Dec 26, 2013

Where are the angels in evangelicalism?: Thursday links

Disenchantment in evangelical churches:
In all my years in evangelical churches, I cannot recall hearing much teaching about [angels] except from one Sunday School teacher who was oddly preoccupied with mysterious phenomena. She would close each class with an 'angel story' that she'd read from a magazine, where men suddenly appeared, did some good deed, and then disappeared again.  
I loved her stories, but my understanding of angels never grew up. Angels remained frozen on Sunday School felt boards or in pageants at Christmastime (Christianity Today).
The cross is a Christian symbol:
Attempts to remove the 59-year-old cross have been unfairly vilified as attempts to wipe all signs of religion from public spaces. Of course, crosses have a proper place on public land. One example is the large cross in a corner of Camp Pendleton that marks the site of the first baptism in California. In that case, history and religion are inextricably bound. The crosses that mark the graves of Christian war veterans are an appropriate way to honor both their service and their beliefs. But we doubt anyone would say that such a symbol belongs on the graves of Jewish or Muslim war dead. A cross is not a universal symbol for memorializing the dead. It is a Christian marker (Los Angeles Times).
St. Augustine and sexual orientation:
When I was in my early twenties and just beginning to allow myself to face up to my sexuality, I remember a wise pastor friend telling me that anyone with an Augustinian anthropology -- for those playing at home, that's a dim view of natural human ability to be virtuous and an uber-high view of God's slow-moving, unpredictable grace -- should have no time for the notion that gay people (or anyone else!) 'choose' whom they'll be attracted to (Spiritual Friendship).
Reject the sin, don't dehumanize the sinner:
It does not matter if you think homosexuality is a sin, or if you think it is simply another expression of human love. It doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? Because people are dying. Kids are literally killing themselves because they are so tired of being rejected and dehumanized that they feel their only option left is to end their life. As a Youth Pastor, this makes me physically ill. And as a human, it should make you feel the same way. So, I’m through with the debate. 
When faced with the choice between being theologically correct . . . as if this is even possible . . . and being morally responsible, I'll go with morally responsible every time (In The Parlor). 
Financial mismanagement at the American Bible Society:
From 2002 through 2011 [the American Bible Society] overspent its budget by $250 million . . . The organization watchdog found that in 2012, 30 percent of the ABS budget was spent on fundraising, 'an amazing five times the average fundraising cost ratio of ministries covered in the database.' Another watchdog, CharityNavigator, gives the ministry an overall three out of four stars, but only two out of four for financial efficiency, and MinistryWatch gives it only one star out of five.

Staff compensation also raises eyebrows, totaling $29 million for its 220 employees in 2011. That's an average compensation of about $130,000 per employee, with at least 10 senior staffers making more than $200,000 per year. By contrast, grants to other organizations such as foreign Bible societies -- a primary way the ABS facilitates Bible distribution -- came to less than $8 million (World (behind a paywall)).

  American executions in decline: