Trump’s summit meeting with evangelical leaders

Donald Trump met with some 1000 evangelical leaders at Trump Tower in New York City yesterday.  He promised them that he would end the ban on politicking for tax-exempt organizations like churches.  He also said that he would appoint anti-abortion Supreme Court justices.  He also said that he would emphasize religious liberty, including allowing government employees to offer sectarian prayer in public and making department store employees say “Merry Christmas.”

The Washington Post said that the attendees were thrilled with Trump, but his critics among evangelicals were not invited.  One of them, recalling the movement’s former insistence on moral character, said that the spectacle marks “the end of the Christian right.”

What do you think about this?

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Pope says most married people aren’t really married

Roman Catholicism famously doesn’t believe in divorce.  But it does believe in annulments, a procedure which determines that for one reason or another–immaturity, not knowing what they are getting into, etc.–a valid marriage never took place.

The implication is that many couples who had a church wedding and a marriage license, who have had children together, and who have lived their whole lives together are not really married.  I suppose this comes out if the couple wants to break up the marriage and, if they are Catholic, receive an annulment, but even if they stay together, they can never really know if they are married.

I would say that, from a Lutheran perspective,  this is another example of Roman Catholicism’s being not nearly sacramental enough.  Catholics believe that marriage is a sacrament, but the objective sacrament doesn’t make the marriage, just the subjective experience of long ago when they first became married.  Similarly, Catholics can’t really know if they have been saved, even though they have been baptized, received Holy Communion, etc.

This is also an example of legalism in religion, in which laws that are too difficult to fulfill are, in practice, weakened by creating technicalities and loopholes that make it easier to accomplish while defeating the whole purpose of the original law.  (If you don’t believe in divorce because marriage is a sacrament and thus permanent, don’t have annulments either!  These are just divorces by another name, even though they “save the appearances” of permanent marriage by declaring that a marriage never happened, though at the expense of your whole sacramental theology.)

Anyway, the Pope last week said that, because of the lack of commitment, “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.”  His handlers later edited the original transcript to change “the great majority” to “some,” but still. . . .If so many people who have gotten married are really just living together, committing fornication and their children illegitimate (to use other Catholic categories), then the line between wedlock and cohabitation is fatally blurred.  If marriage, however, is a VOCATION, a calling from God, it’s a different story. [Read more…]

Are Christians responsible for the Orlando shooting?

The left is blaming Christians for the Orlando attack on gays and lesbians, while defending Islam.  Even though the attacker himself said that he acted in the name of Islam.  David French explores this odd pattern of accusation and defense. [Read more…]

Pope gives Mary Magdalene same status as Apostles in church year

Pope Francis has elevated Mary Magdalene’s saint’s day to a “major feast,” putting her on the same level liturgically as Christ’s apostles.  The pope wants Christians to consider Mary, who first told the apostles about Christ’s resurrection, as “a paradigm of the ministry of women in the church.”

Should non-Catholic Christians follow this promotion and make a big deal of Mary Magdalene’s Day on July 22? [Read more…]

Matt Harrison re-elected President of LCMS

Rev. Matthew Harrison was re-elected today for his third term as president of the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod.  This means the leadership of the LCMS remains in confessional, conservative, orthodox, culturally-engaging hands. [Read more…]

Orthodox Church will have its “Vatican II”

The “Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church” will be held in Crete, June 16-27.  The Council, which will be attended by the leaders of all of the world’s 14 Orthodox bodies (though two are threatening boycott),  is being described as the Orthodox equivalent of “Vatican II.”  The issues to be taken up will reportedly include ecumenical relations, how to handle marriage to someone who is not Orthodox, problems of ethnic identity, achieving greater unity, and dealing with various contemporary questions.  After the jump, a story from a Catholic site with an interview of a key Orthodox player.

Orthodox readers, can you tell us more about this?  This wouldn’t have the authority of the early church councils, would it?, since it isn’t “ecumenical.”  But how would this fit in with its “conciliar” theology?  Do you expect the council to take up issues that are roiling the Western churches, such as homosexuality, gender issues, etc.?  Is the council likely to “modernize” Orthodoxy, as Vatican II did to Roman Catholicism?

UPDATE:  Five church bodies are refusing to come, including the biggest one, the Russian Orthodox Church.  So nearly half of the world’s Orthodox churches representing a majority of Orthodox Christians won’t be there.  For a good discussion of this disunity, including the big issue of the conflict between Russia and Constantinople for leadership in Orthodoxy, go here.  (HT:  Joe & McCain)

UPDATE: The Council will go on as planned, despite the absence of the Russians.  The Serbian church decided to attend after all, so only four will be absent.

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