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Dr. Timothy George Links

Easter Sunday is a hard act to follow. “The strife is o’er, the battle done/Now is the Victor’s April_2014triumph won/He closed the gates of yawning hell/The bars from heaven’s high portals fell.” And, this hymn by Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord is risen today. Alleluia!” Or this one, by William Chatterton Dix, sung to the melody of Hyfrydol: “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!/His the scepter, His the throne;/Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.” What could possibly trump that? And so it is not surprising that the day after the Feast of the Resurrection, Easter Monday, is a liturgical letdown, a prosaic return to the quotidian.

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If Jesus came back to the Middle East today, I think he would look a lot like the Reverend Canon Dr. Andrew White, the Anglican Chaplain in Iraq and Vicar of St. George’s Church. The “Vicar of Baghdad,” as he is called, carries out his work in one of the world’s most dangerous cities. He does the kinds of things every pastor does: He preaches, performs weddings, baptizes, offers communion, gives counsel and comfort to his congregation, makes mince pies for his church members at Christmas. He also presides at funerals—lots of funerals. One Sunday on his way to morning worship at the church, Canon White counted sixty dead bodies strung up on lampposts and discarded along the road, victims all of the latest round of post-invasion sectarian violence.

Who is Canon Andrew White, and what does he think he is doing in a place like that? He answered that question in the opening words of a speech he gave not long ago at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington. “I need to be perfectly honest with you,” he said. “I love Iraq more than any other place in the world.”

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{actionbar}January_2014_CFH_Henry_345_x_134Carl F. H. Henry was born on January 22, 1913. He would have been 101 years old this month. I have written elsewhere about Carl Henry’s remarkable ministry as the first editor of Christianity Today, co-chair with Billy Graham of the 1966 Berlin Congress on World Evangelism (forerunner of the Lausanne movement), and leading evangelical statesman and theologian. Among his many rich contributions to the cause of Christ, Carl Henry was a dear friend and mentor to Chuck Colson and a long-serving member of the Board of Prison Fellowship. When Chuck Colson was first born again as a new believer in Christ, he turned to several wise pastors and theologians to help him move forward in the right way in his newfound Christian faith.
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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over now, but the melodies linger on—not only for those who observe the full twelve days of Christmastide, but also for others for whom the season has been mostly about lots of good food, good cheer, and the feel-good sentimentality of “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.”

But then the calendar of the Christian church does something downright rude. It reminds us of something we thought we had tinseled out of our consciousness at least until 2014, namely the violence, mayhem, and chaos that are part of what it means to be a human being in this kind of world. It does this by placing the feast day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, on December 26, the day just after Christmas, and the feast day of the Holy Innocents, just two days later, on December 28.

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Note from Editor: Dr. George’s next “from the Chairman” column will focus on Carl Henry’s work with Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship.

American evangelicals and serious theology are not terms that just naturally snuggle up to one another with easy equipoise. That, despite the fact that Jonathan Edwards, the greatest theologian America has yet to produce, stands at the headwaters of the evangelical tradition. The diminution of the evangelical mind since Edwards—and not only in theology—has been often rehearsed. The lure of pragmatism, individualism, revivalism (not to be confused with revival, about which Edwards knew a thing or two), expressivism, and fissiparous fundamentalism have all taken their toll when it comes to the nurturing of a theological tradition that is wise and deep. But in recent history, there is one evangelical theologian who stands above others in depth of insight and clarity of vision: Carl Ferdinand Howard Henry.

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Carolyn Maull McKinstry and the Birmingham Bombings

It was called “The Magic City,” “The Pittsburgh of the South” (because rich ore deposits had led to the development of a strong steel industry), the most segregated city in the country. After 1948, Birmingham, Alabama was increasingly called “Bombingham.” That was the year several African-American families moved into a hitherto whites-only neighborhood called Smithville, soon to become known as “Dynamite Hill.” Dynamite was readily available in Birmingham due to the large mining operations in the area. Throughout the fifties and sixties, local Ku Klux Klan leaders bombed black churches, black schools, and the homes of “uppity” blacks who had dared to cross the Klan-drawn color line.

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September-2013W2I really did not intend to ignite a theological firestorm when I wrote my On the Square column, “No Squishy Love.” I simply pointed out that the committee preparing a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA) had voted to omit the much loved hymn “In Christ Alone,” because of its offending line, “Till on that cross as Jesus died / The wrath of God was satisfied.” I tried to place this decision in a wider historical context. But then “No Squishy Love” went viral, generating thousands of comments and spin-off articles not only on the Internet and in religious publications but also in USA Today, The Washington Post, and even The Economist! What’s going on here?

As a general rule, I do not respond to book reviews or blog chatter, but all this holy hullabaloo has prompted me to add a few comments to my original statement.

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