The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness

By Denise George   •   January 30, 2019 

On the second anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., family members of Myra Thompson join in song during a memorial service. Photograph: Newscom

On a hot, muggy night in Charleston, S.C., 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the basement of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church and joined a dozen Wednesday evening Bible study members as they studied Mark 4. It was June 17, 2015.

The teacher, Myra Thompson, warmly welcomed the 5-foot-9-inch, 120-pound boyish-looking man with the pale face. Roof’s tousled blond hair was cut in a salad bowl shape, and he wore a tourist’s fanny pack around his waist. 

Clementa Pinckney, Emanuel’s pastor, invited Roof to sit next to him, and someone placed a Bible in his hands. Roof sat quietly during the Bible study, saying nothing, his facial expression blank.

At 9 p.m., Myra ended the study, standing with the others to pray.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven,” they prayed together, “hallowed be thy—”

Suddenly Dylann pulled a Glock .45 from his fanny pack. Piercing the quiet fellowship hall with an exploding CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!, he opened fire on the praying members. Shooting each person multiple times at point-blank range, and shouting hateful racial slurs, he killed eight church members immediately, including Myra Thompson and Pastor Pinckney. The ninth victim died shortly thereafter. 

Roof walked out, leaving the dead, dying and terrified behind him on the blood-stained floor. The church security camera recorded his image, the gun still in his hand.

Word of the church massacre spread throughout the city, turning Charleston’s narrow streets into tangled mazes of screaming sirens, flashing lights and panicked onlookers.

When Myra’s husband, the Reverend Anthony Thompson, pastor of Charleston’s Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, arrived home from his church’s Wednesday evening program, a friend telephoned him.

“There’s been a shooting at Emanuel Church!” he said. Anthony rushed to the church. When he discovered his wife’s murder, he fell to the pavement and cried.

Rev. Anthony Thompson stands outside Emanuel African Episcopal Church.Photograph: Reuters/Newscom

Police found Dylann Roof the next morning, arrested him and took him back to Charleston. When two FBI agents interrogated him, the young racist laughed, bragged about the murders and claimed he had hoped to start a race war. He admitted he had chosen Charleston and the Emanuel A.M.E. Church for his massacre because of their past slave history.

On Friday, June 19, fewer than 48 hours after the murders, Anthony reluctantly attended Roof’s bond hearing. A video camera from the detention center linked Roof to the courtroom. Judge James Gosnell invited the victims’ family members to speak directly to Roof through an audio connection. Although Anthony didn’t intend to say anything, he felt led by God to walk forward. He depended on God to put His words into his mouth.

“I forgive you,” Anthony told Dylann. “And my family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One who matters the most: Jesus Christ, so that He can change it and change your attitude. And no matter what happens to you, then you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

Several other family members at the hearing also offered their forgiveness.

City and state police prepared and braced themselves for the racial riots they expected to explode in Charleston, fearing the bloodshed, violence and looting as recently witnessed in Ferguson, Baltimore, Berkeley and other cities after racially-motivated crimes had occurred.

But, to the world’s amazement, Charleston erupted not in violence, but in grace, the city responding with acts of love and kindness. Charleston’s mayor, Joseph Riley, witnessed firsthand the unexpected results of Biblical forgiveness, stating: “A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he’d be able to divide. But all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more.”

Makeshift memorials of flowers grew in front of the church. Compassionate donors pledged thousands of dollars to help the victims’ families. Thousands of people gathered in downtown Charleston for an evening vigil and prayer service. The whole city mourned the senseless deaths, visible acts of love setting off a godly chain of events as blacks and whites embraced, crying together and comforting one another in Charleston’s crowded streets. More than 15,000 people of all colors and faiths joined hands, creating a flesh-and-blood human bridge, a chain of visible love that stretched for two miles and crossed Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge.

After the shooting, and having witnessed the powerful and peaceful results brought about by Biblical forgiveness, the world struggled to better understand it. They wondered how Anthony Thompson could forgive his wife’s cold-blooded killer, and even share with him the message of Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.

They asked some hard questions:

Before Thompson forgave him, should Roof not have first apologized, expressed remorse and tried to make amends for his actions?

Did forgiving Roof mean that Thompson dismissed, excused or condoned his ruthless act?

Mustn’t Thompson have felt forgiving before he forgave Roof?

How could Thompson forgive so quickly, before his wife was even buried? Doesn’t genuine forgiveness take years to accomplish?

Society discovered important truths about Biblical forgiveness and how it differs so greatly from the world’s false concept of forgiveness. They learned that Biblical forgiveness:

  • Can forgive any crime, no matter how atrocious—not dismissing, condoning or excusing an offender’s actions, but blaming him and then forgiving him. Thompson blamed Roof for killing his wife, and therefore he could choose to forgive him.
  • Doesn’t depend on the offender’s response. Roof remained consistently unrepentant, showing no remorse and never apologizing. “I would like to make it crystal clear,” Roof wrote in his journal, “I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” Later, during his April 2017 trial and federal death sentence, Roof publicly stated: “I felt like I had to do it. I still feel like I had to do it.” Thompson forgave Roof without the young racist’s response, remorse, repentance or apology.
  • Doesn’t require the forgiver to feel forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice of the forgiver’s will, not a decision based on emotional feelings. Paul writes: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
  • Requires believers to pray as Jesus taught, asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Anthony Thompson chose to forgive the sinner Dylann Roof because Jesus Christ had chosen to forgive the sinner Anthony Thompson. “Scripture tells me that I am a sinner, forgiven by Christ, and saved by grace,” Thompson admitted. “Therefore, I am obliged to forgive others who hurt me.”

Jesus gave believers the perfect example of Biblical forgiveness when He forgave those murderers who nailed Him to the cross. “Father,” He prayed aloud in His time of great suffering, “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Anthony Thompson’s choice to forgive his wife’s murderer brought Scriptural forgiveness and Biblical teachings into the world’s media limelight. Christ worked in the midst of this tragedy to change hearts and lives.

Dylann Roof had hoped to fuel a race war by killing Emanuel’s members. But as a Christian Examiner reporter later wrote: “It … has had the opposite effect, allowing the grieving families to put the Gospel’s power on full display for not only Roof but for a watching television audience.”

Anthony Thompson continues to pray for Roof, hoping that before the misguided young man dies by lethal injection, he will ask God’s forgiveness and receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. But Anthony has laid down his heavy burden, he has forgiven his wife’s killer and he has chosen to move forward in Christ’s ministry, just as he knows Myra would wish him to do.  ©2019 Denise George

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Denise George is the author or coauthor of 31 nonfiction books. She recently worked with Anthony Thompson on his new book: “Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, A Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace” (to be released in June 2019 by Bethany House Publishers). Denise is married to Timothy George, Th.D., founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.

Have you asked Christ to forgive your sins? Start here.

The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness


VIDEO ‘Not if but when’ children exposed to porn online

Ryan Dobson launches seminars for churches

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

Author and podcaster Ryan Dobson is launching an initiative to equip parents to safeguard their homes from everything from predators to pornography to home invasions.

In a Friday phone interview with The Christian Post, Ryan Dobson, son of radio broadcaster James Dobson, emphasized that hoping for the best is not a plan when it comes to protecting their kids. It’s not a matter of if but when, he says, regarding exposure to illicit content online.

The idea for Home Safe seminars, which he founded and will launch on Sunday, was borne of his podcast Rebel Parenting. Home Safe is a new, church-based training seminar empowering parents with the strategies and tools to protect their families at church, school, in public places, and at home, according to his website.

“We got so many calls from parents who were just afraid but don’t know what to do,” Dobson told CP.

“We used to joke back in the day that your parents had trouble setting the clock on the VCR. But we are a light year away from the VCR clock with TikTok, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, there’s a new app coming out every week that all our kids know how to use but parents are in the dark about what to do and they are so afraid.”

Through Home Safe seminars, Dobson — who grew up in a high-profile family in which security was always a concern — walks parents through the variety of threats families now face and offers immediate specifics on how to address them. The curriculum has an entire section about how parents can talk to their kids about pornography.

“Is it awkward at first? Yes, but you can do it. These are almost like scripted conversations you can have, and once you get your feet wet, then you’ve already started that process with your kids.”

Dobson and his team have surveyed and aggregated the best and worst resources from everything from alarm systems to porn screening software.

“It breaks my heart when I get an email from someone who says ‘Man, you’ve been talking about filtering porn, you’ve talked about the resources, and I know I should have done something,” he said, recounting a specific message he received recently, a mom who told him that she “found out my 9-year-old daughter, she and her friends Googled the word ‘butts.”’

The girls, who were just being silly, ended up being exposed to graphic content because Google does not filter out porn.

“It’s not if, it’s a when,” children will be exposed to it, he added, stressing that it’s always better that parents prepare and speak with their kids before a problem arises because then they will have “done the groundwork” and children will then approach them first instead of one of their friends or a stranger.

Grace for Villains: Learning From Nathan’s Parable

Bible Crown of Thorns

By Alex Aili -July 22, 2019


When David coerced Bathsheba into adultery, impregnated her, and then concealed it by murdering her husband (2 Sam. 11), it’s not a stretch to conclude that his heart was not in the right place.

But for God to convict him of this crime, he didn’t storm in with a proclamation of wrath. Instead, through the prophet Nathan, he used the covertness of Story.

Nathan’s parable is well-known, but it’s worth quoting at length:


2 Sam. 12:1b-4

If Nathan were to confront the sin directly, it would have only added to the problem of David’s self-preservation, which had been his chief priority since the sin’s committal (11:6-24). In other words, the story couldn’t have been “on the nose,” with a plot involving murder or sexual sin, for that would have broken the spell. God simply used a different angle to get at the same type of sin: the abuse of power.

The fictional tale was catered specifically to David, who, being a king, was responsible for judicial verdicts. He would have understandably taken it as just another exercise of justice.

Still, despite its specificity, we can still glean the relevant technique Nathan used. The key is empathy, for when David identified with the victim of the story (David himself being a former shepherd; 2 Sam. 7:8), he felt the brunt of greed and lust–little did he know that it was his own greed and lust!


2 Samuel 12:5

David’s emotional response to injustice allowed Nathan to turn the tables (“You are the man!”) because David walked into a trap of his own making. David could not retreat to disinterested judgment once he placed his own moral cards on the table. To put it differently, when David felt the impact of greed and lust via empathizing with the poor man, he was then vulnerable enough to see his own villainy.

Becoming the Villain

The contemporary trend of antiheroes and villains, fictional or not, gives an opportunity for the negative side of the gospel (Rom. 3:23) to speak. For we are all the “villains” in God’s story (Rom. 5:8, 10; Eph. 2:1-3), and we must see our own sin in light of God’s goodness (note how David admitted that his sin was against God; 2 Sam. 12:13; Psa. 51:4) before we can move from ignorance to contrition. We cease to be passive spectators when we’re forced to confront the villainy within ourselves, and once we do, we see the “Good News” as it really is.

That’s why stories with negative character arcs are necessary; they compel us to see how easy it is to become the villain. Specifically, well-written stories invite us to follow an apparently good character pursuing an apparently good goal until he inevitably reaches villainy by overemphasizing one good over others. David, for example, overemphasized personal sexual fulfillment, perhaps by overindulging his God-given lordship, at the expense of God’s laws of fidelity.

While engaging with negative-arc stories, our mirror neurons allow us to affix ourselves to the villainous characters. We are affected without consciously knowing why. While we may identify with fallen characters, it will take intentionality to break through to the Truth lurking within.

Yes, it’s easy to scoff at the prospect of self-reflection. “Entertainment” analyzed ceases to be entertaining for many of us. But choosing ignorance doesn’t change the fact that stories affect us. If we deny this, we become no different than David, who allowed ignorance to blind him to his own villainy.

We may not have our own personal “Prophet Nathan” to tell us customized stories to convict us of sin, but we do have the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Rom. 8:26), whose ministry reaches to the deepest ignorance. With that in mind, it’s wise to be intentional about the narratives we enjoy. As the Reel World Theology slogan aptly puts it: “Entertainment is not mindless.”

It all starts with some simple questions, such as the following:

“What would I do in this character’s situation?”

“What am I prone to value too much?”

Could I become the villain?”

“Am I already a villain?”

And especially, “What does Grace mean for the villain?”

Original here

Miracles and Science

For a many people in the West, science seems to be at odds with belief in God because of its ‎claims to the miraculous. How can modern scientific people possibly believe in ancient stories ‎about signs, wonders, and resurrections from the dead; written by uneducated men in pre-‎scientific times?‎

The underlying assumption that the authors of the Bible were gullible and we’ve‎ only now ‎become critical thinkers, is what C.S. Lewis describes as “chronological snobbery”. People have ‎always known that dead people don’t come back to life, and the Bible records very human ‎reactions to miracles (e.g. fear and disbelief). Miracles are never expected.‎

Moreover, modern attempts to relativise theistic beliefs in terms of socio-cultural assumptions ‎of the time, are necessarily rooted in socio-cultural assumptions of our time. The sociology of ‎knowledge (the study of the relationship between human thought and the social context within ‎which it arises) should not only be applied to other cultures, but to our culture as well. As ‎Peter Berger, one of the founders of the sociology of knowledge, points out:‎

“The past, out of which the tradition comes, is relativised in terms of this or that socio-‎historical analysis. The present, however, remains strangely immune from relativisation. ‎In other words, the New Testament writers are seen as afflicted with a false consciousness ‎rooted in their time, but the contemporary analyst takes the consciousness of his time as ‎an unmixed intellectual blessing. The electricity- and radio-users are placed intellectually above ‎the Apostle Paul.‎

This is rather funny. More importantly, in the perspective of the sociology of knowledge, it is an ‎extraordinarily one-sided way of looking at things. What was good for the first century is good ‎for the twentieth. The worldview of the New Testament writers was constructed and maintained ‎by the same kind of social processes that construct and maintain the world view of ‎contemporary “radical” theologians. Each has its appropriate plausibility structure, its ‎plausibility-maintaining mechanisms. If this is understood, then the appeal to any alleged ‎modern consciousness loses most of its persuasiveness – unless, of course, one can bring ‎oneself to believe that modern consciousness is indeed the embodiment of superior cognitive ‎powers.” (Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the ‎Supernatural, 41)‎

One of the differences between ancient cultures and modern Western culture, is that modern ‎Western culture often conflates methodological naturalism (the view that miracles are ‎miraculous) with philosophical naturalism (the view that miracles are impossible). Miracles are ‎miraculous by definition, but what makes miracles impossible (apart from unprovable ‎assumptions about the world)?‎

No one doubts the monumental advances of science, but science depends upon the regularity of ‎nature (also known as methodological naturalism), not the non-existence of the supernatural ‎‎(also known as philosophical naturalism). There is simply no one scientific worldview. ‎Christians can do science, Buddhists can do science, Muslims can do science, Hindus can do science. You don’t have to ‎be an atheist, all you need to assume the regularity of nature.‎

Nevertheless, the assumption of the regularity of nature (which is required for science) wasn’t ‎obvious for most of human history, and it took the Christian view that God is a God of order ‎for it to be well established enough to give rise to the scientific method. In 16th century Europe, ‎the Christian Reformation led to the questioning of tradition and the push to go ‘to the sources’. ‎In 17th century Europe, this was applied to creation, which led to the rise of modern science.‎

No historian of science chalks up the rise of modern science coming on the heels the ‎Reformation, in the same place as the Reformation, to coincidence. Indeed, most historians of science hold to some ‎form of Merton’s ‎thesis, that “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they ‎expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator.” (C.S. Lewis, Miracles: A ‎Preliminary Study, 169)‎

Philosophical naturalism simply does not follow from the regularity of nature. Indeed, without ‎the regularity of nature, we would have no way of recognising a miracle as a miracle. Belief in ‎God doesn’t deny the regularity of nature (which is required for science), but rather, the ‎evidence for God depends on it. As C.S. Lewis wrote:‎

‎“If I put six pennies into a drawer on Monday and six more on Tuesday, the laws decree that – ‎‎other things being equal – I shall find twelve pennies there on Wednesday. But if the ‎drawer has been robbed I may in fact find only two. Something will have been broken (the lock ‎of the drawer or the laws of England) but the laws of arithmetic will not have been broken. The ‎new situation created by the thief will illustrate the laws of arithmetic just as well as the original ‎situation. But if God comes to work miracles, He comes ‘like a thief in the night’… The better ‎you know that two and two make four, the better you know that two and three don’t.” (C.S. ‎Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study, 92-93)‎

Far from disproving the existence of miracles, the regularity of nature is precisely what’s ‎required to recognise miracle as a miracle. Miracles are incredibly rare (because of the regularity ‎of nature), and so most theists are somewhat sceptical about claims of the miraculous. But ‎unlike committed atheists, who, as Lewontin admits, “cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”, the ‎theist’s worldview allows them to follow the evidence wherever it leads.‎

Church takes worship service to ‘gates of Hell’

Congregation meets in shadow of Planned Parenthood

Jesus declared to his disciple Peter that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the church.

A congregation in Everett, Washington, is counting on that promise, taking its regular worship service to the shadow of abortion industry giant Planned Parenthood.

The multi-church effort, called the the Church at Planned Parenthood, explains on its website: “The Church at Planned Parenthood is NOT a protest. It’s a worship service at the gates of Hell. The Church at Planned Parenthood is a gathering of Christians for the worship of God and the corporate prayer for repentance of this nation, repentance for the apathetic church and repentance of our blood guiltiness in this abortion holocaust.”

The website says the effort is about “doing more.”

“We’ve got to put legs to our faith.”

It already has drawn opposition from the city, and the American Center for Law and Justice is now monitoring the response.

ACLJ said the church started hold monthly worship near the Planned Parenthood Everett Health Center in April. In June, police confronted members, explaining the city had adopted a new permitting structure that the church would have to follow.

In August, the Everett City Council passed an ordinance titled Interference with a Health Care Facility that enabled the city to prosecute offenses such as “making noise that unreasonably disturbs the peace within the facility.”

The ordinance encompasses any facilities that provide “health care services directly to patients,” ACLJ said.

Police have not yet moved to shut down the worship, “but the organization remains concerned that these recent actions by the city of Everett law enforcement and Everett City Council may signal that the city intends to interfere with the services soon.”

On behalf of the outreach, ACLJ wrote to the city to obtain additional information about the new ordinance.

“We remain determined to protect the rights of TCAPP and others to gather and pray on behalf of the unborn,” ACLJ said.

The website lists 14 pastors who support the effort.

Original here

VIDEO 100+ volunteers serve community in ‘Church Has Left The Building’ event


By Joyce Philippe | September 22, 2019


MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) – Instead of holding a typical Sunday service, Safe Harbor United Methodist Church decided to switch things up with its first “Church Has Left the Building” event.

At 9 a.m., about 120 members walked out of the sanctuary and split up to work on one of 17 projects. The service area ranged from Escatawpa to Pascagoula.

“There’s something for everybody no matter how old or how young, no matter how talented or gifted you are with working with your hands,” said pastor Robbie Murden.

The projects included a free car wash, a cemetery clean-up, school beautification and helping people at local businesses with everyday tasks. One group helped organize shopping carts at Piggly Wiggly in Moss Point.

“People are really shocked, they’re like, ‘what are y’all doing?’” said volunteer Jerica Hudson. “They’re trying to give us donations, they’re trying to pay for the water. We’re saying no, please just let us help you with your groceries. It’s a blessing to us, so we’ve enjoyed it.”

Others cut and tied blankets to give to the homeless. When finished, they blessed each blanket with a prayer and an uplifting message.

“It’s needed and it’s really fun to do to help other people and your community,” said volunteer Gracie Coleman.

One team was dedicated to preparing the night’s supper. After an eventful day of service, volunteers reassembled and broke bread while sharing their experiences with helping others.

“We’re just worshipping God in a different way. We’re not staying inside the building to worship God because God is everywhere, and we want to be able to do that as well,” Murden said.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Mobilize: The Church has Left the Building!

The campaign that challenged stereotypes of black men

Why are 56 black men posing in hoodies

by Godinterest

For every black man you see represented doing something negative, there are 56 of us that aren’t.

The number 56 taken from a sky report that detailed the number of black people murdered in 2018.

This all started as a visual campaign documenting 56 black men who are doing something other than what is widely plastered about black men across various forms of media. Championing the idea that “I am Not My Stereotype”, in 2018 Cephas took a series of 56 portrait images of black men all wearing hoodies.

The idea of a positive and educated black man is generally the opposite of what society has been conditioned to expect of us, and in some cases even influences how many black men view themselves. We also see this reflected through representation and behaviour within the workplace.

David Lammy on why there’s nothing scary about a black man in a hoodie

David Lammy MP, one of the men, recently wrote a great article in the Guardian communicating his perspective.

“I spend much of my time in a suit and tie with my top button done up and my sensible shoes neatly polished. When it comes to work, my appearance is about communicating professionalism and confidence. But, as in any walk of life, the Westminster dress code is also about fitting in. In western societies, this begins with expectant parents choosing pink or blue and ends with black-clad funeral corteges. Outside the office, like millions of Britons, I routinely throw on jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie for pottering around the house. For me, a hoodie is like a pair of slippers or pyjamas – something comfortable and well-worn that you can wear unthinkingly. Unless, of course, you happen to be a black male.”

STOP being afraid of Black Men: 56 Black Men

Consider that Metropolitan Police officers are four times more likely to use force against black people compared with the white population according to the MET Police

MET Police

Cephas Williams ’56 BLACK MEN’ Project Founder:

“I am a black man with a degree in architecture, and I find I am not taken seriously when I walk into a room full of strangers.”

Cephas is now trying to change perceptions of black men through the use of photography.

The 27-year-old is an entrepreneur from New Cross, south-east London, who works in the community.

But he says people don’t see him for the person he is – and are quick to judge and stereotype him.

He is tired of what he calls the negative portrayal of black men within the media and the stigma attached to them in public.

“I may be sitting on a train and there’s a spare seat next to me, and you see people looking to see if it’s OK to sit next to me. And I have to gesture to let them know it is safe.”

Cephas Williams ’56 BLACK MEN’ Project Founder

Today a black man in a hoody is seen as one of the most dangerous people in the world. Of course, this is due to bias media reporting, which is a very dangerous phenomenon, because not only have the general public been affected by this reporting, but is has changed the way the police deal with black men around the world.

The Met used force 62,000 times in 2017-18 with more than a third of incidents involving black people. The Met Police said:

“The proportionate use of force is essential in some circumstances to protect the public and often themselves from violence.”

Met Police

Most black youths when they are growing up are usually advised by family not to wear hoodies, this is because the older generation have seen this basic clothing garment get vilified.

As a black man myself, I understand this experience. With a constant focus on knife crime and how black men are mainly spotlighted when they are either the victims or perpetrators of violence or crime, I tasked myself with the mission to help change this overly saturated narrative.
Cephas Williams ’56 BLACK MEN’ Project Founder