Why Chile’s Churches Are Under Attack as Pope Francis Visits

Evangelical and Catholic churches targeted by radical members of a largely Christian indigenous group.

Today vandals in Santiago, Chile, firebombed three Catholic churches just ahead of Pope Francis’s scheduled visit to the South American nation on Monday.

Notes left at the scene warned that “Pope Francis, the next bomb will be in your robe,” and indicated members of the Mapuche indigenous group were responsible.

The Mapuche originate about seven hours south of the capital city, where radical members have burned down 27 Catholic and evangelical churches in the past three years.

Responsibility for the attacks is claimed by an extremist group called Weichan Auka Mapu. It leaves behind messages with demands, such as the release of Mapuche prisoners or the return of Mapuche land which it says was taken by the Chilean government in the 19th century.

A high percentage of Mapuches now identify as Christian: 55 percent are Catholic, and 32 percent are Protestant. But for others, Christians are still seen as invaders complicit in the government’s actions.

Of the 20 churches burned down between 2015 and 2016, 12 were Catholic and 8 were Protestant. In 2017, a further 7 have been torched. These churches also served as schools, meeting places, and shelters for those fleeing natural disasters. Many belonged to the poorest sectors of the poorest region in Chile, and were attended by Mapuches themselves.

The leader of an Assemblies of God church burned down in July recalled the moment his attractive wooden church—built 15 years ago using money raised by church members—was reduced to ashes.

Juan Mella, who is also head of the local pastors’ council, said the event demonstrated an intolerance among the Mapuches.

“Each human being can have their own views with regard to faith, spirituality,” he …

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Why We Need to Talk about Trump’s Haiti Remarks

Christians can expand their compassion by looking at the deeper story of development and immigration.

Yesterday in a meeting about immigration reform, President Donald Trump questioned why he should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador, and nations in Africa, instead of places like Norway.

Even in the constant onslaught of news and tweets, this particular presidential remark contains several issues that are important for us to consider as Christians.

For 15 years I’ve lived in or traveled to Haiti as a development worker. On the eighth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake and in the midst of the ongoing congressional debate over immigration reform, here are six important points about the president’s comment:

1. He is naming the fact that life is hard in these countries.

Daily life in Haiti is for many people a struggle to survive—even without the crises of violence, political upheaval, earthquakes, hurricanes, and mudslides. To add some specifics, recently a detailed report came out on an alleged massacre by Haitian police officers near an Evangelical Bible School that I’ve visited many times. On this earthquake anniversary, I’m thinking about friends like the motorcycle taxi driver I’ve ridden with hundreds of times. He lost siblings and dozens in his church who were crushed when the building collapsed during a prayer service.

In Haiti, over 200,000 children are trapped in forced servitude, about a third of women report incidents of domestic violence, and families struggle to find good options for education. Yes, life is hard. Though the president put it in a crass way, we can pause to ensure we haven’t become numb to suffering of our brothers and sisters.

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What Christians in the US Can Learn from Immigrant Pastors

For those who met Christ elsewhere, Americanized Christianity can look a bit strange.

According to an African proverb, “He who never travels thinks mom is the only cook.” That’s not a putdown of mom’s cooking, just an acknowledgement that there are lots of things you’ll never know if you don’t venture away from home.

Likewise, Christians who never listen to those from other parts of the world can assume the only way to practice the faith is the way you were taught and have gotten used to. That’s living on mom’s cooking.

Christians in the United States can learn a lot from believers from other parts of the world, including how unusual certain aspects of Americanized Christianity are. I interviewed pastors currently ministering in the United States who were raised and came to faith in another country. I wanted to learn what they saw and experienced of Christianity in the United States that was distinct from their country of origin. Through their eyes I saw many things about my homegrown Christian faith that I’d never noticed before.

First Impressions

“What was the first thing you noticed that was different from your home country,” I asked.

Wilmer Ramírez, director of Hispanic Initiatives at Denver Seminary, moved to Boston after pastoring for nine years in Guatemala. He quickly realized churches spoke a different language, not just English instead of Spanish, but a different set of assumptions.

“The first service I attended,” Ramírez recalls, “the pastor was announcing upcoming events, and he said, ‘Be sure to come. You’ll have a blast!’ I thought, I never heard that in Guatemala! Almost every event was presented in a similar way, highlighting how much fun it would be, not how you’d find purpose …

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Moody Bible President and COO Both Resign, Provost Retires

Board decides “it is time for a new season of leadership.”

Amid “widespread concerns over the direction” of Moody Bible Institute (MBI), the historic Chicago school announced today that President J. Paul Nyquist and Chief Operating Officer Steve Mogck have resigned, while Provost Junias Venugopal has retired.

“Let there be no mistake that the Board of Trustees holds these three men in high regard for their ethical, moral, and spiritual leadership,” stated Randy Fairfax, chair of the board of trustees. “They are godly, honorable men to whom we entrust to the Lord and offer our deep gratitude for their years of faithful service to Christ and to Moody.

“However, we are unanimous in our decision that it is time for a new season of leadership. I ask that you be in prayer for them and their families.”

Nyquist took the helm of Moody in 2009, after serving as president and CEO of Avant Ministries, a church planting missions agency based in Kansas City, and pastoring churches in Iowa and Nebraska.

Mogck had served as COO and executive vice president since 2012. In recent years, he was involved in efforts to lease certain Moody properties and adjust zoning for campus buildings. Prior to Moody, he was an executive and attorney for Carlson Hotels.

The board has appointed Greg Thornton, senior vice president of media, as interim president, and board member Mark Wagner, former president of Walgreens, as interim COO. John Jelinek, vice president and seminary dean, is now interim provost.

The news was announced in an email sent to the Moody community Wednesday evening, following a special meeting of the board of trustees.

“Understandably, there are many questions at this time,” stated Fairfax. “Please know that we are working diligently through …

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Swipe Right for Jesus

How Tinder helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.

In 2016 and 2017, when the term “evangelical” was flung from putrid trenches on television news networks and Twitter, I ducked. By “ducked,” I mean that dropped the word “evangelical” from my vocabulary in every social setting. Although my theological convictions were still solidly evangelical, as a white, female seminarian at Yale, the evangelical label itself had come to carry connotations that made me uncomfortable.

However, a dating app of questionable reputation—Tinder—helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.

I worked for a startup a few summers ago and, as part of my job, researched how like-minded strangers connect over digital platforms. Thinking that I’d kill two birds with one stone, I downloaded every free dating app populated by straight men in New Haven, Connecticut. What could be better than first-person experience? Maybe I could teach myself app design and meet my husband.

I also saw my foray into the digital dating world as a healthy rebuff of the evangelical purity culture that marked my adolescent years. I figured this was my chance to learn how to date—connecting in a context where you don’t need to guess if the other person might be hoping for more than friendship.

Online, I met plenty of the nice Christian guys I used to write about in journals at church camp. I also met lots of other men, too—ones that fell far outside the parameters of someone I would ever want to date.

To screen my potential suitors, I filtered nothing spiritual out of my answers to get-to-know-you questions, which produced fascinating results. I thought words like “Jesus,” “Christian,” and “church” would drop like severed …

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Cover Story: Lord of the Night

In God there is no darkness, but in the darkness of the South Pole I found God everywhere.

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits upon two miles of glacial ice at the bottom of the world. It is one of the remotest places on the planet, more than 800 miles from the nearest human beings.

A small group of people gathers here to support scientific research done by the United States Antarctic Program. America has had a presence at the South Pole since 1956, and today scientists take advantage of its unique environment and geography to study things like astronomy, neutrinos, seismology, and the climate in ways impossible anywhere else. Researchers depend on more than a few support staff for their work. So during the summer, when the sun shines on the South Pole for days on end, the population can soar to over 150 people. It’s a teeming metropolis compared to the fewer than 50 who hunker down in the long, sunless winter months.

I’m one of them, commissioned as a missionary to the others.

There are no permanent residents of Antarctica. People here live and work temporarily on one of the almost 50 research stations—plus summer-only research camps—representing more than 30 countries (the United States boasts three permanent stations). The stations look like futuristic pods that might easily be imagined on the surface of the moon or Mars. Workers are hired for specific durations and eventually must leave.

I followed my wife’s dreams to the South Pole. A doctor, Sarah learned of the Antarctic program in college and it became a life goal to work here. I, too, grew fascinated with coming to Antarctica, though my training in Christian ministry did not exactly open many doors.

After a long journey involving many job applications and a gallbladder removal to physically qualify, I finally landed a position …

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Learning to Say Hello Again

A New Year’s resolution that could make a big difference.

In his superb biography of Francis Schaeffer, An Authentic Life, Colin Duriez tells us that Schaeffer was known for his kindness. In Escape from Reason, Schaeffer recounts meeting a young man who attended one of his lectures. He lovingly describes him as having a “good-looking, sensitive face, long curly hair, sandals on his feet and … wearing blue jeans.” Schaeffer greeted him the next day, provoking this response: “Sir, that was a beautiful greeting. Why do you greet me like that?” The great evangelist and apologist replied, “Because I know who you are—I know that you are made in the image of God.” He goes on: “We then had a tremendous conversation.”

Greetings matter. Jesus knew this:

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt. 5:47)

Character is largely formed through manners, even by how we acknowledge the presence of others. Virtues and vices begin small and grow larger through habits. Virtues and vices may take over, making us a saint or a devil. Who, having read C. S. Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory,” could forget this?

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our …

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Interview: What Tim Keller and Michael Gerson Want You to Know About How America Spends Its Money

“It’s possible for a church with deep resources for doing good to get co-opted by nationalism. I don’t want that to happen now.”

Tim Keller’s national reputation doesn’t come from his political positions. As the founder and newly retired senior pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian, his claims to fame come from his thoughtful theological work and intellectual engagement. Yet 2017 may have been Keller’s most politically active year yet. Keller, along with more than 500 evangelical leaders, took out a full-page ad in TheWashington Post asking the administration to reverse its temporary ban on refugee resettlement and its proposed reduction for the next fiscal year. After the Trump administration announced a budget that proposed significant cuts to foreign aid, Keller’s former church held a global poverty event sponsored by Bono’s ONE Campaign. There, Keller joined former George W. Bush speechwriter and adviser Michael Gerson and the World Bank Group’s Edith Jibunoh to discuss where the church’s presence and perspective belong in American foreign assistance conversations.

Keller and Gerson recently sat down with writer Sarah Kate Neall to discuss that moral vision, the nationalism which threatens benevolence, and the key facts in a conversation about foreign aid.

Why is it important to have a conversation about global poverty and foreign aid now?

Keller: I’m concerned that there’s a growing resistance to foreign engagement stemming from rising tides of nationalism around the world. It’s not just America; more and more people are saying, “We’ve got to take care of our own. We’ve got to care about here.”

This sentiment is the reason the conversation has to go on. I see a lethargy and indifference growing. I also see a feeling of negativity and despair about …

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The Clergy Behind Science as We Know It

Enlightenment-era pastors didn’t oppose modern science. They helped advance it.

This essay was the first place winner of the 2017 CT Science Writing Contest.

The scientific revolution hit Western Christendom hard.

Nicolaus Copernicus hypothesized that Earth was not at the center of the universe and, with the emergence of his 1543 publication De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, a bitter struggle ensued between Christianity and science to shape the reigning worldview. Science came to dominate from the Enlightenment forward.

Or so we’ve been told.

But in fact, a Lutheran minister and theologian named Andreas Osiander was the one who published Copernicus’s seminal piece. That should be our first clue that the story of enmity between Christianity and science has often been distorted and overstated, leading us to forget some of history’s most influential science advocates and fueling a false dichotomy that unnecessarily polarizes scientific debates today.

The prevailing narrative that Christianity is inherently anti-science gained acceptance in 1896 with Andrew Dickson White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology and Christendom. White singled out prominent Protestant pastors such as John Wesley and Increase Mather for promoting an attack on the new science. “From the first to last,” White wrote, “a long line of eminent divines, Anglican and Calvinistic, strove to resist new thought.”

At other points, Wesley had been singled out in 19th-century historiography for opposing scientific reasoning in support of the orthodox Christian faith, as though the two were inherently at odds. Meanwhile, Wesley’s many publications engaging with the science of the time as he advocated for the usefulness of electricity, explored natural philosophy, and promoted …

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Interview: Buildings That Bear Witness to God

How theology sheds new light on the purposes of architecture.

It’s easy to go about our lives without appreciating the finer details of buildings where we live, work, and worship. The structures themselves, we might say, aren’t as important as the activities taking place inside. That would be a grave mistake, says Murray Rae, who teaches theology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His book, Architecture and Theology: The Art of Place, shows how the design of buildings and public spaces gives shape and purpose to our lives and communities. W. David O. Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, spoke with Rae about the interplay between architecture and theology.

Is there something unique about how architecture, as distinct from other art forms, opens up new ways of seeing the world?

Architecture both molds and represents our lives, our aspirations, and our failings as human beings. The distinctive feature of the arts that shape our built environment, including architecture, is that we live within them almost all of the time. Their primary purpose is not to be viewed or listened to but to give us somewhere to dwell. They provide a unique opportunity, then, to gain new insight into what it means to dwell in Christ—and whether our lives reflect God’s created order. Intriguingly, architects through the ages have tried to create buildings that reflect the given order of things.

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