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While the world loses a language every 40 days, translation efforts bring new life to threatened tongues.

Bible translators have made it a priority to give people around the world the chance to study Scripture in their “heart language.”

Even if Christians are able to understand another language, there are significant benefits to hearing the gospel in one’s mother tongue. It makes it easier to grasp theological concepts and builds a deeper emotional connection to the message.

But over the past several decades, these heart language translations haven’t only changed how Christians from various cultural backgrounds approach their faith; they have also affected how believers view their familial language.

“As they begin to read the Bible in their own language, pray in their own language, and worship in their own language, they realize, ‘Wait, if I can do these things, maybe I could do even more,’” said Andy Keener, executive vice president for global partnerships at Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Across continents, Bible translation teams have watched how their work—sometimes creating an alphabet for the language or documenting its written form for the first time—can change the trajectory of the tongue itself.

“Bible translation is transformative for a language, especially during the life of the project itself, when it engages some of the best minds of the community in solving formidably difficult problems in semantic mapping, orthography, metaphor, and language standardization,” linguist K. David Harrison wrote in a foreword to a recent academic volume on the effects of Bible translation on language. “But it also extends in influence far beyond the original project, and shines as an example of best practice in ensuring language survival.”

Around a third of ...

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Amid societal polarization, American churches are dedicated July 7th to pray for the country.

Polarization has been trending for a long time. Especially in politics, but also in education, religion, economics, race, and more.

Even suggesting a place in the lonely middle-of-the-road can spark accusations of compromise and capitulation. Like the North Pole and the South Pole, polarization is about opposites that never meet and can’t even see each other. When it’s summer in the northern Arctic, it’s winter in the southern Antarctic.

Introduce a big What If.

What if Christians could set aside the cultural categories and extremes of our generation to center on the faith we all share in Jesus Christ? What if we could do something that demonstrated our Christian hope more than popular despair? What if together we made Jesus the winner rather than seeking victories for our sides of the lines that are dividing so many?

The proposal straight out of Washington, D.C.: Pray Together Sunday. It wasn’t my idea, but I was there when a staff member of the National Association of Evangelicals who is trained as a lawyer proposed a very Christian and biblical antidote to divisive polarization. She suggested choosing a summer Sunday for churches across our nation to pray together for God’s blessing in America.

Good idea with lots of reasons to say no. Of course it’s a good idea for churches to pray. No true Christian should object, but it’s easy to come up with a quick list of why it won’t work:

  1. The idea is already taken. We already have a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.
  2. Prayer is already part of every weekend church service. Asking churches to pray is like asking dogs to bark — it’s what they already do.
  3. Getting lots of churches to do anything together is tough to coordinate. Most churches like to make their own decisions, do what they are already doing and value independence over cooperation.

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HarperCollins, Tyndale, and others warn Trump administration that 25-percent tariff hike will make God’s Word harder to get—and could cause some translations to be discontinued.

The next victim of the mounting trade war between the United States and China: God’s Word.

Although books have escaped earlier tariff hikes by the Trump administration, the latest proposed round—a 25-percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods—includes Bibles and Christian books.

In response, leading Christian publishers testified before the US International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. this week to ask for exemptions.

China is the world’s largest Bible publisher, thanks to Nanjing-based Amity Press which has printed almost 200 million Bibles since 1988 in partnership with the United Bible Societies.

For the world’s largest Christian publisher, HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP), more than three quarters of its production costs are incurred in China. Its portfolio includes bestselling authors such as Rick Warren, as well as the New International Version (NIV) and the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The two popular translations give HCCP 38 percent of America’s Bible market, which sees about 20 million Bibles sold annually.

“We believe the Administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on the publishing industry, and never intended to impose a ‘Bible tax’ on consumers and religious organizations,” Doug Lockhart, HCCP’s senior vice president of marketing and Bible outreach, told CT by email.

In a hearing before the trade commission on Tuesday, CEO Mark Schoenwald argued the proposed tariffs will force HCCP to increase its prices, reduce its sales volume, and discontinue some Bible editions.

With more than 800,000 words that can extend to 2,000 thin pages, special bindings, maps, ribbons, and four-color ...

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“The issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love.”

Ed: People may not know about you and your church, so please tell us a little about it.

Tim: Parkview was a 40-year-old church when I got here 29 years ago. We are located in the south suburbs of Chicago. We had to go through a relatively long season of transition to get to the point where we were focusing on the goal of reaching those outside the kingdom, which is where we are, and the point of this book.

In 2002, we were able to relocate and get some property, and we’ve been on a pretty wild ride since then. We added a second campus in Homer Glen and then a third in New Lenox. Eighty percent of our people grew up in a Catholic background, which is indicative of the south suburbs.

It’s also a blast for me because they have a love and respect for Jesus and the Word, but they aren’t mired down in a lot of evangelical traditions either. My favorite story is about the guy who bought a WWJD patch for his biker jacket, thinking it meant We Want Jack Daniels.

Ed: Your book is a pretty big slap at legalism. How do you define it, and why do you think it matters?

Tim: Yeah, I’m not a passive rule-following kind of guy. I’m a classic eight on the Enneagram. But the issue that always made Jesus mad was when humans got in the way of God’s love. And legalism is an excellent way to do that. Matthew 23:4 says, “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders…” And Matthew 23:13 says, “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces…”

The problem is not the laws themselves; it’s when our interpretation of the laws or even our enforcement of those laws gets in the way of people making it home to the Father. That’s ...

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Update: The memorial is a Christian symbol—but also more than that.

Update (June 20): On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of allowing a memorial cross to remain on a state-owned median in Bladensburg, Maryland, and declared that government efforts to maintain the landmark do not violate the religion clause of the Constitution.

“The fact that the cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol should not blind one to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent: a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home, a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for this Nation, and a historical landmark,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion.

“For many, destroying or defacing the Cross would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.”

Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel with the religious liberty firm Becket Law, said while this decision represents a victory for the Bladensberg cross, “it will take careful reading and digesting of the opinion to sort through exactly what it means for future cases.”

Original post (February 28):During yesterday’s oral arguments, the Supreme Court suggested it would allow a 40-foot memorial cross to stay on public land, despite a challenge from an atheist group concerned that the 83-year-old World War I monument represented a government endorsement of religion.

The hour-long debate in the case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association didn’t just raise the question of whether the “Peace Cross” memorial was constitutional, but also whether it was a secular symbol.

The lawyer for the Maryland parks agency that now maintains the cross—which ...

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Demonic lies hide as truth. They also lurk close to home.

I stood before the dazed librarian as she scanned each questionable title: The Death of Satan, I See Satan Fall Like Lighting, By Authors Possessed, the books about demons piling up before her. I remember my discomfort and lame apologies about what appeared to be a sinful attraction to evil. This was a Christian university library, after all, and I had a stack of demonic literature rising to evil proportions at the checkout counter.

A similar discomfort confronts me now when I sign the author’s page of my book Giving the Devil His Due—its cover depicting a half-naked demon donning a red cape. Or when a radio personality invites me on his show in the hopes that I will denounce America’s absorption with that “demonic” holiday Halloween. Extended family members often confess their demonic encounters to me, trying to convince me that The Screwtape Letters is no mere caricature but the accurate epistolary adventures of an ancient monster.

Most discomfiting of all, I have stood before an audience of nonbelievers numbering in the hundreds and begged, “Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not listen to any little voice inside you; it may be the devil’s.” I can hear everyone thinking, What’s a nice girl like you doing reading and writing books like this? Instead of comfort, I have chosen to prize truth, in imitation of the two writers I admire most—Fyodor Dostoevsky and Flannery O’Connor. Both of them give the devil his due in order to save us from losing our souls.

The demonic has been a literary trope for centuries—think Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost, Mephistopheles from Faust, or somewhat recently I, Lucifer. So, when I began writing a book about ...

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Officials say undergrad enrollment in the program is dropping as students take a more holistic approach to ministry.

Thanks to its pioneering online education platform, Liberty University offers the largest theological studies program in the country—by far. Its Rawlings School of Divinity enrolls several times as many students as longstanding seminaries, which have only recently begun to transition their degree programs online.

And Liberty’s divinity school, housed in a tower erected in the center of the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, is also on its way to accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the gold standard for seminaries in the US and Canada.

But a new report this week in Inside Higher Ed describes the decision to cut a dozen divinity school faculty, its falling enrollment, and a new strategy to combat what it refers to as Liberty’s broader “struggles online and a shrinking applicant pool.”

Top officials at the school dispute claims that the university is on a trajectory of decline, especially one stemming from its ties to President Donald Trump.

Instead, they told Christianity Today that the layoffs and other hits taken by the divinity school stem from the evolving ministry landscape, the same kind of challenges faced by fellow Christian universities, missions organizations, ministries, and churches across the country—and that the Trump affiliation has actually been a boon to the school.

“Really, it’s a sign of the times,” said David Nasser, senior vice president for spiritual development and campus chaplain at Liberty. “The landscape of the way churches are staffing is changing, the landscape of the way mission organizations are staffing is changing, and I think that’s why we’ve seen some decline in the school of divinity in that sense.” ...

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America is on track to admit 82 percent fewer religious minorities from the countries where they face the most danger.

In just a few years, the United States has gone from a world leader in refugee resettlement to only admitting a fraction as many as it once did—a shift that has allowed fewer persecuted Christians and other religious minorities into the country.

On Thursday, World Refugee Day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees declared a record-high 70.8 million people were displaced last year. Despite pleas from evangelicals, the Trump Administration continued to restrict the number of refugees admitted in the country to fewer than half of what it had been for decades.

The drop raised concerns over the fate of asylum seekers from countries where religious liberty is under attack, especially those deemed Tier 1 “countries of particular concern” (CPC) by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

Among refugees from USCIRF’s countries of concern, “the data shows a projected decline of 82 percent in the total number of refugees resettled to the US between 2016 and 2019,” according to a press release citing data collected and analyzed by Matthew Soerens, the US director of church mobilization at World Relief.

The number of Christians welcomed to the US from countries with the worst records of religious persecution has dropped by 70 percent, and the number of Muslims coming from such countries is down 90.7 percent.

To put that in perspective, in 2016 the US resettled almost 47,000 refugees from USCIRF’s countries of concern, including 14,551 Christians. At the current rate, fewer than 9,500 refugees from the same countries will resettle in America this year, and only 5,103 Christians.

According to Soerens, “the most significant factor is the refugee ceiling, the maximum ...

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There are two methods I have found to be the most effective forms of leadership.

Being a leader is challenging—I think few would dispute that. Along the journey, all leaders will experience many great successes and failures; you can’t have one without the other.

As someone who’s had the privilege of watching many leaders grow over time, it’s been helpful to think through the support process.

Whenever I’ve had somebody working under me struggle or fail as a leader, I like to walk them through what might have gone wrong along the way. I might sit down with them and say, “Let’s talk about how I can help you succeed better.”

That might look like putting a new system around the individual to help him or her work more efficiently. It might look like giving the person more support. The solutions are likely to vary from person to person.

Having these conversations is important because most of the time, when new leaders fail early on, it’s not because they aren’t going to be great leaders one day. Most of the time, if you see potential in a person, there are other external factors that can be adjusted to help him or her succeed. I’d always say that when in doubt, you blame the system, not the person.

So, there are two ways I’ve found to be the most effective methods of leading. The first is engaging those I lead. The second is directing those I lead to engage with other resources.

At the moment, I’m gearing up some of these where I currently serve, hiring some staff to free up more time for leadership development. But, let me share my past practice and my future plan.

Ongoing Relationship

For starters, to engage those I lead would be to establish some sort of ongoing connection between the two of us. This could look like a weekly meeting. ...

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Christ's message of love, forgiveness, peace and justice is too compelling to resist.

When Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet assembled on May 30 to take their oath of office, nobody expected that a relatively unknown minister sworn in at the end of the ceremony would steal the show.

Applause broke from the audience when Pratap Sarangi walked onto the stage. Earlier that day, a picture of him leaving the austere hut where he lives went viral, drawing praise for his modest lifestyle.

But Sarangi’s spot in the limelight also resurfaced a controversial issue in India: religious conversions.

Sarangi was the leader of Bajrang Dal, an extremist Hindu militant organization that was accused of the 1999 murders of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Odisha.

An official investigation didn’t cast blame on any particular group, and although over a dozen people were convicted and given life sentences, all but one were eventually released. Dara Singh, who presumably led the mob who attacked the Staines, was sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to life in prison.

Sarangi has denied involvement in the crime and distanced himself from Singh, whom he says was not part of Bajrang Dal. But he has not shied from accusing Christians of converting Indians by force or fraudulent methods, most recently characterizing conversions as asking for sex in exchange for a favor.

Since 1999, attacks against Christians in India have sharply increased, particularly in the north. Last year, Open Doors, which ranks global levels of persecution, included India for the first time ever in the top 10 nations where Christians are persecuted.

As was the case with the murder of the Staines, much of the violence is incited by extremists who, for decades, have spread the propaganda preached by Sarangi that Christians ...

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Paul on “good works”—and my replies to initial critiques of this series.

Let me begin this essay by responding to some critiques of the series up to this point, and especially about last week’s essay, “The Church Does Not Exist for the Sake of the World.” While most readers seem appreciative, I expected pushback for the counterintuitive emphasis I’m trying to bring to bear in the series.

Note that word—emphasis. The careful reader sees that I’m not saying that we should forget about loving our neighbor and that I’m not arguing that in glorifying God the church should not reach out in mission. Thus the charges of “binary thinking” or of offering a “false dichotomy” are a failure to read what I’ve actually written.

More to the point: I’m arguing that the evangelical movement in particular has made an idol of activity for God, to the point that God has been increasingly eclipsed from our hearts and minds (though he is still on our lips, to be sure). To call us back to our first love does not mean that I deny the importance of our second love—the neighbor. And to question our idolatry is not binary nor a false dichotomy any more than it was for Jesus when he cleared the moneychangers from the Temple.

Let me be absolutely clear here: I am not like Jesus; I am very much a moneychanger, caught in the nexus of daily life and worship of the horizontal at the expense of a deep and abiding love for my Lord.

One critique I agree with: I failed to note that many missional thinkers are not first and foremost talking about the church’s mission but God’s. That is, it is God’s mission to bring the world to himself, and we just participate in his mission. Fair enough. I will say, however, that I wonder if this picture ...

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