From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

The Dean Recommends: Religious Liberty and the Fracturing of Civil Society

By Andrew T. Walker
July 21, 2016

The first lesson in civics received by most children in America is that America is a great “melting pot,” or perhaps a large patterned quilt sewn together with many unique squares. These images are meant to convey the essence of America’s motto: E pluribus unum (“out of many, one”).

American children are also taught that our country came to be thanks to a faithful, dissenting remnant—the Pilgrims—who sought political asylum and religious freedom. People traveled thousands of miles in order to create a political society where religious exercise was at the center. However inconsistent America’s earliest religious dissenters may have been in extending the freedom of dissent to others, religious freedom was woven into our nation’s earliest beginnings.

Protecting religious dissent is at the foundation of America’s history and constitutional legacy. As Madison and Adams argued, religion is prior to the claims of the state. It provides the grounding for democracy necessary for ordered liberty. And if religion is prior to the state, its importance looms larger than the state’s reach. This understanding wasn’t a secondary feature to America: it was, arguably, its distinguishing feature. Seen in this light, the Constitution didn’t bequeath religious liberty. Rather, religious liberty helped bequeath a penumbra of other rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.

"No Christians Wanted"

Today, when it comes to protecting dissent, something is awry. “Not Welcome Here” has become the overriding sentiment communicated to traditionalist Christians because of their beliefs about marriage, sexuality, and gender. The regime of secular progressivism, with its mantra that “Error Has No Rights,” doesn’t just create concerns for conservative Christians. No, the very possibility of civil society’s embrace of dissent is also being called into question, which means that the American tradition itself is being betrayed. Read the rest at the Public Discourse.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Share |

The Dean Recommends: The Writing Minister - How to Expand Your Ministry to the World

By Denise George
July 25, 2016

When you, as a minister, write-to-publish books, you can reach out far beyond the walls of your church with the Gospel message, and deep into the heart of the world. With today’s Internet and communication resources – including online ebooks – you can reach places in the world once considered closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As you already know, the world is a hurting place, and people need instruction, wisdom, encouragement, and hope. As a minister, you have the answers for the world’s hurting and confused people. Not only can your book help a person now, but the written word has lasting power, leaving a legacy that will continue bearing rich fruit long after your time on earth has passed.

Advantages from your position

As a minister, you have definite advantages over other writers.  You’ve already been called to share the Gospel with others, and have made the lifelong commitment to Christ and to His ministry. Spreading the Gospel through the written word is simply a natural progression of your church ministry.

You also have your finger on the pulse of today’s men, women, youth, and children. Counseling hurting people in your congregation is, no doubt, part of your everyday ministry. You know firsthand how people today are hurting – their “felt needs.” Read the rest at Christian Index.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Share |

James Earl Massey: Steward of the Story

By Timothy George
July 25, 2016

I first heard the voice of James Earl Massey when I was a theological student at Harvard Divinity School and he was the stated preacher for the Christian Brotherhood Hour, a weekly international broadcast sponsored by the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana). In those days, homiletics was not a regular part of the curriculum at Harvard. As a young minister with a small pastoral charge, I was eager to learn all I could about the craft of preaching, especially in a multi-racial, inner-city congregation. James Earl Massey was different than any other radio preacher I had ever heard. His diction was perfect, his command of the English language was superb, and his style was lively and compelling, though never marked by ostentation. He also had a way of getting on the inside of a biblical text, of unraveling it, so to speak, not the way a botanist would study a leaf in a laboratory, but like a great singer offering a distinctive rendition of a famous song.

Music is an apt analogy for Massey’s preaching. Early on he received advanced training in classical piano and had all the makings of a refined concert artist. The modalities of music—rhythm, pitch, tone, phrasing, cadence, melody, mood—also apply to the work of the preacher, and Massey is a master of them all. When his career path turned from music to the ministry, the world lost a great pianist but gained a magnificent preacher of the Gospel. For Massey, though, preaching is never a mere performance, however well honed and powerfully presented. The sermon is more a deliverance than a performance: What is said is more important than how we say it, though these two aspects can never be completely divorced.

In any event, Massey was propelled into his life’s work by a palpable sense of divine calling. As a young man of sixteen, he had come to the sanctuary of the Church of God of Detroit one Sunday morning with the score of a waltz by Chopin in his hands, intending no doubt to work on his musical assignment if the sermon proved boring! In his autobiography, Aspects of My Pilgrimage, Massey describes what happened next: “But during a brief let-up in my concentration on the score, I found myself being captured by the spirit of the worship occasion. As I honored the meaning of the worship hour and opened myself to God, I felt caught up into an almost transfixed state, and I heard a Voice speaking within my consciousness: ‘I want you to preach!’” In that “great listening moment of grace,” the trajectory of Massey’s life was re-directed. As he puts it, “The Voice that called me was so clear, and its bidding, though gentle, bore the unmistakable authority of a higher realm.” Read the rest at First Things.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Monday, July 25, 2016
Share |