Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 21, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 21, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • New Web Life for the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Muslims Flocking to Christ, Christians Report
  • Bible Institute Re-opening in Serbia
  • Feds Tell Tennessee to Protect Muslims' Mosque

New Web Life for the Dead Sea Scrolls

The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls will soon get a digital makeover, allowing people worldwide to view the carefully guarded texts. The Israel Antiquities Authority, the custodian of the scrolls, announced Tuesday that Google Israel will assist in uploading newly digitized images of the biblical and apocryphal manuscripts. According to The New York Times, historians say the digital copies will eliminate the need to expose the fragile fragments of parchment and papyrus to the ruinous effects of light and air again. The entire collection of scrolls was photographed in the 1950s using infrared light, but direct access to the delicate copies has been restricted to just a few authorized people. The scrolls could be online in a few months.

Thousands of Muslims Coming to Christ, Christians Report

Iran may be "closed land" politically, one ministry leader told the Lausanne Congress, but it is also "the most open nation to the Gospel in the entire world." Speaking to the Cape Town, South Africa, gathering of 4,000 delegates, founder of Iran-focused Elam Ministries Sam Yeghnazar said persecution has only increased the spread of the Gospel. "Betrayed by the government, disillusioned with the religion, depressed by the prospects of the future, Iranians when they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ are completely transformed," he said, according to The Christian Post. Another Christian from Palestine, brought a similar report. "Anchoring our identity in the messiah, we can open our hearts to angry Muslim neighbors and to fearful Jewish soldiers behind check points," said Salim (last name withheld for security reasons). "[There is] a divine one who can change stone hearts to flesh."

Bible Institute Re-opening in Serbia

The Bible institute in Novi Sad, Serbia, is opening its doors again after three years of silence. Serbian Baptist Union (UBC) director, Ondrej Franka, says the 55-year-old seminary is one of the few of its kind in Serbia. Local pastors began the school in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1955. The school declined in the '90s due to many issues, including theological liberalism. Eventually the school closed its doors. Today, Franka says the seminary will have a two-pronged approach, helping existing churches and stimulating new church planting. "It is our persuasion that every future ministry in this country must start from our existing churches, which now need a lot of help," he said, according to Baptist Press. "There is felt need to train laborers for the harvest: pastors, church planters and many other Christian workers who will minister to various groups of people within Serbia."

Feds Tell Tenn. Officials to Protect Muslims' Building Rights

Islam is a valid religion that is entitled to constitutional protection, said a U.S. attorney who stepped into a debate about a proposed mosque and Islamic center in Tennessee. "To suggest that Islam is not a religion is quite simply ridiculous," said U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin of Nashville in a statement Monday, Religion News Service reports. Martin's statement comes after a group of landowners in Murfreesboro, Tenn., filed suit to stop construction of a 52,000-square-foot mosque and Muslim community center in Rutherford County. Opponents questioned Islam's validity as a religion that's entitled to First Amendment protection. They also claimed county officials did not inform the public in advance of the county commission meeting where the plans for the center were approved.