citizenship


Pastors see importance of discipleship in dealing with social issues


A new Barna report shows that pastors “place a premium on discipleship when it comes to social issues.”

At this point, I have read only a sample of their findings, not the full report, but I wanted Texas Baptists to be aware of it. “Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture” includes these details:

Nine in 10 pastors (90%) say it is a major part of their role to help Christians have biblical beliefs about specific social issues. Just under three-quarters (72%) say helping Christians think well about culture in general is a major part of their job.

Pastors believe they can make a real difference when it comes to developing this kind of cultural discernment. More than nine in 10 believe they have influence with their congregants when it comes to how they think about current issues in society (31% say “a lot” of influence, 60% “some” influence). Most leaders express optimism that their congregants are prepared for a divided culture—a majority of pastors says their congregants are somewhat (55%) or very (7%) well-equipped to have conversations on sensitive topics.

We can be thankful most pastors say it is a “major part” of their work to help believers develop a biblically informed view of social issues. Also, most see themselves having at least “some” influence on how church members think about current issues.

I’m not as confident as the pastors who say their congregants are well-equipped to have conversations on sensitive cultural topics....

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Bacote: Permission to go out in public


This just in: Christians have permission to go out in public.

Of course, this is not really news, but sometimes evangelical followers of Christ wonder if it is OK to get involved in their broader culture -- the world, the frightful, dangerous world where Satan can trip us up and snatch us away.

The broader culture is rife with dangerous ideas, influences, and people. We have to be careful out there, but we need to be out there.

Vincent B. Bacote, the author of The Political Disciple: A Theology of Public Life, is helping the church see this need to be involved in the broader culture as a commission from God revealed in...

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Praying for political leaders makes a difference


A former Texas legislator told me the other day of sitting in his chair on the House floor, considering a bill, and thinking about what the Bible says. This man is not a regular churchgoer now, but that day in Austin he remembered the Bible talking about loving the children. He voted for the children of Texas in a vote that shocked some people and promised to cause him political difficulties.

I don’t share his name because we were just visiting about different matters, and this was a passing part of the conversation.

He next said something important for today. Someone complained to him recently about one of this year’s...

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​In Search of Common Ground: Grand Jury Reform, Black Lives Matter and Pro-Life Advocacy


Our criminal justice system is broken in regard to grand juries.

Many people are familiar with the roles of law enforcement, judges, and lawyers in the criminal justice system. Most people are decidedly less familiar with the important, but often hidden role of the grand jury.

A grand jury is a group of 12 citizens of the county where the grand jury sits, able to read and write, not under indictment, etc. The most common role of the grand jury is to listen to the facts of a case and determine if probable cause exists for charges alleged against a defendant.

While both grand juries and trial juries are made up of lay people who must...

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It's January, but March 1 is coming


Things are about to get crazy in Texas – or crazier. It is less than two months before the Republican and Democratic primary elections here (March 1), and early voting begins Feb. 16.

No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.

Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the help of the Holy Spirit. We listen with the ears of Texans and Americans, but...

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Religious liberty and openness at the core of U.S.


Presidential candidate Donald Trump said Monday we need a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

It is sad that a candidate for president would say something so contrary to the founding and sustaining principles of this great nation. Religious liberty stands at our nation's core, and openness to immigrants has filled our population with a diverse people unparalleled anywhere on earth. America is at its best when it allows people to pursue their religious beliefs and when it treats all people with respect and dignity.

These principles of...

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​Help for dealing with a changing culture


The American culture seems to be getting away from us; that, at least, is how many Christians with more traditional values feel.

One of the most seriously threatened values is the sacredness of marriage between one man and one woman for life. First, we saw the "for life" part mostly fall away as divorce grew more common, and now the "one man and one woman" portion hangs in the balance.

Most states already have redefined marriage as including same-sex relationships, and now many experts think the U.S. Supreme Court is about to make that redefinition apply to the remaining 13 states, including Texas.

For many of us, this just seems...

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Election Day provides opportunity to express citizenship


The Bible exhorts Christians to be good citizens while on earth (Romans 13:1-8). Voting is one of the foundational requirements to good citizenship. With Election Day quickly approaching it is important to head to the polls. We, as believers, should actively engage in understanding the policy issues affecting our communities and neighbors. We should vote in accordance to God's agenda for this world and not just on blind allegiance to a political party or person.

To that end, we should evaluate for ourselves, in accordance with Scripture, which candidates''stated priorities best align with the Word of God. These are some good...

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A place for civic duty


Again a summons has come. This time it is from the U.S. District Court with a demand that I report for jury demand. It is probably my fourth summons during the past few years. They never come at a convenient time, but I always feel slightly honored to be summoned. It means my country, my state or my county need me.

It is a matter of civic duty, and it is important because I possess a great civic debt. To live in the United States is one of the great privileges of my life, and with that privilege comes responsibilities.

Quite honestly, it surprises me how much some people complain about a summons to jury duty or go to extreme means to...

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Ethicist Gushee offers an action plan on gun violence


Baptist ethicist David Gushee, writing at the Huffington Post, has laid out 12 proposals for action in the wake of the latest "American massacre." Why has he done this?

"I have become convinced that we need to treat this steady downpour of gun massacres as a form of domestic terrorism that must be deterred, prevented and punished through every possible effort of government, civil society, families and individuals. Everyone has a responsibility to do what they can to end these monthly massacres of children in school, mall shoppers, churchgoers, movie watchers."Only a comprehensive solution will do. Every aspect of this problem needs
...

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