Separation of Church, State and Twitter

This is a follow up to a post from June 15, 2010. I am pleased to report that Shimkus is still tweeting Bible verses (https://twitter.com/RepShimkus) and his followers have grown to over 15,000! Below is the original post in it’s entirety. Continue reading

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How to Read the Pew Research Center’s Published Findings

Screenshot 2015-05-14 at 6.38.58 AMThe actual title of the article published by the Pew Research Center is America’s Changing Religious Landscape. You can read that article here, at their own website, rather than second or third hand if you wish. The story was reported by media outlets, such as CNN, with attention grabbing headlines like “Millennials Are Leaving the Church in Droves.”

Russell Moore takes a different perspective, suggesting that actual faith is not in decline but rather the false pretense of it. People without true faith have quit going to church to make a show. He suggests people are no longer attracted to “almost Christianity” but that real faith is alive and well. There are not more atheists than there used to be, there are more honest atheists. Please do read his article here. 

Ed Stetzer posted a similar story in USA Today, arguing that while Evangelicals make up a smaller percentage of the population than they did a few years ago their overall numbers have actually grown. While I think Moore’s article is better written, both make the point that raw data doesn’t tell the whole story. How we interpret that data is equally if not more important.

The Problem with Religion

not my religion In 2008 I said the Problem with Religion is that it’s easier than following Jesus. Posting a list of rules or setting up a routine to stick to is often easier than imitating Christ. Jesus challenges us to love unconditionally, to love the unlovable, to consider others before ourselves, to act in humility, to seek God’s will about our own and all others for that matter, and the list goes on. “Keep these 10 commandments” is predictable; following Jesus is not. Your family at home and your boss at work probably appreciate rule following and predictability; acting Christ-like may not make friends and influence people. Continue reading

You’re Right, I Must be an Idiot

Don’t you love it when non-Christians, atheists, gay-rights activists, etc. reference the Bible and tell you that you’re reading it wrong? “Most of the Old Testament was negated and set straight by Jesus” and “You go out and stone a bunch of people, I’ll be living to please Jesus in the meantime” are on the list of things I’ve been told. I was told “the Old Testament pretty much doesn’t matter anymore” and the evidence for this claim was Jesus responding to the question about the greatest commandment. Kudos for knowing Jesus’ answer to that question; Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. A second is just like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This was an example of Jesus setting things straight.

The problem is that Jesus responded by quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading

The Wednesday Link List

Screenshot 2014-03-19 at 10.35.12 AMPaul Wilkinson is the author of Thinking Out Loud and Christianity 201. You’ve met him here before and from time to time I pop in on either of his blogs. This is just a friendly reminder to check in at least weekly on the Wednesday Link List, even when I don’t mention or link to it.

Continue reading

The Read and Share File

overloadIt’s a short list, but I wanted to go ahead and share. Pay particular attention to the second entry.

Christians sometimes need to be careful when using our own lexicon of “Christianese” words that outsiders should not be expected to understand. Tim Challies warns us not to over-simply our vocabulary, pointing out the value in learning new terms. We are expected to grow, and that growth includes knowledge of God.

Mikey Weinstein is the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He equates the sharing of the Gospel to spiritual rape and wants to see military chaplains court martialed for sharing it. Thanks to Loopy Loo for writing this article at Army of God. This article suggests any soldier, including chaplains, may be court martialed for sharing his faith.

William Boykin

Religious Freedom and Stark Trek

starfleetOne vision of the future involves the advancement of scientific thought, the proliferation of world peace, and an abandonment of religious dogma.  Many hope for (and some Christians fear) a future in which the logic and reason of science leads to the death of faith.  Perhaps you wouldn’t know it by reading this blog, but I am a big fan of Star Trek.  There are several things I try not to make a habit of posting on, sci fi being one of them.  For those of you familiar with the Star Trek universe, please consider the level of religious tolerance in that particular view of the future.

Despite the advanced level of science and technology on Vulcan, that culture remains deeply rooted in the traditions of their past.  Ancient temples and philosophies are revered.  Even after joining the Federation, Klingons continue to meditate, keep ancient festivals, and even expect the return of Kahless (a messianic figure who parallels Christ in many ways.).  Captain Sisko of DS9 is also the Bajoran “Emissary of the Prophets” and bearer of a mysterious orb.  The Voyager series introduced us to Chakotay, a Star Fleet officer of Native American decent.  Although he rebelled against his spiritual heritage as a boy, he would eventually have visions and talk to animal spirits.  All without a conflict with what he knew of scientific investigation.  By the 24th century, Starships have traversed much of the galaxy at many times the speed of light, allowing contact with thousands of species and cultures.  And yet we do not witness religious persecution or mockery between scientific minds and primitive folk beliefs.  Even as scientists witness the birth and death of star systems, they hold their own religious convictions in high regard.    

Gene Roddenberry envisioned a future in which nations and worlds co-existed without losing one’s cultural identity.  And that mutual respect extended to religious belief and practice.  Just a thought.  Is your idea of the future so optimistic?