Taste and See That the Lord’s Supper Is Good

A biblical understanding of food whets our appetite for the fullness of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday. Evangelicals need to thicken our theology of the Lord’s Supper, first by drawing more of the Bible into the discussion of the Supper, and second by drawing more of the Supper into discussion of the Supper. Even a fine recent treatment of Reformed sacramental theology, Todd Billings’s Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is still too thin on both counts. Billings does discuss the key New Testament passages—the institution narratives, Jesus’ resurrection meals, 1 Corinthians 10-11—and makes passing references to Passover and other Old Testament passages, meals, and festivals. But the richness of Old Testament theology still feels lacking. Billings observes that Paul sees manna as a type of the church’s covenant meal, but he doesn’t follow up the clue. If manna is a type, might there be others? Many examine the Supper through a “zoom lens,” focusing narrowly on the most disputed point in historic debates—the metaphysics of the bread and wine. Much to his credit, Billings pulls back the camera to give us a wider view. In several “congregational snapshots,” he reminds us that the Supper involves people gathered to say and…

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Lord, Have Mercy on 67% of Us

A Lenten research roundup of what Americans think of sin. Pope Francis warned this year against “fake fasting” during Lent. “We must pretend,” Francis said with a smile during a Friday mass in February. “That is not showing others that we are performing acts of penance.” Those who fast should reflect on their sins and ask God for forgiveness, he said. Most Americans don’t observe Lent. But that’s not because they think they’re sinless. In fact, 2 out of 3 Americans confess to being a sinner (67%), according to LifeWay Research [full infographic below]. The rest don’t see themselves as sinners (8%), don’t think sin exists (10%), or preferred not to answer the question (15%). While a few of the self-confessed sinners don’t mind being one (5%), most say they are either working on being less of a sinner (34%) or depending on Jesus to overcome their sin (28%). “Almost nobody wants to be a sinner,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. More women (33%) than men (22%) say they depend on Jesus to overcome sin, as do more Protestants (49%) than Catholics (19%) and more evangelicals (72%) than non-evangelicals (19%). About half of those who attend religious…

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No Lie: Americans Still Ascribe to the Ten Commandments

Survey ranks the Bible’s Big 10 on relevance, and looks at the morality of nine kinds of lies. As Americans look for better strategies to prevent gun violence, pastor Robert Jeffress recently told Fox News that the first step should be instructing children to obey God and his commandments. “Teaching people, starting with our children, that there is a God to whom they’re accountable is not the only thing we need to do to end gun violence, but it’s the first thing we need to do,” said Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas and an evangelical adviser to President Donald Trump, ahead of his church’s “March for Eternal Life” on Palm Sunday. The day before, dozens of “March for Our Lives” events across the US advocated for more gun control. Jeffress lamented the 1960s Supreme Court rulings that declared daily teacher-led prayer and Bible readings in school unconstitutional. “For the first 150 years of our nation’s history, our school children prayed. They read Scripture in school. They even memorized the Ten Commandments—including the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’” he said. Even without such religious activities in public schools, Americans across faiths continue to ascribe to the set of…

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Southern Baptist Leader Frank Page Resigns over ‘Morally Inappropriate Relationship’

President and CEO of SBC Executive Committee confesses he “initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation.” Frank S. Page has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC), effective today, over what is described as “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.” Florida pastor Stephen Rummage, chairman of the committee, released a 300-word statement Tuesday afternoon on behalf of its officers noting the circumstances of Page’s resignation: Last evening, the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met via phone conference with Dr. Frank Page during which he announced his plans for retirement. Today, I spoke with Dr. Page and learned that his retirement announcement was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past. This news will, we understand, bring great sorrow. I have shared with the Executive Committee officers what Dr. Page shared with me, including Dr. Page’s repentance and deep regret that his actions have caused pain for others. “My heart is broken for Dr. Page, his family, and everyone affected,” Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Florida, stated. “I believe I speak for the entire Executive Committee in saying…

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Pray for the Peace of ‘the Jerusalem of the East’

From Eric Metaxas to Jim Wallis, 90 Christian leaders agree: President Trump’s and Kim Jong-un’s meeting needs prayer. Dozens of diverse Christian leaders in the United States have come together to pray that possible diplomatic talks with North Korea will soon lead to peace on the Korean peninsula. “We call on all Christians everywhere to join us in praying for a just and peaceful resolution,” wrote the group, which includes National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, Sojourners president Jim Wallis, author Eric Metaxas, and Evangelicals for Social Action executive director Nikki Toyama-Szeto. “We pray for wisdom for our political, diplomatic and military leaders as they work across differences toward a goal of peace, security and freedom. We pray that God will bless the efforts of citizens who seek to bridge the vast differences between our countries.” Their statement was released Tuesday, less than three weeks after President Donald Trump announced possible plans to meet with Kim Jong-un this spring. Johnnie Moore, one of the signatories and the unofficial head of Trump’s evangelical advisers, said the North Korea situation has often come up in their prayers at the White House. The 90-plus initial signatories include several Korean Americans leading churches…

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Sacred Domain: How to Keep the .Bible Holy

Critics accuse American Bible Society of being too restrictive with its corner of the internet. Ongoing net neutrality debates reveal the tensions between the Internet’s open-source, free access ideals and the commercial or private forces behind the web. The debate extended into the internet’s officially biblical realm—the .bible domain—in a recent dispute over its faith-based standards. Some Bible scholars accused the American Bible Society (ABS) of unfairly restricting use of the top-level domain, which it secured a contract to run as an administrator back in 2013. The year before, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up thousands of possible new web endings, called top-level domains, and asked interested entities to submit an application—and a $185,000 fee. Beyond the typical .com, .org, and .edu, these branded top-level domains allow for punchier marketing and unique URLs. Plenty of the top-level domains, even ones with Christian crossover, ended up going to secular corporations. The tech-savvy Oklahoma megachurch then known as LifeChurch.tv applied to run the .church domain, but got beat out by Donuts Inc., a major domain name registry. It still changed its URL and name to Life.Church, but doesn’t serve as the registry operator for fellow .church sites….

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Billy Graham’s Death Leads 10,000 to Pray for Salvation

How the evangelist’s online memorial continues to preach the gospel. Earlier this month, Billy Graham was buried in a funeral deemed his “last crusade.” Yet the evangelist has continued to draw thousands to convert to Christ. Graham’s ministry partners saw the global media attention following his passing on February 21 as a chance to showcase the gospel message that defined his life. They’ve included explicit calls to accept Jesus in their tributes, praying that more would come to follow him through Graham’s death. More than 1.2 million have visited BillyGrahamMemorial.org in just a month, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The online memorial features a link to a site with a clip of Graham inviting crowds at his crusades to make a decision for Christ, followed by a list of steps for online visitors who want to pray to accept Jesus as their Savior. More than 113,000 have visited that site, StepstoPeace.org, in the month since Graham’s death, and 10,500 indicated they prayed to either profess faith for the first time or to renew lapsed faith, according to the BGEA. The page outlines Graham’s simple presentation of the gospel, summarizing the Bible verses that point to God’s love…

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Chicagoland Church Planting Alliance Spring 2018 | Chicagoland. Context. Evangelism.

Chicago presents a unique context for evangelism and church planting. I remember as a child taking Saturday day trips with my parents, driving from the Quad Cities to Chicago and being enamored by the sheer size and diversity of the city. My dad knew some families who helped start an Alliance church in the city and we’d visit them on occasion. But, honestly, it was the shopping and restaurants in Chinatown that made the two and a half-hour drive worth it for me! Chicago presents a unique context for evangelism and church planting that really doesn’t exist anywhere else–at least on the same scale. From the Great Chicago Fire that led to the building of the world’s first skyscraper to the Great Migration that’s linked some its neighborhoods to Mississippi for a generation, Chicago challenges church planters to thoroughly exegete the culture and ask what it means to evangelistically engage this urban sprawl. My family was a part of a wave of immigrants that settled in the surrounding areas of Chicago. And almost 40 years later, organizations like World Relief Chicago continue to resettle refugees and immigrants all over Chicagoland. Today, one in seven residents of the state is an…

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Save Your Soul: Start Gardening

For me, local creation care offers an antidote to cultural chaos. We live in a cultural moment defined by divisiveness and chaos. Every day there is something new to be afraid of, something to fix or to save. School shootings, economic instability, and political upheaval all engender feelings of powerlessness and discouragement. If I turn to social media to look for some semblance of comfort or joy, I find infighting and dissension. There’s no perfect antidote for all this pain, but nonetheless, as winter fades and light extends longer into our days, I can’t help but turn with anticipation toward garden season. Although planting a garden might seem like an insignificant act, it offers us something deep and enduring: a reminder of God’s sovereignty over the earth and a practical, incarnational way to participate in his created order. “The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility,” writes Wendell Berry. “To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” Last year, my husband, John, and I decided to plant a small vegetable garden on our deck. My kids joined in, and throughout the…

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Two Marches for Lives

What I saw at two very different protests of violence against children. This year, I’ve attended two marches related to causes that matter to me: the March for Life in Washington in January, and the March for Our Lives in Chicago last weekend. They overlapped in many ways—not just in their names. But they differed at key points, too, and not just because one was “conservative” and the other “liberal.” Caring for the least For the most part, the people I saw at both of these marches came out because they cared about people who were vulnerable and at risk. I recognize that for some people, the March for Life represents the opposite of this: repression and control over women’s bodies. But I’ll tell you that the people I met over the days when I was in DC were largely for women. At least, they believed they were for women. The message wasn’t about shame, but about caring for babies and their mothers. Similarly, the March for Our Lives was about vulnerable people. Although that national movement was sparked by the mass school shooting in Florida, the Chicago March for Our Lives was largely about people most affected by gun…

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