Articles

What Alcoholics Anonymous could teach Paige Patterson

May 18th, 2018
Jonathan Merritt, who writes On Faith & Culture for RNS, invited Seth Haines — author of “Coming Clean: A Story of Faith” — to write this guest column on his blog. I was not surprised by the news coming out of the Southern Baptist Convention over the last few weeks. I wasn’t shocked by Paige Patterson’s comments [...]
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On Mother’s Day, let’s listen to our moms’ cries for justice

May 18th, 2018
Jonathan Merritt, who writes On Faith & Culture for RNS, invited Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove — to write this guest column on his blog. When I was growing up in North Carolina, my parents took me to Sunday School, where Southern Baptist women made sure I learned a few lessons well: Jesus loved me, the Bible was God’s holy Word, [...]
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‘Doubting Thomas’ story is about gratitude, not doubt

May 18th, 2018
Jonathan Merritt, who writes On Faith & Culture for RNS, invited Diana Butler Bass — to write this guest column on his blog. It’s an ancient Christian tradition to retell stories of Jesus appearing to people after the resurrection. Thanks to the lectionary, the story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ was assigned for last Sunday. Though many Christians in American [...]
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How American Christians can break free from ‘slaveholder religion’

May 18th, 2018
It’s been a century and a half since the American Civil War ended, but according to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the slaveholder religion of that era has quietly persisted until today. But to understand this development, a history lesson is in order. In the mid-19th century, Christian abolitionists used the Bible to make a case for racial [...]
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From hell to atonement, musician Audrey Assad has been quietly evolving

May 18th, 2018
Four years have passed between spiritual songwriter Audrey Assad’s last studio album and her new, highly anticipated record, “Evergreen.” During that time, the evangelical-turned-Catholic says she began deconstructing her faith and battling anxiety. Though her fans did not know, her religious beliefs were “practically nonexistent” at one point. Assad’s newest album chronicles something of a spiritual [...]
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Why Paige Patterson’s apology may not be enough

May 18th, 2018
In just two weeks, Paige Patterson has done what none could have predicted: He’s given America’s largest Protestant denomination two black eyes. The first injury was inflicted when his comments about spousal abuse and women went viral. The statements, which span decades, include objectifying a 16-year-old girl in a sermon, saying “everyone should own at [...]
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In a #Metoo moment, will Southern Baptists hold powerful men accountable?

May 18th, 2018
The Southern Baptist Convention’s statement of faith calls on its members to “contend for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.” But the nation’s largest Protestant denomination must now decide whether that includes situations in which respected men have abused their power with women. Last week, an audio recording surfaced on which Paige Patterson, a high-profile [...]
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‘Glorious glitter bomb’: Critics loved ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ but much of religious America was unimpressed

May 18th, 2018
New York isn’t thought of as an exceptionally Christian town. But as I sat in the Marcy Armory on Easter Sunday night live-tweeting NBC’s broadcast of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” you could have fooled me. More than 1,000 audience members whooped, clapped and even wept as John Legend portrayed Jesus, Sara Bareilles played Mary Magdalene and [...]
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The Scandal Tearing Apart America’s Largest Protestant Denomination

May 18th, 2018
Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson gestures as he makes his opening speech to the Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday, June 15, 1999 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Patterson asked church members to get beyond their own concerns and focus on evangelizing cities in a last worldwide missionary effort. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) Over the past [...]
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Why isn’t there a ‘War on Easter’ like Christmas?

March 28th, 2018
  For most Christian Americans, the holiest week of the year looks like most others. People purchase Starbucks lattes without lamenting the design of the cup and shop at Target without critiquing the greeters’ salutations. They may stop by their local courthouse, but it won’t be to protest the removal of an Easter scene from [...]
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Can former journalist Lee Strobel make a convincing case for miracles?

March 27th, 2018
A few years ago, I experienced a miracle at a writing conference outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Following a talk I gave on storytelling, a group of women approached me and one stepped forward: “We have a word from God for you.” I froze but maintained a cautious smile. The women explained that they were friends [...]
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Advice for dealing with critics – from a religion writer with plenty of them

March 9th, 2018
A hand shot up in the conference hall about six rows back. “Jonathan, as an opinion writer who covers religion and politics, you take a lot of heat,” the earnest man. “How do you deal with critics?” I paused. “Good question. How do you deal with them as an opinion writer?” Continue reading…
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Responding to American Christianity’s obsession with youth

March 7th, 2018
  (RNS) — Centuries ago, some of our ancestors powdered their wigs in order to appear older and wiser. Today, adults dye their hair darker to seem young and relevant. It’s difficult to dispute that, as Simon Donnan put it, “Youth is the new global currency.” One might assume that the Christian church, which often touts [...]
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Billy Graham, the Last Nonpartisan Evangelical?

March 1st, 2018
It’s difficult to overstate the influence of the Rev. Billy Graham — who died at 99 in his Montreat, N.C., home on Wednesday — on American public life, and indeed the world, over the past century. It’s estimated that the globe-trotting preacher shared the Christian message with 215 million people in more than 185 countries, [...]
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Desiring God, mental health, and the truth about ‘chronological snobbery’

February 16th, 2018
The first time I had a panic attack, I was sitting at a traffic stop on a country road in North Carolina. A strange sensation that felt like an itch crawled along the underside of my skin until my whole body vibrated. My face flushed, my hands moistened, my chest tightened, my breathing quickened until [...]
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