Interfaith service surprise

geograph-3219323-by-Dave-KellyThe Anglican cathedral in Glasgow, in its interfaith zeal, invited a Muslim to read from the Qu’ran in the divine service for Epiphany.  The purpose was to show that Muslims too honor Jesus.  The reader did read the accounts of Jesus’s birth in the Muslim holy book, but then went on to read the passage that specifically denies that Jesus is God’s son.

A controversy has broken out, but the point should be clear:  All religions do NOT teach the same things.  And to pretend otherwise, as interfaith services do, is a failure to respect the integrity of the different religions. [Read more…]

Islamic exceptionalism

We keep hearing, “All religions are essentially the same.”  But no they aren’t!  That sentiment is particularly unhelpful when trying to understand the different religions.  So it’s refreshing to read a Muslim scholar explaining, in Time Magazine, no less, How Islam Is Different From Other Religions.

Shadi Hamid, the author of Islamic Exceptionalism, shows how and why Islam ties together religion and government and is so resistant to secularism. [Read more…]

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…]

The problem with public official prayers

We believe in freedom of religion, something that is becoming more and more important to Christians in light of the possibility of official suppression.  Along with that comes the rights of non-Christian religions.  Public governmental meetings are allowed to open with prayer, but that prayer cannot discriminate against the various religions.

Recently, a member of the Escambia County Commission in Florida walked out of the meeting, after an “Agnostic Pagan Pantheist” did an “invocation” that he found weird and satanic.

Wouldn’t it be better not to have any prayers at all at these meetings, rather than force those in attendance to participate in such syncretism? [Read more…]

Anglicans starting a “pagan church”

The Church of England is breaking new ground in being “missional,” in the sense of changing the church to fit a particular culture.  It is going after the “spiritual but not religious” crowd by starting what they are calling “a pagan church.” [Read more…]

More on the salvation of non-believers

In trying to explain Pope Francis’s statement about atheists that we blogged about, a Vatican spokesman, Father Thomas Rosica wrote a piece entitled Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22:  Reflections on Atheists, Christians, and Who Will Be Saved.  He nuanced what the pope said, but he didn’t explain it away, nor did he say, as we did in our discussion, that he was referring to meeting together in the realm of civil righteousness.  Rather, Father Rosica explained the sense in which atheists and other non-believers can, in fact, be saved:

4)  The great German Jesuit theolgian, Fr. Karl Rahner introduced the idea of “anonymous Christian” into theological reflection. Through this concept, offered to Christians, Rahner said that God desires all people to be saved, and cannot possibly consign all non-Christians to hell.  Secondly, Jesus Christ is God’s only means of salvation. This must mean that the non-Christians who end up in heaven must have received the grace of Christ without their realising it.   Hence the term – ‘anonymous Christian’. [Read more…]