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The Pope’s Controversial Encyclical

Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, the much-discussed encyclical of Pope Francis on human care for the creation, embraces what the pope calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that has been endangering the planet for decades. This conclusion has caused some conservatives, especially talk-show hosts and their followers, to trash the pope’s thought and motives.

One evangelical talk-show host/author called Pope Francis a socialist liberal. He told his audience that the pope has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to the real science of environmentalism. But he has bought an agenda and misled the church and the public. Another suggested that the pope needed to study science more closely, an odd criticism since this pope has seriously studied science and is surrounded by an entire body of serious scientists who served his writing of this encyclical.

AP989948985495-1024x682Let’s be honest – the devil is always in the details. Most people admit that the environment is changing, mostly for the worse. What is debated is the cause.

A Film Series on the Protestant Reformation

Two weeks ago I did a three-and-a-half hour video session in Souderton, Pennsylvania. I sat down with Vision Video, one of the premier Christian video production companies in the world. I had a profoundly enjoyable experience and hope that the time I invested in a forthcoming project will bear much fruit.

IMG_5027Vision Video is making and producing a three-hour series for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I believe this series will be available in 2016. It is to be determined how many videos there will be in the series, what kind of resources will be added and how it will be marketed. The entire project anticipates the anniversary year of 2017. It has a number of well-known people in the series. It should make a significant contribution to churches and Christian viewers in general. Vision Video has produced some noteworthy films and won a number of awards for their work over the years.

This particular series was nearing completion when the production and film team decided that the series was missing several things that were needed.

What You Can Do About the Kenya Massacre: Choose to Love

Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe

IMG_9498Once again the senseless massacre of almost 150 students in Kenya has demonstrated the fallenness and depravity of humanity. It is impossible to comprehend the depth of brutality that human beings can perpetrate against others, particularly children and young people. Lives filled with so much hope and potential were snuffed out by the barbarity of those who seemingly will stop at nothing to promote their twisted ideology and beliefs.

What should be responses to such acts of cruelty? We have already seen swift military action by the Kenyan government in retaliation for the atrocities committed. Yet what should your response be, and the response of every individual Christian before God? The natural inclination is anger, to lash back, to punish the perpetrators. Yes, justice demands we respond and hold accountable the killers. But is that all we can do and will it bring an end to these senseless attacks?

It is a primary responsibility of governments to protect its citizens. However, given the fact the growing threat of terrorists is not contained within a specific geographic border,

The Spirituality of Designer Religions (Monte Wilson)

DSC00542You can’t read a magazine or watch TV without hearing some rock star or movie actor gushing on and on about being a “spiritual person.” Same goes for Facebook, where people post such profound bon mots as, “I am not religious. I am spiritual.” Maybe it’s just me but this always leaves me wondering: You’re spiritual? To what spirit are you referring? It begs the question, doesn’t it?

“Being spiritual” doesn’t say enough for me to have even the slightest clue as to what you are describing or asserting about your beliefs. If we have a Buddhist, a Baptist, and a believer in Brahman, each saying he is spiritual, aren’t they all saying something categorically different? And if a word can mean so many different things to different people, why confuse your listeners with such an amorphous word?

Why, indeed.

While there are probably more reasons than I can imagine, I believe that most all of them can be traced back to two.

When I say that I am spiritual, I am letting you know that I believe in something higher than myself, but am not

Christianity East & West: An Evangelical Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Dialog (Video)

Several years ago ACT3 staged a dialogue on unity and diversity between two Orthodox theologians and two Protestant evangelical theologians. This Sunday evening event was hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Greetings were given by Fr. Wilbur Ellsworth, an Orthodox priest who served as chairman of the ACT3 board for a number of years. I moderated the conversation. This is the first time we’ve made this older resource available for wider usage.

This dialogue runs for nearly two hours so you might want to mark it for use when you have the time to watch it. There are some real gems within the discussion we had on this evening.

The Killing That Stunned America: April 14, 1865

assassination1One hundred-and-fifty years ago on this day America was emerging from its long nightmare, a war between the states that we call the American Civil War. More Americans died in this four-plus year conflict than in all other military operations in our entire history put together. During this great ordeal brother killed brother and entire families were torn apart. Towns and cities were devastated across the South. Though slavery was formally and legally ended what followed was another one-hundred plus years of “virtual” (economic and social) slavery that created major problems we are still unable to solve as a free people. We have, if I read present events correctly, never fully recovered from this time. We are defined by race (itself an artificial and unscientific distinction) as much as any modern and free society in the world.

As a son-of-the-South I can tell you that the memory of this Civil War abided in my own family heritage as something that we understood as deeply life-changing. (I can still remember hearing the War referred to as: “The Way of Northern Aggression.” If you think

John Hagee: Reflections on My Facebook Post (Part 3 of 4)

B166PIn the case of John Hagee very few people within the larger culture are paying attention to his prophecies. Last week I scanned a copy of John Hagee’s book, Can America Survive?: 10 Prophetic Signs That We Are The Terminal Generation (Howard Books, 2010), in a Half-Price Bookstore near home. The copy I looked at was called an “Updated Edition.” (I love how these books have to be updated. I wonder why? This is humor dear reader!) The subtitle on this newer edition reads: “Startling Revelations and Promises of Hope.” The cover speaks of “special updates” on: the death of the dollar, a nuclear Iran, the reaction of Israel, and hope for a troubled nation. Hagee writes of the following:

  1. The impending nuclear war in the Middle East
  2. The coming death of the U. S. dollar
  3. The consequences of rejecting Israel
  4. The absolute accuracy of biblical prophecy
  5. The coming Fourth Reich

The dust jacket of this same book says, “As a candid conservative Christian leader . . . this bestselling author courageously sounds an alarm to awaken the American nation from the slumber

John Hagee: Reflections on My Facebook Post (Part 2 of 4)

So what did Jesus teach about his coming again and the End?

UnknownWe read the words of Jesus in Mark 13:32-37. These are often read as words about this age and his coming again:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Most of you know that these various biblical texts referring to Jesus’ return are in the three synoptic Gospels. Parallel to Mark’s Gospel we thus read in Matthew 24:29-31:

“Immediately after the suffering of those days

John Hagee: Reflections on My Facebook Post (Part 1 of 4)

Several days ago I posted a comment about John Hagee on my Facebook wall. Hagee is a New York Times best-selling author and pastor from San Antonio, Texas. In this comment I posted a link to a site that was critical of Hagee about his growing predictions of “the end of the world.”

PastorJohnHagee_resizedJohn Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a non-denominational evangelical church with more than 19,000 active members. He is the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel. (Note this as I will reference it again later.) He is also the president and C.E.O. of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry throughout America and can be seen weekly in 99 million homes and in more than 200 nations worldwide.

John Hagee graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, then earned his Masters Degree from North Texas University. He received his Theological Studies from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and an Honorary Doctorates from Oral Roberts University, Canada Christian College, and from Netanya Academic

From John F. Kennedy to John Kerry: Evangelicalism’s Shifting Position on the Catholic Church

Raith_ChadCurrently, at First Things magazine, Dr. Timothy George, Fr. Thomas Guarino and Dr. Carl Trueman are posting reflections on the ecumenical working group Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) in light of their twenty years of existence (see http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/03/evangelicals-and-catholics-togethertwenty-years-later).

The creation and success of ECT was made possible due to a larger shift in evangelical perceptions of Catholicism that had occurred over the course of about sixty years. For me, nothing captures this shift better than the about-face reflected in two Christianity Today editorials addressing the two Roman Catholic presidential candidates, John Kennedy and John Kerry. While the first editorial warns evangelical voters of the candidate’s Catholic faith, the second laments that his faith isn’t strong enough.


When John F. Kennedy announced his run for President of the United States on January 2, 1960, he thrust into the political spotlight something that proved to be as controversial as any policy position, namely, his Catholicism. For many evangelical Christians at the time, this fact alone rendered him a problematic candidate for the office of the presidency.

By the time Kennedy ran for president, there was in place a long history of negative

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