Category Archives: Commentary

Never too late

Listen to a good news story.

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Are Jehovah’s Witnesses followers of Christ

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They give us hope and the winner ( s ) is

The world needs hope. Which is why I’m glad WORLD Magazine has announced the winner of its Hope Awards!

During the summer, I told you about the finalists for WORLD Magazine’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion—Christian organizations that make a positive difference in their communities without receiving government funds. We now have a winner, so let’s end the suspense—the envelope, please! And the winner is … all of us!

Well, actually, after tallying the record number of votes from readers, WORLD selected Delta Streets Academy in Greenwood, Mississippi. DSA, which began just five years ago, has 55 students, all black and all male, in grades 7 through 11. The school aims “to equip the young men who walk through our doors daily with the gospel of Christ, and the skills needed to live a life that honors God.”

In 2008, Thomas McMillin Howard, 32, known as T. Mac, moved to the Mississippi Delta and taught math at the local public high school. T Mac found the students floundering academically. A third were dropping out; the ones who remained treated their school responsibilities as a joke. Eventually, he decided the at-risk young men needed a disciplined approach grounded in the Christian faith. So in 2012, T Mac left the public school and opened Delta Streets Academy, which began as an after-school and summer program for young men from at-risk neighborhoods.

The discipline is obvious. According to WORLD, “[Students] must tuck in their shirts, complete homework, and act respectfully toward adults and each other. They have a mandatory study hall period during the day and access to tutors after hours. And DSA is reluctantly willing to lose students who refuse discipline.”

The Christian element is more subtle, but no less real. DSA, which for now is housed in the downtown First Baptist Church, seeks to “weave the Gospel of Jesus Christ into all areas of the school believing that glorifying God and enjoying Him forever is the foundation upon which all else is built.” Imagine that.

A minister from another Greenwood church tells The Christian Science Monitor that T Mac wants white churches and civic groups to help heal the community’s racial tensions “in a society still recovering from segregation…. He’s a window into a world that many [white] Christians in Greenwood didn’t know existed.”

Says Marvin Olasky, the editor-in-chief of the WORLD News Group, “I’ve visited DSA twice and been hugely impressed by the way this Christian school educates African-American young men intellectually and spiritually. It’s our 100th national or regional winner over the past 12 years, so Christian compassion is alive and well.”

And that is just the tip of the compassion iceberg, according to journalist Warren Cole Smith. “Those of us involved in ministry or in our local churches know that if the great work of Christian ministries and local churches went away, there would be a giant sucking sound in civil society,” Warren says. “However, most churches and Christian ministries do their work quietly, with little fanfare, so—according to a Pew study—many Americans don’t understand that . . . Christians are more generous with both time and money than their secular neighbors, and that without this generosity, America would be in deep trouble.”

But not if the other Hope Awards regional winners—and countless other organizations offering compassionate ministry—have anything to say about it. These are Navajo Ministries in New Mexico, Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Montana, Village of Hope in Zambia, and New Life Home in New Hampshire.

 

In their great book, Restoring All Things, my friends Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet ask a great question: “What is good in our culture that we can promote, protect, and celebrate?” It’s safe to say that WORLD’s Hope Awards are a small but significant answer—and we are all winners because of them

Christianity Today made a big mistake in giving pro death soul a platform

I’ll see your quote and raise you two. For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

I’m surprised, to put it mildly, that Christianity Today would choose to run an opinion piece on health care by Virginia Senator and former Clinton running mate Tim Kaine.

In the article, entitled “We Need All Parts of the Body to Fix Health Care,” Kaine quotes Scripture at us twice, first 1 Corinthians 12, strangely redirecting Paul’s teaching about the church and applying it to Congress.

Even worse, Senator Kaine then cites Matthew 25, about “the least of these.” Well, perhaps Senator Kaine could expand his definition of “the least of these” to include the unborn? Kaine identifies as a Roman Catholic, but has a 100 percent Planned Parenthood voting record in the Senate—100 percent.

I can’t imagine CT would share their platform with someone so morally compromised on other issues. So why the exception for, of all things, abortion?

Look, Senator, here are two other Scripture passages: Matthew 19: “Let the little children come to me;” and Proverbs 6, “God hates hands that shed innocent blood.”

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How the mormons view Jesus compared to what the Bible teaches

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Either we go to war or we do nothing, but there might be some other things we can do

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BreakPoint: The Dogma of Sens. Feinstein and Franken

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On May 8, 2017, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to a seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

By any reasonable measure, Barrett is beyond qualified. After graduating with highest honors from Notre Dame Law School, she clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court. And a few years later, she returned to Notre Dame. There, she “teaches and researches in the areas of federal courts, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation.”

She is exactly the kind of person you want serving on the Court of Appeals, if we lived in more reasonable times.

As her Notre Dame affiliation suggests, Barrett is a Catholic, which wouldn’t be an issue if she were the kind of Catholic whose faith is so private, as the old joke goes, that she wouldn’t impose it on herself.

But she’s the kind of Catholic who lives as if her faith is actually true.

At her confirmation hearings, Senator Diane Feinstein, channeling Darth Vader in Star Wars, told Barrett that “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” An example of what Feinstein considers “loudly living dogma” is Barrett’s address to the Law School’s 2006 graduating class.

Barrett said that “Your legal career is but a means to an end, and . . . that end is building the kingdom of God. . . . [I]f you can keep in mind that your fundamental purpose in life is not to be a lawyer, but to know, love, and serve God, you truly will be a different kind of lawyer.”

Feinstein and other Democratic senators also pointed to a 1998 article on the death penalty, which the Catholic Church opposes in all but a few, highly improbable, instances. Barrett wrote that “Judges cannot—nor should they try to—align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church’s standard. Perhaps their good example will have some effect.”

What Barrett had in mind was recusal, which is done to insure impartiality. But to hear Feinstein and others discuss it, you would have thought that Barrett was talking about an auto-da-fé, the burning of heretics.

But by far the most ridiculous moment came when senator Al Franken compared Barrett’s speaking before the Alliance Defending Freedom to giving a speech to Pol Pot, the genocidal Cambodian dictator. I am not making this up.

Coming on the heels of Bernie Sanders’ mistreatment of Russell Vought, a Wheaton College grad, over his belief that Jesus is the only way to the Father, it’s clear that some Democrats seem intent on imposing a de facto religious test for government office, notwithstanding the Constitution’s explicit prohibition of such a test.

Of course, they deny they’re doing any such thing. Instead, in the case of Barrett, they’re recycling one of the oldest prejudices in American life: “The notion that Catholics are so beholden to Rome as to be incapable of rendering independent judgment in public office.”

The modern version, as the late Richard John Neuhaus used to say, goes “the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic,” someone who doesn’t live as if his faith were actually true.

As Russell Vought learned, the same is also true for Evangelicals. For some people, even the gentlest, most winsome faith is simply beyond the pale.

Evangelicals support of Trump is a matter of self- defense

Why the difference, when few fervent Christians viewed Trump as a paragon of virtue, or a person of deep faith?
The answer involves pervasive fear about threats to religious liberty—with people of faith alarmed at attacks on individuals, businesses and even religious organizations that espouse politically incorrect views on same sex marriage, abortion, or public prayer. Unless liberals begin standing up for religious liberty and freedom of conscience, and stop treating religious believers as the enemy, people of faith will continue to swing elections to the GOP as a matter of self-defense.
( Read, or listen to the rest of this commentary right here.)

In fact, President Trump did a favor to every DACA kid

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Look up not all news is bad

It’s been a summer of rough news for America. Racism, riots, and political violence. Communities on the Gulf Coast continue wading through the devastation of hurricane Harvey, and now another storm is bearing down on Florida. We have plenty of reasons to be praying and doing all we can to alleviate suffering. There’s cause for grief about the news—but not for pessimism.

Writing at The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman suggests that despite a dragging civil war in Syria, heart-rending photos of drowned refugees, North Korea’s nuclear saber-rattling, disasters, terrorist attacks, and racial violence, the world is objectively better now than it’s ever been.

Hard to believe? Well, here are the facts: Swedish historian Mark Norberg breaks down global indicators of human flourishing into nine categories: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the state of the environment, literacy, freedom, equality, and the conditions of childhood. And in nearly all of these categories, we’ve seen vast improvement in my lifetime.

Despite the fact that nine out of ten Americans say worldwide poverty is holding steady or worsening, the percentage of people on this planet who live on less than two dollars a day—what the United Nation’s defines as “extreme poverty”—has fallen below ten percent, which is the lowest it’s ever been.

The scourge of child mortality is also at a record low. Fifty percent fewer children under five die today than did thirty years ago.

Worldwide, 300,000 more people gain access to electricity every day. In 1900, global life expectancy was just 31 years. Today, it’s an impressive 71 years. And violent crime rates in the United States are the lowest they’ve been in half a century.

Nicholas Kristof wasn’t too far afield when he called 2016 “the best year in the history of humanity.” This year may see even more progress.

So why do these cheery pronouncements strike us as inaccurate—even outrageous? Why—according to a recent poll by YouGov—do a vanishingly small six percent of Americans think the world as a whole is becoming a better place?

Burkeman lays much of the blame on the press. Thanks to a 24-hour news cycle that actively seeks out and overplays the worst stories, our perception of the world is skewed. “We are not merely ignorant of the facts,” he writes. “We are actively convinced of depressing ‘facts’ that aren’t true.” And no wonder! It’s hard to sell papers and get Web traffic with good news. No one reports when a plane takes off. They only report when they crash.

But a great deal of the blame for our unjustifiably gloomy view of the world also falls on our shoulders. Quite simply, we often enjoy being angry about the state of the world, especially when it allows us to blame someone else. We are addicted to news-induced anger.

That’s why it’s so important—while acknowledging the desperate evil and suffering around us—to appreciate the good news, the progress, and the things we have to celebrate. After all, how can we truly comprehend what’s wrong with the world if we don’t recognize when something is going right?

War, famine, disease, and hatred should all remind us that God’s world, which He created and pronounced “very good,” is broken, and it’s our fault. But here’s the real comfort: It’s still—as the hymn says—our Father’s world. Let us therefore never forget that “though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the ruler yet.”

As Christians, we know where history is headed, and we know how the story ends—with the redemption and restoration of all things. We who have the good news should be the first to recognize all good news, not in spite of, but in the midst of the bad