Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Navy Chaplain Ends Hunger Strike for Jesus' Name
According to a story in The Christian Post, a Navy chaplain protesting for the right to pray publicly in Jesus’ name while wearing his uniform ended his 18-day hunger strike on Saturday after he said the Navy gave him permission to do so. A Navy official said guidelines for prayer vary according to the setting and are not mandatory. Claiming a victory for religious freedom in the Navy, Chaplain James C. Klingenschmitt also participated in a public worship service on Saturday in front of the White House as a pastor and worshippers joined to sing hymns, hear a sermon and receive communion from the evangelical Episcopal priest. "Today the Navy has reluctantly obeyed the law – to grant me the religious liberty I always should’ve had," the chaplain said in a statement released through his website. However he said the battle for rights would continue. “I won't stop fighting until every chaplain has the same rights I have today," he stated.
Morality not Necessarily God-Given, Say Academics
Marc Hauser, professor of psychology and director of the Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Harvard University, and Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, are trying to answer the question: Is religion necessary for morality? Their findings, as quoted in the Taipei Times, indicate that, “Non-believers often have as strong and sound a sense of right and wrong as anyone, and have worked to abolish slavery and contributed to other efforts to alleviate human suffering.” Many people consider it outrageous or blasphemous to deny the notion that a divine being crafted our moral sense, or else we picked it up from the teachings of organized religion. Either way, many agree we need religion to curb nature's vices. And yet, there are no moral principles that are shared by all religious people, regardless of their specific beliefs, but not by agnostics and atheists. Indeed, atheists and agnostics do not behave less morally than religious believers, even if their virtuous acts rest on different principles. The opposite is also true, say Hauser and Singer. Religion has led people to commit a long litany of horrendous crimes. Another difficulty for the view that morality is rooted in religion is that some elements of morality seem to be universal, despite sharp doctrinal differences among the world's major religions. An alternative explanation from biology and geology is that over millions of years we have evolved a moral faculty that generates intuitions about right and wrong.
'Jabez' Author Quits Africa
Prayer of Jabez author Bruce Wilkinson, who relocated to Africa from his Georgia home in 2002, has quit his ministry focused on defeating HIV/AIDS and retired from active ministry at age 58, according to a Christianity Today story. One turning point was the inability of Swaziland's King Mswati III and Wilkinson to agree on a meeting time in New York to discuss Wilkinson's plan to build homes for aids orphans. A few days after this "perceived snub," Wilkinson told staff at his Dream for Africa organization that he was stepping down and leaving Africa. For months, Wilkinson had negotiated with the Swazi government for permission to launch his African Dream Center. The center would have housed, educated, and fed children whose parents had died of AIDS, while also including a golf course and other tourist attractions. Swaziland, located between Mozambique and South Africa, is one of Africa's smallest nations and has one of the world's highest HIV/AIDS rates.
John Piper Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer
Reformed theologian and best-selling author John Piper will have surgery in early February to remove his prostate after announcing he has been diagnosed with cancer. In a letter to church members and supporters, Piper wrote that various tests “incline the doctor to think that it is unlikely that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, and that it is possible with successful treatment to be cancer-free." He continued: “This news has, of course, been good for me. The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has a wonderfully blasting effect on both. I thank God for that." Piper, who spoke earlier this month to the Passion ‘06 rally in Nashville about glorifying God in suffering, gave a sermon in 1980 titled "Christ and Cancer," which is available on his Desiring God website. Other updates may appear on Between Two Worlds, the blog of Desiring God executive editor Justin Taylor.