Government Restriction on Religious Practice Increases

Government Restriction on Religious Practice Increases

November 17, 2020 By dwayman

In this November 10, 2020 article by Pew Research Center, the world is experiencing an increase in government restrictions on religious practices.  The article is based on research done in 2018 and says in part:

“The increase in government restrictions reflects a wide variety of events around the world, including a rise from 2017 to 2018 in the number of governments using force – such as detentions and physical abuse – to coerce religious groups.

The total number of countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government restrictions has been mounting as well. Most recently, that number climbed from 52 countries (26% of the 198 countries and territories included in the study) in 2017 to 56 countries (28%) in 2018. The latest figures are close to the 2012 peak in the top two tiers of the Government Restrictions Index.

As of 2018, most of the 56 countries with high or very high levels of government restrictions on religion are in the Asia-Pacific region (25 countries, or half of all countries in that region) or the Middle East-North Africa region (18 countries, or 90% of all countries in the region).”

“How do restrictions on religion vary by regime type?

In this report, for the first time, Pew Research Center combined its data on government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion with a classification of regime types, based on the Democracy Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

PREVENIENT GRACE and SOCIAL JUSTICE WORK

PREVENIENT GRACE and SOCIAL JUSTICE WORK

November 7, 2020 By dwayman

One of the most important Wesleyan theological concepts is that of Prevenient Grace.  In this paper by David N. Field, a research associate in the Institute for Theology and Religion, at the University of South Africa, South Africa, Dr. Field gives not only a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of Prevenient Grace, but also the application to our 21st century church.

Dr. Field’s definition of Wesley’s concept is best understood as he compares it to the Reformed theology.  He writes:

Prevenient grace in the theology of John Wesley

 John Wesley developed his theology of prevenient grace within the context of his rather heated debate with his Calvinist contemporaries. Wesley, along with Calvinistic theology, strongly affirmed human sinfulness and the inability and unwillingness of human beings, in their natural state, to seek God. If anything his description of human sin is more pessimistic than Calvin’s. However he rejected the Calvinist solution that God chose some human beings to  be saved and then through a special intervention of God’s grace called these and only these out of sin, enabling them to repent and believe. Wesley argued that God loved all human  beings; that Christ had died for the salvation of all,
RACIAL BARRIERS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

RACIAL BARRIERS OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

October 15, 2020 By dwayman

In a compelling move by the Business Roundtable, leaders in major corporations are recognizing, accepting, and taking action to bring justice into the lives of all people, particularly those who have been hindered from economic growth.

Graphically exploring the reality between People of Color and those who are white the evidence speaks volumes for the underlying injustice of the economic systems of the United States:

“Despite some significant strides over the generations, the events of 2020 have illustrated how far we still have to go to ensure that every person can fully realize opportunity and justice in America.

As some of the country’s largest employers, Business Roundtable CEOs believe they have a role to play in driving real change. On June 5, 2020, Business Roundtable Chairman Doug McMillon of Walmart established a Special Committee of the Board to identify meaningful steps Business Roundtable companies can take to advance racial equity and justice. On July 1, 2020, the Special Committee outlined proposals for federal policing reform legislation and launched an effort to persuade Congress to pass a bipartisan bill.”

These Chief Executive Officers of major US companies have gone on record with these encouraging statements:

CEO PERSPECTIVES ON RACIAL EQUITY & JUSTICE

“The racial inequities that exist for many Americans of color are real and deeply rooted. These longstanding systemic challenges have far too often prevented access to the benefits of economic growth and mobility for far too many,

CHURCH AND STATE and the STATE of the CHURCH

CHURCH AND STATE and the STATE of the CHURCH

October 8, 2020 By dwayman

In this short work, Dr. Kang-Yup Na provides thoughts on the state of the US election with ecclesial insights.

Kang-Yup Na is an associate professor of religion at Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pa.).  An ordained minister and the son of first-generation Christian parents, he was baptized 13 June 1965 in South Korea, moved to Tennessee just before turning ten, and since then has lived, studied, taught, and served churches in various places in New Jersey, Korea, Atlanta, Germany, and New York City.

An earlier version of this article was originally published in Engage (October 2016), a publication of The Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary.  

From more than four dozen political parties and with over 1,200 candidates who have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president, it comes down once again to two people trying to persuade their fellow citizens to vote for them to preside over these United States of America.* We face the music of our republican constitutional heritage by electing our leader from among us every four years. And every four years, we seem to perform this civic dance of ours with increasing fatalism, with more and more citizens voting against candidates as much as for them, knowing that the de facto two-party system enjoys a kind of political perichoresis that will place either a Democrat or a Republican in the White House.

SHIPHRAH AND PUAH:  Defying the State

SHIPHRAH AND PUAH: Defying the State

August 23, 2020 By dwayman

When a State official, whether a Pharaoh, Emperor or President, uses the State’s power to harm, it is the Church’s responsibility to stand in protection.  This protection can be as simple as a protest or as active as a disobedience.  In this study by the Rev. Ben Wayman, PhD, the vicious decree by the Pharaoh of Egypt to kill all the newborn Hebrew boys provides a prime example of how each Christian should use their place of influence and responsibility to protect the vulnerable.  When the State’s rulers and systems are set to oppress, harm and destroy some of the least of these among us, then to do nothing is to participate in the State’s destruction.

Dr. Wayman explains based on these scriptures:  Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

“It’s time to stop fooling around. The gospel, friends, is political. Let me repeat: the gospel is political. Christianity is political. Jesus was political. That’s because politics is about people and people are at the center of God’s heart.

Two weeks ago, we received a message on our church Facebook page that said the following:

“Why would you support a hate group, why get a church into politics. You are the number one reason all churches should pay Taxes. I’m disappointed that you would follow a false narrative such as BLM. I will pray for you and the church to find wisdom and compassion for others as I have been touched by the BLM killing and destroying peoples lives.”

We responded by thanking this person for their prayers and sent them the piece we published in the Greenville Advocate explaining why we think it’s important for the church to say Black lives matter.