UNESCO has officially designated as a World Heritage site the location of the baptism of Jesus Christ on the eastern bank of the Jordan River. Scholars have said it is not known whether the exact location falls on the Jordanian or Israeli side of the river, which has long stirred a tourism dispute between the two countries.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that although the U.N. cultural agency declared that most Christian churches believe the Jordanian side to be the location of Jesus' baptism by John, as found in Matthew 3 and other passages, scholars say there is no way to be certain which side of the river was the precise location.
Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that UNESCO's decision "has nothing to do with archaeological reality." more >>
Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress said in a recent interview that liberal churches sometimes harbor illegal immigrants who might be a danger to society, but added that his First Baptist church does not check the immigration status of people who come visit. Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, said that churches should offer needy people food and shelter and show them mercy.
Jeffress said on "Fox and Friends Weekend" this Sunday that liberal churches that harbor illegal immigrants claim to be following the example of Jesus, but are making a mistake.
"The only problem is they are following the Jesus of their imagination, rather than the Jesus of the Bible," Jeffress asserted. more >>
Pope Francis has called the unfettered pursuit of money "the dung of the devil" in a strongly worded condemnation of the global treatment of poor people. Speaking on Thursday at the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Francis also told Christians it is their "commandment" to fight for the "just distribution of the fruits of the Earth."
Francis, who is on a tour of several South American countries, told the Bolivian faithful that as the scientific community warns, "irreversible harm" is being done to the ecosystem, which is "brutally punishing" entire populations. He then referred to the "unfettered pursuit of money" as the "dung of the devil," which leaves behind the service of the common good:
"Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home." more >>
In a sermon which has ruffled some of his congregants and general critics alike since he delivered it last Wednesday, megachurch pastor Ron Carpenter Jr. of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina, says he believes people can be born predisposed to homosexuality but "Jesus can straighten" the iniquity.
"I believe much of homosexual activity is iniquity. Doctors don't believe it, they say they couldn't find a gene. Well, sin don't have a gene," said Carpenter in a recording of the sermon titled "Biblical Truth on Same-Sex Marriage" that was posted to YouTube. The sermon is almost 1 hour and 20 minutes but he shared his personal thoughts beginning at the 1 hour 12-minute mark of the video.
"You can't open up somebody's body and find sin. The Bible says iniquity travels three and four generations. The word 'iniquity' is not sin. The word 'iniquity' means bent or twisted and everybody is born bent toward something. So I disagree with a lot of people who say you can't be born that way, if it's an iniquity you can be," said Carpenter. more >>
Ulf Ekman, the former leader of evangelical megachurch Word of Life in Sweden, reflected on his first year as a member of the Roman Catholic Church with his wife following his conversion, and said that things started to make sense for them after the reception. Ekman revealed that the Blessed Virgin Mary led him and his wife to the Catholic Church, and said that loving Jesus means to love the Church.
"It was a real experience for us. It was like several missing pieces fell into place, and so much started to make sense. There was a deep sense of 'arriving' that came to us," Ekman explained in an interview with The National Catholic Register, talking about the reception with his wife, Birgitta, into the Church on May 21, 2014.
"It has been a wonderful year that we will never forget as long as we live. We feel very much at home in the Church and are grateful to the Lord. It has also been an intense year, due to the ongoing media coverage in Scandinavia. We have gained some wonderful new friends, but, like Blessed John Henry Newman said, it has also been a time of 'parting of friends,'" he added. more >>
Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, said Tuesday that in his personal opinion Jesus Christ would approve of same-sex marriage.
Carter's remarks come less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that state-level gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. His belief, however, does not align with a number of conservative Christians, both from evangelical and Catholic traditions, who've said that God has made marriage between one man and one woman, and have been disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision.
"I believe Jesus would. I don't have any verse in Scripture. ... I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that's just my own personal belief. I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else. And I don't see that gay marriage damages anyone else," Carter told HuffPost Live in an interview on Tuesday. more >>