What’s missing in today’s churches

Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,  has published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, no less.  The problem with America’s churches today, he argues, is that so many of them have been downplaying the main message of Christianity.

We can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifices we make rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us – our performance rather than his performance for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” And my fear is that too many people, both inside and outside the church, have heard our “do more, try harder” sermons and pleas for intensified devotion and concluded that the focus of the Christian faith is the work that we do instead of the work God has done for us in the person of Jesus.

After the jump, read the whole column. [Read more…]

Why we sleep

Virtually all animals sleep, but scientists have had a hard time figuring out why that is.  New research has apparently uncovered a major reason why our brains need to go out of consciousness on a regular basis:  While we are asleep, toxins that build up in the brain get flushed out.  Experiments with mice show that their brain cells actually shrink  so that there is 60% more space between them, allowing fluid to wash them more effectively, sweeping out dead cells and Alzheimer’s-causing plaque, as well as chemical toxic wastes.

How lucky we are that so many random mutations came together to make this happen so as to allow us to sleep!  I feel bad, though, about the animals that must have lived for millions of years before one of them, completely by chance, gained this survival advantage and spread it to all other species.  Before they could sleep, living organisms must have been really grumpy.

After the jump, details about the discovery. [Read more…]

The World Series is all red

The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Boston Red Sox in the World Series starting Wednesday.  For the first time I can remember, both of the teams that I was rooting for in their respective league playoffs were victorious.  The playoff games were indeed fascinating, and the pitching was awe-inspiring.  In the World Series, I’m for the Cardinals.  I predict they will win it in six games.  What do you think?

Conservative Catholics vs. Pope Francis

Conservative Catholics, by definition, venerate and obey the Pope.  So what do they do when the Pope is more liberal than they are? [Read more…]

Why cats are the way they are

I’ve blogged about dogs.  But I also like cats.  They are cool, graceful little killing machines.  I also like what cat-haters don’t:  their independence.  Did you know that cats, unlike nearly every other domesticated animal,  cannot be intentionally bred?   Did you know that cats are the most popular pet in the world, with three-times as many cats as dogs?

British zoologist John Bradshaw, the author of The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat,  has a new book out:   Cat Sense.  After the jump is  an excerpt from that book.  Read it all at the link, but I have quoted a passage that shows how cats sometimes do, in fact, show affection to their human owners.  Sort of. [Read more…]

New controversies in Evangelical theology

Evangelicals today are being torn by some major theological controversies.  The debate between Calvinists and Wesleyans is getting more and more heated.  Then there is a related debate between “Traditionists,” who believe Christians should hold onto the traditions of the historic church (particularly the decisions of the early church councils0 and the “Meliorists,” who reject holding onto traditions and believe the church can get better and better.  The Calvinists tend to be Traditionists (who themselves can be divided between “Biblicists” and “Paleo-Conservatives”) and the Wesleyans tend to be Meliorists.

We confessional Lutherans have our own theology worked out, of course, and in many ways might think of ourselves as above this particular fray.  And none of the debates, as far as I can tell, even bring Luther into the picture at all.  And yet I would suggest to the contending parties of both sides that they study how Lutheranism resolves Wesley and Calvin, the Bible and Tradition, Orthodoxy and Reformation.

After the jump, a sample and a link to a detailed account of what is going on in evangelical theology. [Read more…]