NRA: A Lesson on evangelism

The congregation of New Hope Village Church embodies what it means to make evangelism a top priority. After spending a long Sunday gathered together to remind one another that evangelism is the most important thing, they’re all fired up to return next week and reaffirm this paramount importance yet again. [Read more…]

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NRA: Character, plot, and theme

One way or another, characterization happens. It’s unavoidable, even for the worst writers and the worst story-tellers. Jerry Jenkins may have no interest in developing his characters and no patience for it, but he’s constantly revealing character despite that — doing so accidentally, unconsciously, and unintentionally. And what he shows us contradicts what he tells us. [Read more…]

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NRA: There’s no gospel in this gospel

The strange thing about the hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” is that it never actually tells the story. Rayford never actually tells that story either. Like the hymn, he insists that the telling of it is very important, but no one listening to his alleged explanation of “the way of salvation” will wind up any closer to understanding that than before he started. [Read more…]

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NRA: Funeral altar call

Evangelical churches are good at many things, but funerals are not our forté. The improvisational approach of most evangelical services doesn’t serve us well when it comes to funerals. So we fall back on what we know best — proclaiming the gospel of individual salvation. That’s why Rayford’s eulogy here segues into an evangelistic altar call. [Read more…]

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NRA: One thing I have learned

If there’s one thing I have learned out there in the church, it’s that a speaker should never humblebrag about himself by saying “This is not about me. … It’s about Jesus.” Whenever you hear that, you can bet that the next good chunk of what he has to say won’t be about Jesus either, but about him. [Read more…]

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NRA: Bruce Barnes’ body lies a mouldering somewhere

Bruce Barnes died at the end of the previous book. Now, some 300 pages and several weeks of story-time later, his body is wheeled out for his memorial service. Where has Bruce Barnes been all this time? That’s really two questions, one logistical, the other theological. And the authors don’t seem to have given much thought to either one. [Read more…]

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NRA: Probably Loretta

The authors tell us that “someone, probably Loretta” has printed up programs for Bruce Barnes’ memorial service. But if we remember all the other things going on in this story — things that the authors, and Rayford and Buck, seem to have forgotten — then it seems like “someone, probably Loretta” must have been doing a lot of things. [Read more…]

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NRA: The most trusted name in news (is not ‘Global Weekly’)

So far in the Great Tribulation, CNN is crushing the competition. The cable news channel has established itself as the one and only reliable source for breaking news in the earth’s last days. Fox News is AWOL in this story — I suppose because everyone there was Raptured. And over at Global Weekly, the world’s greatest reporter has decided to take the month off for an “escapade” in Israel, and to attend a funeral back in Illinois. [Read more…]

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