Christian Churches – Hellven http://hellven.org/ Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:22:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8 https://hellven.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/cropped-icon-2-32x32.png Christian Churches – Hellven http://hellven.org/ 32 32 Albert Raboteau, expert in African-American religious history, died at 78 https://hellven.org/albert-raboteau-expert-in-african-american-religious-history-died-at-78/ https://hellven.org/albert-raboteau-expert-in-african-american-religious-history-died-at-78/#respond Fri, 24 Sep 2021 19:14:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/albert-raboteau-expert-in-african-american-religious-history-died-at-78/ (RNS) – Albert J. Raboteau, an American historian of religion who has helped students and journalists improve their understanding of African American religion, has passed away. The scholar died Saturday, September 18 in Princeton, New Jersey, years after being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, Princeton University announced. He was 78 years old. A member of […]]]>

(RNS) – Albert J. Raboteau, an American historian of religion who has helped students and journalists improve their understanding of African American religion, has passed away.

The scholar died Saturday, September 18 in Princeton, New Jersey, years after being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, Princeton University announced. He was 78 years old.

A member of the Princeton faculty since the 1980s, Raboteau obtained emeritus status in 2013. He chaired the university’s religion department from 1987 to 1992 and was dean of its doctoral school from 1992 to 1993.

“Professor Raboteau has taught me so much: how to navigate the archives, how to trust and be comfortable with my questions, and how to write clearly and with sophistication,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the department of African-American Studies from Princeton, in a Princeton Declaration. “His genius knew no boundaries. His work helped to create a whole field, and he was able to evolve just as easily in the fields of literature and cinema.

When a book publisher came to campus to find out more about Raboteau’s next book, an appreciation from Princeton Noted, the author instead arranged a meeting with the publisher and Glaude, leading to the publication of the first book of the then graduate student.

In addition to his years of mentoring students, Raboteau also gave reporters his take on the history of the Black Church and contemporary religious attempts to combat racism.


RELATED: Religious Artifacts in New Reconstruction Exhibit Depict Resilience and Racism


During a discussion at the Faith Angle Forum 2015, he addressed reporters on the subject “Forgiveness and the African American Church Experience. Raboteau said small face-to-face interracial gatherings, such as Bible studies and shared meals, might be more important than anti-racism apologies by predominantly white faiths.

“Who we are as a nation is a collection of disparate stories, an ever more exfoliating set of separate stories and what we need to unite is to be able to hear the stories of others in a face to face meeting, ”he said. . “And it can be sponsored by churches; churches would be a natural place to sponsor this kind of face-to-face contact.

Raboteau was known for his writings on the African American faith, most notably the book “Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South” as well as “Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African American Religious History” and “Canaan Land : A Religious History of African Americans.

a Tribute “In Memoriam” to Princeton described his 2002 book “A Sorrowful Joy” as a volume that reflected “the challenges of studying African American religious history as a black man from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi whose father was murdered by a white man before his birth and as a Christian believer whose religious training took place first in the Roman Catholic Church and later in Eastern Orthodoxy.

On social media this week, religious scholars described Raboteau’s personal influence on them.

Professor Albert Raboteau. Photo courtesy of Princeton

“For me, Al was not the usual kind of mentor,” tweeted Anthea Butler, professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania. “He was to me an ideal for both scholarship and spirituality.”

She added, in the last tweet in a thread it seemed to be a nod to his conversion to Orthodox Christianity: “Well (and I don’t know if he has. like that or b. would chastise me) but I would pay dearly if someone painted Al Raboteau as an icon. . To me, he is the patron saint of the study of African American religion. May he rest in eternal peace and bliss. “

Cornel West, Professor Emeritus of Princeton who now teaches at Union Theological Seminary, tweeted after the death of his colleague of more than four decades that Raboteau “was the godfather of African-American religious studies and the north star of deep Christian political sensibilities!” I will never forget him !

Raboteau was also the author of “African American Religion”, a 1999 volume in the “Religion in American Life” series published by Oxford University Press.

He wrote in his first chapter on the historical role of slave preachers and other black pioneers whose sermons reached free blacks as well as slaves.

“The growth of Baptist and Methodist churches between 1770 and 1820 changed the religious complexion of the South by attracting large numbers of slaves into the church and by introducing even more the bases of Christian belief and practice”, a- he writes. “The black church was born.”

In 2016, when the U.S. Postal Service honored African Methodist Episcopal Church founder Richard Allen with a postage stamp, Raboteau told Religion News Service: Allen and (clergyman Absalom) Jones for founding independent black churches .

Late in his life, Raboteau continued to interpret lessons in religious and racial history in his 2016 book “American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice”. He said the book, which included chapters on Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer, was based on his “Religious Radicals” seminar he taught to undergraduates at Princeton for several years.

Raboteau wrote the book’s introduction as the United States marked the 50th anniversary of Selma’s election march in Montgomery, Alabama.

“Memory and mourning combine in a prophetic emphasis on inner change and outer action to reform the systemic structures of racism,” he said.

Raboteau added an anecdote about his own visit to Selma several years earlier with alumni and Princeton students who visited a museum near the city’s famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, where activists had once been repulsed by soldiers from the ‘State. On the trip, a black museum guide who was beaten up on the bridge as a young girl encountered a retired white Presbyterian minister who had joined the protests after King asked for clergy support from the country.

“It was a moment of shared pathos that transcended time,” he recalls. “For me, it was the highlight of the trip. I no longer needed to cross the bridge.


RELATED: AME Church Founder Honored With Postage Stamp




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GOP candidates fight for evangelical voters https://hellven.org/gop-candidates-fight-for-evangelical-voters/ https://hellven.org/gop-candidates-fight-for-evangelical-voters/#respond Fri, 24 Sep 2021 02:00:39 +0000 https://hellven.org/gop-candidates-fight-for-evangelical-voters/ ORRVILLE, Ohio – As “God Bless the USA” echoed through his rural church, Pastor Jerry O’Brien prepared for a sort of sermon on politics in America. The church today is too disengaged, said O’Brien, who heads the Faith Harvest Fellowship in Orrville. He said Christians don’t know enough about elections or the politicians who seek […]]]>

ORRVILLE, Ohio – As “God Bless the USA” echoed through his rural church, Pastor Jerry O’Brien prepared for a sort of sermon on politics in America.

The church today is too disengaged, said O’Brien, who heads the Faith Harvest Fellowship in Orrville. He said Christians don’t know enough about elections or the politicians who seek to represent them.

“We need to educate our people, or the spirit of fear will continue to wreak havoc in our churches,” O’Brien said.

Enter Josh Mandel.

The former Ohio treasurer recently visited the Faith Harvest Fellowship to do her advocacy for the U.S. Senate, the latest in a series of campaign stops in churches across the state. Mandel is using these events to preach his own gospel, which is anti-abortion, pro-guns, and breathes life into debunked claims about the 2020 election.


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At this Tel Aviv cafe, the baristas will serve you an espresso and teach you about Jesus https://hellven.org/at-this-tel-aviv-cafe-the-baristas-will-serve-you-an-espresso-and-teach-you-about-jesus/ https://hellven.org/at-this-tel-aviv-cafe-the-baristas-will-serve-you-an-espresso-and-teach-you-about-jesus/#respond Thu, 23 Sep 2021 13:00:02 +0000 https://hellven.org/at-this-tel-aviv-cafe-the-baristas-will-serve-you-an-espresso-and-teach-you-about-jesus/ TEL AVIV (JTA) – From the outside, the HaOgen Cafe looks a lot like the many other espresso cafes that line the streets of Tel Aviv. Located just north of central Dizengoff Square, it features floor-to-ceiling windows and a colorful chalkboard sidewalk easel that one recent weekday heralded breakfast sandwiches and an upcoming acoustic concert. […]]]>

TEL AVIV (JTA) – From the outside, the HaOgen Cafe looks a lot like the many other espresso cafes that line the streets of Tel Aviv.

Located just north of central Dizengoff Square, it features floor-to-ceiling windows and a colorful chalkboard sidewalk easel that one recent weekday heralded breakfast sandwiches and an upcoming acoustic concert. Inside, a crowd of 20 and 30 are seated at tables, typing on laptops. It’s decorated with fairy lights and floor plants, with upbeat quotes and scribbles scribbled in marker on the blackout windows at the back.

But HaOgen also offers something that its neighborhood competitors don’t: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

According to Dugit site, a Tel Aviv-based Messianic Jewish organization whose name means “little boat,” HaOgen is a “neighborhood cafe” that “is staffed with evangelists ready to share the good news with every guest who enters.”

“Through this hip location, the ministry has had access to a whole new group of people in their city who are in dire need of a Savior,” reads a 2019 blog post on the website of the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries, a messianic organization that describes HaOgen as a member of the fellowship.

The café’s deep connections to Dugit and Messianic Judaism, a movement that believes in the divinity of Jesus while claiming to practice Judaism, are not immediately detectable by customers. A shelf at the back of the cafe is filled with Hebrew copies of the New Testament and stacks of “Messiah” brochures, and the cafe’s logo is an anchor, a historical symbol of Christianity.

Yet, no signage inside or outside indicates any links between HaOgen and any religious organization or movement. Neither the cafe website mention their affiliation with Dugit or any religious mission.

“I didn’t know it belonged to missionaries,” said Jessica Arnovitz, an American Jewish immigrant to Israel who lives near the cafe. “I’ve been there before and it’s a nice place.

Messianic Judaism, some adherents of which were known in the past as “Jews for Jesus”, appears to be developing in Israel. Messianic Jews refer to Jesus as “Yeshua” and use Christian holy books, such as the New Testament, which have been translated into Hebrew. Messianic Jewish groups often have ties to explicitly Christian organizations, and none of the mainstream Jewish movements consider them Jewish. As with many traditional Christian denominations, missionary work is part of Messianic practice.

Dugit’s executive director told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the cafe was not the place for efforts to proselytize Jews. In fact, he said, Dugit does not run HaOgen directly – although he said he owns the space and pays the salary of the cafe manager, a man named Argo who is also the senior pastor of ‘an Ethiopian messianic congregation. Argo refused an interview request from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“We are not trying to mission anyone, bribe anyone or do anything to people,” said Avi Mizrachi, who was born in Israel and himself pastor in a Messianic congregation. in Tel Aviv. “We are Jews who love our country, serve our country in the military and pay taxes. And we celebrate the Jewish feasts and festivals, and we believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yes, we believe that Yeshua is the messiah.

He added: “Now if [customers] ask us what we believe, we tell them, but we don’t go and, as we call it, put people on missions or, or convert people.

Only proselytizing minors without their parents’ consent and offering religious conversions in exchange for a material gift are prohibited by Israeli law. But there is a widely held misconception that missionary activity in the country is illegal, and the government has at times seemed open to advancing this reputation. In his International Religious Freedom Report 2010, the US State Department wrote that Israel has “taken a number of steps which have encouraged the perception that proselytizing is against government policy,” such as the detention of missionaries and the invocation of “proselytism. as a reason for refusing student, work and religious visa extensions ”.

The idea that missionary work is illegal – and the associated idea that believers in Jesus face persecution for their faith – leads many messianics in Israel to hide their activities, according to Sarah Posner, journalist and author who writes extensively on evangelical Christianity.

HaOgen offers New Testaments in Hebrew as well as brochures on Messianic Judaism. (Abby Seitz)

“[Messianics] really played on the idea that proselytizing against Jews is illegal in Israel, ”Posner said. “It’s not as bad as they claim, but they are proving that they are not being treated fairly. Elsewhere in the world, and especially in the United States, there are no such constraints at all, so they have no reason to have a cafe that seems to have nothing to do with religion and is just a place where you can go to have a coffee.

Most Israelis who identify as Messianic have direct Jewish ancestry, “whereas in the United States you are more likely to meet people who identify as Messianic Jews but are in fact evangelical Christians,” he said. Posner said, adding that many American evangelical Christian churches fundraise for Messianic congregations and missionary efforts in Israel.

The number of Messianic Jews in Israel has multiplied in recent decades, according to community representatives. Today, Messianics in Israel number 10,000 to 20,000, according to Yonatan Allon, editor-in-chief of Kehila, an umbrella organization of the Messianics in Israel. Community representatives attribute the growth in part to missionary efforts and in part to immigration. There are Messianic congregations that cater specifically to Russian-speaking Israelis as well as Ethiopian Israelis.

“In 1999, the total number of believers was around 5,000,” said Alec Goldberg, Israel director of the Caspari Center, an evangelical organization in Israel, in an article published in 2019. Q&A on the centre’s website. “Today 5,000 is just the number of believers in Russian-speaking congregations in Israel. And of course, as observers of the Messianic scene in Israel know, the number of local ministries has also multiplied, with new initiatives constantly underway.

These initiatives include more than 70 Messianic congregations across Israel, according to Kehila, including an, Adonai King, led by Dugit and led by Mizrachi, a seven-minute walk from HaOgen.

In addition to the cafe and the Messianic congregation, Dugit’s website says he runs a prayer room in Tel Aviv, a charity for the poor, and an annual conference for women. The website also states that Dugit was involved in an evangelical television station that the Israel Broadcasting Authority shut down last year.

“The message of these messianic groups is very evangelical,” Posner said. “For many Israeli Jews, this is an unknown message, unless they have a lot of political ties to evangelical Christians who, as we know, are very interested in supporting Israel and the settlements.

This is unlikely to describe the typical client of a Tel Aviv cafe, so some in Israel go to great lengths to alert potential visitors to HaOgen to what their patronage supports.

Recently, two years after it opened, HaOgen caught the attention of Beyneynu, an Israeli organization that monitors missionary activity in the country. Founded last year by Shannon Nuszen, an American immigrant to Israel and a former evangelical missionary who converted to Orthodox Judaism, the watchdog group securities earlier this year, after revealing a family who had been actively involved in an Orthodox Haredi community in Jerusalem for several years, but who were in fact Christian missionaries.

Nuszen refused an interview request, but the association wrote on Facebook last month that he had received advice regarding HaOgen Cafe’s messianic mission. The post said Beyneynu had “no objection to people of different faiths running businesses in Tel Aviv” but wanted to alert potential customers to the cafe’s ties.

“People should know, however, that this restaurant is not just another bohemian cafe. Rather, it is part of a well-funded and organized effort by evangelical donors to convert vulnerable young Jews to Christianity, ”the Facebook post said. “We are simply asking for transparency and respect.


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A unique approach to the unity of the Church: sharing https://hellven.org/a-unique-approach-to-the-unity-of-the-church-sharing/ https://hellven.org/a-unique-approach-to-the-unity-of-the-church-sharing/#respond Wed, 22 Sep 2021 19:41:07 +0000 https://hellven.org/a-unique-approach-to-the-unity-of-the-church-sharing/ The Armenian community in North America has been hampered by unnecessary and tragic division since 1933. During the first 23 years after the schism, many parishes were organized under the Diocese of America (later Western and Canadian dioceses were trained). The rest of the churches remained “unaffiliated” until 1956, when they asked the Great House […]]]>

The Armenian community in North America has been hampered by unnecessary and tragic division since 1933. During the first 23 years after the schism, many parishes were organized under the Diocese of America (later Western and Canadian dioceses were trained). The rest of the churches remained “unaffiliated” until 1956, when they asked the Great House of Cilicia to be affiliated and what became known as the Prelature was formed. In the years that followed, a prelature of the West and of Canada was also formed. We should not be judging our ancestors in these difficult times. The events were tragic and created a rare dichotomy where conflict and growth were managed simultaneously. It was during these periods of faithfulness in the 1950s and 1960s that North American communities experienced a significant expansion of infrastructure with many churches and centers. Both “sides” were filled with devoted Armenian Christians. We should remember that. Reunification was hotly debated in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in the eastern regions, but fell victim to special interests. My own take on the shameful division of our church has not changed for decades. I find it embarrassing and contrary to our claims of Christian values. How can we claim to adhere to our Lord’s teachings but cannot find the will to overcome obstacles to unity?

As we wait (endlessly) for our leaders to do their job and bring us together, a new dynamic has emerged. In the 1980s I remember one of the debates going on was whether to instantly unify and then meet the challenges or have a period of “cooperation” to come to terms with and establish a certain level of confidence. Regardless of the failures of this effort, the values ​​of “cooperation” took root. In almost all of the communities in the Eastern region, the local engagement activity has been successful. It started many years ago with participation in joint activities such as genocide commemorations or catastrophic events such as relief efforts for the 1988 earthquake. It continued with other times such as the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s accession to Christianity (2001) or the centenary of the genocide (2015). Usually our Catholicoi would sanction cooperation and then return to “business as usual” without ever capitalizing on goodwill to end this tragic state. Despite the lack of a sustainable approach, many of our local leaders facilitated the thaw by building relationships. When you build walls, like we did, relationships and trust take a back seat. We have all witnessed a time when local priests established close relationships and many lay people formed friendships. This has created an environment where supporting each other is a more natural state.

A new dynamic has slowly emerged in our community. Rather than worrying only about the corporate structure to which they are affiliated (diocese or prelature) or their own local parish, we experience a bond with the whole community. It is quite common to hear individuals talking about the larger community (ie Boston, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, etc.) and not just their parish. This is fueled by really broad community activity, but also by the relationships of trust that have formed as a result of the last decades of investment. Our emerging generation has taken a step ahead as they grow older in the years of decision making. Most are ambivalent about the division and have expressed their Armenian and Christian identity ignoring traditional boundaries. It is quite common in large communities to see young people in both AYF and ACYOA or to find diverse backgrounds among UGAB YP participants. Their social needs and limited commitment to their parents’ infrastructure have in fact opened many new doors.

Recently, I noticed the first examples of another cooperative state, one that includes resource sharing. Many of our parishes, diocese or prelature, are experiencing declining functions. Whether it manifests in church attendance, membership, youth programs, or financial matters, struggle is the new reality. The work to reverse this trend is complex and the subject of much activity and dialogue. What I find inspiring is that some have found a way to “pool resources” to meet the needs of the community. There is a diocesan parish in Trumbull headed by a priest whom I respect deeply. He is the benchmark, in my opinion, in finding ways for people to identify with the Armenian Church. A middle-aged man has emerged in recent years with remarkable devotion in this parish. He serves at the altar of our Lord and is also a diocesan delegate. While serving on the Holy Ascension, he also frequently visited Prelacy Church in New Britain to attend the altar. When I see this type of selfless devotion to serving our church, I am convinced that it will influence others. This admirable dedication should not be underestimated. We are conditioned to be faithful to a parish. Historically, in addition to the tensions, there has also been competition between parishes. What a wonderful example of truly honoring “the church.”

St. George Armenian Church – Hartford CT
A Holy Bible burnt on the stairs leading to the main entrance to St. George, June 2. (Photo: St. George Armenian Church, Hartford, CT)

The northern Connecticut region is going through an interesting transformation. There are three apostolic churches within half an hour. We have a diocesan parish in Hartford, a diocesan parish in New Britain and a prelature parish in New Britain. Each parish has recently been endowed with a new priest. St. George in Hartford is run by Der Voski, a man I have met and I am so impressed with his interest in Christian love. You may have read an incident that occurred in late spring when a Bible was found burnt on the steps of his ward. Der Voski publicly offered help and support to the individual in an act of love and forgiveness. The Holy Resurrection is led by the new Der Haroutiun who has been the subject of a previous column and part of our new generation of US-born priests. Der Garabed of St. Stephen’s possesses the peaceful nature of a man of God and embraces his new calling to serve the Lord and our church. What is particularly exciting is the relationship the three have formed and their approach to their respective ministries. They approach their roles as a collective responsibility to meet the needs of the Armenians of northern Connecticut, and there is a lot of work to be done for everyone. This has established a very natural level of cooperation that will benefit the faithful. In fact, they have sponsored several joint religious observations and have many more ideas. These people are my heroes because in addition to honoring their parishes, they have understood that by cooperating and not competing, they will all have a greater impact on the mission of our church in this region. It is a situation that deserves to be observed and supported. I think we could see some particular results in the years to come. This can help allay concerns in small communities.

This mentality, based on Armenian Christian love, can help strengthen our church as our leaders avoid the problem of administrative unification. As the impact of secularism and assimilation takes its toll on our church, the infrastructure of priests, deacons, choir members and teachers is strained. Many churches face a “catch-22” attempt to recruit new members and maintain an effective education system to provide these new members. How can each parish maintain a comprehensive and effective infrastructure of teachers and programs to meet the needs of their congregants? We are beginning to see the emergence of local retreats, educational programs, and religious observances that are jointly sponsored and led by local leaders. This not only increases the effectiveness of their ministry, but gives people hope and generates additional ideas.

My maternal grandfather was a founding member of St. Stephen’s Parish in New Britain in the late 1920s. It was one of the most controversial parish issues in 1933, as his ownership was settled by the courts. Soon after, Holy Resurrection Parish was established from those who were not affiliated with St. Stephan’s after the division. The original sanctuary parish was originally only one block from St. Stephen’s on Tremont St. I remember my mother telling us that many relatives had gone to Holy Resurrection, but the he environment was such during my youth that our paths did not cross. . There was no animosity. How could there be with my generation? We just never met. So sad. Last summer, I visited Holy Resurrection Parish with the honor of being the godfather of Der Haroutiun. It was there that I met not only a few of my cousins ​​who are my mother’s generational peers, but many of their extended family members who are active in the ward. God has a plan for all of us. Today, these parishes which have lived through difficult years are at the forefront of a new reflection. Bishop Daniel believes a resurgence will occur. I do it too. These leaders have a vision.

It is not a new thought. It is simply applying love and devotion to our faith directly to the task at hand. Others call it “speaking of the word”. Putting aside our egos and past problems is a hallmark of Christianity. Fortunately, the division has not changed the united theology of our church. Something interesting is happening in Connecticut and elsewhere. I hope that all the communities consider their work not in the myopic vision of their parish, but rather as a collective partner with other parishes of this locality. It is a practical necessity and an important part of our faith. If we truly approach our work through the lens of the larger community we serve, we may well discover solutions to problems that once seemed chronic and now have a newly discovered light.

Stepan piligian

Stepan grew up in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the central executive of the AYF and of the Executive Council of the Eastern Prelature, he was also for many years a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently, he is a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also sits on the board of directors of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues with the younger generation and adults in schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian Diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

Stepan piligian


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Lao Christians still homeless almost a year after their eviction https://hellven.org/lao-christians-still-homeless-almost-a-year-after-their-eviction/ https://hellven.org/lao-christians-still-homeless-almost-a-year-after-their-eviction/#respond Wed, 22 Sep 2021 04:34:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/lao-christians-still-homeless-almost-a-year-after-their-eviction/ The 21 Christian villagers in Laos who were evicted from their homes almost a year ago are still homeless because the new homes promised for them have not materialized. The Christian villagers, who belong to five families, were expelled by authorities from the villages of Pasing-Kang and Pateum in the southern province of Salavan late […]]]>

The 21 Christian villagers in Laos who were evicted from their homes almost a year ago are still homeless because the new homes promised for them have not materialized.

The Christian villagers, who belong to five families, were expelled by authorities from the villages of Pasing-Kang and Pateum in the southern province of Salavan late last year and early this year for refusing to give up. their faith, according to local sources.

Many Buddhists in Laos regard Christianity as a foreign religion that does not belong to the country.

Christian villagers, some of whom have sought refuge in a forest for some time, have been promised new homes, but these have yet to be built. As a result, all of these Christians remain homeless and destitute.

“My family and I still live in small huts in our paddy field near the forest. We are still homeless, ”said one of the 14 Christian villagers who were evicted from Pateum in January at Radio Free Asia’s Lao service.

“According to the agreement allowing us to return, the village authorities are supposed to build us a new house, but they did nothing of what they were supposed to do. Village authorities now say they must wait for district authorities to act.

Other Christians, including pastors, have been arrested and detained for extended periods for organizing religious services such as funerals

The expulsion of villagers from the predominantly Buddhist communist nation where Christians represent a small minority of believers is symptomatic of the usual discrimination and harassment Christians face in Laos, where their faith has long been presented as a foreign belief of the western colonizers.

In recent years, many Christians have been evicted from their homes in rural Laos by neighbors or local officials after refusing to renounce their faith.

Other Christians, including pastors, have been arrested and detained for prolonged periods for organizing religious services such as funerals.

Although by law Christians are free to practice their religion within certain limits, many officials across the countryside and impoverished countryside ignore this.

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According to a member of the Evangelical Church to which the 21 dispossessed Christians belong, the authorities refused to cooperate in rebuilding their homes.

Rather than fixing the problem themselves, “they told us to go talk to the district authorities instead,” a church member told Radio Free Asia.

“So we went to talk to the district, but they told us to go back and talk to the village chief. We also went to the provincial headquarters and they said to go back to the district and the villages. It gets nowhere, ”the Christian said.

“Authorities at all levels are simply ignoring this problem and have no intention of helping these Christians. So they just have to wait for their new homes to be built.

Life is particularly difficult for converts to the Christian faith, who risk persecution by their families and local authorities.

It has been suggested that by dragging their feet, authorities wait for dispossessed Christians to give up their faith in exchange for new homes.

“Those who renounce their faith will be left alone, but those who refuse will have to leave their villages and their homes will be destroyed,” said one Christian.

Christians in Laos, who number between 150,000 and 200,000 in a country of 7.2 million inhabitants, are among the most persecuted religious minorities in Southeast Asia, according to foreign Christian groups.

“Christian activities are heavily monitored by Communist authorities, including those of registered churches. Especially in rural areas, house churches are forced to meet clandestinely because they are considered illegal gatherings, ”says Open Doors, a non-denominational Christian rights group.

“Life is particularly difficult for converts to the Christian faith, who risk persecution by their families and local authorities. This can involve property damage, confiscation of property and fines. Women can also face the danger of rape and sexual harassment, ”says Open Doors.

“Opposition is heightened when a convert’s family or local authorities raise the local community against them, sometimes through village meetings or by seeking support from local religious leaders.


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Ed Litton warns of “tribal hostility” on SBC https://hellven.org/ed-litton-warns-of-tribal-hostility-on-sbc/ https://hellven.org/ed-litton-warns-of-tribal-hostility-on-sbc/#respond Tue, 21 Sep 2021 19:03:33 +0000 https://hellven.org/ed-litton-warns-of-tribal-hostility-on-sbc/ Through Lea Marie Ann Klett, Christian Post reporter | Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Ed Litton was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15, 2021. | Baptist press Southern Baptist Convention president Ed Litton warned of “tribal hostility, lack of grace and suspicion” within the denomination, reminding Southern Baptists that the world is […]]]>
Ed Litton
Ed Litton was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15, 2021. |

Southern Baptist Convention president Ed Litton warned of “tribal hostility, lack of grace and suspicion” within the denomination, reminding Southern Baptists that the world is “watching” how they deal with issues such as sexual abuse and racial reconciliation.

“In the toxicity of the conversation and the lack of civility, we do the opposite,” Litton, pastor of Redemption Church near Mobile, Ala., Said at the SBC executive committee meeting in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday night. .

“We must honor each other [and] those who struggle. The mood of our time is to attack, demonize, make allegations and threaten. We are rarely slow to speak and slow to anger. Why not come and reason together instead of promoting tribal hostility, lack of grace and mistrust of one another? “

Litton spoke hours after members of the executive committee debated whether the waiver of solicitor-client privilege requested by the sexual abuse task force would violate the SBC’s bylaws.

In June, SBC messengers voted for Litton to appoint a task force to oversee a third-party investigation into allegations that SBC executives mismanaged a “sexual abuse crisis” in the denomination.

Guidepost Solutions was tasked with “reviewing and improving the training provided to SBC executive committee staff and its board of directors” regarding sexual abuse and “organizational communications to cooperating churches and faithful of cooperating churches ”.

The task force then asked the Executive Committee to waive solicitor-client privilege for the investigation.

Movement called on the executive committee to “accept the best accepted standards and practices as recommended by the third party appointee, including, but not limited to, executive committee staff and members waiving solicitor-client privilege in order to ” ensure full access to information and its accuracy. in the review.

Speaking on Monday evening, Litton said his heart was “heavy” about the rally.

“I think we all feel the weight of it, and together we have to find a way forward for the glory of God,” he said.

“Our convention is in trouble right now,” he continued, “and it’s a crisis of confidence. Whichever way you call it, there is a solution and that solution is with us. Our churches want to see our entities working together in harmony, and they want to see the EC lead the way. “

Southern Baptists, Litton said, have “real concerns” about how abuse cases will be handled.

“People are watching, and what they are looking for is openness and transparency,” he said.

“The world is watching,” he added. “They will be watching to see what we are doing here this week about abuse. They will watch to see how sincere we can be about racial reconciliation. They will watch us at every turn and they will make decisions.

Litton also underlined the weight of EC decisions.

“Our actions will either trouble the Southern Baptists and their mission of carrying this gospel to the ends of the earth, or we will do what is right,” he said. “We will do everything we can to build the trust… that has been placed in us. “

“The Southern Baptist Convention is not a child we hold hands with. We have the confidence of the Southern Baptist Convention in our hands. “

Earlier in his post, Litton said that during his short time as president of the second largest Christian denomination in the United States, he was struck by the good Southern Baptists are doing in the world – from feeding the poor to helping disaster relief. to plant churches.

But the pastor said he had also encountered victims of sexual abuse and had seen their pain firsthand. He stressed that the SBC wants to fight against sexual abuse and racial reconciliation and desperately wants to unite.

“The cross of Jesus Christ unites us like no other people can be united,” Litton said. “The only way the gospel stays above everything is if Jesus stays at the center of it all.”

Mainly due to the secularization of the culture, the SBC has lost both power and influence in society, the pastor said. Instead of succumbing to fear, Litton urged listeners to trust God for deliverance. He warned that failure to do so would lead to the type of fundamentalism that breeds fear.

“I always thought the word ‘fundamentalist’ was a good word,” he said. “These are people who believe in the fundamentals. But there is a danger for fundamentalists. [Evangelist] Del Fehsenfeld Jr. said: “Fundamentalism feeds on fear, strength and intimidation.

The theme for next year’s SBC annual meeting will be “Christ at the Center of Everything,” Litton said. He pointed out that SBC has a “disease” that can only be cured by Jesus Christ. He reminded Southern Baptists that, whatever their differences, Christ is “preeminent in all.”

“The most common question I get asked as president is, ‘How are you going to unite the Southern Baptists?’ My answer is, ‘I can’t. It is a work of the Holy Spirit. But we are all called to unity, ”he said.



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Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to host evangelistic summits across UK https://hellven.org/billy-graham-evangelistic-association-to-host-evangelistic-summits-across-uk/ https://hellven.org/billy-graham-evangelistic-association-to-host-evangelistic-summits-across-uk/#respond Tue, 21 Sep 2021 06:48:38 +0000 https://hellven.org/billy-graham-evangelistic-association-to-host-evangelistic-summits-across-uk/ (Photo: BGEA UK) Christian leaders will meet in four locations across the UK to discuss the challenges and opportunities for evangelism in the nation. The Summits of evangelization are free – although registration is required – and are hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to encourage UK religious leaders “in these uncertain times” […]]]>
(Photo: BGEA UK)

Christian leaders will meet in four locations across the UK to discuss the challenges and opportunities for evangelism in the nation.

The Summits of evangelization are free – although registration is required – and are hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to encourage UK religious leaders “in these uncertain times” and to equip Christians to share the Gospel.

The first summit will take place in Glasgow on October 12, followed by Liverpool on October 14, Cardiff on October 19 and London on November 15.

Speakers include Dr Hugh Osgood, Moderator of the Free Churches Group and President of Churches Together in England, theologian Dr Amy Orr-Ewing, Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos and Evangelist Dr Crawford Loritts.

“With people all around us looking for answers to the pressures of life, now is not the time for the church to hide its light,” said Dr Osgood.

“We need to experience the difference that comes from having a relationship with God and proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the answer.”

BGEA President Reverend Franklin Graham said churches across the UK are uniquely placed to share the gospel.

“We cannot remain silent. We know that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, and he has asked us to come out and share this truth with others,” he said.

“The need is urgent and time is running out. We all need to ask ourselves: what am I doing to bring hope and care to a world that is shaken?


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Printed Bibles aren’t just nostalgic https://hellven.org/printed-bibles-arent-just-nostalgic/ https://hellven.org/printed-bibles-arent-just-nostalgic/#respond Mon, 20 Sep 2021 20:07:55 +0000 https://hellven.org/printed-bibles-arent-just-nostalgic/ As I prepare to begin my tenth year as a seminary teacher, I will begin the Bible synthesis course that I will be teaching by recommending that my students consider making a habit that they are probably unfamiliar with: bringing a genuine, printed and bound classroom Bible. The reason for my recommendation is not just […]]]>

As I prepare to begin my tenth year as a seminary teacher, I will begin the Bible synthesis course that I will be teaching by recommending that my students consider making a habit that they are probably unfamiliar with: bringing a genuine, printed and bound classroom Bible.

The reason for my recommendation is not just a matter of nostalgia, although I grew up taking a Bible to church every Sunday. The first Bible that I remember as “my Bible” (the possessive pronoun being a piece of Christian language that seems to have found its way into the instinctive vocabulary of the faithful) was the edition of the youth walk of the New International Version, which was given to me by my parents while I was still in college.

I liked the strip of dark purple that stood out on the cover, but I don’t remember reading it much, other than flipping through it to find isolated verses, old favorites that I had already memorized or collected that I should have memorized.

It wasn’t until I was in high school, when I acquired a leatherette hardcover study edition of the New King James Version, that I started reading larger pieces of scripture, often sitting down. at church when I was bored with the sermon. This is how I learned my way around the Bible, linking the bead verses that I already knew on a larger narrative, historical and theological thread.

It was while reading this study edition – which featured these little half-moon indentations at the start of every Bible book, making it easy to go from book to book for cross-reference – that I started to understand why Alan Jacobs called the codex – the form of a published Bible that the early church in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries quickly came to prefer to scrolls – “the technology of typology.”

I couldn’t have put it that way back then, but I was learning from experience what early Bible interpreters seemed to understand and appreciate: having a Bible with pages stacked together bound together on one side, rather than one. long wrapped sheet to resemble a piece of pipe, made it possible to examine a section of the Old Testament in context across the page and compare it simultaneously with a section of the New, also in its larger frame.

Handling a physical Bible taught me, on a subconscious level, to read the scriptures as a cannon, a library of books whose disparate voices could be heard as if they were speaking together and side by side on the same subject.

So I will not only recommend hard copies of the Bible because I want to relive my youth: I want my students to become better readers of the whole Bible, leaving its words ricochet from each other and drive them, ping by ping contrapuntally, through a scaled canon game (which is why I will also recommend a hardcopy hardcopy with a good cross-reference system in its footnotes or central column, like this NRSV Where the ESV Personal Reference Bible).

There are many wonderful electronic Bibles to choose from these days (I use the beautiful application on a daily basis). But in 2021 I’m still suspicious, like Jacobs noted it was in 2001, “to use an electronic version of the roller cabinets firmly rejected by the early church”. I wouldn’t want to be without my Tuning software and other applications, but it must be recognized that when we use such tools we return in some respects to the scrolls that the early Christian theologians, for properly theological and hermeneutical reasons, moved with the codex.

But there is one more reason that I will recommend the Bible on paper to my students, and that is because I want them to think about the practices that they would like to recommend to those in their charge once they are they will have graduated and become pastors and preachers themselves. The choice of a medium for our reading of the Bible does not concern us only; these are the types of attitudes and postures that we would like to encourage in our churches.

The technological critic LM Sacasas (who recently had a stimulating experience conversation with Ezra Klein) assembled a series of questions each of us might be wondering when we consider our relationship with various technologies and devices. The questions are pretty straightforward (How will using this technology affect my relationships with others?)

At least one of the questions seems particularly relevant to our encounter with the Bible: “What practices will the use of this technology supplant?” In other words, what could we lose – and what could we (tacitly) encourage others to lose, forget, or marginalize – if we give up the habit of reading hardcopy and bound Bibles? Those of us charged with the care of souls could ponder this question for a long time.

Ten years ago, Episcopal Priest Fleming Rutledge, not thinking primarily of the classroom but of the assembly assembled on Sunday morning, written about his frustration with the fashion in many episcopal churches to print every Sunday’s lectionary readings in the newsletter. Such a practice ensures that the faithful will not feel the need to bring their Bibles or reach for those (sometimes) available in the pews in front of them. (It may also – usefully – discourage them from reaching their smartphones, but that will be for another room.)

“When everyone is reading on a printed sheet,” says Rutledge in his book And God spoke to Abraham, “No one learns where the passage is in the Bible, or how it relates to what precedes and follows it. She continues in that vein for a moment, with her delightfully characteristic pugnacity:

A whole generation of devotees are brought up without the sense of actually manipulating the Bible, finding the passage, and reading it in its order. The large Bibles on the lecterns are unused, their pages gathering dust; some have been completely deleted. The marvelous sight of the reader walking up to the lectern and turning the pages to find the place is seldom seen today in episcopal churches; readers find small, fragile pieces of paper which, for the most part, will be left on the bench or thrown away.

If you go on and read the following sermons, you will find asides such as “Now notice v. 4… But this is also what we see in the next chapter… ”and so on. The gospel she finds in the textual details of the Bible was appealing enough to this reader, at least, to keep a Bible open in my lap as I read the sermons, my eye swinging between its words and the pages. of Scripture.

I hope what I offer my students in class is the same. And I hope they will pass it on to the Christians reading the Bible, which they in turn will bring up.

Wesley Hill is Associate Professor of the New Testament at Western Theological Seminary. His most recent book is The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father.

This article originally appeared on LivingChurch.org.


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How to Let Political Disagreements Damage Your Church in 4 Easy Steps https://hellven.org/how-to-let-political-disagreements-damage-your-church-in-4-easy-steps/ https://hellven.org/how-to-let-political-disagreements-damage-your-church-in-4-easy-steps/#respond Mon, 20 Sep 2021 08:19:10 +0000 https://hellven.org/how-to-let-political-disagreements-damage-your-church-in-4-easy-steps/ In fact, here are 4 easy steps Christians can take to make this terrible scenario a reality: Step 1: Ignore the difference between “straight line” problems and “jagged line” problems A key first step is to ignore the difference between ‘straight line’ political / social / ethical issues and ‘irregular line’ political / social / […]]]>

In fact, here are 4 easy steps Christians can take to make this terrible scenario a reality:

Step 1: Ignore the difference between “straight line” problems and “jagged line” problems

A key first step is to ignore the difference between ‘straight line’ political / social / ethical issues and ‘irregular line’ political / social / ethical issues.

Christian theologians Jonathan Leeman and Andrew Naselli explain the difference between the two:

For a straight line question, there is a straight line between a biblical text and its political application. For example, the Bible explicitly teaches that murder is sin; abortion is a form of murder, so we must oppose abortion. It’s a straight line. Therefore [a church should] initiate the church discipline process with a member who [calls themselves a Christian and] pleads for abortion …[1]

They continue:

But for a question of an irregular line, there is a multi-step process from a biblical or theological principle to a political position. [2]

They conclude:

Most political issues are not straight line issues. Most are jagged line problems. Think of everything from trade policy and healthcare reform to monetary policy and carbon dioxide emission caps. These are important, and Christians should rely on Bible principles when they think about them. But the path from the biblical text to the application of policies is not straightforward. It’s complex. On such matters, none of us should claim to have “the” Christian position, as if we were apostles revealing true doctrine once and for all. ‘[3]

In other words, step 1 assumes that the Bible gives clear positions on the political issues of our time, just as it teaches us about salvation, judgment, and the Second Coming. This assumes that Jesus and the apostles gave direct orders on climate change and immigration policy, tax benefits, and public education.

If we assume that all political issues are ultimately “straightforward” issues, we will be taking the first step towards polarizing and fracturing our churches.

Step 2: Assume Your “Irregular Line” Political Beliefs Are “Straight Line” Issues

This step is too easy. Suppose there is a direct line between your political point of view and the Word of God.

Suppose the Bible directly supports your political party, your perspective on immigration, taxes, and vaccine passports. Ignore any evidence to the contrary, that perhaps the Bible’s point of view on these matters is not as clear as you assume.

Step 3: Condemn those who disagree with your political beliefs (irregular line) as non-Christians

If your political views are taken directly from the Bible, then any Christian who does not agree with your policy is disobeying God Himself. So, vote for [insert your political viewpoint] is not a “questionable issue” (Rom 14), a question of Christian freedom, an issue on which Christians can disagree while honoring God. To disagree with your take on immigration / climate change / vaccine passports is akin to heresy, and Christians who do should be treated as such.

Step 4: Break fellowship with those who hold different political beliefs

The last step is to break fellowship with such people. After all, you wouldn’t have Christian fellowship with someone who calls himself a Christian, but denies that Jesus rose physically from the dead. So why be in fellowship with someone who does not agree with your clear view of politics?

So this is it : 4 easy steps to damage your church with political disagreement.

(Okay, enough sarcasm).

It is easy to go down this road if we are not careful.

In today’s culture, churches and Christians face a real and current threat to Christian unity when it comes to politics. As our society becomes more and more polarized – rejecting and even hating those with opposing views – this attitude can seep into our churches, with devastating effects on our fellowship and our witness to the rest of the world.


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John Shelby Spong, 90, dies; Seeks to open the Episcopal Church https://hellven.org/john-shelby-spong-90-dies-seeks-to-open-the-episcopal-church/ https://hellven.org/john-shelby-spong-90-dies-seeks-to-open-the-episcopal-church/#respond Sun, 19 Sep 2021 16:26:16 +0000 https://hellven.org/john-shelby-spong-90-dies-seeks-to-open-the-episcopal-church/ That year he ordained Robert Williams, an openly gay man, a priest. (Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had been ordained some ten years earlier.) Bishop Spong understood the controversy he was creating – in fact, he invited every episcopal bishops across the country to attend. Nine months later he was censored by his colleagues, but he […]]]>

That year he ordained Robert Williams, an openly gay man, a priest. (Ellen Barrett, a lesbian, had been ordained some ten years earlier.) Bishop Spong understood the controversy he was creating – in fact, he invited every episcopal bishops across the country to attend.

Nine months later he was censored by his colleagues, but he continued to ordain gay and lesbian priests – at least 35 by the time he retired in 2000, he claimed, including Bishop Perry. . The church eventually followed his example: in 1996, an episcopal court ruled that homosexuality was not against its principles, and in 2015, the church recognized same-sex marriage.

While Bishop Spong’s stance on LGBTQ women and clergy has placed him on the edge of the mainstream, his theological views set him well outside. He taught that the gospels were to be seen as artistic interpretations of the life of Jesus, not literal accounts, and he called on Christians to reject ideas, like original sin, that could not be explained by science.

These views, even more than his social activism, have drawn millions of followers, as well as countless critics. Writing in National Review in 1988, William Murchison called Bishop Spong “the latest in a long line of The Right Reverend’s goofballs,” berating him for calling the church to lean towards modern society rather than the other way around. .

Traditionalists particularly disliked his blunt approach, which they said made dialogue difficult.

“He has always pushed the boundaries, indeed making it difficult for other points of view to coexist,” said Paul FM Zahl, a retired episcopal priest, in an interview. “You kind of felt like you were being told to grow up, that he was preaching an adult version of Christianity. “

Bishop Spong’s aggressive liberalism often got him in trouble. After a prominent Nigerian bishop attempted to exorcise the “homosexual demons” of a homosexual priest at an Anglican conference in 1998, Bishop Spong denounced African Anglicans as backward.


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