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Why the life and death of disgraced culture warrior Paul Pressler should serve as a warning to all of us.

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

A man named Paul Pressler warned us that a wrong view of authority would lead to debauchery and downgrade. He was right. What he didn’t tell us was that his vision for American Christianity would be one of the ways we would get there.

News did not break about the death of the retired Houston judge, the co-architect of the “Baptist Reformation” that we called “the conservative resurgence,” until days after his demise, probably due to the fact that he died in disgrace.

My colleague Daniel Silliman explains excellently the paradox of Pressler’s public and private life. According to multiple serious and credible allegations by named people, with corroboration from multiple others and over a very long period of time, Pressler was a sexual molester of young men and boys. As reporter Rob Downen of The Texas Tribune summarizes in his thread, the nature of the corroborating evidence against the late judge is the size of a mountain.

It’s fair to say that most people—certainly most people in Southern Baptist pews—did not know about these reports of such a villainous nature for a long time. But it is also fair to say that almost everyone, at least those even minimally close up, could see other aspects—a cruelty, a viciousness, a vindictiveness—that displayed the means of Machiavelli, not the ways of the Messiah. His defining virtue—for all of us who retold the “Won Cause” mythology of the reformers who “saved the convention from liberalism”—was not Christlikeness but the fact that he was willing to fight.

And fight he did. At a meeting ...

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A new book steers between full condemnation and “men of their time” dodges.

How should white evangelicals think about slavery and past evangelical heroes who affirmed its practice? A new book by historian Sean McGever, Ownership: The Evangelical Legacy of Slavery in Edwards, Wesley, and Whitefield, helps us process these matters with historical accuracy and Christlike humility.

For many white American evangelicals, the issue of slavery is not much of an “issue” at all. After all, we live in a day where every country in the world outlaws the practice (at least on paper). We are rightly repulsed by practices reminiscent of slave ownership, like human trafficking and sweat shops. And we celebrate past evangelical leaders, like William Wilberforce, who tirelessly campaigned against the institution. Our denominations no longer split over slave ownership as they did prior to the American Civil War. Slavery, we thankfully conclude, lies in the rearview mirror of history.

Without denying the truth in these claims, there are two problems with this assessment. First, slavery, broadly construed, is still a live issue for a significant number of Americans, many of whom are believers in Christ. Just like Jews and Muslims carry with them a historical sense—a “communal memory,” if you will—of atrocities done to their ancestors by Christians (like pogroms and the Crusades), many Black Americans carry a remembrance of their ancestors’ subjection to slavery, segregation, and other forms of injustice. Consequently, they experience slavery and its aftereffects as painfully present realities.

Second, many of our white evangelical heroes have a complex relationship with slavery, a fact that can complicate our contemporary witness. What are white evangelicals saying when we honor ...

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Evangelicals tend to assume our sexual ethic is deeply unpopular. But the wind may be shifting as thought leaders increasingly declare Christianity a cultural asset.

Christianity’s 2,000-year-old sexual ethic is not normal in the contemporary West and hasn’t been for some time.

The notion that sex should be confined to the bounds of a lifelong covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is not simply out of step with a culture reshaped by the sexual revolution and the LGBTQ movement. Many now consider our ethic to be something far worse than outmoded. It’s hateful, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center; “dangerous,” per the Human Rights Campaign; and a source of “great harm,” says prominent ethicist David Gushee.

Evangelical responses to these new norms have varied. Some have doubled down on traditional beliefs as a matter of basic orthodoxy. Some have remained quietly traditional while avoiding public confrontation. And some have joined exvangelicals and mainline Christians to propose a theological revisionism that affirms LGBTQ relationships and sex outside of marriage.

Despite their differences, all three postures understandably have a foundational assumption in common: that our traditional sexual ethic is deeply unpopular. That, at best, it’s a matter of difficult but necessary faithfulness, an obstacle to overcome in evangelism and discipleship—or, worse, a major cause of dechurching, deconversion, and rejection of the gospel.

But is it possible that Scripture’s view of marriage and sexuality is seen by a small but growing crowd outside the church as a feature, not a bug?

It might be too much to say the West is like G. K. Chesterton’s sailor who, having set off for adventure, found himself enchanted by the light of his own home shore. But I don’t think it’s too soon to ...

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Catholic advocate awarded by US State Department explains why Christians are disproportionately targeted while the Islamic majority predominantly accuses its own.

Last month, mob violence took the life of Lazar Masih of Pakistan. Hundreds of Muslims responded with brutality to accusations that the 74-year-old Christian had desecrated a Quran—even before he could be tried under the nation’s blasphemy law.

A year earlier, in a similar blasphemy accusation, thousands of rioters burned hundreds of 400 homes and 26 churches, sending Christian villagers fleeing for safety. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has consistently condemned this hostile climate as unjust, including in a special update issued last December.

“The brutal killing of Lazar Masih is an alarming reminder of the dangers of merely being suspected or accused of blasphemy in Pakistan,” stated USCIRF chair Stephen Schneck. “The country’s draconian blasphemy law signals to society that alleged blasphemers deserve severe punishment, which emboldens private individuals and groups to take matters into their own hands. Pakistani authorities must hold those responsible for his death accountable.”

Accountability is rare.

In 2011, Pakistan executed the assassin of Salman Taseer, a former governor outspoken in his criticism of such laws. But from 1994 to 2023, 95 individuals were killed in blasphemy-related extrajudicial attacks, according to data compiled by the Lahore-based Centre for Social Justice (CSJ). Stretching back to 1987, at least 2,449 people have faced legal accusations.

USCIRF has recommended Pakistan be classified as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) since 2002 for its violations of religious freedom. Created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), the independent bipartisan watchdog lobbies US policy to press reform on egregious offenders. ...

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Six ways Christians often make the problem worse and five steps toward a solution

Led by Malawi’s chief law enforcement officer, 19 armed agents surrounded Martha Chizuma’s home in the capital city of Lilongwe at 4 a.m. on December 6, 2022. Whisked away in her pajamas in the early morning darkness, Chizuma, the director general of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, was forced to kneel on the floor for questioning at a police station before being released. Her arrest was retribution for her efforts to expose high-level corruption in the government.

A London-trained lawyer and formerly Malawi’s government ombudsman, Chizuma was the first Malawian anti-corruption leader chosen through a purely merit-based process. “People fought against my appointment, and now they wanted to undermine me ,” she explained, especially because she was leading a grand corruption probe that was “a test case of the government’s commitment to integrity.”

Those who engineered her arrest presumably hoped to silence a godly public official determined to “spit fire at corrupt politicians,” as the Nyasa Times reported several days later. They have not succeeded.

The fight against corruption takes courage like Martha’s, in part because corruption offers massive rewards. Its global financial toll is notoriously difficult to estimate, but the total may exceed $1 trillion annually. Every year, 25 percent of the world’s adults pay at least one bribe. The demand for bribes from public officials causes many Christian-majority nations to have unfavorable rankings on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Too often, evangelicals are part of the corruption problem, which takes many forms: bribery, fraud, nepotism, human trafficking, ...

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