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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 5, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 5, 2007

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

  • Church Losing the Institution, Following Jesus
  • Christian Human Rights Lawyer Reports Persecution in China
  • ELCA Head Makes Call to Church Against 'Sin of Racism'
  • "Orthodox Christian Leadership in a Brave New World"

Church Losing the Institution, Following Jesus

The Christian Post reportst that church is no longer going to be a once-a-week Sunday morning experience, according to a megachurch pastor who also believes that titles and affiliations will no longer matter. "I think we're in a new era in the Church," said the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. "And that era is 'denominationless.'" Americans are demonstrating an increasing thirst for something less institutional, something closer to a relationship with God and Jesus Christ. So what's church going to look like in the near future? "I think the Church is actually going to reflect what Jesus Christ has envisioned the Church being since day one – a body of believers, not necessarily congregated in a specific location, but those who have a sincere faith and a heart and love for Jesus Christ, who are committed to him, and worship God and worship the tri-nature of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ in unique ways that is yet to be determined," commented Schuller in an interview with The Christian Post.

Christian Human Rights Lawyer Reports Persecution in China

ASSIST News Service reports that as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaches, Chinese Christians are facing increased levels of persecution as authorities seek to keep dissidents away from international media, according to a Christian attorney in Beijing. The Baptist Standard reported that Christian human rights lawyer Li Heping says he was kidnaped and tortured for nearly six hours on Sept. 29, and two other Beijing Christian activists have been held under house arrest since Oct. 1. Li, who has defended a number of cases involving Christians arrested for underground house-church activities, is a partner in the Beijing Global Law Firm. The Baptist Standard reported that Li described his ordeal in a statement to the international community titled “May the Light of Rule of Law Shine on China – Personal Statement from Attorney Li Heping on Being Beaten.” Li reported being kidnapped, interrogated and tortured by four men who claimed to be members of the Beijing State Security Bureau.

ELCA Head Makes Call to Church Against 'Sin of Racism'

The Christian Post reports that an apparent increase in noose incidences has religious and community leaders crying out against hate and "the sin of racism." "I write to you today with grave concern about the 'spiritual crisis concerning race relations' that we continue to experience in this country," the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), wrote in a letter released Thursday. "This spiritual crisis affects both church and society and calls us to respond with the urgency and strength as those who have gone before us." Since September's Jena 6 rally, nooses – a symbol of racial violence and hate – have shown up on the doors of black professors, on school campuses, and outside a Valley Stream, N.Y., home and a post office near New York City's ground zero. Swastikas have also popped up in several places. ELCA's Hanson made a call to the denomination's leaders to "name the sin of racism and lead us in our repentance of it."

"Orthodox Christian Leadership in a Brave New World"

The American Orthodox Institute and AGAIN Magazine, published by Conciliar Press Ministries, announced the release of a special issue titled, “Orthodox Christian Leadership in a Brave New World.” A Religion News Service release states that the Fall 2007 issue features a lead article by Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse, president of the American Orthodox Institute, that examines the contentious “culture wars” of recent decades in a new light. “The political arena will always remain a venue for moral conflicts, but we sell ourselves short if we conclude that the political dimension is the arena where these questions will find their final resolution,” Rev. Jacobse writes. Drawing on the Orthodox Christian moral tradition, which finds its sources in the Bible and patristic teachings, he called for a broader involvement in public life by the Church. “If Orthodox Christians should understand anything, it is this: Salvation is a concrete, existential encounter with the living God,” Rev. Jacobse said.