A Lutheran take on exorcism and the demonic

We’ve blogged about a Lutheran exorcist.  A new book from Concordia Publishing House offers a theological framework on the reality of demonic activity, actual case studies of people afflicted by demons who were helped by Lutheran pastors, and practical guidelines on how these malign spirits can be cast out by means of the Word, the Sacraments, and prayer.

The book is entitled Afraid:  Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare in America.  It’s by Dr. Robert H. Bennett, the Executive Director of the Luther Academy and an Adjunct Professor of Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Read my review after the jump. [Read more…]

Religion’s economic impact

A study of the economic impact of religious institutions has found that congregations, charities, religious hospitals, and other faith-based organizations contribute some $378 billion directly to the economy.  That/s more than Apple, Google, and Facebook.  Combined.  The indirect impact, as that money works its way through the economy is over $1 trillion.

Read a report on the study and watch a video about it after the jump. [Read more…]

Civil rights must be “preeminent” over religious liberty

The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights is recommending that civil rights be made “preeminent” in American jurisprudence.  Specifically, that civil rights claims–for example, those regarding sexual orientation and gender-identity–should always trump religious freedom claims.  There would thus be no religious exemptions, because newly-coined rights would have priority over constitutional rights. [Read more…]

The internet as god

The internet is everywhere.  It knows everything about you.  It will solve all of our problems.  It will protect us.  The singularity will create a new world.  When we download our consciousness into the web, we will have eternal life.  Doesn’t that sound as if the internet is a god?

Werner Herzog’s documentary film Lo and Behold:  Reveries of the Connected World. explores the religious dimensions of the internet.  Martyn Smith, in a review of the film excerpted after the jump, draws them out. [Read more…]

What Judaism teaches about the afterlife

It is often said that Jews don’t believe in a life after death.  In fact, Jews often say that.  But, as Jeffrey Salkin says in a review of a new book on the subject, Judaism DOES believe in an afterlife and always has. [Read more…]

Are Christians the powerful or the marginalized?

In the course of a post on why so many evangelicals are supporting Donald Trump, S. D. Kelly tosses off an observation that explains much about the current controversies between Christians and secularists.

Secularists tend to see Christians as “the powerful”; that is, in postmodern parlance, those who are in a position of power and privilege who oppress “the marginalized,” those who lack power and privilege.

But Christians tend to see themselves as “the marginalized,” oppressed by the cultural elite who exclude them and exercise their power against them.

Thus, when a Christian baker refuses to participate in a gay wedding, the secularists see the Christian heteronormative establishment discriminating against marginalized and oppressed gay people.

While Christians see secularists–who control the culture, the entertainment industry, the educational establishment, the government, and the law–imposing their sexual ideology on those with traditional Christian values and punishing them for their minority religious beliefs.

This explains much of the rhetoric, argumentation, and high feelings on both sides.  Are these just two irreconcilable perceptions?  Or can we make an objective case for one side or the other?  Does realizing these different perceptions suggest other ways of addressing these controversies? [Read more…]