Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
A story in the Houston Chronicle reveals that Christian mobs in
Attacks on Copts Expose
According to the Washington Post, on Jan. 17, an Egyptian police official, tipped off that Christians were trying to have a building they called ‘’a guest house’’ officially recognized, stopped by to inspect. Inside were big crucifixes, a hidden baptismal font, and pictures of a resurrected Jesus, saints and patriarchs. For 35 years, the congregation and priests labeled the place a guest house to avoid restrictions on church construction in
Wealthy megachurches, derided as “religion-lite” and “Disney-Jesus,” are becoming the scourge not just of the secular world but also the traditional church, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The more popular and powerful churches become, the more they are disparaged as narcissistic and corporate. Defined as having more than 2000 attendees a week - as well as spectacular music performances and charismatic preachers - megachurches regularly provide fodder for critics, including the head of the World Council of Churches, Samuel Kobia, who this week warned that the megachurch movement was dangerously shallow. "It has no depth, in most cases, theologically speaking, and has no appeal for any commitment. That can be quite dangerous… because this may become a Christianity which I describe as 'two miles long and one inch deep.'" So why are megachurches attracting so many followers? First, they make people feel good. More than half of respondents to a 2005 study said their megachurch worship was: "filled with a sense of God's presence", "inspirational" and "joyful." There is energy to most of the services that is lacking from most traditional churches. And you won't hear much talk of hellfire or gloomy things. Instead, many megachurches preach the good life Jesus wants you to have here and now. The World Council of Churches is right to warn against mass-produced, corporate-like theology. But the success of megachurches is also a rebuke to flagging mainstream Christian groups who desperately need to modernize themselves.
The emerging church movement has started a helpful conversation about the need for churches to be relevant to postmodern culture but commits fatal errors in the areas of evangelism and the authority of Scripture, says Chuck Lawless, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Speaking at a breakout session of the sixth annual “Give Me an Answer” collegiate conference in early February, Lawless told students that the emerging church movement tends at times wrongly to deemphasize the necessity of a personal relationship with Christ. “I think the emerging church movement is helpful to us when they talk about transformed lives. They do not help us when they go so far as to suggest or hint at [salvation] happening apart from a personal relationship with Christ.” Lawless emphasized that the movement is so new that it is difficult to define who it includes or what it believes. But he listed several general characteristics of the emerging church: a sense of discontent with the church as it is; a desire to engage culture as it is; a desire to be missional in North America; a focus on relationships and small groups; an emphasis on transformed lives on earth; a belief in worship as a gathering rather than a service; and an understanding of evangelism as a process more than a proclamation. Lawless concluded that there are several ways in which the emerging church movement errs, but reflecting on its thinking can teach all believers valuable lessons.