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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 18, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 18, 2006

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

  • Biblical Disputes Revive Question: What is an Evangelical?
  • Philippine Ministry Leader Killed in Ambush
  • New ICF Website Objective: Students Transformed, Campuses Renewed
  • Ruling Favors Christian Students' Discrimination Claim Against UC

Biblical Disputes Revive Question: What is an Evangelical?

A poll by the University of Akron found that evangelicals are the largest segment of actively religious Americans, outnumbering Roman Catholics. But The Christian Post reports the definition of "evangelical" is open to dispute, thanks in part to a book by historian Randall Balmer. With "Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical's Lament," Balmer says the evangelical activists' agenda "is misguided, even ruinous" to "the nation I love and, ultimately, to the faith I love even more." However, unlike many recent books that attack the "religious right," Balmer claims to defend God and country from within evangelicalism. By Balmer's definition, an evangelical "takes the Bible seriously" and often literally, emphasizes personal conversion to Jesus, and sees a necessity to evangelize." Similarly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) theologian Jack Rogers says evangelicals believe that people need a personal relationship with God through Christ, the Bible is the final authority for salvation and life, and everyone should hear about Jesus. Like Balmer, Rogers has had his evangelical credentials questioned because he advocates full acceptance of same-sex couples and gay clergy. Balmer believes that faith is purer and more effective when it's unsoiled by politics; he pronounces both the mainline denominations and the Democratic Party "virtually moribund."

Philippine Ministry Leader Killed in Ambush

Rev. Mocsin Lumimbang Hasim, leader of a ministry to Muslims in the Philippines, was killed in an ambush on June 3, according to Missions Insider. He was 49 years old. He and his daughter, Mercy, 21, were on their way home via motorcycle from a wedding that he officiated not far from his house. He was shot 19 times in the head, and Mercy was shot six times. Before his death, Hasim received threats to his life, as well as his wife and four children. His motorcycle, wallet and cell phone were not stolen during the ambush, but his Bible, notes, address book and other papers were taken. Hasim was a Muslim by birth, but became a Christian and started a ministry to his own people. Christian Aid recently had recently begun assisting the ministry. Hasim also led a church, which is still without a pastor. He also leaves behind a wife in need of food and medicine for her several physical problems, including diabetes, tuberculosis and a lung disorder.

New ICF Website Objective: Students Transformed, Campuses Renewed

AgapePress reports the evangelical campus ministry InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has announced a new website geared for university and college students -- both Christians and those who "have an interest in spiritual life." The objective behind StudentSoul.org parallels that of InterVarsity itself: "to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed." Project manager Jon Boyd says, "Students will be able to participate in several says. They'll be able to contribute questions for interviews, submit issues they need help with, and comment on articles and stories." The website also offers advice on typical questions college-age Christians might consider. For example, the "Good Question" tab on the website offers answers to questions such as "Does God care what I major in?" and "How can I balance my studies with everything else I want to do?" The director of InterVarsity's campus web ministry referred to this online ministry as, "as real as InterVarsity's other field ministries."

Ruling Favors Christian Students' Discrimination Claim Against UC

AgapePress reports a federal judge has rejected the University of California's motion to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses it of viewpoint discrimination against Christian students. Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta filed suit last summer against the UC system, claiming it prohibits high school students from receiving academic credit for courses taught from a Christian perspective. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California, after six Calvary Chapel Christian School students claimed their religious views had hurt their chances of being accepted to a UC campus. Joining Calvary as a co-plaintiff is the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 800 religious schools nationwide. The claimants' lawsuit accuses the UC system of violating Christian students' rights by rejecting private Christian school courses such as Calvary's "Christianity's Influence on American History" and "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" as too narrow, meanwhile giving credit for other schools' curriculum offerings, including courses like "Jewish History" and "Ethnic Experience in Literature."