A different religious liberty angle on gay marriage

The arch-liberal United Church of Christ, which approved of gay marriage back in 2005, is suing North Carolina for infringing its religious liberty by not allowing pastors to perform same-sex weddings. [Read more…]

Pope calls conclave to re-examine sexual teachings

At this rate, maybe Pope Francis will be the last pope!

Contraception, cohabitation, divorce, remarriage and same-sex unions: They’re issues that pain and puzzle Roman Catholics who want to be true to both their church and themselves.

Now those issues are about to be put up for debate by their leader, a man who appears determined to push boundaries and effect change.

On Pope Francis’ orders, the Vatican will convene an urgent meeting of senior clerics this fall to reexamine church teachings that touch the most intimate aspects of people’s lives. Billed as an “extraordinary” assembly of bishops, the gathering could herald a new approach by the church to the sensitive topics. [Read more…]

Bringing back the religious left?

A Brookings Institution study says that today’s Democrats are less interested in even liberal Christianity, but that it still might be possible to bring back the religious left.  I would think this is true.  Pope Francis seems to be bringing liberal Catholicism back into power.  Many ostensible evangelicals are reconfiguring their teachings to promote liberal, rather than conservative,  politics.  And of course there are the mainline liberal Protestants who are still around in significant, though reduced, numbers.   (Do notice that I am not referring to people who are liberal politically though conservative theologically, which used to be commonplace and is still evident in many congregations and on this blog.  I’m referring to new iterations of the social gospel.) [Read more…]

Inequality as the root of social evil?

The Pope sent out a tweet that set forth a curious moral teaching:  “Inequality is the root of social evil.”   Twitter as a genre for theological discourse has its limits, but, as Grant Gallicho points out, Pope Francis said much the same thing in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium.   Do you think he is right?  If he is, what does that do to Roman Catholic hierarchies? [Read more…]

Back to the social gospel

Hillary Clinton cited her commitment to the “social gospel” in a speech to United Methodists.   That goes back to the 19th century when many Protestants said that instead of emphasizing the gospel of eternal salvation in Heaven through Christ, they should emphasize a gospel of building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

The social gospel, which inspired all kinds of social reforms and progressive political activism,  became the hallmark of liberal theology.   After World War II, even in liberal theological circles, neo-orthodoxy reacted against the utopianism of the social gospel, though in the 1960s it came back with liberation theology.  Conservative theologies, of course, rejected the social gospel, but today there is arguably a social gospel of the right. [Read more…]

Church competition

More from Methodist minister Morgan Guyton’s post entitled “Six Ways that Capitalism Fails the Church.”  He discusses competition between churches, the way churches “with bling” take members away from churches “without bling.” [Read more…]