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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Naval Aviators Say They Were Kicked Out of Training Due to Racial Bias

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    • Is VeggieTales Racist?: California State University Students Accuse VeggieTales of Perpetuating Racial Stereotypes

      California State University San Marcos held a “Whiteness Forum” recently where they determined that the beloved Christian cartoon “VeggieTales” is racist. View the full article

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    • Navigating Racial Tension as American Christians

      “Any way you look at it, black people have been enslaved in this country longer than we’ve been free. That’s one thing we have to understand. Then you have to understand the nature of slavery. The nature of slavery wasn’t just about physical bondage; it was about psychological warfare. And that psychological warfare does not go away in a generation or two.” — Justin Giboney Date: April 4, 2018 Event: MLK50 Conference, Memphis, Tennessee You can listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition podcast here or watch a video of the panel. Related: From Bloodlines to Bloodline (John Piper) Pitfalls White Churches Must Avoid When Pursuing Racial Unity (Christine Hoover) Should We Abandon the Language of Racial Reconciliation? (Duke Kwon) Find more audio and video from the MLK50 conference on the conference media page. View the full article

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    • A Significant Root of America’s Racial Strife

      Allen Guelzo, in his recent work Reconstruction: A Concise History, helpfully summarizes one of the most important and neglected periods in American history: the movement to reconstruct a nation divided by the Civil War. Guelzo is a Civil War historian at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, and his book goes a long way to explaining why a nation that eradicated the blight of slavery allowed nearly a century to pass before African Americans enjoyed the most basic of civil rights. Reconstruction Reconstruction, simply put, is the “twelve years of active efforts to rebuild and reconstitute the American Union after the attempt by the Confederate States of America to secede from it” (1). Consider the difficulty of the task. It took a bloody war to force 11 states and 9 million Southerners into submission. After the North emancipated 4 million slaves, they still had no clear path to equality. Lincoln, the most visionary leader of the era, died before he could even try to fully reunite the country. Finally, Americans in the North and the South remained settled in their conviction that blacks and whites weren’t equal. Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, proved to be an enemy of Reconstruction. He worked against a Congress that, under the influence of the so-called “radical” Republicans, sought to suppress Confederate influence in the South. Senator Charles Sumner and Representative Thaddeus Stevens worked diligently to pass Reconstruction bills. However, the states worked just as hard to legislate “black codes” banning black-white marriage, free speech, and even owning firearms and knives (26). Congress fought back, often overriding a president who worked to keep the peace at the expense of civil rights. By 1868, a window of hope cracked open. The House impeached President Johnson (55). Washington readmitted several states into the Union and demanded pro-Reconstruction leadership—much of it consisting of African American legislators (57). Optimism bloomed. Reconstruction Undermined Under the surface, unfortunately, forces conspired to derail Reconstruction’s progress. Republican leaders may have done too much too soon (60). They enacted laws that went beyond the people’s willingness to follow. Bands of former slaveholders terrorized blacks (62). The Ku Klux Klan started in 1866 and “quickly became, by 1867, a night-riding posse, complete with graveyard costumes, bizarre ranks and titles, and a mission . . . to ‘overawe union men, both black and white’ and ‘put the negro in a semi-serf condition’” (64). The reality was worse than the threat. Between 1885 and 1900, “201 lynchings took place in Alabama, 219 in Georgia, 253 in Mississippi, and 247 in Texas” (124). The Republican leadership at the state level was simply too green to lead a population unwilling to change its attitude. Guelzo notes, “It was, in the end, inexperience which proved a deadlier poison in Reconstruction’s cup than murderous white violence” (66). Neither the federal nor state Republicans had a political answer to the ongoing, subversive actions of the white South. The South wasn’t the only problem, however. Democrats on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line pushed back against black civil rights. Shortly after the war ended, Connecticut, Wisconsin, and Minnesota voted down measures to provide equal voting rights (30). Northern Democrats “bitterly opposed the Fifteenth Amendment” and “employed Klan-like intimidation to suppress black votes in Northern cities” (101). By 1878, Democrats had regained control of the House and the Senate, and Southern governorships were firmly in their hands. Regardless of the Fifteenth Amendment, which said states couldn’t discriminate on the basis of race or color, Southern leaders imposed “literacy tests, poll taxes (starting with Georgia in 1871), property requirements, and sheer intimidation” on black voters (117). Reconstruction wasn’t a complete failure, Guelzo notes. The Union was restored, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments recognized the rights of citizenship for former slaves. Moreover, our Civil War didn’t end in “mass executions” (12, 127). But for all this good, Reconstruction is no success story. Unjust laws on paper, and racism in human hearts, continued to flourish. Guelzo quite appropriately cites T. S. Eliot: “I question whether any serious civil war ever does end” (127). Churches During Reconstruction Unfortunately, Guelzo fails to even mention the role of Christians in Reconstruction—certainly a concession to keep his book concise. But this omission is costly, since churches played an important role in both preserving racist attitudes and, ironically, providing a preacher to lead the South out of Jim Crow. Guelzo successfully explores the lines of political division that persisted after the Civil War. Had he addressed church life, he would have found parallel lines among Christian leaders, denominations, and churches. Southern white Protestants heartily defended the Southern way of life during Reconstruction, and they cheered the return of Democrats to power in the 1870s. Most agreed slaveholders called down God’s discipline by treating their slaves poorly, but few admitted slavery itself was sinful. Churches in the North considered the war-torn South their mission field; they tried to reunite fractured denominations, with little success. Freed blacks saw Reconstruction as an opportunity to finally have a church of their own, outside the control of white masters. Their departure from white churches was accelerated by racism that remained rampant (for more information on the church during Reconstruction, see Rebuilding Zion, Redeeming the South, and Baptized in Blood). Current Ramifications Long story short: we can better understand today’s racial divisions when we remember that the Civil War didn’t come close to ending political or religious strife. In the years after the war, America remained a nation where racism won the day in congresses, courtrooms, and Sunday school classrooms around the country. American Christians who read Reconstruction (and it’s certainly worth reading) will lament our history. A people capable of welcoming the “huddled masses” to Ellis Island proved just as capable of suppressing the rights of freed blacks in Atlanta. Reconstruction isn’t just a window into 19th-century history; it’s a window into the human heart. Readers who wonder if Eliot was right when he suggested civil wars don’t ever end will naturally pray with John, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20). View the full article

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    • CNN’s Acosta just got kicked out of the White House

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    • Equipping Women through TGC’s Women’s Training Network

      Our God is working. By grace, he invites his people to join him in the work, gifting and equipping us to serve those around us. This beautiful task of building the church and making disciples has been given to us all. Excited by the work God is doing in and through his people, the goal of the Women’s Training Network (WTN)—a new initiative from TGC—is to come alongside the local church to further equip women both for individual growth and to serve the various ministries to which each has been called. Some women are called to facilitate Bible studies in the local church; others will write Bible studies. Many will share the gospel with co-workers and neighbors; others might exposit the book of John to her women’s group. Many will disciple other women, and others will be further equipped to instruct children. There are a variety of ways God gifts and calls us to serve, all informed by his Word. Thus, the mission of WTN is to encourage and train women to use the Scriptures well. To do this, WTN will launch five events in the U.S. in 2019. These events, called Two-Day Intensives, offer multiple tracks of curriculum, inviting you to choose the track that best fits your need. Together over the two days, we pray the interactive teaching in the workshops will practically train women, and the plenary sessions will offer encouragement to their hearts. They’ll hear the WTN values repeated as the heartbeat of the work: we labor to be grounded in the Scriptures and centered on the gospel as we equip women to serve, all for the glory of Christ. So if you’re looking to grow in the ways you disciple women, we have workshops on discipleship. If you teach the Bible and want to think more deeply about the structures of biblical poetry or tracing biblical themes, we have workshops just for you. If you want to be able to better articulate what the Scriptures say about suffering, justice, or the gospel, we have workshops we can’t wait to share with you. And if you want to grow in your understanding of how to read, study, interpret, apply, and explain the Scriptures, then know that everything we teach is grounded in the Word of God. We hope you’ll join us! These are the 2019 events: Charlotte, North Carolina, February 1–2, Christ Covenant Church Portland, Oregon, April 12–13, NW Gospel Church Austin, Texas, June 28–29, Austin Stone Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 27–28, Covenant Fellowship Sacramento, California, November 1–2, LifePointe Christian Church For more information, and to see which workshop tracks are offered at each location, visit TGC.org/WTN. Related: Introducing The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Training Network (Don Carson) View the full article

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