WATCH: Democratic candidates for Arizona governor meet in azcentral.com debate

Steve Farley, Kelly Fryer and David Garcia meet in debate hosted by The Republic/azcentral.com, Arizona PBS and Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU.

      

 

 

You Can’t Have Racial Justice Without a Bloody Cross

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s necessary rebuke on race rests on a sadly truncated gospel.

In 1846, the abolitionist Samuel Brooke published a book called Slavery, and the Slaveholder’s Religion; as Opposed to Christianity, in which he condemned human bondage as “the violation of every principle of human brotherhood, of natural right, of justice, of humanity, of Christianity, of love to God and to man.”

Like so many of his fellow abolitionists, Brooke wanted to prick the conscience of a religious tradition that sang songs of praise to God on Sunday and whipped slaves on Monday. In Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion, writer and activist Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove attempts to take up this mantle, arguing that today’s white evangelical movement remains beholden to a racial ideology that hijacks and distorts the true Christian faith.

Wilson-Hartgrove doesn’t approach the topic of race as an expert, though his experience moving into a majority-black neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina, gives him a proximity not shared by many of his fellow white Christians. Yet he offers a remonstrance that many white Christian leaders desperately need to hear. He traces fault lines in American Christianity that have roots in the nation’s founding and shows how white evangelicals have often baptized white supremacy either by endorsement or silence.

We are tempted, of course, to assume that we are well beyond our racial tensions, being more than 150 years removed from the Civil War and more than 50 years removed from the passage of landmark civil rights legislation. But significant tensions remain, and systemic racism, more subtle and pernicious than white bed sheets or lynching trees, still causes suffering for African Americans. Wilson-Hartgrove makes a persuasive …

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A Bright Future Rooted in a Distant Past

As we look forward, our present activity must be rooted in God’s kingdom work throughout redemptive history.

The glum cacophony of voices bemoaning the state of the church in North America present a bleak deconstructionist’s portrait of the future. It does not look good. With the diagnosis comes heaps of questions clamoring for immediate answers:

  • How does the rise of the “nones” and “dones” influence our missiology?
  • How does the pervasive nature of racism and associations within evangelicalism influence our posture toward the marginalized, particularly in urban centers?
  • How has the lingering implications of our unwavering embrace of church growth paradigms neutered the mission of the church?

These are important and necessary questions that are, unfortunately, often met with more hand wringing than thoughtful solutions. When authentic attempts are made at devising answers for the future, they often presuppose our current sociological and ecclesiological realities as the starting point for envisioning the future.

Perhaps this is the wrong place to start.

Maybe we need to look a little further into the past. Maybe a lot further.

This isn’t the first time the church has faced a hostile culture, lost its voice in a secularized world, or cowered in the face of political foes from every side. Many of us have never been here before, but God’s people certainly have seen worse days.

Before we propose any future strategy, we must first root our activity in the history of God’s kingdom work throughout redemptive history. After all, history is his story.

Which forces us to ask the big question: “What does God want?” Not, what does God want to do with the challenges facing the church in North America? We will get there in time.

But, what has God always wanted for his people?

There are those in …

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Scottsdale police work to fix gaps in body camera program after audit identifies problems

Scottsdale has identified problems with its police department’s regulation of body camera footage, according to an audit by the city.

      

 

 

Today is the last day to register to vote for Arizona's Aug. 28 primary election

Voters who have an Arizona driver’s license or non-operating state I.D. card can register online at servicearizona.com. The deadline is midnight.

      

 

 

Isaac King, suspect in fatal DPS shooting, charged with first-degree murder

Isaac Damon King is still hospitalized following the fatal shooting that killed DPS trooper Tyler Edenhofer on Wednesday evening.

      

 

 

Scottsdale woman opens a business that teaches etiquette, manners

SueAnn Brown’s It’s All About Etiquette teaches children and adults good manners. The classes include a training manual and other instructional tools.

      

 

 

Monsoon storms, blowing dust may hit Phoenix area this weekend

The National Weather Service said the Phoenix area has a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain this weekend.

      

 

 

Heard the One About the Jewish Man, the Roman Demon, and the Gentile Pigs?

Exploring the multiple meanings behind a New Testament “political cartoon.”

In one of the strangest stories in the Gospels, Jesus delivers a demon-oppressed man, only to send the demon(s) into a herd of pigs, which promptly charges down a cliff and drowns in the sea. You can read it in Mark 5:1–20, and it’s just as bizarre as it sounds.

I remember an older pastor telling me the three questions he’d been asked most often during his 40 years of ministry: What happens when you die? Can I lose my salvation? And what’s the deal with the pigs?

Faced with strange passages like this, it is easy to reach for tenuous points of application. Jesus wanted to show people that one man is worth much more than 2,000 pigs. Mark wanted to remind us how unclean pigs are to Jewish people. Before casting out a demon, you should always ask it for its name. And so on. Even if these things are true (and some of them aren’t), they don’t really get to the heart of the story.

Instead—and this is the case for many passages in Scripture—it is helpful to read the story at three levels. There is always an individual level to biblical texts: What is happening to the particular people in this story? Why? What was it like for them? How does God reveal himself to them? What do we learn from it all? Read like that, Mark 5 is a lovely story of freedom for a damaged man, but the bit about the pigs is still pretty baffling.

Then again, scriptural passages can also be read at the national level. Where are we in Israel’s history? In which phase of the biblical narrative—Eden, Election, Exodus, Empire, Exile, Easter, End—does this story appear? Which covenant is in view? How does the passage shed light on what is happening to Israel (or any other nations represented) through this …

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Intelligent Designer Babies? Christians Tell Pew Their Views on Gene Editing

Most believers favor CRISPR medical technology for fixing health conditions before birth, but not after it.

Scientists are finding it easier and easier to alter a baby’s genes, thanks to the groundbreaking CRISPR method. But Americans are divided on which uses of the new technology are appropriate or not.

And for the religious, the ethical lines are even more stringent, according to the Pew Research Center.

In a new report released this week, Pew found 72 percent of Americans support the use of gene editing to help cure a serious congenital disease (one present at birth), while only 57 percent of the highly religious agree. (Pew identifies highly religious Americans as those who attend services at least weekly, pray daily, and say that religion is very important in their lives.)

In the future, medical professionals may also be able to use gene editing to reduce the risk of a health condition that would crop up later in life. Only 60 percent of Americans felt that would be appropriate, while support among the highly religious dropped below 50 percent.

Among the three choices Pew listed in its survey, respondents felt the most inappropriate use of gene editing would be enhancing a baby’s intelligence: 80 percent of Americans believe that would be taking medical technology too far, as do 94 percent of the highly religious.

Overall, white evangelicals and black Protestants (two-thirds of whom identify as evangelicals according to Pew) feel the same about the applications of gene editing, though they invert on using it reduce disease later in life. [The breakdown for all religious groups is in the charts at bottom.]

Pew’s analysis of all the demographic variables found that self-identifying as evangelical on its own did not have any statistically significant impact on whether a person was more or less likely to approve …

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