Religious liberty vs. LGBT Discrimination

Gordon College, a respected Christian institution, is under fire for asking for a religious exemption from the president’s executive order that no one doing business with the government may discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.  The Hobby Lobby decision allowing a religious exemption for Obamacare contraception coverage explicitly said that the ruling did not apply in cases of discrimination.  David Skeel, in a discussion quoted after the jump, says that the Gordon College controversy would be the next major religious liberty issue.

The administration has made it clear that the president’s executive order  does NOT exempt religious groups.  A previous policy allowing an exemption for grants still stands.  World Vision and various other ministries receive grants, rather than contracts, so they would not be affected.  The president’s order did, however, leave intact a provision allowing religious groups to have a preference for hiring those who share their religious beliefs.  Perhaps that could include  religious beliefs about homosexuality.  [Read more…]

Islamic State’s ultimatum for Christians

The Islamic State–formerly known as the ISIS insurgents in Iraq–gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum.  Any who had not left by Saturday would have to either convert to Islam, submit to the dhimmi contract (the tax and set of restrictions on non-Muslims according to Islamic law), or be killed. [Read more…]

Was Luther a Calvinist?

Short answer:  NO!  But Calvinists often claim him for their own.  Douglas Sweeney,Trinity Evangelical Seminary church historian, takes up this question at the Gospel Coalition site, showing where Luther and Lutherans stand vis a vis the Five Points of Calvinism.  It’s a good discussion.

Prof. Sweeney stresses that the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism, according to which Calvinists evaluate all theologies, is very much a disagreement among Reformed Christians, and isn’t easily applicable to separate theological traditions, such as the Lutherans, Anglicans, and Anabaptists.   What sets apart Lutheranism from the Reformed, of course, whether Calvinist or Arminian, is the issue of the Sacraments, which aren’t discussed here.  Still, read the analysis.  Is there anything missing? [Read more…]

Pope says 1 in 50 priests is a pedophile

In another controversial interview, Pope Francis said that Vatican research has found that 2% of priests–including bishops and cardinals–are pedophiles.  That comes to 1 in 50 of the 414,000 priests.  He also said that he planned to find a “solution” for priestly celibacy, noting as Protestants have always said, that the requirement was not instituted for the first 900 years of Christendom. [Read more…]

How do we bless God?

We know that God blesses us.  But the Bible also speaks of us blessing God.  How does that work?  How can mere human beings “bless the LORD”? What can we do to benefit Him, the One who needs nothing?

I learned in Bible class recently that there is a blessing from greater to lesser, when God gives gifts to mortals, but also when kings bestow gifts to their subjects, etc.  But there is also a blessing from lesser to greater.  This kind of blessing–when the subject blesses the king or the mortal blesses God–consists mainly of thanksgiving. [Read more…]

The catholicity of Lutherans

Many evangelicals are trying to come to grips with the catholicity of the Church and are looking for ways to fit themselves into the historical universal Church.  Some are searching for ways to integrate the Protestant with the Catholic traditions.  Some are saying we should downplay denominational differences as a way to be more “catholic,” as the ecumenical movement did.

But the estimable Mathew Block, communications director for the Lutheran Church Canada, has written a thoughtful essay on this subject, focusing on the catholicity of Lutherans and how Lutherans already embody the kind of Evangelical Catholicism that many people are looking for.  The essay, which you should read completely,  is linked after the jump, but I give his conclusion. [Read more…]