In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Jeremy Bell reminds us that as Christians, we should take care of our bodies.

The doctrine that humans were created in the image of God matters for how Christians navigate a variety of cultural issues—racism, bioethics, abortion, homosexuality and moral responsibility, just to name a few. This truth, the imago Dei, provides Christians with a correct worldview that all people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) on the basis of their image–bearing. According to this doctrine, human beings are special because we are created beings that exist as both body and soul. Regardless of your capabilities, you are valued by God because you have been created by God as an embodied soul.

 

However, I fear that we have not fleshed out what the imago Dei means for us as individuals. We have created a culture that focuses mainly on the soul while forgetting the body — a sort of Christian Gnosticism. I am convinced that the Christian community needs to focus on both the body and the soul in order to honor God as his image–bearers.

 

What do I mean by this? Christians need to practice taking better care of their bodies in order to honor God as created beings. In other words, Christians should consider pursuing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, drinking more water and avoiding harmful substances. The Christian understanding of body and soul from Scripture obligates us as created beings to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given each of us. However, we are to honor God with our bodies not as a means to earn God’s grace, but as a means to express our gratitude for the grace he has already shown us through Jesus Christ.

 

Here are three reasons that you should take care of your body because you have been created in the image of God.

 

Spence Spencer posted an article at his personal blog Ethics and Culture discussing the question: “What is an Evangelical?” Spence writes:

The furor around Hillbilly Elegy has largely died away. Much to nearly everyone’s surprise, a populist won the election. Many of his votes came from people who claim the title evangelical.

 

The exit poll results that indicate 81% of so-called evangelicals voted for Trump have been used as a cudgel against theologically conservative Protestants, many of whom identify as evangelical.

 

As Robert Wuthnow notes in his recent book, Inventing American Religion, however, there are significant differences between theological belief and political identity. The pollsters have tried to cross that boundary, but there are indications that the political label evangelical may not provide a strong theological indicator.

 

At Christianity Today, Hannah Anderson shared an article discussing how brainy women benefit the church.

“Why do you always have to analyze everything?”
I’ve heard this question many times, but I remember the first time someone posed it to me directly. I was 11 years old, in the fifth grade, and standing in the hallway surrounded by my classmates. I don’t remember who asked it, but I do remember that the question was quickly followed by an unsettling chorus of assent. To that point, I’d enjoyed the process of learning and felt free to excel academically. But something shifted in that moment.

 

Although I didn’t realize it then, our collective understanding of intelligence—and my perception of my own intelligence—had been taking shape for several years. A recent study by Lin Bian, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, reveals that children as young as six are already forming views about the nature of intelligence, including associating it with masculinity. Standing in that hallway was the first time I remember questioning whether being a “smart” girl was a benefit or a social liability.

Reporting on Bian’s research, Ed Yong of The Atlantic notes that society’s tendency to associate intelligence with masculinity can create hurdles for women.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently published an article at his blog discussing the Bible’s four essential teachings about politics.

When we ask the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” we can be tempted to jump straight to party platforms and policy issues. That is, of course, how the conversation proceeds on the radio shows and cable news networks: “What is a Christian perspective on immigration reform?” “Why do Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty?” “How could a Christian support So-and-So for the presidency?”

 

But if we jump straight to these sort of issues, our perspective will be fragmented and incoherent. Instead of beginning with questions about isolated policy issues and party platforms, it is helpful to ask what the Bible’s master narrative says about politics itself.

 

That’s right. Even though the Bible is composed of 66 individual books composed by many different authors, its composition was guided by one Divine Author who formed those books together into one story. That story is the true story of the whole world, a story that tells where the world came from, what went horribly wrong with it, and how God will one day set it aright.

 

If we want to understand a Christian view of politics, therefore, the first thing we need to do is look at clues from the Bible’s main storyline. One way to tell the story is to divide it into four acts—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. In this article, I will do exactly that, and will briefly relate each act to the notion of politics.

 

At Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe shared four elements of a successful podcast.

In the past two weeks of the Rainer on Leadership podcast, we have experienced two of our top three days ever on the show in terms of downloads. For this, we are obviously grateful to our listeners.

 

As we begin year five of Rainer on Leadership, it feels like the proper time to look back over the past four years at what has made the podcast (and other popular podcasts) work. The “Religion and Spirituality” section of iTunes is by far the most populous category in the app, and Rainer on Leadership is consistently in the top 150. I’ve identified four elements of the podcast that I believe contribute to this.

 

In this post, Art Rainer gives five major reasons why church giving declines.

God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows.

And this generosity should be evident by the way we give to our local church. Unfortunately, churches often experience a reduction in giving. Their members and attendees withhold or reduce their giving.

 

Why does this happen?

 

Here are a few reasons to consider

 

In an article at the website of the International Mission Board, Scott Hildreth shared about how the Cooperative Program enables local congregations to participate in God’s mission. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Some may wonder how the Southern Baptist Convention is different from other denominations. There are many ways, but one of the most obvious is our basic structure and our funding system. From the early days of the convention, Southern Baptists looked for a structure that supported our belief in the importance of the local church while also enabling the churches to fulfill the Great Commission through many different ministries. The Cooperative Program is the result. Over the years, the details and complexity of the convention have changed, but this program has served as a key tool for our growth.

 

The beauty of our Cooperative Program outshines the motto: “We can do more together than we can do alone.” There is no question that the Cooperative Program has allowed Southern Baptists to achieve a lot. It is the financial driving force—some might even say, the lifeline— for the expanse and success of the SBC. The creation of a unified budget, along with the expectations of regular contributions, allows our boards to plan their work without being encumbered by the constant need to raise all of their support.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Dr. Nathan Finn answered a few questions about the relationship between spiritual formation and mission from a new book, Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church, which he co-edited with Dr. Keith Whitfield.

In recent years, evangelicals have pursued a more holistic Christian mission and participated in discussions about spiritual formation. Yet these two important movements have developed independently and rarely intersected.

Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield want to change that. In Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church (IVP Academic, 2017), Finn and Whitfield bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and ecclesial traditions to address the relationship between spiritual formation and mission.

Nathan A. Finn (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of Christian thought and tradition at Union University, where he also serves as dean of the School of Theology and Missions. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, mission, spiritual formation and cultural engagement.

 

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how “coasting” only becomes an option in the mind of a Christian when we forget we are trying to draw closer to a person. Aaron writes:

How much did you enjoy coasting down a hill on your bike as a kid?

 

You can put your feet off to the side (or on the handlebar if you’re feeling really daring) and let gravity do all the work. Enjoying the wind against your face is the reward for all the effort you spent pedaling up.

 

As a kid, that was one of the greatest feelings, but sometimes things can go wrong.

 

Once, I was going too fast down a hill. I hit a bump, flipped over my handlebars and rode upside down for a few feet before crashing into a briar patch.

 

Attempting to coast spiritually, has put many Christians in a similar predicament without their even realizing it. Coasting is not an option for the Christian.

 

Over Easter weekend, a fascinating conversation took place on Twitter among several well-known evangelical women writers discussing the ideas of Christians building “platforms” and “brands.” Since that original conversation, several blog-posts have been written discussing this topic further. Below, are a few of these:

 

 

In Case You Missed It

Recently at the Logos Bible Software Blog, Jake Mailhot shared a post about Abraham Kuyper’s Theology of everday life which featured three books by members of Southeastern’s faculty.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of Abraham Kuyper, you might recognize his most famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

 

For Kuyper, this deep awareness of God’s sovereignty had vast implications for daily life. Throughout his writings, he wrestled with how to reconcile the sovereign presence of God in this beautifully created world while witnessing the fallenness and brokenness of the present. The modern church still struggles to navigate this tension between the spiritual life and the secular world. That’s why, despite being a century old, Kuyper’s theology of everyday life is still relevant today.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Ivan Mesa asked a few pastors and scholars to recommend a book that belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Pastors traffic daily in books. Of course, we preach the Book, and so we’re endlessly looking for books that’ll encourage and equip us in ministry. Our limited time and a never-ending stream of books (Ecc. 12:12) means we need discerning guides who’ll point us in the right direction.

 

I asked a few pastors and scholars what one book other than the Bible they would commend to every pastor or Christian writer. So whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing an article, or just seeking to build a dependable library, below are 10 books that’ll serve you—and those to whom you minister.

 

At The Center for Baptist Renewal, Matthew Emerson shared three theological reasons to look for patterns in Scripture. Dr. Emerson writes:

My doctoral supervisor, David Hogg, was once asked in my Theological Method Ph.D. seminar what his method is. I still love his response: “I look for patterns and weird stuff.” That is, his approach to reading Scripture consists largely of paying attention to what is repeated and what stands out as extraordinary, either in terms of actual events or their description or both. This interpretive method produces readings that sometimes (many times) vexes those who hold to the historical-critical method and its evangelical cousins.

 

What, then, are the theological rationales that give an interpreter the hermeneutical warrant to link certain biblical texts together in a typological chain? To put a finer historical point on it, why does Irenaeus, in his On the Apostolic Preaching, feel justified in linking the Virgin Birth to the untilled ground out of which Adam is made, or Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib to the Church’s birth out of Christ’s pierced side? I want to suggest that there are least three theological reasons that readers feel justified in these types of patterned readings.

 

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen posted an article about helping women engage culture in everyday life.

Some Christian women struggle to see how tense cultural issues matter to their everyday lives. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid these cultural debates. For example, the young mom may not care about LGBTQ issues—until she takes her children to the playground, finds herself in conversation with a parent of her child’s playmate and discovers the parent is in a homosexual marriage. Suddenly, the issue is relevant at the playground. Or, a teacher may not think that immigration reform is relevant to her—until she has an immigrant student suffering from anxiety because he fears that his parents might be deported. At that moment, cultural issues are no longer just “issues” but tangible faces, real people.

 

Yet, when attempting to engage these issues and the people most directly influenced by them, some women feel inadequate or intimidated. They struggle to have confidence to understand and interact with culturally tense issues from a theological conviction.There can be several reasons for this lack of confidence. Some women haven’t received higher education. Others know little about particular issues. Sometimes, moms of young children are so consumed with diapers, meal times and t-ball games that they have little room for organized study and discussion. Yet, women bring a unique voice to cultural issues that our churches and society need. But, they must first be discipled to do so.

 

A few years ago, I recognized my own need to have “iron-sharpening” relationships with other women to help me better engage difficult cultural issues. I decided to meet regularly with a few ladies from various backgrounds and in vastly different career fields. Every single one of these women brings a unique perspective, a thoughtful question and insightful encouragement to our time together.

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to start a formal program to have these relationships for yourself. Though programs have their helpful place in teaching and edifying the church, there are four simple ways to disciple women to be theologically informed about culturally relevant issues in everyday life—whether they’re single, married, career-driven, stay-at-home moms, academically inclined or academically intimidated.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Thom Rainer’s blog discussing three actions churches can take in times of crisis. Jonathan writes:

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for the communications teams at Cracker Barrel and United Airlines. In case you’ve missed it, Cracker Barrel faced a deluge of complaints following the firing of a server named Nanette Reid. Her husband posted about it on the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page, and Internet pranksters created the #BradsWife movement.

 

Then a video surfaced this week of a passenger on a United Airlines flight being physically “re-accommodated.” Mainstream news and social media sites have been filled with stories and hot takes on everything from the passenger’s past (in which many stories had incorrect information) to the standard airline practice of overbooking.

 

Both companies are still fighting these crises, and from many (or most?) perspectives, they are losing the battle when it comes to public opinion. These companies will likely recover over time. They will likely hire PR firms to win back customers and improve their public reputation. It’s what big companies do.

 

But what if this had been your church? What if your church was faced with a scandal or legal issue that called for crisis communications? Are you prepared? Some are, but many churches are not. And their responses to crises often fall into three categories.