An annual Holy Spirit-centered interdenominational movement called Empowered21 was underway this week in Georgia and being hosted by an Assemblies of God leader who believes that young people are hungry for the supernatural, but have been seeking it in the wrong places.
Alton Garrison serves as the assistant general superintendent of The General Council of the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination that counts more than 66,000,000 adherents worldwide with about three million of them living in the United States, based on 2012 statistics. He, along with pastors Greg Surratt and Rich Wilkerson, are co-hosts of this year's Empowered21 U.S.A. Congress.
Empowermed21's stated purpose is to "unite the global Spirit-filled movement together intergenerationally for the purpose of seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 21st century." The movement's vision "is that every person on Earth would have an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033." more >>
In the media's portrayal, people defending marriage as the union of a man and woman have been getting routed ever since the Supreme Court decision last June - if not before. They point to a string of lower-court rulings striking down state marriage amendments and to public opinion polling, especially of my peers in the Millennial generation. Many also point to the forced resignation of Brendan Eich and the defeat of Arizona's religious-liberty bill.
Some people would like me and the millions of Americans who continue to believe that marriage is what societies have believed it to be throughout human history - a male-female union - to get with the program and accept the inevitable. We're clearly, they tell us, on the Wrong Side of History.
But we should avoid the temptation to prognosticate about the future in lieu of working to shape that future. We are citizens in a self-governing society, not pundits watching a spectator sport, not subjects of rulers. We are participants in one of the most significant debates our society - any society - has ever faced. more >>
A Southern Baptist church in California has broken with the denomination's stance on homosexuality and has decided to accept the LGBT community without judgment. The church made the change after its lead pastor announced that he no longer holds to the teaching that homosexuality is a sin.
Danny Cortez, who leads New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, explained his journey in a letter to progressive Christian blogger John Shore, founder of Unfundamentalist Christians, last month. At the end of that journey, his son came out to him as gay.
"I recently became gay affirming after a 15-year journey of having multiple people in my congregation come out to me every year," Cortez wrote. After reading many of Shore's writings and hearing testimony from gay friends who felt marginalized, Cortez said his "eyes became open to the injustice that the church has wrought" and in August 2013, he said he "realized I no longer believed in the traditional teachings regarding homosexuality." more >>
According to the findings of a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, 28 percent of Americans believe that the Bible was "the actual word of God" and that it should be "taken literally, word for word." Forty percent of Americans agreed with that statement in 1979 — a record high — though the number has since declined every year with the exception of 2012.
Nearly 50 percent of Americans agree that the Bible is the "inspired word of God" and that not all of its content should be taken literally. The 47 percent of respondents who believe this perspective is 2 percent higher than when Gallup began asking the question in 1976, and five points short of the 52 percent who agreed with it in 2003.
Those who claimed that the Bible is an "ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man" reached its record high this year with 21 percent. In 1976, only 13 percent of Americans agreed with the statement. more >>
The Church of England has declared that it is banning its clergy from joining the British National Party and the National Front, claiming that the groups teach ideologies against Anglican principles and hold racist views.
The CofE's House of Bishops announced in a statement on Monday that they had decided at a meeting in May to "declare that the constitution, policies, objectives, activities or public statements of the National Front are incompatible with the teaching of the Church of England in relation to the equality of persons or groups of different races."
A further explanation by the bishops reminds clergy that by canon law, they are required "at all times [to] be diligent to frame and fashion their lives according to the doctrine of Christ, and to make [themselves] wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ." more >>
Planned Parenthood recently released a "pastoral letter to patients" in which the organization's clergy advocacy board tells prospective clients that the Bible is silent on the issue of abortion, and further asserts that it's not even mentioned in the Scriptures.
Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, says that Planned Parenthood's claim is a "ridiculous attempt to justify abortion."
According to Jeffress, Planned Parenthood's assertion is "tantamount to saying that there is nothing wrong with an intoxicated driver killing another motorist because the Bible does not mention 'drunk driving.'" more >>