Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that two for profit corporations with sincerely held religious beliefs (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties) do not have to provide a full range of contraceptives at no cost to their employees pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.1
As detailed by ABC News, "In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito the court held that as applied to closely held corporations the Health and Human Services regulations imposing the contraceptive mandate violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. "2
Upon hearing the news American Evangelicals broke out in a collective shout of "Hallelujah!" and took to praising God via social media; while in the streets of an otherwise secular society there was wailing and gnashing of teeth.3 more >>
Wesleyan and Anabaptist perfectionisms are the emerging dominant forms of Christian social witness in America, according to this fascinating piece in First Things by Dale Coulter of Regent University. He's certainly right about their pervasive influence but unduly optimistic about their plausibility and sustainability, much less desirability.
As a Methodist, I hope thoughtful Calvinists will provide a corrective dose of realism and sturdy doctrine to the social cul-de-sacs and Utopianism towards which both perfectionist traditions seem to spiral when untethered from church teaching about the limits of fallen humanity. It's not fair to fault Methodism exclusively for the excesses of the Social Gospel, whose key early proponent, Walter Rauschenbusch, was a liberal northern Baptist. It was fueled by German romanticism and New England, post-Congregationalist Unitarian transcendentalism. But Wesleyanism, once liberalized and unhinged from supernatural teachings about Christian cosmology, generously watered the roots of the Social Gospel movement and ultimately fully embraced it.
Methodism as a mass movement provided much of the activist machinery for Social Gospel energy if not much of the intellectual formation. This storyline is often repeated. Wesleyans are more comfortably doers than deep thinkers, Much of official Methodism, as it transitioned through its Prohibition crusade, easily abandoned traditional Methodism's affirmation of human nature's total depravity and complete need for transformation through the new birth. The new imperative, displacing evangelism and holiness, became earnest intent and constant activity for societal improvement. No human condition was beyond the reach of social and political reform. more >>
Pastors and churches have been banned from helping the thousands of illegal immigrant children housed in border detention facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, clergy in Texas and Arizona tell me.
"Border Patrol told us pastors and churches are not allowed to visit," said Kyle Coffin, the pastor of CrossRoads Church in Tucson, Arizona. "It's pretty heartbreaking that they don't let anybody in there -- even credentialed pastors."
A public affairs officer for the Border Patrol confirmed that ministers and church groups have been banned from the Nogales Placement Center. more >>
The World Evangelical Alliance recently voiced its disagreement with Hispanic evangelical leader the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez's claim that the merger of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Conela, a Latin America-based organization that serves more than 487,000 Latin churches globally, gives representation to perhaps the largest network of evangelicals in the world and is the representative of evangelicals in Latin America.
"The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has been surprised to read in recent weeks of claims about evangelical networks seeking to represent evangelical Christians in Latin America and beyond," a statement from the organization read. "Following these claims, the WEA has been asked by the leaders of the 19 national Evangelical Alliances in Latin America to publicly contribute to clarification."
In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Rodriguez said that NHCLC/Conela, which is the new name of the group merge, has more than 500,000 churches and "may very well be the largest evangelical network in the world." He said he came to his conclusion by looking into current studies by researchers. more >>
A new video message from Billy Graham is in production and is set to be released in honor of his 96th birthday on Nov. 7. The program, called "Heaven," is being released to churches as an evangelistic tool, in conjunction with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's My Hope 2014 with Billy Graham campaign.
"Evangelism is clearly the hardest activity of the Church, but it's also the one most closely tied to the health of the local church," said Steve Rhoads, vice president for My Hope. "We want to come alongside pastors and help them as they motivate their congregations to reach out in love. The local church holds a unique position of influence in our communities."
A recent Barna Group study found that while 73 percent of "born-again" Christians believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, only half (52 percent) have actually done so in the past year. Among "evangelicals" – the group which overwhelmingly believes they have a responsibility to share their faith – less than one-third (31 percent) have in the past 12 months. more >>
A group of Christians protesting the Seattle gay pride parade as an "abomination" clashed in the streets of that city with a drag queen called "Mama Tits," who dismissed their actions as satanic.
"Not today, Satan. Not today," said the drag queen after telling the Christian group that they were being hypocritical in their application of the Bible. A YouTube video of the encounter posted a week ago has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times.
"Actually, if they followed all the teachings of this book (the Bible) that they use to hate, they themselves are sinners. They are wearing cotton-poly blend — that is an abomination," argued the drag queen pointing to Levitical law in the Old Testament. more >>