Current Issues

Why Some Women Still Can't Have It All

In other words, Slaughter’s piece doesn’t simply burst the feminist bubble, it’s an indictment against all of us who misprioritize work over family. It’s an indictment against workaholism. It’s far too easy for many of us to read Slaughter’s piece and feel a bit of satisfaction that even committed feminists cannot escape God’s hard-wiring—God created mothers to mother—while neglecting the fact that God created fathers to father.

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Churches Should Adopt a Modern Version of the Bible

In my previous post, I asked if churches should abandon the King James Version for a modern English translation. I answered, “Yes,” and suggested there were two main reasons…But the truth is that after 400 years it suffers a number of shortcomings when compared to modern versions. I will mention two.

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"The new term for them is ‘slactivists’ – they are both slackers and activists."

“Generation iY, the younger Millennials born after 1990, is a troubled population that is characterized by paradoxes, but still reachable if we understand them, says an expert on developing emerging leaders.”
Generation iY … Reachable

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The Fundamentalist Challenge for the 21st Century: Do We Have a Future? Part 3

The following is a portion of a paper Dr. Straub read at the Bible Faculty Leadership Summit last summer (he also read a variation at the Conference on the Church for God’s Glory last May). It appears here with light editing. The paper will appear here in four parts. See Part 1 and Part 2. -Editor

So what of the future for fundamentalism? Is there hope?

Having defined fundamentalism and having set it in the context of the evangelical right, I will devote the rest of this presentation to discussing where fundamentalism is going and what its future may be. We are less than a decade into the new millennium. It’s impossible to predict where we will be at the end of the century, but I am not too optimistic. A few months back I said some disparaging remarks about the current state of fundamentalism on a semi-private listserve I moderate. Word of what I said got out to a well-respected pastor in our circles and he contacted me to encourage me to be careful about dissing fundamentalism. He felt that I might hurt myself and ultimately Central Seminary. My response? I am a historian. We look at the past to understand the present. We look at the present to suggest what the future might be. Arnold Toynbee said once that “the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” I think we need to be honest with our past, realistic about our present and reflective about our future. Only then can we hope to remain faithful to God. I did not create the state that fundamentalism is in, but I think that glossing over our problems will help no one. Young men will continue to leave and the old men will continue to sit smug in self-denial. A real future demands serious reflection.

So what about historic fundamentalism in the 21st century? Do we have a future? Last May, my son graduated from Central with his M.Div. He is currently enrolled in our ThM program. When he finishes, he will go out into the Lord’s work. I wonder where he will land? What movement will he identify with in the next decade, or 30 years? Will he follow my path and remain within this movement called fundamentalism? Will there even be a fundamentalism as we know it? Some of these questions, I cannot answer. But the one I raised in my subtitle—Does Fundamentalism Have a Future?—I do wish to try to answer.

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The Foundations of the Fundamentals

Most fundamentalists are familiar with the “Five Fundamentals of the Faith” upon which early twentieth-century Fundamentalism was founded. The inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and His resurrection and physical return to earth are the absolute basics of an orthodox framework of Christian faith. What the last thirty years has revealed, however, is that these five fundamentals are not enough to safeguard orthodoxy by themselves, and are no longer sufficient as a test for orthodoxy.

A case in point is the issue of inspiration. Some of the most lethal attacks against the Scriptures in recent years have affirmed inspiration (and even inerrancy). At the same time, they have rejected the veracity and authority of Scripture (for example, see the recent book God’s Word in Human Words: An Evangelical Appropriation of Critical Biblical Scholarship by Kenton Sparks; Baker, 2008).

The reason the historic five fundamentals are no longer a sufficient test for orthodoxy is the fact that they rest on a more basic metaphysical foundation that has been quietly undermined by philosophy. (In this essay, the term “foundation” has nothing to do with foundationalist epistemology.) Philosophers, and theologians who have been heavily influenced by philosophy, have ceded key aspects of the doctrine of God that seem to conflict with philosophy’s demands. Rather than keeping philosophy in its proper place as the handmaid of theology, some have allowed the servant to become master. In doing so, the foundation of our theology has been subtly undermined. If we do not take heed to the foundations of our beliefs, we will not know that the framework has been undermined until it is too late. We will be like front line soldiers resisting the visible enemy encamped across the field, while a stronger force tunnels underneath our lines preparing to attack from the rear.

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Obama and the Next Frontier of Human Rights

On January 20 of this year, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America. This momentous occasion did not mark the death of racism in our land. It did, however, betoken a crucial stage in the sluggish uprooting of racism’s influence upon this nation. It is no small matter that the majority of voting Americans in the election resolved to appoint an African-American to the highest office in the land—arguably to the most powerful governmental post on the planet. This marks a groundbreaking advance toward an America in which one’s abilities and opportunities are wholly disentangled from levels of melanin in one’s skin—toward an America in which citizens of every class and ethnicity share equal status as creatures made in the image of God.

Just days before Obama’s November 4 victory at the polls, I made a rather timely visit to two museums. Each of these museums preserves on display the viewpoint of onetime purveyors of a societal vision that hinged on the perceived inferiority of a specific class of people. The Gettysburg Museum in Pennsylvania and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. each immortalizes the convictions of sincere intellectuals who sought to elevate one segment of society by oppressing another.

Alexander H. Stevens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, declared that the “cornerstone” of the Confederacy “rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.” In the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate on March 4, 1858, Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina proclaimed: “Our slaves are black, of another and inferior race.”

Countering such sentiments, Abraham Lincoln declared in a debate at Galesburg, Illinois (October 7, 1858): “I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil …” In a letter to Albert Hodges, Lincoln wrote: “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”

Consider this carefully: These two radically distinct ideologies were vehemently defended and publicly debated by sincere Americans. Mercifully, the viewpoint that eventually prevailed insisted that oppressing one class of people to protect the status of another was not only evil, but degrading to the protected class—a thesis Booker T. Washington ably championed in his autobiography, Up from Slavery. The presidency of Barak Obama rides on the wings of this achievement.

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