Religion Today Summaries, April 13, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, April 13, 2004

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

  • Varying Biblical Interpretations Allow Room for Homosexuals in the Church
  • ‘The Passion’ Credited for Boosting Easter Services Attendance 
  • Alabama Pastor: Society's Truth Must Be God-Centered
  • Church Attacked on Easter Sunday Wounding Seven

Varying Biblical Interpretations Allow Room for Homosexuals in the Church
Agape Press

The head of the Episcopal Church USA is defending his denomination's openness to homosexual clerics and saying it all comes down to how the Bible is viewed. As in many mainline churches today, the authority of scripture is coming under increasing attack from those who no longer believe that all of the Bible is the Word of God. ECUSA's Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold told a panel discussion audience in London that his Episcopal Church is open to varying scriptural views on the issue of homosexuality, a stand which led to his approval of the election of an open homosexual as bishop of New Hampshire last year. Conservatives in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion have condemned the confirmation of V. Gene Robinson, a priest has lived with his male partner for several years.  But Griswold says the approval of Robinson came only after 35 years of discussion about homosexuality within his church, during which time Episcopalians have grown to appreciate the virtues of same-sex couples in their midst and have come to hold various views about how biblical texts dealing with homosexuality should be interpreted.

‘The Passion’ Credited for Boosting Easter Services Attendance
Charisma News Service

"The Passion of the Christ" is being credited for boosting attendance at Easter services nationwide, while reclaiming the top spot in the box office. Many Christians made Mel Gibson's bloody retelling of Christ's final hours a part of their Easter weekend, lifting the crucifixion saga back to the top box-office spot. Many first-timers attended an Easter sunrise service at Will Rogers State Beach in California at the behest of friends or were motivated by the film. In Cary, N.C., Calvary Chapel officials said the movie drew many non-churchgoers to their annual "Easter at the Fairgrounds" service, which attracted approximately 1,500 people. In Rochester, N.Y., Greece Assembly of God pastor Patrick Medeiros said since the release of the film, more than 100 new worshipers have joined the church. "We felt there has been an influx of people coming in that are just really seeking, searching and looking for answers to understand," Medeiros said. The movie was No. 1 its first three weekends, then fell back in the pack for the next three before claiming the top spot again. "That's unprecedented. I've never seen that before. 'The Passion' is just rewriting box-office history," said the president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Alabama Pastor: Society's Truth Must Be God-Centered
Allie Martin, Agape Press

An Alabama pastor says it's time for churches in America to focus on the truth of God's Word in order to have an impact on society. Jeff Noblit is pastor of First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  As he travels the nation preaching at revivals and conferences, Noblit encourages Christians to follow Christ wholeheartedly.  The Baptist minister says the Church in America needs to exalt God and His Word. For example, Noblit points to 1 Timothy 3:15, which says the Church is the pillar and support of the truth. "What that means is if there's going to be truth advanced in a culture, it's got to start with solid, God-centered, Bible-saturated, Christ-honoring churches," the pastor says. The Alabama pastor, who encourages pastors to strive for excellence according to biblical truth, says the Church in the United States needs to focus on the cross of Christ in its preaching and teaching.  Too many churches, he says, make it too easy to follow Christ. Noblit says evangelists such as John Wesley and George Whitfield were more concerned with seeing true converts than they were with large crowds at revival meetings.

Church Attacked on Easter Sunday Wounding Seven
International Christian Concern

Hundreds of police reinforcements flew into Indonesia’s Sulawesi island today, after gunmen opened fire on an Easter church service, wounding seven people. Saturday’s attack sparked fears of a return to open fighting between Muslims and Christians that erupted in 1999, killing about 1,000 people. More than 300 members of the Mobile Brigade paramilitary police unit are arriving in the region. Noone has been arrested over the shooting in the town of Poso in central Sulawesi. Two of the injured remain in hospital, although their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Police have declined to speculate on the identity of the attackers, who wore black uniforms and were armed with automatic weapons. Attacks last year against Christian villages were blamed by intelligence officials on Jemaah Islamiyah, the al Qaida-linked regional terror group accused of the 2002 terror attacks on Bali island.