Several articles in the May issue of CT give me hope for the Good News for parts of the evangelical church in the United States. I think you at CT have been a positive influence in the American church and beyond over the decades. From my perspective, CT is a beacon of hope and light.
Kudos to Martyn Wendell Jones for stepping out of his comfort zone to see for himself the goings-on at Bethel Church in Redding, California. The criticisms leveled against the excesses of the church are all too often made by individuals who have never visited it. While Jones does not ultimately give the reader a definitive thumbs up or down, preferring to label Bethel a “parallax phenomenon,” I believe his crossing of the aisle in an effort to see if these things are true must be pleasing in God’s eyes.
Ephesians 4 makes clear that God intends for us to “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). Yet these things cannot happen without Christians reaching out to brothers and sisters in Christ who have different views and practices. Iron will never sharpen iron if the two pieces never connect.
I read with great interest Martyn Wendell Jones’s cover story, “Kingdom Come in California?” It exposes the need for evangelicals to understand the difference between God-shaped “revival” and man-produced “revivalism.”
Gary D. Nock
I appreciate Jones’s journey to Bethel and his subsequent story—and I’m grateful for Mark Galli’s thoughtful sidebar. But both (I believe) fail to address the most important theological questions—as well as some of the ethical and practical issues that go with them. . . . There are always plenty of genuine believers in the whirl of fascinating movements like Bethel’s, but what will the fruit look like as the seasons turn and the vines shoot out?
Thanks to @martynwendell for an appreciative yet not uncritical reflection on Bethel Church in the new @CTmagazine.
As a charismatic, I appreciate your balanced approach to Bethel. It is by no means perfect, but they do attempt to seek the kingdom of God, and yes, this does create a culture of risk. Risk doesn’t always provide results, but Bethelites’ faith is inspiring. There are extremes and issues, and I agree that the gospel of salvation through repentance should be preached more, but it is clear that the focus on “revival” manifests itself powerfully. People’s lives are being changed through Bethel, and it is an exciting place to observe as they address the challenges that come with being radically open to the Holy Spirit! Don’t have a knee-jerk reaction until you have observed it with your own eyes.
Drake Galbraith Coleman
As a charismatic, this outside view really helps me see the shortcomings of the movement and how to act accordingly. Thank you.
“[I]f their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38–39).
Thousand Oaks, CA
Regarding Katelyn Beaty’s Editor’s Note, I’ve wrestled with her premise that CT allows readers to form their own opinions. “We want to equip our readers to live responsibly and freely. . . . But many times it will mean presenting readers with the facts, then letting them discern.” I appreciate her noble intent, yet simultaneously cringe when I look at the widespread Bible illiteracy of American Christianity. It is scary and sad—scary, because it appears the majority of Bible believers don’t understand even basic doctrines and beliefs. Sad, because of the dismal state of discipleship in North America. While I firmly believe people need to think for themselves, I’m inclined to encourage CT to take a biblically solid stance for or against an issue. Spiritually mature believers can biblically discern. The rest can at least receive good teaching.
Unfortunately, Matthew Loftus overlooked aspects of the biopharmaceutical sector that enable it to make enormous contributions to the health and well-being of lower-income individuals, both in the United States and overseas. Over the past decade, biopharmaceutical companies have provided more than $9.2 billion in direct health care in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Also, since 2005, our Partnership for Prescription Assistance has helped nearly 9.5 million patients who face difficulty affording their medicines due to lack of insurance.
Additionally, at the end of each medicine’s life cycle, the drug will lose patent protection and market exclusivity, and cheap, effective generic versions are quickly made available. In fact, 90 percent of all scripts in the United States are for generics. No other facet of our health care system offers this built-in guarantee of dramatic cost reductions.
Vice President, Policy & Research PhRMA
Amy Julia Becker makes good points. However, it’s very easy for her now with young children. They go wherever Mom and Dad go. As kids [become] teenagers, peer relationships become much more important, and a youth group of two or three kids is tough.
I have had similar experiences in very small churches. It does not matter the size. What matters is a heart for God.
When will we see the interview with @NaghmehAbedini?
Naghmeh did not respond to our requests to interview her, but we are continuing to follow her story and reach out.
I found this article interesting and vexing. I’m a family therapist, and while I can fully appreciate the abandonment that Saeed Abedini feels, his tale of woe is entirely typical of someone who has suffered much in a family and culture of fear and intimidation, which he likely replicated in his marriage. We all tend to wound others as we have been wounded (we replicate our pain). So his insistence that all the accusations are categorically false seems generated more by an internal (wishful thinking) reality, not an external (verifiable) reality.
Nonetheless, you did a good job of allowing him to tell his side of the story. The “he said/she said” dynamic is such a system of landmines, but I did wonder about his wife’s side of things. I wish Abedini every healing—relational, spiritual, and emotional. I fear that if he goes careening off on some wave of national revival, that he will miss (and perhaps avoid) the more important deep waters of his inner healing and restoration.
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Philosopher Michael Rota agreed with Blaise Pascal that even if Christianity is false, a person will likely be better off believing in Jesus, quoting Pascal’s reasoning: the believer will be “faithful, honestw, humble, grateful, doing good, a sincere and true friend.” Pascal asked the rhetorical question of “what harm [would] come” to a person who believed in God and lived such a good, moral life. Ask a persecuted Christian. Would he say that he is better off believing in God and living a moral life if the God he believes in is not God at all?
I recommend this article to all those in ministry.
It’s encouraging to know that when we’re beaten down and feel weak, God can still work effectively through us. When others sin or commit acts of evil against us, this was never intended by God. In my counseling, I never told a believer (or unbeliever) afflicted by slander, an employer’s harshness, a spouse’s oppression, or adultery that “God intended for this to happen to keep you weak and humble.” Instead, I always stressed that “this grieved and angered him more than you know.”
D. L. Mayfield’s review was not representative of [Matthew Desmond’s] book Evicted. The landlords’ problems with tenants were well documented in Evicted, but there is no mention of them in the review. Some low-income tenants lie, saying anything to keep from paying rent. I have heard promises upon promises and then seen the renter buying a car, new clothes, joining a gym, and so on. As a landlord, the money I do not receive on income-generating property is money I do not have for my own needs. Other renters will do anything to keep my property in good condition and pay me because they like and appreciate the value I give them. I agree that the system may be broken, but there’s a mentality that must be changed for any new system to work.
Thank you [Francine Rivers] for your testimony! As a Christian, I look for Christian fiction in addition to other Christian writings. I found your books to be so interesting and well-written, in addition to being clean and refreshing.
I was addicted [to romance novels] too, in my 20s, and [God] enabled me to let go of them for his glory. Some of us should.
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