God is present vs. God is present for you

I hope you had a happy Quasimodogeniti, the Second Sunday of Easter with perhaps the coolest name in the Church Year (which comes from the Latin for the first words of the Introit of the day from 1 Peter 2:2:  “Like newborn infants. . . .).  We had another powerful sermon from our pastor, Rev. James Douthwaite, preaching on John 20:19-31:

And the disciples did. Was God with them in that room behind locked doors because God is present everywhere anyway? Sure. But that wasn’t much comfort. Jesus knew they needed not just a “well we know He’s here, somewhere” God, but a “He’s here for me” Saviour. Jesus knew, and so He came. In the flesh. To raise them from their sin and fear to a new life in Him.

And Jesus knows that’s what you need as well. “I know God is with me because He’s present everywhere” just doesn’t cut it when you’re locked in fear and sin and darkness and impending death and God seems a million miles away. Like the young child crying out for mom in the middle of the night, who knows mom’s there, in the house, maybe even right in the next room, but that’s not good enough. That’s a million miles away in child miles. He needs mom there. She needs mom’s touch. [Read more...]

Chaplain wins Medal of Honor

A Korean war chaplain who died in a POW camp will receive the  Medal of Honor later this week.  Read the exploits of Father Emil Kapaun after the jump. [Read more...]

The porta-Church

Church-in-a-box … A Russian military Orthodox chapel

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The largest Protestant denominations

New statistics have been released giving the largest Protestant denominations.  We Missouri Synod Lutherans are #11 with 2.3 million members.  That’s more than the Episcopalians (#12 with 2 milllion), though they get all the attention.  If you add up the two biggest Lutheran groups (the ELCA being #5 with 4.5 million), we’d come in at #3.  That’s lots more than explicitly Calvinist groups, though they have seem to have the most influence.  Then again, the denomination of not having a denomination has some 12.2 million members, which would make it #2.

See the list of the top 15 after the jump.  What can we conclude from this list, if anything? [Read more...]

Why do the Orthodox ally with liberal Protestants?

One of the mysteries of the American religious scene is why all but one of the Eastern Orthodox church bodies in this country are members of the National Council of Churches, the mouthpiece for liberal Protestant denominations.  Not only that, the NCC consistently promotes abortion, homosexuality, a leftist social gospel, and a whole array of doctrines opposed to the traditional theology the Orthodox claim to champion.  And it isn’t like the Orthodox representatives are speaking up all that much against the NCC’s anti-orthodoxy.  John Lomperis of the Institute for Religion and Democracy asks some pointed questions. [Read more...]

Unorganized religion

Michael Gerson discusses the 20% of Americans who describe their religion as “none.”  It isn’t that the “Nones” (not to be confused with “nuns”) don’t believe in God, necessarily.  64% of them do.  They just don’t want to affiliate with any “organized religion.”

The statistics about “Nones” probably don’t include the number of self-described Christians who feel the same way.  I know of some who haven’t found a church they can agree with or that is up to their high standards.  So they don’t go to church at all.  After all, with their “me-and-Jesus” theology, why do they need a church?  But they do.

The good news is that 40% of those raised as “Nones” drop out of their non-religion to join an actual religious institution.  Hey, isn’t that about the same drop out rate, according to one measure, for young people raised in churches? [Read more...]