Why evangelicals should love the Pope, the problem with Reclaim Australia + more

Saturday 11 April 2015

Do you love the Pope? This opinion piece, from The New York Times, argues that evangelicals should. “The cultural influence of evangelical Christians is rapidly waning. As one religious leader put it to me [the author]: ‘We used to be the home team. Now we’re the away team.’ The response from some Christian leaders, like Mr. Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham), is to ratchet up the condemnatory rhetoric. This has led to greater disaffection, especially among younger evangelicals who find this approach to be brittle, alienating and unforgiving. We are living through a moment of introspection and reconsideration, then, as Christians search for an alternative way to engage the culture that is both faithful and effective.” The Pope, says this author, views the role of the church not as a combatant in the culture wars but “as a field hospital after battle.” Do you agree?

Over the Easter weekend, Reclaim Australia held rallies all around the country. The point: to protest against extremism. Brad Chilcott, Director of Welcome to Australia wrote this piece in The Guardian in response to the rallies. “In the Reclaim Australia rallies, and the response of the ‘progressive’ protestors who engaged them, we see the ugly fruit of hatred, ignorance and violent confrontation… I count myself as a progressive, but I don’t imagine images of violence, or shouting profanities in the faces of our ideological opposites will encourage any mum or dad to join in on the next progressive rally for a ‘better Australia’. Progressives, our title suggests, want something to progress. When we contest opposing ideologies it should be in a manner that takes us closer to the society we are hoping to build. We should be tangible, visible expressions of the future we believe is possible. There should be something about the way we promote our vision for a better tomorrow that makes others want to be a part of it” Read the whole article here.

A weekend retreat for church leaders in China. Picture this: “Days are packed with 10 hours of preaching and worship, securing a seat inside the building requires showing up an hour early to stand your ground, and getting a meal in the cafeteria means deftly maneuvering (or pushing) through a long, amorphous line. The 500 who don’t make it inside the cafeteria receive boxed lunches consisting of white rice and small pieces of meat. Although organizers expected 1,000 people to attend, more than 1,500 ended up at the campsite—a combination of the Chinese habit of just showing up ‘by faith’ and the government hacking of CMI’s website. Registration was a nightmare, and like that night in Bethlehem, there was no room in the campsite for a few hundred attendees.” Read the whole account here.

Yet another account of Jesus’ wife and son has emerged this week. The “tomb of Jesus” reportedly contains proof that Jesus was married, had a son – and was never resurrected. In the Guardian, Jonathan Jones writes, “If only the great arguments between religion and doubt could be settled by scientific evidence…if the scholarly world unanimously accepted these claims (which seems unlikely) or if religious belief were grounded in evidence, it would be settled. If that were the case, all religious belief would have disappeared when Charles Lyell uncovered the nature of geological processes and intimated the true age of Earth in the 1830s – the first clear evidence of a godless natural world. Religion sees only the evidence it wishes to see.” Do you think he’s right?

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