Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ordination of Women Priests

Three women will be ordained today as Catholic priests in Boston. In anticipation of the ceremony, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has sent a notice to local priests reaffirming that women cannot become priests. If the trio is ordained, they will be excommunicated, warns the Archdiocese. A women consecrated as a bishop in Germany is supposed to perform the ceremony.

Calendar Leads to Excommunication

Chad Hardy has gotten kicked out of the Mormon church for his calendar of shirtless Mormon missionaries. His Men on a Mission has sold some 10,000 copies for $14.99 apiece. None of the models were punished by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bible Classes in Texas Approved

The Texas State Board of Education has given final approval to elective Bible classes in public high schools. Members of the board decided not to make specific teaching guidelines. Last year, state lawmakers passed a law allowing for the courses to be taught – provided they are focused on the Bible as history and literature rather than particular theological views.

Atheist Lawsuit Tossed

A lawsuit filed by a group of atheists and agnostics against the state of North Dakota has been thrown out of court. A federal judge has decided Freedom From Religion Foundation has no right to sue over a state program that sends juveniles to the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, a church-affiliated ministry affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The decision may be appealed.

Gay Weddings in Methodist Churches

United Methodist Church ministers in California have begun conducting weddings for gay and lesbian couples. The Los Angeles Times reports that “Ministers in Santa Monica, Claremont, Walnut Creek and other cities have already performed ceremonies”. The state Supreme Court recently overturned a ban on same-sex marriage. But conducting same-sex weddings violates Methodist church law and bishops are warning there could be disciplinary action taken against ministers who ignore the policy.

Bible Saves Girl in Shooting

Charlotte Thompson was riding with her two great-granddaughters in Indianapolis when gunfire sent stray bullets into her car. The woman was uninjured but one of the girls was shot in the stomach. The 10-year-old survived because Thompson’s Bible and Sunday School book slowed the bullet. It came to a stopping in a watermelon they were carrying in the car.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

$3 Million for Union

Union University's disaster relief is getting a $3 million donation from the Southern Baptist Convention. The money will mostly go to rebuild the Tennessee school’s dorms. More than 6000 donors have contributed about $13 million to the fund. Tornadoes that swept through the state in February of last year, trapping students in residence halls. More than 60 students had to be treated for injuries and 17 buildings were damaged.

Evangelical Voters not Excited

Just one in ten white Evangelicals say they are excited by this year’s presidential election. Half say they are frustrated by it. Here’s how their support breaks out:

John McCain – 62%
Barack Obama – 18%

Source: AP-Yahoo News Poll

Church Basement Ladies

A musical comedy called Church Basement Ladies will premiere in Chicago this September. William Christopher, who you’ll remember as Father Mulcahy on the TV show M*A*S*H, will headline. The show was a smash hit in Minneapolis, where it sold out for 130 straight weeks. It’s based on a book called Growing Up Lutheran and tells the story of four women who tirelessly prepare the food and solve problems for the congregation of a rural church.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Visiting Focus on the Family

What you’ll find if you visit Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs you'll find a three-story slide to ride along with these attractions:
• 7,000-squarefoot bookstore
• Soda shop
• A modest movie theater
• Loads of kids’ activities
• Watch Dobson tape one of his radio show

Fired Professor Sues Ohio College

A Bible professor fired from Cedarville University is suing the Baptist school. David Hoffeditz was let go, along with another professor, after what media reports say was a “debate over theology”. But the Ohio school disputes that claim and says it has not moved away from its conservative heritage.

Uncut Solzhenitsyn

An unedited version of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle is coming out in English, four decades after it was first published and immediately banned by Soviet officials. The prison camp story will be published by Harper Perennial, a paperback imprint of HarperCollins. Solzhenitsyn now lives in Moscow. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970. A shortened version appeared for English audiences in 1968 over objections by the author.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Top Book Awards

It’s a first for the Christian publishing industry. The book of the year is an audio Bible. The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association says The Word of Promise, published by Thomas Nelson, earned the top honor. The audio book features New Testament as read by performers like Jim Caviezel. He speak the words of Jesus, the role he played in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. Other Hollywood stars involved in the project include Lou Gossett Jr. as apostle John, Lou Diamond Phillips as Mark and Luke Perry as Judas.

Here are some of the other winners:

Bible: Discover God Study Bible

Bible Reference & Study: An Old Testament Theology - Bruce K. Waltke

Children & Youth: Teen Virtue: Confidential - Vicki Courtney

Christian Life: When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box - John Ortberg,

Fiction: In Search of Eden - Linda Nichols

Inspiration & Gift: Step into the Bible - Ruth Graham

Act One

Act One is a group of Christians working in Hollywood. Since 1999, they have tried to put Christian writers inside the film industry. Act One does not work to produce explicitly religious films but trains scriptwriters to promote Christian values and not compromise artistic integrity.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Copeland Challenges Inquiry

In a new statement released today, Kenneth Copeland is disputing a claim by Senator Charles Grassley that Copeland’s ministry is not cooperating with a congressional investigation. Copeland says it’s not true. Among other things, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee wants the numbers on housing allowances, loans to members of Copeland’s family and ministry credit card statements. The televangelist says Grassley should go to the IRS for information about his financial operations and that his inquiry “raises serious constitutional issues”.

What Obama Believes

The latest issue of Newsweek hits newsstands today with a cover story on Barak Obama. The article is called What He Believes and in it Obama says that in his prayers he asks God for forgiveness for his sins and flaws, the protection of his family and "that I'm carrying out God's will, and not in a grandiose way, simply that there is an alignment between my actions and what he would want."

Sir John Templeton Dies

Sir John Templeton has died at the age of 95 from pneumonia in the Bahamas. Templeton was a philanthropist best know for his foundation’s award called the Templeton Prize. It was awarded each year for “progress in religion”. Mother Teresa was the first recipient in 1973. She was given $85,000 for her charities. The winner now gets more than a million dollars. Templeton got the "Sir" in front of his name when he was knighted by the Queen of England for his efforts to encourage spiritual thinking.

Born in Tennessee, Templeton made a fortune in global stocks and developing mutual funds. His charities give away more than $70 million each year. Despite serving as a elder in the Presbyterian Church, USA, Templeton argued that the Bible revealed little about God, so he encouraged spiritual exploration through his charitable giving.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gay Bishop Told to Stay Away

Gene Robinson has been told by Anglican authorities he is not welcome at a church meeting in London because of the controversy over his appointment as the first openly gay bishop in the church. Robinson serves in New Hampshire with the Episcopal church, the Anglican church presence in the US. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is hoping to avoid the issue and prevent a split in the church. He asked Robinson not to give a sermon in London today but Robinson defied the Archbishop. His talk was interrupted by a protester who calling Robinson a heretic and urged him to repent. Look for more fireworks during the Lambeth Conference which begins Wednesday and runs through August 3rd.

What Americans Believe

Do you agreed that many religions can lead to eternal life? Those responding “yes”:
  • Catholics – 79%
  • All Americans – 70%
  • Evangelical Christians – 57%

Is evolution the best explanation for the origins of human life?

  • All Americans - Yes 48%
  • Evangelicals – No 70%

The questions below show the results from everyone in the survey.

Would you considered yourself:

  • Conservative – 37%
  • Liberal – 20%
  • Moderate - 36%

Do you believe in an afterlife?

  • Yes – 74%

Do you believe in Heaven?

  • Yes – 74%

Do you believe in Hell?

  • Yes - 59%

Do you favor keeping abortion legal in all or most cases?

  • Yes – 51%
  • No – 43%

Of those who are unaffiliated with a church, 70% said the believe in God. More than half of those who called themselves agnostic said they believe in God.

Source: Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

Was the Resurrection Just a Sequel?

A three foot tall tablet called Gabriel's Revelation is raising new questions about Jesus resurrection.

The artifact discovered nearly a decade ago near the Dead Sea is owned by a Swiss-Israeli antiques collector. The ink-on-stone wording on the tablet has been dated to a period just before Jesus' birth. While some Christians suggest it confirms Jesus’ resurrection, critics claim the 87 partial lines of archaic Hebrew explains whey early believers claimed their Messiah rose from the grave in three days.

Israel Knohl who teaches at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, says the artifact tells about the raising of a messiah after three days in the grave. But Knohl claims the reference is to a man killed by the Romans a couple of years before Jesus’ birth. Knohl suggests Christians later borrowed from the resurrection model.

Ada Yardeni, a specialist in ancient languages, rejects Knohl's conclusions but agrees the faded word in the tablet could mean "lives." Haifa University professor Devorah Diamant says the references on the tablet could be connected to other figures from the Bible and not necessarily the messiah.

Another professor at Hebrew University, Moshe Bar-Asher, who is also president of the Israeli Academy of Hebrew Language, says Knohl’s conclusions outrun his evidence.

The line in question about the Messiah “coming to life” could be a reference to him showing up on the scene, not rising from the dead. Christian scholars point out that if Knohl’s reading is right, it puts aside the modern idea that references by Jesus in the Gospels to his resurrection were added later.

Biblical Archeology Review has more on the topic and next month will publish “the full text of the stone Dead Sea Scroll, plus Professor Knohl’s reconstructions.”

Voters asked to Decide When Life Begins

For the first time ever in the US, a ballot this November will ask voters to decide when life begins. Colorado voters will decide whether to allow The Human Life Amendment to become state law. The ballot initiative, also known as the personhood amendment, would define the words "person" or "persons" in the state constitution to include “any human being from the moment of fertilization." The proposal is funded by Colorado for Equal Rights but does not have the support of the National Right to Life or James Dobson’s Colorado-based Focus on the Family. These groups are more focused a judicial change rather than a legislative strategy.