My sister went to St. Olaf; I went to Wheaton. The differences are many--she chose Olaf after hearing both orchestras--but one that's always struck me is the fact that she was able to study world religions with tenure-track professors who actually practice them. I was not, because Wheaton requires faculty to sign a statement of faith--a model that has upsides but also pretty serious downsides.
I have no problem with people of faith who maintain, in a pluralistic world, that their particular tradition offers something crucial and unique. I am one. But when it comes to learning about another faith tradition, given the option why would you want to learn from someone who isn't personally invested in it?
On more than one occasion, pastors and laypersons from progressive congregations have confided in me, “We are a little weak in our theology; we know what we don’t believe but have trouble articulating our own faith to one another and to newcomers.” They recognize that a vital faith lives by its affirmations as well as its negations, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.
In 2006, New Testament scholar Robert Wall and pastor Anthony Robinson coauthored Called to Be Church, a study of the book of Acts. Each chapter of that volume has two sections: Wall provides an interpretation of the biblical text, then Robinson reflects on how the text bears on the life of the church. The format is not unique.
Some Orthodox Christians in Russia have taken issue with Apple’s logo recently, seeing an anti-Christian symbol for humanity’s original sin in the image of a bitten fruit.
It’s hard to believe that Apple execs conspired with their graphic designers to offend Christians, but these Russian conservatives got me thinking. If we did assign significance to the Apple logo, what might it mean?
Nearly half of all former Catholics have left institutionalized religion altogether, according to a recent PRRI/RNS survey. Among former Catholics, 14 percent identify themselves as white, evangelical Protestants, and 9 percent as mainline Protestants. This cohort is more likely to be young, male, and politically liberal or independent. Former Catholics are also less likely to say their views of the Catholic Church have changed since the advent of Pope Francis. They do share similar views with Catholics on climate change, immigration reform, and same-sex marriage, although they are more liberal on legalizing abortion in all or most cases (PRRI, September 3).