Define ‘evangelical’ — 2013 edition

List America’s prominent evangelical Protestant voices and the Rev. Rick Warren remains near the top, up in the mix with the Rev. Brian McLaren, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Jim Wallis, the Rev. Tim Keller and others.Many evangelicals, of course, like to argue about who belongs on that list. In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that the experts are finding it harder to decide who is and who is not an “evangelical” in the first place.“I know what the word ‘evangelical’ is supposed t … [Read more...]

The heretical art of Thomas Kinkade

When describing his painting "Candlelight Cottage," the late Thomas Kinkade said its "candlelight has a cozy, intimate quality -- especially when it's suffused in the soft mist of this fine English evening."Actually, the cottage windows are glowing so brightly that the entire interior appears to be in flames.This painting, noted National Catholic Register critic Simcha Fisher in 2011, only makes sense as "a depiction of an oncoming storm, with heavy smog in some spots and total visibility … [Read more...]

T.D. Jakes and the Trinity

For more than a decade, Pentecostal Bishop T.D. Jakes has lived in the shadow of a Time magazine cover that asked, "Is this man the next Billy Graham?"That was a loaded question, because of tensions behind the scenes between the multi-media Dallas superstar and many mainstream Christian leaders.Now, this legendary preacher -- often listed as one of America's most powerful evangelicals -- has taken a big step toward convincing his critics that he is, in fact, an evangelical. Jakes has, after … [Read more...]

Evangelicals vs. ‘secularists’ (2011)

When evangelical leaders look at the United States of America, they do not see a country defined by the familiar Gallup Poll statistic stating that 92 percent of its citizens profess some kind of belief in God.Nor do they see a land that is only 1.6 percent atheist and 2.4 percent agnostic, according to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. They do not see a land in which another 12.1 percent of the people do not embrace any one religion "in … [Read more...]

Orthodox bridge to evangelical world

As point man for Russian Orthodox relations with other faith groups, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev is used to talking shop with Catholics, Anglicans, leaders in older brands of Protestantism and other world religions.These duties have long been part of his job description. Meeting with leaders from the world's booming evangelical and Pentecostal flocks?Not so much.However, recent ecumenical contacts by this high-profile representative of the Moscow Patriarchate is evidence that times are … [Read more...]

Xmas is fake, so deal with it

As the Christmas pageant dress rehearsal rolled to its bold finale, reporter Hank Stuever found his mind drifting away to an unlikely artistic destination -- a masterpiece from the Cubist movement.The cast of "It's a Wonderful Life 2" reassembled on stage at Celebration Covenant Church, a suburban megachurch north of Dallas. There were characters from a Victorian tableau, along with Frosty the Snowman, young ballerinas and children dressed as penguins. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus were … [Read more...]

Nailing the evangelical fads

The upperclassman sat across the cafeteria table from freshman Joe Carter and, in a matter of minutes, asked The Big Question -- a question about eternal life and death.As any evangelical worth his or her salt knows, that question sounds like this: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?" Super aggressive believers prefer: "Are you saved? If you died tonight, would go to heaven or hell?"Carter remembers replying: "I'm, yeah, actually I have."What happened next was … [Read more...]

Hitting the 500-year wall

Every half a millennium or so, waves of change rock Christianity until they cause the kind of earthquake that forces historians to start using capital letters."What happened before the Great Reformation, we all know," said Phyllis Tickle, author of "God Talk in America" and two dozen books on faith and culture. "We know, for instance, that some sucker sailed west and west and west and didn't fall off the dad gum thing. That was a serious blow."So Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and then a … [Read more...]


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