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Political violence offers a false sense of meaning. The church must model a different kind of glory.

In the hours of confusion and chaos since the assassination attempt at a Donald Trump rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, in which the former president was injured and several others killed or critically wounded, partisans of all sorts immediately began to speculate about the motives of the shooter.

For many, this raised a weighty question about radicalization and what’s gone wrong in American democracy. Others’ musings came from a hope to “own” the other side. Some noted that, whatever the shooter’s political views or lack thereof, this episode probably says as much about the mental health crisis in American life as it does about our civic crisis. But what if these two crises are not as unrelated as we imagine?

Most Americans recognize the names of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, along with presidents closer to our own time. Many would struggle, though, to remember when James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce were inaugurated. Yet even those of us fuzzy on much of presidential history can probably identify immediately John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald—just as many who couldn’t name one of Ronald Reagan’s cabinet secretaries know the name of John Hinckley, his would-be assassin. Household names of 1968 like Edmund Muskie or Curtis LeMay have faded out of our memories, but we still know James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan.

Psychologists tell us that people who engage in terrorism of any sort are often well aware of how lasting this kind of notoriety can be. For many, it’s the point of their violence. When all is stable, that sort of perversion can be channeled into more benign vanities. But when—as now—the country seems to be teetering on the edge of something ...

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Our anxiety over church factions should lead us to dependence on Christ.

When I was in seminary 12 years ago, most of my classmates and I were discerning which denomination to join. Since many of us in our nondenominational seminary felt called to church leadership, this was a big decision. It’s one thing to worship somewhere, but it’s another to take ordination vows.

Being a pastor is a bit like being married: We pledge faithfulness to God within a specific family of people. The stakes felt high as we weighed which denominational family we should commit to—theological stances, interpersonal quirks, and structural problems included. Our seminary professors modeled that even the most ecumenically minded church leaders remain deeply impacted by their denominational context.

This is not a bad thing. Belonging to a specific body encourages us to invest in the health and integrity not only of our individual congregations but of our congregational networks. Ordained or not, we should be willing to engage in difficult conversations about the leadership structures and theological convictions and core values that characterize our respective traditions.

This summer, Christians from a variety of denominations (including the Southern Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church in America, Anglican Church in North America, and Christian Reformed Church) held national meetings to discuss these convictions and values.

Denominational meetings aren’t always comfortable. This year, Baptists debated whether female staff members could be called pastors; Presbyterians disagreed about how to address the political polarization happening in their churches; and Anglicans discussed how to respond to and communicate about clergy misconduct. These conversations are worth our investment and effort.

But they ...

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What the presidential debate and its aftermath should tell us about our culture of geriatric childishness.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

A friend of mine told me that he was at a long-planned gathering of half Republicans and half Democrats for the purpose of talking through partisan polarization. They watched the presidential debate together, and everyone was nervous that the respectful disagreements would devolve into the cheering and booing of team sports. He said it was actually the most unifying two hours of the entire meeting, because everyone was feeling the same thing: embarrassment.

No matter whether Team Red or Team Blue, the viewers recognized that our presidents once said things like, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” and “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Two weeks ago, from two 80-year-old men, one of whom is to lead the country for the next four years, we heard instead such lines as “I didn’t have sex with a porn star” and “Anyway … we finally beat … Medicare.” That was before they incoherently bickered about their respective golf handicaps.

When we ask, “Is this the best we can do?” we actually all know the answer. But neither man will step away, and there are no grownups that can make them.

This would be bad enough if it were only about which octogenarian will be occupying the only assisted living center in the world with a press office and a Situation Room. But the fact that our elderly leaders—one struggling to put sentences together, the other ranting with insanities and profanities—won’t leave the scene is about more than an election year. It’s about what it means to live in an era of diminished expectations.

For years, sociologists and philosophers ...

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Lawyer and author P. I. Jose discusses the growing influence of Hindutva ideology and its threat to India’s constitutional order.

During the last decade in India, a Hindu nationalist government has taken the helm, and Hindutva ideology, once considered as fringe, has become firmly entrenched and empowered politically and socially.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi first rose to power in 2014, India has grappled with rising religious nationalism, posing significant challenges to its founding principles of pluralism and equality. Democracy watchdogs have expressed concern about the health of the world’s largest democracy. In 2018, for instance, one group categorized India as an “electoral autocracy.” In 2024, the country was downgraded in status, becoming known as “one of the worst autocratizers.” Both domestic and international observers have raised concerns about potential threats to India’s constitutional framework and minority rights.

Many rejoiced when Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to win an absolute majority last month for the first time in three elections, but concerns about the widespread political and social influence of Hindutva remain.

Against this backdrop, P. I. Jose’s new book, Hindutva Palm-Branches and the Christian Resolve, examines India’s evolving political and religious landscape. Drawing on his extensive experience practicing in front of India’s supreme court, Jose examines the growing influence of Hindutva and its impact on India’s constitutional democracy and secular fabric.

CT recently spoke with Jose about what secularism means in a country as religious as India, Hindutva’s effects on constitutional principles, and the precarious position of religious minorities, particularly Christians, in India’s current political climate.

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Even when they strain credulity, they can challenge our assumptions about popular piety and the limits of the possible.

On May 17, the Roman Catholic commission responsible for correcting errors in church teaching issued a guidance document with “Norms for Proceeding in the Discernment of Alleged Supernatural Phenomena.” While remaining open to genuine manifestations of the Holy Spirit, it addressed “serious critical issues that are detrimental to the faithful. … When considering such events, one should not overlook, for example, the possibility of doctrinal errors, an oversimplification of the Gospel message, or the spread of a sectarian mentality.”

The persistence of miracles within Catholicism distinguishes it from other Christian traditions. Belief in miracles represents not simply a concession to popular piety but a fundamentally different teaching about the work of the Holy Spirit and the response of the church.

Such things may seem baffling to most Protestants; in the commission’s words, they (and other doubters) would prefer to frame these phenomena as “believers being misled by an event that is attributed to a divine initiative but is merely the product of someone ’s imagination, desire for novelty, tendency to fabricate falsehoods (mythomania), or inclination toward lying.”

Rather than dismiss these claims outright, the Catholic church has established processes (like the May guidance) for adjudicating them. But this is just a refinement to a tradition of engaging with the supernatural that dates back centuries. And that history is the subject of a new book, Carlos Eire’s They Flew: A History of the Impossible.

Eire, a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University, examines how this process worked in the centuries following the Reformation. He focuses not on ...

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As it brings in churches from mainline and conservative Presbyterian denominations, the EPC feels the tension in compromise.

A Presbyterian denomination that prides itself on freedom in nonessentials has found its cooperative ministry model strained by the latest discussion of human sexuality.

Presbyterian historian Donald Fortson has been a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) since its inception in 1981, and he says he has never seen a more “raucous” General Assembly than this year’s gathering, held last month in Memphis.

Among the topics of debate was whether to admit a congregation whose pastor identifies as homosexual but also says he is celibate and supports a traditional Christian sexual ethic, which falls under what some have called “Side B” Christianity.

Greg Johnson, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, led his congregation to leave the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) two years ago after that denomination voted narrowly to disqualify from ministerial office “men who describe themselves as homosexual, even those who describe themselves as homosexual and claim to practice celibacy by refraining from homosexual conduct.”

Johnson has described himself that way, advocating Side B Christianity both at the controversial Revoice conference and in his book Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church’s Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality.

Now his church has inquired about joining the EPC.

“That has stirred up all kinds of controversy,” said Fortson, professor of church history and pastoral theology emeritus at Reformed Theological Seminary, “because we’ve got some in the EPC that appear to be very open to bringing him into the EPC, and we’ve got other groups that are absolutely opposed to him coming into the EPC.”

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Rick Dempsey explains how his decades of localization expertise is being applied to The Chosen.

In 2014, Disney released a video of Elsa singing her hit “Let It Go” in 25 languages. If you didn’t know any better, you might have assumed that Idina Menzel, who sang perhaps the most popular Disney ballad in history, had performed each version.

Significant credit for this House of Mouse magic belongs to Rick Dempsey, who then served as senior vice president of creative for Disney Character Voices International. Dempsey’s team held auditions all over the world, ultimately finding the dozens of singers who brought the music of Frozen alive in their languages.

The goal was “to ensure there is character consistency” and that “the voices are all very similar around the world,” Dempsey said in 2014. “The good news is that we were able to find talent that were able to pull it off.”

This impressive consistency, or “character integrity,” is a concept and practice that The Walt Disney Company embraced and expanded nearly to the point of perfection, thanks to Dempsey’s work. Today, he brings this expertise to The Chosen, the most-translated TV show in history.

CT recently spoke with Dempsey about his transition from Disney, the arduous process of translation and localization, and how The Chosen is connecting with unreached people groups and places where sharing the gospel can cost people their lives.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Tell us about your 35-year-long career at Disney.

I started with Disney in 1988 and led character voices for the whole company. My job was to protect character integrity, which means that when the movie characters are adapted to connect with local audiences, they remain consistent across the languages. I think it is ...

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In a case that alluded to the investor’s faith, a federal jury convicted Bill Hwang of market manipulation and defrauding banks.

Supporters of Christian investor and philanthropist Bill Hwang closed their eyes and prayed in federal court as they waited for a verdict on a case accusing him of massive Wall Street fraud. Hwang himself, serene throughout the proceedings, read a Bible devotional and took notes in the margins—a practice he had done throughout the trial—as he awaited the jury’s ruling.

On Wednesday, a jury found Hwang, at one time one of the wealthiest evangelicals in the US, guilty of manipulating the stock market and defrauding banks. It is one of the biggest cases of Wall Street fraud in terms of dollar amount, with banks losing $10 billion after he and his firm lied to them.

It is the crashing conclusion of a unique institution: Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management, a Christian investment firm that was named for a Greek word used to describe Christ as the “author” of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) and the “prince” of life (Acts 3:15). While Hwang’s defense team had argued that his aggressive trading at Archegos was within the bounds of normal Wall Street practice, the jury found he and his team were guilty of defrauding banks of billions and artificially pumping up stock prices.

The jury found him guilty of 10 of 11 counts. He was guilty of racketeering, securities fraud, market manipulation, and wire fraud. He was found not guilty on one count of market manipulation regarding one particular stock.

When Archegos collapsed in March 2021, the firm lost $36 billion, banks lending to Archegos lost $10 billion, and about $100 billion in market value disappeared.

Hwang’s Christian faith was woven into the long federal trial, featuring witnesses from Hwang’s Christian foundation Grace and ...

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As digital enticements proliferate, Michelangelo and the apostle Paul teach us to seek humbler, faithful art forms.

Why pray alone or with your family if you can pray with big-biceped celebrities on the Hallow app? Why limit yourself to reading or hearing the Gospels if you can have a Jesus with all the thrill and appeal of a bingeable Netflix series? Why cultivate the Ignatian prayer skill of active imagination when you can passively experience an immersive exhibit that brings a storm on the Sea of Galilee to life?

Why be satisfied with an ordinary church when you can digitally tour Europe’s greatest cathedrals or listen to famous preachers comfortably at home? Or why settle for traditional depictions of Jesus or figures from the Bible and church history when images of what The Atlantic dubbed “hot AI Jesus” and hot AI saints now proliferate online?

These are but some of the questions posed by our digital era’s dizzying accelerations, and Christians best have an answer. Here, I’ll focus on the artificial intelligence renderings of Jesus and explore how the example of history’s greatest Christian artist, Michelangelo, can help us resist the enticements of artificial devotion.

The easiest response to AI Jesus is to say that the iconoclasts—the Christian icon-breakers who warned against or outright destroyed devotional images in eighth-century Byzantium and sixteenth-century Europe—have been vindicated at last. An AI-generated image like shrimp Jesus is surely enough to cause some to hope that a modern equivalent of Oliver Cromwell’s stained glass–smashing soldiers will soon ride again.

Modern iconoclasts would argue that churches should be clean and imageless, an ever more necessary weekly cleansing of our digitally exhausted visual palette. This is venerable and ancient counsel. ...

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Heart surgeon Masoud Pezeshkian takes the helm of the Islamic Republic, having campaigned for ethnic and religious minorities while pledging to reach out to the West.

The surprise election in Iran of the sole reformist candidate for president was met with an unsurprising reaction from the United States.

Heart surgeon Masoud Pezeshkian tallied 53 percent of the vote for a clear but narrow victory over hard-line former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in an electoral process the State Department labeled “not free or fair.”

It followed the May 19 death of the previous president in a helicopter crash.

With “no expectation [of] fundamental change,” the perspective from Washington echoed that of Javaid Rehman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran. The Pakistani-British lawyer stated that a new president is unlikely to improve the Islamic Republic’s record.

Iranian Christian sources in the diaspora agree.

“The result highlights a superficial change in leadership,” said Robert Karami, an Iranian Church of England pastor outside London and a board member of Release International, a UK-based advocate for the persecuted church. “It does not matter who holds the presidential office as long as the Supreme Leader remains in power.”

Pezeshkian, age 69, was one of six candidates permitted to run by Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council, appointed by head of state Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Dozens of candidates were disqualified, including former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Analysts speculated the inclusion of Pezeshkian was intended to increase voter turnout—but if so, the strategy initially failed and may have backfired.

Only 40 percent of the electorate participated in the first round held on June 28, the lowest tally since the 1979 Iranian revolution. It resulted in the first runoff since 2005, leading ...

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Hosanna AME Church
2418 Castleton Road
Darlington, MD 21034
About Us:

The mission of our church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading the good news of Christ's redeeming gospel through the preached word and outreach ministries and activities. Christ has called us to seek and to save all those who will believe and call on the name of Jesus and accept Him as Savior and Lord!

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Lasted updated 10/14/2023

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