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ACT3 Monday Evening Forum

The first ACT3 Monday Evening Forum of 2016 takes place this evening at 7:00 p.m. My guest is Dr. Jon Nilson, professor of theology emeritus at Loyola University in Chicago. The topic is:

“Good Theology Must Be Ecumenical: Why & How?”
Dr. Jon Nilson in dialogue with Dr. John H. Armstrong

We begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. We meet at Lutheran Church of the Master, 580 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream, IL 60188. There is no charge and no registration. Please come and share your questions with us all. There will be no audio or video taping. I do not have the resources to do this well and no one to help me do it.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Wheaton 2016

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually between January 18 and 25. It is actually an octave, which means the observance lasts for eight days.

The observance began in 1908 and was focused on prayer for the church unity. The basic idea, and the January dates, were suggested by Father Paul Wattson, co-founder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars. Watson conceived of the week beginning on the Feast of the the Conversion of St. Paul and concluding on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Peter. The dates and ideas actually were a variant of the Protestant version of these Catholic celebrations. (Wattson was himself a former Anglican priest.) In the mid-1920’s Protestant leaders proposed an annual octave for unity leading up to Pentecost. (Many local communities also celebrate this time and offered joint prayers for unity.) Pope Benedict XVI “encouraged its observance throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church.”

What is interesting is that this observance began in Catholic circles but once it jumped boundaries it took new forms and meanings. Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyons, France, who has been called

Christena Cleveland: A Powerful Message on Unity at Urbana 2015

The recent Urbana 2015 Conference, held in St. Louis, featured a number of great speakers and topics. One of our ACT3 board members, Scott Brill, is on staff with InterVarsity and sent me links to two plenary addresses I found immensely important. I share the first of these two messages in today’s blog post. Scott Brill was also responsible for staffing a Catholic room at Urbana to network with Catholic students who were in attendance. This Catholic presence is new to IVCF and something I wholeheartedly welcome. (Catholic staff have served with IVCF for some years now, though their number is still quite small.) Pray for many evangelical mission agencies who now work openly with Catholics and do not try to “convert” students to evangelicalism but to Christ in humble faith. This is a risky strategy and presents challenges when donors do not like this direction. ACT3 not only openly supports this direction but seeks to serve it, and ministries who are doing this, wherever possible.

Dr. Christena Cleveland, author of a wonderful book titled Disunity in Christ. She is a social psychologist with a hopeful passion for

The Francis Effect

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and In a recent article in First Things David Bentley Hart, who is Orthodox, says he finds the response of many Catholics to this pope “inexplicable.” Dr. Mirus explains why hypersensitivity and hysteria have no place in a truly Catholic response to the pope. He writes:

At the same time, there is a right way and a wrong way for a Catholic to respond to his fears. Any type of hypercriticism, hysteria or panic—especially when accompanied by accusations which go beyond a strict and necessary construction of the evidence—is, as I have already noted, not of God. This sort of anxiety, and the quick (and even petty) trigger finger that goes with it, always comes from the Devil. What comes from the Holy Spirit is interior peace, joy, generosity, and trust in God.

Mirus sees legitimate and illegitimate reasons for a sensitive or suspicious response to Pope Francis but provides some helpful

By |December 5th, 2015|Categories: Pope Francis, Roman Catholicism|

Pope Francis, the Mercy of God, and the Danger of Fundamentalism

frpoorwertchPope Francis just returned from his first trip to Africa a few days ago. Those of us who watch and pray for him were amazed once again at his courage, faithfulness and continued displays of pastoral mercy. Surely “mercy” does sum up what Francis says and does as pope. Thus it is not surprising really since he has declared the coming year to be a “Year of Mercy.” He recently said that he will make twelve big (“significant”) gestures, one each month.Each is mean to demonstrate God’s mercy. This is what the Catholic Church calls a Jubilee Year. This year was pre-launched last Sunday when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of the cathedral in Bangui, Central African Republic. One of the admirable features of Catholic Church life is the way this biblical concept of jubilee can be used to capture the minds and hearts of the whole church over a span of time.

In a brief interview in Credere, the official jubilee weekly magazine in Italian, Francis said: “There will be many gestures, but on one Friday each

René Girard: The Passing of an Amazing and Iconic Thinker

I think it is quite unlikely that many readers of this post know the life and thought of René Girard. I discovered him late in life, only about fifteen years ago. I found his work on human desire both insightful and brilliant. Agree or disagree with Girard’s thought he helped us rethink human desire, anthropology and sin. If you reject the idea of evolution please do not let that issue keep you from learning from this great Christian thinker. This presentation by Fr. James Alison is a great, short summary.

You may need to see this several times to actually process Girard’s central thought but this is as good as any short presentation of the man and his thinking I’ve seen.

Pope Francis and the Faith of Non-Christians

UnknownOn Friday, September 25, Pope Francis visited Ground Zero in New York City to pay respect for life and to pray for healing and peace. Many Christians have expressed dismay that the pope did not mention the name of Jesus at this occasion. Some have specifically stated that he actually proved that he was a religious pluralist who does not believe that Jesus Christ is the true Savior of the world. This entire debate is often absent both the context and the content of his actual words and actions. The pope’s entire address can be read here:

Pope Francis said:

I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only

Fr. René Constanza on Christian Unity, Part 2

Fr. René Constanza on Christian Unity, Part 1

Fr. René Constanza is a Paulist priest serving in Austin, Texas. He is also a good friend. Fr. René has participated in all three of our Catholic-Evangelical Conversations in Chicago over the last three years. This young man is a dedicated minister and true servant of Christ who prays for the unity and works with me for this purpose.


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