Is It Time to Quit ‘Quiet Time’?

Effective biblical engagement must be about more than one’s personal experience with Scripture.

The disconnect crystalized 12 years ago when I (Dru) started teaching an introductory Old Testament class to freshmen. Every semester, devout Christian students would report to me that they read their Bibles every day. They could even recite key verses from memory. They were fluent in Christian theological clichés. Yet despite their constant engagement with the Bible, they were shocked by what we found in Genesis—such as there being some things God appears not to know (Gen. 11:5; 18:21; 22:12)—not to mention Judges.

I began to realize that their poor grasp of Scripture wasn’t necessarily due to a lack of reading, although that’s also a large problem in the US. From 2021 to 2022, Bible engagement—scored on frequency of use, spiritual impact, and moral importance in day-to-day life—fell 21 percent among American adult Bible users. It was the American Bible Society’s largest recorded one-year drop in its annual State of the Bible study. And almost 1 in 5 churchgoers said they never read the Bible.

But for my students, many of whom read the Bible daily and have chosen to attend a Christian college, their poor grasp on and application of Scripture seems to be due to the way they engage with it. It is a way many American Christians have been reading the Bible for decades: through “daily devotions” or “quiet time.”

The way daily quiet time is typically practiced today is unlikely to yield the fluency required to understand and apply biblical teaching. Only when devotional time is situated within a matrix of Scripture study habits can it regain its power to transform our thinking and our communities.

How could my students be reading the Bible so much yet have so ...

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Dante Bowe Navigates Worship in the Spotlight

After leaving Maverick City Music, the singer is launching his own label focused on authenticity in a field increasingly crowded by celebrity.

Grammy Award–winning worship artist Dante Bowe is starting a new chapter.

After years with some of today’s most influential worship music collectives, Bethel Music and Maverick City Music, Bowe has launched TRUE Music, a label and management company that he hopes will become a hub for creativity and spiritual growth for emerging artists.

Bowe has shared a worship stage with the biggest and hippest names in the industry: Chandler Moore, Upperroom, Housefires, We The Kingdom, Crowder, Pat Barrett, and Brandon Lake. He’s known for his soulful, raspy voice and powerful performances on “Old Church Basement,” “Take Me Back,” and “Yes and Amen.” His energetic stage presence and emphasis on spontaneity in worship make him a dynamic and sought-after performer.

Bowe left Maverick City Music in September 2022; a social media post by Maverick City announced the departure, citing “behavior that was inconsistent with [its] core values and beliefs.”

The 29-year-old singer has reemerged after a social media hiatus with a new song “Hide Me” and a clear vision and a desire to foreground authenticity in his new project. His prominence has put him in the realm of Christian celebrity, though his heart is still to put Jesus at the center.

“I think there is a misconception that a lot of us want fame. It’s not that we want fame. We just release songs that we really sit at home, that we live with—it’s our real stories and our real life,” he said. “The general public makes it famous because they’ve encountered God through it, or they feel healed or like they can fight in their marriage or whatever the case may be. It’s the inspiration. ...

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Company that Trademarked ‘Worship Leader’ Makes Others Drop the Term

Popular meme accounts lose social media pages after being reported by Authentic Media, which says it coined the phrase.

Worship Leader Probs was a meme account and podcast dedicated to the challenges of music ministry, but last week its creators revealed that they’ve lost social media pages and had to censor their brand due to a company claiming ownership to “two out of the three words” in their original name.

That company is Authentic Media, which runs a church resource called Worship Leader, once a print magazine and now available online. Authentic Media holds the trademark for “worship leader” and last year publicly stated that it planned “to continue to defend our trademark, as we have for decades.”

The dispute between Worship Leader and Worship Leader Probs dates back to October 2022, when Authentic Media explained its concerns about the name during a phone call with the creators of the meme account.

According to Joshua Swanson, editor in chief of Worship Leader and managing partner at Authentic Media, the company “woke up to the fact that people were using our brand,” and in 2022, he and others at Authentic Media became particularly concerned about brand confusion with Worship Leader Probs.

“It became a material issue for us. Our mission and their mission do not align,” Swanson told CT. “It became a major conflict. We would be at events, and people thought we were them and they were us.”

The phone call last fall did not resolve things, and after months at an impasse, Authentic Media began reporting Worship Leader Probs’ social media accounts for trademark infringement in February 2023.

Before losing its accounts, Worship Leader Probs had 15,000 followers on Facebook and 45,000 followers on TikTok. ...

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Former SBC Pastor Johnny Hunt Sues Denomination He Once Led

Hunt admits to “kissing and some awkward fondling” but alleges defamation after the account was reported in last year’s Guidepost abuse investigation.

A disgraced former Southern Baptist president is suing the denomination he once led, saying he was defamed by allegations he assaulted another pastor’s wife.

In a complaint filed in the federal court for the Middle District of Tennessee, lawyers for the Rev. Johnny Hunt, a longtime Georgia megachurch pastor, admit Hunt “had a brief, inappropriate, extramarital encounter with a married woman” in 2012, but claims the incident was consensual and that it was a private matter that should not have been made public in a major 2022 report.

“Some of the precise details are disputed, but at most, the encounter lasted only a few minutes, and it involved only kissing and some awkward fondling,” according to the complaint.

The complaint said Hunt sought counseling and forgiveness for the incident, which the complaint said was “a sin.” However, Hunt never disclosed the incident to the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, where he was the pastor for three decades, or to the SBC’s North American Mission Board, where he was a vice president until resigning in 2022.

But the incident became public in May 2022, after it was discovered by investigators at Guidepost Solutions, a consulting firm that had been hired to investigate how SBC leaders had dealt with the issue of abuse.

Guidepost’s investigators included the incident as part of their report and described it as a sexual assault. Those investigators said they found the allegations against Hunt credible. The former SBC president at first denied the allegations, then claimed the incident was consensual.

The complaint alleges the SBC and Guidepost engaged in defamation and libel, that they invaded Hunt’s privacy, and intentionally ...

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Should Evangelicals Observe Lent? What 6 Brazilian Theologians Say

How the church can serve and worship in the period between Carnival and Easter.

In the majority-Catholic country of Brazil, the biggest cultural festival is Carnival, a spectacle of eye-popping costumes, samba dancing, and raucous parades in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. Due to its popularity, everyone in the country is aware of when Lent begins.

Established in 325 at the First Council of Nicaea, Lent had long been observed by the time the Portuguese landed on what is now Brazil in 1500. But despite its long history, the recent exponential growth of evangelicals—especially Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals—in Brazil has led to a decline in the observance of Lent. Unlike Easter, Lent receives little attention from many Protestants, either because they assign less importance to liturgical rituals or because they want to distance themselves from Catholic traditions.

CT asked six Brazilian leaders and pastors from different denominations: Should Brazilian evangelicals leave Lent to Catholics? Answers are arranged from those who don't observe Lent to those who do.

Esequias Soares, pastor of the Assembleia de Deus (Assembly of God) in Jundiaí, São Paulo, and a leader with the Sociedade Bíblica Brasileira (Brazilian Bible Society)

The Brazilian Assemblies of God do not celebrate Lent because they do not follow the Christian liturgical calendar like the Catholic and Reformed traditions. However, we celebrate traditional Christian feasts such as Christmas and Easter, and in some places, we have begun to make room for Pentecost.

Also, the founders of Pentecostalism wanted to draw a clear distinction between Roman Catholicism and the churches that came from the Protestant Reformation. For example, the 1937 general assembly of the Assemblies of God discussed the use of the ...

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Christians from Myanmar Call for the Release of Jailed Baptist Leader

Hkalam Samson, former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention, was internationally known for his advocacy

In July 2019, Hkalam Samson, a pastor from a predominantly Christian ethnic group in Myanmar, met with President Donald Trump at the Oval Office. Standing with a group of victims of religious persecution from around the world, he shared how the Kachin people were “oppressed and tortured by the Myanmar military government” and thanked the Trump administration for placing sanctions on four top generals.

Three and a half years and one military coup later, Hkalam was arrested at the Mandalay International Airport on December 4. The junta charged him with unlawful association and breaking the country’s counterterrorism law for meeting with Kachin armed forces and praying with the leaders of Myanmar ’s government in exile, the National Unity Government. Hkalam, the former head of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), faces up to 13 years in prison.

At the time of his arrest, 65-year-old Hkalam was traveling to Bangkok for medical appointments. His family is now concerned for his health: In January, his wife said he was suffering from pneumonia and high blood pressure, and she had not been allowed to send him medicine or food.

Known internationally for his diplomacy and peacemaking skills, Hkalam has been a leading advocate for the Kachin people, who have been engaged in an ongoing civil war with the military junta for decades. Calls for Hkalam ’s release have sounded from around the globe, including from the U.S. State Department, human rights groups, and the Kachin diaspora.

“He's the image of Kachin Baptist churches, and he's the image of the Kachin people,” said Labya La Seng, the pastor of Dallas-Fort Worth Kachin Baptist Church and president of the Kachin American Baptist Association. ...

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Russian Christians Make Theological Case for Peace

Anonymous Christmas condemnation of invasion offers insight into antiwar movement as it seeks reconciliation with Ukrainian believers—who want names.

On an Advent Sunday in a small Protestant church in St. Petersburg, a Russian pastor nervously approached the pulpit. While his senior leadership was publicly neutral about the war, he was about to preach from the Sermon on the Mount against the invasion of Ukraine.

And in the pews before him was another potential land mine.

A congregant had been bringing along a childhood friend, who happened to be a Wagner Group mercenary. Wounded during combat for Russia’s private paramilitary company, the man was not there to spy. Yet while the pastor knew his close-knit congregation well, he could not predict the fallout from his message.

Relations remained good with the pastor’s mentor afterward, while the mercenary recovered and returned to the front lines. For now, the pastor has been left free to continue in ministry and—whether known to the intelligence services or not—in clandestine theological work against the war.

“Of course, we could go out and protest, but this would get you in jail,” he said, requesting anonymity. “For us, the most effective means are to work within your spheres of influence—and ours are very small.”

Over the course of the yearlong conflict, only a tiny minority of Russian Christian leaders have voiced complaint publicly. The response from authorities has been uneven: Minor church figures have been fined or jailed, while others continue to use their names on social media.

But no major denomination in Russia has condemned the war outright.

The St. Petersburg pastor, along with about 25 of his scattered multifaith colleagues, desired to confront their silence at the biblical source. Christianity Today spoke with three of them, on condition of anonymity, for insight ...

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Can Westerners Atone for Their Sins Without Breeding Resentment and Ingratitude?

An imaginary soirée with Douglas Murray, the Christian-friendly agnostic author of "The War on the West".

Run this thought experiment: If you could split a bottle of fine wine and converse at leisure with a contemporary author that you respect, who would it be—and why? My own short list would include Douglas Murray, associate editor of The Spectator and best-selling British author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam and The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity. Watching videos and listening to podcasts that feature Murray, my hunch is that a tête-à-tête with this man would prove fascinating.

Associated with the so-called “intellectual dark web,” which Jonah Goldberg describes as “a coalition of thinkers and journalists who happen to share a disdain for the keepers of the liberal orthodoxy” (e.g., Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Michael Shermer, Christina Hoff Sommers), Murray intrigues me as a sagacious conservative (à la public intellectual Roger Scruton), a nonconformist gay man (à la commentator Andrew Sullivan), and a Christian skeptic (à la Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy). The last two epithets need further elaboration: As a “nonconformist gay man,” Murray eschews the narcissism of sexual identity and the tribalism of identity politics; as a “Christian skeptic,” his questioning has a decidedly Christian coloration, owing to his upbringing and sympathies, even though he is not currently a practitioner. It seems God is so near to Murray that he does not yet feel him at his shoulder.

Watch the video of Justin Brierley, host of the podcast Unbelievable, moderate a conversation between New Testament scholar N. T. Wright and Murray on how we live in a post-Christian world. Murray confesses ...

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Buddhism Went Mainstream Decades Ago. US Churches Still Aren’t Ready.

Why Christians need to learn about the religion Asian immigrants brought to the US.

This is the first article in the Engaging Buddhism series, which will explore different facets of Buddhism and how Christians can engage with and minister to Buddhists.

Churches dot Linwood, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. Yet drive down a quiet road past Holy Spirit Church of Columbus and Christ Centered Apostolic Church and you’ll find an unexpected sight: a brightly colored Buddhist shrine with ornate gold accents and a pointed roof typical of Laotian architecture.

Twin red dragons guard the pathway to the shine, surrounded by reflections ponds. In the same compound is the Watlao Buddhamamakaram Buddhist temple, built in 2009 by Laotian immigrants. Inside, monks in saffron robes pray in front of golden statues of Buddha.

This Buddhist temple is a visible marker of the changing landscape of the United States. Since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act ended national origin quotas, the number of immigrants from Buddhist-background countries has grown drastically.

Today, Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, making up 7 percent of the US population, or 22 million people. Arriving to pursue higher education or job opportunities or to escape wars and turmoil, Asians will continue moving to the US, and demographers project the community will grow to 46 million by 2060.

This trajectory means US churches and Christians will more likely encounter neighbors who are Buddhist or from a Buddhist-influenced culture, as the religion significantly influences more than a billion people worldwide. Around 500 million people practice Buddhism, most of whom live on the Asian continent. China has the largest number of Buddhists (with about 245 million adherents), while seven countries ...

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Rick Warren: The Great Commission’s ‘Go and Teach’ Applies to Women

The former pastor of ex-SBC Saddleback shares why his views on women changed.

Last week, Russell Moore interviewed the recently retired pastor Rick Warren—author of The Purpose Driven Life—on his show.

They discussed his pastoral transition and plans for the future, as well as the disfellowshipping of Saddleback Church from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for hiring a female teaching pastor on its staff.

As the planter and former pastor of the well-known congregation, Warren shared how his views on women in church leadership changed when he re-examined certain scriptures like the Great Commission.

The following excerpt is adapted from the original audio, which can be listened to here.

Rick: I’m ready here to join in the former Southern Baptist support group with Beth Moore, with Russell Moore, and a few others. This last week I got kicked out. It’s not a surprise to me actually. I started Saddleback Church 43 years ago—I am a fourth-generation Southern Baptist, and my grandfather Chester Armstrong was related to Annie Armstrong …

My great-great-grandfather was led to Christ by Charles Spurgeon and sent to America to plant churches in the 1860s. So, I have a long Baptist background. But you know what? We’ve done so many things not by the book. [Back] in 1980 when I started the church, we didn’t put Baptist in the name—now that was unheard of 40 years ago. … It’s a different Convention than it was when we’re missing those great statesmen that used to be here….

Russell: You said you weren’t surprised. I was bowled over. Just because I would think—with all of the crises involving the treatment of women and sexual abuse within the SBC—that saying a church is giving women too much is really not the problem ...

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We Lose Culture Wars by Putting Them On Trial

Instead of prosecutors trying to win arguments, we’re supposed to be defending what actually matters.

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

“Why are we on defense,” one frustrated culture warrior asked me, referring to some religious freedom issue, “when we should be on offense?” As I’ve written elsewhere, I find this metaphor telling. It assumes that what really matters is the church’s state rather than its mission.

The more I’ve thought of it, though, the more I’ve come to believe that—in one sense—“defense” is exactly what we’re called to do.

Metaphors matter. They shape the way we see who we are, where we are, and what we do. Even though we use the metaphor “culture war” for what some would call “worldview conflicts,” underneath all the military imagery is an unspoken legal metaphor that might be even more controlling. We lose ourselves in culture wars when we think we are prosecutors. But we’re not—we’re attorneys for the defense.

The image of culture war as prosecution makes sense. After all, we are often dealing with principles of righteousness and unrighteousness, of morality or immorality. We make the case for who’s wrong and who’s right, and having won the argument, we thus win the case. This sense of purpose has the additional benefit of being fully in step with the times.

From the social-justice advocate on TikTok policing pronouns and cultural appropriation to the “own the libs” right-winger showing how “wokeness” will make everywhere like Portland, almost everyone can find people or movements to prosecute their cases. And we cheer our favorites on from the courtroom benches.

The problem is that the Bible tells us the role ...

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