Week after week, day after day, Christians pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But the kingdom doesn’t come. If heaven stands for the realm where God’s shalom reigns fully and freely, then the gap between heaven and earth never closes, and at times it only seems to widen.
Apart from Billy Graham, who is sidelined by age, the most influential evangelical Christian in the U.S. these days is probably author and pastor Rick Warren. His best sellers on the “purpose-driven church” and the “purpose-driven life” have reached millions in both evangelical and mainline circles. His casual, unbuttoned demeanor captures the modern evangelical style.
For many African churches, the all-night vigil is a centerpiece of devotion and is not limited to any particular season. The event commonly begins at 9 or 10 p.m., usually on a Friday, and runs until four or five the following morning. Particularly among the independent or African-instituted churches, prayer is accompanied by acts of healing and exorcism. These services commonly draw thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of people. Night vigils also flourish among the booming evangelical and Pentecostal churches of South Korea, where hundreds of thousands pass their Friday nights in prayer and praise. In terms of timing, endurance and mass appeal, the closest Western parallels to these Christian celebrations would be found in dance clubs and rave parties in major cities.
Shortly before Christmas, while defending his plan to give federal aid to the collapsing U.S. automakers, President Bush remarked, “I have abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”
Countless times over the past two decades, when this magazine had an especially important theological book to review or topic to explore, we contacted William C. Placher, one of our editors at large. And since he could not write all the articles we suggested, we would often have to move to the next thought: Who can write almost as well as Bill?
The 35 people executed in the United States in 2014 represent the fewest number in two decades, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The decline is driven in part by continuing legal disputes related to drugs used in lethal injection and by state moratoriums on the death penalty. The center, which opposes the death penalty, also found that the 72 death sentences issued in 2014 represents the fewest in 40 years. Perhaps most striking about the 2014 report was the fact that Texas, the perennial leader in carrying out the death penalty, was no longer alone at the top (as it has been for 17 years). It was tied with Missouri for the most executions, with ten (RNS).