Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Carl Moeller's perspective on the Middle East

Theologians Launch Blog to Tackle Biblical Illiteracy

In an effort to combat biblical illiteracy, a group of 30 seminary professors have made themselves available to provide free education to the public.

The free education comes in the form of a blog – launched this week – with regular posts on anything from prayer and spiritual formation to historical theology and biblical exposition.

"At a time when biblical literacy is at an all time low and there are so many muddled, uninformed views of the Bible, something like The Good Book Blog is such a breath of fresh air," said author of Hipster Christianity and blogger Brett McCracken.

The Good Book Blog features daily posts by faculty from Biola University's Talbot School of Theology.

On the Web:

Pastor: Obama's actions 'delusional' and tyrannical

A conservative black pastor is calling for the church and church leadership to rise up and fight against the Obama administration's decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

Two federal courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional. That means the ruling will stand in those circuit districts if no one steps up to the plate to defend that law -- and with Barack Obama's decision last week, that means the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have backed away from the plate.

The move by the White House prompted the leader of a coalition of 34,000 black churches to state that the president "has violated the Christian faith" by failing to uphold Jesus' teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman. Rev. Anthony Evans, head of the National Black Church Initiative, also stated black churches must "reassess their extraordinary support" for Obama.

Dr. Ken Hutcherson, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington, tells OneNewsNow that President Obama is not only violating a basic Christian principle, he is flying in the face of the will of the people.

Ken Hutcherson"For him to stand up and say that he's not going to defend the law [DOMA] tells me how much he is overstepping his bounds in the aspects of going against the people's will -- and we've seen that over and over and over again the last two years," says the pastor.

Read more at OneNewsNow

A waterproof Word for the homeless

Ivy Tech Community College student Kristin Scott recently visited a number of homeless shelters in Indianapolis with her church's youth group, which led her to contemplate ways she could bless the homeless beyond the gifts of food, clothing, and housing many of them already receive.

"I was eating my oatmeal in my living room, and I felt like the Lord just dropped an idea in me to raise money for waterproof Bibles for the homeless in Indianapolis," she shares. "I immediately got online...looked at the prices, and I emailed the publisher, Bardin & Marsee Publishing, and I asked if there was a bulk discount on the Bible. And that very day, they were actually putting them on discount for ministries -- a 70-percent discount."

Statistics show that roughly 15,000 people in Indianapolis become homeless each year. But while the 600 waterproof Bibles that will be provided with the help of Bardin & Marsee Publishing's "GIVE" initiative is not enough to reach all the homeless, Scott says that number is much larger than she initially expected.

"I'm going to connect with different homeless ministries in Indianapolis and give them the Bibles to distribute to the homeless," she explains.

The young college student has given herself until March 4 to raise the necessary funds. More information about her efforts is availabale at

Evangelicals take to Twitter to debate the doctrine of hell

By Rachel Held Evans

Rob Bell didn't win an Oscar on Sunday, but his name trended alongside the likes of James Franco, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale after rumors about the evangelical pastor's new book on heaven and hell spread across the blogosphere.

The book entitled "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" won't hit shelves until March 29, but that didn't stop a group of conservative bloggers from speculating about its contents.

Justin Taylor, vice president of editorial at Crossway, wrote a blog post suggesting that Bell had become a universalist and was moving "farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity." (Universalism asserts that all people will be saved and that an eternal hell is not a part of God's plan for a new heaven and new earth.) In response, Pastor John Piper issued a tweet that linked to the post and added, "Farewell Rob Bell," suggesting that such a position disqualifies Bell from Christian fellowship. Neither Taylor nor Piper have read the book in question.

By the end of the weekend, Taylor's post had garnered more than 1,000 comments and 24,000 Facebook shares. Piper's tweet went viral, catapulting Bell into a national trending topic on Twitter. Pre-orders for Bell's book soared as many bloggers rose to his defense. Almost overnight, the online evangelical community had erupted into a full-blown debate over doctrines related to heaven, hell, religious pluralism, justice, mercy and atonement.

Read more at Washington Post

Over 180,000 refugees flee to Libya's borders

GENEVA – Libyan border crossings were overwhelmed Wednesday by tens of thousands of hungry, fearful people fleeing its burgeoning civil war. Egypt and a handful of European nations launched emergency airlifts and sent ships to handle the chaotic exodus.

U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told The Associated Press that over 180,000 refugees have reached the border. Over 77,300 people have crossed east from Libya into Egypt, most of them Egyptians, while a similar number have fled west from Libya into Tunisia, she said. Another 30,000 more were still waiting in Libya at the border, trying to get into Tunisia.

She said Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's forces appear to be targeting Egyptians and Tunisians, apparently thinking they are the main trigger of the uprising against Gadhafi's 42-year-old regime. Authoritarian regimes in both neighboring countries have been toppled in the last two months by a wave of popular protests.

"(There are) many, many terrified refugees" in the Libyan capital of Tripoli who are too afraid to move for fear they will be killed, Fleming told the AP.

Read more at AP

Oil surges after Libya airstrike near oil terminal

(Reuters) - Oil prices jumped to near 2-1/2 year highs on Wednesday after an airstrike near Libya's oil infrastructure kept the market braced for a prolonged disruption from the OPEC nation and worried unrest might spread to other regional producers.

Read More at Reuters