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[Note: Questions and Ethics is a monthly series in which Dr. Russell Moore provides insight into how Christians should navigate through life's most challenging moral and ethical issues.]

I have a really interesting question that came to me from a pastor who says, “Dr. Moore, in our church I am very careful about baptizing people. I make clear in my preaching that God can save people at any age, but often it is harder to determine whether or not say, a five-year-old has been saved as opposed to someone else. And so we take baptism very seriously. We work very slowly in interviewing people. And one of the requirements we have at our church is that everyone who is being baptized will give a short verbal confession of faith in the baptistry as to his or her faith in Christ and salvation experience. But here’s my problem: We have a severely autistic teenager in our congregation who isn’t comfortable talking very much at all and is certainly not comfortable talking to people who are not his parents. He communicates mostly with his parents via iPad. And so how do we interview him for baptism? His parents say that he has come to Christ. How do we interview him for baptism, number one? And number two, do we exempt him from giving a verbal testimony in the baptistry?

That’s a really good question. I am glad that this was asked. One of the things that many of our churches are needing to think through right now is how do we as local congregations deal with the issue of disability? And frankly, if in your congregation you are not grappling in some way or other with the question of disability, then I think you should probably ask why? Are there people in our community that we are not reaching? Are there people in our church that we are not asking the right sorts of questions to minister to them? But most congregations are going to have to think this through.

Pastor, I think the way you ought to handle this is to treat it the way you would if you were dealing with a new believer who doesn’t have the capacity to speak or to hear. How would you handle that? The way that you would probably handle that is to find some other means to interview that person, maybe with a sign language interpreter or in some other way, and then accommodate that disability in that way. Somebody with severe autism along the lines that you are mentioning—from what you are describing here, it’s not as severe as it can be—but it is not that this is a person who doesn’t want to talk. Don’t treat this simply as somebody who says that they get nervous. This is a disability that this person has, a real challenge that this person is facing. And so because, for you, talking is an easy thing, don’t assume that if you push this person enough he is going to be able to talk. No. This is the situation that he finds himself in. and so enable him to live out a godly life in Christ as someone who has autism.

I think the way you do that is to work through his parents. So if the way that they are communicating with him right now is via iPad, great! Use that medium, and tell the parents the sorts of things that you ordinarily would be looking for in someone who is coming to faith in Christ: What is his testimony? What is he trusting in? What is he hoping in? What is his heart conviction? That sometimes can be difficult to ascertain, but not impossible to ascertain because of communication.

As a matter of fact, for those of you who are ministering to people with autism both as parents and as pastors and youth pastors and children’s pastors, there is a really good book I would recommend called The Reason I Jump. And it is by an autistic child who is writing and explaining—and there was a system where he was able to do this, to write this book, I think through computer technology—to talk about why he does the things that he does. And so some people think that this is just a habit you’ve picked up or this is an irritant. He is explaining that no, this is the way I see the world in a way that is different from you.

So have compassion upon that, and talk through his parents. If he communicates best through iPad, great! Just ask them for the things that you want to know. Then, in the baptistry, don’t require him to give a verbal testimony in the same way that you wouldn’t require someone who couldn’t speak, didn’t have vocal chords, to speak. What would you do? You would come in and say that we have a unique situation here. My new brother in Christ, “Ronny,” he has some challenges in his life that he is taking on that he is overcoming. He is not able to give a verbal testimony, but we have communicated with him, and we have full confidence that he trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has repented of his sins. He has put his faith in him. And so, “Ronnie,” based upon your profession of faith, I baptize you now, my brother, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

I think that that’s the right thing to do. I think that this is in many ways similar to the situation that we see in the gospels where the man who could not walk, his friends picked him up. They took him to Jesus. They tore the roof off the house and lowered him down. I think that’s the way that we ought to do it. And as you are doing that, communicate very clearly to your congregation that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just for those who would consider themselves to be “well-bodied.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everybody. And so people, no matter what our disability, no matter what we are carrying with us through this life, can follow after Jesus and be faithful and contributing saints, members of the great cloud of witnesses and of the body of Christ. And I can’t think of anything that’s better news than that.

What’s your question for us? Send it to me at questions@erlc.com. Anything that you are trying to think through, maybe it’s something that you were reading in the Bible in your devotional time. Maybe it’s a conflict that’s going on in your workplace or a decision you are having to make in your family or in your neighborhood or in your church. Whatever it is, send it to me at questions@erlc.com, and I will give it my best shot in answering it for you.

Related: You can find more answers to ethical questions and subscribe to the Questions and Ethics podcast on the website of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
For far too long, the Christian church in its various traditions and strains has largely swept the heinous sin of sexual assault under the rug. Sexual abuse has often been ignored or, worse, covered up in some instances, leaving victims to suffer its effects alone as they wrestle with how to get past the hurt and shame and move forward. 
 
Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have taken a significant step toward bringing this issue out of the shadows in their book Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (Crossway). As you’ll hear in this interview, Justin is an Episcopal priest who was a victim of sexual abuse himself, which is why he speaks and writes about the horror of this sin with genuine empathy and a clear passion to help others who have been victimized. 
 
What qualifies as sexual assault? Why hasn’t the church done more to help victims? What should you do if you’ve been abused in this way? Are there ways to spot and avoid potential sexual abusers? Listen as Justin addresses these questions and more in an interview that is, in some respects, heartbreaking, but ultimately aimed at being helpful.

Brannon McAllister is many things—graphic designer, strategist, entrepreneur and, according to Christianity Today's "33 under 33" list, a music connector. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. Five years ago, he and his wife, Melissa, moved to Brooklyn, New York, where they are now preparing to add a new role to Brannon’s list: father.

With which of your roles do you identify the most?

While growing up in school, I had always thought of myself as an artist. After college, some of my friends and I started an illustration and design company, and over time I saw my role naturally shift from being at the drawing table to being involved in the business. Through the relationships built during that time, I connected with some new friends in Nashville. In 2008, we co-founded NoiseTrade, where I helped to bootstrap the platform and became head of product. In that role, I have spent a lot of time imagining the roadmap of future features, designing the site in Photoshop, and then working alongside developers. These days, I think of myself mostly as an entrepreneur who happens to use design as a way to solve problems.

What are some things you’ve struggled with professionally?

Throughout my career, I’ve really struggled with the idea of the imposter syndrome, where you constantly feel like you’re going to be found out as a fraud. In some sense, of course, this is true. We have a reason to feel like imposters because we are, as Andy Crouch puts it, playing God. I’m increasingly driving an incredible truth down into my soul—namely, that I’ve already been found out and, in Christ, I wasn’t pushed away, but embraced.

How has this perspective changed your work?

In the past four years or so, there has been a steadiness in my daily work that wasn’t present before. I can work in freedom because I know my work is not the source of my identity, but an expression of it. My identity is in Christ. This view releases me from self-justifying work and empowers me to serve others. In terms of my specific work in platform development, it helps me to see how my work is an act of empathy. I try to imagine as much as possible how end users feel and, then, create ways to enhance their experiences. This is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6) because it’s seeing what cannot yet be seen and innovating ways to serve others.

How does your latest venture, The Gospel Fund, do this?

The Gospel Fund is a nonprofit crowdfunding platform with a vision for simplifying missions and church planting fundraising, communication, and mobilization. The site allows any Christian ministry, church, sending agency, or individual to present their organization or specific projects and accept one-time and recurring donations. The Gospel Fund combines the best practices of crowdfunding, technology, and social media with a vision for global missions. This concept builds on lessons I learned at NoiseTrade: direct connection with supporters, generosity, and sharing—combined with what I hope will be a clean, beautiful design.

How did you come to be focused on this new project?

I’ve always been involved in church planting because my dad was a church planter and pastor. In fact, throughout my life, I’ve almost always been involved with new churches—even my church in Brooklyn is a church plant. As for global missions, I have helped to produce Dispatches from the Front with Tim Keesee and Pete Hansen and, in 2009, had the honor of going with the team to Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. It was an incredible experience that opened my heart to love global missions. My experience and love for building platforms and background in helping people connect with their supporters made The Gospel Fund a natural next step.

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If you would like to find out more about The Gospel Fund or help its launch, you can email Brannon at brannon@gospelfund.co.

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Editors' note: The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are condensed.

I wish there had been a sign hanging at the gate of Westminster Seminary when I entered in the mid-1970s: "Welcome! Come and die!" Dr. Van Til, Dr. Clowney, and others tried to tell me. I just did not have ears to hear.

It may seem odd to suggest that death is at the core of seminary preparation for every student who would truly profit from the study. It certainly seemed odd to me. As a new seminary student, I supposed seminary to be an essentially life-enhancing, life-renewing endeavor. This is true enough; but it is not the whole truth.

In reality, death and deep loss are important components of seminary education and ministerial training. Some “deaths” are those areas of deep personal loss to which Jesus calls us during seminary—the loss of time, freedom, choice, and (above all) ego. Other “deaths” are the losses Jesus warns us against, the losses of fruitfulness and spiritual growth that come from failing to abide in him (John 15:5). And still other “deaths” come when we graduate, as we enter into the deep losses in the lives of those we seek to serve.

During your seminary years, you must learn to embrace the deaths to which Jesus calls us in order to escape the deaths about which Jesus warns us. You may be able to succeed in other areas of study with mere intellect and effort. But to succeed as a seminary student, you must learn how to die.

Death #1: Voluntary Loss for His Glory and Our Good

Jesus designs death to play an essential role in every Christian's spiritual life. He put it plainly: "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). Here our Lord fuses together otherwise opposing realities. Death on a cross is portrayed as an initial and daily step toward spiritual life. Loss of life is necessary for gaining life. Denial of self opens us to the discovery of self-transforming nearness to the Master.

These points are easy to state in conceptual form! But as real life choices we must admit that they seem to "hurt like heaven”—and all the more during seminary. Seminary requires dying to being self-impressed, self-promoting, self-defending, self-excusing . . . and I am only warming up. The study of God's Word is different from any other sphere of study: it requires that the eyes that read, the ears that hear, and the minds that think be attached to a self truly willing to die to pride.

Original language studies unmasked my personal lack of discipline and abysmal grasp of my own language. There was death number one. Professor Frame gave me an "F" for my first paper. There was death number two. But these were small losses.

I met brothers and sisters from other countries with whom I studied who were tortured and raped for their faith. They embraced their suffering and were far more joyful than I was. I only felt terror as they described what they lost. They had taken steps to die to self in ways that I had only read about. Now they were my friends, a living sermon to me about my raging self-protection.

I suppose you can study math or history and be good at it while preserving your prideful self. But no one has ever touched God's Word and gained what God has promised within it while the audacious self goes unchallenged.

Death #2: Loss of the Fruit Jesus Promised

If we will not embrace divinely appointed deaths in our study of God’s Word, we will necessarily experience other losses, other deaths. If we will not die to self, then inevitably we will die to "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control." Such fruit will rot before it ever approaches ripening. Jesus put it plainly: “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).

Sadly, I fear we have allowed the proud self to live without challenge in much of Western seminary preparation. Dare I say, it not only goes unchallenged but at times it seems to be rewarded. As a result, rotten fruit is not even noticed. We are so commonly unloving, joyless, angry, domineering, and secretly lustful that the smell of death is lost on us.

We have grown accustomed to students and professors being unable to find Jesus in their deep losses. We have grown accustomed to neglecting the importance of abiding in Christ while preparing to serve his bride. We have forgotten the path of death, the path of sacrifice and loss that Jesus calls all of us toward—in seminary no less than every other season of life.

Seminary students, be warned: if you will not die to self during your seminary years, you will not bear the fruit Jesus intends for you during this precious season of life.

Death #3: Losses of Those We Serve when We Graduate from Seminary

I remember my first days of post-seminary ministry. There I was looking into the eyes of successful community leaders flirting with suicide. They had lost so much and could not find Jesus in the loss. I met students who were abused with the words and ways of their parents, who themselves had lost so much and therefore gave so little to their kids. Now their children had lost and could not even imagine finding Jesus in loss.

I had not learned the one lesson I needed most. I flunked the lesson of dying to self, losing to begin living, embracing the God-appointed "deaths" to escape the "deaths" God warned would come. I knew Greek and Hebrew, but I couldn't help those who had lost so much to know how to see their Master in the loss.

Seminary students, permit me now at 61 years of age to encourage you to learn what I avoided learning when I was 21. Embrace the blade of loss, kiss it, pull it in. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is holding the other side of the blade.

Seminary students, welcome! Come and die!

Pete Enns has been hosting a fascinating series over at his blog in which biblical scholars give their "aha" moments. Exactly what an "aha" moment is varies by contributor, but it'd probably be fair to say that, generally speaking, it's a "that time I realized inerrancy wasn't true" moment. With a strong lineup of scholars, some clever writing, and a well-loved narrative shape—who doesn't like the "I used to reason like a child, but then I put childish ways behind me" format?—it has gained significant attention and apparently hammered nail after nail into inerrancy’s coffin. So, as a prospective biblical scholar, a paid-up member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and an author of a new book about Scripture, I thought it might be worth interacting with the series a bit, as well as revealing one of my own "aha" moments when it comes to the Bible.

All the contributing scholars I know—by which I mean “am acquainted with through seminar participation and personal conversation” as opposed to “text and eat curry with regularly”—are models of how careful thought, Christian belief, and critical scholarship can hold together. These guys (all but two are men) are not rabid, liberal, resurrection-denying, evangelical-hating, snarky agnostics. They’re thoughtful, insightful Christian brothers and sisters who genuinely believe that the Bible requires a different approach, and different expectations, to the ones they grew up with. It remains open for anyone to disagree with them about some of the conclusions they’ve reached, and in many cases I do. But they’re good guys. That’s important to bear in mind.

It is also obvious that many (if not most) of them have experienced some fairly unsavory varieties of conservative evangelicalism, their departure from which has mostly been welcomed as a lucky escape rather than grieved as a tragic loss. Several of the recurrent criticisms are, sadly, all too recognizable. Inerrantists are often better at apocalyptic fearmongering (“To deny inerrancy is to deny the gospel!”) than patient discussion. A good many do have their heads in the sand (although, to be fair, the same could be said of almost any social group of sufficient size). Many are unduly harsh toward, and unduly scared of, critical scholarship—and often scholarship in general. Frequently, opposing arguments aren’t articulated, let alone engaged with, in a careful and responsible manner, and unfair connections are often made between certain scholarly interpretations and apparently undesirable social or theological consequences. Scapegoating abounds, as several of their stories demonstrate. Slippery slope fallacies (though, of course, they aren't always fallacies) are not hard to find. Witch-hunts do occur.

The bleakness and relative homogeneity of these conservative evangelical backgrounds, however, is an important point to note regarding the series as a whole. It’s been rightly said that Roman Catholics tend to compare Thomas Aquinas with Joel Osteen, while Protestants compare John Calvin with Father Superstitio O’Worship O’Mary O’Riordan. The “aha” series risks a similar comparison of apples and oranges by contrasting the academic rigor and intellectual flexibility of (inerrantist) small-town church pastors who preach against car CD players and going to university with those of (errantist) professors who encourage open debate. The impression given is that a conservative position on Scripture necessarily leads to well-intentioned but clearly ridiculous and eccentric behavior, while a less conservative position leads to rigor and intellectual honesty.

While there are obviously cases where these things do go together, there are many cases where the reverse is true. If you left the church in my parents’ village, with its stuck-in-the-'60s liberal Anglican vicar, and went to study at St. Andrews under Tom Wright, Steve Holmes, and Scott Hafemann, you’d see what I mean. And while I assume many contributors to the series would accept that point, the series as a whole—driven, perhaps, by the way the initial concept for it was presented, and the journey Pete Enns himself has taken in recent years—clearly implies inerrancy in and of itself is somewhat stultifying. (Chris Hays’s piece, in which he talks positively of Wheaton, his supervisor Gene Green, and the research culture encouraged by both is a clear exception; Daniel Kirk also speaks well of the nuanced version of inerrancy taught at Westminster Theological Seminary.) The fact is there are rigorous, fair-minded, and formidably intelligent inerrantists, just as there are culturally disengaged, ill-informed and frankly odd ones. And the same is true of errantists, liberals, Muslims, vegans, Labor voters, Liverpool fans, and so on.

Fascinating Reading

The specific examples of “aha” moments make fascinating reading. Many, perhaps surprisingly, pose no challenge at all to a nuanced view of inerrancy—a good example of which can be found in Kevin Vanhoozer’s chapter in Five Views on Biblical Inerrancybut simply reflect an important discovery made by the scholar in question. Daniel Kirk, for example, found that the way inerrancy was taught at Westminster was compatible with rigorous scholarship, although it didn't correspond to the way most evangelicals used the term. Michael Pahl discovered Genesis 1 didn't necessitate young earth creationism, that Moses didn't write prophetically about his own death in Deuteronomy 34, that Revelation wasn't all about the rapture and the end of the world, and that Paul’s gospel wasn't only about how sinners can get saved from hell and go to heaven. Charles Halton saw that Genesis 1 and 2 were complementary theological accounts rather than chronological lists of what happened when (and that the translation “had formed” in Genesis 2:19 is an implausible attempt to avoid an apparent contradiction). Lindsey Trozzo learned to read the Bible in community with others who disagreed with her. Michael Ruffin realised Moses didn’t write everything in the Pentateuch. Anthony Le Donne, in a humorous and honest piece, came to see the Bible as much more than an “owner’s manual” as a result of seeing divergent voices over matters like interracial marriage, suffering, faith and works, and even answering fools according to their folly. Pete Enns himself was astonished that Paul would affirm the Jewish tradition of the moveable well in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Carlos Bovell noticed a commitment to inerrancy constrains one’s biblical scholarship by ruling out certain outcomes (although most philosophical commitments work the same way—try accounting for the resurrection accounts as a materialist, and you’ll see why). And Megan DeFranza found Jesus spoke in Aramaic rather than Greek, and that the Gospel accounts were therefore not word-for-word transcripts of what happened. None of these discoveries, as important as they clearly were to each scholar, poses the slightest challenge to a well-versed understanding of inerrancy.

John Byron makes a stronger challenge. He argues Jesus got it wrong on two counts in Mark 2:26: first by saying David gave the bread to those who were with him, in contradiction to the claim in 1 Samuel 21:1 that he was alone, and second by saying Abiathar was high priest at the time, when it was actually Ahimelech. The latter example is well known: the Greek construction in question, epi Abiathar, refers elsewhere in Mark to “the section of Scripture about” (12:26) and thus may simply be referring to the story with reference to the more well-known character (though this, like any reconstruction, is of course unprovable). But it's strange to claim Jesus was mistaken in saying David gave the bread to his men. The passage 1 Samuel 21:2 refers to the young men joining David later, 21:4 has the priest asking if the young men have kept themselves from women, and 21:5 has David responding that indeed they had. Rather than contradicting the Old Testament text, this example sees Jesus reinforcing a point it makes three times in six verses.

And then there are all the scholars named Chris, who (I assume coincidentally) had “aha” moments that seem to conflict with inerrancy more directly. Chris Hays was researching 2 Peter 2:15 and found that the best and earliest manuscripts said Balaam was “of Bosor” rather than “son of Beor” (a helpful discussion and explanation of which, from an inerrantist perspective, can be found in the Baker commentary on 2 Peter and Jude by Hays’s supervisor Gene Green, [289-290]). Chris Tilling heard Walter Brueggemann point out that the Bible said some strange things about God: he overpowered Jeremiah, sent a lying spirit to Ahab, tried to kill Moses, and gave a much more inclusive vision of eunuchs in Isaiah than in Deuteronomy. Chris Keith was more affected by the way inerrantists behaved, both in representing other views dishonestly and in treating those with whom they disagreed without respect; the specific biblical difficulties he mentioned were the dating of the crucifixion (see below), David’s census (on which I’ve written here), Paul’s Hagar allegory (which requires careful explanation but poses no challenge to inerrancy), and some of the sexually explicit material in Genesis, Judges, Song of Songs, and Ezekiel (ditto). Finally, Christopher Skinner encountered the different genealogies of Jesus, one of the most well-known and formidable puzzles in the New Testament.

Interestingly, despite the combined length of these 15 articles, only the genealogies of Jesus and the day of the crucifixion present substantial challenges to inerrancy as such. (I cannot imagine anyone in the ETS getting into a defensive lather over the lying spirit God sent to Ahab, or the death of Moses, or the fact Jesus spoke Aramaic, or the way Song of Songs talks about breasts.) In these two cases, all interpreters have to admit: we simply don't know the best explanation. Inerrantists will almost always admit there are multiple possible solutions, that we don't have enough evidence to be certain which is best, and that we cannot be certain of a consistent solution (my limited range of Gospel commentaries includes excellent discussions on both issues from scholars like Howard Marshall, Leon Morris, Don Carson, Dick France, and others). Errantists will almost always admit they cannot be certain why the differences emerged either, that we don't have enough evidence to be certain which explanation is best, and that we cannot be certain there isn’t a consistent solution. Both will usually agree, in fact, that some historically guided speculation is needed to explain the different texts, and that a degree of humility is required in the process. The different resolutions they accept, in the end, will reflect the interpretive presuppositions they bring to the material.

Which is always the way. If Bart Ehrman, Dominic Crossan, James Crossley, N. T. Wright, and Simon Gathercole all read Luke’s Gospel together, they will obviously find that their philosophical commitments shape their interpretations of the text—and, since they are honest scholars, they will strive to allow the text to shape their philosophical commitments. Ehrman and Crossley will reject explanations of the miracle stories that involve them having actually happened. Gathercole and Wright will reject explanations that involve them not having actually happened. Crossan will foreground sapiential material and regard many apocalyptic passages as being inauthentic. Wright will foreground the same apocalyptic passages, and read the sapiential ones in a thoroughly different way. And so on. Clearly, it's open to any of them (and any of the “aha” scholars, and in fact anyone at all) to claim their reading is more historically robust, and philosophically consistent, than the others’. But none of us can claim we're free of those commitments, nor that we have somehow circumnavigated or avoided their influence while doing our scholarship. All we can claim is that, if we're truly prepared to research with integrity and in community with others who disagree, we will modify or even abandon our commitments if they run contrary to the evidence.

On the Basis of Evidence

Belief in the truthfulness of the Bible, then, like belief in the truthfulness of Christianity or materialism or anything else, is provisional—scholars hold to it (or not) on the basis of the evidence they've seen. Affirming the Bible is true, just like affirming the Christian creeds, is a statement of current conviction: “Based on what I know now, I believe that the Nicene Creed/the New Testament is correct, when properly understood.” It doesn't prevent individuals from researching carefully, nor from abandoning or adjusting their commitment if the evidence takes them that way; the changes of conviction, affiliation, and worship practices of many of the “aha” scholars, as well as those who have moved the other way, should be evidence enough. In some cases, no doubt, belief in inerrancy is associated with fearmongering, closed-mindedness, misrepresentation, and rudeness. But the same is true of evangelicalism, and Protestantism, and Christianity as a whole, let alone atheism, Islam, feminism, materialism, and virtually all beliefs held by human beings. I’ve seen a fair bit of it on Pete Enns’s own blog, and I imagine he’d say the same of mine.

At our best, both those who reject inerrancy (like Enns) and those who affirm it (like me) are calling for humility when it comes to Scripture. Many of the “aha” scholars are pointing out a rather closed-minded arrogance that can afflict those with a more traditional view of the Bible: “The Bible is true, and we’ve always read it like this, so we’re right, so we don’t need to read your fancy-pants scholarship, so ha.” I’ve been on the receiving end of that sort of response myself, and their challenge absolutely needs to be heard and acted on. But there is an epistemological humility, which characterizes the belief in inerrancy at its best, that is just as important (if not more so): namely, the belief that we're approaching the Scriptures as the Word of God, as Jesus did, and therefore that we come to be studied and not just to study, to listen and not just to speak, to be judged and not just to judge. We need to keep being asked, as the “aha” scholars remind us: do you understand? But we also need to be asked, as Isaiah reminds us: do you tremble?

So here’s my “aha” moment, which emerges from engaging in scholarship with those who hold to inerrancy, and engaging in worship with those who don’t: you don't have to affirm inerrancy to be a Christian. And you don't have to reject inerrancy to be a scholar. For my part, I think Jesus treated the Scriptures as the unbreakable Word of God, and therefore those who follow him should assume the Bible does not contain mistakes. I’ve written and taught about this point a fair bit, and I imagine I will carry on doing so. I also think arguments about inerrancy in scholarship are frequently confused with arguments about academic freedom in confessional institutions (which is a related but separate issue), and that some of the reasons given for rejecting inerrancy are nothing like as strong as their proponents think they are. But I know some Christian brothers and sisters disagree with me, and I’m going to keep loving them, and keep listening to their conference papers, and keep reading their books. If all truth is God’s truth, then what do I have to lose?

Dane C. Ortlund. Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 208 pp. $18.99.

Of the writing of books about Jonathan Edwards there is no end. Scholars have focused their attention on aspects of the 18th-century pastor’s theology, philosophy, ethics, or role in interpreting and promoting revival. Popular writers have tended to emphasize the latter or Edwards’s Calvinism. Some evangelical authors have commended him as a spiritual role model, notably Iain Murray, R. C. Sproul, Sam Storms, Steve Lawson, Michael Haykin, Josh Moody, and especially John Piper. However, until recently, few scholars had given sustained attention to Edwards’s spirituality. That is beginning to change.

In the past decade or so, numerous evangelicals have written essay-length studies of Edwards’s spiritual thought ranging from technical scholarship to pastoral application.

Since 2010, Sean Lucas and Kyle Strobel have written books devoted to Edwardsean spirituality. Strobel is currently preparing a scholarly anthology of Edwards’s spiritual writings with Ken Minkema and Adriaan Neele of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. Haykin has edited a more popular anthology that focuses on Edwards’s correspondence. Dane Ortlund’s new book, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God, which is part of Crossway’s warmly received Theologians of the Christian Life series, arrives in a milieu where Edwardsean spirituality is being studied and retrieved by scholars and ministers alike. 

Beauty Defined and Expounded

Like all other books in this series, Ortlund, senior vice president for Bible publishing at Crossway Books, organizes Edwards on the Christian Life around a central theme. In the case of Edwards, that theme is beauty. According to Ortlund, “Sinners are beautified as they behold the beauty of God in Jesus Christ. That is Edwards’s theology of the Christian life in a single sentence” (24). This is the major theme of chapter one. The following 11 chapters examine additional themes in Edwards’s spiritual thought that Ortlund contends flow from this central emphasis.

There is a definite logic to Ortlund’s chapter progression in the first half of the book. In the new birth our affections are awakened to the beauty of God in Christ (chapter two). Following regeneration, our loves are reordered as we are caught up into the perfect love of the Triune God (chapter three). Godly love results in godly joy, which Ortlund suggest fuels our spiritual life (chapter four). Love also leads us to embrace godly gentleness, though in this case gentleness wars against sin, is zealous for good works, and (for men) is manly rather than effeminate (chapter five). These spiritual priorities are cultivated through particular means of grace, especially the Scriptures (chapter six) and prayer (chapter seven), the two of which are closely linked in Edwards’s piety.

The latter chapters seem to be a bit more loosely connected, though each addresses a theme in Edwards’s spiritual thought. Like his Puritan forebears, Edwards envisions the Christian life as a pilgrimage from this life to the next (chapter eight). The regenerated heart and its new loves and affections result in a life of obedience to God’s commands in Scripture (chapter nine). Satan is the great enemy of the Christian life who uses several tactics to derail our spiritual pilgrimage (chapter ten). Because we are created for eternity, care of the soul is of utmost concern in the Christian life, taking precedence over the things of this world (chapter eleven). Our spiritual journey ultimately terminates in heaven, which Edwards envisions as a community of love that perfectly reflects the trinitarian love that we are first caught up into upon our regeneration (chapter twelve). In all these chapters, Ortlund engages widely with critical primary sources and relevant secondary studies.

Not a Perfect Spiritual Role Model

Unlike some popular interpreters of Edwards’s life and thought who tend towards hagiography, Ortlund is careful to criticize what he sees as weaknesses in Edwards’s theology of the Christian life. In his final chapter he addresses four: (1) failure to apply the gospel to the lives of believers; (2) elevation of the spiritual over the material; (3) an approach to biblical interpretation that is too prone to typological excesses; and (4) an overly negative view of the unregenerate and a too-sunny view of the regenerate. Martin Luther, Herman Bavinck, John Owen, and C. S. Lewis are commended as thinkers who balance some of these shortcomings in Edwards’s thought.

It is refreshing to see a forthright yet friendly critique from an author who is clearly sympathetic to his subject and eager to commend the subject’s thought to the book’s readers. And Edwards would certainly agree that Jesus alone is a perfect spiritual role model.

Evaluating Ortlund’s Edwards

Scholars, especially evangelical historians and theologians, will appreciate Ortlund’s scholarly yet warm introduction to Edwards’s spiritual thought. Nevertheless, many will demur from some of Ortlund’s interpretations. First and foremost, it is not at all clear that beauty is the organizing theme in Edwards’s spiritual thought, though it is no doubt close to the center. God’s glory and the work of redemption could also have been appropriate choices for an organizing theme. Some scholars would object, in principle, to suggesting any organizing theme for such an eclectic, creative, and occasional theologian.

Others will wonder why there is no sustained treatment of Edwards’s understanding of affections. Clearly, spiritual affections were at the center of Edwards’s spiritual thought, and, to be clear, Ortlund treats the theme in numerous places. However, in light of Edwards’s extensive discussion of affections and his own attempts to discern true and false affections in the religious experiences of his parishioners, it seems like this topic deserves a chapter-length treatment. Perhaps the chapters on pilgrimage and heaven could have been combined to make place for a chapter on affections; the former themes are closely connected in Edwards’s thought. Or a chapter on affections could have replaced the chapter on Satan, which sticks out awkwardly and which, unlike the other chapters, Ortlund does not tie in any direct way to Edwards’s view of beauty.

While the chapter on Edwards’s weaknesses is refreshing, Ortlund is arguably anachronistic when he discusses Edwards’s hermeneutic. While Edwards could be idiosyncratic, especially in interpreting nature typologically, he was part of a historical milieu far more open to typology and even allegory than is often the case today. Readers sympathetic to the “theological interpretation of Scripture” might not see this as a weakness in Edwards, but rather a strength. 

Edwards is a complicated figure who defies scholarly consensus, even among evangelicals. For that reason, even scholars and informed pastors who disagree with Ortlund on these or other points will appreciate this fine book. Edwards on the Christian Life is an excellent introduction to Edwardsean spiritual thought that is well researched yet written at such a level that students, pastors, and engaged laypeople will benefit. It is a welcome contribution to Edwardsean studies and a worthy entry in what continues to be a fine series on historical and spiritual theology.

While Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his renowned "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963, many residents of the predominantly white communities over the mountain from Birmingham, Alabama, ignored the unrest downtown. When Bull Connor unleashed his fire hoses and dogs, the leading local newspaper relegated coverage to inside the cover, downplaying the signifiance of the protests and the harsh response of the police. King argued, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Even in you own backyard, however, injustice is easily ignored.

Yet today, social media and cable news have made it more difficult than ever to ignore unrest and injustice. Evil searches but does not find a place to hide. At the same time, Twitter commentary and Facebook photos have also spread outright misinformation and uhelpful speculation with unprecedented speed. Mutual mistrust between ethnic groups compounds our problems and inhibits helpful dialogue and joint action.

The church has too often capitulated to the status quo and condoned injustice through silence. But neither should the church speak with presumption in the absence of trustworthy reports. Finding the right balance and speaking with the prophetic word of the gospel has eluded many of us in the aftermath of the police killing in Ferguson, Missouri. Reliable facts haven proven elusive to even fair-minded Christian leaders. Nevertheless, America's long history of racial injustice burdens whites in the majority to listen and understand grievances from the minority perspective.

That's the process being undertaken by Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey in nearby St. Louis. Patrick says the response to Ferguson has been perhaps the most challenging situation he's faced in ministry with regard to church unity. He wants evangelicals to grow in our ability to listen and learn as we study what the Bible teaches about injustice. He spoke today with Mark Mellinger, co-host of the podcast Going Deeper with TGC, about why we should sometimes keep quiet and why we always need empathy.

Mellinger also talked with vicariously "traumatized" Ed Copeland, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Rockford, Illinois. "As a church we're asleep," Copeland told Mellinger. Referring to the Great Commission, he calls on whites in the church not to skip from the safety of Jerusalem to reach the ends of the earth before they've listened to their black neighbors next door in Samaria.

Listening to our neighbors reminds us that human nature is much more complicated than the soundbites on the news. The church, then, bears responsibility to look to Jesus together for redemption and forgiveness, the only hope to ultimately overcome episodic outbursts of injustice and anger. 

In my early 20s, I worked for a Jewish businessman who knew I was a Christian interested in history. He was also sensitive to Protestant history because Protestant families had protected Jews in their homes during World War II. One day he invited me into his home and gave me a Bible printed in 1638. This Bible included a printing of the French Confession of Faith, unlike most Bibles from that era. 

Years later, a historian saw this Bible and asked me, “Samy, do you know what this means?” 

“I have no idea,” I said.

“It means this Bible was given in the 17th century to a young pastor named Jacques Lafon, who signed it to say ‘I commit myself to preach faithfully according to the gospel and the confession of faith,'” he said. “You would not find this in any museum.” 

By God’s providence, the Bible has returned to the place where the confession was written, close to where we are planting a church in an old theatre on the Rue de Nesle in the Latin Quarter of Paris. And it turns out, the vision of our church is to plant in a neighborhood with deep roots in the Reformation and to connect the people around us to this vision. 

This neighborhood is an amazing treasure of history. There was a great revival here in the mid-16th century. The first Roman Catholic priest in Paris who embraced the Reformation worshiped in this neighborhood. The first Huguenot Protestant church was established two streets behind the theatre where we worship today.

Today, 500 years later, we’re excited that, by God’s grace, something is happening here, that God is using our church to help Parisians remember the legacy of this area. Because we are directly connected to history, we can establish credibility with them. 

Latin Quarter Today

In the mid-20th century, students occupied much of the Latin Quarter, fomenting revolutions and left-wing movements. But lately those students have aged and settled down. A lot of people here are educated, culturally savvy, involved in the arts and literature. I was surprised to learn that half of the current population was born here. People in this neighborhood know each other, which makes church planting interesting and challenging. 

Parisians are careful about religion, but they are also open and ask lots of questions. They get excited about being involved in something; they want things to work. But when God looks at Paris, I believe his heart is full of compassion, because many Parisians are like sheep without a shepherd, citizens of a city that has had a huge influence on secularism and humanism today. Through the prayers of the church, we have seen the iron gates of Paris opening, and that’s why we have found a home to worship here.

We trust that as God was faithful to the church 500 years ago in this very spot, he will be faithful to us today as we continue planting our church in the Latin Quarter. 

Redeemer City to City helps local leaders start churches in global cities. Samy is planting Chapelle de Nesle in the Latin Quarter section of Paris. You can follow his progress and give directly to this new church through the projects page on City to City. 

Paris - Chapelle de Nesle from Redeemer City to City on Vimeo.

The Gospel Coalition just released the latest issue of Themelios, which has 190 pages of articles and book reviews. The site has been completely redesigned to correspond with our overall site relaunch. The journal is freely available in three different formats:

  1. PDF (ideal for printing)
  2. Logos edition (ideal for research and mobile access)
  3. Web version (ideal for interacting and sharing)

It contains the following contributions:

  1. D. A. Carson | EDITORIAL: What Are Gospel Issues?
  2. Michael J. Ovey | OFF THE RECORD: Projection Atheism: Why Reductionist Accounts of Humanity Can Lead to Reductionist Accounts of God
  3. Brian J. Tabb | Editor’s Note: Engaging with Edwards: Essays on America’s Theologian
  4. Ralph Cunnington | A Critical Examination of Jonathan Edwards’s Doctrine of the Trinity
  5. Gerald McDermott | Jonathan Edwards and God’s Inner Life: A Response to Kyle Strobel
  6. Jeremy M. Kimble | That Their Souls May Be Saved: The Theology and Practice of Jonathan Edwards on Church Discipline
  7. Kenneth J. Stewart | John Henry Newman (1801–1890) in His Second Century
  8. Eric Ortlund | PASTORAL PENSÉES: Laboring in Hopeless Hope: Encouragement for Christians from Ecclesiastes
  9. Book Reviews
    1. Old Testament | 12 reviews
    2. New Testament | 10 reviews
    3. History and Historical Theology | 8 reviews
    4. Systematic Theology and Bioethics | 11 reviews
    5. Ethics and Pastoralia | 6 reviews
    6. Mission and Culture | 8 reviews

Although Christians across denominational lines often use stewardship language to describe our calling to live out God’s mission in the world, what we mean theologically by “stewardship” varies greatly across religious traditions. Some think stewardship is tithing; others think it means volunteering or living a simple lifestyle. Still others identify stewardship with environmental conservation, social action of some kind or another, charitable giving, or making disciples through evangelism.

Each of these good and necessary activities points to an essential facet of stewardship, but each—on its own—falls shy of capturing the inspiring vision of biblical stewardship as a form of whole-life discipleship that embraces every legitimate vocation and calling to fulfill God’s mission in the world. In this sense, holistic stewardship, transformational generosity, workplace ministry, business as mission, and the theology of work movement all share a common point of origin in the biblical view of mission as whole-life discipleship. In other words, the essence of stewardship is about finding your place—that is, all the dimensions of your many callings—in God’s economy of all things (oikonomia).

Why We Get Stewardship Wrong

In recent years, however, this inspiring vision has suffered a setback. Why? I think there are two significant reasons. First, as a church, we have narrowly applied our understanding of stewardship mainly in the contexts of funding global missions and supporting programs in the local church.

Second, at the same time, we have upheld and reaffirmed—in priority and honor—the distinction between clerical vocations and ordinary vocations, which only serves to reinforce the age-old wall erected between sacred and secular callings. In this narrative, clerical vocations are the one, true trustee of God’s mission in the world. Other callings may service God’s mission, but only on the side, not as intrinsic or integral to their work.

Bigger Story

In the immediate aftermath of the First International Congress on World Evangelization, John Stott pinpointed the theological root cause of the problem. He discerned that the church seemed unable to satisfactorily integrate the Great Commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) with the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

God’s mission, Stott urged in keeping with Matthew 5:13-16, describes “everything the church is sent into the world to do. [It] embraces the church’s double vocation of service to be ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world.’” The aim of the Lausanne movement, of which every local church can take note, is for the whole church to present the whole gospel to the whole world. As my friend Steven Garber summarizes, “Vocation (notice no distinction between clerical and ordinary) is integral, not accidental, to the missio Dei.”

If we, as the church, truly embrace our gift nature, then I believe we will accept our stewardship responsibility to join with the Son in the power of the Spirit to fulfill the Father’s purpose in creation and redemption. At its most basic level, biblical stewardship is holistic and missional, touching every area of life and employing every legitimate vocation in service to Jesus Christ, “the firstborn over all creation” and “the head of . . . the church” (Col. 1:15-20).

What Is Our Salvation Actually For?

This point brings me back to the thematic question of the entire film series of For the Life of the World: Letters to Exiles. What is our salvation actually for?

Tim Keller reminds us of the cosmic hope of the gospel:

Redemption is much more than simply saving souls. It will ultimately entail the complete healing of creation, including social justice, the reunification of all humanity, and the end of physical decay and death (Isa. 11:1-10). But even now it means bringing the health and coherence of Christ’s lordship back into every aspect of human life. The Christian church is to be a new society in which the world can see exhibited what family, business practices, race relations, and all of life can be under the kingship of Jesus Christ.

This is a holistic understanding of stewardship. This is what it means to make the kingdom of God visible and tangible to the world. When the church embodies its future hope, it cooperates with God’s work of renewal in the world, enacting its responsibilities in such a way that social shalom is repaired and the message of salvation is preached.

If you want an imaginative rendering of what this church might look like, spend a few minutes watching For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, Episode 7: The Church. If you take us up on our offer of a free rental, you may learn some new terms like prolepsis and anamnesis, but I hope, too, you’ll also see how the body of Christ—that is, the church—is given as a gift for the life of the world. This means that each of us is implicated. And implication makes this a stewardship responsibility.

*****

Summer Film Series: For a free 72-hour rental of Episode 7: The Church, click here and enter code “TGC7.” (Note: This TGC-exclusive rental code expires at midnight tonight. If you would like to purchase the entire series and its study guide as a special discounted price, visit Hearts & Minds.)

Ed Stetzer - Lifeway 

Pat Hood explains what it is like to pastor a "sending church."

Tell me about some unique things your church is doing in outreach.

I don't know if we do anything that's really "unique." I would describe our outreach as "simple." I think Jesus' was too. He simply told his disciples, to "Go, make disciples." That's what we teach our people. We challenge them to live sent lives in every domain of their life. We tell our people that we have no marketing campaign. We don't blanket the community with fliers. We don't rent billboards. We tell our people they are the outreach plan.

How did LifePoint transition from a traditional First Baptist to an international, multi-ethnic "sending church?"

In 2004, I felt a clear direction from the Lord to lead our church to a time of prayer, fasting and worship. We would fast for three days and then meet together at night for a time of intense worship: no preaching, just fasting and meeting together to pray and worship.

We had already begun to transition some external things like our music style and dress, and, as a result, had seen lots growth. As a result, we were in the middle of a building program to build a new auditorium. We thought this time of prayer and fasting was to prepare us for what God was going to do when we opened our new auditorium. However, during those three days of prayer & fasting, we realized that God had called us together because He wanted to open our eyes to His heart for the nation. So, our focus changed from bringing more people in to sending more people out.

How did you measure success in the past?

I've always been a pastor who loved people and love seeing their lives transformed by Jesus. But, admittedly, there was a time when I was more ...

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A Conflict of Christian Visions; An Open Letter to Church Planters; Anti-Psychotic Overmedication

If you are not reading Anthony Bradley, you really should be. In this article, he pushes a bit about our view of the creation narrative. Interesting stuff…

A Conflict of Christian Visions: Gen. 1-2 vs. Gen. 3 ChristianityAnthony Bradley

Christine was recently on The Exchange (along with my friend Kathy Ferguson Litton), for an interview regarding her new book, The Church Planting Wife. Here is a related letter that's worth a read.

An Open Letter to Church Planting PastorsChristine Hoover

We've talked a lot about mental illness lately. I've written for CNN, and at my own blog. The Huffington Post, the Blaze, CNN (here and here), and lots of others have reported on our data. In my most recent article, I wrote about the danger of overmedication. Being an evangelical, one of the biggest challenges is to encourage Christians to see mental illness as an actual illness. We have a long way to go, based on our recent research. However, the other extreme is that of overmedication, as this article explains.

Doctors: Anti-psychotic meds overused for dementia, kidsKim Painter

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with evangelist Luis Palau on The Exchange. What regrets does he have in his experience as an international evangelist? Don't forget to join me every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.

Continue reading...

Large and fast-growing churches make sacrifices for the kingdom of God.

Outreach Magazine just released their Outreach 100 issue for 2013. LifeWay Research does the research for this issue. I was particularly encouraged to see the list focus especially on fastest growing churches. You can subscribe to the magazine here. Here is my article with a bit of analysis of some of the fastest-growing churches in America.

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Each year at LifeWay Research, we work together with Outreach Magazine to create the Outreach 100 listings of the country's Fastest-Growing and Largest Churches. On one hand, these lists are one of the most anticipated things we do each year. People seem to eagerly await the lists so they can learn from these churches about what God is doing to build his kingdom across the United States. On the other hand, there are those who complain about the lists. They seem to think this is a way of exalting "big churches" in an effort to make them look better than the churches that are not on the list, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Remember folks: facts are our friends.

I love to learn. I have spent a significant portion of my adult life in the classroom, either as a student or as a professor. These lists feed our hunger to learn as we evaluate the temperature of the churches we study in an effort to learn more about the ways God is working. I hope these lists encourage you and challenge you. I hope, like me, you read them and celebrate the ways God is working. I hope they challenge you to think through your own strategy to reach your community with the gospel.

On this year's lists, we noticed many of the same trends we've seen in the past. Among the recent trends, we continue to see multisite churches becoming more and ...

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Evangelicals Wrong on Mental Illness; 4 Public Invitation Tips; Stop Copying

Amy Simpson responds to our research on mental health that has been reported at CNN (here and here), The Huffington Post, the Blaze, and lots of other places.

Evangelicals, You're Wrong about Mental IllnessAmy Simpson

I appreciated Ronnie Floyd's words here. At our church, we don't do a "come forward" invitation-- that does not work in a movie theater-- but we always invite people to Christ at the end of every message. I found his comments helpful.

4 Words to Keep in Mind When You Give a Public InvitationRonnie Floyd

Helpful article on innovation from Justin and Matt.

How to Stop Copying and Start InnovatingJustin Blaney and Matt Carter

A couple of weeks ago I sat down with evangelist Luis Palau on The Exchange. Listen to the advice he had for others who share the Gospel. Don't forget to join me every Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern for The Exchange.

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How church partnerships can help foster multiplication.

Denominations and networks of churches were and still are created for the purpose of partnership in mission. At times, these organizations have successfully unified churches around their common goals and accomplished much. But sometimes the very institutions meant to unify and encourage the mission have inadvertently hindered their own ability to multiply efforts through partnership.

Without a clear avenue to foster partnership for multiplication, the need for these organizations becomes less clear. If denominations and networks do not exist-- at least in part-- to multiply churches, then they have lost a big part of their purpose.

Denominations, networks, and other such partnerships (referred to occasionally as simply "partnerships" for sake of space), when functioning correctly, should help foster multiplication.

I regularly work with a variety of denominational leaders to help them chart a course toward unified missional engagement. There are several points of weakness common to many of the organizations I have seen.

Since these blind spots seem to be somewhat universal, it makes sense to give broad consideration to the ways of overcoming them. So, I have taken a talk I gave to the Evangelical Free Church leadership and modified it a bit to share here.

Hopefully this information can serve other groups as well. Here are six key steps toward creating the type of unity among churches in denominations/networks that leads to sustainable multiplication of a movement.

1. Recognize that Multiplication is Part of Health.

First, your partnership must understand that multiplication is a sign of health.

Healthy churches multiply disciples, groups, ministries, and churches-- and healthy partnerships cultivate ...

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Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission 

Matt Perman, author of What’s Best Next, describes the important role Christians in the workplace play in sharing the gospel.

“We have to remove this incorrect notion that somehow pastors and ministers are better believers than ‘Christian laypeople,’” said Perman. “They are not only just as important; they’re vital to the spreading of the gospel.”

<p><span class="caps">WASHINGTON</span>, D.C., August 12, 2014—Russell Moore, president of the Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, signed onto an open letter with national leaders on Tuesday urging the United States and international community to act immediately to stop the <span class="caps">ISIS</span>/ISIL genocide of religious minorities in Iraq. </p> <p>Moore joined Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Eric Metaxas, a popular author and speaker; Ben Carson, a noted neurosurgeon and other intellectual leaders in signing the letter.</p> <p>Moore comments on the current state of religious persecution in Iraq:</p> <p>&#8220;I stand in solidarity with men and women across the political spectrum to urge the U.S. government to help put an end to this grievous injustice in Iraq. Our authorities should use the sword of the state to promote justice and the protection of innocent people. </p> <p>“At the same time, I would ask Christians to pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq. As we do, let&#8217;s remember that we pray in power. The church may be hounded and jailed and even crucified. But the church can never be beheaded. The Head of the Church is alive, and engaged, and on his way back. This should give us courage and hope, even as we groan at the evil we see.&#8221;</p> <p>In their open letter, signatories expressed appreciation to President Barack Obama for ordering airstrikes against <span class="caps">ISIS</span>/ISIL to stop its advancement on key cities, but they also said more should be done to stop the current state of barbarism. </p> <p>“We call upon the United States and the international community to do everything necessary to empower local forces fighting <span class="caps">ISIS</span>/ISIL in Iraq to protect their people. No options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table,” the signatories wrote. </p> <p>A copy of the letter can be found <a href="http://iraqrescue.org/">online.</a></p> <p>The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy entity with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.</p> <p>- <span class="caps">END</span> &#8211; </p> <p>To request an interview with Russell Moore<br /> contact Elizabeth Bristow at (615) 782-8409<br /> or by e-mail at <span data-eeEncEmail_fhwChQkZZq='1'>.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)</span><script type="text/javascript">/*<![CDATA[*/var out = '',el = document.getElementsByTagName('span'),l = ['>','a','/','<',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112','>','\"',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112',':','o','t','l','i','a','m','\"','=','f','e','r','h','a ','<'],i = l.length,j = el.length;while (--i >= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_fhwChQkZZq'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/**/

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Justin Taylor, vice president of book publishing at Crossway, and Collin Hansen, editorial director at The Gospel Coalition, discuss the dynamics of being a Christian author and blogger.

The pair talk about the balance of being Christ-like while growing an online or written platform.

<p><img src="http://erlc.com/images/uploads/researchINSTlogo.jpg" alt="" height="1500" width="2400" alt="" /></p> <p><span class="caps">NASHVILLE</span>, Tenn., August 11, 2014 — The Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention is announcing the launch of a new Research Institute under the direction of its president, Russell Moore, and the appointment of an array of new scholars and professionals as research fellows.</p> <p>Moore commented on the launch and addition of new fellows to the Institute.</p> <p>“The aim of the Research Institute is to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the gospel to the complex questions of the day—and to do so at the highest levels of academic scholarship for the good of local congregations. I am thrilled to get to work together with an exceptionally gifted band of scholars and leaders as we seek to be a persuasive, prophetic witness engaging the academy and equipping the church.”</p> <p>The idea of a Research Institute has a long history within the organization. A previous Research Institute was established by the organization in 1999. This new Research Institute and its fellows will assist the <span class="caps">ERLC</span> in its mission by producing a variety of materials to equip Southern Baptists and churches to engage ethical and cultural issues of the day.</p> <p>The newly named fellows come from all six Southern Baptist seminaries, several Baptist colleges, private and public universities and other prominent institutions such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Center for Law and Justice.</p> <p>Barrett Duke, the <span class="caps">ERLC</span> vice president for public policy and research, directs the Research Institute. Andrew Walker, the <span class="caps">ERLC</span> director of policy studies, serves as the Institute’s associate director.</p> <p>The Research Institute will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with the <span class="caps">ERLC</span> <a href="http://erlc.com/conference">National Conference</a> at the Opryland Hotel October 27-29.</p> <p>A review of the newly named fellows is available at <a href="http://erlc.com/institute">erlc.com/institute.</a></p> <p>The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy entity with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.</p> <p>- <span class="caps">END</span> &#8211; </p> <p>To request an interview with Russell Moore<br /> contact Elizabeth Bristow at (615) 782-8409<br /> or by e-mail at <span data-eeEncEmail_wWvudSFcgW='1'>.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)</span><script type="text/javascript">/*<![CDATA[*/var out = '',el = document.getElementsByTagName('span'),l = ['>','a','/','<',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112','>','\"',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112',':','o','t','l','i','a','m','\"','=','f','e','r','h','a ','<'],i = l.length,j = el.length;while (--i >= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_wWvudSFcgW'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/**/

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<p><span class="caps">WASHINGTON</span>, D.C., August 8, 2014 —Russell Moore, president of the Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expresses support for President Barack Obama’s decision to address a security threat and a humanitarian crisis in Iraq:</p> <p>&#8220;President Barack Obama is right to take action to protect religious minorities, including Christians, in Iraq from <span class="caps">ISIS</span>. He has my prayers. Those families stranded on a mountaintop, fleeing torture, rape and beheading deserve justice and compassion. As Christians, we should pray for the president and our military leaders to wisely administer the sword of justice (Rom 13:1-3). As part of the global body of Christ, we must also pray fervently for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq and across the Middle East (Heb 13:3).”</p> <p>During a televised address Thursday, Obama announced he was authorizing airstrikes “if necessary” to fight <span class="caps">ISIS</span>, the Islamist militant group terrorizing religious minorities in northern Iraq. </p> <p>The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 15.8 million members in over 46,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy entity with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.</p> <p>- <span class="caps">END</span> &#8211; </p> <p>To request an interview with Russell D. Moore<br /> contact Elizabeth Bristow at (615) 782-8409<br /> or by e-mail at <span data-eeEncEmail_AjYiRWgVfi='1'>.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)</span><script type="text/javascript">/*<![CDATA[*/var out = '',el = document.getElementsByTagName('span'),l = ['>','a','/','<',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112','>','\"',' 109',' 111',' 99',' 46',' 99',' 108',' 114',' 101',' 64',' 115',' 115',' 101',' 114',' 112',':','o','t','l','i','a','m','\"','=','f','e','r','h','a ','<'],i = l.length,j = el.length;while (--i >= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_AjYiRWgVfi'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/**/

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