Daily Archives

March 15, 2018

US Catholics More Concerned About Climate Change Than Persecuted Christians

Most think persecution is severe, but only half are very concerned or strongly support asylum or financial aid. The Colosseum in Rome was recently lit up the color of blood. “This is a symbol of the persecution of Christians in the entire world—those who suffer because of faith,” stated Alfredo Mantovano, president of the Italian chapter of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the global Catholic organization which sponsored the February 24 light display. “We light up the Colosseum with red because their shed blood cannot leave us indifferent,” he stated. “We cannot wash our hands of the blood of this injustice as Pontius Pilate did 2,000 years ago.” The reminder was a timely one for Catholics in the United States, according to a survey released this month. While 9 in 10 believe that persecution of Christians around the world is somewhat or very severe (51% and 40%, respectively), only half said they were very concerned (49%). Almost 1 in 5 said they were not concerned at all (18%). Instead, the study of 1,000 Catholic adults (conducted online in January by ACN’s US branch and McLaughlin & Associates) found that they worry about other issues more. More than 9…

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Three Elements of an Explosive Church Planting Movement

Developing better systems to reflect the best in kingdom expansion Church planting is an important and broad topic. It seems that most people have an opinion on church planting—some have several opinions! If you want to see some excitement, ask a group of church planters or church leaders in general what an explosive church planting movement looks like. Many are praying for and developing practices that would encourage such a movement. At the Billy Graham Center, we even have an institute dedicated to church planting leadership and missiology—the Send Institute. I have planted multiple churches, and written much about church planting. And, sometimes people ask me what a movement looks like. Successful church planting is built upon spiritual principles and practices such as prayer, biblical leadership, etc. But there are also natural observations we can make about what works well in church planting movements. We’ve been doing this for a couple of thousand years. So it is smart to recognize best practices, even if they don’t mesh with what we are doing today. A few months ago, I was the guest editor of a history journal, the American Baptist Quarterly. You can find the issue I edited—focused on missions—at this…

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A Wrinkle in Heaven

Can the spiritual dimensions of reality be probed by science? This past weekend, millions of moviegoers saw A Wrinkle in Time and joined a group of tessering travelers as they warped through higher dimensions in pursuit of the heroine’s missing father. The film is, of course, based on the classic Newbery Award–winning children’s novel written by Madeleine L’Engle, a committed Christian who drew heavily on her personal study of modern physics as inspiration for the book. In a 1979 interview with Christianity Today, L’Engle spoke of the mystical nature of contemporary physics and how science “should help us enlarge our vision: never change it, never diminish it, but enlarge it.” This can be said most of all about the science of higher dimensions upon which A Wrinkle in Time is based. Nearly 100 years ago, the first scientific evidence for higher dimensions emerged. Since that time, the science community has reached a broad consensus that the universe contains at least five dimensions and perhaps many more. For some, conceptualizing multiple dimensions bears resemblance to Christian thinking on a spiritual world. N. T. Wright has gone so far as to say that “Heaven is the extra dimension, the God-dimension, of all…

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