Posts belonging to Category Religion

Pew Forum U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

From the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:

U.S. Religious Landscape Survey:

A major survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith. A majority of those who are affiliated with a religion, for instance, do not believe their religion is the only way to salvation. And almost the same number believes that there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their religion.

Pew Forum | Religious Landscape Survey | Religion in America: Non-Dogmatic, Diverse and Politically Relevant

Here is another chart from the same report showing the major religious traditions in the United States:

Pew Forum | Religious Landscape Survey | Major Religious Traditions in the U.S.

See related post:  Pew Forum Religion Survey Skewed?

Sunday Morning SoundBytes – 6/22/2008

Yesterday’s message in the Life of Samuel series was called Losing God in Religion, taken from 1 Samuel 4:1-22. If religion is supposed to bring us closer to God, then how is it possible to lose God in religion? It is very possible, and this incident in 1 Samuel 4 shows us how it happened to the Israelites, and how it can also happen to us today. Here is a brief outline of the message:

How can you lose God in religion?

1) You can lose God by emphasizing ritual over relationship (1-5)
    – Depending on human wisdom rather than God’s word
    – Trying to manipulate God for your own purposes
    – Focusing on religious objects rather than God
    – Expecting God’s blessing without repentance

2) You can lose God by following a false religion (6-9)
    – Not recognizing the one true God
    – Holding on to misinformation
    – Believing you can fight against God and win

3) Nothing is worse than losing God (10-22)
    – Losing God is worse than defeat
    – Losing God is worse than death
    – Nothing can compensate for losing God in your life

Note: Click on the Sermons tab at the top of the blog for this and other messages.

Vox Day on the New Atheists

Vox Day waxes eloquent on the New Atheists:

This trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, is a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudoscientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world. I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.” (Vox Day; The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, pp. 13-14)

HT: Evangelical Outpost

The Bible vs the Koran

The Economist recently ran an article on the Bible versus the Koran. The article focused mostly on the business side of marketing the two books but had some interesting things to say along the way. Here are some excerpts from the article.

CHRISTIANS and Muslims have one striking thing in common: they are both “people of the book”. And they both have an obligation to spread the Word—to get those Holy Books into the hands and hearts of as many people as they can …

Spreading the Word is hard. The Bible is almost 800,000 words long [while] … the Koran is a mere four-fifths of the length of the New Testament … Yet over 100m copies of the Bible are sold or given away every year. Annual Bible sales in America are worth between $425m and $650m; Gideon’s International gives away a Bible every second. The Bible is available all or in part in 2,426 languages, covering 95% of the world’s population.

The Koran is not only the most widely read book in the Islamic world but also the most widely recited (“Koran” means “recitation”). There is no higher goal in Muslim life than to become a human repository of the Holy Book; there is no more common sound in the Muslim world than the sound of Koranic recitation.

Reciting the Koran is the backbone of Muslim education. One of the most prized honorifics in Islamic society is “hafiz” or “one who has the entire scripture off by heart”. Do so in Iran and you get an automatic university degree. The great recitors compete in tournaments that can attract audiences in the hundreds of thousands—the world cups of the Islamic world. The winners’ CDs become instant bestsellers …

There is a difference, however, between getting and understanding a Holy Book. Here both Christianity and Islam suffer from serious problems. Americans buy more than 20m new Bibles every year to add to the four that the average American has at home. Yet the state of American biblical knowledge is abysmal. A Gallup survey found that less than half of Americans can name the first book of the Bible (Genesis), only a third know who delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Billy Graham is a popular answer) and a quarter do not know what is celebrated at Easter (the resurrection, the foundational event of Christianity). Sixty per cent cannot name half the ten commandments; 12% think Noah was married to Joan of Arc. George Gallup, a leading Evangelical as well as a premier pollster, describes America as “a nation of biblical illiterates”.

Muslims greatly prefer to read the Koran in the original Arabic. Yet the archaic language and high-flown verse, while inspiring, can also be difficult to understand even for educated Arabic speakers. And only 20% of Muslims speak Arabic as their first language. Illiteracy rates are high across the Muslim world. Many students of the Holy Book do not understand much of what they are memorizing.

What are your thoughts on the article?

HT: Evangelical Outpost

News and Notes – 11/29/2007

Fat Hedgehog

Super-size me. Looks like somebody ate too much turkey for Thanksgiving. Meet George, an extremely fat hedgehog found by a wildlife aid group on the side of the road along with his friend Mildred, which is normal-sized.

Unclear of the concept. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to be an official observer for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In a recent speech to his militia in Iran, Ahmadinejad said, “If the White House officials allow us to be present as an observer in their presidential election we will see whether people in their country are going to vote for them again or not.” Will someone please explain to the president of Iran that George Bush is not even allowed to run in this election?

Also unclear of the concept. The Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, California offers Sunday School classes for the children of atheist parents. “One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me.” (HT: Stand to Reason)

Maps of the World’s Religious and Imperial History

Here are two fascinating flash video maps from the Maps of War website. The first map shows how the geography of religion has evolved over the centuries. Pay special attention to Christianity’s explosive growth that began with the rise of modern missions in the 1700-1800’s.

                                            History of Religion

                      (5000 years of religious history in 90 seconds)

The second map traces the major empires of the world showing who has controlled the Middle East over the course of world events.

                              Imperial History of the Middle East

                      (5000 years of imperial history in 90 seconds)

HT: World on the Web

Related post: Map of the World’s Religions

Ramadan – 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World

The month of Ramadan begins today (September 13 – October 12 for the year 2007). Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and the most sacred month of the Islamic year. Muslims believe that the first verse of the Qur’an (Koran) was revealed to Muhammad during Ramadan in AD 610. Each year at this time Muslims fast during the daylight hours for the whole month. In addition to fasting, Muslims are encouraged to read the entire Qur’an.

30-Days International produces a “30-Days of Prayer for the Muslim World” Christian prayer guide coinciding with Ramadan each year. The booklet contains daily readings with prayer points, informative background articles, a list of titles for further study and a resource section featuring ministries and services focusing on the Muslim world. There is also a Children’s Edition with quizzes, stories and maps. You can order the 52-page booklet here, or you can sign up for the free email version which is distributed daily during the 30 days of Ramadan. Free pdf versions of the adult and children’s editions are also available for download.

I have signed up for the daily emails and look forward to participating in this prayer effort. If you are a Christian, would you consider participating also? Here is an additional challenge. When you consider that Muslims around the world are committed to fasting and reading through the entire Qur’an this month, how much time are you investing in prayer and Bible reading?

HT: Between Two Worlds

News and Notes 8/28/2007

You can’t do that. China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. The Bible does not teach reincarnation, but pretending reincarnation was real, how exactly would they enforce this ruling?

Long shot. A bullet fired from a police gun range hit a military veteran as he stood outside a car dealership almost a mile away. “It felt like someone hit me with a ball bat or like a bird struck me in the side,” said Bill Bolechala, who had served 24 years in the military including a stint in Vietnam without being wounded.

Sour grapes. A Michigan woman was fined $250 after throwing grapes at school board members following a contoversial vote. Apparently the vote didn’t go her way.

Map of the World’s Religions

Books by Ray Fowler (click on the book images to view on Amazon):

Click here for more books in the Understanding God’s Word series.

Here is an interesting map of the world’s religions. (Click map for larger view.)

Map of the World’s Religions
                Source: The Atlas of Faiths; Encyclopedia Britannica (2003)

Each colored section on the map corresponds to the majority religion by population for that region. Here are some of the colors and the religions they represent:

  • Blue = Muslims
  • Yellow = Roman Catholics
  • Orange = Protestants
  • Red = Christians from various churches
  • Purple = Indigenous religions
  • Dark red = Orthodox Christians
  • Light blue = Mormons

I thought this was an interesting overview of how the different religions are concentrated in various parts of the world. As a Christian it is also a good reminder of the importance of world missions and our responsibility in spreading the good news about Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)

Recommended Books on World Religions:


HT: Brad Wright

See related posts:

Top 50 Religious Films

Here is a list of the top 50 religious films as put together by the Church Times. These are classified as religious films, not necessarily Christian films.

I have seen eighteen of these. Some of my favorites from the list are: The Mission; On the Waterfront; The Apostle; Chariots of Fire; Witness; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; and Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Another favorite that is not on the list is Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth.

What are some of your favorite films on the list? Any favorites missing? Any titles that should be removed? Continue reading for the complete list.


Teens, Religion and Sex

The Dallas Morning News recently conducted a Q&A with Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. Regnerus helped lead a multi-year research project on teens, religion and sex, the results of which appear in his new book, Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teens.

Here are some excerpts:

One of the arguments in your book is that religion makes a difference in the lives of American teens. What difference does religion make?

Simply being Presbyterian or Catholic or evangelical is not as important as internalizing the faith. Kids for whom Christianity is a central identity – not just another aspect of their lives – tend to make more thoughtful and mature decisions about sex. But this is rarer than most people think: Less than 10 percent of all youth do this.

In the book, you write about surprising findings concerning evangelical teens. What were they?

Evangelical teens express conservative attitudes about sex, but they are very average in their actual behavior. Why? Because evangelical kids live in two worlds. The new world tells them to value career, self-fulfillment, happiness and entertainment – and this is what adults and parents model for them. But the old world – to which evangelicals still pay deference – values keeping commitments, God, marriage and delaying pleasure.

Most American kids only live in the new world. Evangelicals still inhabit both. The result is conflict and compromise: old world values but new world actions.

Parents and adults, did you get that? Unless we model what we believe, our teens are less likely to follow through on what they believe. We teach with our lives as much if not more than with our words.

HT: The Evangelical Outpost

Atheist Books Top Latest Bestsellers of Religion

Two of these things are not like the others. Here is the top ten list of Latest BestSellers of Religion Hardcover from Publishers Weekly for the week of March 12, 2007. Do you notice something strange about the list? The top two books are both by atheists attacking religion and defending atheism. What is wrong with this picture? This is like giving out country music awards to a rap group. (Or rap music awards to a country group.)

  1. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
  2. Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
  3. Get Out of the Pit! Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance, by Beth Moore
  4. The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren
  5. Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, by Joel Osteen
  6. Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John Eldredge
  7. How to See Yourself as You Really Are, by Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins
  8. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs
  9. The Confident Woman, by Joyce Meyer
  10. Epicenter: Why Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future, by Joel Rosenberg

Reported in DallasNews Religion; HT: PastorBlog

Update: Here are some recent articles by Albert Mohler and Alvin Plantinga on the Dawkins and Harris books mentioned above.