Christianity Today Hot Topics

ChristianityToday.com's latest issues impacting your faith.
  1. Meet the conservative Baptists who don’t like Billy Graham.

    On Sunday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a four-part series on more than 400 allegations of sexual misconduct affiliated with the independent fundamental Baptist movement. The scope of their reporting spanned nearly 1,000 churches and organizations across 40 states and Canada. The report noted:

    One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.

    But what is the independent fundamental Baptist movement?

    Historically it has meant a firm belief in the “fundamental doctrines, that is to say, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith” and “an insistence that you should only extend Christian fellowship to people who profess to believe the gospel.” said Kevin Bauder, a research professor of systematic theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of a two-part volume on Baptist fundamentalism.

    But that’s not necessarily what people hear, Bauder acknowledges.

    “The term ‘fundamentalist’ has sort of been co-opted by Martin Marty’s Fundamentalism project, where he made it a sociological designation for any extreme group,” said Bauder. “None of us are really happy with that label these days, because of the connotations it carries now.”

    (Perhaps one way to see it could be as the inverse of historian George Marsden’s remark: “An evangelical is someone who likes Billy Graham.”)

    Bauder joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the history of fundamentalism, why...

    Continue reading...

  2. Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

    This series is an expanded version of my talk from the GC2 Summit, December 13, 2018. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

    Jesus schooled the world on how to understand and exert power.

    Rather than wielding it through a sword, a harsh tongue or a prestigious position of authority, Jesus exerted power through two particular images: a lowly servant washing the feet of guests and a suffering sinner hanging on a cross. What’s amazing about these two images depicted by Jesus is that He had no business doing either. He was God incarnate. He created the cosmos. He was the sinless Son of God.

    If anything, Jesus should have been walking around demanding people bow down and worship him. But that’s not how Jesus acted. Rather, Jesus exerted power through service and sacrifice. In short, he exerted power not to demandsomething frompeople but to dosomething forpeople. Therefore, Jesus sets the trajectory for how believers—especially pastors and church leaders—understand and exert power.

    In Part 2 of this series, we saw that the power of the Fall calls for extraordinary discernment. But Jesus teaches us at least two more ways to guard against the misuse and abuse of power.

    Recognize the Challenge of Power and Our Need for an Extraordinary Shepherd

    Power is a challenge.

    In every environment, regardless of the situation, power is a significant responsibility. Pastors often don't recognize the extent of their power and the danger of that power going awry. Religious structures often have less accountability for the people in power, and people are often not even aware of the pastor's power in their lives and in the lives of others.

    Scripture addresses these concepts. We see descriptions of how pastors are to lead in places...

    Continue reading...