For the past year, no two living people have had their every utterance parsed for meaning as thoroughly and consistently as President Obama and Pope Francis. This search for meaning will continue Thursday, when Obama makes his second visit as president to the Vatican.
Like any between two powerful heads of state, the meeting is important, but focusing on policy and statecraft risks overlooking key dimensions of this meeting. For the president, the pope, and the American people, this meeting has farther-reaching importance.
The policy implications of the meeting are broad and include a range of issues-from climate change and immigration reform to the Syrian crisis and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice will both join Obama. The men have several shared policy priorities. The president has invoked Francis's statements on income inequality; one of the signature issues of his second term, and the administration has also worked with the Vatican on the fight against global poverty. Ken Hackett, the American ambassador to the Holy See, is the former CEO of Catholic Relief Services and one of the nation's foremost experts on international development. more >>
There's an old joke in Christian circles that goes like this: Someone had written in graffiti the famous quote from the 19th century atheist philosopher: "God is dead. Signed, Nietzsche." Underneath it, someone else wrote: "Nietzsche is dead. Signed, God."
There's a new movie out called, God's Not Dead. I hadn't heard about it, except for a word of praise from Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide, who provides a biblical critique of films.
My wife and I enjoyed the movie very much. What I found fascinating was the spontaneous applause from the audience. It was unusual. This wasn't in the Bible belt. It was in cosmopolitan Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. more >>
In the spirit of forgiveness that God Himself extended to us through Jesus, I believe we should accept World Vision's statement of repentance with graciousness and offer their leadership the forgiveness they requested, commending them for their contrition.
This could not have been an easy thing to do, as they will now have to deal with accusations of being double-minded, not to mention the pro-gay activist backlash they will surely face along with accusations that they were not sincere in their repentance but rather acted out of mercenary concerns, and so we need to be just as vocal in affirming them as we were in rebuking them as I did in my column in The Christian Post.
The question is: Since they recognize that they deeply betrayed the trust of a large number of their constituents, how can they now regain that trust? (When speaking of World Vision throughout this article, I'm referring only to the U.S. branch, which made the initial, tragic decision.) more >>
Central to a Christian worldview is the belief that humanity exists in a fallen world and that, as a result, everyone is born in sin and susceptible to conditions that affect them physically, mentally, emotionally and in other ways. Yet, Christians are at odds when it comes to mental illness, with some suggesting that such maladies are simply the result of personal sin, lack of faith or spiritual attacks.
While there have been recent efforts to help destigmatize mental illness, studies show that many American evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians view such health issues solely as a spiritual condition to be treated with Bible study and prayer. Prior studies also have shown that religious leaders are most often the ones sought out among those suffering from mental illness, who, in some cases, have their ailments dismissed.
Dr. Eric L. Johnson, author of Foundations for Soul Care: A Christian Psychology Proposal and professor of pastoral care at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, explains that "the whole body can be affected by human fallenness." more >>
After days of backlash from Evangelicals, World Vision, an international nonprofit ministry, has reversed its decision to allow those in same-sex marriages to be employed.
"Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our national employment conduct policy," the Christian humanitarian organization said in a letter to supporters Wednesday. "The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman."
World Vision has come under heavy criticism since it made public on Monday its policy change. In a letter to its employees that was shared with The Christian Post on Monday, World Vision President Richard Stearns announced that while the organization is not endorsing same-sex marriage, it recognizes that its staff is comprised of believers from more than 50 denominations, some of which have sanctioned same-sex marriage. Thus, its board has decided to defer the issue to local churches, in its effort to "treat all of our employees equally." more >>
Violence in Egypt against Coptic Christians has continued despite the fall of former president Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, with believers still facing abductions and the government seizing their property, the Board of Inquiry in Cairo reported.
The report, according to Fides News Agency, shows that Copts, who make up close to 10 percent of the population, are continuing to face "endemic forms of violence and abuse" in many parts of Egypt, particularly in the governorates of Luxor, Sohag and Aswan.
"The worrying scenario has been reconstructed in detail on the basis of meetings with community representatives, civil society organizations and material provided which witness this phenomena of violence," Fides reported. more >>