Religion Today Summaries - May 8, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 8, 2006

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

  • Harvest '06 with Greg Laurie Draws 21,000+ to Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Survey: Pastors Would Use Surprise Income to Build, Evangelize
  • Vatican Excommunicates Chinese Bishops
  • Baehr Calls Blasphemy, Sexual Immorality Good Reasons to Miss Da Vinci Code

Harvest '06 with Greg Laurie Draws 21,000+ to Christchurch, New Zealand

Harvest ’06 with Greg Laurie made an indelible mark this past weekend, April 28 – 30, in Christchurch, New Zealand when it held its first full-scale evangelistic event at one of the largest evangelistic outreaches in New Zealand’s history.  Over three nights, some 21,000 adults, teens, and children gathered at the arena to listen to popular music from Christian recording artists Audio Adrenaline, Steven Curtis Chapman, and The Katinas before settling in to listen intently to the message of God’s forgiveness and love presented pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie. Speaking conversationally on topics like, “Jesus and the Skeptic,” “Everyday Jesus,” and “Immortality,” Laurie addressed spiritual issues head-on, explaining the need for a Savior and the ultimate price Jesus paid for humanity.  As Laurie described the forgiveness that is available and free to anyone who asks, over the course of the weekend more than 2,000 people made their way to the floor of the Westpac Centre to commit their lives to Christ.

Survey: Pastors Would Use Surprise Income to Build, Evangelize

An AgapePress story cites a new survey about what pastors nationwide would do if their church received an unexpected financial windfall. The research was conducted for Facts & Trends magazine -- a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention -- and sought to clarify the overall budget and spending priorities of clergy and lay people. According to the survey, 31 percent of the more than 500 Protestant pastors surveyed said they would build, expand, or update their church's buildings and facilities. That preference was even more pronounced among Southern Baptist pastors, 43 percent of whom said they would spend the unexpected financial boon on facilities. Sixteen percent of all pastors said they would use the windfall to increase community evangelism activities. Paying off debt (12 percent) and adding staff (10 percent) were also among the priorities expressed. Only one percent indicated they would use the windfall to increase the salaries or benefits for staff members. In a companion survey of almost 1,200 Protestant lay people, the top three priorities for spending a windfall would be paying off debt (18 percent), increasing social programs (18 percent), and building, expanding, or updating church facilities (17 percent).

Vatican Excommunicates Chinese Bishops

The Vatican on Thursday excommunicated two bishops ordained by China's state-controlled church without the pope's consent, escalating tensions as the two sides explore preliminary moves toward improving ties, CBSNews reports. The Vatican also excommunicated the two bishops who ordained them. Church law requires excommunication for any such ordination without Vatican consent. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls cited Article 1382 of the Catholic Church's canon law, which states that "both the bishop who, without a pontifical mandate, consecrates a person a bishop, and the one who receives the consecration from him, incur a 'latae sententiae excommunication,'" which means they are automatically excommunicated.

Baehr Calls Blasphemy, Sexual Immorality Good Reasons to Miss Da Vinci Code

A well-known pro-family media critic advises Christians to forego seeing the movie screen adaptation of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code, and he says they should warn others to avoid the film as well. AgapePress reports that Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, says that when it comes to the kind of content viewers will find if they decide to go see the upcoming theatrical release, "There's a lot of good reasons for people not to [go]." On May 17, two days before the movie's general release, a group of Christian leaders are going to hold a press conference in Washington, DC, to address the issues surrounding the controversial film. Baehr, who will be part of that group, says there is a lot more to plot than just the assertion that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. That is minor compared to some of the other blasphemous ideas presented in the story. Christians should avoid the movie based on Brown's novel, he contends, "because the book is just chock full of occultism, Rosicrucianism, Masonic Satanism, et cetera."