How do the religious practices of immigrants to the Western World affect their integration? How does the process of immigration affect their faith?
By Mark D. Harris
The Syrian Civil War and the advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have caused a human disaster of the highest degree. According to recent media estimates, 300,000 have died and 10 million have been made homeless since demonstrations began in the fateful “Arab Spring” of 2011. A terrible situation has become worse. US, Kurdish and Iranian forces are attacking ISIS, but Russian forces in Syria are also targeting US-backed Syrian rebels who are trying to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. There is no end in sight.
Unsurprisingly such misery has generated millions of refugees. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have accepted 3.5 million between them, but a tide of refugees is beginning to roll towards Europe. Many countries have absorbed some, and Germany has agreed to accept 800,000. Libya, sub-Saharan Africa, and many other failed states also send tens of thousands of migrants to Europe, and the United States, every year.
Continue reading “Immigration, Religion, and the West”
Faith and Scholarship: What does it mean to be a Christian Intellectual? Let’s see…
By Mark D. Harris
Years ago my wife and I were buying Christmas gifts for our children and we ran across some information cards that proclaimed in bold letters “It’s OK to be smart.” I was a little surprised that anyone would think that it is not OK to be smart. Having that announcement on a stack of cards is a little like printing “It’s OK to be healthy” on a bag of apples; who would dispute it?
Nonetheless, the marketers for those cards put it there. Over the years I have noticed the same message again and again. It is on products, in the media, and even on the playground. Hearkening back to my childhood, I remember the “nerd” and the “pencil necked geek”. The “jock” would get the girls and the “brain” would get the scorn. This is not a new phenomenon.
Continue reading “A Christian Intellectual”
Parenting is not over when a child leaves home. In many ways, the hardest part is just beginning.
By Mark D. Harris
I was chatting with a friend, a professor of government late of Georgetown University, during our Wednesday night church dinner. He mentioned several Christian youth he had recently met who had lived a sheltered life of homeschooling and church activities, and his concern of how they would do when confronted with the belligerent anti-Christian staff and libertine lifestyles prevalent in most secular universities. As my oldest will be starting a state college this fall, I was intrigued by his observation. This educated and devoted man was certainly right to be concerned, and mentioned that he wanted his children to attend a Christian school when the time comes. There are many sad tales of students raised in Christian homes who are too unprepared intellectually and too undisciplined morally to resist the temptations of living on their own. How many make mistakes that haunt them for the rest of their lives?
At the same time, Jesus and His disciples lived and worked in Galilee, the most cosmopolitan place in Palestine. He clearly tells us to be in the world but not of the world (John 15:19, 17:14-16), and to be as salt (Matthew 5:13) to preserve and light (Matthew 5:14) to illuminate the fallen world. How does a faithful Christian know what to do in the face of such important principles?
Continue reading “A Child Leaving Home, and the Providence of God”
The Apostle Paul emphasized righteousness, faith, redemption, and justification in his letter to the Romans.
By Mark D. Harris
The book of Romans has been described as the magnum opus of the Apostle Paul. In it, Paul laid out his theology of Christ and salvation in his clearest, most concentrated style. Scholars have labored to plumb the depths of Paul’s words and concepts for centuries, and much is still to be written. Luther and the other Reformers found in the first five chapters of Romans their fundamental idea for the Reformation, justification by faith alone.
Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη dikaiosynē) to Paul was not a result of good works, earned by the person, as though he could gain a favorable account with God by his deeds. Rather, righteousness is a standing imparted by God as a result of faith (Romans 4:3), which is itself a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). For centuries, Christian scholars have contrasted righteousness by faith, a Pauline Christian teaching, with righteousness by works, a Judaistic teaching. E.P. Sanders work minimized “righteousness by works” in Judaistic teaching in the first century and emphasized “righteousness by covenant”. This has significantly shaped the modern discussion, and borne some good fruit by improving Jewish-Christian understanding. However, Sanders’ “covenantal nomism” has a serious flaw. If the Jews are saved because they are God’s covenantal people, but must still perform good works to stay in that relationship, salvation still depends on works.
Continue reading “Key Concepts of Paul in Salvation – Romans”