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Religion Today Summaries, November 20, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 20, 2003

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

  • Theologians to Decide on Status of Open Theists
  • Christian Students Sue Their School over First Amendment Rights
  • Christian Center Attacked by Army
  • Massachusetts Court Ruling Favoring Gay Marriage 'Reprehensible'

Theologians to Decide on Status of Open Theists
Russell Shubin, Salem Communications

As the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) convened Nov. 18 in Atlanta for its 55th Annual Meeting, the issue of Open Theism seemed to overshadow regular convention business. Two ETS members, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, have been subject to a year-long inquiry as to whether their writings fall within the society's commitment to biblical inerrancy. Both Pinnock and Sanders have been proponents of Open Theism - believing that God limits Himself in his relationship with humans, and is limited in His knowledge of future events. ETS emphasized that they were not debating the merits of Open Theism. Yet in their statement, they confessed that Sanders position is "certainly idiosyncratic, esoteric, perhaps even strange." Onlookers on both sides of the openness debate will be watching to see how American evangelicalism's leading scholastic body wrestles with a theological issue that is testing the boundaries of what it means to be an Evangelical.

Christian Students Sue Their School over First Amendment Rights
Jim Brown, Agape Press

An Illinois school board is being accused of violating the First Amendment rights of Christian students. Florida-based Liberty Counsel has filed a lawsuit on behalf of students in Marion School District #2 who were barred from handing out flyers advertising a revival meeting featuring Texas evangelist Ronnie Hill.  Yesterday, a federal judge allowed Hill to give anti-drug assemblies in the district, but prohibited students from distributing invitations to the service at nearby Cornerstone Community Church. Hill says the students' actions do not violate the mythical "separation of church and state" because they are simply inviting their classmates. "This is not just about students," Hill says.  "We are inviting people to come and hear the simple gospel message of how Jesus can change their life." According to Hill, Marion residents are angered by the censorship.  "There are a lot of people in this area who are very upset because of their students not having the right to their freedom of speech and their freedom of religion," he says. A parent of a fourth-grade student sued to block Hill's secular anti-drug assemblies in Marion schools.

Christian Center Attacked by Army
Barnabas News Fund

The Egyptian Army has once again carried out a totally unprovoked attack on the Patmos Christian Centre 30km to the east of Cairo. Just after midnight on November 18th, an army dump truck was driven repeatedly into the perimeter wall surrounding the Patmos Christian Centre.  Considerable damage was caused. This is the eighth attack on the centre in the past six and a half years. Soldiers from the local army unit are seeking to destroy the wall supposedly in order to conform to a new law which requires all buildings to be at least 100 metres from the road.  The wall stands 50 metres from the road and was built ten years ago in full accordance with the law at the time.  Workers at the centre point out that some 15 mosques stand only 5 – 10 metres from the road and receive no attacks.  Church leaders say that the Minister of Defence ordered extreme Muslim officers from the local army unit to enforce the law on the Patmos Centre.  They believe the repeated attacks are a result of anti-Christian prejudice amongst Muslim officers. The Patmos Centre has been serving the local community in Egypt for fifteen years.  The centre is providing care and support for mentally and physically handicapped children and orphans, and is legally registered with the Egyptian authorities. 

Massachusetts Court Ruling Favoring Gay Marriage 'Reprehensible'
Charisma News Service
Christian groups condemned a decision this week by Massachusetts' highest court, which ruled that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution. Although it stopped short of allowing marriage licenses to be issued to seven couples who challenged the law, the Supreme Judicial Court's 4-3 ruling ordered the Massachusetts Legislature Tuesday to come up with "a scheme" to give homosexual couples marriage licenses within 180 days. "We're deeply troubled that the court put same-sex marriage on the same legal footing as marriage between a man and a woman," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. "It is clear the ramifications of this decision will have an impact beyond Massachusetts." Roberta Combs, Christian Coalition president, added: "It is reprehensible for left-wing judges, such … to disregard the will of the overwhelming majority of the American people … Traditional marriage is one of the last obstacles to the complete normalization of homosexuality in America." The Massachusetts Legislature is already considering a constitutional amendment that would legally define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Additionally, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that marriage should be preserved as such. The U.S. House is currently considering a constitutional ban on gay marriage.