The Common Good

God's Politics Blog

Finding Cracks in the Walls of Ecclesiological Separation

JERUSALEM — One out of four Christians today is Pentecostal or charismatic, which means one of every 12 persons living today practices a Pentecostal form of Christian faith. This, along with the astonishing growth of Christianity in Africa, are the two dominant narratives shaping world Christianity today. Further, the gulf between the older, historic churches, located largely in the global North, and the younger, emerging churches in the global South, often fueled by Pentecostal fire, constitutes the most serious division in the worldwide Body of Christ today.

One can also frame this as the divide between the global Pentecostal community, and the worldwide ecumenical movement. Each lives in virtual isolation from the other, and both suffer as a result. I call it ecclesiological apartheid, with its own endless, winding walls of separation. And these walls need to come down, for the sake of God’s love for the world.

It’s become my passion, in whatever small ways, to make some cracks in these walls.

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Franklin Graham’s Facebook Prayers Target Supreme Court Justices on Gay Marriage

Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse charity, describes Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the subject of his latest post, as the daughter of immigrants who made good on the American dream.

“Unfortunately,” the post continues, “she is also an example of someone who seems to be very misguided on the issue of same-sex marriage. She voted to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2014, and homosexual advocates consider her an ally in their fight to make same-sex marriage the law of the land.”

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Ireland’s Gay Marriage Referendum a Sign of Roman Catholic Decline

“In Ireland,” says a character in a 1904 George Bernard Shaw play, “the people is the Church, and the Church is the people.”

But not so much anymore.

On May 22, voters in this once deeply Roman Catholic country will decide whether the country’s constitution should be amended to allow for gay marriage. If the amendment passes, Ireland will become the first country to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote.

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But What About Intersex? 'Sex Difference in Christian Theology' Questions Churches' Views

Some children are born without being clearly one sex or another, usually in the case of having ambiguous genitals. Even as puberty progresses, a few medical conditions can arise that make it impossible to label a child a boy or a girl. These children, usually referred to as intersex, have faced shame and alienation from society and sometimes even painful and invasive surgeries to “correct” the way they were born. Sadly, this trauma is often inflicted by Christian communities.

Megan DeFranza’s Sex Difference in Christian Theology challenges that treatment. Written primarily for Christians with more conservative views on sexuality, the book shows how the demographically small but pastorally significant question of intersex people points to larger problems within a Western conservative theological anthropology. If we understand the Trinity to be reflected in our sexual or marital relations, we end up with some seriously problematic theological and pastoral implications for our broader treatment of gender and sex.

DeFranza’s key pastoral goal is to enable conservative Christians to hear the voices of intersex people and to understand their concerns over non-consensual surgeries and exclusion from the life of the church.

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YouTube Didn’t Have to Yank Anti-Muslim Film, Court Says

An appeals court has overturned a controversial ruling that required YouTube to take down a video that disparaged Muslims.

One of the actresses in the film sued to take it down and won, but an appeals court ruled May 18 that she didn’t have the right to control the film’s distribution.

When it was released in 2012, the short film, titled Innocence of Muslims, sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to the actors.

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One Year After Meriam Ibrahim’s Release, Two Christians Face Possible Death Penalty in Sudan

The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.

The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.

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Who Are the Rohingyas and Why Are They Fleeing Myanmar?

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims live in squalor in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State. That number has been falling fast as thousands flee by land and sea in search of better lives and basic survival. Here’s a look at who the Rohingyas are and why they’re leaving Myanmar in droves.

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John M. Templeton Jr., Philanthropist Devoted to Science and Religion, Dies at 75

John M. Templeton, Jr., a pediatric surgeon who left medicine behind to carry on his father’s passion for pursuing “new spiritual information” through the sciences as president and chairman of the Templeton Foundation, has died. He was 75.

Known as “Jack,” the younger Templeton retired as director of the trauma program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 1995 to take the foundation reins and became chairman after his father’s death in 2008.

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Calling on Thomas Merton for Racial Justice and Healing

If the influential Catholic writer Thomas Merton were alive today, he would likely have strong words about police brutality and racial profiling.

Back in 1963, Merton called the civil rights movement “the most providential hour, the kairos not merely of the Negro, but of the white man.”

His words echoed May 16 among black pastors at a conference, titled Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton, hosted by Louisville’s Center for Interfaith Relations. The event marked the 100th anniversary of Merton’s birth.

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Los Angeles Backs Plan to Raise Minimum Wage to $15

The plan would raise minimum wage by $6 — from $9 an hour to $15 — by 2020 for some 800,000 workers.
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