proselytization

Orthodox rabbis bless Christianity? Sounds like 'groundbreaking' news. Except for ...

Orthodox rabbis bless Christianity? Sounds like 'groundbreaking' news. Except for ...

I live in Annapolis, a sailing town on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It's the capital of Maryland, briefly served as the first capital of the United States (bet you didn't know that), and is home to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Because I'm sort of a sports chameleon (except for the New York Yankees, my first sports crush) I tend to follow the local teams wherever I happen to land. Hence, I know more about Navy's teams than I ever imagined I would.

However, here's all you need to know about Navy sports.

The football team can go winless and get crushed in each of its first 11 games of the season. But as long as it beats Army, always it's last regular season opponent -- no matter what the score, no matter how poorly played a game -- the season is declared a success.

Seems like disingenuous spin to me, but that's just how it is around these parts. Every blown field goal, every dropped pass, interception, fumble, you name it -- all is forgiven. Just beat Army; 2-0 is sufficient.

I view the recent announcement by some two dozen Orthodox Jewish rabbis about Christianity being part of God's plan for humanity's salvation in a similar vein.

Journalists who are interested in this story need to know that there is considerably more smoke here than fire -- more self-affirming wish-fulfillment than anything else.

The proclamation received precious little mainstream news coverage. I'm not sure why.

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Do all liberal Protestants in Germany think Christians are wrong to convert Muslims?

Do all liberal Protestants in Germany think Christians are wrong to convert Muslims?

There are times when I am tempted to believe that many journalists are so convinced that the religious left is right that they don't even pause to listen to what folks on the doctrinal left are actually saying.

This media cheerleader stance is -- gasp! -- not always in the interests of folks in the world of progressive religion, who are -- gasp again! -- not always of the same mind when it comes to some controversial, and rather basic, issues. Some of these doctrinal differences are rather subtle and it helps to actually be paying attention when they talk.

Consider this basic question: Does everyone on the religious left oppose evangelism?

After all, the New Testament and centuries of church doctrine insist that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Does that mean that those who reject Christianity are, to be blunt, not going to heaven? Or, are there doctrinal liberals who are "Universalists" when it comes to salvation, but others who merely oppose what they believe are unethical and shallow forms of proselytism?

Now, what happens when you take complicated issues of this kind and stick them right in the tense and maybe even violent territory at the heart of one of the biggest news stories in the world? I am talking about the flood of immigrants -- about a million seeking asylum in Germany alone -- reaching Europe after fleeing the bloody hellstorm in Syria and Iraq. Here is what that looks like at the top of of an important story from Religion News Service:

(RNS) One of Germany’s largest Protestant regional churches has come under fire from other Christians for speaking out against efforts to convert Muslims just as tens of thousands of refugees from the Islamic world are streaming into the country.
In a new position paper, the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland says the passage in the Gospel of Matthew known as the Great Commission -- “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” -- does not mean Christians must try to convert others to their faith.

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'Sin' gets scare quote treatment in Portland, Ore.

'Sin' gets scare quote treatment in Portland, Ore.

Be very, very afraid, Portland!

The Christians are invading Oregon — and they want to tell your children about Jesus.

That's scary stuff, I know.

But somehow I missed — until now — the newspaper story earlier this month about some residents' concerns about an after-school Bible study club. I promise this headline is from The Oregonian, not The Onion:

Evangelical Christian clubs coming to Portland-area public schools — opposition says curriculum is 'hardcore fundamentalist indoctrination'

If you need me, I'll be hiding under my desk.

Then again, it's probably best not to delay this dramatic news:

Hundreds of Portland-area residents are organizing to stop a network of Christian clubs from proselytizing to children on public school campuses.

The Good News Club has been controversial around the country, but Portland may be the first city to organize on such a large scale against the group.

"We think if people have enough information, they'll choose not to do it," said Robert Aughenbaugh, a co-founder of Protect Portland Children. His said the group purchased a full-page advertisement in Wednesday's Willamette Week.

The Good News Club's curriculum includes teaching children that every person is a sinner. In the eyes of many Christians, "sin" is any failure to meet God's standards. The Bible states, for example, that "all have sinned."

"We believe that these doctrines are harmful to 5-year-old children," Aughenbaugh said. "They teach fear. They teach shame."

Did you catch the scare quotes around "sin?"

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Jews and Jesus: A 'Spiritual Incursion' in St. Louis

The breaking news — only 2,000 years old — that Christians and Jews have vastly different views of Jesus made the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over the weekend (and was picked up nationally by Religion News Service this week). To be more specific, the Post-Dispatch featured a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation that seeks to convert Jews.

The newspaper’s main headline immediately cast the effort in a negative light:

Now, according to my online dictionary, incursion implies “a hostile entrance into or invasion of a place or territory.” Perhaps the headline is a major reason that the story upset so many folks in the LCMS. That, and the fact that the piece used phrases such as “targeted for conversion” to describe evangelism efforts by the Lutheran congregation.

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Pod people: Proselytization, blasphemy and Gosnell

On this week’s Crossroads podcast with host Todd Wilken, we talked media coverage of the Pentagon and proselytization, religious freedom and the Benghazi whistleblowers and the trial of Kermit Gosnell. So yeah, we packed a lot in there.

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I share, you evangelize, they proselytize

Defense Dept. say proselytism is banned but evangelism is ok (and no one’s getting court martialed) ow.ly/kERmC

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