Many Christians view discipleship as a class for new believers to learn the foundational doctrines of the faith. True discipleship is not simply learning biblical truths, but becoming a student of Jesus, having the will to obey Him in all areas of our life, including in our family. Though many evangelical churches embrace the Great Commission, the condition of families within the body of Christ reflects the reality that few Christians have been adequately trained or discipled in marriage or parenting.
Today the divorce rate within the church is out of proportion to His Word, power and promises. Children from Christian homes are using drugs and abusing alcohol, having sex and committing crimes almost as much as their secular counterparts. It has become difficult to differentiate the non-church kids from those who profess to believe. Statistics tell us that over 65 percent of children being raised in Christian homes -- and that have spent over 10 years in some kind of church youth group -- are walking away from their faith after leaving their homes at the age of 18. Rebellion and disrespect toward parents and authority is now considered common adolescent behavior, even in the church. It's not an exaggeration to say that "the family" is in serious trouble.
We are quick to place blame for this condition on the television programs our children watch, the video games they play, the schools they attend, the influence of the kid next door, or other external influences. I believe that the real problem is not so much what is affecting our children from outside our homes, but from within. more >>
Four Roman Catholic publications have issued a joint statement calling for an end to the death penalty in the United States, and have asked all people of faith to join them in their cause.
"We, the editors of four Catholic journals — America, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor — urge the readers of our diverse publications and the whole U.S. Catholic community and all people of faith to stand with us and say, 'Capital punishment must end,'" the statement read.
"The practice is abhorrent and unnecessary," it added. "It is also insanely expensive as court battles soak up resources better deployed in preventing crime in the first place and working toward restorative justice for those who commit less heinous crimes." more >>
On Friday morning, February 27, 2015, I saw Chris Cuomo pontificating on TV with a fellow CNN host, Michael Smerconish.
They were talking about the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference, and at one point, Cuomo seemed to suggest that a majority of those attending the meeting in Washington, D.C., supposedly favored establishing Christianity as the national religion.
Cuomo then said that here we are, in modern America, dealing with religious extremism abroad---presumably he's referring to ISIS, the Islamic State. Yet we have our own extremists here in America too---presumably those whacko Christians who want to impose a theocracy on the rest of us. more >>
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He…who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead—his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life…has also given rise to religion." No biblical prophet uttered those words. Instead they come from the greatest scientific genius of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. His words capture the continuing public fascination with the Shroud of Jesus at Turin, Italy. His words also demonstrate that deep down; no conflict exists between science and religion—despite what atheists contend.
As a professor, I can attest that despite the miraculous benefits technology affords researchers, educators, and students alike—most of us in higher education are, by Einstein's definition, the walking dead: we "no longer wonder and stand wrapped in awe." Awe fails to constitute a measurable learning outcome required by a university-accrediting agency. Neither is it easily explicable to parents paying significant tuition and looking for return on their investment. Yet, sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words.
Last week arguably the greatest living expert on the Shroud of Turin, the official photographer of the NASA scientists' investigation (STRP), Barrie Schwortz, visited my university. He arrived just days before CNN launched its six-part series: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery." The premiere episode highlighted the mysterious linen. Schwortz began as skeptical as a hardnosed journalist in 1978, equipped with specialized lenses and expecting to find a medieval forger's brushstrokes. Trouble was, no brushstrokes. And after five straight days and nights of unfettered access to the Shroud and scores of empirical analyses later—no scientific explanation emerged for how the forensically accurate image of a scourged and crucified man got on the Shroud. It wasn't a painting—there was no paint; it wasn't a photograph—no trace of silver left behind; and it wasn't a scorch—ultraviolet fluorescence proved that. What was it then? For lack of a better word, a mystery. more >>
CNN's "Finding Jesus" premieres on Sunday, with the first episode set to investigate the Shroud of Turin and one theological expert admits that he's skeptical about its authenticity.
"Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery" explores mysteries of the Bible by investigating science and archaeology in a bid to dispel myths and reaffirm facts about Christianity. The six-part series will closely assess poignant moments in history such as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The Shroud of Turin is believed by some experts to be the cloth used as Jesus' burial wrap after his crucifixion. more >>
Over at The New Republic, Elizabeth Bruenig has penned a lengthy report on the "failure of macho Christianity," focusing on the rise and fall of two "macho" Christian pastors: Mark Driscoll and the lesser-known Heath Mooneyham. Except for the twist that both pastors adopted self-consciously masculine styles and condemned the feminization of the church, there is nothing exceptional about their stories. After all, prominent pastors fail all the time. Jim Bakker — perhaps the biggest pastor to fall in the last 50 years–was hardly a paragon of aggressive hyper-masculinity. Famous pastors on every conceivable spectrum of masculinity have crashed and burned.
Pastors are people, and people are sinful. When pastors become celebrities, they are subject to the same temptations as all celebrities (with the added bonus of sometimes-titanic egos.) That's no excuse.
But I will agree with Bruenig's attack on "macho Christianity" to one, limited extent: When anything becomes a gimmicky modifier to Christianity, it's problematic — whether it's self-conscious masculinity, self-conscious hipsterism, self-conscious femininity, or self-conscious activism. The Evangelical world is prone to gimmickry, with celebrity pastors bringing their fresh take and unique style — often building huge followings. more >>