United Identity (Gospel Citizens #2)

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… (Eph 2:11-19, ESV)

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Last time we looked at our hope, identity and allegiance as citizens of heaven.
In Ephesians we find citizenship again employed as an image of unity and common identity amongst believers, based on central aspects of the Christian message.

However this time there is a significant difference. In the passage above, civic terms such as “commonwealth” and “fellow-citizens” are used to communicate a radical participation in God’s community. One that should annihilate racial barriers and distinctions of the perishing age. New Testament scholar Lynn Cohick comments that Paul is “hinting at the same truth” here as in Philippians: “citizenship within Israel is membership into God’s family.”[2]

Note that Paul speaks of the “commonwealth of Israel” rather than “the commonwealth of heaven.” The emphasis shifts from the higher identity of heavenly citizenship (that we looked at in Philippians) to the common, united identity between all people who have come into a covenant relationship with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The recipients of this epistle were to understand the dramatic nature of the change in their relationship towards God. This in turn should alter the way they saw themselves in relation to others.

In the Christian “commonwealth” of Israel, both Jew and Gentile can now enjoy the full blessings and privileges of “full citizenship” in God’s city-state.

But the other unmissable emphasis of Ephesians must be the realisation that these two historically separate categories of people have had their dividing line radically removed through what Christ did to the place of the legal ordinances in God’s economy.[3]

The dividing wall of the “law of commandments” stood as a massive barrier between observant Jews and pagan Gentiles who hadn’t received the law – keeping the two groups divided for centuries. Whether it’s the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall or Donald Trump’s proposed wall – we’re all familiar with the kind of barrier that separates one group of people from another.

Jesus has brought down the division that kept Jews and Gentiles separated and entrenched hostility between the two groups. The law has been abolished as the way people relate to God. Now whether Jew or Gentile, everyone who wishes to belong to God and His people, must come through Jesus.

Now the future of ethnic Jews and Gentiles lies in their inseparable unification and they have been effectively predestined to inherit the fullness of God together as one people (cf. Eph 1:4-5, 9-12, 3:4-6).[4]

Thus, the citizenship motif in Ephesians needs to be appreciated in order to grasp Paul’s call to an essential unity of identity in Christ. This reaches beyond Jews and Greeks in the first century to encompass all manner of ethnic groups and traditional racial divisions.[5] It ultimately stands in the same biblical tradition as passages envisioning people from every nation united by Christ in the worship of God (e.g. Ps 22:27, 67:1-7; Rev 5:9, 15:3-4; cf. Matt 24:14, 28:19; Mk 11:17; Lk 24:47; Rom 1:5). All believers from all nations have the same eternal destiny as the household, temple and family of God.

For Christians, to live out the truth of our united identity as fellow-citizens is to reject all forms of racial discrimination towards other Christians and to refuse to “make much” of our ethnic or cultural background with a prideful attitude. We don’t get to erect our own barriers when Jesus has torn down the greatest division of all.

Regrettably, I have heard Christians in church contexts where one ethnic identity is privileged or preferred over others remark that this is “not a gospel issue.” But ethnic divisions in the body of Christ are indeed an implicit denial of the gospel. They suggest that Christ’s death to unite all believers as one people is less significant in practice than the commonalities of their shared racial identity or cultural preferences.

It is tragic when a church may subscribe firmly to evangelical doctrine but refuse to allow the gospel to touch this part of their souls.

Churches with one predominant ethnic group who maintain the attitude that others are welcome – so long as they accept they’re part of the minority and learn to do things “the way they’re done around here” – have missed an important gospel truth. In Christ, the things that divide us should be viewed as drastically less significant than the things that unite us. People from other ethnic backgrounds should not have to “conform” to a particular culture to “fit in” – because our culture should be shaped by the gospel and not our carnal, tribal preferences.

The call of Ephesians 2 is for all kinds of Christians to reach out to all kinds of Christians. We don’t just embrace people “like us,” but wholeheartedly celebrate every believer as co-citizens with us.

When we do this, we show our identity, allegiance and belonging are all tied to Jesus and we’re preparing to worship Him in an international society for all eternity. When we fail in this area we send the wrong message to the world about the glorious new people that Christ shed His blood to redeem.

 

 

Sources

[1] Helge V. Keitel “Multiethnic Diverse People in a Circle Holding Hands” (CC BY 2.0) flickr. 

[2] Lynn Cohick, Ephesians NCCS (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2010): 72.

[3]    Lincoln, 150.

[4]    “The believers today are neither Jews nor Gentiles but are Christians who pray and give praise to God as all the saints in former generations.” Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002): 396.

[5]    Thielman, 150;

 

Gospel Citizens (overture)

Issues of citizenship seem to be in the news a lot in Australia. A number of prominent politicians have lost their place in parliament in the last few months when it was discovered that – in addition to being Australian – they were technically also citizens of “foreign” nations. Because our constitution doesn’t allow for divided loyalties, this is something forbidden for all federal parliamentarians. It’s been described as a “citizenship crisis.”

Whenever the government modifies requirements for the national citizenship test, which migrants are required to take if they wish to formally become Australians, there is public debate about whether the questions are too hard or too easy. And not long ago there was significant debate over whether Australians who fight with Australia’s enemies overseas should be stripped of their citizenship status (in the end, due to international law against making people ‘stateless,’ this only applies to dual citizens).

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I personally find issues around citizenship interesting, as they make us ask fundamental questions about belonging, loyalty and identity. Who am I? How do I describe myself? What bigger group or community am I a member of? Where do my allegiances lie?

As someone who is an Australian citizen by birth, a New Zealand citizen by descent, formerly a British subject (this status being subsequently abolished by the federal government) and the husband of a naturalised Australian and former Chinese citizen – I am well aware that for some people the answers to these questions are straight-forward, while for others they are more complex and interesting.

Have you ever wondered how Christians are supposed to think about citizenship?

There’s a fascinating little reference in Philippians that sets us up to consider the New Testament perspective on citizenship: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” (1:27a, ESV). The Greek for “manner of life” is πολιτεύεσθε which more specifically means something like “be a citizen” or “live out your citizenship.” So the phrase effectively tells Christians to be citizens in a way that’s worthy of the gospel.

So what does it actually mean to be a “Gospel Citizen” – someone whose identity, allegiance and sense of belonging ultimately comes from the gospel?

Paul has more to say about this topic in Philippians, declaring in 3:20 “our citizenship is in heaven.” In Ephesians he emphasises the common identity in Christ between Jewish and Gentile disciples – describing them as fellow-citizens together in God’s Kingdom.

Other New Testament authors draw out other aspects of our Christian identity using citizenship language. The author of Hebrews sees our citizenship in the heavenly city as something that makes us sojourning pilgrims, foreigners and temporary residents on earth. We live in earthly cities, but wait for a city that is to come. One with eternal foundations, which cannot be shaken. In 1 Peter, the apostle Peter makes it clear that Christians have a special dignity and place of belonging in God’s Kingdom. But he also emphasises the sense of Christians being aliens or exiles in this world. Peter highlights an additional aspect – that of living well in earthly society and being subject to the governing authorities for the sake of Christ.

Paul revisits this theme in his famous discourse on civil behaviour in Romans 13. He urges Christians to perform their civic duties: paying taxes, honouring leaders and obeying the law. Finally, Luke also shows us an interesting episode (in Acts) where Paul made use of his Roman citizenship to temporarily get out of trouble – a tactical move he hoped would gain him further opportunities to spread the gospel.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to explore these different aspects in a series of posts titled “Gospel Citizens.” We’ll explore the tension between being a citizen of heaven and a stranger in the world; the importance of our common Christian identity across the boundaries of human identity; and how we’re actually supposed to interact with non-Christian society as people who belong to another world while residing in this one.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this topic, including writing a Master’s project on the subject and delivering two preaching series that looked at the passages mentioned above. It’s something I think is of great value for Christians in Australia to be thinking about amidst all the chatter in our society about issues surrounding citizenship.

So if you don’t know what Paul means when he talks about our Heavenly Citizenship in Philippians 3:20, join us next time as we dig into this rich biblical metaphor together!

 

[1] Adapted from Michael Coghlan “Australian Citizenship” flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Australia 2017/2018: After Light – Darkness?

Throughout 2017 we celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. One of the catchphrases that summed up its significance was Post Tenebras Lux – “After Darkness – Light.” God’s work of reformation through Luther and his successors caused the light of the gospel of Jesus to shine more clearly and brightly throughout churches and nations that had fallen into the dark ignorance of medieval Roman religion.

But as we move from 2017 to 2018 – reflecting on the year that was and thinking about the one just begun – I fear we may have to contemplate our situation in terms of the inverse phrase: “After Light – Darkness.”

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For years we’ve been told by Christian and cultural commentators that we live in something of a “post-Christian” landscape. That is to say that the underlying assumptions about the world that accompany faith in God and the Gospel and acceptance of the teachings of Scripture have largely given way to other assumptions in the worldview of Western Civilisation.

This has been somewhat helpful as a corrective against the attitude common amongst many Australian Christians that we are citizens of a profoundly Christian nation and should virtually browbeat non-Christian dissidents into returning to their Christian roots. The better Christian thinkers in Australia and similar societies have long recognised that we are not a cultural majority, the respectable centre or the dominant voice in public discourse in any meaningful sense.

The past year served up multiple, confronting examples of Christian viewpoints being anything but dominant in Australian society. The hyper-progressive Andrews government in Victoria continued to make decidedly anti-God policy decisions, capping the year off with its historic legalisation of state-sanctioned killing (euthanasia). And of course, just over half of eligible Australian voters endorsed a change to the Marriage Act to recognise some homosexual relationships as “marriages,” which the Parliament then made a reality – with no legal protections for the freedom of speech and religion of dissenters. 2017 made it very clear that the majority of Australians do not take God’s Word seriously when it comes to the ethics surrounding contentious social issues.

The real issue facing Christians in 2018 is not how to cope with our perceived loss of social status, respectability and any political influence we may have enjoyed. It’s how to effectively witness to our Australian neighbours who have collectively rejected the Christian message as true.

Admittedly, this is not a new problem – unbelief and irreligion in Western countries have been growing phenomena since well before Australia was founded as a modern nation (117 days ago today). But in the last 50 years this trend has intensified and the kind of social issues that are coming to a head in 2017-18 are symptoms of a long and perilous abandonment of Christian belief amongst this people.

Many have suggested that we need to adopt a posture similar to that of the early church – where they were sharing the good news of Jesus with Greek and Roman pagans who had no prior knowledge or appreciation of the God of the Bible. The problem with this is that our scenario is quite different. The baby boomer generation which currently occupies the major stations of power and influence in our society had access to the truth of the gospel, but so many of them rejected it as old hat. We are not dealing with “ignorant heathen,” but rather “enlightened” rejectors.

It is true that Generation Y and Z have often been denied meaningful exposure to the gospel via the Sunday School experience that was commonplace in the generations before. This makes them more analogous to Greeks and Romans than preceding generations. However, they have also grown up with the media and narratives controlled by the God-is-passe Boomers and the gross moral failures of religious institutions to prevent child sexual abuse. This means they are ignorant of much of the substance of Christianity, but have been groomed to be negatively disposed towards it.

How do we effectively share the message of Jesus with generations of Australians who think they know enough of it to reject it? It’s too big a question to tackle in one post, but one we ought to enter the new year thinking seriously about.

But the other question is, how should we expect God to respond to this nation’s increasing rebellion against him? This too is difficult to answer. While Australia is not and has never been a Christian nation (in the sense of being a Christian being a necessary prerequisite for citizenship etc;) many of the benefits its people have enjoyed have been the result of the deep impact of the gospel upon our culture.

Ingratitude towards God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon this nation and increasing rejection of the good news we have had access to for so long are serious matters which invite judgement. When we add the serious transgressions involving the devaluing of human life (e.g. abortion & euthanasia) and elementary human sexuality, gender and kinship (e.g. promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage) – which even unbelievers know deep down to be acts against their Creator – things only become more dire.

God may graciously bring about widespread revival in churches across the nation and widespread repentance amongst Australians. That is a real possibility and would not be a bad thing to be praying for. But it is equally possible that God will consign Australia to judgement – of both the spiritual and temporal kinds – in the coming years. In my research on the Puritan Thomas Watson, I have found him frequently concerned that God would not only punish 17th century England’s sins with invasion, disaster or disease – but that he might even remove the ministry of the gospel from within its borders.

This concern came from the disparity between Asia Minor or Turkey in the time of the New Testament and in Watson’s day. By the time the Puritans were active, many of the areas where the earliest Christian churches were founded had long since been de-Christianised and Ottoman Turkey was a classic example. From Watson’s perspective, Christ had come good on his threat to “unchurch” or “remove the lampstand” of several of the churches mentioned in the opening chapters of Revelation. And he saw no reason that the same thing might not happen to England or other heavily Christianised areas.

The Anglosphere countries (e.g. England, USA, Australia, New Zealand) have long appeared to be trailing the steadily de-Christianising/re-paganising nations of continental Europe, including those where the Reformation was born (Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands Scotland). But this appears as though it could be our decade of decay as the political polarity of pinkist-progressivism and primitive-populism spurs the people of these countries on to further degrees of flagrant rebellion towards God.

The true church may flourish during these times, but not necessarily numerically. Cultural Christianity looks to continue its slow death for another 2 or 3 decades until it is all but extinct. While God may bless our tenacious efforts at evangelism, He may also withhold widespread repentance from a people that has slighted Him for so long. He may concentrate the work of the Spirit to enable people to receive the gospel in parts of the world where it has not been taken for granted. While we can never give up praying for conversions and proclaiming the gospel, we may find that it continues to be hard to see many people come to faith in Christ.

We should fear for Australia. Our nation is in a very dangerous place, where the name of Jesus has been known for so long and once widely acknowledged as holy – yet now is increasingly blasphemed and opposed. Darkness may yet fall where light has been trifled with for too long.

Yet as we move forward into 2018, with our celebration of the Reformation and Christmas in the rear-vision mirror, it is their message that brings us hope in whatever bleak times may lie ahead. For though we live in a land that has seen light come into the world, but rejected it out of love for darkness (John 3:19-21) we also know that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5, ESV).

May God shine the light of Christ into the darkness of this nation in remarkable ways in 2018 and may He gracious grant reform and revival to corrupt and compromised churches, as He did in Europe 500 years ago.

[1] Chad Horwedel Solar Eclipse flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Wishing you a “Mary Christmas”

We’ve all probably been wished a ‘merry’ Christmas countless times over the years, but I suspect this will be the first time anyone has wished you a “Mary” Christmas. Amidst all of the cultural battles over the commercialised nature of Christmas that diminishes its original meaning, the holiday of Christ’s Nativity also highlights the tensions surrounding the place of His mother in the Christian tradition.

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A few years ago I was horrified to see the Christmas display in a department store’s shopfront window on the main street of Brisbane. It was a depiction of Mary enthroned as Queen of Heaven, with a comparatively pathetic looking baby standing on her lap. In the 500th year of the Reformation, I suspect most Protestants are all too wary of the Catholic Church’s excessive devotion towards Mary – which shows through in a display like this. Yet our reaction is typically to downplay Mary’s role and significance so as to make it clear that we don’t hold her in the same kind of (often idolatrous) veneration.

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This is a shame, because while Mary should by no means be the central focus of this festive season – the real, historical woman who gave birth to our Saviour is an excellent model for the posture we should take in relation to this momentous event.

Twice in Luke’s Gospel account of the events surrounding the birth and childhood of Christ, we find Mary’s celebration of Christmas recorded.

15 And it happened that when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began to say to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has revealed to us!” 16 And they went hurrying and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the statement that had been told to them about this child. 18 And all who heard it were astonished concerning what had been said to them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering them in her heart. (Luke 2:15-19, LEB)

And his mother treasured all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51b, LEB)

As God revealed the significance of Jesus to the world, Mary cherished everything she saw and heard concerning her son. And according to Luke 2:19, she “pondered” them deeply going over them again and again in her heart.

Think about it for a moment. Physically and humanly speaking, Mary had the closest connection to Jesus of anyone. His human nature was derived from her (Joseph, of course, lacked such a biological relationship to him). She carried Him inside her body for nine months and brought Him into the world. And yet when she is presented with the awesome reality of who the child she bore really is and His place in God’s plan of redemption – she marvels at it, esteems these truths as precious and thinks of them often in the years to come.

An interesting discovery I’ve made in my research is that earlier generations of Christians came up with a special nickname for Jesus’ ancestor King David: Contemplator Maximus – The Greatest of Meditators. This was because the Psalms show us how David constantly reflected deeply upon the revelation of God’s nature in His Word, His Creation and His acts of redemption. The messianic psalms that allude to the coming of Jesus as King show that David also pondered the mysteries God revealed to him concerning the promised Saviour.

If David was the greatest contemplator of divine truths in the Old Testament, I think his descendant and the mother of his true heir is perhaps the great example of meditating on divine truth in the New Testament. Mary’s proximity to Jesus increased her appetite to reflect on His wondrous glory, rather than diminishing it.

In this way, I believe Mary models for us what our celebration of Christmas should be like. No amount of familiarity with Jesus and the story of His birth should prevent us from treasuring who He is and spending time in deep reflection of the glorious truths that began to be manifested at that first Christmas.

Mary is not another mediator who contributes to our salvation – as Catholics erroneously believe – but she is a great meditator who shows us the way forward in making much of the one who was born to redeem us all.

Have a Mary Christmas pondering the glory of Jesus Christ.

 

[1] Waiting For The Word “Madonna – Mary & Jesus 15″ (CC BY 2.0)

[2] Lawrence OP “Verbum Abbreviatum” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Were these the top theology stories of the last decade (2008-2017)?

For the past decade Colin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition (formerly of Christianity Today) has been summing up the year in theology/church news with a top ten list. It’s a challenging task and naturally opens one wide to criticism for picking certain things as newsworthy over others. But when someone with the international platform that Hansen possesses undertakes such an exercise, such a list is a valuable invitation to reflect upon the past 12 months and evaluate the significance of the events that have been highlighted.

I decided it would be a worthwhile exercise to publish the list of stories Hansen has nominated as the most significant theological news items between 2008-2017. The top story for each year is directly below, while you can browse the full Top 100 (titles only, with links to the respective years) at the bottom of the article.

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Some of the News Stories featured in the annual lists 2008-17

2017 – REFORMATION 500 HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR REVIVAL TODAY.

2016 – WHY DID DONALD TRUMP WIN?

2015 – U.S. SUPREME COURT LEGALISES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE 

2014 – EBOLA DRAWS OUT THE BEST AND WORST OF US.

2013 – POPE FRANCIS MAKES FAST FRIENDS.

2012 – PRESIDENT OBAMA RIDES RISING TIDE OF GAY MARRIAGE.

2011 – ROB BELL WINS

2010 – FRANCIS CHAN STEPS DOWN FROM CORNERSTONE

2009 – NIV & TNIV TO BE PHASED OUT (FOR NIV’11)

2008 – PUBLISHERS MAKE 2008 THE “YEAR OF THE STUDY BIBLE.”  

Hansen acknowledges that his lists are America-focused and represent the theological interests and concerns of his particular corner of (reformed) evangelicalism. As someone who frequents North American evangelical aggregate websites like The Gospel Coalition and Challies.com, it is an interesting exercise to look back over the annual summaries and ask questions concerning the relevance of the chosen stories to Christians outside of that context.

Some stories that were big a few years ago appear eminently forgettable in 2017, while others relate to issues and trends that have continued to be discussed among evangelical communities around the world.  I’ve tried to highlight in Purple some of the topics in the big list that strike me as having some lasting relevance outside of the U.S. context.

I’d love to hear from readers what they think of these lists, e.g. How helpful are they at summarising the news and issues of the year? How useful are they outside of American evangelicalism? Are you surprised by anything that was included/excluded this year or in the years past? How would you evaluate “theological newsworthiness” if you were attempting such a list of your own?

2017 

10. BENEDICT OPTION – CHRISTIAN CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT DEBATE

9. HOW MUCH DOES GOD CARE ABOUT SMALL TOWNS AND RURAL AREAS?

8. ALT-RIGHT PUSHES FOR MAINSTREAM RECOGNITION & PROVOKES CHURCH REBUKE.

7. DOES ANYONE HEAR OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS?

6. WATCH YOUR LIFE AND SMARTPHONE USAGE CLOSELY.

5. NATURAL DISASTERS PROVOKE BLAME AGAINST EACH OTHER MORE THAN GOD.

4. SEXUAL REVOLUTION MARCHES ON FROM HOMOSEXUALITY TO TRANSGENDERISM.

3. IS IT TIME TO GIVE UP ON THE MULTI-ETHNIC CHURCH?

2. #METOO REVEALS THE EVERYDAY SCANDAL OF SEXUAL ABUSE.

1. REFORMATION’S 500TH ANNIVERSARY HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR REVIVAL TODAY.

2016

10. HIGH-PROFILE ATTRITION REVEALS CRISIS IN PASTORAL VOCATION.

9. GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED—BUT YOU WILL BE (BABYLON BEE LAUNCH)

8. TRINITY DEBATE ERUPTS IN BATTLE OF BLOGS.

7. ASSISTED SUICIDE GROWS IN AVAILABILITY AND POPULARITY.

6. CHRISTIAN EDUCATION WEATHERS THREAT—FOR NOW (GOVERNMENT AID)

​5. WHAT GOOD IS CHURCH AUTHORITY IF YOU CAN’T ENFORCE IT?

4. NEW CULTURE WAR FRONT OPENS IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS (TRANSGENDER ISSUES)

​3. PUBLIC VIOLENCE MAKES VICTIMS OF US ALL (ORLANDO SHOOTING & B.L.M.)

2. POPULAR WOMEN TEACHERS CHALLENGE CHURCH TEACHING. (on LGBT issues)

1. WHY DID DONALD TRUMP WIN?

2015

10. Pastor? Theologian? The Intersection between these complementary callings.

9. Benedict Option gains momentum.

8. Caitlyn Jenner introduces the next step in the sexual revolution.

7. Islamic State beheads 21 Christians from Egypt among other atrocities.

6. Mass murder at historic Charleston church raises questions about forgiveness, identity, history.

5. Planned Parenthood videos reveal the truth underneath the hospital gown.

4. Protest movement over police shootings contributes to widespread campus unrest over race.

3. Pope Francis gets the rock star treatment in U.S. visit amid crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.

2. Terrorist attacks are the new global normal.

1. U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide.

2014 

10. MENTAL ILLNESS PLAGUES CELEBRITIES AND THEIR FAMILIES BUT REMAINS TABOO INSIDE CHURCHES.

9. DIGITAL AGE REVEALS PREVALENCE OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN CHURCH.

8. DEBATE OVER JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION REACHES BREAKING POINT.

7. MARS HILL ‘BRAND’ COLLAPSES.

6. ISIS DEALS FATAL, FINAL BLOW TO CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ.

5. CHRISTIANS SPLIT ON VALUE OF FAITH MOVIES.

4. CONSERVATIVES WIN BIG BATTLE BUT CONTINUE LOSING GROUND ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.

3. GAY MARRIAGE DEBATE MOVES INSIDE EVANGELICAL CHURCHES.

2. DEATHS OF GARNER AND BROWN RE-IGNITE RACIAL TENSIONS.

1. EBOLA DRAWS OUT THE BEST AND WORST OF US

2013

10. DOES IT MATTER WHO SAYS IT IF IT’S GOOD?

9. BLACK AND WHITE, WE’RE CLOSER THAN EVER & JUST AS FAR APART AS ALWAYS.

8. PURITY AND MODESTY PROVOKE BACKLASH IN A SEX-SATURATED CULTURE.

7. SHOULD AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY PRIVILEGE CHRISTIANS?

6. ‘GAY’ CHRISTIANS SPEAK OUT.

5. POPULAR TV FINDS FAITH.

4. CULTURE WARRIORS SHIFT FROM OFFENSE TO DEFENSE.

3. WRATH OF GOD DOES NOT SATISFY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.).

2. STRANGE FIRE BOOK, CONFERENCE FORCE EVANGELICALS TO PICK SIDES.

1. POPE FRANCIS MAKES FAST FRIENDS.

2012

 

 

10. CHRISTIAN ATHLETE SUPERSTARS RISE AND FALL.

9. IS MORMONISM A CULT OR NOT?

8. CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST WEIGH DEMOCRACY AND SECURITY.

7. CAN AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY REVERSE ITS DECLINING INFLUENCE?

6. WE DARE DEFEND OUR RIGHTS.

5. WAR ON WOMEN SUFFERS MAJOR DEFEAT.

4. TRINITARIAN THEOLOGY RESPONDS TO RECENT CHALLENGES.

3. CAN WE BE SAFE?

2. CHRISTIANITY: RELATIONSHIP OR RELIGION?

1. PRESIDENT OBAMA RIDES THE RISING TIDE OF GAY MARRIAGE.

2011

10.) Marriages need help.

9.) ‘Celebrity’ pastors face backlash.

8.) Presbyterian Church in America warns against Muslim-idiom translations.

7.) Harold Camping fails, again and again. (Predicting the end of the world)

6.) Christians in Afghanistan and Iran stare down death sentences for apostasy.

 

 

5.) Tim Tebow comes back.

4.) John Stott dies.

3.) Arab Spring leads to winter of reckoning for Christians in the Middle East.

2.) Osama bin Laden killed by U.S. military.

1.) Rob Bell wins.

2010

10.) Crystal Cathedral Files for Bankruptcy

9.) BioLogos Stirs Debate Over Evolution

8.) Philip Ryken Becomes President of Wheaton College

7.) Liberty Removes Ergun Caner as Seminary President

6.) Matt Chandler Fights Malignant Brain Tumor

5.) Glenn Beck Grabs the Religious Right’s Megaphone

4.) David Platt Pricks the Evangelical Conscience with ‘Radical’

3.) John Piper Takes Leave of Absence

2.) Wright Clarifies Justification Views in ETS Debate

1.) Francis Chan Steps Down from Cornerstone

 

 

 

 

2009 

10. ‘Coming Evangelical Collapse’ Predicted

9. Split Widens Between U.S. Episcopalians and Anglican Communion

8. Bell Shapes Gospel Discussion

7. Rick Warren Prays at Obama Inauguration

6. Adoption Push Gains Steam

5. Manhattan Declaration Prods Culture, Invites Pushback

4. Coral Ridge Hires Tullian Tchividjian, Critics Break Away

3. ELCA Okays Gay Unions, Pastors

2. SBC Seeks a Great Commission Resurgence

1. Both NIV and TNIV Will Be Phased Out

2008 

10. Northwestern College faculty and staff struggle over school’s direction.

9. Roman Catholic bishops revisit inerrancy compromise reached at Vatican II.

8. Evangelical Free Church of America revises its statement of faith.

7. Leading evangelicals issue a “manifesto.”

6. Critics respond to dialogue between evangelicals and Muslims.

5. Peter Enns leaves Westminster Seminary.

4. Conservatives launch Anglican Church of North America.

3. Victory for traditional marriage carries a cost

2. The Shack enthralls readers, angers theologians

1. Publishers make 2008 the “Year of the Study Bible.”