The World Wide (Religious) Web for Friday, November 18, 2011

WITHOUT BLOOD, THEY’RE COLD TO THE TOUCH: “You Can’t Marry a Hot Vampire.”

And therein lies the true mythology of Twilight. It has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves or Dakota Fanning, and everything to do with Hollywood’s distorted view of love. Its “fantasy” is a world where intimacy develops overnight, where men are rugged yet vulnerable, and where romance and adventure color every day. It’s porno for pre-teens and, pornography, whether erotic or emotional, has consequences that continue long after the movie ends.


THE SPIRIT OUR TEACHER: “The Confidence of the Evangelical.”

Prompted by the relatively recent conversion of prominent evangelicals to Catholicism—he names Frank Beckwith and Christian Smith—Mark Galli offers some thoughts on “Why the Spirit, not the magisterium, will lead us into all truth.”

Today we are wrestling over homosexuality, the nature of the atonement, the prosperity gospel, the place of women in church leadership, the historicity of Adam, and new perspectives on this, that, and the other thing. We live in interesting times, to say the least. But no more or less interesting than many other moments in church history—when so much is on the line, when the future health of the church seems to hang in the balance, when there is so much to be said and so few who seem to be listening to us!

This is the church the Holy Spirit birthed at Pentecost, and this is the church in which the Holy Spirit raises up all manner of people to say one thing or another we all need to hear. One way we adjudicate these issues is by listening to one another today. Just as important is to listen to the church historic, our great tradition of creeds and confessions and great theologians of the past. And yes, more than anything, we continue to mine the Scriptures to discover the truth the Holy Spirit is leading us into, which is always an old truth we’ve not been able to hear until today.

When we’re in the middle of one of these intractable issues, the church will seem like it is going to collapse under the weight of confusion and disagreement. But it hasn’t so far, and we’re assured it never will. The common critique of evangelicalism is that “the center will not hold.” Bah. Humbug. Of course the center will hold, because at the center is not a doctrine, nor some human authority figure, nor a complete and inerrant statement of faith. There is only the Center, Jesus Christ. We don’t need a magisterium. We already have a Lord, who told us that not even the gates of Hades (whose landlord loves to sows confusion in the church!) will prevail against the church.

In short, we don’t need premature closure as much as we need persevering confidence that the Spirit will lead us into all the truth we need, when we need it.


EVEN THE BUILDINGS ARE BECOMING CATHOLIC! “Crystal Cathedral to be sold to Roman Catholic Church.”

Southern California’s famed but troubled Crystal Cathedral will be sold to the Roman Catholic Church, in a deal a bankruptcy judge approved Thursday.

The Protestant church, which helped spark the megachurch movement in the United States after opening in 1970, declared bankruptcy last year following years of infighting among the family of church founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller and church leaders.


HOW MANY OF THEM ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN? “How Many Presidents Have Been Accused of Being the Antichrist?”

Suspected White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez was obsessed with President Barack Obama, according to investigators, and reportedly thought Obama was the Antichrist. In September, heckler David Serrano called Obama “the Antichrist” at a fundraiser. Have other U.S. presidents been suspected of being the Antichrist?

Yes. Perhaps the first U.S. president suspected of being the Antichrist was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s extraordinary influence and desire to form a worldwide United Nations raised the suspicions of many conservative Christians. When President Roosevelt began to engage in diplomacy with the Soviet Union, prominent evangelist and politician Gerald Burton Winrod suggested that Roosevelt was at the very least under the influence of the Antichrist, and carrying out his plans. During John F. Kennedy’s candidacy for president, Protestant leaders compared electing Kennedy, a Catholic, to electing the Antichrist. In 1990 a man named Gregory Stuart Gordon invaded the house of former president Ronald Reagan, telling Secret Service agents “Ronald Reagan is the Antichrist. He must be killed and I must kill him.” While Gordon’s attorney claimed that Gordon was only trying to attract attention in hopes of gaining treatment for a drug problem, courts judged that his threat was serious and sentenced him to a two-year prison term.


BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT WELCOME ANYWHERE ELSE? “A Church Sanctuary for the Occupy Movement.”

It’s time both to embrace and engage this hopeful movement of young people who are articulating the underlying but often unexpressed feelings of a nation which, by a three-quarters majority, believes, with the protesters, that the economic structure of the country has become unfair and skewed to benefit the most wealthy.

These are Gospel issues, and are therefore the business of the churches.



A candidate’s religious faith may ground a sustaining core of values, but it may also conflict with meaningful discussion of policy or conflict with the nation’s best interest.  Only after we have determined that both these conflicts are unlikely should we follow Sullivan’s “decisions, not deity” rule.


YES, ALTHOUGH A BAD ONE: “Is Jerry Sandusky a Christian?”

At the center of the scandal at Penn State University is the football team’s former defensive coordinator, who is facing 40 criminal charges in connection to the alleged sexual abuse of underage boys. But lesser known is the fact that Sandusky is also a regular churchgoer, and even has a Bible verse posted on his home’s garage door. So, is Jerry Sandusky a Christian, or not?


DOES “BETTER FUTURE” INVOLVE CHASTITY? “Toward a Better Future for Gays at Evangelical Seminaries.”

Although this story is all too real, my experience suggests that stories like these are growing less common. Because of the courage of those two friends of mine, students from that seminary have come to Chicago to intern with the Marin Foundation. They’re learning what it means to live as evangelicals and engage this topic in new ways, ways that could bring hope for a better future relationship between evangelicals and LGBT students.

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