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  1. What makes a college “evangelical” or “fundamentalist?” The dividing lines weren’t always so clear.

    Let’s say you attended Wheaton College, Gordon College, or Biola University. Or perhaps you’re an outsider who just thinks highly of those schools. If so, you might be turned off by a book that groups them together under the label “Fundamentalist U.” Don’t be.

    Adam Laats, professor of education and history at Binghamton University and author of Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education, knows the difference between an evangelical and a fundamentalist. He knows, too, that it can be very hard to tell that difference, especially before the 1970s. Using the example of Wheaton, Gordon, and Biola (along with Moody Bible Institute, Bob Jones University, and Liberty University), Laats attempts to identify the distinct nature of non-denominational, fundamentalist-evangelical higher education in the 20th century. And he succeeds admirably.

    Peculiarities of Definition

    Fundamentalist and evangelical colleges have long grappled with many of the same issues faced by other institutions of higher education: the early 20th-century academic revolution, changing standards of accreditation, a post–World War II boom in enrollment fueled by the GI Bill, the moral upheaval of the turbulent 1960s, and the rise of campus protests.

    But fundamentalist-evangelical higher education has also dealt with a distinct set of challenges: how to train missionaries, how to maintain codes of student conduct in keeping with fundamentalist mores, whether (or how) to remain true to dispensational premillennialism, how to maintain doctrinal purity, and how to quash leftist radicalism in favor of traditional and conservative Americanism. As Laats observes, “[Fundamentalist colleges] expected to do all the...

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  2. A congregation's financial reality should never be ignored, but it should never be in charge.

    Money is in charge of too many of our churches.

    So many good congregations want to do great ministry, but their limited finances cause them to make too many decisions based on what they can or can’t afford, instead of what God is calling them to do.

    It’s a trap that may seem impossible to get out of. But there is hope.

    In today’s post I want to tell you about a decision our church made over two decades ago that has been a great starting point in allowing us to follow God more and money less.

    Here it is.

    Our church will never make a decision about doing a ministry based on what we can or can’t afford. Because if we pencil it out, we’ll never be able to afford it.

    (This is part of an ongoing series, Money and the Small Church.)

    Put God In Charge of Ministry Decisions

    Don’t let money make decisions for your church. Let the mission lead.

    Ask yourself this question: What is God calling our church to do?

    Open a food bank? Be an evangelistic center? Support missions? Plant other churches?

    Then do it!

    You don’t have enough money to do it? Do it anyway, by starting with the parts that don’t require finances.

    • Pray
    • Assemble a team
    • Do research
    • Look for strategic partners
    • Use the currency of time
    • Put a work day on the calendar

    Start small, if you must. But, by all means, start!

    Never give money the power over whether-or-not to do any ministry. Just figure out how to do it in a way that is financially responsible and feasible – what the Bible calls good stewardship.

    Money Should Be One Of Many “How To” Factors

    When our church decided we would never let money be the deciding factor of whether-or-not to do a ministry, that didn’t mean it would be ignored, either.

    Instead, we use it as one...

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  3. Christian men helped me end a violent marriage. Their voices matter now more than ever.

    A few weeks ago, Paige Patterson’s comments on domestic violence went public, setting off a Twitterstorm of condemnation and support. Thousands of Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) women have since called for his resignation. For the many women who were willing to sign their names to the statement, there are dozens of others suffering in silence who will never come forward.

    I know, because I was one of them.

    I was raised as a Baptist pastor’s daughter in a small town in Indiana. I spent most of my youth sitting in the front pew, listening to my dad’s sermons. After graduating high school, I married my high school sweetheart, and together my husband and I continued to be active in my dad’s congregation. From the outside, we were part of a perfect, multi-generational Baptist family. Behind closed doors, however, I suffered physical, emotional and spiritual abuse at the hands of my husband.

    After years of soul-crushing torture, I gained the courage to walk away from my marriage. We had tried multiple rounds of counseling, but the abuse was relentless. After crying out to God for help, I clearly felt him release me from my marriage, so with the loving support of my parents, I filed for divorce.

    Soon after, I was called to a meeting with our church’s deacons, who informed me that I would undergo church discipline for my decision to divorce. One even said, “If you do this, God will never use you.” My ex-husband received no reprimand for the abuse, though he didn’t deny it. By contrast, I eventually had to withdraw my membership and move away, and my father was fired as the church’s pastor for his role in supporting me.

    I would like to believe that my story is an anomaly. But these...

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