Mere Links 03.20.14
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 10:00 AM

We Are Not Just Our DNA: The Ethical Dangers of Three-Parent Embryos
Maureen L. Condic, Public Discourse

The creation of three-parent embryos is not an innocuous medical treatment—it is a macabre form of eugenic human cloning.

Osteenification and What it Portends
Hank Hanegraaff, Patheos

Why Osteenification? Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table.

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Here are nine things you should know about the notorious religious leader and his organization.

Megachurch Going
Jeremy Lott, The American Spectator

Many churches took to calling themselves “nondenominational” in the hope of reaching a larger potential group of people. This used to prompt the learned joke, “What kind of nondenominational church are you?” But it seemed to me that the religious landscape has shifted enough in America that many churchgoers may not even know they’re Protestants anymore. And: The rise of growth-focused megachurches may be fueling this trend.

Mere Links 03.19.14
Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 10:00 AM

Is God a Pluralist?
Derek Rishmawy, The Gospel Coalition

Is God indifferent to religion? Does he care how he’s worshiped? In other words, is God a pluralist?

Obsessed with Sex?
Peter Leithart, Trinity House

Christians are often accused of being obsessed with sexual sin. Why can’t two people, of whatever sex, do whatever they please in the enclosure of their own room?

Uniform Rule May Keep Religious Americans From Military Service

People who observe religions that require specific hair or dress traditions have to seek an accommodation from a superior to break the Defense Department’s uniform requirements.

What Do Protestants Think of Pope Francis?
Barna Group

It’s widely accepted that Catholics love the Holy Father, but what about people of other traditions? Some have called Francis a pope for Protestants or for Millennials, but what do these groups actually think of him? And if his influence is so far-reaching, what has been the impact of the so-called “Pope Effect,” one year into his papacy?

Mere Links 03.18.14
Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 10:00 AM

Lady Edith and Abortion Rights
Michael Stokes Paulsen, Public Discourse

For many women, the social, practical, and personal reasons for having an abortion simply trump the life of their child.

Iran’s Oppressed Christians
Liana Aghajanian, New York Times

“When you’re Christian in Iran, you can’t speak. You have to keep quiet and not talk about the truth that you know and that you believe in,” he told me. “There is no such thing as a comfortable life in Iran.”

Christians beheaded by extremists in Somalia
Baptist Press

Islamic extremists from the rebel Al Shabaab militia last week publicly beheaded a mother of two girls and her cousin in southeastern Somalia after discovering they were Christians, Morning Star News reported from sources inside the country.

How to Reach the Hip, Urban, and Socially Liberal
Mark Tooley, First Things

I conjecture that even young social liberals desiring to worship prefer churches with spiritual vitality that profess a transcendent message challenging their own worldly preferences. In other words, these young people aren’t that much different from other spiritual seekers almost everywhere who, consciously or not, cleave to a faith that demands rather than accommodates.

Mere Links 03.17.14
Monday, March 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

Quality Education is Not Rocket Science
Anthony Esolen, The Imaginative Conservative

What I’m trying to say here is simple enough. My advice to all of you who are building anew: Do not be played for chumps! This is not quantum physics. Children learn naturally, and if they are treated well, they will learn most things with ease.

Pope Francis on Knowledge, Faith, and Demons
James V. Schall, S.J., Catholic World Report

“The demons know very well what the Creed says, and they know it is the truth.”

The Science of Older and Wiser
Phyllis Korkki, New York Times

Since ancient times, the elusive concept of wisdom has figured prominently in philosophical and religious texts. The question remains compelling: What is wisdom, and how does it play out in individual lives?

Nigeria: Attacks on Christians Kill at Least 100
Associated Press

Officials say Fulani Muslim herders attacked three Christian villages and killed more than 100 civilians. Hundreds of thatched-roof huts were set ablaze.

Mere Links 03.14.14
Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Nine things you should know about those who coerce women and children into prostitution.

Time to Accommodate the Divorce Revolution?
W. Bradford Wilcox, First Things

There is another reason the Pope and his Church should not simply accommodate this wave: It has taken a devastating toll on the “least of these”—especially children and the poor.

Worldwide, Many See Belief in God as Essential to Morality
Pew Research

Many people around the world think it is necessary to believe in God to be a moral person, according to surveys in 40 countries by the Pew Research Center. However, this view is more common in poorer countries than in wealthier ones.

Underlying Hobby Lobby
Philip Hamburger, National Review

Can government treat specialized organizations as having diminished constitutional rights outside their fields of specialization? Can it conclude, for example, that because Hobby Lobby is a business corporation, it has diminished interests in religion, and therefore in religious liberty?

Mere Links 03.13.14
Thursday, March 13, 2014, 10:00 AM

God and Sexuality at Bowdoin
Owen Strachan, The American Spectator

Is Bowdoin Christian Fellowship really discriminating against others by selecting its own leaders, students who adhere to the historic Christian belief that homosexuality is sinful? The answer is plain: it most certainly is not.

Russell Moore on “Convictional Kindness” and Transgenderism
Alexander Griswold, Juicy Ecumenism

Dr. Moore stressed that faithful Christians most be more compassionate and hospitable to transgendered individuals, and make it clear that they were not ‘a freak’.

Can Megachurches Deal With Mega Money in a Christian Way?
Ruth Graham, The Atlantic

Mars Hill Church spent $210,000 getting its pastor’s book to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Where is the line between a pastor promoting his own career and promoting the ministry of his church?

The Scandinavian Sceptic (or why atheism is a belief system)
Andy Bannister, BeThinking

“I don’t believe that Sweden exists,” my friend suddenly declared from across the coffee shop table. He took a sip of espresso and stared intently at me, clearly awaiting a response. I paused, my cinnamon roll halfway to my mouth, as I digested what he’d just said.

Mere Links 03.12.14
Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 10:00 AM

Whatever happened to the word “sin”?
Philip Yancey, OnFaith

Although almost every sermon in my childhood church centered on sin, the word has vanished in the years since.

Where Did All These Calvinists Come From? A Visual History
Tim Challies,

I don’t think anyone could have predicted that in the twenty-first century the old doctrine of Calvinism would suddenly experience a great resurgence. Yet this is exactly what has happened.

In Defense of Book Banning
Mark Hemingway, The Federalist

Do you know what your child is reading? It’s probably awful.

Gender, Discrimination, and Marriage
Kelly Bartlett, Public Discourse

In the name of equality, same-sex marriage seeks to codify gender discrimination. But marriage welcomes everyone: husband and wife, father and mother, grandfather and grandmother.

Mere Links 03.11.14
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 10:00 AM

Orthodox patriarchs urge peace in Ukraine, plan first council in 1,200 years
Tom Heneghan, Reuters

Patriarchs of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians ended a rare summit in Istanbul on Sunday calling for a peaceful end to the crisis in Ukraine and denouncing violence driving Christians out of the Middle East.

Confusions About Totipotency: Stem Cells Are Not Embryos
Maureen L. Condic, Public Discourse

The ability to both produce all cell types and to organize them into a coherent body plan is the defining feature of a human organism. All stem cells lack essential elements supplied by the egg cell and cannot develop into a fetus.

On God as a MacGuffin
James Banks, Humane Pursuits

Religion, as many seminarians and clergy today probably think of it, is merely a catalyst to give moral weight to the cause for social justice. But the social justice party are not the only ones who sometimes make God into a MacGuffin. For a lot of new ministers, it might not be so much about changing the world as surviving in it.

‘Son Of God’ Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy
Joel Gehrke, The Federalist

The film gives oxygen to a claim early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false.

Mere Links 03.08.14
Monday, March 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

John Wesley and Religious Freedom
Mark Tooley, First Things

Once universal assumptions about religious liberty in America are fraying. As Evangelical author Eric Metaxas recently told the National Religious Broadcasters, “Americans are so spoiled, we’ve had so much religious freedom, we don’t know what it is to miss it,” adding, “We take holy gifts for granted.”

Must Catholics Favor Socialized Medicine?
Samuel Gregg, Crisis Magazine

Among the many debates triggered throughout America by Obamacare, one concerns whether access to healthcare may be described as a “right.” Assuming such a right exists, a related issue is what this means for public policy.

Vatican spokesman clarifies pope on civil unions
Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., the English language assistant to Holy See Press Office, sent out an email clarifying what the pope said about “civil unions” in his interview in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Some Historical Roots of African American Big God Theology
John Piper, Desiring God

Year after year our awareness of the historical evidence increases that “Big God Theology” is indigenous to African American leadership from the beginnings of the Christian conversion of Blacks on this continent.

Mere Links 03.07.14
Friday, March 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

What’s at Stake at the Bakery: How Property Rights Got Sexy
Adam J. MacLeod, Public Discourse

State lawmakers should make it clear that religious and moral reasons are rational and legitimate, and that property owners may act or refrain from action in obedience to conscience.

What Is Conscience?
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Over the past few years, the term conscience has been increasingly referenced in debates occurring both in our churches (e.g., appeals to conscience on moral issues) and the public square (e.g., defending the right of conscience). We hear a lot about conscience, but what exactly does it mean?

Some Good News on Abortion Rates
Richard M. Doerflinger, Crisis Magazine

On an issue associated with tragedy and mourning, there was good news recently. A new study finds that in 2011, the US abortion rate—the number of abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age—reached its lowest point since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973. Abortions dropped to just over a million a year, from a high of 1.6 million in 1990.

Francis Has Changed American Catholics’ Attitudes, but Not Their Behavior, a Poll Finds
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times

Nearly six in 10 American Catholics in the poll said they expected the church would definitely or probably lift its prohibition on birth control by the year 2050, while half said the church would allow priests to marry.

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