Category: Default

Richard Mouw Wrestles with Evangelicalism, Past and Present

Reading his book is like enjoying a cup of tea with a wise elder statesman.

Among my favorite books is Catholic activist Dorothy Day’s The Long Loneliness. When asked why, I often reply, “Because it’s like enjoying a cup of tea with a wise older woman who lived an astoundingly courageous life and led some of the most important movements of her generation.” Day’s book is conversational in tone and might mention names or historical events I don’t recognize. But I tolerate these quirks—in fact, I find them delightful—because I know she has something to teach me.

Richard Mouw’s Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels has a similar appeal. The book wrestles with questions of identity: What is this ever-changing movement called “evangelicalism?” How do we deal with conflict over the meaning of this term and over the direction of the movement itself? And should we even use the “E-word” anymore? As an elder statesman of Reformed evangelicalism, Mouw engages these questions (and others) through stories and reflections from a lifetime of ministry.

He discusses topics as wide-ranging as contextualization and the doctrine of sin, church unity (and disunity), and the importance of mystery, even including a whole chapter on hymnody. But, like tea with an older saint, moments that at first seem like digressions are often where treasure is found, and they all wind back to the book’s main theme: why Mouw remains an evangelical, by name and belief—and why he is “restless” about it.

Though not a memoir, the book walks through Mouw’s own story. As a brainy kid, Mouw found in evangelicalism a nourishing tradition of Christian scholarship that rescued him from fundamentalist anti-intellectualism. …

Continue reading…

Why Augustine’s ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment Tells an Incomplete Story

The same church father who experienced a radical turn to faith also preached a gospel of continual conversion.

My parents bought me my first copy of Augustine’s Confessions when I was a young teen. In this classic of the Western literary canon, the church father Augustine describes his sometimes wayward youth, his eventual conversion to Christ, and how God transformed his way of seeing the world. The book has captured the imagination of countless spiritual and intellectual seekers and shaped the ethos of entire literary, theological, and cultural traditions. But I did not take up and read. While most other books my parents recommended made it to my nightstand, this one sat on my shelf and collected dust. It stayed there through high school, through college, and as I took my first full-time job. I knew a little about this fourth- and fifth-century titan of the Christian tradition but not enough to tempt me to read him for myself.

Truth be told, despite now having devoted years of my life to the study of Augustine, I have never enjoyed the easy familiarity with Confessions that so many people talk about. “This could have been the story of my teenage years; I know just how he felt here,” I have heard umpteen times.

To me, Augustine’s specific temptations and preoccupations seem as foreign as the geographical, cultural, and philosophical worlds he inhabited. And the climax of the entire narrative—his dramatic conversion—is something the likes of which I have never experienced myself. Only after years have I come to see Augustine’s story as in some sense “mine,” and this understanding has been hard-won by listening to master interpreters and squinting through the lens of scholarly analysis.

Whereas most people know Augustine through Confessions, I most identify with him through his …

Continue reading…

Arizona State University gets dissed in college bribery scandal court documents

Actress Lori Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, noted ASU’s more lax admission standards in an email to a cooperating witness in the case.

      

 

 

Nearly a quarter-inch of rain recorded at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

Chances of spotty showers are possible throughout Tuesday morning in the Phoenix area, the National Weather Service reported.

      

 

 

Rain moves into Phoenix area and is expected to continue to Wednesday

Most areas see less than 0.10 inch of rain as of Monday evening, but more is on way, according to the National Weather Service.

      

 

 

Dolphinaris Arizona weighs future uses. One thing is clear, no animals will be involved

Representatives for the company that owned Dolphinaris say no no animals will be incorporated in the space moving forward.

      

 

 

Arizona's Medicaid program warns 3,100 enrollees about privacy breach

Arizona’s Medicaid program, AHCCCS, accidentally sent personal health information to the wrong home addresses.

      

 

 

Rain expected to hit the Phoenix area by late afternoon, last through Wednesday

The Phoenix area can expect rain later this afternoon, and it will continue through Wednesday.

      

 

 

Small Town Pastors See More Than Small Wonders

Rural ministry is experiencing a resurgence in the US even as economic and demographic numbers continue their decline.

These days, living in small-town America often means living with less.

2018 marked another year of decline in many rural and small towns: economies suffering; local residents aging or moving away; and many struggling with addiction, disillusionment, or depression.

But just as the nation declares a crisis in small communities, the church has seen new momentum around rural ministry. Proud pastors from blue-collar outskirts, flyover country farmlands, and cozy mountain towns proclaim that in God’s kingdom, less is more.

In new books, blogs, networks, and conferences, these leaders resist popular narratives about rural America to instead embrace the gospel lessons they encounter when doing ministry on a small scale.

“One of the things that the rural church reminds the global church of is God’s commitment to be with people everywhere. We as the people of God have been sent to the ends of the earth and sometimes rural is one of those ends,” said Brad Roth, pastor of West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas.

“Not every place is going to have the same potential for that growth metric. But every place is still beloved by God and worthy of our best and most thoughtful ministry as the church.”

While plenty of materials are geared toward church growth in bigger congregations, more resources are emerging for leaders in smaller contexts. America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, dedicated its annual pastors’ conference—long the domain of megachurch pastors—to small-church pastors in 2017.

“Despite rapid global urbanization, many millions around the world continue to live in small towns and rural areas. God is calling some of us to live …

Continue reading…

Interview: How Universalism, ‘the Opiate of the Theologians,’ Went Mainstream

Michael McClymond decries the rising popularity of an idea Christians have rejected for most of church history.

Rob Bell made a splash in 2011 with the release of Love Wins, a book that challenged settled Christian understandings of heaven, hell, and divine judgment. But as many critics pointed out in response, Bell’s musings about universal salvation relied on arguments that have been advanced—and mostly condemned—throughout church history. What explains the recent resurgence in self-described Christians affirming (or at least flirting with) universalism? In The Devil’s Redemption: A New History and Interpretation of Christian Universalism, scholar Michael McClymond sets out to answer this question by following the roots of universalist thought all the way back to the second century. His comprehensive, two-volume account maps out universalism’s development down through the centuries and critiques it on theological and philosophical grounds. Paul Copan, professor of philosophy and ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University, spoke with McClymond about his book.

How do you understand the term universalism?

In theological usage, universalism is the doctrine that all human beings—and perhaps all intelligent or volitional beings—will come to final salvation and spend an eternity with heaven in God. This is a theory about a final outcome, and it leaves open the way that this outcome might be attained. One reason my book is so lengthy is that there have been many different kinds of arguments for universal salvation over the last 1,800 years. At certain points, these arguments conflict with one another, so that if someone claims to be a universalist, you might ask: “What sort of universalist are you?”

One division is between the belief that everyone goes immediately to heaven at the moment …

Continue reading…