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  FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
FROM THE APOSTLES DESK
THE WHITE'S ITINERARY

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Looking to the monarchy can show us the pitfalls of prideful politics.

This essay was originally commissioned for a private convening of British and American Christian leaders organized by The Center for Christianity and Public Life and the UK-based Faith in Public.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 2022, many commentators insisted that the time for monarchy has passed. The crown is a gaudy bauble unsuited to the modern, utilitarian state, so arguments generally went, not to mention a medieval anachronism that makes a messy mix of religion and politics.

I’m sensitive to the appeal of both arguments, especially the latter. But with a view from the States after eight years of acrid and tumultuous politics—and with another presidential campaign on the verge of further embittering our national life—the monarchy has begun to look pretty handy.

Its use is not, as critics tend to assume, in creating a grandiosity of state. It is rather in containing it, attaching it to a figure whose relative permanence, undemocratic selection, and minimal real power allow him to absorb outbursts of national feeling instead of such outbursts loosing their chaos into workaday politics and governance. Give us a king like the other nations have, I am increasingly inclined to plead, so that he might provide a stabler outlet for our anger, fear, and aspirations.

That’s not to say, of course, that the United Kingdom’s politics are never vitriolic or overwrought. But the contrast in how the US and UK handle our respective heads of government is telling.

There, an unpopular prime minister may be ignominiously tossed out in a matter of weeks. Here, presidential elections have stretched into two-year sagas, each dubbed the most important of our lifetimes and treated as an existential battle for ...

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Two recent books discuss how our conception of gender relates to our perception of God.

Two books published last year by Wm. B. Eerdmans are attempting to confront our assumptions about the gender of God from two different angles.

God Is, by Mallory Wyckoff, is more personal and more expansive in its role casting of the divine, while Women and the Gender of God, by Amy Peeler, is more scholarly, systematic, and orthodox in its claims about God’s nature.

To be candid, I nearly wrote the foreword for Wyckoff’s book because I was so excited by its approach to the topic. God Is counters the “default notion of God as an old male figure in the skies” by showing God is, as one chapter title intimates, “more than we’ve been led to believe.”

Wyckoff addresses a dozen-plus potentially new “God is” statements: “Mother,” “Midwife,” “Hostess,” “Home.” It is a brave book with more to learn from than to disagree with. However, I was not merely uncomfortable with the chapters where God is “Sexual Trauma Survivor” and “Wisdom Within”; I found them heterodox. The former pushes the boundary of analogy in a way that doesn’t fit, and the latter is the title of a heresy.

For Wyckoff, the more you learn about yourself, the more your conceptions of God change. In part, this observation rings true. As we grow in life and faith, we should move from milk to meat, as the apostle Paul implies (1 Cor. 3:2–6). Wyckoff notes that aging moved her into new ways of imagining God: “In each season of life, with each iteration of myself, I have seen God reflected in multiple lights. I have encountered various images of the God who is all and none of them.” Likewise, she wants to expand our notions of ...

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Two British citizens face criminal penalties for violating buffer zones.

Prayer outside abortion facilities is drawing prosecution in multiple cases across the UK.

Adam Smith-Connor prayed silently on a public street in Bournemouth, England, earlier this month, his back to an abortion clinic. When community safety officers asked what he was doing, he told them he was “praying for [his] son, who is deceased.”

The officers expressed condolences but then said Smith-Connor, a 49-year-old physical therapist and British army veteran, was “in breach” of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), according to a video of the incident. Later he was fined.

The PSPO at issue is a local ordinance enacted in October 2022 establishing a “safe zone” comprising multiple city blocks surrounding the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) abortion clinic. The ordinance prohibits protesting “whether by yourself or with others,” and it defines protesting to include prayer.

The deceased son Smith-Connor referenced to the officers was aborted nearly three decades ago, he explained in a release from Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADFI), a conservative legal group supporting him. Smith-Connor paid for the abortion but now regrets it and believes the procedure harms babies, women, and families.

“I would never have imagined being in a position to risk a criminal record for praying silently,” Smith-Connor said.

Smith-Connor isn’t the only UK resident to be punished recently for silent prayer outside an abortion clinic. Pro-life activist Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested in Birmingham in December for violating a similar PSPO. When asked by authorities what she was doing near an abortion facility, she replied that she might have been praying. She was asked ...

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It’s not necessary to condone her exhortations to curse God. But we should seek to understand them.

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in French. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Indonesian.

After seeing her husband lose his fortune, his family, and his health, Job’s wife is at her wit’s end. “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity?” she asks her husband in Job 2:9 (NLT). “Curse God and die!”

This is the only time Job’s wife’s voice appears in this 42-chapter book. We learn scant details about her. Even her name is unknown.

We know, however, that she is the wife of the book’s “hero.” A man described as “blameless and upright,” who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). A man who is wealthy, blessed with many children, and “the greatest man among all the people of the East” (v. 3).

As the story begins, the narrator presents Job to us as a man who is both upright and respected. We can therefore deduce that his wife is a woman of the upper class, probably as influential as her husband. As mother of a large family, manager of the household, she is used to a certain lifestyle. We do not know her degree of faith, but nothing suggests that she does not respect the God of her husband or follow his religious practices.

Suddenly, in just a few verses, her husband loses his herds and wealth (and with that his social status and power), his children, his servants, and finally his health:

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet ...

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Will we be remembered for our political aspirations or for feeding the famished?

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in Portuguese. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Chinese, French, Indonesian, and Spanish.

Brazil’s 2010 Census revealed that evangelicals in Brazil had reached nearly a quarter (22.2%) of the total population. Most expect this number to be even larger in the next census. In the most optimistic estimates, by 2040, Brazil’s evangelical population will surpass that of Catholics (who made up 64.4% of the population in the 2010 data).

As the number of evangelicals continues to rise, the community has the opportunity to grapple with the legacy it will leave on Brazil. What concrete impact should its presence have on the country? Perhaps more important, how will the lives of those who suffer the most change as a result of the expanding influence of evangelicals?

As the number of evangelicals grows, I expect the impact of our Christian witness on the country to also grow. But what will be the focus of our testimony: increasing our numbers in the halls of power or proclaiming the kingdom and caring for those who suffer?

Hunger in Brazil and in the Bible

Last July, Brazil returned to the United Nations’ Hunger Map eight years after it had first left. Today, at least 61 million Brazilians face some form of food insecurity, and 4 percent of the population suffers from chronic hunger. The data is alarming, especially since Brazil is a major global food producer. There is plenty of food; it just doesn’t make it to everyone’s table.

Hunger is a global problem, a part of human history since ...

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We may flinch at seeing the revered patriarch nearly end his own son’s life. But what do we miss when viewing this story through contemporary eyes?

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in Spanish. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, French, Indonesian, and Chinese.

One of the most dramatic moments of the entire Bible occurs when Abraham reaches out his hand to take the knife, ready to sacrifice his son Isaac in obedience to the Lord (Gen. 22:10). Considering the customs of the time with regard to child sacrifices, perhaps the Lord's request did not seem so far-fetched to Abraham. Except that, of course, the Lord had promised Abraham that he would multiply his offspring “as the stars of heaven” through this son (21:12; 26:4).

But according to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham obeyed God because he “reasoned that God could even raise the dead.” As we know, the Lord did not let Abraham harm Isaac but provided a ram for the sacrifice (Gen. 22:12–13). After Abraham’s demonstration of reverence to God, the Lord promised to bless him to the point that all nations would also be blessed through his offspring (v. 18).

This passage marks a radical contrast with the practice of the other nations of Abraham's time (and continuing in subsequent centuries) that did sacrifice their children to pagan gods. Even some of the Israelites did so, in total disobedience to God (2 Kings 16:3).

Today it is almost impossible to identify ourselves with this event in the lives of Abraham and Isaac. We can’t fathom offering our children as a physical, living sacrifice before God, much less sacrificing them to pagan gods.

But is it true that the days of offering our ...

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His response to his treacherous siblings invites us to reevaluate similar relationships in our lives.

You’re reading the English translation of the winner of Christianity Today’s second annual essay contest for Christians who write in Chinese. Learn more about the competition and CT’s multilingual work and check out the winning essays written originally in Portuguese, French, Indonesian, and Spanish.

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Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” (Gen. 45:4)

“Come close to me” is a simple statement. But it also signals an act of restoration.

Joseph, the victim, made a seemingly ordinary remark to his brothers, the perpetrators. He had experienced an accumulation of hurt from an unfortunate past and conflicting emotions. The sorrows of Joseph’s life constantly stalked him after his brothers betrayed him. Now, facing his past perpetrators from a high and prosperous position of power, he could have easily retaliated against them to alleviate his psychological and practical pain. Instead, he chose to praise God for his providence, reveal his own identity to his brothers, and show mercy to them (Gen. 45:5).

"Come close to me” is a phrase that may also have surfaced in the nightmares of a deeply wounded Joseph. As a young boy, Joseph was ignorant to the point that after God revealed a vision to him, he approached his brothers and shared it with them without reservation. Yet this only made them become jealous of him. Later, when his father, Jacob, asked him to go to his brothers, he went out obediently. However, the purpose of his brothers' “coming close” to him was to kill and sell him. Their “coming close” caused Joseph the greatest harm. ...

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