“Keeping the Faith? Not in Vancouver”

Philadelphia Inquirer examines the secular city. Vancouver, on closer inspection, lacks a common feature of most other North American cityscapes: Church steeples. In fact, this modern, secular, increasingly Asian-flavored city is missing more than the steeples. Churches and churchgoers are in short supply, too. The reasons for those shortages – architectural, cultural, regional, historical –…

PC (USA) Brands Israel “Racist”

Hat tip to Gene Veith, who links to Phyllis Chesler, who takes note of a Wiesenthal Center press release; I quote from the latter: In 2004, The Presbyterian Church in the US (PCUSA) became the first mainline Protestant denomination to approve a policy of divestment from Israel. Unpopular with church members, it was later rescinded.…

What Belongs to Caesar?

Last week at North, and this week at Spring Creek, I’m preaching on religious liberty, using an updated version of a sermon I preached two years ago at Houston International: “Show Me the Money!” Seventh-day Adventists have always been strong advocates of religious liberty for all, and strict separation of church and state (see Liberty…

Hunger: A Review

Seventh-day Adventists are starting to show an interest in spirituality. At least, that’s what you might get from articles like that by Rachel Davies announcing a new Spectrum series.  But as I’ve written elsewhere, Adventism has a rich heritage of well-grounded Biblical spirituality–even if we haven’t often used that word to define it. How should…

What’s a Megachurch?

Is it just a large church? Not according to Hartford Seminary researchers. To them, a megachurch has to be Protestant. And it has to meet these other criteria: … strong charismatic senior ministers, many associate pastors, large staff, robust congregational identity that empowers 100’s to 1000’s of weekly volunteers, an identity that draws people from…

Lenten Thoughts

[I posted these reflections on this blog on March 2, 2007. I knew at that point that I had to return to my roots. It would be another two months before I would quit my job, but I had put that in God’s hands and was praying for his guidance and wisdom as I made…

The Legionaries of Christ

It’s been a year since the Legion of Christ admitted that the order’s founder, Marcial Maciel, fathered a daughter (and this came on top of lots of other charges of sexual abuse over the years). Canonist Pete Vere notes that apologies and restitution to victims have not been forthcoming from the order. And he’s not…

Medjugorje

For thirty years, some say, “Mary” has been appearing to some folks in Medjugorje. A leading Catholic mariologist looks at the phenomenon and has a lot of problems with it.

What’s a “Fundamentalist”?

Terry Mattingly has it right. Those writing about religion would do best to follow the AP stylebook, which defines the term thus: “fundamentalist: The word gained usage in an early 20th century fundamentalist-modernist controversy within Protestantism. In recent years, however, fundamentalist has to a large extent taken on pejorative connotations except when applied to groups…

Advice to the Pope

Lee Podles gives some advice to the pope on how to deal with the sexual abuse crisis. He should immediately remove from the clergy all bishops who are known to be corrupt and abusers. There are about twenty, starting with Mr. Sanchez of Santa Fe (he of girlfriends A, B, C, D, E…). He should…

Anti-Muslim Hysterics

Drudge has a headline in red: “Five Muslim Soldiers Arrested at Fort Jackson.” The link goes to a story on a CBN blog post (Pat Robertson’s network) that claims it has the scoop on the story, that five Muslim soldiers were arrested two months ago for allegedly trying to poison the food supply at Fort…

Dale Fushek

One of the most read posts on this blog each week is one I wrote over two years ago about Dale Fushek, the founder of the Catholic youth program, LifeTeen. He was removed from ministry because of accusations of sexual misconduct, but started his own quasi-church. This led to his excommunication and, this week, his…

Spirituality and Spiritual Formation

The evangelical world is all abuzz about “spiritual formation” these days, thanks primarily to the work of Quaker writer Richard Foster. Courses in “spiritual formation” are taught in many evangelical seminaries. Books and articles abound, some suggesting that we haven’t paid enough attention to “spirituality.” Some act as if the traditions of the Reformation have…

Ash Wednesday

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to…

Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday and Carnival). It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent for Catholics, mainline Protestants, and increasing numbers of evangelicals. Lent (the word means “lengthening of days”–i.e., “Spring”) was originally intended by the early Catholic church as a 40-day period of fasting…