The claim that Muslims and Christians worship the same God

We Missouri Synod Lutherans went through this controversy some years ago. . . .A professor at Wheaton College, a leading evangelical institution where I was once visiting professor, was suspended for claiming that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  (The media reports say that it was for wearing the hijab, the Islamic head-covering for women, but the suspension was not for a fashion statement.) [Read more…]

From non-religious families to ISIS

It turns out that 80% of the French citizens who joined ISIS come from non-religious families.  These converts to Islam and jihadism describe it in terms of religious liberation, a putting away of meaningless materialism to find personal meaning and transcendent purpose.  Can it be that human beings have an innate need for transcendence, and that suppressing and denying the religious impulse causes it to break out in extreme, violent, and twisted forms?

Ross Douthat discusses the phenomenon in the New York Times. [Read more…]

Banning the Lord’s Prayer video

This video was made by the Church of England to help publicize a new prayer website. A cinema advertising firm was paid to show it as one of those advertisements that run before the previews. But then the advertising company banned the video on the grounds that it might offend some people.

Interestingly, though, the British public is now up in arms over the decision. Not just church leaders, but the Prime Minister, politicians of all parties, and representatives of those expected to be offended, including Muslims and atheists. Even the new atheist author Richard Dawkins is speaking out against the ban.

But enjoy the video for its own sake and as a Thanksgiving prayer.

 

[Read more…]

The misguided explanations of ISIS

You have got to read Mollie Hemingway’s Federalist piece 16 Of The Worst Ways To Respond To ISIS’ Paris Attack.

Read every word.  After the jump is a sample, a Facebook post she quotes. [Read more…]

Atheists who believe in God & believers who don’t

According to recent studies, 21% of atheists believe in God.  10% of them pray.  A majority of atheists say that religion is somewhat or very important in their lives.  This is slightly more than the larger category of the “nones,” those who say they have no particular religious identity, nearly half of whom say that religion is important to them.

Then again, those who do claim a religious identity do not necessarily have religious beliefs.  Eight times as many religiously affiliated people doubt the existence of God than there are atheists and agnostics.

Douglas Laycock brings out these findings in his analysis of the recent Pew study of American religion and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), excerpted after the jump. [Read more…]

Three branches of Catholicism?

There are three branches of Judaism:  Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox.  A similar breakdown is evident in other religious traditions:  a liberal version, a conservative version, and an arch-conservative version.*

Thus, among Lutherans, we have the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (liberal), the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (conservative), and the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (arch-conservative).**  Presbyterians have the Presbyterian Church United States of America (liberal), the Presbyterian Church in America (conservative), and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (arch-conservative).  Baptists have the American Baptists (liberal), Southern Baptists (conservative), and Fundamental Baptists (arch-conservatives).  Campbellites have the Disciples of Christ (liberal), First Christian (conservative), Church of Christ (arch-conservative).  We could go on.

Roman Catholics, on the other hand, have always claimed to be unified.  But liberal Catholic theologian Daniel Maguire says that Catholicism too is dividing into three similar streams.  This has arguably already happened, even though all three are contained in one institution, as many converts have discovered when they become Catholics because of medieval theologians and 19th century acts of devotion, only to find themselves in a parish with feminist nuns and priests who sound just like mainline liberal Protestants.

Terry Mattingly discusses the phenomenon–including the growing authority of “conscience” in Catholic circles–in a column excerpted and linked after the jump.

*This taxonomy did not originate with me.  Scholars tend to use the terms “liberal,” “conservative,” and “fundamentalist,” but that last term is too loaded except for groups, such as some Baptists, that embrace the term. One would expect a “moderate” category, but that faction seems to be distributed among the others.

**I suspect some of us in the LCMS would maintain that they are as conservative as it is possible to be in adherence to Scripture and to its exposition in the Book of Concord.  They would say that the difference with WELS and ELS is over theology, such as the doctrines of the ministry and church fellowship, and that in regards to these issues and others, such as liturgical practice, the LCMS is more conservative than the other confessional bodies.

[Read more…]


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