Is Islam a religion? This question, and others perceived as Islamaphobic, were debated by several professors at Union Theological Seminary in New York City Wednesday, with the panelists seeking to encourage the audience to participate in meaningful inter-religious dialogue.
With the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) gaining power and territory in the Middle East, questions regarding Islam and the beliefs and traditions among Muslim sects have been asked repeatedly. Numerous academics have weighed in on the question of whether Islam is truly violent and an authentic religion; three professors, along with one activist, came together at Union Theological Seminary to examine the issue further.
"We can understand Islamophobia as being an imitation, created and recreated across time. It builds across time and space … iteration leads to transformation," argued Ermin Sinanovic, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the United States Naval Academy, who has extensively studied Islam and Muslim-Christian relations. more >>
Concerning religious trends and surveys—especially among younger Evangelicals—continue to serve as doleful reminders that aggrieved outrage and resentful rebellion is en vogue, while faithful Christian discipleship is out of style.
It is undeniable that Evangelicals are drifting further away from the traditional Christian teachings cherished and defended by our parents and grandparents. According to a 2008 Pew Research study, Baptists have experienced the greatest net loss of childhood members within the Protestant tradition with a childhood and current religion net change of -3.7. The Catholic Church is the only other Christian tradition with a greater loss, with a net change of -7.5 in children abandoning their faith.
Numbers are important, but stories behind the data are more telling. As a Sunday school teacher, I see this young Evangelical resentment and desertion in action. Of course, the easy part of my teaching responsibilities is sharing the Gospel with middle school-aged students. The hard, heart-breaking part comes later, when I ask my students if they will make a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and their answer is, "I'm still searching." more >>
Within the last few weeks, we have seen a lot of commentary on Bart Campolo, a former United Methodist youth pastor and son of famous liberal evangelical speaker and author Tony Campolo, leaving Christianity to become a devotee of "secular humanism." Before his "deconversion," Bart became semi-famous in his own right in some Christian circles, among other things founding the Mission Year young-adult service organization.
Ed Stetzer wrote a thoughtful piece for Christianity Today on how evangelical Christians can react in a constructive and loving way. Another wayward son of a famous evangelical, the ever-nuanced Franky Schaeffer, responded by blasting that centrist evangelical magazine as "the disgusting reactionaries of Bob Jones ilk, just dressed better" and Stetzer as a "smarmy prick."
My interest here is neither in second-guessing the senior Campolos' parenting nor in determining if their son was, according to Christ's parable of the sower, a "path person," a "rocky soil person" or a "thornbush person." more >>
There's a good piece by Andrew Walker in First Things on a popular international church network called Hillsong's apparent equivocation on marriage. At a recent New York press conference, the ministry's leader, Brian Houston, declined to answer whether the ministry affirms the biblical position. Instead, he stresses the church's need to stay "relevant."
Earlier this year the pastor of Hillsong's New York's congregation, the ultra hip Carl Lentz, shared similar views with CNN. His wife added: "It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That's their journey." Hmmm. If it's not the church's place to tell anyone how to live, then what is the church's purpose? Entertainment? Affirmation?
Socialization? And if it's not the church's role to counsel how to live, then who or what should? Perhaps it's the central message of our age that each autonomous individual chooses his/her own path without reference to others. more >>
Pope Francis beatified the late Pope Paul VI at the Closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family on Sunday, describing him as a "courageous Christian" and a "tireless apostle." Paul VI, who was known for affirming the Roman Catholic Church's stance against contraception, has been credited for a miracle in California where he is said to have helped in the birth of an unborn child.
Catholic News Agency pointed out that the miracle occurred in the 1990s, where a mother asked a nun to pray for her using a photo of Pope Paul VI in response to news that her unborn child posed a danger to her life and his. After the prayers, the baby boy was born healthy.
Another requirement for beautification was fulfilled by the presentation of relics, in the form of two blood stained vests worn by Paul VI when he was attacked by a man with a bayonet in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, in 1970. more >>
The stillness of the morning calm was about to be shattered by a series of explosions that would alter the course of human history. The time: 7:50 a.m. The date: Sunday, December 7, 1941. The place: Pearl Harbor.
Over 300 Japanese airplanes were swarming toward the harbor site. Within a short time, the bombers damaged eight battleships, destroying three – including the USS Arizona, which sank with 1,102 sailors on board. The Hickam and Wheeler air bases lost 177 planes. More than 2,400 servicemen and women lost their lives. The infamous, surprise attack would launch an entire nation into World War II.
But was this disaster really a surprise? more >>