The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, October 21, 2011

THE TULIP DEBATE: In the video below, I interview Roger Olson regarding his new book, Against Calvinism.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I wrote a dual review of For Calvinism and Against Calvinism here. I also reviewed Against Calvinism here.


HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH: “John Stott: Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World.”

Do you want to see your national life made more pleasing to God? Do you have a vision of a new godliness, a new justice, a new freedom, a new righteousness, a new compassion? Do you wish to repent of sub-Christian pessimism? Will you reaffirm your confidence in the power of God, in the power of prayer, of truth, of example, of group commitment—and of the gospel? Let’s offer ourselves to God, as instruments in his hands—as salt and light in the community. The church could have an enormous influence for good, in every nation on earth, if it would commit itself totally to Christ. Let’s give ourselves to him, who gave himself for us.


EVADING THE MORAL QUESTION: “The Supply-Side Economics of Abortion.”

The pre-Roe data illustrate that the farther women must travel for an abortion, the lower the abortion rate will be, and that travel distance is a greater obstacle for less-advantaged women. Thus, if a “blue state–red state” distribution of abortion services evolves, the pre-Roe racial and socioeconomic patterns will probably reemerge. Women with resources will travel substantial distances for an abortion, whereas less-advantaged women will travel less.

History suggests that there will always be abortions. The goal should be to reduce the abortion rate by reducing unintended pregnancies, while providing safe, legal services for women who need them. Making access to abortion unnecessarily costly will probably result in clandestine abortions and unintended childbearing among families with the least resources and the fewest options.

Perhaps, but the article evades the crucial moral question: Is abortion right or wrong? Can you imagine an article called “The Supply-Side Economics of Rape” or fraud or theft or assault and battery? Of course not! If one assumes that abortion is morally acceptable, then this kind of article makes sense. If not, then not. Surely we have to keep that simple point in mind.


FOLLOW THE LEADER? “Religion and Support for Capital Punishment: Contrasting Leaders and Laity.”

Looking solely at the Christian groups, Evangelical Protestants show the lowest opposition to the death penalty at 23 percent, followed by Mainline Protestants at 28 percent, Catholics at 37 percent, and Black Protestants at 45 percent. So if Carter, Sharpton, and Prejean voice official or semi-official views from their respective religious traditions (Evangelical, Black Protestant, and Catholic), we can see here that most affiliates in their traditions don’t agree with them. Notably, even if we look only at the “church-going” crowd (a shorthand way to describe anyone who attends church at least twice a month or more), there are no differences in the overall pattern.

What do we make of this incongruity? While none of the three religious leaders I mentioned are expert theologians, they aren’t uneducated or non-practicing representatives of their faith traditions either. Why is there such limited Christian opposition for capital punishment when various Christian leaders have voiced it?


A CLEAR LINK: “Sold for Sex: The Link between Street Gangs and Human Trafficking.”

The facts from hundreds of criminal cases show a clear link between dangerous street gangs and the scourge of human trafficking. Over the last decade, the United States has passed numerous laws to address criminal gang activity. Similarly, in 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to curtail trafficking in persons. But the enforcement of each law has developed independently of the others, with little, if any, integration. This is unfortunate and represents a missed opportunity not only to save the victims of a terrible crime, but also to add another prosecution weapon against the dangerous street gangs that endanger our communities and our nation.


IF HE’S SO EASY TO REFUTE, WHY NOTE DEBATE HIM? “Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig.” In this essay, Richard Dawkins explains why he won’t debate William Lane Craig. He argues that it’s easy to refute WLC, all one has to do is quote him. If that’s the case, why not demonstrate how easy it is to refute WLC by quoting him…at a live debate?


NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Holy Unhealthy Eating: How to Stop Churches from Sending People to Heaven Early.”


FROM BRIAN MCLAREN, NATCH: “Why I’m Joining the Occupation.”


QUESTIONS NO ONE’S ASKING (BUT LAWYERS): “Is the Declaration of Independence Legal?”


CHURCH, TAX, LAW: “The Value of Tax-Exempt Status.”



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