On Easter

George Reid has “A Note about Easter” at the Adventist Review. My letter to the editor in response: George Reid’s commentary, “A Note about Easter,” overlooks some facts. First, for much of the Christian world, the day is not called “Easter,” but Pascua (Spanish), Pasqua (Italian), Pâques (French), Páscoa (Portuguese), Pasen (Dutch), Pascha (Greek), Pascha…

Jesus in Revelation

In the eyes of many, the book of Revelation is a strange volume of beasts and war and tribulation and pestilence. But  it begins with these words: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it…

Armageddon: The Last Battle

Whenever earthquakes topple cities, famines or civil wars decimate populations, or weather patterns are disrupted, then it is that the world, grasping for adequate words to name the horror, turns to the Bible. Then it is that newspaper headlines warn of “apocalypse” and “Armageddon”—or variations thereof. So it shouldn’t be surprising that President Obama referred…

Good News?

Southern Baptist Albert Mohler is rejoicing in the “good news” that has come down from the 9th Circuit: there is no “religious  significance” to paying bills with coins that say, “In God We Trust,” and no “theological or ritualistic impact” to saying, “One Nation, Under God.” He says, The court has ruled, in effect, that…

The Texas Board of Education

Our state board of education, very interested in promoting religion in public schools, does not want students to study the First Amendment. Now, the State Board of Education often stands as a bulwark between us and the wacky world of textbook publishing. As this article notes, An unelected review panel, not the elected members of…

Glorifying Treason

Imagine the outcry if a mainstream Arab singing group came out with an album glorifying MAJ Nidal Hasan, John Walker Lindh, Adam Gadahn, and other American Muslims who took up arms against their fellow Americans. Yet the Chieftains have done pretty much the same thing with their album, San Patricio, which glorifies Irish-Americans who deserted…

Glenn Beck, the Churches, and “Social Justice”

As I’ve already mentioned, Glenn Beck is underfire for criticizing churches that emphasize “social justice,” noting that it was “social justice” that has attracted lots of Christians to socialism (liberation theology) and national socialism (Fr. Charles Coughlin). Leftist Christians like Jim Wallis and Fr. James Martin are outraged, as are some “conservatives” at First Things.…

A Catholic School, a Child, and a Lesbian Couple

As various places have reported, a Catholic school in Denver has told a preschooler that she can’t return next year–not because of anything the child has done, but because the child calls a lesbian couple parents. Said the archdiocese: To preserve the mission of our schools, and to respect the faith of wider Catholic community,…

“Buddhist Extremists” and Other Hoaxes

I got an e-mail this morning (3/10/2010) that said, Please pray for churches in India. Buddhist extremists in India burned down 20 churches last night. Tonight they plan to destroy 200 churches in the province of Olisabang. They plan to kill 200 missionaries within 24 hours. This is a hoax. There are no “provinces” in…

Glenn Beck on “Social Justice”

The folks at America have been listening to Glenn Beck recently–as have the folks at First Things.  And they’re both mad at Beck for the same reason. It seems Glenn Beck is warning folks to beware if their church talks a lot about “social justice” or “economic justice.” I’m begging you, your right to religion…

The “New Perspective” on Paul

Someone recently asked my thoughts on the “New Perspective on Paul.” I have to chuckle whenever I hear the phrase, “New Perspective.” We were reading Krister Stendahl’s “Paul among Jews and Gentiles” in New Testament courses at Atlantic Union College nearly 30 years ago! (And Sanders, and Wright, and Dunn …) I haven’t written anything…

John Paul II and the Legionaries

Time has an article about Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ that touches on a particularly sensitive issue: the promotion of the order by Pope John Paul II, now under consideration for canonization. The Vatican had investigated Maciel’s personal life as early as the 1950s; but John Paul, whose papacy began in 1978, showered…

Herb Douglass on the “New Spirituality”

Herb is writing about the New Spirituality Movement in evangelicalism (and Adventism) at Adventist Today. He suggests “Seeker-friendly churches, such as Willow Creek and Saddleback, will join the New Spirituality wave or fade”–and the same for those Adventist churches that have modeled themselves on Willow Creek. He links to several Christianity Today articles and says,…

The Late, Great, John Allen

John Allen began his career as a petulant young liberal whose journalism scored points for “the good guys” (as he saw them)–see his biography of Ratzinger, for example. As he matured, he realized he needed some journalistic objectivity, and intentionally sought to distance his columns for NCR from the editorial page’s clear bias. The result,…

Christopher Hitchens’ Latest

First he attacked Mother Teresa, in his crudely titled book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. Then he aimed higher, saying, God Is Not Great. Continuing in that line of thought, he now takes aim at the Ten Commandments. Dare I suggest that he’s proving himself to be the Philip Pullman of…

Name Change

Yes, I changed the name again. I’ve done that a few times. I have thought about the title, “Advent Hope,” for four years … and wondered what I might do graphically. As you’ll see, I decided to go with an Adventist theme, a tagline from a Lutheran collect, and an illustration from a Catholic painting.…

Another Marian Dogma?

Inside the Vatican magazine and Thomas More College are sponsoring a forum on Mariology, addressing the question of whether the Catholic church should proclaim a fifth Marian dogma, namely, that she is Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all graces. Presently, the Church has proclaimed four dogmas regarding the Mother of Jesus: (1) her maternal role in…

Paganizing Christian History

“The Book of Kells” is an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels. It’s a thoroughly Christian book (it is the Gospels, after all!). But that doesn’t seem to matter to Tomm Moore, who made a fanciful cartoon last year, called The Secret of Kells. Moore has apparently ripped the book from its Christian reality and turned…

Thoughts on the Legionaries of Christ

In Catholic theology and spirituality of religious life, founders of religious orders have a unique charism (gift of the spirit) that the church is affirming when it establishes that order. But what happens when it is revealed that the founder was evil? That’s what the Catholic church is wrestling with now in the wake of…

The Maciel Scandal Deepens

Could the scandal of Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, get any worse? First there were the accusations, throughout his life, of pederasty and drug abuse. Then, after his death, word that he had fathered some children and that the order had supported them. Now it is charged that he sexually abused the…

Kennedy’s Houston Speech After 50 Years

It was fifty years ago this September that John F. Kennedy spoke to some ministers in Houston: I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for…

Controversial Religious Art

The elders of Ecclesia, a church in the Montrose area of Houston, vetoed display in their art gallery of a photograph submitted by a 10 year old boy for a series of “Stations of the Cross” (see also Jill Carroll’s commentary). In the photo, the boy’s younger brother plays Jesus–and the Roman soldier beating him…

“Census Sabbath”

Houston mayor Annise Parker has called for a “Census Sabbath” this weekend, asking religious leaders to proclaim her message of the necessity of filling out census forms. As a pastor, when I teach about church/state relations, I affirm our obligation to be good citizens, to give Caesar the things that belong to him. Obeying the…

A Quiet End to the Anthrax Scare

The FBI quietly closed its case on Bruce Ivins a couple weeks ago. They released their notice on a Friday. I didn’t notice any mention of it until today. They say the Army scientist was the perpetrator of the Anthrax scare. New York Times. It seems so strange that after all the hysteria, and the…