Religion Today Summaries - May 4, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 4, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Evangelist David Wilkerson Laid to Rest
  • 4th Week: China Arrests 30 Church Members
  • English World Celebrates KJV's 400th Anniversary
  • Study Links Reliance on God with Reliance on Treatment


4th Week: China Arrests 30 Church Members

For the fourth week in a row, a Chinese "illegal" church refused Sunday to follow government orders not to meet, and this time at least 31 of its members were arrested. Baptist Press reports that, once again, reporters were blocked from the site. The arrests of the members of Beijing's Shouwang Church in a public square came after church leaders made clear in the preceding days that they would not buckle to pressure from the Communist Party. More than 160 were arrested the first week they tried to meet outdoors, about 50 were arrested the second week and approximately 40 on the third week, Easter Sunday. The declining number of arrests likely is due to the government placing so many other members under house arrest, which prevents them from even leaving their homes. On Easter Sunday, more than 500 church members -- including every church staff member, lay leader and choir member -- were under house arrest. The church is attempting to meet outdoors because the government has blocked all attempts by the church to rent or purchase a building. Members say failing to come together and worship would be an abandonment of biblical commands.

Evangelist David Wilkerson Laid to Rest

Times Square Church and Teen Challenge founder the Rev. David Wilkerson was laid to rest at a private funeral on Monday. The pastor, who also wrote the popular book "The Cross and the Switchblade," died in a traffic accident Wednesday (April 27), according to Religion News Service. Wilkerson was known most for his outreach to street gangs, which he started after viewing a photo in Life magazine of New York City teens charged with murder. He founded Teen Challenge, a ministry to young gang members and drug addicts, in New York in 1959. In 1963, he co-authored his best-selling story, which Christianity Today magazine listed in 2006 in the No. 32 spot on its "Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals." Amazingly, Wilkerson's last blog entry - posted the day of his death - addressed the inevitability of death. "To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights," he wrote, "and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, 'I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident.'"

English World Celebrates KJV's 400th Anniversary

English-speaking people throughout the world are celebrating the 400 anniversary of the King James Bible this month, marking its importance as a spiritual and cultural work. It it believed that the translation, also called the Authorized Version, was first published on May 2, 1611. Christian Today reports that, in Britain, Prince Charles read a passage from the KJV for the "YouTube Bible" project and stalwart atheist Christopher Hitchens honored the work as a cultural touchstone. "Though I am sometimes reluctant to admit it, there really is something 'timeless' in the Tyndale/King James synthesis," admitted Hitchens in his commentary featured in Vanity Fair. "For generations, it provided a common stock of references and allusions, rivaled only by Shakespeare in this respect." Other groups such as YouVersion organized a mass reading of the KJV, drawing online participation throughout the world.

Study Links Reliance on God with Reliance on Treatment

Religion News Service reports that cancer patients who consider the length of their lives to be "in God's hands" are more willing than others to spend money on treatments that might extend their lives, a new study shows. Michelle Martin, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, based her research on findings of a National Cancer Institute study of 4,214 patients with colorectal and lung cancer. The study, reported in a recent issue of the journal Cancer, also found African-Americans were more willing to spend all their resources to extend their life than members of other racial and ethnic groups. Martin hopes to conduct a more in-depth study. "If you see the physicians as tools of God, you might think ... if God has put these individuals in my life to help me then I should avail myself of that opportunity," she said. On the other hand, with some patients more interested in the here and now and others in the hereafter, she said it's hard to predict medical preferences without asking.