Religion Today Summaries - May 2, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 2, 2008

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

  • Christians Challenged to Donate One Million Hours of Kindness to U.K.
  • Methodists Reject Changes to Gay Stance
  • Rabbis Want Boycott of Bible Quiz Due to Messianic Jew Participant
  • Wheaton College Fires Professor over Divorce

Christians Challenged to Donate One Million Hours of Kindness to U.K.

ASSIST News Service reports that Christians in Great Britain are being challenged to donate one million hours of kindness in practical ways to their neighbors. Hope08, the nationwide year of grassroots mission, has set the challenge to Christians to give a million hours of kindness to the UK this May bank holiday (Monday, May 26), according to Anne Thomas, writing for Thomas says that Christians and churches of all denominations and traditions will come together throughout the day to undertake a practical action that meets a particular need within the local community. Mike Pilavachi, the Soul Survivor chief who founded Hope08 together with The Message Trust’s Andy Hawthorne and head of Youth for Christ Roy Crowne, encouraged Christians to demonstrate God’s love through their actions. “The million hours of kindness is a million hours of worship -- it’s as much an expression of love for God as it is an expression of his love for others,” he said.

Methodists Reject Changes to Gay Stance

The Christian Post reports that United Methodists, following a lengthy debate, voted Wednesday to reject changes to their constitution that would have liberalized the church's stance on homosexuality. Delegates to the 2008 General Conference voted against a proposed "majority report" which would have acknowledged that members of the United Methodist Church "deeply disagree with one another" on the issue of homosexuality. Frederick Brewington, a layman in the New York Annual Conference, said such an acknowledgment would have been a "mature way forward" and "an honest, yet humble approach to how we are to view one another." The petition for changes would have also deleted the current statement in UMC's Book of Discipline that describes homosexual practice as "incompatible with Christian teaching" and bans noncelibate gay pastors. The Rev. Eddie Fox argued that any United Methodist statement on human sexuality needs to be "clear, concise and faithful to biblical teaching," and deleting the incompatibility statement would be confusing.

Rabbis Want Boycott of Bible Quiz Due to Messianic Jew Participant reports that a group of rabbis is calling for a boycott of Israel's International Bible Quiz because one of the finalists is a Messianic Jew, the Jerusalem Post reported. The annual Bible Quiz, held each year on Independence Day, tests the knowledge of Jewish youth from around the world. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of the rabbis calling for the boycott, accused Messianic Jews of proselytizing in "very sophisticated ways." Aviner was quoted as saying that it is forbidden to give "legitimacy" to Messianic Jews by allowing their participation in the quiz. Bat-El Levi, an 11th grader from the Jerusalem area, is one of four finalists from Israel and is a Messianic Jew. Calev Myers, founder and chief counsel of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, a group that represents Messianic Jews, wondered why the rabbis should have a problem with a young woman who can quote the Bible.

Wheaton College Fires Professor over Divorce

According to an ABC News report, Wheaton College students and professors all sign a "covenant" pledging to lead their lives in accordance with biblical teaching. Now, Kent Gramm, a popular English professor for 20 years, will be leaving the Illinois school because he got a divorce. News of his impending departure has led to a campuswide debate over whether divorce should be grounds for dismissal. "This has just been really tough on my family and I'm no longer going to speak about it," Gramm said. The school has employed divorced professors, but they've had to explain the reason for their divorce to determine if it's allowable under New Testament tenets; Gramm declined to do so. "I think it's wrong to have to discuss your personal life with your employer," he told the Chicago Tribune, "and I also don't want to be in a position of accusing my spouse, so I declined to appeal or discuss the matter in any way with my employer."