Evangelicals Aren’t Who You Think

Most of us aren’t conservative white Trump supporters. We need to reclaim our stolen identity.

CHR Comment: I saved this article back in October before the election. It provides an interesting perspective on what it means to be Evangelical, a term used historically, theologically, and politically in American dialogue.

The term comes from German “evangelisch,” which Martin Luther and other reformers used to describe their churches in the sixteenth century. This was a theological use of the term, referring to the Reformation churches as churches “of the Gospel” in contrast with medieval Catholicism, which focused so much on tradition and piety.

Historically, “evangelisch” came to mean what Protestant means in American Christianity, sort of “not Roman Catholic.” The theological use that focused on the Gospel was obscured over time.

As the article points out, Evangelical in America popularly means born again Christian, although many Protestant churches continue to use it in the older theological or historical sense. Because born again Christians have become very active politically, Evangelical has also become a political term to describe conservative Christian voters and that is the use that Jim Wallis is contending against, adding concern about narrowing use of the term to describe white voters.

Source: Evangelicals aren’t who you think: Jim Wallis

Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597

Historians have uncovered evidence that St Mary’s Chapel (pictured) at the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen was used as a prison for 24 witches during the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.

CHR Comment: The witch hunt was conducted by Protestants and meticulously described in official records. Historians have recently discovered the role of St. Mary’s Chapel in the East Church, which served as the holding sell before someone was taken to be burned. The Scottish witch hunt was part of a broader phenomenon in Europe at this time. The Salem Witch Trials in New England occurred about 100 years later. This article includes numerous photographs of the church.

Source: Witch prison found in Scotland’s St Mary’s Chapel at the Kirk of St Nicholas | Daily Mail Online

Chinese Pastor Arrested after Opposing Removal of Crosses

The pastor of China’s largest Protestant church has been accused of embezzling church funds and detained in a so-called ‘black jail’.

CHR Comment: The Chinese government has removed 1,800 crosses from church buildings throughout China. Pastor Gu Yuese began speaking out against the removal of the crosses but now has been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement. His ministry team at Chongyi Church, the largest Protestant church in China, has been dismissed and a state selected pastor has begun to preach at the congregation. These events illustrate how the state run church system is managed in Communist China where persecution of Christians is common, especially for house churches that are not part of the state approved system.

Source: China: Pastor who protested cross removals is detained, accused of fraud | Christian News on Christian Today

Second Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35457150

Why 734 Pastors Quit (and How Their Churches Could Have Kept Them)

LifeWay Research studies how churches can help pastors last longer.

CHR Comment: The study involved former senior pastors from four American Protestant denominations who retired early rather than stay in parish ministry. The report provides suggestions to congregations who plan to retain their pastors.

Source: Why 734 Pastors Quit (and How Their Churches Could Have Kept Them) | Gleanings | ChristianityToday.com

Tiny Churches, Big Hopes: Why Some Thrive Despite the Odds

In the age of the megachurch, meet some very small congregations that defy the odds for survival and thrive by “being all you can be in a religious setting.”

CHR Comment: In 2010, 49% of congregations had 100 or fewer members. That figure rose to 58% in the last five years. 90% of American congregations are Protestant and the majority of them fit into the smaller churches category. The article explains a study of changes in American religious life and how some congregations are finding ways to thrive.

Source: Tiny churches, big hopes: Why some thrive despite the odds – Religion News Service

Religion in the American Culture Wars

Muslims, like Catholics and Mormons, fall victim to our persistent fear of those who worship differently.

CHR Comment: Professor Stephen Prothero of Boston University gives his views on the role that religion has played in American life and politics. He mentions the suspicions Protestants had about Roman Catholics and Mormons as a lens through which to see how conservative Christians are speaking about Islam today.

Source: Trump’s religious bigotry is as American as apple pie: Column