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Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 15, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 15, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Islamic Extremists Held for Church Blast in Bangladesh
  • Britain Considers Banning Pastor Who Threatened Koran Burning
  • Six 'Megathemes' Emerge from Barna Research in 2010
  • John Piper to Return to Pulpit in January

Islamic Extremists Held for Church Blast in Bangladesh

Police in Bangladesh now have custody of least two Islamic extremists who they believe are responsible for the bombing of a Catholic church building in 2001. The blasts killed 10 young Christians and maimed dozens of others. Police Inspector Sheikh Mohammad Akhteruzzaman of the Criminal Investigation Department told Compass Direct News that he believes Mufti Abdul Hannan and Arif Hassan Sumon are responsible for the long-unresolved case. The two men from the banned Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJi) group, including its chief leader, were handed over to police on Dec. 7. Police believe 12 more Islamic extremists are complicit in the bombing. The blast took place as about 70 Christians attended Sunday mass on June 3, 2001 about 62 miles south of the capital, Dhaka.

Britain Considers Banning Pastor Who Threatened Koran Burning

Religion News Service reports that a Florida preacher who threatened to burn copies of the Koran may be barred by the British government from entering the country. Pastor Terry Jones had planned a speaking engagement to a far-right political group, but Home Secretary Theresa May says his track record as a religious firebrand is reason for concern. Jones triggered outrage around the world when he announced plans to burn copies of the Islamic holy book at his Gainesville-based church on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He called off the demonstration after pressure from Washington. He plans to address a far-right activist group, the English Defense League (EDL), on Feb. 5. in Luton, an English town with a sizeable Muslim population. Jones told the BBC that he intends to deliver a "positive message" to the EDL -- but made it clear he would fight any attempt to prevent him from entering Britain.

Six 'Megathemes' Emerge from Barna Research in 2010

The Barna Group's research in 2010 pointed to several major trends in American faith, none of them particularly encouraging. Overall, the survey and research found that Christians in America are increasingly looking like the culture at large. That doesn't mean, however, that they are going into all the world and making disciples. The six "megathemes" are as follows:
1. The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate.
2. Christians are becoming more ingrown and less outreach-oriented.
3. Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life.
4. Among Christians, interest in participating in community action is escalating.
5. The postmodern insistence on tolerance is winning over the Christian Church.
6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible.
The detailed list can be found on the Barna Group's website.

John Piper to Return to Pulpit in January

After an eight-month leave of absence, leading theologian and pastor John Piper is returning to the pulpit of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, according to The Christian Post. Piper, who has written more than 30 books, temporarily stepped down in May in his first-ever hiatus from ministry. At the time, he cited "several species of pride" and other character flaws that needed attention in private. "I'll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I'm sorry. Since I don't have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins," he said in a letter to the congregation in March. As planned, Piper will return to the church and his ministry, Desiring God, in January. He is scheduled to speak at Passion 2011 in Atlanta, which takes place Jan. 1-4, and to preach at Bethlehem that weekend.