The death of Billy Graham has evoked, once again, amazement at the evangelist’s unparalleled spiritual impact on American faith and culture. But it’s also stirred speculation about how long, and in what ways, Graham’s influence may endure.
I am sick to death of decades of our ceaseless inability to avoid personal, spiritual and communal schism in our churches and ourselves. Truth to tell, however, 2,000 years of Christian history illustrate that the same Jesus Story that unites all Christ’s church often drives it apart. I’ve often teased that “Baptists multiply by dividing.” It’s not funny anymore. Never was.
Like any pastor, LaTonya McIver Penny is busy. But this minister’s calendar goes above and beyond busy. In addition to leading New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Roxboro, N.C., and all that entails, Penny is a mother of two and runs a non-profit advocating for the respectful and compassionate treatment of children with disabilities in churches. And like other women pastors, Penny confronted her share of opposition from those who say females should not be pastors.
At this moment in history, how can American Christians, themselves deeply divided over scripture, doctrine, sexuality, abortion, and other culture war accoutrements, foster a common compulsion to speak out against white supremacist fiction before it gains an even stronger implicit or explicit influence?
This Advent, the Jesus Story has been sordidly deployed in defense of a political candidate beset by shameful accusations and ineffectual self-righteousness.
Eighty-three nations have an official, state-endorsed religion or give preferred treatment to one over others, according to a Pew Research Center study, which lists the United States among 106 countries that have no official or preferred faith. But is that changing? It might appear so, as the increasingly rapid descent of organized religion may be fueling some Christians’ drive to codify faith in America.
Happy birthday, Protestants. This week marks 500 years since Martin Luther’s actions sparked the Protestant Reformation. But is anyone really celebrating? Church historian Bill Leonard says yes, some are.
It was a killing field, and accounts of those brutal murders make for heart-rending but necessary reading.