They May Be One: Evangelicals and Catholics in Dialogue

The Cultural Crisis and the Plea of Jesus Sometime in 1983 I began working with the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Chicago. A few times I participated in sidewalk protests in front of abortion clinics. I soon realized that many of those I stood with on the sidewalks were Roman Catholics! I even had the opportunity to speak before a group of Catholics once. As I soon learned, Catholics had been fighting abortion for some time before such people as Francis Schaeffer made evangelical Protestants aware of the situation. Roman Catholicism was a bit of a mystery to me then. There weren’t many Catholics in southeast Virginia where I grew up. All I knew was that they had a Pope and they prayed to Mary and they sometimes had little statues in their front yards. The lines were pretty clearly drawn between them and us. Now I was being forced to think about these people and their beliefs, for here we were standing side by side ministering together in the name of Jesus. Cultural/Moral Decline At the grassroots level, Christians of varying stripes have found themselves working to stem the tide of immorality together with those they never thought they’d be working with. In the 1980s, abortion was perhaps the most visible example of a gulf that was widening in America.

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Media and Discernment

Media Exposure We live in the midst of a media storm. Every day we are confronted by more media messages than a previous generation could even imagine. For example, more homes have TV sets (98 percent) than have indoor plumbing. In the average home the television set is on for more than six hours a day. Children spend more time watching television than in any other activity except sleep.{1} Nearly half of elementary school children and 60 percent of adolescents have television sets in their bedrooms.{2} But that is just the beginning of the media exposure we encounter. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that the average teenager listens to 10,500 hours of music during their teen years.{3} Families are watching more movies than every before since they can now watch them on cable and satellite and rent or buy movies in video and DVD format. The amount of media exposure continues to increase every year. Recent studies of media usage reveal that people spend more than double the time with media than they think they do. This amounts to nearly twelve hours a day total. And because of media multitasking, summing all media use by medium results in a staggering fifteen hours per day.{4} Student use of the Internet has been increasing to all-time levels. A study

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Homosexual Theology

The Sin of Sodom–Genesis 19 Does the Bible condemn homosexuality? For centuries the answer to that question seemed obvious, but in the last few decades pro-homosexual commentators have tried to reinterpret the relevant biblical passages. In this discussion we will take a look at their exegesis. The first reference to homosexuality in the Bible is found in Genesis 19. In this passage, Lot entertains two angels who come to the city to investigate its sins. Before they go to bed, all the men (from every part of the city of Sodom) surround the house and order him to bring out the men so that “we may know them.” Historically commentators have always assumed that the Hebrew word for “know” meant that the men of the city wanted to have sex with the visitors. More recently, proponents of homosexuality argue that biblical commentators misunderstand the story of Sodom. They argue that the men of the city merely wanted to meet these visitors. Either they were anxious to extend Middle-eastern hospitality or they wanted to interrogate the men and make sure they weren’t spies. In either case, they argue, the passage has nothing to do with homosexuality. The sin of Sodom is not homosexuality, they say, but inhospitality. One of the keys to understanding this passage is the proper translation of the

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Avatar and the Longing for Eden

There are very few movies that can be considered truly groundbreaking. James Cameron’s hit movie Avatar easily ranks as one among this elite category of movie. This movie features new technology and special effects that make it a landmark fantasy film joining the elite group of movies which include 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. Avatar was one of the most expensive movies ever made, but it is also one of the most profitable as it has generated over one billion dollars in ticket sales both domestically and worldwide. What accounts for the tremendous popularity of this movie? The cutting-edge technology combined with a storyline of a strong environmental message stirred the hearts of people throughout the world. I believe the movie also awakened a deep longing in all of us for Eden. In Avatar we are projected into the 22nd century alien world of Pandora. Pandora is a spectacular tropical paradise inhabited by the ten-foot-tall, blue-skinned Na’vi. Through innovative 3-D technology, we are enveloped in this stunning paradise with vivid detail never before encountered in cinema. CNN news reported that after the movie, numerous fans experienced depression, and even suicidal thoughts, as they reflected on the present condition of the environment and longed for the paradise of Pandora. Several websites included hundreds of entries

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Seeing Through News Media Bias: Exposing Deception and Proclaiming Truth in an Age of Misinformation

Biblical Perspective on Truth We live in an age when many of us feel as if we are swimming in a sea of information. From broadcast media to cell phones to ubiquitous internet access, we are assailed with more information than we can possibly assimilate. Just on the internet alone we are asked to deal with social networking, blogs, news feeds, forwarded emails, spam, not to mention our compulsion to Google any topic that crosses our mind. Most of the information we encounter is intended to impact our view of truth; what we think about politics, economics, relationships, needs, and wants. Its purpose is to reshape your current view of reality into a different view that someone else is promoting. This reshaping may be good or bad depending upon the validity and implications of the revised view. One response to this deluge of information is to despair of ever discerning truth. After all, what standard can I use to compare competing truth claims? If one medical doctor promotes eating fish daily and another doctor says it is dangerous due to high mercury levels, how can I discern the truth? I may be tempted to retreat into a postmodern perspective, creating my own personal, relative truth that works for me while affirming that others may need to create a different truth

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Countdown 2012

Introduction It is not uncommon to hear doomsday prophets predict the end of the world. However, in recent days the year 2012 is receiving a lot of attention. In 2011 Hollywood produced the movie 2012. The movie predicted that on December 21, 2012, the sun and earth would line up with the black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. As a result our poles would reverse, causing catastrophic natural disasters that would destroy human civilization. Why is the date 12/21/12 generating so much interest? Mark Hitchcock received his Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary and is a scholar on end times theology. He has written several best-selling books on the topic, including a book titled, 2012: The Bible and the End of the World. In a recent interview with Mark, I asked him why there is such an interest in 2012. The content for this article comes from my interview and his book on this topic. Belief in an end-times apocalypse exists in numerous cultures and religions. Many believe history is moving towards a climatic day of judgment. Some believe there will be a destructive end to mankind while others believe a golden age will result; still others believe the earth will go through a continued destruction and rebirth cycle. The date of December 21, 2012 is the

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Arguments Against Abortion

Biblical Arguments Against Abortion In this essay we will be discussing arguments against abortion. The first set of arguments we will consider are biblical arguments. That being said, we must begin by acknowledging that the Bible doesn’t say anything about abortion directly. Why the silence of the Bible on abortion? The answer is simple. Abortion was so unthinkable to an Israelite woman that there was no need to even mention it in the criminal code. Why was abortion an unthinkable act? First, children were viewed as a gift or heritage from the Lord. Second, the Scriptures state–and the Jews concurred–that God opens and closes the womb and is sovereign over conception. Third, childlessness was seen as a curse. One of the key verses to understand in developing a biblical view of the sanctity of human life is Psalm 139. This psalm is the inspired record of David’s praise for God’s sovereignty in his life. He begins by acknowledging that God is omniscient and knows what David is doing at any given point in time. He goes on to acknowledge that God is aware of David’s thoughts before he expresses them. David adds that wherever he might go, he cannot escape from God, whether he travels to heaven or ventures into Sheol. God is in the remotest part of the sea

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The Worldview of Star Wars

George Lucas The Star Wars series has come to a climatic finale. Many of us can remember in 1977, standing in long lines at theaters that went for several blocks. It was not uncommon to hear of individuals who returned to see the movie, some over a dozen times. Few movies have generated the excitement and following as this series. Through its production, special effects, and cinematography, Star Wars made a tremendous impact on the arts setting a new standard for the movie industry. Not only did Star Wars make an impact in the entertainment industry, it also opened our eyes to the worldview of pantheism. Pantheism comes from the Greek word “Pan” meaning all and “theism” meaning God. It is the belief that the impersonal God is one essence with the universe. God inhabits all things. The universe is God and God is the universe. In other words God is not separate from the universe but is contained within it. This worldview lies at the foundation of most Hindu, Buddhist, and New Age religions. This worldview was gaining popularity as eastern ideas entered the West in the sixties gaining public attention through celebrities such as The Beatles and Shirley McClain who embraced the teachings of the Eastern religions. Star Wars followed and its incredible success stirred interest in the

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The Stairway to Heaven: Materialism and the Church

Introduction One of the most popular rock songs of the seventies begins with the lyrics, “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.” The words, written by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones of the group Led Zeppelin, reflects the fashionable message of antimaterialism that pervaded much of rock music in the late sixties and seventies. The notion of dropping out of the rat race and rejecting the corporate mentality of one’s parents formed the foundation of many a rock musician’s career. Today, one often hears people refer to the entire decade of the eighties as the “me decade” as if during that period of time Americans were somehow more self- centered and money hungry than during any that came before it. One popular newspaper framed the mindset with a poem: Now I lay me down to sleep I pray my Cuisinart to keep I pray my stocks are on the rise And that my analyst is wise That all the wine I sip is white And that my hot tub is watertight That racquetball won’t get too tough That all my sushi’s fresh enough I pray my cordless phone still works That my career won’t lose its perks My microwave won’t radiate My condo won’t depreciate I pray

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Islam Day in Hawaii

5/20/2009 On May 6, 2009, the Hawaii State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill by a 22-3 vote to recognize September 24th, 2009 as Islam Day. The reason for this bill was to recognize “the rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions that Islam and the Islamic world have made. It does not call for any spending or organized celebration of Islam Day.”1 Democrat Senator Will Espero presented his reason for this bill stating, “We are a state of tolerance. We understand that people have different beliefs. We may not all agree on every single item and issue out there, but to say and highlight the negativity of the Islamic people is an insult to the majority of believers who are good law-abiding citizens of the world.”2 Two Republican senators opposed the bill stating their reasons. Republican Senator Fred Hemmings said, “I recall radical Islamists around the world cheering the horrors of 9/11. That is the day all civilized people of all religions should remember.”3 Republican Senator Sam Slom stated, “I don’t think there’s any country in the history of the world that has been more tolerant than the United States of America, and because of that tolerance, we’ve looked the other way a lot of times, and many thousands of our citizens have been killed by terrorists.”4 How should we

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