I think David Platt sums up this book and others very well in this short video:
I think David Platt sums up this book and others very well in this short video:
“I used to think that really good music grows a church. Get the hottest band and singers in town and the people will come.
I don’t think that anymore.”
Read the entire article here:
Recently, I read about a father, Paul Wallich, who built a camera-mounted drone helicopter to follow his grade-school-aged son to the bus stop. He wants to make sure his son arrives at the bus stop safe and sound. There’s no doubt the gizmo provides an awesome show-and-tell contribution. In my mind, Paul Wallich gives new meaning to the term “helicopter parent.”
While I applaud the engagement of this generation of parents and teachers, it’s important to recognize the unintended consequences of our engagement. We want the best for our students, but research now shows that our “over-protection, over-connection” style has damaged them. Let me suggest three huge mistakes we’ve made leading this generation of kids and how we must correct them.
Read the full story here: http://growingleaders.com/blog/3-mistakes-we-make-leading-kids/
After all, the song is robust with Christian themes of hope, strength and Christ’s dying on the cross. So, why would the PCUSA turn its back on it?
Here’s why: There’s one, key line in the third stanza that created a barrier — and debate: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.”
Originally, the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS), the body that oversees music for PCUSA, asked the song’s authors, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, to allow them to change the words to “as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified,” as described by Timothy George, dean ofBeeson Divinity School of Samford University, on First Things.
The songwriters’ response? No.
So, with the authors doubling down on wanting the original wording kept intact, the committee voted nine to six to axe the song from the hymnal.
Apparently, it is this invoking of “wrath” that has the liberal denomination less-than-content with the inclusion of the original lyrics. George explains:
Those who treat the wrath of God as taboo, whether in sermons or hymns, stand in a long lineage too, one that includes Albrecht Ritschl, Faustus Socinus, and the unnamed revisionists in the second century who followed the heretic Marcion. According to Tertullian, they said that “a better god has been discovered, one who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment, who has no fire warming up in hell, and no outer darkness wherein there is shuddering and gnashing of teeth: he is merely kind.” The lure of such a gospel is unmistakable—it explains why neo-Marcionism (God’s wrath in the Old Testament, his love in the New) is still flourishing today not only in popular piety but also among guilded scholars of religion.
Why do many Christians shrink from any thought of the wrath of God? R.P.C. Hanson has said that many preachers today deal with God’s wrath the way the Victorians handled sex, treating it as something a bit shameful, embarrassing, and best left in the closet. The result is a less than fully biblical construal of who God is and what he has done, especially in the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ.
Earlier this year, Dr. Mary Louise Bringle, chairwoman of PCOCS, explained the two sides of the debate in detail in an article for the Christian Century. Her perspective offers up additional explanation surrounding how both sides felt, internally, about the matter:
People making a case to retain the text with the authors’ original lines spoke of the fact that the words expressed one view of God’s saving work in Christ that has been prevalent in Christian history: the view of Anselm and Calvin, among others, that God’s honor was violated by human sin and that God’s justice could only be satisfied by the atoning death of a sinless victim. While this might not be our personal view, it was argued, it is nonetheless a view held by some members of our family of faith; the hymnal is not a vehicle for one group’s perspective but rather a collection for use by a diverse body.
Arguments on the other side pointed out that a hymnal does not simply collect diverse views, but also selects to emphasize some over others as part of its mission to form the faith of coming generations; it would do a disservice to this educational mission, the argument ran, to perpetuate by way of a new (second) text the view that the cross is primarily about God’s need to assuage God’s anger. The final vote was six in favor of inclusion and nine against, giving the requisite two-thirds majority (which we required of all our decisions) to the no votes. The song has been removed from our contents list, with deep regret over losing its otherwise poignant and powerful witness.
So the decision was made. Dr. Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College adds that “liberalism and wrath go together like oil and water.” Since these elements don’t mix, it’s not entirely surprising that the song was cut out of the hymnal, he said.
But a failure to understand or properly handle wrath, Burk argues, actually has profound theological effects. At the heart of the matter, the professor wrote that one cannot understand the central meaning of Christ’s death (penal substitution, which is the notion that Jesus was cricified, of his own will, to save humanity from its sinful nature — and that this was a necessity).
“At the end of the day, the cross itself is the stumbling block, and that is why the PCUSA cannot abide this hymn,” Burk concluded.
Photo and featured image credit: ShutterStock.com
Editor’s Note: It is important to note the difference between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in America. The former is the larger, more liberal of the two, with 2.3 million members and 11,000 congregations. PC(USA) has taken other leftist positions on issues such as gay marriage) The latter is much smaller, but is regarded as the more conservative denomination. As of 2000, it had 1,450 congregations and more than 306,000 members. There are also other denominations within the larger Presbyterian Church.
The following promo ran on Saturday evening July 27 for the CBS show 60 Minutes:
CBS – 60 Minutes Promo, July 28, 2013
“A question that has raged as long as there have been people: Are human beings inherently good? Are we born with a sense of morality? Or, do we arrive ‘blank slates’ waiting for the world to teach us right from wrong? Or, could it be worse? Do we start out nasty, selfish devils who need our parents, teachers and religions to whip us into shape? The only way to know for sure, of course, is to ask a baby.”
The Word of God clearly teaches us that we are of “our father, the Devil” and that “as by one man sin entered into the world…for all have sinned”. Notice the negative connotation in the above promo in regards to religion “whipping” sin out of the child and the odd statement that the “only way” we could know the answer is by asking a baby.
Supporters of traditional marriage often fear the free speech ramifications that could emerge as as result of increasing support for gay marriage in the United States. But are these worries really legitimate?
In an interview with CBN’s David Brody, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican, joined in this chorus, warning that the push in favor of same-sex unions could, indeed, put First Amendment protections at risk.
“If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced,” he said of hate speech regulations that are in place in other countries.
“It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage and that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech — as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government,” Cruz added.
Watch these comments, below:
Some pro-gay marriage advocates in the U.S., the senator believes, want the nation to end up with the same ramifications on the books — and in a paradigm in which individuals can be punished or denigrated for refusing to substantiate or for speaking out against same-sex unions.
Some might scoff at these insinuations, dismissing them as over-the-top, but Cruz is not necessarily manufacturing a paradigm. Consider the widely publicized case in Sweden back in 2005 surroundingAake Green, a Pentecostal pastor.
Green’s plight corroborates the worries that Cruz has surrounding America’s current trajectory. In 2003, the preacher likened homosexuality to cancer during one of his sermons. As a result, he was brought up on charges over these claims — statements that, in America, would currently be protected by the First Amendment.
The BBC has more about the case (in the end, Green won his appeal, although he was initially given 30 days in jail over his anti-gay comments):
Mr Green was convicted in June 2004 but allowed to remain free pending appeal.
He was the first clergyman convicted under Swedish laws that make incitement to hatred against racial, religious or national groups illegal – legislation that was amended in 2003 to include homosexuals.
Other incidents have unfolded, too, as the delicate balance between free speech and cutting down on hate speech has been sought.
Now, some might argue that Green’s words were too harsh, but one wonders if even simpler, kinder words that stand opposed to homosexuality would be met with similar sentiment in his country.
While it’s certainly permissible to disagree with Cruz’s assessment, the basis on which he argues is not entirely unfounded.
(H/T: CBN/The Brody File)
A great perspective on how congregational singing in general is fading away.
Article by Gordon Conner, published by ministry127.com
Revival is more than simply having a special guest preacher and a few extra nights of meetings. True revival is a work of the Holy Spirit. That is why Habakkuk prayed, “…O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years…”(Habakkuk 3:2).
Do you ever get discontent with your spiritual progress? Do you ever hunger for something more from God, or sense conviction from the Holy Spirit that things are not what they should be or could be? As long as you and I are content to keep the status quo spiritually—as long as we think we are doing fine—revival will not come.
Denial of our true condition is a major obstacle to revival. Real revival will not come until we reach the place where we cannot and will not ignore the truth of our spiritual condition. The simple fact is: if we never take time to let God speak to our hearts, and show us our need, we will never experience revival.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139:23–24
Revival is held back when God’s people refuse to get right with Him. How can the Spirit of God freely work when our hearts are pre-occupied with other things? David understood this and sought the Lord’s cleansing and restoration in Psalm 51:10–13: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
I am constantly amazed at God’s grace in my life. He truly is patient and longsuffering with me and is always, always, ready to hear my cries for mercy and forgiveness—when I repent and confess my sin to Him.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15
Did you notice? God will revive the spirit of the humble and the heart of the contrite ones. We often quote 1 John 1:9 which says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But we often forget the verse begins with the word if and that is the great pivoting point. No confession—no forgiveness and no reviving of the heart.
The importance of confession is seen in 2 Chronicles 7:14 as well: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Will revival come? Yes, I believe it will, but only to those who are of humble hearts and willing to confess and forsake their sin.
When we are confronted with our sin, the devil tries to keep us from moving toward God. He tries to hinder us even after we have fully and honestly confessed our sin and received God’s forgiveness. Remember the words of David? “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” David understood that a clean heart needs the joy of God once again.
Jeremiah 29 has one of my favorite passages of encouragement. It reveals God’s message to Israel at a time when they were going to be chastened for their sin. God extends to His people—including you and me—an offer of His presence and renewed Spirit:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:” Jeremiah 29:11–14
We need revival, and I believe God is ready to send it when He hears our prayers lifted up to Him and sees our seeking hearts. Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi, “That I may know Him.” That should be our cry and heartbeat.
God invites you and me to see what He can do in us, through us, and for us.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”Hebrews 10:24–25
THE word “revival” is as familiar in our mouths as a household word. We are constantly speaking about and praying for a “revival;” would it not be as well to know what we mean by it? Of the Samaritans our Lord said, “Ye worship ye know not what,” let him not have to say to us, “Ye know not what ye ask.” The word “revive” wears its meaning upon its forehead; it is from the Latin, and may be interpreted thus—to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.
When a person has been dragged out of a pond nearly drowned, the bystanders are afraid that he is dead, and are anxious to ascertain if life still lingers. The proper means are used to restore animation; the body is rubbed, stimulants are administered, and if by God’s providence life still tarries in the poor clay, the rescued man opens his eyes, sits up, and speaks, and those around him rejoice that he has revived. A young girl is in a fainting fit, but after a while she returns to consciousness, and we say, “she revives.” The flickering lamp of life in dying men suddenly flames up with unusual brightness at intervals, and those who are watching around the sick bed say of the patient, “he revives.”
In these days, when the dead are not miraculously restored, we do not expect to see the revival of a person who is totally dead, and we could not speak of the re-vival of a thing which never lived before. It is clear that the, term “revival” can only be applied to a living soul, or to that which once lived. To be revived is a blessing which can only be enjoyed by those who have some degree of life. Those who have no spiritual life are not, and cannot be, in the strictest sense of the term, the subjects of a revival. Many blessings may come to the unconverted in consequence of a revival among Christians, but the revival itself has to do only with those who already possess spiritual life. There must be vitality in some degree before there can be a quickening of vitality, or, in other words, a revival.
A true revival is to be looked for in the church of God. Only in the river of gracious life can the pearl of revival be found. It has been said that a revival must begin with God’s people; this is very true, but it is not all the truth, for the revival itself must end as well as begin there. The results of the revival will extend to the outside world, but the revival, strictly speaking, must be within the circle of life, and must therefore essentially be enjoyed by the possessors of vital godliness, and by them only. Is not this quite a different view of revival from that; which is common in society; but is it not manifestly the correct one?
It is a sorrowful fact that many who are spiritually alive greatly need reviving. It is sorrowful because it is a proof of the existence of much spiritual evil. A man in sound health with every part of his body in a vigorous condition does not need reviving. He requires daily sustenance, but reviving would be quite out of place. If he has not yet attained maturity growth will be most desirable, but a hale hearty young man wants no reviving, it would be thrown away upon him. Who thinks of reviving the noonday sun, the ocean at its flood, or the year at its prime? The tree planted by the rivers of water loaded with fruit needs not excite our anxiety for its revival, for its fruitfulness and beauty charm every one. Such should be the constant condition of the sons of God. Feeding and lying down in green pastures and led by the still waters they ought not always to be crying, “my leanness, my leanness, woe unto me.” Sustained by gracious promises and enriched out of the fullness which God has treasured up in his dear Son, their souls should prosper and be in health, and their piety ought to need no reviving. They should aspire to a higher blessing, a richer mercy, than a mere revival. They have the nether springs already; they should earnestly cover the upper springs. They should be asking for growth in grace, for increase of strength, for greater success; they should have out-climbed and out-soared the period in which they need to be constantly crying, “Wilt thou not revive us again?” For a church to be constantly needing revival is the indication of much sin, for if it were sound before the Lord it would remain in the condition into which a revival would uplift its members. A church should be a camp of soldiers, not an hospital of invalids. But there is exceedingly much difference between what ought be and what is, and consequently many of God’s people are in so sad a state that the very fittest prayer for them is for revival. Some Christians are, spiritually, but barely alive. When a man has been let down into a vat or into a well full of bad air, yea do not wonder when he is drawn up again that he is half-dead, and urgently requires to be revived. Some Christians—to their shame be it spoken!—descend into such worldly company, not upon such unhallowed principles, and become so carnal, that when they are drawn up by God’s grace from their backsliding position they want reviving, and even need that their spiritual breath should as it were be breathed into their nostrils afresh by God’s Spirit.
When a man starves himself, continuing for a long time without food, when he is day after day without a morsel of bread between his lips, we do not marvel that the surgeon, finding him in extremities, says, “This man has weakened his system, he is too low, and wants reviving.” Of course he does, for he has brought himself by low diet into a state of weakness. Are there not hundreds of Christians—shame that it should be so!—who live day after day without feeding upon Bible truth? shall it be added without real spiritual communion with God? they do not even attend the week-night services, and they are indifferent hearers on the Lord’s day. Is it remarkable that they want reviving? Is not the fact that they do so greatly need it most dishonorable to themselves and distressing to their truly spiritual brethren?
There is, a condition of mind which is even more sad than either of the two above mentioned; it is a thorough, gradual, but certain decline of all the spiritual powers. Look at that consumptive man whose lungs are decaying, and in whom the vital energy is ebbing; it is painful to see the faintness which suffuses him after exertion, and the general languor which overspreads his weakened frame. Far more sad to the spiritual eye is the spectacle presented by spiritual consumptives who in some quarters meet us on all hands. The eye of faith is dim and overcast, and seldom flashes with holy joy; the spiritual countenance is hollow and sunken with doubts and fears; the tongue of praise is partially paralyzed, and has little to say for Jesus; the spiritual frame is lethargic, and its movements are far from vigorous; the man is not anxious to be doing anything for Christ; a horrible numbness, a dreadful insensibility has come over him; he is in soul like a sluggard in the dog-days, who finds it hard labor to lie in bed and brush away the flies from his face. If these spiritual consumptives hate sin they do it so weakly that one might fear that they loved it still. If they love Jesus, it is so coldly that it is a point of question whether they love at all. If they sing Jehovah’s praises it is very sadly, as if hallelujahs were dirges. If they mourn for sin it is only with half-broken hearts, and their grief is shallow and unpractical. If they hear the Word of God they are never stirred by it; enthusiasm is an unknown luxury. If they come across a precious truth they perceive nothing particular in it, any more than the cock in the fable, in the jewel which he found in the farmyard. They throw themselves back upon the enchanted couch of sloth, and while they are covered with rags they dream of riches and great increase of goods. It is a sad, sad thing when Christians fall into this state; then indeed they need reviving, and they must have it, for “the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint.” Every lover of souls should intercede for declining professors that the visitations of God may restore them; that the Sun of righteousness may arise upon them with healing beneath his wings.
When revival comes to a people who are in the state thus briefly described, it simply brings them to the condition in which they ought always to have been; it quickens them, gives them new life, stirs the coals of the expiring fire, and puts heavenly breath into the languid lungs. The sickly soul which before was insensible, weak, and sorrowful, grows earnest, vigorous, and happy in the Lord. This is the immediate fruit of revival, and it becomes all of us who are believers to seek this blessing for backsliders, and for ourselves if we are declining in grace.
If revival is confined to living men we may further notice that it must result from the proclamation and the receiving of living truth. We speak of “vital godliness,” and vital godliness must subsist upon vital truth. Vital godliness is not revived in Christians by mere excitement, by crowded meetings, by the stamping of the foot, or the knocking of the pulpit cushion, or the delirious bawlings of ignorant zeal; these are the stock in trade of revivals among dead souls, but to revive living saints other means are needed. Intense excitement may produce a revival of the animal, but how can it operate upon the spiritual, for the spiritual demands other food than that which stews in the fleshpots of mere carnal enthusiasm. The Holy Ghost must come into the living heart through living truth, and so bring nutriment and stimulant to the pining spirit, for so only can it be revived. This, then, leads us to the conclusion that if we are to obtain a revival we must go directly to the Holy Ghost for it, and not resort to the machinery of the professional revival-maker. The true vital spark of heavenly flame comes from the Holy Ghost, and the priests of the Lord must beware of strange fire. There is no spiritual vitality in anything except as the Holy Spirit is all in all in the work; and if our vitality has fallen near to zero, we can only have it renewed by him who first kindled it in us. We must go to the cross and look up to the dying Savior, and expect that the Holy Spirit will renew our faith and quicken all our graces. We must feed anew by faith upon the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus, and so the Holy Ghost will recruit our strength and give us a revival. When men in India sicken in the plains, they climb the hills and breathe the more bracing air of the upper regions; we need to get nearer to God, and to bathe ourselves in heaven, and revived piety will be the sure result.
When a minister obtains this revival he preaches very differently from his former manner. It is very hard work to preach when the head aches and when the body is languid, but it is a much harder task when the soul is unfeeling and lifeless. It is sad, sad work—painfully, dolorously, horribly sad, but saddest of all if we do not feel it to be sad, if we can go on preaching and remain careless concerning the truths we preach, indifferent as to whether men are saved or lost! May God deliver every minister from abiding in such a state! Can there be a more wretched object than a man who preaches in God’s name truths which he does not feel, and which he is conscious have never impressed his own heart? To be a mere sign-post, pointing out the road but never moving in it, is a lot against which every tame heart may plead night and day.
Should this revival be granted to deacons and elders what different men it would make of them! Lifeless, lukewarm church officers are of no more value to a church, than a crew of sailors would be to a vessel if they were all fainting and if in their berths when they were wanted to hoist the sails or lower the boats. Church officers who need reviving must be fearful dead weights upon a Christian community. It is incumbent upon all Christians to be thoroughly awake to the interests of Zion, but upon the leaders most of all. Special supplication should be made for beloved brethren in office that they may be full of the Holy Ghost.
Workers in the Sunday-schools, tract distributors, and other laborers for Christ, what different people they become when grace is vigorous from what they are when their life flickers in the socket! Like sickly vegetation in a cellar, all blanched and unhealthy, are workers who have little grace; like willows by the water-courses, like grease with reeds and rushes in well-watered valleys, are the servants of God who live in his presence. It is no wonder that our Lord said, “Because thou art neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” for when the earnest Christian’s heart is full of fire it is sickening to talk with lukewarm people. Have not warm-hearted lovers of Jesus felt when they have been discouraged by doubtful sluggish people, who could see a lion in the way, as if they could put on express speed and run over them? Every earnest minister has known times when he has felt cold hearts to be as intolerable as the drones in the hive are to the working bees. Careless professors are as much out of place as snow in harvest among truly living Christians. As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes are these sluggards. As well be bound to a dead body as forced into union with lifeless professors; they are a burden, a plague, and an abomination. You turn to one of these cold brethren after a graciously earnest prayer-meeting, and say with holy joy, “What a delightful meeting we have had!” “Yes,” he says carelessly and deliberately, as if it were an effort to say so much, “there was a good number of people.” How his frostbitten words grate on one’s ear! You ask yourself, “Where has the man been? Is he not conscious that the Holy Ghost has been with us?” Does not our Lord speak of these people as being cast out of his mouth, just because he himself is altogether in earnest, and consequently, when he meets with lukewarm people he will not endure them? He says, “I would thou wert cold or hot,” either utterly averse to good or in earnest concerning it. It is easy to see his meaning. If you heard an ungodly man blaspheme after an earnest meeting, you would lament it, but you would feel that from such a man it was not a thing to make you vexed, for he has only spoken after his kind, but when you meet with a child of God who is lukewarm, how can you stand that? It is sickening, and makes the inmost spirit feel the horrors of mental nausea.
While a true revival in its essence belongs only to God’s people, it always brings with it a blessing for the other sheep who are not yet of the fold. If you drop a stone into a lake the ring widens continually, till the farthest corner of the lake feels the influence. Let the Lord revive a believer and very soon his family, his friends, his neighbors, receive a share of the benefit; for when a Christian is revived, he prays more fervently for sinners. Longing, loving prayer for sinners, is one of the marks of a revival in the renewed heart. Since the blessing is asked for sinners, the blessing comes from him who hears the prayers of his people; and thus the world gains by revival. Soon the revived Christian speaks concerning Jesus and the gospel; he sows good seed, and God’s good seed is never lost, for he has said, “It shall not return unto me void.” The good seed is sown in the furrows, and in some sinners’ hearts God prepares the soil, so that the seed springs up in a glorious harvest. Thus by the zealous conversation of believers another door of mercy opens to men.
When Christians are revived they live more consistently, they make their homes more holy and more happy, and this leads the ungodly to envy them, and to enquire after their secret. Sinners by God’s grace long to be like such cheerful happy saints; their mouths water to feast with them upon their hidden manna, and this is another blessing, for it leads men to seek the Savior. If an ungodly man steps into a congregation where all the saints are revived he does not go to sleep under the sermon. The minister will not let him do that, for the hearer perceives that the preacher feels what he is preaching, and has a right to be heard. This is a clear gain, for now the man listens with deep emotion; and above all, the Holy Spirit’s power, which the preacher has received in answer to prayer comes upon the hearer’s mind; he is convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come, and Christians who are on the watch around him hasten to tell him of the Savior, and point him to the redeeming blood, so that though the revival, strictly speaking, is with the people of God, yet the result of it no man can limit. Brethren, let us seek a revival during the present month, that the year may close with showers of blessing, and that the new year may open with abundant benediction. Let us pledge ourselves to form a prayer-union, a sacred band of suppliants, and may God do unto us according to our faith.
* This is taken from theBlaze and written by Billy Hallowell. Written on December 21, 2012
Faith and religion were an integral part of the 2012 news cycle. From the contraceptive mandate to intense violence in the Middle East, many of the year’s most pertinent news stories involved the separation of church and state and the role — or lack thereof — of belief in a higher power in domestic and international events.
Last month, the Religion Newswriters Association commissioned a poll of professional religion reporters to determine the 10 most significant religious events of the year. The study, which was taken before the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (which many would argue has a place on the list), pinpointed some fascinating happenings — important events that, in many ways, defined and transformed the year.
Photo Credit: AP
1. The number one ranked story among professional journalists was the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate and the battle with religious leaders over its implementation. TheBlaze has covered this issue extensively throughout the year and will continue to as lawsuits and challenges continue into 2013.
2. The second most significant religion story of 2012 was the startling finding that the “nones” are a rising group in America. According to surveys, one-in-five Americans report having no religious adherence. While not all of these individuals are atheists, they are unattached to a particular faith. And, to top it off, they comprise the fastest-growing “religious group” in the nation.
Moroccan women shout slogans during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, on September 12, 2012 near the US consulate in Casablanca. A film at the center of anti-US protests in the Middle East which killed a diplomat was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a ‘cancer,’ the Wall Street Journal reported. The movie, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ was directed and produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old real-estate developer from southern California who says Islam is a hateful religion.Credit: AFP/Getty Images
3. And considering the furor surrounding Benghazi, Libya, and the violence that broke out in the Middle East on and immediately following the Sept. 11 anniversary this year, the fact that the “Innocence of Muslims” film comes in third is no surprise. TheBlaze brought you the now-infamous trailer and a plethora of stories surrounding the movie that some blamed for anti-American violence in the region.
4. As for Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate who lost the 2012 presidential election to President Barack Obama, his Mormon faith made an appearance on the list, coming in as the fourth most important religion story of the year. In the end, despite conjecture, his religious views ended up having little impact on his candidacy, as evangelicals inevitably supported him on election day.
2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (Photo Credit: AP)
5. As for Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia, he distinguished himself as the first Catholic official in the nation to be found guilty in covering up child abuse at the hands of priests. And, as RNA notes, Bishop Robert Finn ended up being the first bishop to face the same fate. Theseabuse stories come in collectively as the fifth most impactful among religion reporters.
6 – 10. The five remaining events, which can be read about in detail over on the RNA web siteinclude: the Vatican’s criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the related fallout, the legalization of gay marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, the Episcopal Church’s adoption of a trial ritual for blessing gay couples, the Sikh temple shooting and the Southern Baptist Convention’s election of the Rev. Fred Luter, its first black president.
Stay tuned to 2013, when TheBlaze will, once again, bring you the most important and significant faith and religion stories and events.
Editor’s Note: TheBlaze’s Billy Hallowell participated in the RNA survey.