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Christianity Today 

This Juneteenth, the life of unsung civil rights hero Fred Shuttlesworth should be a clarion call to the biblical activism we still need to advance racial justice in America.

In February, I preached one of the Black History Month sermons at Zion Baptist Church, a traditional Black church in Cincinnati. After the service, Judge Cheryl Grant, a longtime congregant, thanked me for delving into the legacy of civil rights advocate Fred Shuttlesworth.

Grant had been very close with the Shuttlesworth family after they moved from Birmingham to Cincinnati in 1961, and she was working on a documentary about him with filmmaker Mark Vikram Purushotham and biographer Andrew M. Manis. Her personal testimony about Shuttlesworth and his story of redemptive action has been more than inspiring for me, and now I’d like to share his story with a wider audience.

Shuttlesworth is an unsung hero of the civil rights movement. A cofounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he faced and ultimately outwitted Birmingham’s infamous commissioner of public safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, to advance racial justice in one of America’s most obstinately segregated environments.

What’s been most interesting to me about Shuttlesworth is how he personified the mixture of Christian orthodoxy and freedom fighting that characterized the primary stream of the Black church’s social action tradition. As a pastor and leader, he called himself a biblicist and an actionist, meaning he had a devout faith in the authority of Scripture while believing right doctrine compelled the Christian into social action.

Shuttlesworth knew preaching against white supremacy wasn’t enough. The church also had to get out of their seats if they wanted social change (James 2:14–26).

His biography, A Fire You Can’t Put Out, by Manis, recalls Shuttlesworth’s excitement ...

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While the Texas megachurch said it “did not have all the facts” about Morris’s earlier misconduct, the woman who spoke out said she had informed its leaders years ago.

Gateway Church founder and senior pastor Robert Morris has resigned, and his Texas megachurch is launching an investigation into allegations of abuse from 35 years ago.

Morris—a former advisor to President Trump and leader of one of the largest nondenominational churches in the country—is leaving after an Oklahoma woman, Cindy Clemishire, shared a story of being molested by the pastor when she was a minor in the 1980s. He has led the congregation since 2000.

In a statement Tuesday announcing Morris’s resignation, Gateway’s board of elders said they were “heartbroken and appalled” to learn that what they believed was an extramarital relationship was allegedly abuse of a child, The Christian Post reported.

“Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse,” they said. “The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with ‘a young lady’ and not abuse of a 12-year-old child.”

The elders had initially responded on Friday saying Morris had already disclosed what happened and “undergone restoration.” The pastor’s earlier statement to The Christian Post referred to the incident as “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Clemishire said she had been working for years to have Morris held accountable, including notifying the church of her story in 2005. She said at the time at least one pastor and one elder had been informed that the abuse started ...

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From embracing Western styles to preserving cultural heritage, how female leaders in six states navigate competing perspectives on appropriate attire.

While Christianity in India is as old as the early church itself, it was the modern missionary movement initiated by William Carey that caused the faith to take root. But colonial rule also caused Christianity in India to become associated with foreigners, despite the tradition that it originated with the apostle Thomas as early as 52 A.D. and historical evidence that the East India Company actively opposed missionary activities.

The growth of the Indian church, however, imparted new Indian converts not only a religion but also a culture. Mahatma Gandhi was critical, saying these converts had “imbibed the superficialities of European civilization, and have missed the teaching of Jesus.” He was not alone. Christian evangelists such as British missionary E. Stanley Jones and the wandering ascetic Sadhu Sundar Singh also took issue with the conflating of Christianity and Western culture. This impulse emphasized the need to “give the water of life in an Indian cup.”

Although India gained independence from British rule in 1947, many urban and semi-urban Indian churches continued to embrace the Western heritage they inherited. This included using pews instead of sitting on the ground; embracing a liturgy of hymnals, creeds, and doxologies; constructing cathedral-style church buildings; and the practice of wearing “white” bridal gowns or saris. Yet Western attire has not displaced the colorful traditional clothing for weekly worship, and church communities remain diverse in their dress.

CT spoke with seven female Christian leaders from six regions of India, all either married or above age 30, about their understanding of “Sunday best” clothing in India. The answers are arranged from ...

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The Texas judge behind the political strategy for the “conservative resurgence” molested and assaulted teenage boys, according to allegations eight men made in court.

The things that Paul Pressler did in private changed the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) radically and irreversibly.

In private, in a French café in New Orleans in 1967, Pressler planned the takeover of the largest Protestant group in America with Baptist college president Paige Patterson. He came up with the political strategy for the “conservative resurgence.”

In private, in an airport hotel in Atlanta in 1978, Pressler and Patterson gathered a group of ministers and established an informal network. They instructed those men to organize messengers to go to the SBC’s annual meeting and elect a president committed to using the position’s appointive powers to wrest control of the convention away from leaders they considered too liberal, too bureaucratic, and insufficiently committed to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

When a reporter with the Baptist Standard asked the Texas appeals court judge at the time if he was meeting with groups of clergy as part of a hardball campaign to elect the next SBC president, Pressler adamantly denied it. Then he questioned what would even count as a “meeting,” given the many possible ways you could define that word.

Then he allowed he was, in fact, doing some things in private.

In private, in a sauna at a Houston country club in the late 1970s, Pressler touched a young man’s penis, according to sworn testimony given in a lawsuit that was settled last year.

And in private, around the same time, Pressler started to molest and rape a 14-year-old, telling the teenager he taught in his Southern Baptist youth group that he was “special” and their “relationship” was special but needed to be kept secret because “no one ...

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(UPDATED) Pew survey of more than 10,000 adults in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam examines Christians’ and Buddhists’ beliefs, practices, and affinity to other traditions.

The rate of religious conversion in East Asia is among the highest in the world: Half of adults in Hong Kong and South Korea have left the religion they were brought up in for another religion or no religion.

Among Christians, substantially more adults in those two places left the faith than those who converted to Christianity.

The region also has the highest levels of deconversion. More than a third of adults in Hong Kong and South Korea say they now no longer identify with any religion.

Yet at least 4 in 10 adults in East Asia and Vietnam who are religiously unaffiliated still believe in unseen beings or a god.

And about 80 percent of Taiwanese and Japanese adults say they burned incense to honor their ancestors in the past year. These are among the findings of “Religion and Spirituality in East Asian Societies,” a massive report released today by Pew Research Center. While few people in the region pray daily or say religion is very important in their lives, many “continue to hold religious or spiritual beliefs and to engage in traditional rituals,” said Pew researchers.

Surveys of 10,390 adults in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan—defined here as East Asia—and Vietnam were conducted between June and September last year.

Although Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia, Pew included the nation in this survey due to its adoption of Confucian traditions, its historic ties to China, and its embrace of Mahayana, a branch of Buddhism common across East Asia. (Last September, Pew released an in-depth survey on religion in Southeast Asia, highlighting six nations.)

Researchers acknowledged the complexity of measuring “religion” in the region, as this word often denotes organized, ...

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According to the Texas megachurch, founder Robert Morris properly disclosed his misconduct and has had “no other moral failures” since he touched a child in the 1980s.

Update: Robert Morris has resigned from Gateway, according to a statement released Tuesday, June 18, from its elder board.

Gateway Church did not address allegations of past abuse—or “moral failure”—by its senior pastor, Robert Morris, when it gathered to worship this weekend, just a couple days after a woman who said he molested her starting at age 12 in the 1980s shared her account online.

The Southlake, Texas–based megachurch made a last-minute change so that its executive pastor, Kemtal Glasgow, could take the stage instead of the guest speaker, Albert Tate, who was scheduled as a part of Gateway’s summer series and who was himself placed on leave last year by his church in California over inappropriate text messaging.

Glasgow, who said he was on his way to church when he got the call that he would be filling in that day, preached about patience, listening, and waiting on the Lord. His message was broadcast across Gateway’s 10 campuses, which draw around 25,000 people in-person each week. He did not mention Morris or any abuse allegations.

Morris, 62, founded Gateway in 2000, and it has grown to become one of the biggest megachurches in the US. He also has a global following, thanks to his programs broadcast on Christian TV and radio. Morris formerly served as a faith advisor to President Trump and had been an advisor for Mark Driscoll’s new church.

Nondenominational and charismatic, Gateway is one of the top producers of evangelical worship music. Singer Kari Jobe served as its previous worship leader, and Gateway Worship music was streamed over 300 million times last year alone. On Sunday, the congregation opened with one of its own hits, singing “Praise the Lord.” ...

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The Dutch theologian argued the biblical worldview is fundamentally incompatible with ethnocentrism.

It’s no secret that Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck has enjoyed a renaissance in the past few years, as James Eglinton also pointed out in a previous piece for CT.

Ever since the English translation of Bavinck’s landmark work, Reformed Dogmatics, was released in 2008, there’s been a constant stream of fresh readings of his life and thought. More recently, new translations of lesser known but no less important texts include his Christian Worldview, Christianity and Science, and Guidebook for Instruction in the Christian Religion; and new editions have been published of Philosophy of Revelation, based on his 1908 Stone Lectures, and The Wonderful Works of God.

Theologians like me are also rediscovering the neo-Calvinist tradition shaped by Bavinck and his fellow Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, and examining how these thinkers might engage with cultural issues today, including our nation’s reckoning with racism. And while many have recently (and rightly) criticized Kuyper’s checkered legacy on this issue, they have often neglected Bavinck’s contributions on the subject, which many scholars see as an improvement on Kuyper.

Bavinck’s assessment has enduring lessons for American Christians living in a polarized political climate. Similar to Bavinck’s own context of 19th-century Europe, those in the US today are confronted by the challenges of living in an increasingly post-Christian culture. This has led to heated debates on the identity of America, Christian nationalism, and how we can all find common ground amid our substantial differences.

Bavinck and Kuyper’s neo-Calvinist Christian worldview, for instance, affirmed the diversity of reality but saw ...

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Reports of the death of fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated. There are many good dads, like mine, quietly blessing their children.

Problems with fathers are nothing new. They go back to the beginning. Genesis alone is a vast catalog of fathers’ sins, whether those of Adam, Noah, and Lot, or the patriarchs themselves.

What about good fathers, though? Here is C. S. Lewis, writing in the 1940s:

We have learned from Freud and others about those distortions in character and errors in thought which result from a man’s early conflicts with his father. Far the most important thing we can know about George MacDonald is that his whole life illustrates the opposite process. An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. He was thus prepared in an unusual way to teach that religion in which the relation of Father and Son is of all relations the most central.

I first read these words in my teens, when a youth minister—a spiritual father in his own way—began putting Lewis and G. K. Chesterton and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in my hands. This excerpt comes from the opening page of a MacDonald anthology Lewis edited. The Scottish pastor, preacher, and novelist’s writings were crucial to Lewis’s conversion, so much so that Lewis called him “my master.”

Lewis writes that MacDonald had “an almost perfect relationship with his father.” This is remarkable on its face. But is it unique?

I don’t think so. Fatherlessness is a real problem, but reports of the death of fatherhood have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the reason Lewis’s comment resonated when I was in high school was that it named my own experience. True, few of us would reach for the phrase ...

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Time off at the very beginning helps fathers prepare to bring up their children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

When our first daughter was born, in the fall of 2021, she couldn’t nurse properly. For my wife, feeding her was an every-few-hours exercise in pure pain. Lactation consultants were consulted, to little avail; a minor tongue-tie operation, newly trendy in such cases, didn’t help either. We thought about switching to formula, but my wife was dead set on seeing nursing through.

So we triple-fed: She would nurse the baby through gritted teeth for as long as she could stand it, while I tried my best to distract her—singing songs, reading, putting something on the TV. Then I’d take the kid and finish the feeding by bottle while my wife pumped. As it turned out, the baby just needed to get a little bigger. By eight weeks, my wife’s pain was gone.

When our second daughter was born last year, the process seemed to restart—then unexpectedly cleared up in week two. The bigger challenge, it turned out, was managing the emotions of the now-toddler, who found herself, unexpectedly, no longer the center of the known universe.

After a period of protest, she settled into a new equilibrium. Yes, mom had a new baby, but she still had dad. For those first few weeks, the toddler and I were inseparable. (I made time for mom and baby too!) Soon, she had grown to like her little sister enough for us all to reintegrate as one happy family.

Both these stories have a key subtext: I was on paternity leave. Under my then-employer’s heroically generous, deliberately pro-family policy, I was free to take up to 12 weeks off per child to help my wife recover from childbirth and to bond with our new arrival.

I was lucky; that arrangement is rare. Most American fathers take only a short stint ...

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How a community’s example of radical forgiveness helped me relinquish my own rage.

Father’s Day is a multibillion-dollar affair. In the weeks leading up to it, men’s ties, BBQ aprons, and golf-themed gifts fly off the shelves.

My own view on Father’s Day has a complicated history. After an abusive, impoverished childhood (detailed in my recent memoir, Motorhome Prophecies), I sometimes felt an anger toward my dad as intense as what Salvador Dalí, the Spanish surrealist painter, felt toward his own father.

I first fell in love with this brilliant artist while visiting a museum dedicated to his work in sunny St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s a futuristic, fantastical building filled with spacious, airy light flowing through a glass atrium entryway attached to 18-inch thick concrete. It’s a captivating and fitting home for this revolutionary man who pushed the boundaries intersecting art, science, and metaphysics.

Dalí clashed for decades with his father, a mid-level civil servant who didn’t appreciate his son’s creative, rebellious nature or his association with the surrealist movement. Adding insult to injury, he disapproved of his son’s muse and future wife, Gala. Dalí said he considered his true father to be psychologist Sigmund Freud, and later, quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg. Legend has it that Dalí gave his biological father a condom containing the artist’s own sperm, exclaiming, “Take that. I owe you nothing anymore!”

Obviously, that’s disgusting. But I confess there was a time in my life when I might have considered buying a sperm sample from a donor bank and sending it to my dad. I thought he’d die before I’d ever speak to him again.

God’s healing balm

As I shared earlier this year for ...

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