Simeon the prophet never wished anyone a "holly-jolly Christmas" or envisioned anything about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But what about our songs, the songs of the church?
On the question of civil rights in the American Christian context, there is little question that, with few exceptions, the "progressives" were right, often heroically right, and the "conservatives" were wrong, often satanically wrong.
My views on the issue are informed, I hope, by my conscience as a Christian, which is to be shaped by Scripture and the church. But it is not a "Thus saith the Lord" command with the authority of Scripture.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The stirrings of holiday cheer are all around us, from the Bing Crosby music loop at the Home Depot to the inflatable glowing Santas that every neighborhood seems to have.
Donald Trump is at it again. This time, the Republican presidential frontrunner suggests that the United States should close the border to all Muslims — including Muslim-Americans traveling abroad
Pro-life rhetoric is in the news right now, since a deranged man went on a shooting spree inside a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic. Some on the Left would impute this killer's actions to the rhetoric of pro-life organizations, especially about the horrifying revelations about Planned Parenthood that have come out over the past year.
Conservative Christians can't talk about gambling if we don't see the bigger picture.
Playboy magazine has decided that naked women are too boring. After years of social conservatives and feminists telling them their nude objectification is degrading to women, Playboy executives have yielded because they are not able to be degrading enough to keep up with the Internet.
In recent weeks Pope Francis made headlines by announcing that Catholic women who have had abortions, and are repentant, may receive forgiveness during this "Year of Mercy" by going directly to any priest for confession, without the direct authorization of the bishop.
One of the reasons I say that it is good for American Christianity to no longer think of itself as a "moral majority" is that such a mentality obscures the strangeness of the gospel. When a vision of Christian political engagement hinges on building a politically viable network of ideologically united voters, Christ and him crucified will tend to be a stumbling block, not a rallying point.
I would love to prognosticate that the Ashley Madison scandal is the jolt we needed to set some things aright, but I'm afraid Ashley Madison is just the beginning.
I watched a video this morning that I'm ashamed to say I viewed. No, it wasn't pornography — at least not the kind of pornography we typically think of. The video was the live shooting of two television journalists as they were reporting in Virginia.
Jesus was chased out of his manger and into Egypt by one of Planned Parenthood's ancestors, King Herod, who also sacrificed Bethlehem's infant children for the sake of power.
Facebook Blocked This Russell Moore Op-Ed About Planned Parenthood Selling Body Parts of Aborted Fetuses
If this does not shock the conscience, what will? It is not only that infants, in their mother's wombs, are deprived of their lives, but also that their corpses are desecrated for profit. This is not only murderous; it is murderous in the most ghoulish way imaginable.
This weekend I was in Charleston for the first service at Emanuel AME Church after the brutal white supremacist terrorist attack of this past week. Walking around downtown, I was struck by the unity of the city.
We stand today in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Charleston, South Carolina. The brutal massacre of those in prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church should shock the conscience of every person. There is hardly a more vivid picture of unmasked evil than the murder of those in prayer.
I'm not interested in litigating the specifics of this case—the civil authorities and the relevant employers are now alerted to the situation. I'm more concerned that we see that this story is one more in what has been an endless cycle of stories of sexual abuse in "churched" contexts. We cannot assume that we can avoid this topic simply by making sure our doctrines are right, our values conservative, and our people sheltered from the world. If we are not addressing this issue, it is only because we are ignoring what is going on in our communities, and all too often in our pews. This requires that churches come with conviction to this question preemptively, before any specific situation arises, with a word from God.
The prosperity gospel teaches us to seek God's blessing outside of the covenant fulfillment in Christ, and to hope not for the reconciliation of heaven and earth in him but instead to aspire to whatever Western culture deems as success. This is not gospel; this is witchcraft. And, as such, it cannot bring about reconciliation. You cannot reconcile people across carnal divisions with a gospel based on carnal promises.
Our television screens glow with images of criminal rioting and assault on police officers in the streets of Baltimore. This is in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, despite the pleas from Gray's family for calm. The horrific scene seems to bring out the worst ideological responses from divergent corners. Some, wrongly, excuse the rioting, pointing out the issues leading up to it as justifying such criminality. On the other side, some suggest, wrongly, that such rioting is part and parcel of what peaceful protesters are about, distracting from the very real systemic issues that must be addressed. But behind all of this is a question the church must ask: what does Baltimore need in a time such as this?
Bruce Jenner, of course, is a symbol, a celebrity spokesperson for an entire mentality that sees gender as separate from biological identity. So is there a word from God to the transgender community? How should the church address the Bruce Jenner in your neighborhood, who doesn't have the star power or the Malibu mansions but who has the same alienation of self?
The Supreme Court will soon decide whether states can legally choose to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is a watershed moment in our nation's history. As an organization, we have filed briefs with the court, argued in public and in private about why marriage, defined as the union of one man and one woman, matters as a social good, and more than I have space to list in one post. But beyond all this we as Christians and churches need to pray—because marriage is not just another culture war issue.
Rolling Stone magazine printed serious criminal accusations against a campus group, accusations the periodical now admits are completely false. Despite all of this, both the article's author and the magazine editor will keep their jobs according to the publisher. This matters, and matters to far more people than just those on the campus of the University of Virginia or even to the target demographic of Rolling Stone. Behind this scandal is a larger point. In our society, it's become acceptable to lie about people and ideas, as long as the crisis created is in line with a perceived social good.
The public debate over Indiana's new religious freedom law is (almost) enough to drive this Baptist to drink. The conversation has been the most uninformed and ignorant I've seen in years. This culminated in a panel on one of the Sunday talk shows suggesting that the law would return us to the days when signs would hang in stores detailing who would not be welcome to do business there.
As a child growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I learned my place in American culture through rapture movies. These films—based on a pop-dispensationalist reading of prophecy—pictured a time when the church would be suddenly ripped from the earth, sailing through the air to be with the invisible (to the viewer) Jesus Christ.
No one in American life is more committed to religious liberty for all than the Latter-day Saints. We disagree strongly on crucial matters of faith—including the question of what the gospel is and what the church is, even over the question of who and what God is.