Friday, July 11, 2014

All Around the Web - July 11, 2014

Russell Moore A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? No.
In any discussion about the future of religion in America, especially as it relates to stalled growth in churches and denominations, those outside our religious communities find one theory especially compelling. This is the idea: that young Evangelicals are frustrated with Christian orthodoxy’s strict standards of sexual morality. We’re told that these young Evangelicals will soon revolutionize our churches with liberalized views on same-sex marriage, premarital sex, gender identity, and so on. But a new study by a University of Texas sociologist finds that Evangelical Christians ages 18 to 39 are resisting liberalizing trends in the culture.

The suggestion of a shift in attitudes does sound plausible. Indeed, one of us has warned for years that conservative Evangelicals are often “slow-motion sexual revolutionaries,” adjusting to the ambient culture on, for instance, divorce in ways that have harmed our witness and compromised the Biblical message. How much more vulnerable would Evangelicals be in a culture that is shifting roller-coaster fast on the definition of marriage itself and related issues? But recent data suggest otherwise.

The research, to be fully released in September, was introduced in Mark Regnerus’s presentation “Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality,” unveiled at a recent gathering of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s leadership summit. According to Regnerus, when compared with the general population and with their non-observant peers, churchgoing Evangelical Christians are retaining orthodox views on Biblical sexuality, despite the shifts in broader American culture.

Michael Horton - Faith and Mental Illness
According to a 2013 survey by LifeWay Research, one-third of Americans agree that "prayer and Bible study alone can overcome serious mental illness." Nearly half (48 percent) of evangelicals agree.

Why on earth would Modern Reformation imagine that it had something important to say, from a distinctly Reformation perspective, on mental illness? That was a big question we discussed in our editorial meeting. By the end, though, after sharing our own experiences, the answer became clear. To the extent that evangelical attitudes reflect theological imbalances—and even errors—we think we have something indeed to contribute.

Like their neighbors, Christians acknowledge that people suffering from cancer, AIDS, migraines, or cerebral palsy are still responsible for their actions. Their suffering does not entitle them to hatred, self-loathing, or the mistreatment of others. And yet, we allow room. With even a modicum of sympathy, we recognize they are miserable in ways that are not just limited to their physical distress. First, we want to relieve their immediate pain and, as much as possible, the effects of their disease; we seek every possible medical treatment for them. If a brother or sister has cancer, diabetes, or a stroke, we pray that God will give the doctors and nurses wisdom and skill to relieve their suffering. We realize there is an important place for caring for their bodies and souls, for their medical needs—which are beyond the church's competence—and for their relationship with God.
Geoffrey Holscraw - The Forgotten Lesson of Bonhoeffer, and the American Church

I am worried about the rising popularity of Bonhoeffer in the United States.

Very worried.

I’m worried not because of his theology, or his political views, or his activism. I’m worried because so many people are interested in him…so many different people.

Some people laud him for his non-violent pacifism, and other for his violent attempt at activism. Some laud him for his commitment to community, and others for his religion-less Christianity. Some laud him for his non-metaphysical theology, and others for his pastoral care. Some laud him from the far left, and others from the far right.

When this happens we have to dig deeper and ask, “Is there something we are missing here?”

Eric MetaxasThe Faith of Soccer Star Tim Howard
Moments after Brazilian defender David Luiz scored what turned out to be the winning goal versus Colombia in the World Cup quarterfinals, my friend looked up his bio on Wikipedia. He knew that Luiz, like several of his teammates, was a Christian who often speaks about his faith.

And sure enough, Luiz’s Wikipedia photo showed him wearing a t-shirt reading “Deus é fiel: or, “God is faithful.”

Well, apparently the sight of David Luiz on his knees praying was too much for one Wikipedia user, who had edited the Brazilian’s page to add the following comment: “He is another one of those people with limited intelligence who do not know that 'god' does not exist.”

Well, I’m happy to say the disparaging remark was quickly removed. And I’m sure Luiz has learned to ignore such attacks on his faith—much like former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Now, for all us Americans who normally don’t follow soccer, it may come as a surprise to learn that Luiz isn’t the only committed Christian shining brightly on the biggest stage in the world. Perhaps the most extraordinary story of faith has its origins not in Sao Paolo but in North Brunswick, New Jersey.

WORLD Magazine - The Supreme Court is not as unified as it looks
Out of 69 decisions the U.S. Supreme Court issued in its latest term, 44 were unanimous. But there’s more to those decisions than meets the eye, and unanimity is not always what it’s cracked up to be. 

A true unanimous ruling happened this past term in a case out of Alabama, where a college employee was fired in retaliation for testifying against a corrupt state representative. The justices emphatically ruled employees cannot be fired in retaliation for testifying truthfully on matters of public concern or corruption. In another case about cellphone searches, all nine justices set aside long-established law allowing police to search whatever they find on an arrested person.   

But those kinds of unanimous decisions were uncommon this term. In many 9-0 decisions, justices disagreed vociferously about why one side should win. In the abortion buffer zone case, for example, all the justices agreed the buffer zone was just too big. It included public sidewalks and streets, quintessential free-speech zones. But the majority opinion fell far short of what conservatives on the court wanted, which was to do away with speech buffer zones altogether. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals in their general approval for buffer zones. They just didn’t like the way Massachusetts set them up.

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