Posted by The_Elves

Cardinal William Joseph Levada, once the highest-ranking American official at the Vatican, was arrested last Thursday in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, for drunken driving and is now set to respond to the charge in court next month.

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Posted August 28, 2015 at 6:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

This week, Archbishop Foley Beach, at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Russia, led a delegation from the Anglican Church in North America to Moscow for formal ecumenical meetings with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The delegation made a pilgrimage to the monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius on Monday, August 24th before beginning meetings with Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations on Tuesday, August 25th. Later in the day, the conversations continued when the delegation was officially received by Patriarch Kirill at his residence.
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During the communist era, the Russian Orthodox Church suffered decades of severe persecution. This week the Anglican delegation saw a transformed religious landscape in which Christian symbols now dominate Red Square and Moscow, and new churches are being planted across the country (on average 1,000 per year for the last 27 years).

Both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church in North America expressed a desire to see the growth and deepening of relationships between Orthodoxy and faithful, global Anglicanism. Archbishop Beach delivered a letter of greeting from Archbishop Wabukala, the Archbishop and Primate of Kenya, and Chairman of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GAFCON).

As the realignment of Anglicanism continues to unfold, Archbishop Beach gave thanks for the common ground that the faithful of both churches are finding on the practical moral issues that confront our societies:...

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Posted August 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

On 25 August 2015, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, met with members of the delegation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), who had come to Russia on a pilgrimage visit. The meeting took place at the DECR premises.
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Metropolitan Hilarion told the guests about the activities of the Department for External Church Relations, paying special attention to inter-Christian contacts of the Russian Orthodox Church and her relationships with the Protestant world. As the DECR chairman noted, the process of liberalizing moral teaching is going in a number of Protestant Churches today. The Moscow Patriarchate breaks off communion with such Churches.

The participants in the meeting discussed the issues, pressing for the Anglican Communion today, including the issue of admitting women to ‘episcopal’ orders, which has become a topic of heated debate after the General Synod of the Church of England made the respective decision in 2014, as well as the problem, closely related to the previous one, of preserving the unity of the Anglican Communion, whose spiritual centre is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The guests shared with Metropolitan Hilarion their vision of the abovementioned issues, reaffirming the ACNA’s commitment to the Gospel moral principles and doctrines, traditional for Anglicans.

The participants in the meeting expressed their satisfaction over the fruitful cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Anglican Church in North America in academic sphere.

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Posted August 27, 2015 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

On 25 August 2015, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met with members of the delegation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), who had come to Russia on pilgrimage, at the Patriarchal residence in St Daniel’s Monastery in Moscow.

The delegation included Archbishop Foley Beach, head of the Anglican Church in North America; Bishop Ray Sutton, chairman of ACNA’s Ecumenical Relations Committee; Bishops Kevin Allen and Keith Ackerman; and Rev. Canon Andrew Gross, head of ACNA’s Communications and Media Relations Service.
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Greeting the delegation of the Anglican Church in North America, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted the difficulty of the situation in which this denomination had been established six years ago. “At the time your Church was undergoing a very difficult period in her history, which required from believers fortitude and the ability to resist great temptations,” His Holiness said.

“It is my firm belief that in the course of her history, the Church faces challenges which she must overcome with all her courage,” he continued, “There are two models of behavior of the Church and Christians. The first one implies obedience to secular power and those mighty forces that influence the development of society. The second one implies the ability to tell the truth and show commitment to Christ’s glad tidings.”

As the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church noted, the second model always implies martyrdom. “There is nothing new in it. The Lord said that we should follow the narrow path leading to the Heavenly Kingdom. A wide and nice path will not lead us there,” he said, “Here, in Russia, we realized it in the hard times of persecutions of our Church. We also could choose one of the models of behavior, and I thank God for granting fortitude to our predecessors who followed the only right path and never fell away from the Apostolic faith and the Tradition we received through the Apostles and holy fathers.”

“For a moment it seemed that the Church had no future here, for the majority of people would not associate the future of our country with Christianity,” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill continued. “Yet, the Lord changed the course of history in several days, and those who had been regarded as outcasts and retrogrades, turned out to be heroes courageously defending their beliefs.”
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The participants in the meeting discussed the processes going on in the Anglican Communion in recent years, as well as prospects of Orthodox-Anglican dialogue. Archbishop Foley Beach told about a positive experience of bilateral dialogue between the Anglican Church in North America and the Orthodox Church in America.

Also discussed at the meeting were practical aspects of cooperation between the Anglican Church in North America and the Russian Orthodox Church.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted August 27, 2015 at 7:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Next month a hilltop square in Rome is due to be named Piazza Martin Lutero, in memory of Luther’s achievements. The site chosen is the Oppian Hill, a park area that overlooks the Colosseum.

The move has been six years in a making, following a request made by the Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant denomination, Italian daily La Repubblica said. The original plan was to inaugurate the square in time for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s historic trip to Rome in 2010. City officials were not able to discuss the process behind naming the square or the reason for the holdup.

Despite Luther being thrown out of the Catholic Church during his lifetime, the Vatican reacted positively to news of the square’s upcoming inauguration. “It’s a decision taken by Rome city hall which is favorable to Catholics in that it’s in line with the path of dialogue started with the ecumenical council,” said the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Vatican press office, referring to a gathering of churchmen to rule on faith matters.

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Posted August 27, 2015 at 7:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The historic First Baptist Church of Greenville, South Carolina, announced in May that it would declare itself be “open and welcoming” to all people and that it would allow same-sex marriage and ordain openly homosexual ministers.

The move came after the church had undergone a “discernment” process under the leadership of a “LGBT Discernment Team.” That team brought a report to the church’s deacons, who then forwarded it to the congregation. The church then approved the statement by standing vote.
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The congregation, now more than 180 years old, is one of the most historic churches in the South. It participated in the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 and its pastor, William Bullein Johnson, became the SBC’s first president. The church was largely responsible for the birth of Furman University and its old “church house” became the first home of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1859. Few churches in the South can match its historical record.

Nevertheless, First Baptist Greenville and the Southern Baptist Convention had moved in very different theological directions in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The church was moving steadily in a more liberal direction and the Southern Baptist Convention was moving to affirm the inerrancy of Scripture and a far more confessional understanding of its identity.

The church and the denomination were set on a collision course, and the congregation voted to withdraw from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1999. If that had not happened, the SBC would have moved to withdraw fellowship on the basis of the church’s announcement in May...

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted August 22, 2015 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pennsylvania pastor who’s the key suspect in a global insider-trading scheme must remain in custody while being sent to New York for a bail hearing.
A judge in Philadelphia, whose decision on Tuesday to free Vitaly Korchevsky on $100,000 bail was blocked by a judge in Brooklyn, ordered the pastor temporarily detained while he’s transported by U.S. Marshals to the New York borough for the hearing.
Korchevsky made no comments Friday in court in Philadelphia. He whispered to his wife and brother-in-law across the courtroom. Bob Levant, one of his attorneys, said the father of two is the “centerpiece” of a close-knit Ukrainian community in the Glen Mills area.

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Posted August 16, 2015 at 12:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a hot August morning, 30-year-old Sister Bethany Madonna sits before the altar of the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist. Seated alongside her are seven other women, also in their 30s, also dressed in blue habits and long white veils.

The moment has been years in coming: the day they consecrate themselves to Jesus Christ as they offer their final vows as members of the Sisters of Life.

Which provoked a question: What could lead a personable young woman from a happy family to give up everything -- especially at a moment when women have never had as many opportunities before them?

It’s a reasonable question.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The white Christians I know who care deeply about solving our nation’s racial injustices are those who are embedded in communities with black and Hispanic and Asian Christians. They care not just about issues but about people they love as their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Where we see churches that expand beyond the sameness of ethnicity or economic status, we see people who are willing to stand up for one another in the public square, because they’ve learned to love one another at the family table.

The answer to racial injustice is precisely the way the Hebrew prophets once framed the answer to all social evil. It means working for courts and systems that are fair and impartial. But it doesn’t stop with policies and structures. It must also include people who are transformed, not just by greater social awareness, but also by consciences that are formed by something other than our backgrounds. For that, we need more than national conversations and policy proposals (as important as those are).

We need, nationally, what Abraham Lincoln called “a new birth of freedom.” But we also need, personally, a new birth.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 14, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was a formal church setting with nine area Christian leaders present, but no formal sermons were given or messages with the Bible cracked open to a particular passage.

Instead, the clergy spoke off the cuff in a Christian “conversation” Wednesday night on issues of faith and belief.

And that led them into some areas of modern-day debate and concern, such as marriage equality, race and the church’s relevance in a digital age.

“We’ll be having a great debate next April about same-sex marriage and transgender (issues),” said the Rev. Terry Walton, senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church, at “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases,” held at Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville.

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Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Life is stranger than fiction.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted August 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 10, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With scant media attention, leading U.S. thinkers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon) and Evangelical Protestantism have been holding regular dialogue meetings the past 15 years. This is a good moment for religion writers to examine where things stand between these two dynamic faiths.

That’s because the talks are pausing temporarily as participants issue a new anthology: “Talking Doctrine: Mormons & Evangelicals in Conversation” (InterVarsity Press). The book’s editors, who’ve led the dialogue to date, are top sources for journalists: Robert Millet, former religious education dean at the LDS Brigham Young University, and Richard Mouw, retired president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

The two sides constitute the most unlikely dialogue partners imaginable, despite their concord on moral issues in the socio-political realm.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsOther FaithsMormons

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is a natural link between evangelism and worship. Yes, at Redeemer we talk about sharing the hope of Jesus out of our gratitude for his love and rescue. Worship and gratitude is a natural motivator for evangelism but there’s another link that comes to mind. When I talk to Christians and pastors who have a natural bent towards evangelism, I notice they live their faith very publicly because evangelism is an act of worship. They get to see a glimpse of God’s sovereignty, his unrelentless love and pursuit of someone and they get to see the Holy Spirit do beautiful things in their midst. Lyn Cook, a Community Group Director with Redeemer’s East Side Congregation, told me one time, evangelism is one way God reaches into her heart and reminds her of his grace and goodness. He reveals himself to her by giving her hope and compassion as she prays, listens and talks with non-believing friends. God’s sovereignty and relentless love are the foundation for evangelism and the way that many Christians, like Lyn, experience God as they live out their faith publicly.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted August 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian preacher Pastor James McConnell has said he wants to be “exonerated, liberated and set free” after he pleaded not guilty at a Belfast court in connection with charges he faces over a sermon where he branded Islam as “satanic”.

At Laganside court on Thursday, the north Belfast preacher’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client would be pleading not guilty to the case prosecutors have taken under the 2003 Communications Act.

Supporters, including DUP MP Sammy Wilson, gathered outside the court holding placards to protest what they described as the pastor’s right to free speech.

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Posted August 7, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If pastors and pundits and politicos follow Moore's lead, what would that mean for evangelicals—and for everyone else?

On the evangelical side, Moore hints at a few strategic shifts ahead—and, perhaps, strategic retrenchments. During his time as a Southern Baptist leader, Moore has pushed hard on the topic of racial reconciliation within the denomination. He sees the broader church for what it’s becoming: markedly less white, and steadily more global. This is part of the context for his campaign against a vague, American-values Christianity—the real movement in the faith is happening outside of the United States.

He also thinks Christians need to change how they relate to their LGBT brothers and sisters. “The loudest voices against the hounding and intimidation of gay and lesbian persons around the world should be from the wing of the church most committed to a biblical Christian sexual ethic,” he writes. This means working to end homelessness among gays and lesbians, he says, and caring for teens who have been rejected by their parents.

But this response is not a softening on sexuality; if anything, Moore is calling for more fidelity to this Christian sexual ethic. This means talking about “chastity,” not just “abstinence,” he says; condemning “fornication,” not just “premarital sex.” It means eschewing divorce and recognizing traditional gender roles and rejecting the values of the sexual revolution.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The Rev. Gretta] Vosper, 57, who was ordained in 1993 and joined her east-end church in 1997, said the idea of an interventionist, supernatural being on which so much church doctrine is based belongs to an outdated world view.

What’s important, she says, is that her views hearken to Christianity’s beginnings, before the focus shifted from how one lived to doctrinal belief in God, Jesus and the Bible.

“Is the Bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?” she said.

“It’s mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted August 6, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

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Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The largest Presbyterian church in the Lehigh Valley has begun a process that could lead to a split from the most visible national denomination — a move initiated after a survey showed most of its congregants disagree with church positions, including those allowing same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay ministers.

The leadership of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem voted on June 15 to enter the discernment process to leave Presbyterian Church (USA), or PC (USA), and seek affiliation with ECO: a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians after spending years considering the move.

The 140-year-old church on Center Street in Bethlehem has 2,609 members and would be the largest congregation to leave the Lehigh Presbytery, the group of congregations covering seven counties in eastern Pennsylvania.

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new ecumenical resource is offering an alternative way for small groups and congregations to lead worshippers in the singing of hymns and spiritual songs.

Sing Hallelujah! is a video hymnal comprised of a five-volume DVD set. In each video, musicians perform well-known traditional and contemporary hymns while lyrics scroll in large letters along the bottom of the screen, allowing viewers to join in and sing along.

Ralph Milton, a retired former missionary and longtime member of First United Church in Kelowna, B.C., played the lead role in creating the video hymnal. Reflecting his ecumenical outlook, Sing Hallelujah! was designed for use by all denominations, though many selections are drawn from United Church hymn books.

“Having been a writer and penned more books than anybody would want to read, I did a lot of travelling around at one point to small, various congregations,” Milton said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMusicReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

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Posted August 4, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells, located in the piney woods of East Texas about three hours northeast of Houston, disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, and astutely analyzed by historian Charity Carney, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor, not unlike the one evangelist Adam Key had with Osteen in 2007.

It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers and Key as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers. However, as my book Salvation with a Smile argues, their actions are part of a longer history of public castigation of popular preachers. And Molly Worthen’s insightful description of evangelicalism’s crisis of authority speaks powerfully to the rhetorical combat between Osteen and his critics, as does Todd Brenneman’s post for this blog.

Lakewood’s heckler episode this summer, while documenting one way to understand Osteen’s popularity, also prompts historical reflection about the summer of 2005 when Joel and his congregation moved into Houston’s Compaq Center, a sports-arena-turned-megachurch. The last decade encompassed Joel Osteen’s ascendancy to the peak of American evangelicalism.

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Posted August 3, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

..Pope Francis, who was born in Argentina, knows how to talk in a language that is not simply a replay of liberation theology. During his trip, which included visits to Ecuador and Paraguay, he repeatedly invoked the idea of a “Patria Grande,” a great Latin American homeland, brought about through greater social, political, and economic unity. Such appeals for unity have been made in the recent past by the likes of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez, but they have their origins in the stirring rhetoric of Latin American independence heroes such as José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar.

Notably, Pope Francis was a crucial figure, behind the scenes, in the recent secret diplomatic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. In May, Cuba’s President Raúl Castro, a lifelong communist, went to the Vatican to see Francis and remarked, “If the Pope continues to speak like this, sooner or later I will start praying again and I will return to the Catholic Church—and I’m not saying this jokingly.” Evo Morales, for his part, said, “For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a Pope—Pope Francis.”

But it is not only the leftists of Latin America who see something in the pontiff. Paraguay’s conservative President, Horacio Cartes, was equally effusive, lauding him for “his direction [that] lights the way and also gives us a grand task: to work together, with sacrifice and perseverance, so that we might have a country that is more equal for all.”...

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted July 23, 2015 at 7:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Polygamy may well make for a coalition of strange bedfellows drawn from across the religious and non-religious spectrum in the United States. If the so-called “mainline” churches repeat their same-sex marriage trajectory, they could well provide polygamy some hefty cultural and political ballast (though the impact of that support may not be quite as big as it was for same-sex marriage in light of the continued demographic decline of these denominations).

These Christians would, of course, also need to square their religious heritage around polygamy with the kinds of feminist critiques that informed the overhaul of monogamy during the past 50 or so years. The Reformation proponents of polygamy, after all, only had polygyny in mind, and a very male-dominated version at that. Protestants today would almost certainly need to consider polyandry and, to use a clunky term, polygynandry.

I agree with Douthat and Silk that Americans are going to need to think seriously about polygamy. Douthat is probably right in arguing that many of the arguments liberals put forth on behalf of same-sex marriage will be deployed on behalf of polygamy, but Silk is probably also correct that religious freedom claims will play a role as well. In any case, rather than let fear guide the conversation, perhaps we should embrace an honest, thorough, and thoughtful debate that will likely generate a new set of pro- and con- alliances from a diverse range of people and groups in the United States. It wouldn’t be a reformation of marriage without one.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

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Posted July 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Compromising the truth is a serious blunder" but we must always live out our beliefs with love and grace, Ravi Zacharias has said in a detailed blog post addressing same-sex relationships.

The author and speaker who chairs the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA), says he is against gay marriage, and points to the biblical description of one man and one woman in sacred commitment. "So profound is this union that the relationship of God to the Church bears that comparison. He is the bridegroom; the Church is the bride," Zacharias writes.

Responding to the US Supreme Court's recent decision to legalise same-sex marriage, which Zacharias says "sent tremors around the globe," the author warns that we are at "breaking point".

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Posted July 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Imagine that an American politician, competing with a dozen other candidates for media attention, launched his presidential campaign by describing the nation’s evangelical Christians as a problem: “They’re charlatans who raise money from poor people to spend on private jets,” he says. “They have multiple affairs and sexually abuse children. And, some, I assume, are good people.”

Millions of evangelical Christians would be fighting mad, and rightly so. While there have been a few, highly publicized cases of professing evangelicals committing these sins and crimes, the overwhelming majority have not. This charge against believers would be what the Bible calls bearing false witness, and what the world calls slander.

No presidential candidate would make such a claim, as no candidate would want to alienate millions of evangelicals. And yet this blanket slander is precisely what Donald Trump did in recent days by describing Mexican immigrants as “bringing crime” to the U.S. and as “rapists.” Mr. Trump then “clarified” his views by suggesting that the problem is “not just Mexico,” but immigrants from other parts of the world as well.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 17, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The video reveals Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, discussing the intentional harvesting of organs and other tissues from babies aborted in Planned Parenthood clinics. While reaching with her fork for salad, Dr. Nucatola openly tells a group she believes to be medical researchers that there is a great demand for fetal livers, but “a lot of people want intact hearts these days.”

Dr. Nucatola went on to explain in chilling detail that abortionists often plan in advance how to harvest desired organs, even telling the group that a “huddle” is sometimes held with clinic staff early in the day, so that targeted organs can be harvested from unborn babies.

Her language is beyond chilling as she described how abortions are conducted specifically to harvest intact organs: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She also described using an abortion technique that appears to be partial-birth abortion.

Read it all.

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Posted July 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The free tickets were for the festival this Saturday in Central Park featuring Luis Palau, one of the world’s leading evangelical Christian figures, whose event is expected to draw 60,000 people to the Great Lawn. For months it has been promoted not only in churches, but also on billboards, on the radio and in the subways, and it promises to be the largest evangelical Christian gathering in New York since the Rev. Billy Graham led a crusade in Queens 10 years ago.

The size of the festival belies the city’s secular reputation and speaks to the vibrant evangelical movement in New York. The phenomenon is driven largely by immigrant-led churches that have proliferated in the boroughs outside Manhattan.

Nearly 900 of the 1,700 churches participating in the festival are Hispanic, organizers said. Latino leaders were the ones two years ago to invite Mr. Palau, an endearing, white-haired bilingual immigrant from Argentina who has built a reputation as the Hispanic Billy Graham, but African-American and Korean-American church leaders quickly got involved in the planning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Change of Heart recounts his dramatic turnabout. After he arrived at Drew University in 1970, his older colleague, the former Communist Will Herberg—by then writing for National Review, having returned to his own Jewish faith at Reinhold Niebuhr’s urging—implored Oden to read the early church fathers before presumptuously rejecting their faith. After months in the library absorbing Sts. Athanasius, Vincent, and Augustine, among others, Oden was stunned by their persuasive powers, which he credited to the Holy Spirit. He would spend his next three decades at Drew as a respected but lonely voice for Christian orthodoxy, tutoring several generations of “young fogey” orthodox scholars and clergy.

No less important, Oden connected with a wider network of conservative religious voices who shared his critique of liberal modernity, including the Vatican theologian Joseph Ratzinger—who, of course, would become Pope Benedict XVI and whom Oden credits for inspiring his Ancient Christian Commentary project—and the Lutheran-turned-Roman-Catholic Richard John Neuhaus, who joined Oden in the ecumenical project of Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Oden also befriended Avery Dulles, the Catholic-priest son of John Foster Dulles who excelled as a crisply orthodox theologian and became a cardinal.

Unlike other Protestant intellectuals who turned conservative in collaboration with Catholic thinkers, Oden seems never to have been seriously tempted to leave Wesley for Rome. He insists that he would never leave the church that baptized him, which means the small-town Methodism of Depression-era Oklahoma, where he was shaped by the preaching, prayers, and hymn-singing of traditional Wesleyan piety.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted July 12, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years Catholics and evangelical Protestants have found common cause especially in opposing abortion and homosexual practice, including gay marriage and challenges to Christian privilege. They have also stood together to assert their right to conscientiously object to laws they find morally repugnant.

But does this mean they're friends? Jamie Manson's sharp-eyed piece on the pope's embrace of some of the more visible evangelical figures suggests it is so. If that is the case, it must be a rather narrow version of friendship that collides with the pope's major message in several ways.

Rick Warren , Tony Perkins, Jim Robison and the others identified as Francis' amigos are an unblended lot. They act on their individual agendas (evangelicalism being perhaps the truest form of free enterprise extant) and not only compete for audience but frequently stir mutual friction. They publicly stand four square against shared moral evils, however, and that alone makes for friendships of convenience with official Catholicism. Warren has become the media go-to preacher for his image as the "new evangelical" who shows sympathy with broader social causes like environmentalism, but so far that advocacy has barely shown itself.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

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Posted July 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent days, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis have all spoken out on the vital issue of climate change. It is vital, because the long-term future of the Earth and its inhabitants is at stake. It is no less a matter than that.

The issue of climate change led to the landmark Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system. What is termed the Conference of Parties (COP) regularly reviews the implementation of the Rio action programme. The next COP will be held next December in Paris and, for the first time in two decades of UN negotiations, will seek to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below 2°C.

Read it all.

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Posted July 10, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some Christians are worried that their churches will lose their tax-exempt status as a result of the Supreme Court's decision declaring gay marriage a constitutional right. I'm worried that my church will cease to exist altogether, or at least in its present form.

The United Methodist Church is the largest mainline Protestant denomination in America. Following decades of steep membership losses across all these historic churches, that's kind of like being the tallest building in Topeka. But only the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have more U.S. members, and the United Methodist Church's international membership is actually growing.

Almost alone among mainline Protestant churches, the United Methodists have remained committed to orthodox Christian standards of sexual morality. Clergy must be celibate when single and monogamous in marriage, which is defined as the union of a man and a woman. Methodist pastors are not permitted to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Read it all.


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Posted July 9, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People of Irish Catholic ancestry will be able to trace their origins back almost 300 years online from Wednesday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys will officially launch online the entire collection of Catholic parish register microfilms held by the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

Involved are more than 370,000 digital images of the microfilm reels on which the parish registers are recorded and which will be accessible free of charge.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.

The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.

The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.

Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.

Read it all.


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Posted July 8, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past three years, a major church scandal has unfolded in the island state of Singa­pore (literally, the “Lion City”). The target of investigation is the mighty City Harvest mega­church, which claims more than 20,000 adherents. Found­ing pastor Kong Hee has been accused of diverting at least $20 million to support his wife’s pop music career. Several other church leaders have been implicated in alleged cover-ups.

At first sight such a scandal might seem unremarkable. Sadly, clergy on all continents sometimes fail to live up to their principles, and churches often lack accountability.

What is astonishing is the existence of megachurches in Singapore, and their enormous popularity. This fact challenges much of what we commonly think we know about the nature of Chris­tianity outside its traditional Euro-American heartlands. It also raises basic questions about the process of secularization....

Most of the usual explanations for Christian expansion in Asia fall flat in the case of Singapore.

Read it all.

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Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Contrast this statement with another, from January 1963. [Maxie] Dunnam, then a young pastor in Mississippi, invited three other Methodist pastors to his river camp in order to draft “Born of Conviction,” a historic challenge to Jim Crow amid one of its darkest moments. Only a few months before, rioting had broken out when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. A few months later, a white supremacist shot and killed Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers (whose wife would later honor Dunnam).

“Born of Conviction” cited the official Methodist teaching that all men were equal, denounced resegregation under the cover of Christian schooling, and rejected the charge that the civil rights movement was Communist. Several of the twenty-eight Methodist pastors who subsequently signed the statement were forced to leave the state. Some received death threats.

The distance between Dunnam's statement in 1963 and [Bill] Mefford's in 2015 provides another measure of the loss of moral seriousness in mainline social justice activism. The comparison is not, I think, an altogether unfair one. Mefford's official position makes it impossible to dismiss his comments as the mere product of one man's glibness, rather than to admit them as evidence of a church bureaucracy that has lost touch with scripture, tradition, and the believers it purports to represent.

Read it all.

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in the wake of the 5-4 Obergefell decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chicago Tribune has followed up with a news report about Reardon that does a good job of describing his decision, yet does little to dig into the thoughts and beliefs of those who either oppose or dismiss his strategy. Consider, for example, this passage in which an Orthodox bishop seems to echo, in reverse, some of Reardon's thinking:

Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, said he doesn’t foresee such a boycott in Chicago. He even questions whether it’s legal.

“I can’t imagine any of our priests doing that,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate it happening to make a political statement,” he said.

That's a really important quote.

I would stress that this statement by a Greek Orthodox bishop in no way represents an endorsement of Obergefell, but it clear indicates that there will be theological and legal debates ahead – inside Eastern Orthodoxy in this land and in other sanctuaries – about how priests should handle this clash between state and church.

In other words, this quote should have been near the top of the Tribune report and backed with more material explaining, on the record when possible, the views of those – in Orthodoxy and elsewhere – who have rejected Reardon's strategy.

Read it all.

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Senior Anglican leaders have responded to a move by the Presbyterian Church in NSW to consider ministers handing back their marriage licences if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples.

Kevin Murray, the moderator of the NSW Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, wrote to churches about debate at the annual assembly in Sydney last week.

“The Assembly considered what the church should do if marriage is redefined in Australia. It decided to ask the General Assembly of Australia to withdraw the whole church from the Marriage Act, so that our ministers could no longer solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act.” Mr Murray said. “The report which recommended this decision argued that if the Federal Government were to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage then it would corrupt a good gift of God into a wrong. That would mean that ministers would then be acting for the government in a system which did not reflect the biblical view of marriage. In this case the positive reason for our co-operation with the Marriage Act would have been removed, and we would be better to avoid association with evil by no longer acting as celebrants.”

Read it all.

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Posted July 6, 2015 at 7:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Justin taylor provides a helpful summary which begins:Tony Reinke asks New Testament scholar and Gospel Coalition president D. A. Carson the following questions:

[1] Generally speaking, what would you say to someone who came up and asked you for your initial thoughts about the SCOTUS ruling?

[2] Does this landmark ruling today mark a new era for the church in America?

[3] What would you say to Christians who feel angry and betrayed by the courts for this ruling?...

Read it all and listen to the whole 18 minute recording.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One reason that this has been rather shocking to American Catholics is that we have had, at least for the last century or so, a fairly benign relationship with the environing culture. Until around 1970, there was, throughout the society and across religious boundaries, a broad moral consensus in our country, especially in regard to sexual and family matters. This is one reason why, in the 1950's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen could find such a wide and appreciative audience among Protestants and Jews, even as he laid out fundamentally Catholic perspectives on morality.

But now that consensus has largely been shattered, and the Church finds itself opposed, not so much by other religious denominations, as it was in the 19th century, but by the ideology of secularism and the self-defining individual -- admirably expressed, by the way, in Justice Kennedy's articulation of the majority position in the case under consideration.

So what do we do?

We continue to put forth our point of view winsomely, invitingly, and non-violently, loving our opponents and reaching out to those with whom we disagree. As St. John Paul II said, the Church always proposes, never imposes. And we take a deep breath, preparing for what could be some aggression from the secular society, but we take courage from a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us.

The Church has faced this sort of thing before -- and we're still standing.

Read it all.

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is "getting closer every day," a senior Orthodox prelate said in an interview published on 28 June.

The unprecedented meeting would be a significant step towards healing the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.

"Now such a meeting is getting closer every day but it must be well prepared," Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department, said in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted June 30, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis — but not teaching or policy — at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.”
--Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP, 2012), p.283

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* General InterestNotable & Quotable* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening — not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting — constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried — but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense....”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

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Posted June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

“Catholic teaching maintains that marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman joined in an intimate partnership of life and love—a union instituted by God for the mutual fulfillment of the husband and wife as well as for the procreation and education of children.

“Partnerships of committed same-sex individuals are already legal in California. Our state has also granted domestic partners spousal-type rights and responsibilities which facilitate their relationships with each other and any children they bring to the partnership. Every person involved in the family of domestic partners is a child of God and deserves respect in the eyes of the law and their community. However, those partnerships are not marriage—and can never be marriage—as it has been understood since the founding of the United States. Today’s decision of California’s high court opens the door for policymakers to deconstruct traditional marriage and create another institution under the guise of equal protection.

“Although we strongly disagree with the ruling, we ask our Catholic people, as well as all the people of California, to continue to uphold the dignity of every person, to acknowledge individual rights and responsibilities, and to maintain support for the unique and irreplaceable role of traditional marriage as an institution which is fundamental to society.”

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1 Comments
Posted June 28, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update (June 22): InterVarsity has given CT more details about its reinstatement at 19 California campuses.
"Cal State has not changed the language of their 'all comers' policy," said Greg Jao, vice president of campus engagement. "They have clarified that the policy only requires that (a) we allow all students to become members, which we have always done, and (b) we allow all students to apply for leadership positions.
"We have been assured that we can have a rigorous selection process which reflects InterVarsity’s mission and message as a Christian ministry," he told CT. "We’re confident in our ability to choose leaders who reflect our mission and message."

Read it all.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Read it all from Russell Moore.

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Posted June 27, 2015 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regardless of what a narrow majority of the Supreme Court may declare at this moment in history, the nature of the human person and marriage remains unchanged and unchangeable. Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage.

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the “integral ecology” that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home.

Read it all.

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“As evangelical Christians, we dissent from the court’s ruling that redefines marriage. The state did not create the family, and should not try to recreate the family in its own image,” the leaders wrote. “We will not capitulate on marriage because biblical authority requires that we cannot. The Supreme Court’s actions pose incalculable risks to an already volatile social fabric by alienating those whose beliefs about marriage are motivated by deep biblical convictions and concern for the common good.”

In the statement, the leaders suggest that the Court’s ruling is part of a negative trajectory on marriage and “represents an aftermath that evangelicals themselves, sadly, are not guiltless in contributing to. Too often, professing evangelicals have failed to model the ideals we so dearly cherish and believe are central to gospel proclamation.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 11:57 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work of the church is not merely to accept those of us who are transgender, asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer, and intersex. The work of the church is to accept and celebrate that the church—the body—is itself queer. The body of Christ is queer because it isn’t defined or bound by human constructs or binaries. It transcends and subverts norms and boundaries. It contains multitudes. But the body is also queer simply because its queer members are a vital component of its identity. When I was dating a cisgender (i.e., identifying with the gender assigned at birth), heterosexual man last fall, we were in a queer relationship. My queer identity made the relationship itself queer, even though he was straight. The body of Christ is queer in this same way because it contains queer identities.

It is time for the church to sit down nervously at its own Table and confront its internalized queerphobia. It is time for the body of Christ to come out. Some of us who have come out ourselves are happy to be the friend that talks the church through it.

Coming out is not easy. It is not just about moving forward in celebration and inclusion. It is about accepting that in some ways you are just now becoming acquainted with who you really are. It means recognizing you have missed opportunities for relationship, happiness, and growth. It means grieving the years lost to fear and the heartbreak of relationships with loved ones who cannot understand. It means holding with grace the wounds you will always carry.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.


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Posted June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week marked the passing of a woman whose missionary work and writings inspired hundreds of thousands of Christians to live lives of faith and obedience to God, and led thousands to bring the gospel to people in countries around the world. Elisabeth Elliot died June 15 at age 88, but her legacy will continue through the lives transformed by her example. I knew her simply as “Aunt Betty,” as she was my father’s sister.

Elliot first entered the news in January 1956, when her husband, Jim Elliot, and four other missionaries were killed by a group of Auca Indians, today known as Waorani, in the deepest jungles of Ecuador. The five missionaries—three of them, like Elisabeth, were former students at Wheaton College in Illinois—felt called by God to bring the gospel to this fiercest of tribes, one that had no connections to the outside world.

After months of groundwork, the missionaries made friendly contact with three tribal members near the main Waorani village. But two days later, several warriors burst out of the jungle and speared and hacked the men to death. The missionaries were armed, but when the attack came they only fired their weapons into the air, as they had agreed they would in such an event. Why? Because they believed that they were ready to meet their maker, while the Waorani were not. The incident made headlines around the world, including articles in Life, Time and Reader’s Digest magazines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissionsParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologyEschatologySoteriology

2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The "greatest turning of Muslims to Jesus Christ in history" is taking place across the world, the author of a new book, on tour in the UK, suggests.

A Wind in the House of Islam, by Dr David Garrison, a missionary pioneer with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, documents a Muslim "movement to Christ" in more than 70 places across 29 countries. Converts, it says, now number between two and seven million.

Dr Garrison defines a "movement" as being at least 100 new churches started, or 1000 baptisms, within a 20-year period in one people group. He estimates that there have been 82 "movements" across the centuries, of which 69 began, or are continuing to unfold, in the 21st century.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryAdult EducationEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 26, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The rector of the Paris Grand Mosque has sparked uproar by suggesting that disused churches could be turned into mosques. Dalil Boubakeur, who recently said France needed double the 2,000 or so mosques it now has, said on French radio this was a sensitive question but he thought it could be done.

“We have the same God ... I think that Muslims and Christians can coexist and live together,” he said in a radio interview.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

3 Comments
Posted June 25, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are no mirrors in heaven, no
self-reflection on
tied tongues, pride
rung and hung before
eyes to see or
on ears marred by wounding words

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPoetry & Literature* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyEschatology

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Posted June 22, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, [Tullian] Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.

Tchividjian was described by the Miami Herald as a pastor who would focus on specific Bible passages rather than on the news, preferred more contemporary music over the organ, and chose podcasting over broadcasting.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Institute’s database of megachurches lists Coral Ridge as having 1,900 attendees. The church began in 1978 under Kennedy, and its weekly services were televised as the Coral Ridge Hour, reportedly reaching up to 3 million people. Kennedy was a founding board member of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Moral Majority and developed the popular curriculum “Evangelism Explosion.”

Last year, Tchividjian broke up with the Gospel Coalition, a network of Reformed leaders, over a theological dispute. His popular blog was hosted at TGC and he wrote several books with evangelical publishers Crossway and David C. Cook.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 22, 2015 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the June 18 launch of the highly-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si (The Care for Our Common Home), Cardinal Peter Turkson acknowledged a critique that the Church is taking sides on scientifically still-debatable topics such as global warming, pollution, species extinction and global inequality’s impact on natural resources.

“The aim of the encyclical is not to intervene in this debate, which is the responsibility of scientists, and even less to establish exactly in which ways the climate changes are a consequence of human action” he said. Instead, the goal of the document is to promote the well-being of all creation and “to develop an integral ecology, which in its diverse dimensions comprehends ‘our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings,” the cardinal said, quoting the encyclical.

“Science is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting that regardless of the various positions, studies tells us that “today the earth, our sister, mistreated and abused.”

Read it all.

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Posted June 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

we cry at the violence thrust upon this congregation and wonder when we will be able to sing again. We pray for families, a congregation, and a community in grief. This doesn’t make any sense.

Despite our theological sophistication that tells us we ought to know better, the questions persist: Where was God when the shooter entered? Where is God now?

The answer is contained in the name of this African Methodist Episcopal church.

“Mother Emanuel,” as the members have historically referred to Emanuel AME Church, has known her share of pain. Through their building being burned under suspicion the pastor was leading a slave revolt in the 1820s, and during a time when black churches were outlawed, the congregation persevered. According to the church’s website, they “continued the tradition of the African church by worshipping underground until 1865 when it was formally reorganized, and the name Emanuel was adopted, meaning ‘God with us.’”

The congregation borrowed the name from Matthew’s Gospel, who borrowed it from the prophet Isaiah.

Read it all.


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Posted June 21, 2015 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.

In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:

"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opposition to the encyclical has been building for months. The Heartland Institute launched a campaign to “Tell Pope Francis: Global Warming is not a Crisis,” asking readers to “Talk to your minister, priest, or spiritual leader. Tell him or her you’ve studied the global warming issue and believe Pope Francis is being misled about the science and economics of the issue. Refer him or her to this website.” Others have suggested that Francis is advocating Latin American style socialism.

Hyperbole is part of politics. But there seems to be a fairly large disconnect between the criticism of Laudato Si (much of it made prior to the release of the actual text) and the encyclical itself. The actual document is a more measured affair. For one thing, it’s not even really accurate to call it a “climate encyclical.” Most of the document is devoted to other environmental issues (ranging from clean drinking water to biodiversity) or to the proper Christian perspective on the environment generally. Only a small portion of the lengthy encyclical is devoted to climate change per se, and much of what the encyclical does say about climate change is in keeping with the prior statements of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the issue. The encyclical says that:
A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. . . . It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. Concentrated in the atmosphere, these gases do not allow the warmth of the sun’s rays reflected by the earth to be dispersed in space.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 18, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeEnergy, Natural Resources* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 18, 2015 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Appealing to the entire world, Pope Francis urged everyone to read his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation and to better protect a damaged earth.

“This common ‘home’ is being ruined and that harms everyone, especially the poorest,” he said June 17, the day before the Vatican was releasing his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

He said he was launching an appeal for people to recognize their “responsibility, based on the task that God gave human beings in creation: ‘to cultivate and care for’ the ‘garden’ in which he settled us.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Several denominations partnered with the Canadian government for nearly a century to run the more than 130 residential schools, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Canada.

Winnipeg’s Anglican bishop says the report provides a framework for action and education, such as including indigenous perspectives in theological schools, studying the history and legacy of residential schools, and understanding the role of churches in colonization.

"For us, the TRC report is not threatening and it gives us a shot in the arm to really keep the agenda of healing and reconciliation and working in partnership with aboriginal people in front of (our) people," says Bishop Donald Phillips of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.

Read it all from the Winnipeg Free Press.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 17, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Loving Lord and Heavenly Father I offer up today all that I am, all that I have, all that I do, and all that I suffer, to be Yours today and Yours forever. Give me grace, Lord, to do all that I know of Your holy will. Purify my heart, sanctify my thinking, correct my desires. Teach me, in all of today’s work and trouble and joy, to respond with honest praise, simple trust, and instant obedience, that my life may be in truth a living sacrifice, by the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ, my Master and my all. Amen
(Hat tip: Lent and Beyond who a has a link to more background also)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



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Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1952, both Elisabeth and Jim left independently for Ecuador as mission workers. Elisabeth's assignment was with the Colorado Indians of the western jungle. Jim began work with the Quichua Indians of the eastern jungle area. When a flood necessitated rebuilding part of the station where Jim lived, he and Elisabeth decided to marry. The civil ceremony took place in Quito on October 8, 1953. Together they worked on the Quichua language and translation of the New Testament, under the sponsorship of Christian Missions in Many Lands. On February 27, 1955, their daughter Valerie was born.

Proximity of the remote Waorani people (or as called by their neighbors Auca or savage)had previously stimulated Jim Elliot's determination to attempt contact and evangelization. In 1955, plans were made for contacting the Waoranis. These plans included aerial reconnaissance flights with Nate Saint, Mission Aviation pilot, and bucket "drops" with gifts for the Waoranis. Rudiments of the Waorani language were studied and broadcast from the plane during these contacts. The language had been translated by Rachel Saint, sister of Nate, through her work with Dayuma, a refugee girl from the Waorani tribe whose family had been killed by tribesmen.

On January 2, 1956, Saint and Elliot, with Pete Fleming, Roger Youderian and Ed McCully, landed on Curaray Beach and established a camp. After an apparently friendly visit from two women and a man from the Waorani tribe, the five men were killed with wooden spears on January 8, 1956. The international attention focused on their deaths resulted in a request to write their story. Through Gates of Splendor was published in 1957, authored by Elisabeth. It was followed a year later by Shadow of the Almighty, a biography of Jim Elliot. His personal journals were edited by Elisabeth as The Journals of Jim Elliot and published in 1978.

Following her husband's death, Elisabeth decided to remain, with Valerie, and continue the work with the Quichua Indians in Ecuador. (She briefly returned to her parents’ home in New Jersey after Jim’s death.) During the next two years, further contacts were made with the Waorani tribes and on October 8, 1958, Rachel Saint, Elisabeth and Valerie, accompanied by Dayuma, were able to move in with the tribe in the their remote village, Tewaenon, on the Tiwaenu River and live with the family group which had killed the men. Elisabeth was given the name Omiwaeni, which means Crane, because of her height. There they studied the language and worked on Bible translations. Their experiences were recorded in Elisabeth's book, The Savage My Kinsman (1961). Jim Elliot's killers and other members of the tribe were later converted to Christianity. She also wrote two other books about her missionary experience, No Graven Image, a novel (Harper & Row, 1966) and These Strange Ashes (Harper & Row, 1975)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Recently]...Elisabeth Elliot came face to face with her heart’s truest love—Jesus Christ. On Earth, she married three times—her first two husbands preceded her in death – but from earliest childhood her deepest affections were for her Savior, and it was for Him that her soul yearned. June 14, 2015 is the day her lifelong passion, zeal, and rugged obedience see fulfillment in his presence. I am thrilled for her!

I, on the other hand, am sitting here with tears in my eyes, already missing one of my most sacred companions on the journey towards home. I know from the get-go that I will not be able to fully articulate her impact on me; words are going to fail me in my attempt to honor her, but I have to try.

As a college freshman in 1972, I got to be a part of history. My little (at the time) college—California Baptist—was no different than hundreds of other Christian colleges. We lived in the era of no dancing, drinking, smoking, girls couldn’t wear pants to class, “mixed bathing” was frowned upon, drums and guitar in worship were radical ideas, and boys with long hair were instantly pegged as hippies (which was definitely not a good thing). Our faith was buttoned up, quiet, respectful, filled with rules and regulations, and not very exciting or challenging.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are now more Southern Baptist churches than ever before: 46,449 as of last year.

And more than 200,000 extra spaces in the pews.

As the nation’s largest Protestant group prepares to meet in Columbus next week, it reported its largest annual decline in more than 130 years—a loss of 236,467 members.

With just under 15.5 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) remains the largest Protestant group in the United States. But it has lost about 800,000 members since 2003, when membership peaked at about 16.3 million.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of the Intercession is a beautiful stone building constructed in 1915, with vaulted ceilings, large stained glass windows, and a nave that could seat several hundred. It now needs $1 million in repairs, and its members face difficult choices.

Outside this Episcopal church in Harlem is its sweeping cemetery that includes the grave of naturalist John Audubon. Inside on a Sunday only 42 worshippers, including the choir, were present. Almost everyone was elderly. There were three canes, one walker, and one child.

Those 42 seemed a megachurch in comparison with the congregation across the street in North Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). In its historic stone building Pastor Carmen Mason-Browne preached to an audience of six women in a room with space for several hundred. The women weren’t even sitting together, but spaced like strangers on an empty train.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomy* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The country's largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, announced this week that their membership fell for the eighth straight year in 2014. But as I recently explained, American Christianity, particularly evangelicalism, is neither dead nor dying.

There are numerous evangelical denominations, though, and many are thriving. The Assemblies of God, the second-largest evangelical denomination in the United States, reported their 25th year of growth this week.

Still, there is a correct perception that many evangelical denominations are declining, even as the number of evangelicals overall is growing.

Here are three ways to square that statistical circle...

Read it all from Ed Stetzer.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State on June 10, 2014. When the militants laid out an ultimatum -- convert, pay a tax or be killed -- thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fled to neighboring cities, like the northern city of Erbil.

Even though it’s been more than a year, Erbil’s Chaldean Catholic leader, Bishop Bashar Warda, still vividly remembers what it was like to watch the streams of refugees enter his city.

“It was [a] really sad occasion,” Warda said in an interview with Vatican Radio. “The memories that we have is the queue of thousands of people arriving, tired, crying and leaving behind everything, memories and properties.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 12, 2015 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But then, in a very curious paragraph, [Mark] Galli stated:

“We’ll be sad, but we won’t panic or despair. Neither will we feel compelled to condemn the converts and distance ourselves from them. But, to be sure, they will be enlisting in a cause that we believe is ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women.”

I have to admit that I do not understand how those two sentences can be combined. If the view of the “converts” to same-sex marriage and the acceptance of homosexual partnerships is “ultimately destructive to society, to the church, and to relations between men and women,” how can that distance be avoided?

The reality is that it cannot. This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we were surprised when former CT editor David Neff on Facebook praised Campolo’s move. As he put it in an email to me clarifying his comment, “I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships. I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”

At CT, we’re saddened that David has come to this conclusion. Saddened because we firmly believe that the Bible teaches that God intends the most intimate of covenant relationships to be enjoyed exclusively by a man and a woman. We’ve stated this view explicitly in many editorials, and it is implicit but clear in many of our feature stories.

Still, many of our readers become alarmed when a prominent evangelical leader says otherwise. Add the changes of mind to the legal juggernaut sweeping through the land to legitimize gay marriage, and the orthodox can become demoralized. They fear that history will sweep all of us into this view eventually.

But it’s not at all certain that the rapid cultural shift in America on gay marriage will be mirrored in the Christian church. North American and European Christians who believe in gay marriage are a small minority in these regions, and churches that ascribe to a more liberal sexual ethic continue to wither.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

3 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bailey's story nailed that other development, too, that caused waves on social media:

After Campolo’s announcement, David Neff, retired editor in chief of Christianity Today who still writes a column for the magazine, indicated his similar support on his private Facebook account, drawing notice from some observers.....

Neff confirmed his support for same-sex marriage in a statement. Neff says that he still holds a high view of biblical authority, but that he has learned to read the relevant biblical passages in a different way than he used to.

“I think the ethically responsible thing for gay and lesbian Christians to do is to form lasting, covenanted partnerships,” Neff said in a statement to CT. “I also believe that the church should help them in those partnerships in the same way the church should fortify traditional marriages.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMediaReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In groups of eight or so, riders wheeled their bicycles down the red-carpeted center aisle of Toronto’s Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church.

The white-robed officiant sprinkled holy water on about 50 riders’ heads, one by one, and on their bikes’ handlebars and wheels.

“May the road rise to meet you,” she pronounced. “May the wind be ever at your back; may all your journeying be joyous; may you and your bicycle be cherished in the Spirit of Life.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In its story of May 16, 2015, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel carried a story tiled (on its cover at least) “Are Evangelicals Winning the World?” [That is my translation. The German wording is “Are Evangelicals conquering…” I substituted the less martial-sounding English “winning”. To the best of my knowledge, there is a remarkable scarcity of Evangelical suicide bombers.] The story states that Evangelical congregations are generally growing in Germany. But it concentrates on two congregations: one in Stuttgart, in western Germany, the other in a suburb of Dresden, in the former DDR (the defunct Communist German Democratic Republic.) The second location is particularly startling.

The Stuttgart congregation is described as the first American-style mega-church. It is also clearly Pentecostal or charismatic. On Sunday morning some 2,000 people attend services, close their eyes and raise their hands in ecstatic prayer, “speak in tongues” (meaningless babble to outsiders), and watch their preacher perform miracles of healing. The Dresden congregation is located in a suburban area that has been called the Saxon “Bible belt”, in yet another echo of America. Both regions have a long history of Pietism, the German phenomenon closest to American Evangelicalism (but without the miracles). Whether this Pietist heritage (going back some three-hundred years) provides some links with what is happening now is an open question. But the Dresden case raises a more proximate question: how relevant is its more recent history under Communism? The Austrian sociologist Paul Zulehner has called the former DDR one of three European countries in which atheism has become a sort of state religion (the other two are the Czech Republic and Estonia). Is this wild eruption of supernaturalism a delayed reaction to the period when the Communist regime made propaganda for “scientific atheism”? Immediately after the fall of that regime there was a popular revival of the much more sedate form of Protestantism of the Landeskirchen, the old post-Reformation state churches; that revival did not last very long after these churches lost their appeal as one of the few institutions at least relatively free from the control of the party.

According to some data, there are now about 1.3 million members of congregations united in something called the German Evangelical Alliance (the German word is “evangelisch”). T

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted June 7, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father [Junipero] Serra spent most of his missionary life in Mexico. However, his greatest legacy was founding California’s first nine missions—there are 21—and the 600-mile connecting trail El Camino Real that runs from San Diego to Sonoma. Dozens of roads and schools, including NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s alma mater, are named in his honor. Generations of California fourth-graders have had to construct miniature cardboard models of the missions.

While being Christianized, natives learned how to cultivate crops, raise livestock, weave clothes, make soap and perform other tasks necessary to sustain themselves. Father Serra was as integral to California’s founding as John Winthrop was to the settlement of Plymouth Bay. Gov. Jerry Brown has hailed the priest as “a very courageous man and one of the innovators and pioneers of California.”

Yet revisionist historians take a dim view of the missions. A fourth-grade state history textbook (which my class used in 1997) noted that “for the people who had lived in California for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived, the growth of the missions was tragic . . . Thousands of Indians died, and by the end of the 1800s much of the Indian way of life had died also.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 5, 2015 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four Methodist bishops. Four denominations. One place. One cause.

“They have sensed the need for leadership and have come to give unity to families across the state who have been impacted by officer-involved shootings,” said The Rev. Dr. Robert Kennedy, pastor of St. Peters African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Charleston.

ennedy stood Wednesday night at the head of his North Charleston church, packed with hundreds, and introduced The Rt. Rev. Richard Franklin Norris, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Monroe, presiding bishop of the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The Rt. Rev. James B. Walker, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Rt. Rev. Lewis Jonathan Holston, presiding bishop of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“We come tonight to make a plea for liberty for minorities who are not always treated fairly,” he said, adding that while there are good cops, there are also those who make poor decisions on the job and something needs to be done.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Award-winning American author and devout Catholic Flannery O’Connor will appear on a new postage stamp this summer, the U.S. Postal Service announced last week. The stamp is decorated with peacock feathers, a tribute to the family peacock farm in Georgia, where O’Connor did much of her writing.

Famous for her Southern-Gothic fiction style, O’Connor’s best-known works include her first novel, Wise Blood, and many short stories, such as A Good Man Is Hard to Find. A collection of her works, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, won the 1972 National Book Award for fiction and was named the Best of the National Book Awards, 1950-2008, by a public vote.

The “forever” stamp for 3-ounce packages will be available June 5.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPoetry & LiteratureReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We started by approaching Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, with a simple question: How can we, as the Body of Christ, best serve the city?

To be sure, my dad, Luis Palau, was the first worldwide evangelist Adams had ever hosted. In that first meeting, Adams was impressively open to us, not showing a hint of defensiveness. He sensed our sincerity and commitment — and was also sincerely concerned with the needs of the city.

Assured there were no strings attached — and feeling he had nothing to lose — he started the conversation by naming his biggest concerns: hunger, homelessness, healthcare, the environment, and public schools. So began a partnership, CityServe, between the city and a band of churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I ask now that grace be extended mutually between those who disagree on this issue. It is clear that prejudice, largely born out of ignorance and fear, exists against members of the LGBT community, but this does not mean that those who voted No in the referendum want to endorse inequality, restrict freedom or maintain intolerance. I strongly urge Methodist families, small groups and larger fellowships to be safe places where LGBT people feel accepted and loved, able to share their stories freely and be involved in the life of the church.
At the same time the referendum result is not compatible with what the Methodist Church in Ireland recognises as the basis of Christian marriage. Our understanding is that marriage is between a man and a woman and so in the context of weddings within Methodist churches our practice remains that no minister has the authority to conduct the marriage of same-sex partners.
As the government of the Republic of Ireland seeks to frame legislation in response to the result of the referendum I call on it to ensure that church and other faith bodies will not be compelled by law to act contrary to their definition of marriage and I expect the government to engage with the Methodist Church and other churches and faith communities to this end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 4, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The five Coptic families that were last week forcefully evicted from their home village of Kafr Darwish in al-Fashn, Beni Sweif some 100km south of Cairo, are now back home and receiving warm ‘welcome home’ visits from their neighbours, Muslim and Copt. A general air of festivity and jubilation reigns as the family members settle home weeping with joy.

The five families form one extended family whose patriarch Youssef Tawfiq is 80 years old and matriarch is 75. The sons: Atef, Emad, Nour, and Ayman, are married and have their own families. They had been forced to leave the village on account of claims that Ayman Youssef Tawfiq, who currently works in Jordan while his wife and children remain in Kafr Darwish, posted cartoons offensive to the Prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page. The family says Ayman is illiterate and has no FB page; they claim he was framed and had lost his mobile phone a few days before the alleged FB posting having.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A study on religion and faith in Canada conducted by the Angus Reid Institute was released a few weeks ago detailing the views of various faiths in Canada and how Canadians perceive faith and religion as a whole. It is a fascinating study, and I think some of its data is important especially as we consider the state of evangelicalism in Canada and how evangelicalism may move forward proclaiming the gospel and discipling people.

Let’s take a more focused look at the data from the Angus Reid Institute, which looked at people of all faiths in Canada, and see what their data tells us about evangelicals specifically.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Membership of the Church of England has dropped sharply in Britain in the last two years while the number of Muslims has grown, a new survey has revealed.

The British Social Attitudes survey found that the proportion of British adults describing themselves as Anglican has fallen from 21 per cent in 2012 to 17 per cent in 2014, a loss of around 1.7 million. That brings the number of Anglicans in Britain to 8.6 million people.

The proportion of Catholics remained roughly stable at 8 per cent, or just over 4 million, as did that of “other” Christians, including Methodists, Presbyterians and non-denominational Christians.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths

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Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We too easily forget that every good service the government provides comes with a growth in its regulatory power. And that power can be used in ways nobody imagined in the past.

We also forget Tocqueville’s warning that democracy can become tyrannical precisely because it’s so sensitive to public opinion. If anyone needs proof, consider what a phrase like “marriage equality” has done to our public discourse in less than a decade. It’s dishonest. But it works.

That leads to the key point I want to make here. The biggest problem we face as a culture isn’t gay marriage or global warming. It’s not abortion funding or the federal debt. These are vital issues, clearly. But the deeper problem, the one that’s crippling us, is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning to their content.

We speak the same language, but the words don’t mean the same thing. Our public discourse never gets down to what’s true and what isn’t, because it can’t. Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.
Words like “justice” have emotional throw-weight, so people use them as weapons. And it can’tbe otherwise, becausethe religious vision and convictions that once animated American life are no longer welcome at the table. After all, what can “human rights” mean if science sees nothing transcendent in the human species? Or if science imagines a trans-humanist future? Or if science doubts that a uniquely human “nature” even exists? If there’s no inherent human nature, there can be no inherent natural rights—and then the grounding of our whole political system is a group of empty syllables.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 1, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Marking the liturgical feast of Holy Trinity Sunday, the Pope reminded those present that it is celebrated in honor of the most fundamental of Christian beliefs, the mystery of the three Persons of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, — who are all equally God, and cannot be divided, the Pope said this solemnity renews in us “our own mission to live in communion with God and with each other”.

He said: “We are not called to live without the other, above or against the other, but with the other, for the other and in the other”.

This – the Pope said - means welcoming and bearing witness to the beauty of the Gospel; loving each other, sharing joy and suffering, learning how to forgive”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted May 31, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the Easter season, which concluded last Sunday with Pentecost, the liturgy returned to Ordinary Time. That does not mean that the commitment of Christians must diminish, rather, having entered into the divine life through the sacraments, we are called daily to be open to the action of grace, to progress in the love of God and our neighbor. This Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, recapitulates, in a sense, God's revelation in the paschal mysteries: Christ's death and resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of the Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The human mind and language are inadequate for explaining the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and nevertheless the Fathers of the Church tried to illustrate the mystery of the One and Triune God, living it in their existence with profound faith.

The divine Trinity, in fact, comes to dwell in us on the day of baptism: "I baptize you," the minister says, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We recall the name of God in which we were baptized every time that we make the sign of the cross. In regard to the sign of the cross the theologian Romano Guardini observes: "We do it before prayer so that … we put ourselves spiritually in order; it focuses our thoughts, heart and will on God. We do it after prayer, so that what God has granted us remains in us … It embraces all our being, body and soul, … and every becomes consecrated in the name of the one and triune God" ("Lo spirito della liturgia. I santi segni," Brescia 2000, 125-126).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted May 31, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Where do Irish Christians go from here? Ireland is spiritually and morally bankrupt, at war with itself, and Hell-bent, detesting the idea of Christianity - at least the version of it that has been presented to it by the Roman Catholic church. But in one sense, nothing has changed. We know already from the Scriptures that Jesus said: ‘wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14). This is and will always remain true no matter what decisions nations and individuals take.

So, where do we go from here? Well, like the Apostle Paul, our ambition in Ireland is simply to preach the Gospel where Christ is not known (Romans 15:20). In Ireland, the vast majority ‘know’ Christ as only a swear word, or as a distant, cold stone statue figure at best. But our ambition, as Irish Christians, as Evangelicals, is to bring the Gospel afresh to this generation of Irish to know Him as their loving Lord and Saviour. To preach the Gospel, was ‘always’ Paul’s ambition in life, and this ambition should grip every Evangelical and every Evangelical church in Ireland.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriology

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Posted May 29, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opponents of payday lending have a new ally in the fight against predatory lenders: Leaders from the 15.7-million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

“We cannot sit by idly while some of the poorest among us are preyed on by people simply looking for a quick buck with no regard for the devastation they cause in the lives of others,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research at the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

The ERLC is one of the founding members of the newly-formed Faith for Just Lending coalition, which launched earlier this month. Among other members are the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the National Baptist Convention USA, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the PICO National Network.

“While representing distinct institutions with different histories and practices, these faith organizations hold a shared conviction that Scripture speaks to the problem of predatory lending—condemning usury and teaching us to respect the God-given dignity of each person and to love our neighbors rather than exploit their financial vulnerability,” the group stated in a press release. “They believe that just lending is a matter of biblical morality and religious concern.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe Banking System/SectorPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2015 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis told an Argentine newspaper that he never watches TV or logs on to the Internet. Perhaps not surprisingly, he sleeps well.

Speaking to the newspaper La Voz Del Pueblo, the pope reflected on the little over two years since he was thrust into the global limelight.

He said the swift transition from being archbishop of Buenos Aires to leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics was somewhat of a shock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The diocese wasn’t overwhelmingly pleased with it,” he said. “I’m not sure of whether it was a perceptual issue or whether [the bishop] figured he invested 12 years of education in me and didn’t want to lose it too quick in a motorcycle accident. But the diocese has never been completely at ease with my being a biker.”

His parishioners, he says, believe otherwise. The pastor often cites his motorcycle experiences in his homilies, attempting to convey the Scriptures so that they will relate in the modern world.

“I tell them weather reports are very important to motorcycle riders. If you’re going to be out for a couple of hours, you can’t just look out the window. What’s it going to be like two hours from now when I come back? There’s a 50 percent chance of rain, but if it rains, you get 100 percent wet,” he said.

“So the Lord tells you, ‘not the day nor the hour.’ You know, the odds may be 50 percent that you’re not going to get caught doing something wrong. But if you get caught doing something wrong, you’re 100 percent guilty.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted May 27, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said he appreciates how the passing of the marriage referendum leaves gay and lesbian men and women feeling and he paid tribute to the “immense effort” that went in to the referendum campaign.

Speaking to RTE News, the Archbishop said he appreciated the efforts particularly of the No side.

“It was a principled vote. People, I hope, will respect that,” he commented.

He said it was very clear that if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people that the Church has “a huge task in front of it” to find the language to be able to talk to and get its message across to young people, not just on this issue but in general.

“I think the Church needs to do a reality check, right across the board, to look at the things it is doing well and to look at the areas that we really have drifted away completely from young people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted May 27, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist Church has only 15 years to reverse its decline in the United States if it is to have a sustainable future, an economist warned church leaders.

At the same gathering, the church leaders discussed possible missional goals to address that decline and enhance the global denomination’s ministries around the world.

“By 2030, the denomination in the United States will either have found a way to turn around, meaning it is growing, or its turnaround in the United States is not possible,” Donald R. House Sr. told the May 19 combined meeting of the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration board. “By 2050, the connection will have collapsed.”

In other words, he predicted that unless things change soon, the denomination in coming decades will not have enough U.S. churches to pay for its connectional structures. Such structures include conferences, bishops, agencies, missions and international disaster response.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted May 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit… and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same. Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (cf. Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsPentecost* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Today]...is Wesley Day when Methodists across the globe mark the anniversary of the day in 1738 when their founder John Wesley underwent a deep spiritual experience.

In London, Wesley’s Chapel on City Road — the “Mother Church of World Methodism” — will be holding a day of commemorations, including prayers round his tomb, while in chapels and churches across the country a host of special services will be taking place.

An Anglican clergyman, John Wesley had lived a devout life — visiting prisoners, studying the Bible, praying, living simply and even travelling to America to be a missionary — but on May 24 something happened that changed him. That evening he went (“unwillingly” as he admitted in his journal) to a meeting of Christians on Aldersgate Street, near St Paul’s Cathedral, where someone read aloud Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, describing the change God works in the heart through faith in Christ.

Wesley recorded in his journal how, as he listened, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted May 24, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Something is happening in El Salvador on the 23rd of May. Not just the usual rampant violence in this nation which has one of the world’s highest murder rates. But a celebration for this majority Christian nation: the beatification ceremony of one of its sons, Archbishop Oscar Romero.

The ceremony was arranged following a decree approved by Pope Francis on the 3rd of February in which he declared the Salvadoran Archbishop a martyr.

Like many of his fellow countrymen Romero was a victim of violence and was shot at while celebrating mass on the 24th of March 1980.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryCentral America--El Salvador* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted May 23, 2015 at 8:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.

One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the OrdainedYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterian

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.

Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.

The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 21, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reason for Coren’s conversion and the manner of it are newsworthy. It is significant in terms of religious culture and the profession of commentary.

Coren left Catholicism over homosexuality and gay marriage. In the face of cultural juggernauts, people do change their minds. Coren is following the theological path of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t have picked the contrarian Coren to join the trendiest cause around, but that’s how cultural trends become trendy; people join them.

Two weeks ago, Coren told our colleague Joseph Brean that he came back to Catholicism (the second time) for the Eucharist. He then left over homosexuality. In the long Christian tradition, sexual morality has never been more important than Eucharistic theology. Coren lambastes those who put sexual morality at the heart of their faith. Yet in choosing his ecclesial allegiance on matters sexual rather than matters liturgical, sacramental and Eucharistic, Coren did just that. The cultural import of his conversion is that it calls attention to exactly the choice facing churches the world over. Around what principles shall a church organize itself? The sexual revolution? Or divine revelation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 20, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....perhaps the day has arrived in the PCA when progressives need not worry about any negative connotations of the term "progressive." However, it might still be proper to ask, "Towards what are the progressives asking their church to progress? If we follow the path of progress or get swept along by its tide, what will be left behind and where will we end up?" (Or, for real traditionalists, "where up will we end?")

Dr. Chapell places the label "Traditionalists" on those who are "highly committed to Confessional fidelity and are often worried about perceived doctrinal drift." Is there a more pejorative term in America, where you buy your laundry detergent because it is "new and improved," than the term "traditional"? Not even conservatives want to be traditionalists unless they are appealing to "traditional values" (as in "family" or , peculiarly in Mississippi, "traditional Mississippi values" - wink, wink, hint, hint, get it?). Americans fought a great War for Independence so we wouldn't have to be traditional like those stuffy old British. The last thing a true American wants to be is a stick-in-the-mud old fuddy-duddy traditionalist.

In the churches it's the old and soon to pass from the scene folks who attend the "traditional" service, which may not be traditional at all but a service in which gospel hymns are sung with a song leader rather than praise and worship songs with a praise team. The cool kids flock to the contemporary service, where they will not be turned off by robes, minsters leading worship, and too much Scripture and prayer - until that comes to feel like it is traditional in which case they may join Rachel Held Evans who likes her doctrine and morals progressive but her liturgy sort of traditional in The Episcopal Church.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. Just days ago the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

A new moral and legal order is ascendant in America, and this new order is only possible, in the arena of American law and jurisprudence, if the original intent and the very words of the Constitution of the United States are twisted beyond recognition.

Read it all.

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Posted May 19, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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