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
The 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.
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
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
Paul 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.
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.
One 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?
John Lennon’s Imagine is a beautiful song. It has more than a meaningless catchy hook; the music, the molody, the lyrics are beautifully composed. It’s one of those songs that has stood the test of time and continues to move audiences today. (Here’s a link if you must.)
I mentioned it is not meaningless, right? The song is beautiful to listen to but it’s the substance that should offend Christian sensibilities. If an angry atheist were shouting on the street corner that there is no God, we would certainly notice. Perhaps argue with him. But Imagine shares the same message – that without religion the world would be a better place – in a much more palatable form. I enjoy hearing the song even though I disagree with it’s philosophy. Many have probably heard it without listening to it. “Imagine there’s no heaven.” I’d rather not.
I submit for your approval Reimagine.
Blogger Flagrant Regard (his first name is Martin, but that’s all I know) has taken what we like about Imagine but asks the listener to do the opposite. Realize there is a heaven to gain, a hell to shun, and that Calvary makes all the difference. Hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize that he is not the problem but the solution. The Gospel is Good News; it is the cure and not the disease.
“George Washington, as the first American president, declared November 26, 1789 as a national day of thanksgiving and prayer, and a few months after his inauguration issued his famous ‘Proclamation Number One’ stating that it was a ‘duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.’”
But the last “myth” he identifies is Thanksgiving is a religious holiday, and he reasons this way:
“While some would like to believe that the Thanksgiving holiday is religious, and George Washington did issue a proclamation bringing God into the picture, this is not only an invented holiday, but its correlation with football and rescheduling to enable better economic performance for merchants makes it clear that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday.”
Then who are you giving thanks to?
It has become a tradition at this time of year to list things we are thankful for, but we sort of read off the list without directing our thankfulness in any particular direction. Perhaps families go around the table and each member takes a turn, which forces children to think about the things they have and teaches a lesson about being thankful. It is no doubt safer in our politically correct culture for elected officials, public school teachers and others to say “we should be thankful” than to make a religious statement. But seriously, who are we thanking when we list the things we are thankful for?
George Washington didn’t bring God into the picture. It is God’s picture, and we should be thankful he included us.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(Psalm 115:1 ESV)
During his lifetime Jesus was an observant Jew. But doing more and more religious things is not the same as living a life that is being transformed into the image of Christ. The following was originally published June 22, 2009.
I’ve said before that the problem with religion is that it’s easier than following Jesus. It is usually a given that something is wrong with us, wrong with the world, perhaps critically or else just a little off, but most people agree that something must be done because all is not right in the world as it is. Religion, in most cases, offers us the chance to do something. If we read the right book, say the right things, act right, talk right and treat each others the right way we can “fix” what is wrong. Religion, as such, is worthless. But what could I mean that Jesus was not religious?
The religious leaders of his day were the Pharisees, and a careful reading of the Gospels shows that Jesus never really had much good to say about them. He was always willing to share with anyone seeking to understand the truth (i.e. Nicodemus), but as a group Jesus was most likely to call them hypocrites, false teachers, spiritually blind, and sometimes worse. Continue reading