United Methodist Church News Feed

Filipinos plant 3,044 trees to aid Mother Earth
"The global warming-climate change phenomenon has worsened." — Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan.
Using biblical texts to guide climate action
Stephen Jurovics, author of "Hospitable Planet," thinks the faith community could have a significant impact on climate policy.
Commentary: Shaped by Methodism, Jackie Robinson continues to inspire
On the 45th anniversary of the baseball and civil rights legend’s death, author reflects on how biography project affected his own faith.
Going deeper with theology, and in Spanish
Perkins’ Spanish language Th.M. degree program is a first for a United Methodist Seminary.
African schools look to value-based training
A training at the United Methodist University in Freetown, Sierra Leone, focuses on an awareness of Christian leadership skills.
Ohio pastor charged with disobedience
The Rev. David Meredith is openly gay and married. This step could lead to a church trial, but that is not a foregone conclusion.
African bishops recommend 7 central conferences
Africa’s bishops also discussed how to maintain church unity amid divisions around how the church should minister with LGBTQ individuals.
Church partners with ex-offenders
Tennessee Take One program matches faith-based groups with returning citizens.
UMCOR grants to boost hurricane relief efforts
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries approves $7 million for 2017 hurricanes and other U.S. disasters.
Evangelical group in ‘place of waiting’
Latest gathering of Wesleyan Covenant Association features lots of preaching, little strategizing.

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What to Make of Karl Barth’s Steadfast Adultery

Do the recent revelations discredit his theology?

I knew that Karl Barth, arguably the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, had a decades-long affair with his personal assistant, Charlotte von Kirschbaum. But I didn’t know some of the details. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and the details were deeply disappointing.

As the author of the recently released Karl Barth: A Biography for Evangelicals, I was anxious to read the latest revelations about the relationship. I had briefly discussed it in the book, noting the pain it caused his wife, Nelly, especially when Barth not only admitted to his wife his love for Charlotte but also insisted that Charlotte move into the family home to help him with his workload. Based on the work of Barth scholar George Hunsinger, I tried to set the relationship in the context: A younger Barth had fallen in love with a woman his father forbade him from marrying; his marriage to Nelly was in some sense arranged. So Barth was an emotionally lonely man. But I concluded that even if it was merely emotional adultery:

Husbands of much lesser stature have recognized that when such a relationship sabotages the very integrity of one’s marriage and becomes a burden to the family, it may suggest a duty to sacrifice one’s desires for the sake of one’s vows.

Then I read “Karl Barth and Charlotte von Kirschbaum” by Christiane Tietz in Theology Today, which discusses recently released personal letters Barth wrote to von Kirschbaum from 1925–1935. I was stunned. It wasn’t merely that Barth had committed adultery or that a great theologian was shown to be not so great in his personal life. As church history shows time and again, sin is no respecter of persons, no matter how great.

No, ...

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Evangelism and the Marketplace: Four Stories of Evangelism on the Streets of Chicago

Evangelism professor talks to people while they're waiting for the train

Once a month I go out with Wheaton College students to share the gospel on the streets of Chicago. Many are intimidated by this kind of sharing. While I prefer ‘friendship evangelism’ most of all, marketplace evangelism is also a worthy enterprise.

In fact, the Gospels and the Book of Acts are full of examples of Jesus and Paul encountering anyone they happened to meet, making the most of each situation. If you think of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4) or Paul in Athens sharing at the Agora (Acts 17), your memory will be jogged and you can discover many other examples. This kind of witness has its own perimeters and unique features, but it is surprisingly fun and often fruitful.

Last Friday, I was out with about 25 students and 3 of us went together. We prayed, telling Jesus we were available to talk with those to whom his Holy Spirit would direct us. We asked that he would lead us to people whose hearts he was preparing that we might make explicit what he was doing implicitly in their lives already.

My approach is simply to ask people in environments where they may be waiting for something or someone (train stations, bus stops, park benches, etc.). I simply explain we are out talking with people about Jesus and ask if we can speak with them for a while as they are waiting. Sometimes people say they are not interested, and we thank them and move on. My experience is that about 50% of those I approach in this matter are interested in talking. And it’s fun!

This past Friday, I went with Maddy and Amanda to the food court at Ogilvie Transportation Center and we had four deep and engaging evangelistic conversations.

Story 1: Jewish Background

First, we spoke with a Jewish guy who initially didn’t want ...

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‘Blade Runner 2049’ Finds Hope Within Its Bleak Dystopia

Denis Villeneuve's ambitious sequel is a life-affirming spectacle of noir and neon.

One of the powers of cinema, and particularly the sci-fi genre, is its ability to hold up a mirror to our present era and ask us to consider its current trajectory. Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterful sci-fi neo-noir, presents a grim and graying vision of the near future. That future, however, is punctured with vivid images of hope. Amid the complex philosophical and theological questions it raises about the nature of humanity, existence, and the soul, a flicker of sincere goodness shines.

“Memories … you’re talking about memories,” declares Deckard in the original film. For many, 2049 will recall memories of the original Blade Runner, with its mood and textures—the haunting atmosphere of its 2019 Los Angeles. Now, 30 years after society has recovered from a technological blackout, the manufacturers of replicants—artificial humanoids—implant memories into their lifelike creations in order to make them behave more humanely.

In 2049, LAPD “blade runner” K (Ryan Gosling) is a replicant who seeks the truth behind a childhood memory he continues to recall: a wooden horse, hidden in the belly of an enormous factory. Could it have actually happened? That this memory is so vivid—so real—must provide the key to his very identity. Was this memory artificially created in a lab and implanted, or did the experience really occur? And if the memory did happen—did it happen to him? What is really real?

‘Four symbols make a man.’

The film gestures toward our growing understanding of the unique connection between memory and bodies. In his Trauma and Memory: Brain and Body in a Search for the Living Past, ...

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