Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Rick Warren Asks Al Mohler to Apologize for Megachurch Headline
- Nigerian Christian Leader in 'Final' Warning Over Islamist Attacks
- Iran: Pastor Sentenced to Six Years in Prison
- Tennessee Governor Rejects Bill Backing Christian Students
Rick Warren Asks Al Mohler to Apologize for Megachurch Headline
A recent blog headline by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary -- "Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?" -- has irked Pastor Rick Warren, who is calling for an apology for the "sensational" title, the Christian Post reports. Warren, founder of Saddleback Church, sent a tweet to Mohler on Tuesday, saying: "A TITLE questioning1000s of churches' orthodoxy due to size is unChristlike.U need to apologize to pastors Al." In a blog post Tuesday, Mohler had noted that some megachurches had abandoned certain biblical truths while trying to adapt to the ever-changing American culture, and expressed concerns over a recent sermon preached by Andy Stanley during which Stanley did not affirm the sinfulness of homosexuality. "We must embrace the truth with the humility of a sinner saved only by grace, but we must embrace it fully," Mohler wrote. "The megachurches are on the leading edge. We must pray that they will lead into faithfulness, and not into a new liberalism." Taking issue with the blog’s title, Warren commented: "@albertmohler Would a sensational blog title 'Are THE Seminaries the New Liberals?' be fair if 1 seminary pres. messed up?" Mohler tweeted back: "@RickWarren Glad to hear from you, Rick. I would certainly not be offended by that title … In fact, I might use it. Megathanks." Notably, both Warren and Mohler are megachurch pastors.
Nigerian Christian Leader in 'Final' Warning Over Islamist Attacks
The leader of Nigeria's Christians this week issued a "final" warning to the government that it must bring an end to the attacks by the radical Muslim group Boko Haram, or Christians may be forced to take matters into their own hands, AFP reports. "I will now make a final call to the Nigerian government to use all resources available to it to clearly define and neutralize the problem as other nations have done," said Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria. "The church leadership has hitherto put great restraint on the restive and aggrieved millions of Nigerians, but can no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of terror is not halted immediately." Boko Haram has killed almost 500 people this year alone, the majority of them Christians in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north.
Iran: Pastor Sentenced to Six Years in Prison
After detaining 33-year-old Christian pastor Farshid Fathi for 16 months without indictment, Iranian judicial authorities finally sentenced him to six years in prison, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reports. Authorities allegedly kept Fathi in solitary confinement the vast majority of his detention, and according to one family friend, beat him. A source close to his family said Fathi's only "crime" was his work as a pastor: "The Bibles we brought to the country were seen as a crime, having more than one Bible or distributing Bibles were seen as a crime, having Christian literature was part of the crime." According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Fathi's sentence is part of a continuing pattern of discrimination and prosecution of Christian converts in Iran; Christian pastors especially often face harsher forms of prosecution, such as longer prison sentences, than other persecuted Christians.
Tennessee Governor Rejects Bill Backing Christian Students
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed a measure that could have exempted campus religious groups from Vanderbilt University's controversial "all-comers" rule, CBN News reports. The university calls the rule a "nondiscrimination" policy, but it requires campus groups to allow any student to join and hold leadership positions, regardless of their beliefs. Haslam admitted in his veto that he disagreed with the policy, but said it was "inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution." A group of Vanderbilt student religious organizations have been waging a public battle to reverse the policy, and opponents of the policy say lawmakers should get involved because Vanderbilt receives significant funding from the government -- 24 million from the state and half a billion from the federal government, according to Vanderbilt legal professor Carol Swain. "I'm hoping that the fact they get so much federal money would be a way that legislators at the state and federal levels would be able to step into the situation and at least be heard by university officials," she said. A Vanderbilt spokesman said the school was "gratified" the governor rejected the bill that would allow government intrusion into private institutions.
Publication date: May 4, 2012