Chaos and Grace in the Slums of the Earth

I read the September cover story with great interest. I am seeing points of Light injected into the deep darkness of cities and the urban core. However, feeding programs and educational assistance are not the full gospel. I pray that while the New Friars are living holistically with the people, they are also preaching repentance and faith.

Nathan Swenson
CT online comment

I enjoyed reading the article written by Kent Annan, who extolled the virtues of the New Friars. I beg to differ with one of his statements that there are only about 200 missionaries in this network. There is a much larger group outside the New Friars, such as those serving with New Tribes Mission, who live and minister with great financial sacrifice. And there are probably thousands of such impoverished servants of the Lord—who one day will be richly rewarded!

David M. Denlinger
Hutchinson, Kansas

Under Discussion

The example of pastor Jim Standridge berating individual church attendees during a sermon is such an extreme case of pastors rebuking from the pulpit it is hardly worth attention. (And it wouldn't have any if not for YouTube.)

A discussion of cases that are closer to the boundaries of how church leaders commonly deal with individual sin would have been more useful.

David Randall
CT online comment

God's Word in Two Words

I love Tullian Tchividjian's way of incorporating his love for family in his writing—beautiful. But it seems he is driving down a theological dead-end road. A view that sums up the Scripture in ways that ignore New Testament categories isn't all that helpful. The reformational fathers were asking questions of the biblical text that the authors of Scripture weren't asking. That seems anachronistic at best. Paul doesn't line up Scripture into law and gospel—Luther does that. Paul uses the categories of law and promise in Galatians 3. He also states that the fulfillment of that promise is the coming of Holy Spirit. The law is really irrelevant—it is good, but its purpose has been fulfilled. The exile is ended, the King sits on the throne. Jesus is King—that's the gospel! When the churches were in trouble, John didn't write a treaty on gospel and law. He told them that those with ears to hear should listen (Rev. 2:7). We must learn to hear the Holy Spirit.

Gary Archibeck
CT online comment

Christ in the Capital of the World

Very nice article. I found it encouraging that the capital of the world has people within it that are attempting to turn the culture there into something besides the stereotypes a lot of us have concerning NYC. Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Paul eventually made their way into the major cities, spreading the gospel all over the Roman Empire. NYC (or, in my view, the Rome of today) has large sway not only in the United States but all over the world. The UN, major banks, and many centers of the world emanate from New York. The gospel could be reinvigorated from NYC in the same way that the Holy Spirit started spreading the Good News from Jerusalem on Pentecost.

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Joshua Scranton
CT online comment

Why We Need Small Towns

As a pastor serving in rural communities for the past 10 years, I have witnessed firsthand the "ecclesial desert" that Jake Meador described. The lack of pastoral leadership, uncommitted pastors, and denominational indifference that Meador notes as plaguing small town churches are all too real.

Thankfully, this is not the whole story. In small communities all over rural America, there are vibrant churches where the gospel is preached by faithful pastors committed to their communities. Organizations such as the Rural Home Missionary Association and Village Missions are working in small communities to keep the small town church alive and thriving. And not every denomination has turned its back on rural America, either.

I suggest that you take a second look at what is happening in the rural church. Here in our corner of western Nebraska, you would find many positive things. I encourage you to consider an article that presents not just the "ecclesial desert" but the flourishing rural church as well.

Chris Costrini
Venango, Nebraska

Prodigal Love

What a beautiful, thought-provoking, kick-in-the-heart article from Karen Swallow Prior.

I am a prodigal who took more than 20 years to return. My own walk through those absolutely turbulent years can only be described as descending to hell, selecting a seat, and making myself at home. I knew full well the emotional turmoil I caused my family. Those memories are almost more that I can bear. Stranger and more painful now is watching my own father, sisters, and brother walk away from their faith. I pray for their return and for the love, grace, and mercy of Christ to lavish upon them.

CT online comment

CT did a fine job treating a neglected—or, perhaps avoided—topic. The church has a spotty history of dealing with those who abandon it, as well as those who come slinking back.

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Glen A Land
CT online comment

Hungry for Outrage

Katelyn Beaty's editorial makes a very good point. Modern media trade on outrage—the more outrage they can generate, the more they can sell. The search is on to tell us why "we" are better than "them," and it's done in a way to reinforce our natural inclinations to consider "us" superior to "them." The result is self-perpetuating outrage.

The gospel has a powerful message in this milieu: that whatever the differences, they lose their importance in the light of the Crucified and Risen One. Christians, fewer pitchforks, please.

Martin Jacobs
CT online comment

Village Green

As the attorney who handled the Encinitas (Sedlock v. Baird) yoga trial for the plaintiffs, I would like to clear up some confusion. Although the judge found that apparently enough religion had been sanitized from the program, the judge ruled that yoga is religious. This finding was based on the consensus of religious studies scholars that yoga is "pervasively religious," which was brought to the court's attention by our eminent religious studies expert witness Candy Gunther Brown [see p. 73 for an interview with Brown]. This truth may surprise Christians who falsely believe that they can "do yoga" with their body, and "think about Jesus," without any spiritual implications.

This specious mind-body separation is not based on Judeo-Christian biblical theology about the nature of man but is rather based on false dualism. We communicate what we value, believe, and worship not only by our thoughts and words but also by our bodies. Yoga poses represent prayers, meditations, and worship of pagan Hindu deities. For a Christian, practicing yoga is like bowing down to a golden calf and saying that it is not idolatrous because she is thinking about Jehovah.

There is no holy yoga. If Christian teacher-initiated prayers are not permitted in public schools, neither should Hindu indoctrination occur in the form of yoga.

Dean Broyles
President, National Center for Law and Policy
CT online comment

Summit in the Spirit

Regarding Everett Worthington's testimony: Forgiveness is something I struggle with too, especially the latter forgiveness you mention: forgiving oneself. Christ's forgiveness is such an amazing thing—forgiveness from our past, present, and future! A love that surpasses all understanding! It's just so hard for me to understand sometimes. I'm glad Worthington has found that and has been able to share it with others.

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Brianna Hein
CT online comment


In Spotlight's "The Wars Over Christian Beards," Alan Robertson is Phil Robertson's beardless son.

Net Gain
Responses from the Web.

"Christianity Today just keeps nailing it on their articles. No, seriously."
Johnny Wakefield ‏@johnnywakefield on "Can NoiseTrade's Free Downloads Still Save Music?" by Wes Jakacki.

"Gender roles controversy? Child's play compared to suggesting for @CTmagazine that football is too violent."
Owen Strachan ‏@ostrachan, on his CT op-ed "Our Shaken Faith in Football."

"Encouraged by this piece on seeking the shalom of #Honduras."
Tim Høiland ‏@tjhoiland on "The Hope Dealers," by Allison J. Althoff.

"Absolutely delighting in and cheering for your article in Christianity Today this month, @ndwilsonmutters."
Morgan Day Cecil ‏@MorganDayCecil on N. D. Wilson's first column.

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