Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 5, 2008

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

  • Graham Visits North Korea as 'Minister of Christ'
  • Christian, Muslim Leaders Report Progress at Yale Talks
  • Barna Examines What Americans Want
  • Greg Laurie's Son Christopher Remembered

Graham Visits North Korea as 'Minister of Christ'

The Christian Post reports that Franklin Graham arrived in North Korea on Thursday. On the agenda: a visit with high-level government officials, viewing relief projects and preaching at a newly constructed church in Pyongyang. "I do not come to you today as a politician or diplomat," Graham said after arriving in Pyongyang. "I come to you instead as a minister of Jesus Christ with a message of peace – peace with God, peace in our hearts and peace with each other... In many ways, I feel like I’m coming home,” Franklin Graham said. “North Korea was so close to my mother’s heart, and she often told us about growing up in Pyongyang.” Samaritan’s Purse, the relief organization Graham heads, has also been working on aid projects in the country for the past year in response to devastating floods last August.

Christian, Muslim Leaders Report Progress at Yale Talks

According to Religion News Service, following up on a public exchange of letters last year about the need for Christian and Muslim understanding, leaders and scholars representing both faiths have begun the task of trying to make their calls more "concrete." One of the "practical outcomes" of a four-day (July 28-31) meeting at Yale University was to call for Christian and Muslim clerics to speak publicly during a designated week each year in praise of the other's tradition. Asked at the conclusion of the meeting how this might be implemented, Ibrahim Kalin, the director of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research in Ankara, Turkey, suggested the idea could be taken to the United Nations. Such a proposal might strike outsiders as limited, but theologians and religious leaders here said it represents a small but necessary step toward reducing tensions in a post-9/11 world.

Barna Examines What Americans Want

What Americans want most in life varies clearly depending on their spiritual commitment, Baptist Press reports according to a recent study by The Barna Group found. Evangelicals, notional Christians and atheists, among others, gave significantly different answers when they were asked to rate what goals are important to them in life. "The data provide a distinct image of each faith group," George Barna said. "Evangelicals are intensely driven by their faith. Their life is substantially influenced by their beliefs, and their lifestyle choices and aspirations reflect the centrality of their spirituality. Non-evangelical born again adults consider faith to be important but it is not the defining aspect of their existence; it is influential but not the determining factor," Barna added. "Notional Christians treat faith as just one of many dimensions of their life that serves a purpose, but it is not a driving force at all. Skeptics have replaced faith with a passion for healthy longevity and personal pleasure gained through world travel, sexual experiences and obtaining knowledge," he said.

Greg Laurie's Son Christopher Remembered

ASSIST News Service reports that friends and family remembered Christopher Laurie's passion for life Friday. According to a story by Laurie Lucas and published in the Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE), nearly 2,500 people gathered at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside to celebrate the life of Senior Pastor Greg Laurie's son during a two-hour memorial service. Christopher Laurie, 33, died in a car accident at 9 a.m. July 24. He was on the way from his Huntington Beach home to the church where he'd been the art director for three years. His car crashed into the back of a Caltrans truck on eastbound Highway 91 near Corona. According to the PE, about 90 people attended the private burial Thursday at Pacific View Cemetery in Newport Beach, said Jeff Lasseigne, one of Harvest's assistant pastors. At Friday's memorial, Greg Laurie spoke for 15 minutes. The PE reported  the elder Laurie said that on July 24, “the worst day of my life,” he lost track of time. When well-wishers ask, “How are you doing today?” the PE reported Laurie said it depends on which “nanosecond” you're talking about, because he and his wife, Cathe, take turns crying and comforting one another. Laurie said his son's wife, Brittany, is “trusting but hurting deeply.”