Category Archives: Quick Thoughts

Persecution of Christians in America?

The word on the street is we’ll be having some conversation on Faith Line Protestants next month about Christian Privilege. This piece by Ian Harber popped up over at Relevant entitled, “The Myth of the Persecuted American Church.” I thought it would be a good way to get you thinking about some questions: Does Christian privilege exist in America? Does the persecution of Christians exist in America?

Harber writes,

It’s not that Christians are not occasionally persecuted in America. There are instances—such as an incident this summer in which Evangelical Christians were labeled as “extremists” in a Pentagon training session—that we ought to take seriously. However, the type of persecution endured in the United States is far less than anything our brothers and sisters suffer from around the world. In fact, calling Christians in America “persecuted” seems like a disservice to our fellow believers overseas who face jail—and far worse—for their relationship with God.

 

 thoughts?

 

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What makes Evangelicals Different?

I appreciated this piece over at HuffPo by Brett McCracken. He wrties,

Evangelical difference should not be about retreating from or picking battles with the culture, but rather embracing the path of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “the cost of discipleship,” a commitment to living in the footsteps of Christ, even if it means living out of the mainstream of culture.

This is a good reminder for me to consider how I am “set apart” as a Christian while interacting in a relevant way with the world around me. That is why the contributors at Faith Line Protestants are so committed articulating our theology of interfaith cooperation. I do not engage in interfaith cooperation and dialogue so that I can “shed the baggage of my grandmother’s religion,” but rather to (as McCracken writes) “genuinely and passionately follow after Christ, manifesting through their lives something refreshingly different.”

At least that is my hope.

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A Milestone

2013-08-14 08.52.03Not long after launching Faith Line Protestants I hung a bulletin board in my bedroom and outlined spaces for the major projects on which I was working. I then hung post-it notes with short-term and long-term goals for each project.

We’ve recently realized one of my long-term goals that has been hanging for more than two years in the “Faith Line Protestants” section of that board. That’s just one of the reasons I’m excited that Anthony Fatta is joining our contributor rotation on Faith Line Protestants. He’s our fourth new contributor since the re-launch last month, and offers an exciting perspective as an alum of Interfaith Youth Core programs and current Associate Pastor at a United Methodist Church in California.

Take a minute to check out Anthony’s first post to FLP, Mission Trip Potential.

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Chris Stedman on Q Ideas: “Want to talk to Non-Christians?”

Chris Stedman offers some valuable insight from an atheist perspective on Q Ideas. I could probably write an entire blog post about each of his six points. What really struck a chord this morning:

Recently, I participated in an interfaith dialogue with someone who responded to my bristling at evangelizing by saying:
But, Chris, it strikes me that the problem there is with the definition of evangelization. If we think of that word as a synonym of hectoring and finger wagging and a holier than thou attitude, I completely agree with you. But what if evangelization is itself a mutually enriching dialogue in which the promises of the Church (that is, of Christ) are put forward as proposals, as encounters, not as edicts? Then we are taking about the manner, not the fact, of evangelization, aren’t we?

He is absolutely right. This is a distinction that I am hearing articulated more and more often by members of religious communities that see evangelizing as central to their faith—and it is one I welcome with gratitude. Maintaining a general orientation toward encountering diversity with inquiry and empathy, rather than lecturing at it, can facilitate a more productive dialogue. That will require listening from both sides and recognizing we have much to learn from one another. For starters, perhaps we can learn how to talk to, and listen to, one another in a more constructive and friendly manner.

From my perspective, you’ve captured it precisely, Chris. I asked in a recent blog post:

And we have been asking what would happen if we approached our friends who are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Sikhs and Buddhists with the same humility that Jesus modeled. What if there was a way to talk about faith in which we could communicate respectfully and authentically? What if we found ourselves in a situation where we not only talked about compassion, but we also practiced it by serving alongside those we’ve been taught to try to convert, asking questions, and sharing stories?

Would it water-down our message? Or would it strengthen it?

For me, as an evangelical, this is the promise of interfaith engagement. We don’t need to not evangelize to get along. instead we need to rethink evangelism. And when you really look at the Christian tradition of evangelism and you ask what is effective, what really communicates the message we Christians want to get across… The gospel I know can’t be communicated by hectoring and finger wagging.

If we evangelicals really step back and look at the way Jesus did things, I think we can identify three themes: service, storytelling and relationships. Those also happen to be the core principles of the interfaith movement. So if that’s how Jesus communicated the gospel, isn’t that how Christians should also? For me it’s a no-brainer.

Read Chris’s whole piece at Q Ideas: http://www.qideas.org/blog/can-christians-and-atheists-be-friends-this-atheists-thinks-so.aspx

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6 Evangelicals You Should Know

Tom Krattenmaker of the Oregan Faith Report introduces us to 6 Evangelicals who are leading the way into a new generation of evangelicalism. These leaders

Embody aspects of the change under way in evangelical America, and whose work is clearing out a larger space for the common good

Read about these evangelical leaders HERE. What do you think? Is anyone missing?

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More on the Murfreesboro Mosque

Well, more has transpired in the ongoing ordeal for a Muslim community in Murfreesboro, TN to build a mosque. I wrote on this story last year when it first began to get widespread news coverage in the wake of the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy and comments made by then (then) Republican presidential nominee Herman Cain. Sadly, it seems things have not improved for Murfreesboro Muslims.

Being a Tennessean myself, I find this whole thing very disappointing. I’m on the lookout for any stories of positive involvement by local church groups– the Tennessee I know is better than this, and I’m sure stories of compassion and advocacy have to be out there. But, you know, the media being what it is means we might never hear those stories.

The trouble faced by Islamic community in Murfreesboro strikes me as terribly un-American. If Christians wish to continue trumpeting religious freedom as something worth preserving, they should also stand up for the religious liberties of those of other faiths as well.

If you guys know of any stories where local churches/the local Christian community has rallied to aid their Muslim neighbors, please shoot me an email at cameron@faithlineprotestants.org! I’d love to hear them!

-C.

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Finally! I’m out of the thesis-cave.

For the past few months, my time has been engulfed by work, wedding planning, and thesis writing. But I am quite pleased to say that, though the wedding planning is still ongoing, the thesis is NOT. I have submitted it to the department for review, and can now breathe easy(er) and maybe–just maybe–get a bit of sleep.

What will I do with this new free time, you might ask? Do the things I love, of course. And that means more writing about the church, and developing new media content with Greg to provide even more resources on the intersection of evangelism and interfaith cooperation.

With the ICIC just behind us, there’s plenty to talk about! I look forward to getting back on top of things and stepping up to help poor Greg out, who has diligently maintained this site in my absence despite his own remarkably full schedule. (Sorry Greg!)

You will hear from me again soon…

-C.

 

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Quick thoughts after ICIC12

Cameron and I just finished with a long and exhausting weekend organizing and participating in the Illinois Conference on Interfaith Collaboration. I really enjoyed the chance to chat with Jim Wallis of Sojourners on Friday night, run another interfaith meal packaging event, see Chris Stedman (although meal-packaging clean-up kept me from attending his talk), and hear from Valarie Kaur this morning. All had very different backgrounds and perspectives but stimulated a lot of great conversation. We’ll follow-up in the coming days with some reflects and content from ICIC12.

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