Extracurricular Activities — March 15, 2014
When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll. The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV). And the percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible. So concludes "The Bible in American Life," a lengthy report by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, is meant to be an ongoing crusade that will continue for many generations. Situated on the same property as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the library opened in 2007 and is neither a museum nor a memorial. Rather, it is an extension of the evangelistic ministry that Graham carried out for so many years. The building, notable for its giant cross-shaped door, is meant to expose visitors to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Among the many items it houses is an unusual and fascinating relic of Graham’s famed 1957 New York Crusade—a prayer wheel. And this, Billy Graham’s prayer wheel, is the next (and second to last) of the twenty-five objects through which we are exploring the history of Christianity.
Do singles or marrieds make better pastors? The debate is nothing new, though it's been reinvigorated in recent years. Historically, single men predominated. Lately, the pendulum has swung toward marrieds, and some even suggest that singles should not serve as pastors. I have previously written in defense of singleness in the pastoral role. When I wrote the article, I had served as a single pastor for 19 years—14 as a senior pastor.
Over the past three years, something special and wonderful happened to me—I joined the ranks of married pastors. The beautiful tsunami of parenting has recently crashed into my pastoral ministry as well. Through it all I've seen the advantages and struggles of pastoring both as a single and as a married man.
Even as Tolkien is celebrated as an author and literary figure, some of his most important messages were communicated by means of letters, and some of the most important letters were written to his sons.
In 1941, Tolkien wrote a masterful letter to his son Michael, dealing with marriage and the realities of human sexuality. The letter reflects Tolkien’s Christian worldview and his deep love for his sons, and at the same time, also acknowledges the powerful dangers inherent in unbridled sexuality.
I don’t deny that there are forms of social and legal pressure that can shade into persecution, and that individuals can be effectively persecuted in particular situations even if persecution isn’t happening society-wide. But as a general statement about a situation facing believers (or any group), I think the word carries fairly strong overtones of direct and potentially violent coercion — as in, for instance, this definition:
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