The Puritan Impulse – Again

Down through history different religious groups have displayed a puritan impulse. When they command the power of the state it becomes deadly. A story I’ve told often is of my first American ancestor, Jacob Hunt. He arrived in Puritan Boston in the 17th century and was quickly expelled for his religious views. The Puritans hadn’t [Read More...]

Evangelism fails without Dialogue

American Christians wonder, indeed should wonder, why Christianity is in decline in our nation. Why are people leaving the church? Why are so few people coming to Christ? Why are non-Christian religions growing? I want to suggest that is because we Christians have failed to meet the essential pre-condition for preaching a credible gospel. We [Read More...]

Shaping Interfaith Leaders

Can we parlay good interfaith relationships into actual political cooperation? It may take more than interfaith work projects. In a recent blog David Bornstein documented, and praised, efforts to unite persons of different religions in mutually agreeable work projects. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/a-better-way-to-talk-about-faith/?emc=eta1 This is a timely reminder of the very effective Interfaith Youth Corp that is spreading [Read More...]

Irreconsilable or Incommensurate?

At a recent inter-religious dialogue event a colleague noted how quickly, in the question and answer period, Christians moved the focus from the topic of the dialogue to the question of who is “saved” and how. Only diplomacy on the part of all the leaders kept the conversation from breaking up. Back in the day [Read More...]

Blaspheme Laws: The Enemy of Dialogue

On June 6th we learned that the Turkish government has charged one of its citizens “with insulting Islamic values in Twitter messages, the latest in a series of legal actions against Turkish artists, writers and intellectuals for statements they have made about religion and Turkish national identity.” (Turkish Pianist Is Accused of Insulting Islam) The [Read More...]

Abraham’s Children?

Last Wednesday I attended an interfaith dialogue event of exceptional quality. A rabbi, a pastor, and an imam each spoke on Abraham and his role in their distinctive faiths. The presentations were well grounded in the respective traditions, winsome, and affirming of religious diversity. And left me profoundly dissatisfied. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger explained how Abraham [Read More...]

Religious Freedom and the Arab Spring

The June 1 New York Times offers this headline: “Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria” The reason is simple. “the Russian Orthodox Church, . . .  fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.” A view [Read More...]

What Kind of Citizen? What Kind of State?

Running through a days worth of international news on Tuesday I found a number that help us see just how diverse and complex concepts of citizenship, religion, and state have become worldwide. In Nepal efforts to write a constitution have broken down completely. At issue? Is the state divided into geographical divisions, each of which [Read More...]

Immoral Moralism

A few years ago, when there was a hot debate among Methodists about having SMU host the Bush Library, I was the target of a singular public accusation. Because I did not oppose the library my name was added to an email blast of those who were “torturers.” The logic was simple, indeed simplistic. If [Read More...]

Religious Freedom or Oppressive Religion?

On the 11th of May the New York Times ran an article with the following title: “For Ultra-Orthodox in Abuse Cases, Prosecutor Has Different Rules.” It reported that the ultra-Orthodox advocacy group Agudath Israel of America was instructing adherent Jews that they could report allegations of child sexual abuse to district attorneys or the police [Read More...]


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