Faith

What Do Our Beliefs Say About Us?

Victor Tongdee/Shutterstock.com
Victor Tongdee/Shutterstock.com

Like many people, I was troubled when I heard about the recent shooting outside of a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas. According to several news accounts, the perpetrator — Frazier Glenn Cross — yelled, “Heil Hitler” at onlookers as he was being carried away in a police car. Cross also has a long history of anti-Semitic behavior and has publically declared a hatred of all Jews.

In addition to being troubled by this act of hatred and violence, I was also troubled by the quick response of CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor, Daniel Burke, who made it a point to emphasize that Frazier was not a Christian but rather allegedly an adherent of Odinism, a “neo-pagan” religion which, according to Burke, “has emerged as one the most vicious strains in the white supremacist movement.”

While the annals of Christian history — ancient and modern — are full of accounts of violence perpetrated in the name of Christianity, my objective here is neither to defend Odinism nor to criticize Christianity. Instead, I want to highlight the socially constructed nature of beliefs and beliefs systems and emphasize how these socially constructed beliefs say far more about us than they do about the “gods” we claim to accept or reject.

Imam Omar Kobine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga and The Rev. Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou

As violence ravages Central African Republic, three men are working tirelessly for peace to hold their country together. Imam Omar Kobine Layama, president of the Central African Islamic Community; Dieudonné Nzapalainga, the Archbishop of Bangui; and Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance of the Central African Republic, are religious leaders who actually do what their faith tells them to do. Sharing a meal with these three showed me again what can happen when faith leaders walk their talk. Their witness has come with significant personal costs. For example, Imam Layama and his family have lived with the Archbishop since December when it became too dangerous in Bangui to stay in the imam’s house. Because of their efforts the world is taking notice of the conflict. The imam eloquently stated an important truth: “Politics try to divide the religious in our country, but religion shouldn’t be a cause of hate, war or strife.”

The Religious Left Is Struggling. Can The Cause Of Economic Justice Help It Rise Again?

The report, by the institute’s Governance Studies Program, is based on polling and interviews with many of the top players of Washington’s religious left. This includes John Carr, formerly of the U.S. Bishops Conference, evangelical writer Jim Wallis and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform Jewish movement.

That Pesky Word 'Evangelical'

Tomorrow I will attend my first board meeting for Sojourners. This new role reflects my own ongoing commitment to evangelical Christianity, 24 years after I joined the staff of Evangelicals for Social Action and first encountered the evangelical world outside of the Baptist South. Both ESA and Sojourners actually predated, and opposed, the Christian Right. Both have always offered a “peace-and-justice” type evangelicalism, and both were among the first evangelical organizations to embrace moral agendas such as peacemaking, urban poverty, gender equality, racial justice and creation care, rooted in a passionate love of Christ and love for those Christ loved. Both embody what I find a compelling Christian vision.

SCHEDULE: Catch Easter Weekend Specials On Fox News Channel

In a special hour, Bill O'Reilly examines some of the key religious issues in America. Filled with enlightening interviews, you'll hear from Raymond Arroyo and Jim Wallis, Robert Jeffress, Charles Krauthammer, John Stossel, Mark Burnett and Kevin Sorbo. "The O'Reilly Factor: What We Believe" will air Friday at 8/11p ET and Sunday at 9p ET.

Can You Question the Resurrection and Still Be a Christian?

“The Resurrection of Christ,” painted by Noel Coypel in 1700. Photo courtesy of Noel Coypel, via Wikimedia Commons.

“On the third day, he rose again.”

That line, from the Nicene Creed, is the foundational statement of Christian belief. It declares that three days after Jesus died on the cross, he was resurrected, a glimmer of the eternal life promised to believers. It’s the heart of the Easter story in seven little words.

But how that statement is interpreted is the source of some of the deepest rifts in Christianity — and a stumbling block for some Christians and more than a few skeptics.

Did Jesus literally rise from the dead in a bodily resurrection, as many traditionalist and conservative Christians believe? Or was his rising a symbolic one, a restoration of his spirit of love and compassion to the world, as members of some more liberal brands of Christianity hold?

Louisiana Legislature Should Read The Bible Before Elevating It

The Bible Society's media packet also includes a testimony from Jim Wallis, the founder and president of Sojourners Magazine. Wallis lectured at Dillard University in October, and the Bible Society quotes him telling the same story he told Dillard: "When we were seminarians ... we cut out of an old Bible every single reference to the poor, to poverty, to justice. ... We were left with a Bible full of holes," he said, "which literally was falling apart in our hands. I used to take it out with me to preach, saying 'This is the American Bible, full of holes...' " A Bible full of holes. That's the Louisiana Legislature's Bible, too.

Brian D. McLaren To Present At Canisius College

McLaren is an author, speaker, activist and networker among innovative Christian leaders. He has written more than a dozen books including “A New Kind of Christianity,” “A Generous Orthodoxy,” “Naked Spirituality” and “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?” McLaren has contributed articles, columns and interviews to many periodicals, including “Leadership,” “Sojourners,” “Worship Leader” and “Conversations.” He has been profiled in “Christian Century,” “Christianity Today” and “The Washington Post,” among others. “Time” listed him among 25 most influential Christian leaders in America.

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