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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Kayla Koslosky

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

According to Fox News, a source close to Aretha Franklin, has reported that the singer is ‘gravely ill.’ 

The 76-year-old “Respect” singer reportedly fell dangerously ill earlier this week. Sadly, this is not Franklin’s first health scare. According to CBS, in 2011, it was reported that Franklin was battling pancreatic cancer. In 2012, she told Anthony Mason of “CBS Sunday Morning,” that her health was “wonderful.” 

Unfortunately, Franklin is hard on her health again and many are reporting that she is at home in hospice care. 

In the wake of this news, celebrities like Mariah Carey, Paula Abdul, and Ciara are rallying behind her and offering prayers to the sensational soul singer.

This news has also rallied some other important people in Franklin’s life. Franklin, who is heavily influenced and inspired by gospel music, grew up in church. Franklin’s father was the minster at New Bethel Baptist Church earlier in her life. New Bethel Baptist Church, CBS reports, was where Franklin found her God given gift of singing. This was very important to Franklin so even as she began to develop as an artist, she maintained her gospel roots and influence.

The current pastor at New Bethel Baptist Church, Pastor Robert Smith Jr., opened up about Franklin, saying that the church is praying for her. 

Pastor Smith got candid about Franklin according to CBS, saying “without Aretha, the church wouldn't still be here.” Franklin never forgot her roots or her faith. Just a week ago, CBS reports, Franklin reached out to Pastor Smith about performing in the church's annual benefit concert. 

Smith went on to say that he is “asking God to continue this miracle because it's great that she's made it this long.”

According to Fox News, Franklin’s nephew, Tim Franklin, is reporting that she is “alert, laughing, teasing, and able to recognize people.” Franklin’s family is with her and is asking for prayers as she continues to fight. 

Photo courtesy: GettyImages/Dimitrios Kambouris/Staff

Methodist experts say John Piper’s additions to the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” are theologically sound based on the “criteria of adherence to Wesleyan theology, appropriate use of language for God and humanity and singability.”

Piper added two verses to the song for the worship team to sing at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference.

I could not love Thee, so blind and unfeeling;
Covenant promises fell not to me.
Then without warning, desire, or deserving,
I found my Treasure, my pleasure, in Thee.

I have no merit to woo or delight Thee,
I have no wisdom or pow’rs to employ;
Yet in thy mercy, how pleasing thou find’st me,
This is Thy pleasure: that Thou art my joy.

The author of the original hymn, Thomas Chisholm, was Methodist. Experts, who are part of the United Methodist Church, reviewed the additions to the hymn. The team also reviews the CCLI Top 100 songs.

Meanwhile, church leaders and other experts are questioning if additions should be made to hymns.

In a 1780 hymnal preface, John Wesley himself wrote that people are “perfectly welcome” to reprint hymns “just as they are.”

But I desire they would not attempt to mend them; for they really are not able. None of them is able to mend either the sense or the verse,” he said. “Therefore, I must beg of them one of these two favors: either to let them stand just as they are, to take them for better for worse.”

Constance M. Cherry, professor of Christian worship and pastoral ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University, said that a hymn is a “piece of art.”

“As such, adding or subtracting from any work of art is questionable, especially if the original artist is not able to agree to the changes,” she said.

Russell Yee, affiliate associate professor of Christian worship at Fuller Theological Seminary, says he encourages writing new theologically sound lyrics to public-domain hymns.

“While properly crediting and honoring original musicians and lyricists, their works are a gift to the church,” he said. “Like all gifts, they should be used with gratitude, thoughtfulness, and propriety.” 

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 14, 2018​—Daniel Darling, vice-president of communications for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, released his newest book today titled, “The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity.”

This book, with a foreword by World Vision President, Richard Stearnes, urges Christians to reclaim, in their public witness and their activism, a vision of human dignity that motivates them to speak up on behalf of the most vulnerable.

“Human dignity is at the heart of Christian gospel,” Darling says. “I wrote this book to help ordinary Christians understand and live out the radical implications of being created in the image of God.”

Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, comments on Darling’s newest work.

“The kingdom of God redefines for us who matters and what matters,” Moore said. “Human beings are not the sum of their physical, economic and mental powers. We are creatures who reflect, all of us, a picture of the Creator God. This book appeals to the imagination and the conscience about what it would look like were we to treat our neighbors, and ourselves, as created in the image of God.”

“The Dignity Revolution” has been endorsed by several Christian leaders including R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ann Voskamp, ​New York Times ​bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts” and Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends International Disability Center.

Tada said, “The human dignity of families living on every cul-de-sac in America is under attack as the very definition of ‘human being’ is altered. No longer is this an academic issue; its impact is creeping into hospitals, schools, and businesses and our country is


reeling.This book is a must-read for every Christian looking for a solid language and good argument to halt the further dismantling of the sanctity of all human life. I highly recommend it!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR​: Daniel Darling is Vice-President for Communications of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pastor of Teaching and Discipleship at Green Hill Church, Mt. Juliet, Tenn. He writes regularly in a range of publications, including ​Christianity Today,​ The Gospel Coalition and others. His work has appeared in ​USA Today​, ​Huffington Post​, ​National Review​, and he hosts the weekly podcast The Way Home. Dan is married to Angela and they have four children.