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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

The Perils of Political Ideology

Review of Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks by Walter Brueggemann (Eerdmans, 2014) 179 pages; $15.00.

In Reality, Grief, Hope, renowned biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann proposes that, mutatis mutandis, "the crisis of 9/11 amounted to [the] same kind of dislocation in our society as did the destruction of Jerusalem in that ancient society." He continues, "The impact of 9/11, along with the loss of life, was an important turn in societal ideology. We have been forced to face new waves of vulnerability. The force of that fresh awareness is evident in the various scrambles for security that have ensued since that event." However, how he fleshes out this analogy...

Shades of Solzhenitsyn

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Thirty-five years ago, a towering intellectual and moral figure drew worldwide attention by criticizing materialism and wealth-obsession in the Western world. The Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn was alternately applauded and condemned (though mostly the latter) for his 1978 Commencement Address at Harvard University, in which he bluntly expressed profound disapproval of the prevailing culture in the United States and Europe, noting that "a decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today."

More recently, another well-known figure of great moral stature, Pope Francis, sounded the very same message in his Apostolic Exhortation ...

Freedom in an Age of Secularism: An Interview with Russell D. Moore

Russell D. Moore serves as the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Prior to his election to this role in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics. A widely-sought cultural commentator, Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him "vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate" while The Gospel Coalition has referred to him "one of the most astute...

Editor's Note

When it comes to our first freedom, perhaps nobody is more engaged in the public square right now than Russell Moore. He is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, a theologian, and a dynamic preacher. I knew of Moore long before he was a public figure. We had both worked for the same U.S. Congressman, but at different times. I heard the Congressman and other staffers praise Moore's work, integrity, and his commitment to his faith on many occasions. I was glad to finally connect with him for the purpose of this interview in this issue.

Moore discusses the state of religious liberty today and delves into why Baptists offer a unique insight on this issue because of their own persecution in American history. He also touches on the importance of ecumenical cooperation for religious liberty, an area where he has emerged as a leader.

...

Decentralization is a Fundamental Principle

This is an excerpt from Guidance for Christian Engagement in Government by Abraham Kuyper. It's the first-ever English translation of Kuyper's Our Program, which was published in 1879. The intention of his work was to inform people participating in the Dutch general elections of 1879. The French Revolution was over, but not the dangerous nature of its collectivist ideas. The influence of modern life and its secularizing influence was growing and reshaping the minds and hearts of Europeans and the rest of the Western world. Kuyper knew it would be a disaster for society if God was completely divorced from politics.

In this passage, Kuyper reflects his own idea of "sphere sovereignty." In Kuyper's words, "The sovereignty of the state as the...

Breaking Bread at Acton University

A rabbi, a school teacher, an economics major and a director of a non-profit sit down for a meal: It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but I assure you, it is not. It is lunch at Acton University.

I find it difficult to think of another single event that draws together such a diverse group of individuals from around the world, all focused on one ideal: exploring the intellectual foundations of a free and virtuous society. The Acton Institute sets the benchmark very high for this event, held every year in Grand Rapids, MI, in June, and I am pleased to say that every year, we seem to exceed our own expectations.

Don't mistake this for hubris; it is the very people who attend that make Acton University the heady experience that it is. I could talk about our impressive faculty (whose expertise ranges from economics to human trafficking to theology to community...

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen

God has gifted creation with everything that is necessary . . . . Humankind, full of all creative possibilities, is God's work. Humankind is called to co-create . . . . God gave to humankind the talent to create with all the world. Just as the human person shall never end, until into dust they are transformed and resurrected, just so, their works are always visible. The good deeds shall glorify, the bad deeds shall shame.

"This strange child" is how Hildegard was once described. Born in 1098, she was known to have visions, but kept them private for many years. Her family sent her at the age of eight for religious education. It was not until the age of 42 that she realized the full extent of her...

Why is Acton accepting Bitcoin donations?

In December of 2013, the Acton Institute started accepting Bitcoin donations. Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency that is created and exchanged electronically. While the currency solely exists in an online capacity, it can be transferred or used to purchase non-virtual goods and services. It allows online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through financial institutions.

It's a new, cheaper, and easier way for some to transfer payment in the global economy. Bitcoin can easily be exchanged into currency, which is exactly what we plan to do with our donations. It would be unwise for Acton to use resources to try and speculate about the fluctuating value of Bitcoin in the market so we will immediately convert the donations into dollars. As I write this, one Bitcoin is currently trading at $605.

A few retailers accept...

Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World

Knowledge and Power by George Gilder

Review of Knowledge and Power by George Gilder (Regnery Publishing, 2013) 400 pages; $27.95.

We are trained and educated to comprehend the operations of the universe in a materialistic way, where physical and chemical processes are assumed to be the deepest level of knowledge that can be acquired. George Gilder, in his new book Knowledge and Power, disputes that. The universe, he writes, is actually a vast information system of unfathomable limits.

Ever since the rise of information theory in the 1940s, it is becoming increasingly clear that the universe is, in a sense, digital. Information, logic, data, whatever you want to call it, lies even deeper than the material...

Reckoning with Markets: Moral Reflection in Economics

Reckoning with Markets

Review of Reckoning with Markets: The Role of Moral Reflection in Economics by James Halteman and Edd Noell. (Oxford University Press, 2012) 240 pages; $31.50.

Sometimes a book has considerable value for readers beyond its primary audience. Such is the case for a slender hardback written by two professors teaching business and economics at two Christian colleges (Wheaton in Illinois and Westmont in California). Not surprisingly, Reckoning with Markets seems aimed for Christian college students. Nonetheless, readers need not hail from collegiate environments to gain from moral reflections on economic justice and an exploration of developments in economic thought today.

Chapter one begins...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

This passage is unique amongst the Psalms because the refrain "His love endures forever" is repeated throughout all 26 verses of the Psalm. As the British evangelist and theologian Charles Spurgeon points out, "We shall have this [refrain] repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often." No matter what we give to the Lord or offer Him, He always offers so much more.

One of the aspects of life that is difficult for many is how often our lives change. But the Lord remains faithful in every aspect of His nature. Christ came to earth to rescue us, He will return for us too. There is a great and grand comfort in the enduring and eternal nature of His presence, sovereignty, and His love.

The Lord is Himself goodness. Humanity has witnessed the...

The Tipped Scales Against our Youth

If you listen to any pop-music outlet today, there is a song titled "American Girl" by Bonnie McKee. In the song's chorus, the line states, "I was raised by a television, every day is a competition." It is unclear whether that line was written out of a sociological observation, life experiences of the songs' writers, or simply because it is catchy. Regardless, those of us left sitting on the wire observing society, are left to ponder whether the line has a deeper meaning than its bubblegum pop crust. Is it possible that some within this new generation are lost and confused by the glitter and glamour of worldly options? That all of the shiny things in life, all the guarantees of behavioral dogmatics and all of the...

Poverty and Ultimate Riches

An Interview with Fr. James Schall SJ

Father James Schall was a Professor in the Department of Government at Georgetown University for over 35 years. He retired from that position in 2012. He is the author of numerous books, including: Another Sort of Learning (Ignatius Press, 1988); Idylls and Rambles (Ignatius Press, 1994); and Religion, Wealth and Poverty (Fraser Institute Press, 1990). His most recent book is Reasonable Pleasures: The Strange Coherences of Catholicism (Ignatius Press, 2013). In August of 2013, Schall published a piece in The Catholic World Report that received considerable attention titled, "Do Christians Love Poverty?" He recently spoke with managing editor Ray Nothstine.

R&L: What is the most common misconception that Christians make today about how...

Editor's Note

It's always appropriate to discuss the tragedy of poverty, perhaps even more so with the approaching 50th anniversary of many of The Great Society programs. Much of America's government centralization has been motivated by movements to alleviate poverty and care for the downtrodden. An iconic Life Magazine photo spread in 1964 titled, "The Valley of Poverty" visualized for Americans haunting images of poverty in Appalachia. But many agree that the government's war on poverty has largely been a failure with devastating consequences.

In this interview with Father James Schall, he helps us to think differently about poverty. Father Schall, a logical and clear thinker, turns many of the arguments we hear in society about poverty on their head and reintroduces us to deeper truths about the human person and Church teaching.

Rodger E. Broom...

Creative Destruction

It is heart-breaking: a major city in our nation, Detroit, filing for bankruptcy. For anyone having visited Detroit recently, there are prominent images: rows of ruined houses, empty lots given over to weeds and strewn garbage, empty storefronts and graffiti. Just a few decades ago, Detroit was a major hub of industry, vitality and culture.

Many issues are at play here, and I don't mean to discuss them all. Instead, I wish to focus on something I related in Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy. One chapter in that book focused on "creative destruction:"

… the phenomenon whereby old skills, companies, and sometimes entire industries are eclipsed as new methods and businesses take their place. Creative destruction is seen in layoffs, downsizing, the...