Louisiana court challenges seal of confession

We blogged about how Anglicans in Australia are doing away with the absolute “seal of confession”–that is, the pastor’s pledge of total confidentiality when they hear penitents confess their sins.  Now an American court is trying to do the same thing, forcing a Roman Catholic priest to testify about what he heard in the confessional from an accused child abuser. [UDATE:  In the very interesting discussion that is waging, Jeremiah pointed out that I got this wrong,  that it wasn’t the confession of the abuser but that of the abused child that is at issue.] [Read more…]

Six things not to say at a funeral

Chad Bird lists six things that he does NOT want said at his funeral. [Read more…]

Marked with an “N” for “Nazarene”

Some are saying a “Christian holocaust” may be on the verge of breaking out in Iraq.  Reportedly, the Islamic State/ISIS is painting an “N”–for “Nazarene”–on the homes of the Christians remaining in Mosul to mark them for whatever is going to come next.   Douglas Farrow is going to paint an “N” over his door in a show of solidarity. [Read more…]

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…]