Weekend Reading: 9/29

blog-writing

by John Ellis

Below are links to some articles and blog posts that I found interesting and/or edifying over this past week. Hopefully, you’ll find one or two that you find interesting and/or edifying, too.

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The End of White Christian America Is a Good Thing

americanflagand3crossby John Ellis

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. Psalm 12:1-2

This past Sunday, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington hosted a lecture by Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Institute and the author of The End of White Christian America. Dr. Jones’ lecture was an informative statistical look at the shifting demographics in America as well as his diagnosis of what propelled President-elect Donald Trump to victory in the face of those shifting demographics. The Q/A session following the lecture was a mix of handwringing from the aging, mostly-white, liberal crowd balanced by Dr. Jones’ dry (in a good way) massaging of the frantic questions back to salient talking points.

I attended the lecture at the behest of my pastor. As it began, I contemplated a variety of angles I could take in order to write an article for PJ Media. But, as Dr. Robert Jones spoke, it became clear that what I wanted to say wouldn’t resonate well with the majority of my readers at PJ Media. Entering the lecture, my view of evangelicals in America was already dim; leaving the lecture, those thoughts had begun to collate into a cogent idea. An idea that probably won’t find favor with those who voted to make America great again.

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Progressive Proof-texting: Rich People and the Eye of a Needle

eye-of-the-needle

by John Ellis

The charge of proof-texting is one of the sharpest pejoratives inside Progressive Christianity’s rhetorical toolbox. It’s often used to support the accusation of legalism. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not denying that Progressive Christians have a point; conservative Evangelicals are not immune from the temptation to pull a passage of Scripture out of context in order to support a specific pet issue.

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Torres: Running from Faith

torres-sprinter-1500x1500

by John Ellis

The most annoying thing about my mom was her refusal to argue with me. Whenever I would point out all the devastating effects that would resort from the physics-defying stopping of the sun in Joshua 10:12-13[1] or attempt to discuss the apparent contradictions in the Bible[2], my mom would gently reply, “John, I’m not going to argue with you. I just want you to know that I love you, God loves you, and I’m praying for you.”

Her gentle kindness and love smoldered within me for years. God eventually used my mom’s grace as a means to reveal Himself to me; but, in the interim, I spent years running, chasing, and hiding. Never quite sure what I wanted, I believed that I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want what my mom had – faithful submission to God. That belief propelled my journey, and ultimately consumed me. Thankfully, that swirling reactionary period of my life did strip-mine an artist’s voice out of me. Similarly, Mackenzie Scott’s (Torres’) rejection of the faith of her parents and her childhood helped produce one of 2015’s best albums, Sprinter.

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A Theology of Art

creation

by John Ellis

Within the Church, artists often feel like islands unto themselves, particularly among many conservative Evangelical churches. Which is unfortunate, especially considering that the first time God introduces Himself in the Bible it’s as an artist[1]. It’s also unfortunate because it means that brothers and sisters in Christ are then tempted to find community elsewhere. And considering that many in the broader artistic community are antagonistic towards the Christian faith, Christian artists run the risk of feeling like they have to choose between their church and their art.

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The Clash of the Straw Men: An Unorthodox Review of Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday

rachel held evans

by John Ellis

“But if the world is watching, we might as well tell the truth. And the truth is, the church doesn’t offer a cure. It doesn’t offer a quick fix. The church offers death and resurrection. The church offers the messy, inconvenient, gut-wrenching, never-ending work of healing and reconciliation. The church offers grace” – Rachel Held Evans[1].

Whoa. For those of us who grew up in the stifling cage of American Evangelicalism, and especially fundamentalism, that statement from Rachel Held Evans has the bracing freshness of the waters cascading over Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite. Washing away our shame and guilt, our disgust at ourselves and, hence, others, and the need we confused evangelicals feel to conform to what our parents, our pastors, and our Third Day loving friends expect, Evans holds out the refreshing cup of communion and says, speaking for God, “I’m throwing a banquet, and all these mismatched, messed-up people are invited. Here, have some wine”[2]. I do love wine.

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