Saturday, December 31, 2005

Top Ten Religious Stories of 2005

  1. Churches and faith-based agencies respond to Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Southeast Asia and a devastating earthquake in Pakistan.
  2. Papal transition. John Paul II, the celebrity pope of the modern era, died April 2. In 26 years he helped topple communism, decried materialism and campaigned against abortion and the death penalty. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was elected pope April 19 and promised, as Benedict XVI, to continue John Paul's path.
  3. Terri Schiavo Dies: Controversy over pulling feeding tube and Congress's response sparks firestorm regarding end-of-life decisions and evangelical politics. Terri Schiavo, who spent 15 years in a persistent vegetative state sustained by artificial food and hydration, died in a Florida hospice March 31 after her feeding tube was removed.
  4. Churches and homosexuality: Disputes about homosexuality continue to split the global Anglican Communion, as well as cause tensions among Evangelical Lutherans, United Methodists and, in a dispute that finally went public, the American Baptists. Also, Pope Benedict XVI approved a long-awaited Vatican "instruction" that sexually active gay men should not be admitted to seminary or ordained. Vatican releases long-awaited document on gay seminarians, barring from ordination those who are actively homosexual, have "deeply rooted" gay tendencies or oppose the church's teachings on the subject.
  5. Advocates of "intelligent design" continue to push for the right to question Darwinism in public schools, but suffer stinging defeats in Pennsylvania. Public schools also were arenas for conflict as supporters of "intelligent design," which holds that life is too complex to be explained without a "designer," tried to unseat evolution in science classes. The efforts succeeded in Kansas, where the State Board of Education reset science standards to downplay Darwin.
  6. U.S. Supreme Court approves posting of Ten Commandments outside the Texas state capitol and disapproves their posting inside Kentucky courthouses - both by 5-4 votes. A federal judge reinstates a ban on "under God" in Pledge of Allegiance in three California school districts. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two very different displays of the Ten Commandments - approving one outside the Texas State Capitol but blocking displays inside Kentucky courthouses.
  7. Supreme Court Vacancies Trigger Debate: Voices on the religious right and left question President Bush's three nominees to the Supreme Court, with some evangelicals supporting and some opposing born-again candidate Harriet Miers. Evangelical groups were loud and clear that they expected Bush to fill two U.S. Supreme Court vacancies with "strict constructionists" - a phrase liberals called code for opposition to abortion and privacy rights. Bush named John Roberts, a Roman Catholic, to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist's seat and another Catholic, Samuel Alito, to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. If confirmed in January, Alito would be the fifth Catholic on the current court.
  8. Graham Leads Final Crusade: New York City marks the end of renowned evangelist's public ministry. Billy Graham holds a final evangelistic campaign in New York City.
  9. Stem-Cell Research Worries Many: Cloning and funding continue to grow; evangelical and religious opinion seems split but there is plenty here to concern the religious community into the future.
  10. Tmatt suggests, like Elijah, “Guess I really am alone in thinking that terrorism and the Paris rioting remained one of the major religion news stories of the year. I agree with Tmatt and even attempted a bit of a summary in my blog.

I need finally to mention that Narnia Hits the Theaters!

He has risen, indeed!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Satanist Jeans!

Did you ever hear of "satanist jeans"? The lastest is that they are selling like hot cakes! The concept is simple. A Swedish designer wanted to make a statement against Christianity so he decided to do so with jeans.

Cheap Monday jeans are a hot commodity among young Swedes (and now young Americans) thanks to their trendy tight fit and low price, even if a few buyers are turned off by the logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead.

Logo designer Bjorn Atldax says he's not just trying for an antiestablishment vibe. "It is an active statement against Christianity," Atldax told The Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion." In another place he adds that the Bible is "probably the most dangerous book ever written" and that it is "filled with a lot of contradictory things."

From what I have read, Atldax could have saved himself the trouble because the state Lutheran Church of Sweden has been making effective statements against Christianity for generations. After all, when even the church doesn't believe in Jesus, there aren't many Christians left to attack. But in Sweden, apparently even the existence of Christianity is such a problem that "statements" against it need to be made.

“The Lord rebuke you Satan!” (NIV, Zechariah 3.2)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tony Dungy's Faith!

Just hours before the news of the death of James Dungy, son of Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, I was praying and studying the Bible with Linden (Tony’s brother). I shared with Linden that I had been praying for Tony, specifically, with regard to the hype surrounding the Colts winning streak. We were even talking about the Super Bowl – making preliminary plans for going together.

Like Linden, Tony is a man of faith! That became even more public as Tony left his team Thursday to be with his family. It was encouraging to note that team officials seemed to repeat one word more than any other: faith! Remarkably, in the world of cynical sportswriters, no one failed to acknowledge that Dungy was a man of faith.

Local Star sports columnist Bob Kravitz weighed in with an excellent a column that summarized nearly everyone who associated with Tony Dungy either as a fan or as a friend:

In Dungy’s life, service to God and his family rate as his two most important jobs, with his role of a football coach a distant third. From the moment he arrived on the scene as the head coach in Tampa Bay, Dungy has promoted faith-based initiatives that were aimed at turning men into solid, nurturing fathers. That’s what makes this so horribly ironic, so painfully difficult to comprehend.

It’s the hard lesson of parenthood you never want to learn: Sometimes, you can do everything right and it’s still not enough.

“I’ve learned many things from coach Dungy,” linebacker David Thornton said. “About fatherhood, about being a man of faith, about being a man of integrity.”

Tony has God’s call on his life! He has talked in the past of retiring and going into prison ministry and spending more time with his family. How his son’s death may play in this decision only time will tell. And what the public learns of all this will be Tony’s decision to reveal. He is entitled to a certain amount of privacy, especially if he chooses to retire.

Tony’s faith is in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and his dedication to his family finds its roots in the Holy Scripture (Bible). He is a man after God’s own heart and knows that his future is in God’s gracious hands.

Pray for the Dungy family in this time of great lose.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Devilish Daniel Webster!

According to this story from Beliefnet, NBC Television has a real treat in store for people interested in religion: their upcoming drama series, The Book of Daniel, is about a married Episcopal priest, Daniel Webster, who is addicted to Vicodin, who is married and has a gay Republican son and a drug-dealing 16-year-old daughter. The American Family Association notes that the priest's secretary is a lesbian who is sleeping with his sister-in-law. Did I mention he also has a 16-year-old adopted son who is sleeping with the bishop's daughter?

The writer for the series, Jack Kenny, who describes himself as a real "spiritual" person, is also a practicing homosexual "in recovery from Catholicism" and studying Buddhist beliefs.

His main character, Daniel Webster, talks to Jesus, who appears to him every now and then in times of great stress. Kenny does "believe in Jesus, but not necessarily all the myth surrounding him."

NBC purportedly is launching the series in an effort to recover from a fourth-place finish in recent ratings. It’s not that the Episcopalians haven’t had enough bias press. With friends like NBC who needs enemies. After all who says the media is not paying enough attention to religion?

It’s a drama with comedic aspects and is being kicked off Jan. 6 with back-to-back episodes. It is scheduled to air regularly Friday nights at 9 p.m. The troubled, pill-popping Episcopal priest is played by veteran actor Aidan Quinn, who talks with a hip manifestation of Jesus, played by Garret Dillahunt.

Of course, “The Book of Daniel” is being touted as the riskiest new show of the year. It is also billed as the only show on television in which Jesus appears as a recurring character.

As NBC itself explains the show, it focuses on “an Episcopalian minister and father. He finds himself conversing with Jesus - his mentor and friend - who helps navigate family problems, church politics and even his nagging reliance on prescription painkillers.”

Comedienne Phyllis Diller, as a member of Daniel Webster’s flock, will help to keep us laughing.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked” (NIV, Galatians 6.7)

Protest: Email NBC:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

From Valhalla to Nirvana to Heaven to Hell!

Nearly nine out of 10 people in the United States say they believe in heaven, according to a recent ABC News poll. I got back from my 4th grade son’s basketball game in time to watch Barbara Walters interviewing religious leaders, scientists, believers and non-believers alike from India, Israel and throughout the United States. She was fishing for the agreed upon range of perspectives on heaven and the afterlife in our world (televised on ABC, 12/20/05).

Every culture has wrestled with the question of an afterlife, and most have come to a similar conclusion: The bad end up in Hell, the good go to Heaven.

If you were a Viking who died in battle, fierce goddess warriors known as the Valkyries would carry you to Viking Heaven, Valhalla, where you would join an eternal feast. The Romans thought they became immortal and were spirited off to Paradise on a fiery four-horse chariot.”

Dalai Lama says that the purpose of life is to be happy (smiley face!), and that you can accomplish that by warm-heartedness. He tells Walters heaven is [the] best place to further develop the spiritual practice … for Buddhist the final goal is not just to reach there, but to become Buddha. [It's] not the end. Think of it, heaven is just another proving ground for the higher life, namely, Buddha! God, by any name, is great! Allahu Akhbar!

Of course, the promise of heaven plays a central role in the life of Pastor Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and his congregation. Haggard believes if you are not a born again Christian, you have no assurance of going to heaven. He makes it clear that … if you are born again in the belief that Jesus Christ is your personal savior, you are assured a place in Heaven. Amen! Haggard further stated: Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life to anybody that'll follow him. … The purpose of life is to glorify God and go to heaven … 'cause heaven is our home’. May I add, Jesus makes this clear in an ancient dialogue with Nicodemus (John 3: 1-21).

But for the warm-hearted and obviously happy, Ellen Johnson, president of the American Atheists, heaven is a myth! OK! Remind me… What is a myth? Perhaps it has something to do with those 18 million Americans (since late 1900’s) who believe they have had near-death experiences that gave them a glimpse of the afterlife. “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (NIV, 2 Timothy 4.4).

By the way, who are the first five people you want to meet in Heaven”? After all Jesus said “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (NIV, John 14.1-3).

For more on this story see:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Whats going on in Iraq?

Eleven of fifteen million Iraqis went to the polls on Thursday (12/15/05) to elect their new, homegrown government in an unprecedented, almost miraculous exercise in democratic freedom! The interim government, elected in January, will step down for the new rulers.

There were about 7,000 candidates, from hundreds of political parties, vying for just 275 parliament seats. So it's safe to say the Iraqis have lots of different opinions about how to govern their country. Of course it will be a few weeks before we know the outcomes, but by all accounts Election Day was a success: Which is to say that lots of Iraqis voted and there was very little violence.

Today just about everyone is celebrating. "Happy days!" cheered Salim Saleh to a New York Times reporter. "Before, we had a dictator, and now we have this freedom, this democracy," Emad Abdul Jabbar, a 38-year-old Sunni, told the Times. "This time, we have a real election, not just the sham elections we had under Saddam, and we Sunnis want to participate in the political process." "We are so happy," Sahera Hashim told the Financial Times. "We hope for security, good life. We have suffered too much in the past." The mayor of Ramadi, an insurgent and Sunni stronghold, compared the elections to a wedding: "Right now, the city is experiencing a democratic celebration." Another Sunni man told a Post reporter, "All my neighborhood is voting. God willing, after the elections things will be good."

Moreover we're blessed to have Christian Lowe reporting from the ground in Iraq these days. Lowe is posting dispatches from his two-month stint in Iraq on his blog and they are so well-observed and honest that everyone should read them.

In one post last week, he reported on the horrifying aftermath of an IED. And yesterday he posted his reporting from Thursday's elections:

Calls over the minarets told Ramadians to got to vote. Lines were reportedly long. Some polling stations ran out of ballots. One site had 2,400 people standing in line. . . . An intel Marine told me the other day that this is his third time over here and finally he's seeing things beginning to change. It's weird, because I was having a conversation with a captain yesterday who didn't understand why the public back home doesn't see success here. He sees it in the growing professionalism of the Iraqi army, the gradual disenchantment of the people towards the insurgency, the hatred they're gaining toward the terrorists. These are benchmarks that can't be easily explained. I've been through almost all of the city during the day--granted it's been behind the bullet-proof glass of a Humvee--and life seems relatively normal . . .

Dispatches such as Lowe's don't tell the whole story - but they give us important detail.

Get a graphical, at-a-glance look at Iraq's big election

Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5.9)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Atheism, Alister & Aslan!

Worldwide the prospects for atheism are being thwarted by the likes of Aslan, the lion and Alister, the Author.

Let’s start with Alister McGrath. From his highly influential position as a professor of historical theology at Oxford, Alister exclaims in his 2004 book, The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World: “Atheism, once seen as Western culture’s hot date with the future, is now seen as an embarrassing link with a largely discredited past”.

Not coincidentally, in the 2005 October/November issue of Free Inquiry, the influential secularist publication edited by popular atheist Paul Kurtz, contributors from around the world discussed whether unbelief can even survive. Rising religious fundamentalism, post-modernism’s challenges to scientific objectivity, and growing concerns about the role of science in various crises - from militarization to the environment - have put secular humanists on the defensive. Moreover, Harvard University psychologist and atheist Steven Pinker concedes that while atheism has grown in the West, it “has made no inroads in various backward parts of the world.”

As a matter of fact, in the apparent twilight of atheism, the not so backward parts of the world (of which I’m a member) are currently flocking to see the blockbuster movie starring Aslan, Lion of the Tribe of Judah (I highly recommend it). All this because the famous Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) began to reconsider his atheism as a young literature professor after reading the works of fantasy writer George MacDonald. The stories “baptized” his imagination, Lewis said. Apparently, as an atheist, Lewis’ imagination lacked true creativity.

Talk about a major blow to atheism, in 1929, Lewis became a theist. “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed,” he wrote. Then, two years later, he converted to Christianity and joined the Church of England. At that moment of his conversion he described himself a “most reluctant convert.” Later in life he wrote a spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1955).

Joy comes in the morning! Aslan’s risen! He’s risen indeed!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Americas Most Literate Cities!

I’m from Minneapolis and I love to read. How about you? Do you love to read? Then maybe you should move to Seattle or Minneapolis. According to Dr. John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, Seattle is now the most literate big city in the United States. Minneapolis was number one last year and ranks second in 2005.

Dr. Miller draws from a variety of available data resources, the America’s Most Literate Cities study ranks the 69 largest cities (population 250,000 and above) in the United States. Previous editions of this study focused on five key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, and educational attainment. The 2005 study introduces a new factor - the Internet - to gauge the expansion of literacy to online media.

Dr. Miller hopes the list - released again last week - will spur cities to spend more on books, libraries, and other literary stuff.

The original study was published online in 2003 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. A link to the 2004 rankings is provided here.

By the way, who's the most read writer in the history of the English language? William Shakespeare? Geoffrey Chaucer? Charles Dickens? Nope! The answer is William Tyndale - the man who first printed the New Testament in English.

Want a Christmas blessing? Click on the following phrase and Read Tyndale's translation of the Christmas story!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Atheist Jerk Watch #1

A recent Wall Street journal opinion blog item accused atheists of acting "like jerks all the time." They admit to engaging in a little hyperbole, but they think they are entitled since the authors used to be militant atheists, from roughly ages 5 through 17, when they realized that militant atheism is silly and that being a militant atheist is tantamount to, well, being a jerk!

From a local newspaper in San Antonio, here's the latest example of atheist jerkiness:

A group of atheists at the University of Texas at San Antonio was asking students to exchange bibles for porn magazines: “We consider The Bible to be a very negative force in the history of the world,” student Ryan Walker said. He is part of a student group calling itself the “Atheist Agenda.” So they sponsor a “Porno for Bibles” event, where they gave free pornography to people who traded in religious scripture. These people are not jerks, they are fools!

Club members were on campus asking students to exchange religious materials for pornographic magazines like Black Label and Playboy: Smut for Smut! Forgive me Lord!

Now, it's true that religious people can be jerks too. As agnostic David Gelernter writes, "when a deadly earnest young Christian approaches, displays an infuriating though subliminal holier-than-thouness, and tries to convert me - it happens rarely, but occasionally - I metamorphose for an instant into a raging leftist." But one can at least understand the overeager Christian: He thinks he's trying to save your soul! On the other hand, the militant atheist wants to make sure you know you don't have a soul!

Besides, organized religion does a lot more than try to convert people; it also engages in various humanitarian good works. To the extent that there is such a thing as organized atheism, it seems to be about nothing other than getting in people's faces.

By the way, if there is a United Atheist Society (UAS not USA), I nominate Sam Harris for its President. He is notorious for inveighing against “the mad hordes of religious imbeciles” as he does in a recent article in Free Inquiry. Also see Harris’ recent article on Katrina titled There is No God (And You Know It).

Bottom line: The fool says in his heart: there is no God! (Psalm 14.1 & 53.1) And you know it! (John 17.3)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vampires and Jesus and Politics!

Check out Cindy Crosby’s recent Christianity Today interview with a penitent Anne Rice. It makes my blood chill as Anne tells how she moved from fascination with vampires to renewed faith in Christ.

Anne Rice, who developed a cult following with her novels of witches and vampires, warns her fans they may not want to follow her into the light of her new subject - Jesus Christ. Her new book, entitled Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, is narrated by Christ himself as a seven-year-old boy. The best-selling author of 26 books is already planning three sequels for her new character. Dedicated fans beware!

Rice made news with her testimony that she has returned to the Roman Catholic faith. Consider this update on the Rt. Rev. Doug LeBlanc’s recent post about the religious revival in the life of this controversial author. She said she needed a more inspirational subject: "I mean, I was in despair."

In the afterword of the new novel, she boldly refers to Christ as "the ultimate supernatural hero . . . the ultimate immortal of them all."

Some more details are found in a lengthy report in the New York Times. A feature story about Rice’s new home in California by reporter Laura Millier gives us a little insight:

In 1998 Ms. Rice rejoined the Roman Catholic Church for the first time since suffering a “total breakdown of faith” at age 18. “That was in 1960, before Vatican II, and I was a very strictly brought-up Catholic,” she explained. “I lost my faith because what I had been taught was so wrong.” An overwhelming desire to “return to the banquet table” and assurances from a priest in New Orleans that she didn’t have to resolve all her differences with the church (most notably over the issue of homosexuality) led to the reconciliation.

Pardon me, but did you say homosexuality? Now there is a dark topic that seems to shows up everywhere these days. Terry Mattingly over at says: “I would not be surprised in Rice’s series turns out to be a major event on the Christian left.

He may be on to something. Rice's own website,, is a platform for everything from impassioned updates on the needs of post-hurricane New Orleans to Democratic politics and her views on controversial issues (her son, Christopher, also a novelist, is homosexual, and Anne is "an advocate for Christian and Jewish gays and their right to worship and to take the sacraments").

The darkness did not occult the Light!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nonbelievers Too Can Be Saved, Says Pope!

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (

Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI. Honestly, who do you know that fits such an outlandish stereotype? Remind me again… Why do I need the Holy Bible and why did Christ die?

The Pope made this affirmation today at the general audience, commenting on a meditation written by St. Augustine. “They (perfect unbelievers) have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption," explained the Pope, quoting Augustine.

It only takes a spark! "And he (the Pope) says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live," the Holy Father continued.

"With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ," he clarified (better, muddled).

Forgive me for interrupting Mr. Pope but Faith in an unknown anything will not save anyone! Augustine knew that the restless heart of the lost person needed more than a spark. Jesus is no spark! He is the Light of the World. Now that makes a tremendous difference to those of us who have faith in a known reality, namely, Jesus. Because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (biblical faith is necessary).

The Light of the world has entered into the darkness of evil and unbelief and lostness and death, and this darkness (call it a spark) does not understand Jesus. In John 12:46 Jesus says, "I have come as light into the world that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." So believers have passed from darkness to light! John 12:36 says, "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of the light." When you believe in Jesus not only do you leave the darkness and enter the light; you actually join the family of the light - you become children of the light. Paul said, "Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light" (Eph. 5:8).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

It's a Dog's Wife!

A pastor officiated at the wedding of two dogs at an Evangelical church in Grand Rapids, Michigan this month. Is it true that dog’s have souls? Calling out from under the altar I hear a loud voice: “How long, Soveriegn Lord, holy and true?”

What’s behind this dog door? Check it out! Not surprisingly, the internet uncovered this article from 2002 on the dog’s pastor's trial for groping women while conducting "exorcism type rituals" at the same church. Here is the church website with a photo of the pastor and his (no frump) wife.

Five will get you ten the luky dogs will stay together longer than the rest of the Christian marriages this ordained bounder performed so far this year....

Friday, November 25, 2005

Future Faithless Religion!

There's a new choice in town if traditional religious beliefs aren't your cup of tea. Check it out: Universism! Goodness me, after seeing this, there are hardly any words left to describe the spiritual, intellectual and moral breakdown in our society.

Universism claims to be the world's first "rational religion." Remarkably they have discovered preciously how to reach into the heart of humanity's religious impulse. Once in there, they’ve uncovered not faith, but mystery. Of course! Not complacency, but awe. We should’ve known! In the end the Univerismite has found that an essential element of the human experience in harmony with reason - not in spite of it.

In short, what do these Universists know that other religions only wish they knew? In their own words, they “know the fuller our understanding of the universe, the greater our appreciation for a reality beyond our imagination. We celebrate individual reason, inspiration in nature, and hope in progress”.

It doesn’t get any better that that or does it? Jesus says: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17.3).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Superman: Even So Come Quickly!

I just finished catching the new teaser trailer for the Superman Returns movie to be released Summer 2006. First off, what is with the title? Superman Returns? Did he leave for a trip? From the look of the trailer, I see it as a total remake starting from the beginning, so isn't the title already misinforming? Wouldn't a better title for this remake be Superman Begins, similar to the Batman Begins from last Summer?

The story link seems to suggest that Superman has returned after a long absence. Does this new Superman movie pick up where the Chris Reeve films ended? In the new teaser trailer, the narrator, Marlon Brando - the closing of Jor-El's monologue in the Fortress of Solitude, from the 1978 Superman, who I am guessing is Superman's father, tells about how he is different from all the other people of Earth, because he is from another world.

The narration is underscored by the original John William's Superman Krypton theme and it builds up to the final shot of the trailer which is Superman hovering above the Earth at the edge of space. It is the words at this point that caught my attention. The narrator says something like this: There is good in these people; that is why I am sending them my only son. I thought, "Hmmm, where have I heard that before?" A guy who is not like the rest of the people, has great powers and abilities, and is an only son sent from another world.

I am only curious if Saddleback Community Church, in conjunction with Fuller Seminary and Christianity Today, will put out a study guide to help aide the discussions in small group Bible studies as to the Christian imagery found in the movie. Can't wait to see!

Say it! The whole Superman mythos is about a "heavenly" father sending his all-powerful son to Earth to be raised by a human family and save the world. How much more Messianic can you get, really? Really?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Wedded Bliss for All or None!

I just got back from the annual ETS meeting (courtesy of The Lockman Foundation) in Philadelphia and a soft glance back into the week’s MSM uncovered the following article from the Washington Post. Check out this highly symbolic and testy action by a church on the religious left.

This report contains all of the sources that you expect in another one of the oldline denominations that, sadly, will almost certainly spin apart over the issue of sexuality and marriage.

In this case, a pastor has actually banned marriages in his church - as a protest that he cannot legally marry gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered. Thus, the crotchety main headline: “Wedded Bliss for All or None.”

Again, that raises the question: What would a bisexual wedding be like?

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Sacred Idolatry!

An Emergent attack on the authority of the word!

Is the Emergent Church spearheading an assault on Holy Scripture? The following linked article, "Emerging With A Christian View Of Scripture", takes a close look at ECM's attack on the Bible and then contrasts it with our glorious Lord Jesus Christ's view of these sacred and Holy Scriptures.

In addition, this piece which was taken from the emergent website,, shows you how the emergents are attacking the authority of Scripture in the lives of believers. They call a reverence for God's Word "worshipping the Bible"-idolatry. Those who desire to obey the Word are accused of being uninterested in the "heart of the Creator". But what they never admit is that without the Bible, we don't even know who the Creator is. Everything about the heart of the Creator is found in the Bible. Without God's Word, we know nothing of who God is and who we are as His creation. Watch out for these attacks on God's Word and identify them for what they are.

Here is an important article from The Ankerberg Theological Institute which will help you to learn how to defend God's eternal infallible and inerrant Word .

David Crumm from the Detroit Free Press has written a piece on Rob Bell of the emergent Mars Hill Church. Check out this article on Bell's attempts to "disorganize" the church.

By the way, where did the Emergent mess come from? Herescope has an interesting article about the roots of the so-called "emergent" movement. When you look at a diseased tree, you have to check out the root system to understand what is wrong. The same is true with fads and unbiblical movements. The roots will tell you what you need to know.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Meet Ted Haggard!

Meet Ted Haggard the NAE's optimistic champion of ecumenical evangelism and free-market faith.

Christianity Today puts an adoring spotlight on Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. Bill Clinton is an Evangelical, Haggard says. Jimmy Carter is an Evangelical. Hillary Clinton, he says, is not. Want to place a small wager on this one?

Anyway, it is supposedly Evangelicalism’s finest hour. Indeed it is time to grasp the widespread public acceptance and socio-politico-econmic opportunities within our reach. This is what the sociologist Alan Wolfe calls the “opening of the evangelical mind,” a cultural renaissance among conservative Christians. Though their parents may have taught them to take refuge in a parallel Christian subculture, the stuff these people found in Christian bookstores bored and embarrassed them. Now, life is good! Really good! Just ask Ted as he sits in his penthouse office suite that looks out on the awesome Rocky Mountains.

Meanwhile, the persecuted church around the world is hunted like vermin. Christian schoolgirls are beheaded in Indonesia just for being Christians and Ake Green waits in Sweden to go to trial in front of the Swedish Supreme Court this week for preaching the Scriptures in his small village church. And Once again we see an attack by Islamists, justified with faith language killing 57 and wounding more than 100 innocent people.

Acording to Ingrid Schlueter at Slice of Laodicea, none of this seems to register in Ted Haggard's Rocky Mountain Xanadu.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery...

Harper's Magazine's piece on Ted Haggard, Soldiers of Christ is available online.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Paul Nussbaum article on Haggard is also available online.

Haggard's website has more info on his books, beliefs, and biography.

New Life Church offers mp3 sermons and more information for visitors.

The NAE website has more information about the organization, it's government affairs office, and other news.

The Association of Life-Giving Churches, New Life's church network, has the goal of seeing "churches, no matter their denomination, age or style of worship, promote and facilitate freedom of operation for the Holy Spirit."

CT interviewed Haggard after his election as president of NAE: Ted Haggard: 'This Is Evangelicalism's Finest Hour' The new president of the National Association of Evangelicals talks about the current state and future goals of the association and evangelicalism. (June 3, 2003)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Paris Is Burning: What's Religion Got To Do With It?

Paris Is Burning: What's Religion Got To Do With It?

Religion has everything to do with this. These riots were bound to happen; it was just a matter of time. However, be aware that these events are nothing, just minor skirmishes - wait a few more years and you will see real urban warfare in the streets of Europe. As of today the rioting has spread to 300 towns in France. In fact, some MSM news stories are asking is this the beginning of Jihad in Europe?

Note that there are other large immigrant communities in Europe, and they somehow manage to fit in, work and live peaceful lives (not that it helped a certain Brazilian!). So what motivates these young men? What causes them to go out to riot and destroy? Well, it is a bunch of things, and it is Islam! The hate and anger against the infidels is flowing out of the mosques, into the streets, and nobody, neither the French nor the Muslims, have a clue. It is of no comfort to me, but be certain that, like the Muslims, the French will reap what they sow. It will not be pretty!

Let's blame the French leaders and politicians as much as the Muslims in the streets. Also, blame the Imams and the Muslim Councils, which at refuse to understand the consequences of the basic teachings of their faith or much less examine the controversial actions and writings of their Prophet. This denial is deadly and it is at the heart of this problem, like it or not! All parties have ignored reality and played word games with each other. Many innocent people will be hurt because of denial, dishonesty, indifference and lack of honesty on both sides.

Take a look at the following to see the panorama of problems across the spectrum that this issue is highlighting:

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Presto Salvation!

Do words mean anything? Are there some words that simply shouldn't be spoken in vain, like calling on the name of Jesus Christ, for example? This website features a Salvation Challenge game that may turn your stomach. Read the promo and weep!

Salvation Challenge TM is a family game for 2-6 players. Each player starts with one million in kingdom cash. Players need to get ‘saved’ by landing on Calvary and making the salvation call, “Jesus save me”, before they are able to carry out certain activities

Once Saved the players enter a race, to see who can be the first to give one million cash to missionaries, who further advance God’s kingdom..

To treat holy things in such a trivial fashion, for entertainment no less, is silly at best and contemptible at worst. Ironically, it seems that fundamentalists are often as prone to this kind of thing as mainstream Evangelicals. Nothing, apparently, is sacred.

Note the line: "The game clearly shows the way of salvation in such an easy way that people only have to add faith to the salvation call.."

User-friendly salvation! Just add a little fatih and stir!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Psychoactive church!

Uniao do Vegetal (O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal church or UDV) is a church which is known fundamentally for its usage of Hoasca (or Ayahuasca) as a sacramental entheogenic herbal tea. The 130-member American branch of this Brazilian church wants to import a sacramental hallucinogenic tea - banned from the U.S. because it is a Schedule I drug - but is key to their religious rituals.

We don’t know much about the church or why and how they use the hallucinogenic tea (Some answers can be found here). However, illegal narcotics and church and a Supreme Court with a history of restricting drugs all make for an interesting law/religion story that will certainly divide traditional political alliances in all sorts of interesting ways.

Rather than impacting First Amendment law, the case deals with a federal law that gives protections to religious exercise than what the Supreme Court had previously given. Two lower federal courts have barred the government from seizing the sacred drink. The Supreme Court refused last year to lift the preliminary injunction issued by the federal district court in Albuquerque. But the justices did agree to hear the administration’s recent appeal to trump the religious needs of this small South American church.

As the major church-state clash of the court’s new term, the case has drawn the attention of mainstream religious groups, including the Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals and the American Jewish Committee. Now I find this curious since each of these organizations, among others, are filing briefs in support of the church.

There must be some mind-expanding stakes on the table!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Supreme! Alito nominated!

President Bush has nominated Samuel Alito, a 3rd Circuit judge, for the Supreme Court.

From this AP article:

Judicial conservatives praise Alito's 15 years on the Philadelphia-based court, a tenure that gives him more appellate experience than almost any previous Supreme Court nominee. They say his record shows a commitment to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, ensuring that the separation of powers and checks and balances are respected and enforced. They also contend that Alito has been a powerful voice for the First Amendment's guarantees of free speech and the free exercise of religion.

Also: Time has a short article that discusses differences between Alito and Scalia.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Faith comes by hearing the Word of God but the Air Force is being asked to ban religious conversions at the academy. Shut up about all this being Born Again stuff! This is all being done in the name of free speech and religious liberty of course. Give me a break!

Forget the United Nations and that Universal Declaration of Human Rights thing (especially Article 18). It seems that some forms of free speech are more equal than others!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

World Violence vrs The Beatitudes!

What’s been happening in the world lately besides Harriet Miers and Valerie Plame and the World Series? Some of them, like the vote in Iraq last weekend, are big. Others are small, but no less portentous and full of religious riposte.

According to the Weekly Standard Newsletter the big story on the Brussels Journal this week has been the troubles at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Here's how the trouble started:

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is being protected by security guards and several cartoonists have gone into hiding after the newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons (view them here) about the prophet Muhammad. According to Islam it is blasphemous to make images of the prophet. Muslim fundamentalists have threatened to bomb the paper's offices and kill the cartoonists. . . .

The publication led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark. 5,000 of them took to the streets to protest. Muslim organisations have demanded an apology, but Juste rejects this idea: "We live in a democracy. That's why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures," he said. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel reacted with the statement: "This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world." . . .

The affair, however, has also led to a diplomatic incident. On Thursday the ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries, including Indonesia, a number of Arab states, Pakistan, Iran, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, complained about the cartoons in a letter to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They say the publication of the cartoons is a "provocation" and demand apologies from the newspaper.

Jyllands-Posten was also included on an al-Qaeda website listing possible terrorist targets. An organisation which calls itself "The Glorious Brigades in Northern Europe" is circulating pictures on the internet which show bombs exploding over pictures of the newspaper and blood flowing over the national flag of Denmark. "The Mujahedeen have numerous targets in Denmark--very soon you all will regret this," the website says.

In this one example we see nearly the whole of the problem presented by the collision between Islam and Western liberalism. But amidst the many difficulties, two stand out. First, is the statement from imam Raed Hlayhel, "This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims." Certainly Hlayhel does not speak for all of Islam. But the worry is that if he speaks for even a tiny minority--say, 5 percent of the world's Muslims--that's still a lot of people.
The second shock is the support of 11 Muslim states for this bullying of the Danish press. It is one thing for a lone imam to try to mau-mau a newspaper. It is another to see him standing, arms linked, with foreign governments.

To highlight the true nature of this impasse, to the Brussels Journal’s Paul Belien notes a situation in Belgium:

Meanwhile in Brussels a young Muslim immigrant published a poster depicting the Virgin Mary [unclothed]. Though the picture has drawn some protest from Catholics (though not from Western embassies, nor from the bishops), this artist need not fear being murdered in the street. On the contrary, he is being subsidised by the Ministry for Culture.

Freedom of the press verses freedom of religion verses The Beatitudes?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Latter-Day Con Job!

Newsweek magazine splashed a story on the growth of the Mormon Church on its cover last week. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints keeps receiving more and more media coverage and they are handling it quite well, considering some of its more controversial teachings like polygamy and exaltation.

The article touches on their teaching on exaltation in the following few sentences and it dovetails with the polygamy problem without mentioning exaltation:

“LDS doctrine holds that some polygamist marriages will exist in the celestial kingdom, the highest tier of heaven. Smith taught that humans (who were spirits in a “pre-existence”) come to earth to get a body and to be tested. After death, everyone is placed into one of three kingdoms, depending on his level of righteousness. Those in the highest degree will dwell with God, their families will be eternal and they’ll even become gods themselves - as God did. Lorenzo Snow, fifth LDS prophet, articulated doctrine when he said, “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.”

According to the folks over at the mail call for Newsweek’s splash on the Mormon Church this week was thick and heavy, at least according to those letters published in this week’s issue.

One member “anxious about inaccuracies” was “pleasantly surprised at the great job of compactly presenting such a huge topic.” Another insisted that “the Mormon Church has no need to ‘confront’ its past.” Still another wondered how an article by “a current member of the church could offer a ‘fair and balanced’ portrayal.” Many readers took exception to calling Mormonism a Christian denomination, and others criticized the church for its secret ceremonies and exclusivity. “The Mormon Church is a Masonic lodge dressed up for public view as a Christian church,” a former member said. Others questioned Mormonism’s history, pointing to the frequently altered Book of Mormon and founder Joseph Smith’s reported discovery of gold plates.

I particularly liked this one: “This obviously fairy-tale religion was founded by a boy magician and latter-day con man.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Dungy brothers!

Linden Dungy (picture w/ me) is more than Tony’s brother. He’s a true brother. I know this because I minister with him. We are members of the same church and I had the great privilege of baptizing him several years ago. Linden, like Tony, has a dynamic, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Of course Tony is a well known sports figure and Linden is a local dentist. The Indianapolis Star sports writers covering the Indianapolis Colts often site head coach Tony Dungy’s deep faith. This blog certainly doesn’t get the same exposure as the Indianapolis Star but I want to publicly broadcast (to my small audience) that Linden and Tony are brothers in the eternal sense of the word.

Although I don’t personally minister with Tony (picture below), here’s an example of what’s being said in the Indianapolis Star sports writers coverage: “He was a huge reason why I came here,” [Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey] Simon said. “He doesn’t allow the game to run his life. Family is very important to him and his faith in God and his relationship with Jesus Christ is very important to him, and those are two things that I value very highly in a person, especially a person who’s going to be my coach.


Friday, October 21, 2005

How Now Brown Cow!

A murder mystery! A conspiracy theory! A hidden code! A work of Plagiarism!

Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code delivers it all: A riveting tale of international intrigue set against a backdrop of religious history. The book has 25 million copies in print and has spent more than two years on the New York Times Bestseller List for Hardcover Fiction.

Almost since the day the controversial novel hit bookstores, evangelicals have discussed it, debated it, and noted its historical and biblical inaccuracies. There's plenty to read on those topics by clicking right here.

The controversy extends now into the mammon hungry secular arena. It seems that Mr Brown is to face a High Court action brought by the authors of the 1982 non-fiction book The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail, who allege that his blockbuster was based on their decade of research. The Holy Blood, Holy Grail trial begins soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Intelligent Design Trail!

In late September 2005, Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District et al. went to trial in federal district court in Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs challenged the decision of the Dover School Board requiring that public schools teach that intelligent design is an alternative theory to evolution. The plaintiffs alleged that such a rule constituted the teaching of religion in public schools and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

It seems obvious to me that Intelligent Design (ID) is science, not religion. Creationism is a theological, religious concept; Intelligent Design points to observable physical empirical facts. The appearance of design in aspects of biology is overwhelming aspects of life are so complex as to be best explained as the work of a super-intelligent designer.

When Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution, little was known about what goes on inside living cells. They were "black boxes," objects the insides of which were unknown. With the development of molecular biology, scientists have come to realize that cells are extremely complex. Darwin's theory fails to account for this complexity. For example, the unique information within an individual cell remains distinct from the physical structure of that cell in the same way that the message of a book is distinct from the ink and paper which records it. The question biologists must answer is, Where did this genetic information come from? Information implies intelligence. It can't be explained by physical mutations and natural selection.

Another finding which also is a major problem for Darwinists is what is called the irreducible complexity of living organisms. In other words, molecular mechanisms are made up of many parts that interact in complex ways, and all the parts need to work together. Any single part has no useful function unless all the other parts are also present. The eye, for example, requires the coordinated working of many different parts to do its work. Each of these parts, however, can accomplish nothing on its own. That being the case, why would the individual parts have been preserved through time by natural selection? If there were gradual development, there must have been some intelligence behind it to know what to retain and what to destroy.

These two factors, then - information content and irreducible complexity - are strong physical evidence for intelligent design. Information implies intelligence, and complexity can't be accounted for by mutation and selection. It requires design!

Interestingly, recent polls indicate that challenges to Darwinian evolution have substantial support among the American people. According to a July 2005 survey sponsored by the Pew Forum and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 60 percent believe that humans and other animals have either always existed in their present form or have evolved over time under the guidance of a Supreme Being. Only 26 percent agree with Darwin that life evolved through natural selection. Finally, the poll found that 64 percent of Americans support teaching creationism alongside evolution in the classroom.
From CT weblog
  1. Museums take up evolution challenge Natural history museums around the country are mounting new exhibits they hope will succeed where high school biology classes have faltered: convincing Americans that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a rigorously tested cornerstone of modern science (Chicago Tribune)

  2. Local school teaches intelligent design alongside evolution Students in Cheri Hagan's advanced biology class at Asheville Christian Academy believe the concept of intelligent design has its flaws. But, they say, so does evolution (Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C.)

  3. Now arguing near you: the evolution drama Observing the 80th anniversary of the Scopes trial, Theater Works has begun a 23-city tour of Peter Goodchild's radio play "The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial" (The New York Times)

  4. Can faith, science coexist? Evolution and Christianity are not incompatible, many believe (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  5. From Dayton to Dover: Why is Darwin still on trial? When believers insist on 'proving' religion through science, they are playing on the wrong field (Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center)

  6. Intelligent deception With the ongoing battle over intelligent design being taught in schools, Why stop there? (Steven I. Weiss, Radar)

  7. Inherit the baloney In Monkey Business: The True Story of the Scopes Trial, by Marvin Olasky and John Perry, creationists try to settle a score with Darwin (Chris Lehmann, Reason)

  8. Leave science to schools, faith to us it is the job of my husband and me to instill values, faith and religion in our son as we see fit. My job. Not society's, not the school's and not the job of either fundamentalist Christians or secular liberals intent on changing the school curriculum to fit their agenda (Inez Russell, Free New Mexican)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Jabez - now Jezebel!

A few years ago, when the evangelical book fad The Prayer of Jabez was in full swing, Russell D. Moore joked that the feminist revisionists would respond with their own small devotional volume: The Prayer of Jezebel. Well, now it is here.

Fortress Press, the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has announced the publication of The Jezebel Letters, which "combines top-notch biblical scholarship with a fictionalized first-person account of the biblical character." According to the Fortress press release, the book "transforms the stereotype of the notorious biblical queen into a more historically based portrayal of a powerful, literate royal woman."

It seems the biblical narrative about Jezebel was not fictional but fictitious? The reclamation of Jezebel has been ongoing for several years in liberal theological academia under the heading of seeking a "feminist reading" of the Jezebel texts.

A politically-incorrect preacher once referred to the goddess-worshiping feminist theologians of some "mainline" Protestant seminaries as "a group of Jezebels." That might have seemed a bit harsh at the time. What does one say when the feminist theologians call themselves "Jezebels," and mean it as high praise?

Friday, October 14, 2005

An organic model for church growth!

Rev. Jeffrey Hawkins, a farmer and Lutheran conference dean, relies totally on nature to run his 99-acre farm in northern Indiana.

According to Hawkins, this way of farming offers a model for how churches should approach growth. In 2003, he began bringing pastors to work on his farm through his ministry, HOPE CSA, which stands for Hands-On Pastoral Education using Clergy-Sustaining Agriculture. Hawkins makes many parallels between factory farms and mega churches, and between sustainable farming - which doesn’t deplete natural resources or pollute the environment - and healthy churches.

I don’t want to demonize church growth and factory farms,” Hawkins said. “I want to help us be honest about the consequences of choosing those models.”

The most valuable lesson he has learned is that “things take time,” he said. Less focus on efficiency is essential to achieving “holy health,” which includes mental, emotional, vocational and physical aspects, Hawkins said.

Hawkins also emphasized that pastors should use all of their parishioners instead of the foreign fertilizer of outside programs to meet perceived needs. Setting up too many programs that rely on outside sources - such as conferences, CDs and videos - can make pastors too busy or distracted to really connect with their flocks, he said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Lion of the Tribe!

The upcoming movie adaptation of CS Lewis's book, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is expected to set a new precedent ( Far from sitting back and watching, publisher HarperCollins is working closely with filmmaker Walden Media, unleashing a massive, worldwide marketing drive for the books, timed to coincide with the film. Even Florida’s Gov. Jeb Bush is encouraging schoolchildren to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for a contest timed with the release of the movie version. This makes a few folks uneasy!

It turns out that some people are afraid that Narnia - book and movie - is an attack on the wall between church and state (check this out). The movie is being co-produced by Disney and Walden Media, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire. Anschutz, his family, his foundation and his company have donated nearly $100,000 to Republican candidates and causes in the past three elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Of course we are talking about a book that has been read for decades by schoolchildren (and out of school children) across the nation and in many, many parts of the world. The Narnia books are classics packed with moral absolutes and strong religious symbols.

As for me, I particularly want to know if Aslan comes off as the Christ-figure, or just some warm and fuzzy magic lion. I do hope that Aslan will be utterly discernible as a figure of Jesus - for those who have eyes to see.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bird, the Bird!

Last week a student mentioned the potential pandemic of the bird flu during our Wednesday night Bible Study of the book of Revelation. It seemed appropriate enough. But what's the big deal?

It seems that both World and US health officials have been warning for months that the bird flu strain sweeping through Asia could trigger the next pandemic. Is the US Ill Prepared for Massive Flu Outbreak: Report? Are Efforts underway on bird flu vaccine for humans asks Boston Globe?

Note that the State Department Hosts Int'l Conference on Bird Flu according to FOX News. One report states boldly that Bird flu preparations is a race against time. If that’s not enough see also WKYT - - all 907 related »

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Harriet Miers for Supreme Court?

Place your bet!

Explaining his reasons for supporting Miss Miers and praying for guidance, Dr. Dobson cited her religious faith and said he knew her conservative evangelical church. “I know the person who brought her to the Lord,” he said. “I have talked at length to people that know her and have known her for a long time.” Link to James Dobson’s actual radio broadcast and hear him take the plunge.

OK, now we can relax a bit. The omnipresent Ted Olsen & Co. at the Christianity Today weblog have put up an exhaustive official list of all links pertinent to this issue.

Some more coverage can be discovered a t . Terry M an Eastern Orthodox Christian and a pro-life Democrat follows this story at HHGR case.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bible Literacy Project

Bible Literacy Project releases public-school textbook!

The Bible Literacy Project (BLP) released the first public-school student textbook on the Bible published in 30 years. BLP is an ecumenical consortium of scholars, businessmen, and clerics who in 2001 set out to write a textbook on the Bible that satisfied both the First Amendment Guide -- a guiding document endorsed by groups ranging from the National Education Association to the National Assocation of Evangelicals -- and the sensibilities of those who believe all or part of the Scriptures are sacred. Read WORLD's review here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Hot off the press!

Hot off the press… see

Christianity Today
(November 2005 Issue)

American Baptist Exodus
by Rob Moll posted 10/05/2005 09:00 a.m.
Scripture, homosexuality divide another venerable denomination.

American Baptist Churches Communication Department to Close
by Adelle M. Banks, RNS posted 10/05/2005 09:00 a.m.
Reorganization comes as regions threaten to leave over how the denomination has handled homosexuality

Worship the King!

"Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes" (Revelation 18:4).

There is a day when God is going to judge the system of Babylon and it’s king around the world. What is Babylon? Babylon is the last great world system. With the Babylonian king (beast) mark you will be enabled to do business as usual. Like in that Babylon, the strongholds of the current marketplace and the church are mammon and pride.

Dependence on money and misplaced trust in cultural values and leaders are at the core of a Babylonian philosophy of life. “Who is like the beast (king)?” Revelation 18 describes a time when God will judge this Babylonian system. "Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her" (Rev. 18:8a). "Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!" (Rev. 18:10b). One day soon the King of heaven will settle His accounts with His servants.

As Christian believers we are called to acknowledge the signs of the times. When the Soviet Union fell, many knew it was going to happen because they could recognize the signs of the times. God has a way of shaking things up. These shakings force us to determine who and what we will place our trust in. Matthew says that we are to "Seek first the kingdom of God and His (the King’s) righteousness…" (Mt. 6:33).

Jesus says "I am your king” (Mt. 21). Jesus came the first time, and he is coming again, as the king over all kings. King of Israel, king of all the nations, king of nature and the universe. Until he comes again, there is a day of amnesty and forgiveness and patience in and with Babylon. He still rides a donkey and not yet a white war-horse with a rod of iron. He is ready to save all who receive him as Savior and Treasure and King. Come out of Babylon to Him! Know Him! Receive Him! Live your life in allegiance to Him and His kingdom.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A para doc's

The American Christian Paradox

The paradox: America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior. That paradox—more important, perhaps, than the much touted ability of French women to stay thin on a diet of chocolate and cheese - illuminates the hollow at the core of our boastful, careening culture.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Patiently Growing

Patiently Growing!

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Col 1.11)

Joshua was known for almost 40 years as "Joshua, servant of Moses." God's preparation for him required years of selfless service, training in the desert, and tests of faith. Those preparation years were long moments of patient endurance designed to move Joshua into each new phase of his spiritual formation.

God allows each of us preparation times to lay a foundation that He is building on. Some of those foundation times appear to be laborious and meaningless, even painful. Yet these varied experiences are what God is using to frame your life for the message He plans to speak through you. Without these foundational experiences, the Jordan River can never be crossed and we cannot enter the Promised Land.

Embrace the times of seeming inactivity from God with patient endurance. This is a mark of spiritual maturity. God is preparing you for the next adventure in your joyful journey of faith.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lombard Meeting in Brief

Lombard Meeting in Brief…

This momentous gathering at the Lindner Conference Center in Lombard, IL, for the "Summons to Lead" conference was an awesome experience! The Conference was announced following the determination of the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Evangelicals (ABE) that any further effort or expenditure of resources directed toward renewal of the ABC-USA denomination was futile. A decision was then made to disolve the ABE organization.

The purpose of the Conference was to query the membership to see if a new beginning should be attempted as a new organization with a new vision and mission. In attendance were at least 350 individuals, including American Baptist Evangelicals member pastors from local churches across our nation, ABE officers, at least three executive ministers representing ABC-USA Regions, as well as officers and representatives from Mission America, Green Lake Conference Center, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board, the newly-formed Great Commission Network, and Saddleback Church's Purpose Driven Ministries.

There was a full spectrum of positions and perspectives exhibited by the conferees, ranging from those that were, although uncomfortable and desirous of renewal, still feeling closely bound to the ABC-USA; those that were on the verge of deciding to disassociate from the denomination; and those from the ABC-Pacific Southwest Region who had already virtually disassociated. This spectrum required great skill and sensitivity on the part of the ABE Executive Director Bill Nicoson to successfully navigate us through the potential points of difference and concern toward a new and mutually-agreed-upon vision of a missional future together.

Bottom line:

  • Yes, there will be a new organization to follow as ABE ceases.

  • It will focus on networking churches that...

  • Have left the ABCUSA

  • Are getting ready to leave the ABCUSA

  • Have not left the ABCUSA, but want an evangelical network for purposes of fellowship, accountability, and shared ministry

  • The working vision piece is…
A group of Baptist congregations committed together to an orthodox, biblical and theological foundation that will result in the growth of the church of Jesus Christ as demonstrated by healthy congregations.”
Core Values
  • Biblical authority

  • Healthy churches

  • Relationships

  • Confessing (that is, a clear strong statement of faith)

  • Transformation (of churches and of individuals)

  • Reproduction (Evangelism and church planting)

  • Mission

  • Authenticity (of relationships)

  • Accountability

  • Leadership

A subcommittee will put the mission/vision/values piece together over the next several weeks.

Evangelical's move away from ABCUSA


'Evangelical' American Baptists Ponder Future

Bob Allen (09-27-05)

More than 350 American Baptists attended last weekend's meeting at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin to chart a future course for "evangelicals" frustrated in their efforts to force American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. to adopt a stronger stance against homosexuality.

According to notes from breakout sessions reported on the American Baptist Evangelicals Web site, participants support a new organization for conservative Baptists but not a new denomination.

Suggestions included organizing a non-geographic region around theology, including opposition to homosexuality, or gradually building an alternative body with churches dually aligned.

Earlier last week, executive ministers from eight ABC/USA regions across the country met at a conference center in Parchment Valley, W. Va., to forge an agreement for cooperation in mission based on "mutually held core values."

The eight regions--American Baptist churches of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana/Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania/Delaware, New Jersey, Maine and the Pacific Southwest--represent more than 2,300 churches, 40 percent of ABC/USA congregations.

The executives identified "core values" as biblical authority, "associational integrity and accountability among regions," leadership development and "equipping our churches to impact the world for Christ."

"As American Baptist leaders, we foresee a bright future of mission and ministry together," they stated.

One of the eight regions, the Pacific-Southwest, has initiated a process to separate from the ABC/USA because of differences over homosexuality. Another, the West Virginia Baptist Convention, is expected to discuss similar action when it meets next month.

Larry Mason, executive minister of the ABC of Indiana and Kentucky, told that the agreement by executive ministers at Parchment Valley "was in no way an attempt to create, or even suggest, the formation of a new denomination."

"It was an agreement to work together and, with other like-minded region executives, to share resources for leadership development and the equipping of local congregations for ministries," Mason said. "We want to continue our work within the ABC/USA to facilitate change in what we understand to be important issues of biblical authority."

A petition from the American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky received a first reading in June. It would forbid churches dismissed from a region for membership in the pro-gay Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists from remaining American Baptist by joining another region.

The petition also would amend a document entitled "We Are American Baptists" to include a description as people "who submit to the teaching of Scripture that God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with biblical teaching."

The ABC/USA General Board will give the petition a second reading in November.

The American Baptist Churches of Rochester/Genesee Region are collecting signatures on a counter proposal, which would set up an appeal process for dismissed cooperating churches. Supporters hope to have a required 200 signatures from five regions in time for a first reading in November.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Creetings CVC web-site folks! I'm working on this blog but remain uncertain of its future direction. Let me know how we can best use it. Thanks! Posted by Picasa
Just another test! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mercy vrs Destruction

"The debate about Terri Schiavo's life and death remains inescapable, and the questions it raises matter immensely to those on both sides who realize that crucial matters are at stake. But the tears shed by both families as Terri Schiavo died also ought to touch something in our souls, and to prompt us to pray -- not only for the comfort and strength of our allies, but also for God to shower mercy and grace into the lives of our opponents."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Terri Schiavo

Continue to pray for Terri Schiavo and her family. Pray that she might not actually need the tube to survive. Pray for life and light in the name of Jesus.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Gay Issues & the ABC/USA

At, perhaps the best religion journalism blog on the Net, two stories on the the latest spasms in the Anglican Communion. First, Broken Communion notes how some Anglican clergy now "refuse to share Holy Communion" with their diocesan bishop. The equivalent in American Baptist Polity, I suppose, would be a Church refusing to give money to denominational powers. In other words, grave disagreement. Second, Everyone Loves Justice notes that the Episcopalians (the American branch of the Anglican Communion) have voted a one-year moratorium on the election of new bishops, the best way they could think of, it seems, to honor the Anglican request to avoid approving any "noncelibate homosexual bishops" until the Anglicans of the world can figure out where they stand on this troubling issue.

It is interesting to note the distribution of frozen bishops in the second article. The five frozen straight bishops are from the South (led by bishops who voted against Robinson's consecration as a bishop). The two frozen gay bishops are from California. Gay issues are only the tip of the iceberg and there not fading slowly into the night. They will continue to arise in US and European political and ecclesiastical contexts. The handwriting is all over the wall. Gay issues will ultimately bring the Church and the ABC/USA to a place of biblical and theological clarity.