Saying grace

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About half of Americans say grace before meals, according to a new study.  Even 11% of those who don’t believe in religion a
say some sort of grace.  (For regional, ethnic, political, age, and denominational breakdowns, read after the jump.)

Religion journalist Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes about the phenomenon, interviewing a number of different people about why they pray.  An atheist, for example, says that he feels that it is important to express some kind of gratitude.  (But to whom?)

She also cites the Lutheran table prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus. . . .” [Read more…]

Is saying Jesus is the only way to salvation hate speech and discrimination?

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Russell Vought is a Wheaton College alumnus who weighed in on the controversy over the faculty member who insisted that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  He disagreed.  He wrote on a website, “They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

Now, at his confirmation hearing for his nomination as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, that statement came back to haunt him.

Senator Bernie Saunders called that statement of Christian orthodoxy “indefensible,” “Islamophobic,” and “hateful.”

Vought tried to explain, but the Senator kept trying to shame him for his belief and voted against his confirmation.

The Atlantic, no less, has a great story on the exchange.  Its author, Emma Green, defends Vought and argues that what Sanders was doing was imposing a “religious test” as forbidden by Article VI of the U. S. Constitution.  She goes on to explain why this is an important principle.

The episode also reminds us Christians that our convictions are out of synch in this time of intolerant tolerance and that we can expect to be vilified and possibly, at some point, punished for what we believe.

[Read more…]

What conservative churches & liberal churches have in common today

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More from Kenneth L. Woodward’s Getting Religion:  Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama. . . .

Movements take place outside of denominations, so one legacy of the dominance of “movement religions” over “embedded religions” is the erosion of denominational distinctives.  There is thus a new ecumenism among both liberal and conservative churches.

In contemporary Christianity, liberals have their ecumenical movement; conservatives have their para-church organizations.  Both of which minimize the differences between theologies and denominations, creating a least-common-denominator, de facto  type of Christian unity.

There are other areas in which conservatives “both countered and paralleled” the liberals (p. 141).  Both invested heavily in politics.  The liberal churches have been promoting liberal and leftwing politics.  (See the mainline denominations’ convention resolutions.)  The conservative churches have been promoting conservative and rightwing politics.  (And getting criticized for it by people oblivious to how the liberal churches have become far more politicized and were doing it long before there was anything like a “Christian right.”)   [Read more…]

Embedded religion vs. movement religion



Walther League 1928I’ve been reading Kenneth L. Woodward’s Getting Religion:  Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama.  I’ll be publishing a review of it for the Concordia Historical Institute Journal.  Woodward was the religion editor of Newsweek for nearly four decades before his retirement, an old-school journalist who is widely respected from all sides.  He treats the developments in American religion since the end of World War II as a historian but also as a first hand witness who came to know many of the players and covered the key stories of that tumultuous period.

He distinguishes between “embedded religion” and “movement religion.” [Read more…]

Why is the left so sympathetic to Islam?

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Why are liberals and leftists always defending Islam?

They have nothing but scorn for Christians who oppose the LGBT agenda.  But Muslims oppose the LGBT agenda even more.  To the point, in many Islamic countries, of killing gays.

Feminists attack Christianity for its alleged mistreatment of women.  But Islam treats women far, far worse than anything seen in the West.

Similarly, Muslims in general support traditional sexual morality and oppose abortion.  And, unlike Christians, in Islamic countries, they would likely punish the leftists who are agreeing with them for their secularism and unbelief.

When a terrorist turns out to be a Muslim, those on the left make a point of saying that we shouldn’t blame all Muslims, which is true enough.  And yet when a Christian does something that offends them, they don’t make the same caution against over-generalization about Christianity.  Indeed, they often tar all Christians with the same brush.

ANOTHER THOUGHT:  The left is worried that Christians are going to establish a theocracy.  But establishing societies ruled by the Q’uran is a major goal of Islam, and Islamic States really are theocracies.

The left is always on the alert for  “Islamaphobia.”  While being oblivious to their own “Christophobia.”

Why is this?  Michael Brown, excerpted after the jump, raises these questions.  He doesn’t really have an answer for them.

I suspect the left’s tradition of anti-colonialism is part of the answer, but it can hardly account for the continuation of these sentiments in the new post-Marxist climate of gender politics.

I realize the question could be turned around:  Why don’t Christians ally themselves with Muslims, since they agree on all of this retrograde morality?

Secularists, assuming all religions are just about morality and are thus all the same,  can’t understand religious differences.  Islam is a religion of pure Law, with no Gospel of grace, redemption, and forgiveness.  So, for Christians, whose faith is built on the Gospel, see a vast chasm between them.  (Though liberal Christians who have replaced the Gospel of salvation for a social gospel built on politics and moralism do have that liberal sympathy.)

Can anyone explain this phenomenon? [Read more…]

Trump’s world-religion tour

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Donald Trump is on his first international trip as president, and he has an ambitious agenda.  He is visiting the homelands of three world religions that have often been in contention with each other:  Islam, Israel, and Rome.

This weekend he was in Saudi Arabia, where he gave a rather impressive speech about Islam (see our post about it) and signed deals for weapons and other investments worth as much as $350 billion.  (Prompting questions about whether we should be so tight with such an authoritarian regime.)

Today he is in Israel.  On Wednesday he will meet with the Pope.

Then the theme will shift to global military and economic issues. Thursday he’ll be in Brussels to meet with NATO.  Friday he’ll be in Sicily for the G7 summit of leaders of the world’s biggest economies.

His purpose in the religion tour, according to the White House, is to “broadcast a message of unity” to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Here is a useful day-by-day breakdown of the trip, giving the context, goals, and what could go wrong.

Do you think President Trump can pull off all of this diplomacy?

[Read more…]