Calvinists and Arminians (and Those in Between) Can Unite for Religious Liberty)

…As someone who got to experience the tail end of the “Jesus People” era, I dream of a day when the labels won’t matter. Perhaps that day won’t happen in the present era. Still, I see a new generation moving toward a climate where the signs on the church door are a little less significant.

But I worry about the fragmentation that seems to be brewing in one particular segment of the larger Body. I worry about both how it looks and what it’s doing to us.

That’s what makes people like Russell D. Moore so vitally important. He gets both sides and also, I truly believe, dreams of a day when the sides don’t exist.

June 27, 2012

Wednesday Link List

A different approach to links this week.

If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
If we are speaking to liberal [or gay] Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
If we are speaking to beligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.

  • Here’s a link all the way back to May, where N. T. Wright offers a different view of heaven. The heaven we understand he says would sound foreign to people in Jesus’ time. He also proposes we think more of heaven as overlapping or intersecting with the here and now.
  • Perry Noble joins the ranks of megachurch pastors with books released through major publishers. Unleash is, from what I can tell, largely the story of New Spring Church and about God helping you unleash your vision. Here’s a sample chapter.
  • Another Mars Hill (Seattle) horror story. This one describes an exorcism. There’s no happy ending:

Why do you think Mark [Driscoll] claimed that your “demons” were “sexual”?

It’s always his go-to topic. Ironically, my husband had more “demons” than one could imagine. But his demons were of no consequence and unimportant to the church. It was somehow my fault because “maybe I wasn’t the godly, providing wife” I was supposed to be.

That said, Mark was also aware that my husband and I had sexual troubles from day one. And regarding our sex life–because I was essentially grinning and bearing it most of the time–Mark concluded that I was a terrible wife to my husband. Even when my husband looked at porn, Mark blamed me because I wasn’t doing my “wifely duty”. I felt violated when sex was expected of me. I was intensely miserable and neglected throughout my marriage, but Mark deemed that irrelevant because I was the wife and my duty was to serve my husband sexually.

One night I had a wondrous dream,
 One set of footprints there was seen,
 The footprints of my precious Lord,
 But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
 And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
 Those prints are large and round and neat,
 “But Lord they are too big for feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,
 “For miles I carried you alone.
 I challenged you to walk in faith,
 But you refused and made me wait.”

“You disobeyed, you would not grow,
 The walk of faith, you would not know.
 So I got tired, I got fed up,
 and there I dropped you on your butt.”

“Because in life, there comes a time,
 when one must fight, and one must climb.
 When one must rise and take a stand,
 or leave their butt prints in the sand.”

  • Daniel Jepsen goes to the movies: “I saw the SF movie Prometheus last week.  I won’t review it or summarize it here except to note that it featured a creature far rarer than aliens in Hollywood’s universe: a practicing Christian.  She is even portrayed in a positive light, and is, in fact, something of the heroine of the story.”
  • Darrell Dash notes that material benefits, combined with intangible benefits, added to future rewards equals the situation that pastors are well compensated, thank you.
  • Timothy Kurek has rewritten the playbook on incarnational, choosing to identify as gay even though he says he isn’t in order to understand their persecution.  His adventure could fill a book:

Facebook: Timothy Kurek is an aspiring writer, proficient drinker, laudable instigator, and recovering Pharisee. 

YouTube video description: From bigotry to empathy, this is the true story of a conservative Christian attempting to find the answers. And it all begins with two words. “I’m Gay.” (Jesus in Drag, The Book Trailer; linked above.)

MSNBC Interview: “I was pretty immersed in that experience.”

  • Author Karen Spears Zacharias debriefs the Jerry Sandusky trial: “When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is hurt denied. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is responsibility deafened. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is shame misplaced. When it comes to the abuse of a child, silence is evil granted access.”
  • It’s 431 .pdf pages, but Bible aficionados — or perhaps people who have never read an interlinear Bible — might enjoy the Mechanical Translation of Genesis.
  • As CNN’s Belief Blog put it, “She went from atheist to Catholic in just over 1,000 words.” Leah Libresco announces her conversion on her blog:

Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she’ll deal with atheists now.

“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.” 

  • When Benny Hinn remarries his former wife Suzanne, Jack Hayford will perform the re-nuptials. Hinn said, “We never broke the covenant. Our marriage has been restored. We just want to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.”
  • Pete Wilson confesses that there are three things he learned early on in ministry — about problems, conflict and giving up — that he later had to unlearn.
  • Not a Christian site/blog link, but you have to feel for these two kids who got sunburned when the school refused to apply sunscreen on field day.

June 19, 2012

SBC Convention: Let the Games Begin!

Filed under: Church — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:32 am

Forget the 2012 Olympics in London. The real action this summer starts today in New Orelans at the Southern Baptist Convention Convention, or as we call it here at Thinking Out Loud, SBC2.  So grab your favorite travel mug. This week’s highlights include:

  • Election of the first African-American (or black; I can never remember which term we’re using now) SBC president.
  • Getting the movie Blind Side banned from Lifeway Christian Resources bookstores.
  • Deciding once and for all if Calvinism is heresy; but the vote could also end up being that Arminianism is a heresy, it’s really too early to tell with these things. You might want to skip the Fred Luter presidency and the DVD banning and just follow this one.

Things we learned attending last year’s convention:

  • The delegates to the convention are called messengers, and the people who deliver your messages from the hotel concierge are called delegates.
  • You get a lot of weird looks walking around the convention floor clutching a copy of Your Best Life Now.
  • Lifeway Christian Resources is first and foremost all about money. So if they’re going to ban a DVD, they need to replace the revenue with something, and we can’t think of anything better than GCB: The Complete First Season for only $39.99.  (It stands for Great Convention Baptists.) (First and only season.)

Anyway, I hope the delegessengers have a great time attending seminars, eating steak, and enjoying the adult pay-per-view at the hotel.

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