Will US Genocide Resolution Satisfy Armenian Christians?

The Middle East diaspora appreciates the House’s recognition at last. But what they really want is repentance.

Armenian Americans breathed a sigh of relief this week when the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Resolution 296 to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Around 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923, as the defeated Ottoman Empire transitioned into the modern Republic of Turkey. Less than half a million survived.

The resolution also mentions the Greek, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Aramean, Maronite, and other Christian victims who lived in Asia Minor and other Ottoman provinces at the time.

If the House legislation is passed in the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, the United States will be committed to commemorate the genocide, to reject its denial, and to educate people about it in order to prevent similar atrocities in the future.

But if Armenian Americans are finally pleased, the diaspora in the Middle East—much closer to the Turks and the lands taken from their ancestors—demurs.

“It certainly heals some small aspect of our century-long national wound,” said Paul Haidostian, president of the evangelical Haigazian University—the only Armenian university in the diaspora—in Beirut, Lebanon.

“There is some sense of relief. But it should not be exaggerated.”

Nor should it be underestimated, he told CT. All Armenians will welcome the “historic” resolution, though it comes “very late.” But few expect the US Senate will act similarly, as the term genocide has long been rejected by the Turks. “Because it involves Turkey, there is politics involved,” said Haidostian.

“But it is important to call things by name.”

The 405–11 tally reversed what had long been an uphill battle in American politics to …

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Meet the Protestant Exorcists

How fighting the devil became an ecumenical pursuit.

Anglican Erich Junger has seen a lot in his wide-ranging career as an enlisted sailor in the US Navy, a medical examiner, a police detective, and a crime scene analyst.

More than a decade ago, his calling shifted to a different kind of investigation. It’s careful work, sometimes secretive and sensitive. He goes after a master manipulator, an enemy responsible for physical, psychological, and spiritual havoc.

Well, not just any enemy. The Enemy.

An exorcist in the Anglican Church of North America, Junger now dons a clerical collar as he advises fellow believers to “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11).

Scriptural directives to defend against the Devil take on a heavy urgency once you have seen the twisted work of Satan up close, again and again. Junger dedicated his ministry to studying spiritual warfare—specifically, the physiological effects of demonic activities—back in 2007. Ten years later, he became licensed as an exorcist.

To outsiders, the work of exorcism carries significant cultural baggage, whether due to misperceptions gleaned from the movies or the many real-life cases where possession had been faked or confused with mental illness. This is tricky spiritual territory to navigate. That’s why exorcists like Junger would say their expertise in identifying and combating the presence of the demonic is so crucial right now.

This realm of ministry remains particularly mystifying in the United States, where most Christians see Satan as a symbol of evil rather than a living being, according to Barna Research.

“Many priests and ministers of most all denominations have lost their sense of the reality of Satan as a …

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The New Testament Teaches Us Not to Second-Guess Surprising Conversions

Long before Kanye, even the most unexpected believers—like Paul himself—point us toward acceptance over suspicion.

Kanye West’s move from saying “Jesus walks” to confessing “Jesus is King” has divided Christians.

Some are overjoyed that such a prominent figure has made public turn to faith. Others are more hesitant, taking the “let’s see if this sticks” approach. Kanye himself expected the latter, singing on his new album, “What have you been hearin’ from the Christians? They’ll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody love me.”

While some believers want to wait and see whether his faith is genuine, we don’t find much evidence for this strategy in the Scriptures.

The early church in Acts had its share of surprising transformations and celebrity conversions, which stirred a range of reactions. But ultimately, the text points to acceptance over distrust. It also emphasizes the importance of perseverance for these unexpected converts.

These accounts suggest that with Kanye, there is room for the church to rejoice without suspicion, while also pleading for endurance and mentorship in the faith.

Paul’s Sudden Transformation

Paul represents the first surprising conversion in Acts. He was killer of Christians, but then Jesus appeared to him. Understandably, Paul’s conversion is met with some hesitation and fear. Some readers today may take this response as a case for wariness when someone does an about-face. Ananias questions whether he should go to Paul when the Lord comes to him (Acts 9:13-16). The crowd in Damascus is amazed, wondering what has happened (9:21). In Jerusalem, the disciples were afraid and did not believe he was a disciple (9:26).

Each reaction is different based on context. But it helps to consider their concerns in light of the …

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Evangelism Isn’t About Results

The Parable of the Sower frees us from our desire for resolution.

How can we evangelize with integrity? As my husband and I lead our church together, this is a question we wrestle with a lot. Namely, in our enthusiasm to see people come to know Christ, how do we resist the temptation of results-driven ministry? How can we communicate the urgency of the gospel without manipulating others’ emotions or fears? How can we present the gospel in a way that is inviting without truncating the message to make it more palatable?

As we have processed these questions and temptations regarding evangelism, we have found ourselves both chastened and encouraged by the Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13). In this famous story, Jesus uses an analogy that would have been familiar to his Palestinian audience. According to Bible scholar William Barclay, farmers at the time would have sown their seed in one of two ways: either casting out the seed by hand or strapping a bag of seed to the back of a donkey, tearing a hole in the sack, and letting the seed spill out as the animal crossed the field.

In both scenarios, the seed would have been vulnerable to variables such as wind or rocky terrain, but because of these two different practices, the identity of the “sower” in this parable remains unclear. Perhaps we are the human sower, or perhaps we are the farmer’s donkey, but it is “God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:7, ESV). In this way, the parable is symbolic of three “actors” who are present in the sharing of the gospel—you, the hearers, and God—and until we understand these roles properly, the work of evangelism will be much harder and more burdensome than God ever intended.

Your Role

In Matthew 13, the sower goes out to sow (v. 3), and he sows into all sorts …

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Meet the Minnie Church

What happens when you plant a church only for Walt Disney World employees?

I saw Pluto just a few minutes earlier. Now I happen upon Wonderland’s Alice, chatting away with a clerk at the Tea Caddy in Epcot’s United Kingdom. Of course she’s in character­­—Alice, I mean—talking about her tea party experience with the March Hare and the Mad Hatter. As for the tea clerk, it’s complicated. Disney calls her a “Cast Member,” and her store is “on stage”—the parts of Walt Disney World that are visible to “guests” like me. But she’s from Bristol and her English accent is real. She plays herself, or at least a cheery, especially English version of herself. Her conversation is no more scripted than it is for retail clerks anywhere else in America, though perhaps with more discussion about Bristol.

Shortly after Alice scampers away, a man engages the clerk in conversation. It turns out her mum is coming for a visit soon. He asks her how long it’s been since she’s seen her mum, how long she’s been at Epcot, how long it’ll be before she heads back to the UK. He asks if she’s been homesick. (She is, she says with a very large smile.) The conversation ends with no reference to his large and prominent nametag: “Steven. Cast Member Church.” He’ll be back, sometimes to chat, more often to prayer-walk quietly with half a dozen or so other members of his small but growing church plant. He’s not there to evangelize; he respects both the Cast Member’s time and Disney’s rules against “solicitation.” Even if the clerk were a Cast Member Church member, he wouldn’t pray with her. “That could get them in trouble and the church in trouble,” …

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One-on-One with Keith Getty on SING! An Irish Christmas, Just Released Today

“High Christianity’s positive contribution to artistic culture can actually spill into every area of our lives.”

Ed: Keith, the album is dropping today. Tell me, what is this all about?

Keith: It’s called Sing! An Irish Christmas Live at the Grand Ole Opry.

We started writing this Christmas music ten years ago, and we could never have dreamed we’d get to do this ten years on.

But the Sing! Conference this year was ‘The Life of Christ,’ and the first day was ‘An Incarnation.’ Just as we were thinking about that and what we would do in the evening, we were talking about a new television special with PBS. TBN came around and said, “We want to put this around the world,” and they made a bigger vision for it. They said “Let’s create a new television special.”

So on the hottest day in 2019 in August, we recorded two Christmas shows at the Grand Ole Opry. So it’s really exciting; it’s part of a campaign to help to get the nation to learn the ten great carols of the faith in the hope that the people learn them and sing them to their kids and their grandkids and their friends, and that it will be something that they remember as the years go on.

When we were PBS artists, we would do half of our interviews on faith radio and half would be public television interviews, and there was quite a lot of questioning about why we would be trying to do religious carols, because apparently, in current surveys, only one in the top 40 Christmas songs is religious now, and this got me really riled up.

I thought, I’ve got to get people back to learning these carols, because they’re the master works of the Christian faith, and they help us learn it, and they are just so good to sing.

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Why Basic Training Is So Important for Church Planters

An assessment of the Hispanic Church Planting Report reveals the necessity of training.

According to the Hispanic Church Planting Report, church planting basic training plays a major role when it comes to the number of new commitments to Jesus Christ in Hispanic congregations during the first four years of existence.

Typically, church plants grow when members from other churches transfer membership or when believers move to the area and are looking for a church.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with those methods of church growth, the goal of church planting is to expand the Kingdom of God through new believers who will also present the gospel to those who do not have a relationship with Christ.

Planters who received basic training in church planting prior to launching a new congregation saw more new commitments to Jesus than those who did not. Clearly, we have a case for investing time in church planters before they start working on the field.

One can argue that a church planter’s training should continue even after they have launched the church. From the survey, we see that regardless of the type and duration of the instruction, basic training positively impacts the success rate of church planters and the expansion of the kingdom, equipping planters to better understand essential factors in the church planting process.

This knowledge allows new churches to start healthier and be more evangelistic.

Any kind of training that church planters receive needs to establish the biblical foundations for the mission and the Christian character of the planter. Besides those key elements, basic training should address four main factors: calling, motivation, team development and leadership, and community exegesis and engagement.

First, when planters arrive to the basic training meeting, they have usually gone through …

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The Latest Multisite Campus: Prison

Incarcerated Christians have heard the sermon about the Prodigal Son. Now they need church.

Leon Leonard was a Christian, but he didn’t go to church.

There were a few reasons. One, he hadn’t been in a long time. Two, he’d done some things he wasn’t proud of and was afraid of being judged. And then there was the third reason: Leonard was in prison, serving a nine-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.

In the hallway of Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio, though, he noticed a poster for a megachurch that was starting its newest campus right there in the maximum security prison.

He signed up. Days later, the 24-year-old was sitting in a prison classroom with 22 other inmates and a married couple in their 20s, who played them recorded worship music and last week’s sermon on an old TV. The newest site of Crossroads Church wasn’t much, but it was what Leonard needed.

“It rekindled my relationship with God,” Leonard recalled. “I became more steady in my walk.”

Crossroads is one of a handful of multisite churches across the country that have launched campuses in state penitentiaries—maximizing the benefits of the replicate-ready multisite model to develop prison ministries that go beyond evangelism alone to focus on community and discipleship. Church By the Glades has sites in prisons in Florida; Church of the Highlands in Alabama; The Summit Church and New Hope Church in North Carolina; Gateway Church in Texas; First Capital Christian Church and Emmanuel Church in Indiana; and The Father’s House and EastLake Church in California.

At Lebanon, the church started in 2011 with Grant and Kyla Doepel burning a DVD of the service at Crossroads’ main location and bringing it into the prison each week. The inmates, including Leonard, would help …

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The Cautionary Tale of Jerry Falwell Jr.

It’s time to remember the qualifications of biblical leadership.

Something doesn’t smell right in Lynchburg, Virginia, home of Liberty University and its controversial president, Jerry Falwell Jr. According to a September report in Politico:

“Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear,” said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications…. “Fear is probably his most powerful weapon,” a former senior university official said.

Politico also reported that many Falwell confidants are concerned that tuition money is going “into university-funded construction and real estate projects that enrich the Falwell family and their friends,” going on to detail a number of examples.

Days later, further glimpses of Falwell’s leadership character emerged when Reuters quoted leaked emails in which he called some students “social misfits,” called the school’s police chief a “half-wit and easy to manipulate,” and said students trying to avoid Liberty parking fees were egg-sucking “dogs.”

There is plenty in the reports for Falwell and defenders to argue with. Many accusations were based on anonymous sources, and allegations of financial misconduct, to the degree there is any, of course must be borne out by impartial investigations and credible evidence.

Still there is an odor in the air. Falwell doesn’t emphasize that he is innocent but that, “In the end, they [his accusers] are going to look like fools.” He believes the entire affair is about power. He told CNN: “I think it’s all a political-based attack by people who wanted to run the school for themselves.” …

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Female Evangelical Leaders Have a Hidden Predecessor to Thank

Kathryn Kuhlman’s story offers a case study of the indisputable achievements of strong evangelical women and the equally indisputable roadblocks they often face.

“You have been called ‘hypnotic, charismatic, hypnotizing,’” said Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show in 1974. His guest resisted. With a disarming smile, she said she was “just the most ordinary person in the world.” Carson didn’t buy it. “You’re not quite ordinary.”

With this telling anecdote, Amy Artman launches her masterful biography of Kathryn Kuhlman, a charismatic healing evangelist who emerged in the post-World War II era alongside Oral Roberts. It’s hard to say whether Roberts or Kuhlman was the most prominent healing evangelist of the day, but it’s easy to say that she was the most prominent woman in the field. At the height of her ministry, many people considered Kuhlman “the best-known woman preacher in the world.” Very few female religious leaders of any theological stripe were famous enough to snare a berth on a network talk show like Carson’s.

Kuhlman’s story is a big one, yet she has won little attention from historians. Most American religious history textbooks give her a few sentences at most and some none at all. In The Miracle Lady: Kathryn Kuhlman and the Transformation of Charismatic Christianity, Artman not only rescues Kuhlman from undeserved obscurity but also crafts a sweeping interpretation of the cultural origins of the modern charismatic movement. (Artman is careful to credit her secondary sources, including Edith Blumhofer, David Edwin Harrell, Wayne Warner, and, in the interest of full disclosure, me.)

Artman—who teaches religious studies at Missouri State University—offers ample biographical details, but her main interest lies in two overarching arguments. The first is that Kuhlman was one …

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