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.