If the comment section of Christianity Today reflects the state of Christianity today, then we need to burn the whole thing to the ground and start over

I do not believe, as it appears, that CT’s comment thread is the work of some of the most awful, self-righteous, fearful, priggish blowhards to ever walk the Earth. I believe, rather, that it is the work of people who have been trained to believe that unless they present themselves as the most awful, self-righteous, fearful and priggish blowhards to ever walk the Earth then they will be condemned and cast out of their community. [Read more…]

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How evangelical gatekeepers mistake extortion for leadership: A story

The playwright’s husband was a Brit, and evangelical Christians in the UK don’t carry the same 19th-century cultural baggage as evangelical Christians in America do. But still, he knew that many American evangelicals regarded beer-drinking as sinful and theologically fraught. He understood that it wouldn’t be prudent for him, as a representative of sorts of a large evangelical organization, to be seen in public drinking a beer. That would be a source of “controversy.” … [Read more…]

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Pensacola, the IFB Bubble and the world wide Web

IFB churches and schools like Pensacola Christian College have tried to withdraw from the world and from “worldliness.” They have created a bubble within which they can be sheltered from any “unclean thing” and from the worldly whispers of the world. Within that bubble, they could control the media and the message, insulating and isolating themselves from all outside voices. That used to work pretty well. [Read more…]

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When a pastor is scared of his congregation — and scared that God isn’t good

The process can begin by creating the kind of community where members feel safe to have an honest, open conversation. That means being a place where anyone can ask questions without the fear that even just asking will get you in trouble. It means being a place where people can challenge and question even the received wisdom of the Required Official Stance on Homosexuality. [Read more…]

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‘Thank God’ — the double standard of religious tribalism

If some shimmering person outside the tribe says even the most vacuous or ambiguous thing that can be spun positively, it will be seized upon and claimed as an affirmation of the tribe and all its values. If some upstart within the tribe says the identical statement, it will be interpreted in the most hostile light so that the speaker can be condemned as someone who opposes the tribe and its values. [Read more…]

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Touched by an Angel: A guide to the religious appeal of TV’s knights errant

If cherubic little Bo turns out to be a literal cherub, then NBC’s “Believe” could become a huge hit. That’s probably true even if her powers are just vaguely attributed as a “miracle” or a “gift from God.” But if the source of her powers is explained in some kind of New Age-y way, or as a leap forward in human evolution, then that same religious audience will likely reject this show. [Read more…]

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‘An evangelical pastor’s path to embracing people who are LGBT into the company of Jesus’

Ken Wilson isn’t like Rob Bell or Brian McLaren — a former pastor already labeled with the tribal warning sign of “controversy.” He is an until-now non-controversial member of the tribe, and he’s still an evangelical pastor writing as an evangelical pastor. The title, and format, of his book is “A Letter to My Congregation.” [Read more…]

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Most evangelical college grads have a story like this one

Most evangelical college graduates have a story like the one Dudley tells. They can relate to the trajectory he relates there — the shock of new ideas as an underclassman and then, later, the candid conversations during office visits in which a professor explains what is and is not allowed to be said and how it differs from what is and is not true. [Read more…]

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