PMT 2017-039 by Kate Shellnutt (Christianity Today)
Amid the decades-long decline in mainline Protestantism in North America, researchers in Canada recently found an “elusive sample” of congregations whose growth has bucked the trend.
The key characteristic these exceptional Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and United churches had in common? Evangelical theology.
With fewer evangelicals and more secular surroundings than their brethren in the United States, Canada’s mainline denominations collectively lost half of their members over the past 50 years. Continue reading
Interview of Ian Johnson by Rob Moll (Christianity Today)
Under Mao Zedong’s dictatorship, Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism suffered persecution and near-extinction. In recent decades, however, they have each made an astounding comeback. In The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has covered China for The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and other publications, offers an intimate look at this remarkable recovery. CT editor at large Rob Moll spoke with Johnson about the reasons for spiritual ferment among the Chinese people.
What spurred your interest in China’s religious resurgence?
When I first went to China in the 1980s, I thought there was probably no religious belief at all. Continue reading
PMT 2017-029 by Michael Brown (The Stream)
Whenever I hear Christian leaders talk about the inevitable collapse of the church of America (or elsewhere) I ask myself, “But hasn’t Jesus risen from the dead? Didn’t He ascend to the right hand of the Father? Hasn’t all authority in heaven and earth been given to Him? And aren’t we commanded to go and make disciples in His name and by His authority?”
If so, how then we can speak of any inevitable collapse of the church (or, specifically, of Christian society), regardless of how inevitable that collapse appears to human eyes? Continue reading
PMT 2017-023 by Glen J. Clary (New Horizons)
Doctrine and worship are mutually formative aspects of church life. What we believe determines how we worship, and over time the way we worship shapes what we believe. Accordingly, the Protestant Reformation was an attempt to reform both doctrine and worship according to Scripture and with respect for the customs of the ancient church. Unlike the Lutheran wing of the Reformation—which was reluctant to introduce extensive changes in worship—the Calvinistic Reformers sought to purge the church of all man-made rites, ceremonies, and ordinances that had corrupted pure worship with superstition and idolatry. For Luther, the Reformation was chiefly a war against works righteousness. For the Calvinists, the Reformation was primarily a war against the idols of Rome. Continue reading
PMT 2016-067 a devotional by Don Strickland
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.”
As we see in verse 11, this verse springs in anticipation of doubt arising from the previous verse. Verse 10 refers to believers “walking worthy of the Lord”. The doubt that Paul anticipates is whether anyone can live in a worthy manner before the Lord. Verse 11 continues to answer the question, “How shall we fulfill that duty?” Paul begins to answer that question at the end of verse 10 by telling the readers they are to be fruitful. Paul adds at the beginning of verse 11 that we will also be “strengthened with all might”, and it was that clause that we studied in our last visit in Colossians. Continue reading
PMT 2016-066 a devotional by Don Strickland
Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
I saw her wandering up the sidewalk in front of the Christian bookstore where I worked in Dallas, TX. I saw her almost every day along that busy road. She couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16 years-old – an otherwise pretty blonde, dressed in the manner of a prostitute, with that vacant, expressionless slack-jawed look of a drug addict. On this day, I was ironically standing near the front at the Bible counter. I watched her approach, and wondered, as I had on several occasions, how I might help her. As she passed the entrance to the store, a pimped-up Cadillac, complete with curb-feelers, parked in front of me at the glass storefront, less than five feet from where I stood. The driver rolled down the passenger side electric window. The girl walked over and leaned into the opening. They spoke for a few seconds. She casually got into the car. And they left. I not only witnessed the entire transaction, they could fully see me standing there as well – surrounded by Bibles. Continue reading
PMT 2016-062 by Mark Howard
(The Gospel Coalition)
Ken Gentry note: The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Even among Muslims. Despite persecution Christianity is growing in Islamic lands, as postmillennialism would expect. In a time of decline of the church in America, it is encouraging to see its strengthening under the most grueling circumstances in Muslim countries. Pray for the church in the Middle East.
Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way.
One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today.
It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ. Continue reading