April 30, 2010
CT covered the significance of Zhisheng's case here.
April 30, 2010
CT covered the significance of Zhisheng's case here.
April 28, 2010
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that the much-debated war memorial cross in Mojave National Preserve may remain because Congress' attempted transfer of the plot of land to private hands would resolve any constitutional concerns.
Unsurprisingly, the Court did not directly address the bigger Establishment Clause question of religious symbols on public land, instead ordering a lower court to reassess its challenge to the land transfer solution.
CT previously asked experts to weigh in on the case here.
Update: Carl Esbeck tells CT that today's Supreme Court ruling on the Mojave cross is more newsworthy to evangelical church-state watchers than most media have portrayed.
Esbeck, professor of law at the University of Missouri, explains that Justice Anthony Kennedy sent the case back to the district court for additional fact-finding on whether Congress’ purpose in ordering the land swap was religious or secular, i.e. an evasion of the trial court's injunction or an accommodation to those wanting to preserve a war memorial. But Esbeck believes that Kennedy actually says quite a lot about how he thinks a court majority—and hence the Establishment Clause—should handle this kind of religious symbol on government property case.
“It would be a shame for evangelicals to think nothing has changed,” said Esbeck. “The way this will be spun is ‘everything was murky and unclear before, and everything is still murky and unclear.’ That is a way of covering up the loss, because the ACLU victory below was reversed. Are things crystal clear? No. But the ball has moved towards religious symbols on government property not violating the Establishment Clause, and now we know where [Chief Justice John] Roberts and [Justice Samuel] Alito—who are new to the Court—stand.”
“Press releases from the usual crowd probably overstate the scope of the opinion,” said Esbeck. “But it would be wrong to just say this case was not a loss for the ACLU. Kennedy has language that says of course the Roman cross is a Christian cross, but symbols can have multiple meanings, and it is clear in this case that the 70-year-old cross has taken on the message of a war memorial. This language will help the briefs of ACLJ, ADF, etc. And Roberts and Alito signed on to this language in Kennedy’s opinion. Further, Kennedy has never been so forthright on these Establishment issues.”
Esbeck says debate will now shift to whether the congressional purpose in swapping land was religious or not. The case could potentially go all the way back up to the Ninth Circuit and maybe the Supreme Court again, though this process will take years.
The ruling may improve of the odds of religious symbols remaining in public spaces, but Esbeck sees the justifications cited as a mixed blessing.
“I’m not a big fan of religious symbols on government property,” said Esbeck. “I believe there is a detriment because it dilutes the real purpose of the symbol. They’ve taken a symbol of the church and turned it into civil religion. This can be bad for evangelicals because when people look at a nativity scene or a Roman cross, we want people to think of the God of the Bible. If these too become simply civil religion to Americans, it makes the task of evangelism harder for Christians.”
April 27, 2010
He has been appointed to a chair in New Testament and early Christianity at St Andrews in Scotland.
Leading New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, 61, will retire after seven years as the Bishop of Durham on August 31. He will take a chair in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
'This has been the hardest decision of my life," Wright said in a statement. "But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear."
Wright's recent books include Surprised by Hope, Simply Christian, and
Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision. A review of After You Believe is in Christianity Today's May issue. The diocese announcement explains what Wright is working on next.
As a writer, Bishop Tom has been working on three series of books – Christian Origins and the Question of God (at a scholarly level), The New Testament for Everyone (at a popular level) and a sequence of studies to introduce the Christian faith, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and most recently Virtue Reborn (US Title After You Believe). He hopes now to be able to complete these collections, and other ongoing research, while teaching (particularly graduate students) in the Faculty of Divinity at St Andrews. He has also been approached to head up various broadcasting projects to bring the results of good biblical scholarship to a wider audience.
Wright has worked in the past at at Cambridge, McGill (Montreal) and Oxford Universities before holding church appointments. "Tom Wright ranks among the most distinguished New Testament scholars in the world, and his profile as a churchman, writer and communicator is simply outstanding," St. Andrew's Head of School Ivor Davidson said in a statement.
April 22, 2010
The man who originally introduced the name "Earth Day" was a Pentecostal minister, according to the Assemblies of God (AG) Heritage magazine.
John McConnell introduced "Earth Day" at the 1969 UNESCO Conference on the Environment. The next year, Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) moved Earth Day to April 22, when he held a political protest.
"So the next thing I knew they stole my name Earth Day and they used it for April 22," McConnell told the AG Heritage. "I was urged to sue, but I didn't. I didn't believe in suing."
McConnell's grandfather was at the Azusa Street Revival and his parents were founding members of the AG. Darrin Rodgers also did a video interview with McConnell.
"If there had been no Christian experience in my life there would be no Earth Day - or at least I would not have initiated it," McConnell said. "We love God ... [and therefore should] have an appreciation for His creation."
April 21, 2010
The former Florida Gators quarterback has still picked up deals with Nike and EA Sports.
Several blogs have noted a speech by former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, who said companies told him they couldn't have him endorsing products after he appeared in the Focus on the Family commercial.
As to his first tenet, standing for what he believes in, Tebow told the crowd that multiple companies told him before the Super Bowl that they could not let him represent their products if he went ahead with his pro-life commercial at the Super Bowl. But Tebow said losing sponsors was a small price to pay for the ability to spread his message about family and faith.
However, the Associated Press reports that Tebow offers marketability.
Companies are lining up for Tebow to be their pitchman. Religious and advocacy groups want Tebow, the son of missionaries, for commercials and speeches. Some owners believe he would increase ticket sales.
And with good reason.
The Davie-Brown Index, an independent marketing research tool, found Tebow to be more appealing and more of a trendsetter than New England's Tom Brady, Minnesota's Brett Favre and Dallas' Tony Romo among others.
During the Superbowl, Tim Tebow, the former Florida Gators all-star quarterback, appeared in a Focus on the Family advertisement with his mother who had been advised to have an abortion. Despite any potential losses, Tebow has made deals with Nike and EA Sports.
April 20, 2010
Court rules that 1965 blasphemy law is constitutional.
Religious freedom observers held their breadth in February when activists successfully got Indonesia to reconsider its blasphemy law. But on Monday the nation's top court voted 8-1 that the 1965 law, which restricts citizens to observing one of only six religions and prohibits some interpretations of those religions, is indeed constitutional amid concerns of "social conflicts and animosity".
Indonesia has long been considered a model of religious pluralism, but has started to manifest religious tensions similar to its neighbor Malaysia. However, reports indicate that Christianity is growing in the world's largest Muslim nation, though even Muslim human rights watchdogs say Christians are most affected by religious freedom violations encouraged by laws such as the still-in-place blasphemy law.
April 19, 2010
Despite earlier reports that a judge in Haiti had dropped charges for nine of the missionaries accused of kidnapping children, Judge Bernard Saint-Vil told the Associated Press that the charges still stand.
Staff members who work in the office of U.S. Sen Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said last week that the charges had been dropped against all but one of the missionaries. The missionaries were arrested and held on child kidnapping charges in late January while taking children to the Dominican Republic. Eight of them were released in February 17 but the leader of the group, Laura Silsby, remains in jail, according to the Baptist Press.
In February, CT interviewed a State Department official who suggested the incident might harm future international adoptions.
April 19, 2010
Francis Chan, the high-profile California pastor profiled by CT last October, announced Sunday that he is preparing to leave his Cornerstone Church in order to pursue something new. Many will be interested to see what shape his new vision takes.
April 16, 2010
A British computer game retailer says it owns the souls of 7,500 online customers after it inserted language into the terms and conditions contract, FoxNews reports.
The contract "immortal soul clause" states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.
"By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions."
While all shoppers during the test were given a simple tick box option to opt out, very few did this, which would have also rewarded them with a £5 voucher, according to news:lite. Due to the number of people who ticked the box, GameStation claims believes as many as 88 percent of people do not read the terms and conditions of a Web site before they make a purchase.
The company noted that it would not be enforcing the ownership rights, and planned to e-mail customers nullifying any claim on their soul.
April 16, 2010
Researchers say they've found the most religious place on Earth -- between the southern border of the Sahara Desert and the tip of South Africa.
Religion is "very important" to more than three-quarters of the population in 17 of 19 sub-Saharan nations, according to a new survey.
In contrast, in the United States, the world's most religious industrialized nation, 57 percent of people say religion is very important.
"On a continent-wide basis, sub-Saharan Africa comes out as the most religious place on Earth," said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which released the study Thursday.
According to the survey, 98 percent of respondents in Senegal say religion is very important, following by 93 percent in Mali. The lowest percentage was reported in Botswana, 69 percent, which is still a healthy majority.
"That begins to paint a picture of how religious sub-Saharan Africans are," Lugo said.
The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project. More than 25,000 sub-Saharan Africans responded in face-to-face interviews in more than 60 languages.
While the study confirms that Africans are, indeed, morally conservative and religiously pious, researchers explored a variety of topics, including religious tolerance, polygamy, the role of women in society, and political and economic satisfaction.
Islam and Christianity dominate as the most popular religions in the region -- a stark reversal from a century ago when Muslims and Christians were outnumbered by followers of traditional indigenous religions.
But for the past 100 years, indigenous spirituality has been diluted as missionaries carried Islam and Christianity throughout the African continent.
April 16, 2010
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned the use of eye black with messages -- a practice prominently used by former University of Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow to display Bible verses.
The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a policy Wednesday that players cannot place symbols or messages on the black strips under their eyes, which are used to reduce glare from the sun.
The association denied that the rule was influenced by Tebow's biblical messages.
"When this rule was proposed the committee did not focus on any one team or student athlete," said Cameron Schuh, a spokesman for the NCAA. "That measure reinforces what the intended use of eye black is, which is to shade the eyes from the sun."
He said the panel's decision confirmed an existing rule "that players are not allowed to have any symbols or messages on their eye black, starting with this coming season."
Players other than the Heisman-trophy-winning Tebow have used the anti-glare paint for other messages. Reggie Bush, another Heisman winner, put 619, the area code of his native San Diego, on his eye black.
April 15, 2010
Scientists at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom have created embryos with DNA from a man and two women, the BBC reports.
They say their research, published in the journal Nature, could prevent the mother from passing on damaged DNA in mitochondria to children.
In response to the news, Family Research Council released a statement calling on Congress to pass a ban on human cloning, and on germline genetic engineering and genetic manipulation of embryos.
"This technology is a further step toward tampering with the very essence of humanity, and demonstrates not just contempt for human life itself - all the embryos in this experiment were destroyed for science - but a profoundly dangerous and arrogant belief that we can tamper with the genetic makeup of our fellow human beings," said David Prentice, FRC's senior fellow for life sciences.
It is illegal for clinics in the UK to implant embryos using this procedure, the Telegraph reports.
One in 200 children is born each year with genetic mutations in the mitochondria — energy-producing structures in cells inherited from the egg. The effects are usually mild, but in 1 in 6,500 people incurable disease is caused.
In the Newcastle technique, embryos are created by IVF, using the mother’s eggs and her partner’s sperm. After fertilisation two “pronuclei” from the egg and sperm, containing the parents’ DNA, are removed. These are injected into a donated embryo with healthy mitochondria, from which the pronuclei have been removed.
April 14, 2010
Noted atheist became a deist. He was lauded by Christians, but never joined them.
Antony Flew was one of the most famous philosophers of his day—and also once the most famous atheists. But even in such a role he was no Dawkins or Hitchens: he argued on pragmatic grounds for religious instruction in British schools, for example, and admitted that there was considerable evidence pointing to Jesus’ resurrection.
Still, it came as a surprise to many when, in 2004, he decided God must exist after all. Flew was quick to assert that he was merely a deist and did not believe in a God of revelation. “But it seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before," he said. He couldn’t accept Christianity, he said, “due to the problem of evil.”
Response was overwhelming. A New York Times Magazine profile suggested that Flew was merely going dotty in his old age. Jay Leno joked, “Of course he believes in God now. He’s 81 years old.”
Biola University, meanwhile, gave him an award for his "lifelong commitment to free and open inquiry and to standing fast against intolerant assaults on freedom of thought and expression." This magazine gave him the 2008 Christianity Today Book Award in Apologetics and Evangelism, with the judge in that category saying his book There Is A God put other apologetics works to shame.
Flew died, apparently still a deist, April 8. As he told Christianity Today in 2005, he hoped that would be the end of it. “I don't want a future life,” he said. “I have never wanted a future life.”
April 14, 2010
A Florida girl who went missing last Friday was found alive yesterday by a man who attends her family's former church.
In an early version of the Orlando Sentinel story, a pastor's wife said that the man who found Bloom had been praying in tongues. About three dozen members of Metro Church in Winter Springs had searched for the girl, who was lost in a wooded swampland. CNN reports that King and Nadia's family at one time attended Metro Church but they did not know one another.
In an ABC story, James King credits God with finding the 11-year-old girl who has an autism-related disorder called Asperger's syndrome.
"He [God] directed my path," volunteer searcher James King told "Good Morning America" today. "When you're in a swamp, there's no good-looking way. He led me directly to her. ... I would be praying and calling out Scriptures and at one point I called out, 'Nadia,' and I heard, 'What?'
"That's a huge swamp. It was strictly the Lord. There was no mathematical calculations. It was the Holy Spirit directing me to where he knew she was the whole time," he said.
April 14, 2010
Religion is making custody battles even messier.
A Chicago judge ruled Tuesday that Joseph Reyes may take his 3-year-old daughter to Mass during his visitation time, despite the objection of his estranged wife Rebecca Reyes who is raising the girl Jewish.
Joseph was barred from exposing his daughter to "non-Jewish activity" last year after baptizing the girl without first informing Rebecca, who has sole custody of the child. Joseph challenged the ban as unconstitutional -- and drew national headlines by inviting local media to film him take the girl to Mass in December.
Joseph will now always have the girl on Christmas and Easter, while Rebecca will always have her on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Passover.
CT covered the increasing problem of custody battles involving religion here.
April 13, 2010
Judge: Claims against Fla. state attorney dismissed, but assistant state attorney isn’t immune.
No surprise there: Brunson was a frequent target of the anonymous blogger’s critiques. The surprise is that the church asked one of its members, a police officer (who is also a Brunson bodyguard) to find out who the blogger was. The officer got assistant state attorney Stephen Siegel to subpoena records from Comcast and Google to unmask the blogger as longtime church member Tom Rich—whereupon the church leadership immediately barred Rich and his wife from ever coming near the sanctuary again.
The inevitable lawsuits followed, and on March 31 United States District Judge Marcia Morales Howard denied Siegel’s efforts to claim immunity. “The limited record before the court does not support a finding that Siegel had any legitimate law enforcement interest in issuing the investigatory subpoenas,” Howard said. In addition, she said, Siegel’s reported actions “appear to violate the very essence of the First Amendment.”
But Howard did dismiss Rich’s complaint against Siegel’s supervisor, then-state attorney Angela Corey, who was acting in her official capacity and is thus protected by 11th Amendment to the Constitution.
Rich is also suing the police officer and the church.
April 13, 2010
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of a woman who sued a church and its pastor after she was injured when no one caught her fall after she was “overcome by the spirit of the Lord" during a rally. Here's more from the Lansing State Journal:
Dadd, who is in her 50s, sued the church and its pastor after she was injured while "slain in the Spirit" - falling backward after being "overcome by the Spirit of the Lord" - during a rally at Mount Hope Church in Delta Township in 2002.
Dadd claimed Pastor Dave Williams defamed her when he accused her of insurance fraud, faking her injuries and renouncing her faith. A jury awarded her more than $317,000 damages for her injuries, as well as libel, slander and false light in a 2007 trial.
The decision reversed a state Appeals Court decision that threw out most of a jury award to Judith Dadd, but the state's high court has reinstated $317,000 to the woman.
April 12, 2010
Prominent Lutheran bishop was on his last trip as head of chaplaincy.
The death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Poland’s senior military officers, the head of the country’s central bank, and other top government officials has dominated coverage of Saturday’s plane crash. But several prominent religious figures were among the 95 killed in the crash as well.
Among them: Lutheran bishop Adam Pilch, who was on the plane as head of head of Poland’s Protestant military chaplaincy. Poland’s Gazeta Bielsko-Biata newspaper notes that the Saturday remembrance ceremony the many political and military figures were flying to was to be Pilch’s last official act in his chaplaincy role. The pastor was well known in Warsaw as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (which Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2006) and later Church of the Assumption.
Orthodox archbishop Miron Chodakowski and Roman Catholic bishop Tadeusz Ploski, two other senior military chaplaincy leaders, also died in the crash.
Bronislaw Gostomski is one of the few religious figures to die in the crash and get significant attention in the Western press. That’s because he was a priest in Shepherds Bush, London (he had been the personal chaplain of Ryszard Kaczorowski, Poland’s last president-in-exile, who also died in the crash).
Other religious figures in the crash were Ryszard Rumianek (the Roman Catholic rector of Warsaw's Cardinal Wyszynski University), Zdzislaw Krol (chaplain of Poland's Katyn Families Association), and Józef Joniec, the priest who headed Poland’s Parafiada organization (a Catholic youth ministry).
(Creative Commons image from Patryk Korzeniecki)
April 12, 2010
Openly gay members the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) are complaining of discrimination, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
The issue was raised by the chairman of an organization that promotes the cause of Christians who are members of sexual minorities, a third of whom (about 200) are employed by the Lutheran Church.
More than 80 percent of Finnish citizens belong to the ELCF, whose 12 bishops decided in February to recommend against instituting any formula for a church blessing on same-sex unions. In May, the bishops plan to propose a resolution to the Synod that would authorize prayers for couples in same-sex unions, according to the news report. The chairman predicts that several people will leave the church if the Synod decides to ban even holding prayers for same-sex couples.
In 2007, a district court prosecutor charged and convicted a pastor with criminal discrimination for refusing to work with a female pastor. Observers wondered whether the case would set a precedent for similar cases concerning discrimination against homosexuals. Finland's laws prohibit any discrimination either in the workplace or in public based on factors like sex, race, religion, and sexual orientation.
April 12, 2010
Bishops push back on recent court rulings against faith in the workplace.
British newspapers are reporting "an unprecedented showdown" between the Church of England and the nation's second-highest court over whether U.K. Christians are discriminated against in the workplace for their beliefs regarding homosexuality, among other issues.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and other bishops have demanded that certain Court of Appeals judges stand down from future religious discrimination cases because their recent rulings demonstrate a lack of understanding of Christian beliefs. The Anglican leaders want such appeals to be judged instead by a panel of judges with expertise on religious issues.
The next hearing will be this Thursday, when Christian relationship counselor Gary McFarlane will appeal his firing for refusing sex therapy to homosexual couples. Last week, Christian nurse Shirley Chaplin lost her appeal to wear a crucifix around her neck in hospital wards.
The Court of Appeals decided last December that under existing equality laws, the rights of homosexuals take precedence over the rights of Christians to express their faith. The ruling came during the failed appeal of Christian registrar Lillian Ladele over her firing for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.
In a March 28 letter, Lord Carey and five current and former Anglican bishops said that "the religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect." Current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams countered soon after, saying that "we need to keep our own fears in perspective" compared to the persecution experienced by Christians in other nations. The BBC examined the issue Easter Sunday in a special report.
It hasn't been all bad news for U.K. Christians lately. Church leaders preserved exemptions for religious groups to discriminate when hiring; new regulations will allow Christian pharmacists to refrain from dispensing medicine against their conscience; and a Catholic adoption agency will be allowed to exclude gay couples from adoptions, though most of its peers were forced to close.
But with discrimination claims up nearly 25 percent and 60 percent of surveyed General Synod members agreeing there is discrimination against Christians, Thursday's ruling could generate some headlines indeed.
April 12, 2010
Crystal Cathedral leaders met with vendors and creditors on Friday to discuss debt payments after businesses filed lawsuits against the California megachurch, alleging that it owes $2 million in unpaid services.
"The purpose of the meeting was to gather all these vendors, suppliers and friends into one place and apologize for the delinquency of the accounts that we currently have with them," Shiela Schuller Coleman, daughter of Cathedral founder, Robert H. Schuller, said in a statement.
The Orange County Register reports that church officials asked that creditors not resort to legal action for 90 days so they could resolve the issues.
Among those who have not yet been paid are Kristina Oliver, who supplied camels, horses and sheep for the Christmas pageant; Juliet Noriega, who was the wardrobe supervisor; Sharon Crabtree who did the props for the show; and Bruce Johnson, the drycleaner who is still holding the pageant's costumes in lieu of payment.
Vendors who attended Friday morning's meeting said they had no idea there were so many creditors. When asked, cathedral administrators told them that there are as many as 185 creditors waiting in line to be paid.
April 12, 2010
CT covered Waltke's resignation last week from the Orlando campus of Reformed Theological Seminary here.
Waltke also distributed a letter to the RTS-Orlando community, first linked to by Taylor and now posted by CT below the jump. Waltke again clarifies his position on theistic evolution, emphasizes that the resignation was his choice not a demand by RTS, and expresses regret for the hubbub that ensued.
It's worth a read. Follow the jump.
April 9, 2010
Reports suggest the man met with and was inspired by Robert Park.
An American has been sentenced to eight years of hard labor and fined $700,000 for entering North Korea.
Reports suggest that Aijalon Mahli Gomes, 30, who had taught English in South Korea, was inspired by Robert Park, a Christian who walked into North Korea from China on Christmas day to "proclaim Christ's love and forgiveness" and call for leader Kim Jong Il to step down. Park was released in February without charge. The Associated Press reports that Gomes attended rallies in Seoul in support of Park, and Gomes was arrested one month after Park entered North Korea.
Former colleagues told the AFP that Gomeswas a deeply religious person. "He acted like an evangelist. He took the trouble to commute to Seoul to participate in Wednesday prayer sessions at a foreigners' church there," a teacher said. Senator John Kerry has called for his release, the Boston Globe reports.
Professor Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korean expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said he viewed the huge fine for Gomes as a “signal that North Korea is willing to negotiate and get some money for releasing Mr. Gomes.’’
“A lot of North Korea watchers may criticize this foolhardy, risky move by Park and Gomes because it raises thorny issues of having to pay ransom or make some kind of concession,’’ Lee said.
“But people like Gomes and Park embody a powerful human presence — the willingness to take a great risk and sacrifice themselves. . . . I think this kind of daring move will come to be viewed as, if not heroic, then certainly courageous in the long run,’’ Lee added.
April 9, 2010
As expected, Stevens announces retirement.
Justice John Paul Stevens’s announcement today that he will retire this summer will add to speculation (already voiced by NPR’s Morning Edition, The Washington Post, and others) that the next Supreme Court term will open with no Protestants on the court.
Morning Edition wonders if it’s okay even to talk about it. Both the Post and NPR wonder if it even really matters. “Clearly, the court thinks of itself as post-religious,” says the Post’s Robert Barnes. “But perceptions matter.”
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Frank Lockwood says it doesn’t matter: the divide today isn’t between Protestants and Catholics but between traditionalists and liberals in both camps. “Most evangelical leaders, I’m guessing, would rather see a Catholic like Scalia than a Protestant like Stevens.”
(The debate on this question got rather heated when Catholics became the majority on the court in 2006. A key issue: Is there a reason there are no evangelicals on the Court?)
April 9, 2010
Denying data in favor of evolution "will make us a cult," said Reformed Theological Seminary luminary.
CT has been watching the online debate snowball over this week's resignation of renowned OT scholar Bruce Waltke from Reformed Theological Seminary. At issue: the March 24 release of a BioLogos interview in 2009 where Waltke states:
“...if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.”
Waltke clarified his comments in the video, specifically his belief in a historical Adam and Eve and his support for those who hold creationist views. He also issued a joint statement with BioLogos president Darrel Falk regarding the importance of this debate within higher education.
JR Daniel Kirk notes that another big OT name, Tremper Longman III, was disinvited from RTS for expressing doubt over the historicity of Adam in September 2009. Reformation21 is making allusions to the Peter Enns controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary in 2008.
April 9, 2010
Key supporter, China Aid's Bob Fu, says decision shows strength.
Gao Zhisheng is back in the news. Earlier this week, the Associated Press spoke with Gao in Beijing. He said he was going to abandon his campaign for better human rights inside China, hoping to be reunited with his wife and children, now in the US.
The AP report notes:
...Gao said the ordeal had taken a toll on him and his wife and two children, who secretly fled China for the United States early last year. "I don't have the capacity to persevere. On the one hand, it's my past experiences. It's also that these experiences greatly hurt my loved ones. This ultimate choice of mine, after a process of deep and careful thought, is to seek the goal of peace and calm," said Mr Gao. He appeared close to tears when he discussed his family, especially when he described seeing their shoes when he returned home for the first time on Tuesday.
Gao, who became a baptized member of a house church in China in 2005, wrote a stunning narrative of his career at a human rights attorney inside China. The book, "A China More Just: My Fight as a Rights Lawyer in the World's Largest Communist State," was published in 2007. The repressive government in China used this book and his many other public statements about grave injustice inside China as the pretext to his harassment, arrest and torture and 24/7 surveillance of his wife and two children. The evangelical agency, China Aid, was at the forefront of efforts to pressure China's rulers to account for their early 2009 abduction of Gao. China Aid president Bob Fu notes this week:
While international supporters have expressed concern in seeing such a strong figure agree to back down from his position, ChinaAid President Bob Fu says Gao's decision is understandable and one of strength. "Gao Zhisheng is a man of integrity and heart. Facing such enormous pressure and knowing that his family needs him, he has chosen to fulfill his duty as a father to his children, and husband to his wife. I understand that decision. He has faced a long and painful separation, and it is a tragedy that he still cannot see his family." With regard to Gao's comments during the meeting with AP reporters, Mr. Fu acknowledges Gao's words are actually an encouragement to his supporters and fellow Chinese lawyers. "Gao Zhisheng is a man of faith. In his interview, he spoke of others who willing to fight for truth and justice regardless of his personal fate. His testimony is an encouragement to those who respect and admire his courageous work." Mr. Fu spoke with Gao Zhisheng personally over the phone the morning of April 6.
April 6, 2010
Michael Spencer was best known for his 'Internet Monk' blog.
Mark Galli and Spencer discussed "the coming evangelical collapse" last year. Several bloggers, such as Scot McKnight and Tony Kummer, have offered their memories of Spencer. Trevin Wax has listed his favorite blog posts from Spencer and offered a few words.
On the one hand, Michael was giving voice to some thoughts and questions I had wrestled with, but never fully articulated. On the other hand, his honesty was brutal, intense, and often made me uncomfortable.
What I eventually came to appreciate most about Michael – both from his blog and from personal contact – was that the center of his thought and ministry was grace: extravagant mercy and favor to undeserving, broken sinners.