The World Wide Religious Web for Thursday, January 12, 2012

PERSECUTED IRANIAN CHRISTIANS: Wood personally requests release of Iranian pastors, church members.

After paying respect to the country of Iran through recognizing its prominent reference in the Bible, Wood states his letter is born out of concern for followers of Jesus who are being detained for reasons that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Iran has signed. He then requests the release of Rev. Farhad Sabok Rouh; his wife, Shahnaz Jizani; and two other members of the Assembly of God in Ahvaz, Iran, who were arrested on December 23, 2011. Wood follows this request by asking for the release of Rev. Youcef Nardarkhani, who has been held since October 2009 and faces execution.

RELATED: With the Help of God They Dare… by yours truly.

HAITI, TWO YEARS LATER: God and Suffering: Remembering the Haitian Earthquake of January 2010. And you can do something to feed Haitian children by donating to Convoy of Hope.

UNANIMOUS DECISION: Church Wins Firing Case at Supreme Court.

“This is a huge win for religious liberty,” said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia Law School professor who represented the church at the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in October. “The Court has unanimously confirmed the right of churches to select their own ministers and religious leaders. It has unanimously held that the courts cannot inquire into whether the church had religious reasons for its decisions concerning a minister. The longstanding unanimity in the lower courts has now been confirmed by unanimity in the Supreme Court.”

See also What Comes After Hosanna-Tabor, The Administration’s Embarrassment.

IN OTHER RELIGIOUS FREEDOM NEWS: Court Deems Sharia Law Ban “Unconstitutional.”

This fight over the Oklahoma Sharia law ban isn’t over by a long shot, but this decision definitely highlights its futility. If Sharia opponents can’t name a single instance of Islamic law being used in the state courts, what exactly is the point of banning it — beyond vague and unsubstantiated fears?

THE SCANDAL OF THE EVANGELICAL MIND? Service Is Not Scandal: Responding to Mark Noll.

Instead of taking a tradition-building approach to intellectual life, I hope we evangelical scholars celebrate and deepen our current practices: teaching undergraduates, popularizing academic insights, working directly to change the world through service and applied research, and offering institutional and personal support to the small number of evangelical scholars who excel at theoretical and basic research. And along with all this, we should continue to worship and serve through our churches, provide hands-on care to our loved ones, and do good works in the world. From the vantage point of the modern academic prestige structure, this may not look like an exemplary life of the mind, but it may be one way to enjoy “the life that truly is life” (1 Tim. 6:19). In a time in which work tends to overtake life, an approach that both relishes the intellect and keeps it in its place is a pearl of great price, and we should display it readily even in settings where it is not recognized as such.

PENTECOSTALS & THE NATURALISM BIAS: Counting Christian Noses. (By the way, what’s up with the photo of snake handlers? These people aren’t representative of Pentecostals.)

Behind all the numbers collected so assiduously by Lugo, Johnson et al. looms a vast challenge to the taken-for-granted naturalism in Europe and North America: The majority of global Christians (and, needless to say, the majority of all religious people in the world) question this naturalism, and behave accordingly. Will this challenge diminish with greater affluence and higher education?  Possibly.  Thus far it doesn’t look like it. Thus it would seem that an important dialogue is still outstanding.

PROBABLY NOT, BUT IT’S STILL BAD: Presidential Politics at Its Worst?

Just because American politics has always been uncivil and negative does not mean that we have to like it. Toxic political discourse and personal attacks might help candidates win elections, but it will not solve the multitude of problems that we face as a nation.

I am growing increasingly skeptical about whether a Christian can win a national election without compromising his or her faith. Humility, charity, and a commitment to the common good will not get anyone elected in our present political culture. Yet this is precisely what our culture needs. Unfortunately, such an approach to politics would probably come across as quite foolish to most Americans, including many Christians.

YEP: Be Missional, Not Superficially Contextual.


RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS MEETS SURPRISED BY JOY: The Case for “Sense of the Heart” Apologetics.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY 10 YEARS MAKES: Ten Years of Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage.

DON’T TELL MY MOM: Clothing Matters: What We Wear to Church.

BUMMED I DIDN’T MAKE THE LIST: Top Ten Sermons of 2011.

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