Wes Granberg-Michaelson is the author of From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church and Future Faith: Ten Challenges for Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century (Fortress Press). For 17 years he served as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, and has long been active in ecumenical initiatives such as the Global Christian Forum and Christian Churches Together. He’s been associated with the ministry of Sojourners for 40 years. He and his wife Karin now live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Remembering Peter Borgdorff
We at Sojourners were especially blessed to have Peter’s leadership for 26 years on the board of Sojourners and, before that, Call to Renewal, which we and he helped to found on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable. That was a deep passion for Peter, for those left outside that Jesus told us to bring inside.
An Open Window On a Mutilated Body
Meanwhile, the growth of the world-wide church surges in the global South. Gina Zurlo, Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, explained today’s facts. Two-thirds of all Christians now live in the Global South. During the lifetime of most those gathered in Bogota, Christians in Africa have grown from 134 million in 1970 to 621 million today, making that continent home to more of world Christianity than any other region. Almost as many Christians are in the continent of Latin America where we met. Pentecostalism drives much of this growth. But the complexity, divisiveness, and conflicts between churches in these regions as well as globally clouds the picture projecting Christianity’s future.
Asking ‘Which Jesus?’ in 2018
Isn’t that the question that the thousands gathered in Jerusalem for Passover, and the small circle of disciples and friends, were asking on that first Palm Sunday, and in the fateful week that followed? Who is this Jesus? And is it the Jesus we want to follow? The one we thought we were following? Or the one we now end up denying and rejecting? Which Jesus?
Enclaves of Hope
There is a tragedy happening within U.S. denominations and religious institutions that cripples the witness of the church in the wider society. Bonds of Christian fellowship are being torn asunder by the debate over the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church, creating untold pain and suffering for many LGBTQ people and others, while sharpening disunity in Christ. And all this is unnecessary, and unfaithful.
When Seminary Becomes a Threat
Crucial to our response to all this, however, is a fundamental question: Are we confronted today simply by another set of vexing economic and social developments that require our attention? Or is something deeper at stake? Are we facing forces that constitute a spiritual assault on the integrity and truth of Christian faith in today’s world? Is this a time when our response, however well intended, will be inept unless it is grounded in a spiritual resilience that confesses faith in Jesus Christ, through the power of the Spirit, who unmasks and defies powers that would subdue and crush the public integrity of the gospel in the world?
This is, in truth, the crucial question for us to discern. And it is deeply serious. I’d pose it this way: When rising forces of nationalistic exclusivism are fueled by racial bigotry, when a naked global struggle for money and power shreds bonds of human solidarity, and when unbridled greed threatens planetary survival, is the truth and integrity of our faith at stake? Is the only response capable of addressing the roots of this crisis one of spiritual resistance and renewal rooted in what it means to confess Jesus Christ as Lord? In other words, is it a kairos moment calling us to a clear discernment of what it means, in this present context, to confess our faith? And must such a confession then shape the communities of those who believe the gospel? In my view, the answer is yes.
Artificial Litmus Tests and the Threat to Christian Unity
Differences in the body of Christ over ethical and theological issues have been with the church since its inception. The letters of the New Testament and ministry of its first leaders were focused on how we live together in the face of inevitable tensions. Our call is to display an outpouring of humility, a commitment to the well-being of other brothers and sisters, and a self-giving love that builds a community truly shaped by the Spirit and acting as a corporate body infused with the love of Jesus.
I Worked for the Senate During Vietnam. PBS' 'The Vietnam War' Is a Must-Watch.
At no point did I see a Niebuhrian “just war.” The entire enterprise was a moral disgrace.
What U.S. Christians Miss About North — and South — Korea
Two realities here in South Korea seem unknown or underappreciated in the U.S. First is the fact that the Korean War has not ended. There’s no treaty, and no permanently recognized peace — only an agreement 60 years ago to cease actual hostilities.
Faith on Public Trial
Of the many shocking images from Charlottesville, one continues to haunt me. White men, mostly younger, are marching and carrying torches in the night with faces full of grim hate and determined anger. It was malevolently reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan’s torch-lit night rallies, with cross burnings and the evil actions and killings that often followed. Even more, it brought memories of the Nazis marching with their torches, slogans, and violence in the 1930s. The neo-Nazis in Charlottesville chanted some of those same slogans.
Ecumenical History Under the Radar
The same week that President Donald Trump was meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, another historic event was taking place, as the Global Christian Forum facilitated a groundbreaking encounter with the major global bodies representing most every part of world Christianity.
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