Image

Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Why Did The Acton Institute Produce "The Birth Of Freedom?"

We produced “The Birth of Freedom” to keep alive the knowledge of the role religion has played historically in the “birth,” growth and securing of freedom. While this historic reality would have been at one time a commonly held understanding, today it is not. We want to suggest something else through this film, namely that freedom cannot long prosper outside of morality—that not only did the Judeo-Christian tradition bring liberty to fruition, it must remain vibrant to sustain it.

This understanding of the symbiotic relationship between religion and liberty was a core foundation of the American experiment. But today, secularists are keen to excise religion, religious symbols and all religious influences from the public square. To think liberty can survive such a mutilation is akin to thinking a beautiful flower can come into being and continue to exist without its roots and...

Deeds Not Words: The Good Works Reader

In a time of blockbuster television specials about the discovery of “lost” gospels, Jesus seminars, and a steady stream of theological fads designed to make celebrities out of seminary professors, the thought of compiling a collection of patristic writings on the practice of good works seems slightly out of the mainstream, if not countercultural. But that is exactly what Thomas C. Oden has done with The Good Works Reader, a book that succeeds as an introduction, a guide, and a refresher course in the daunting task of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the here and now.

Oden, who has led the Protestant “paleo-orthodox” movement toward deeper appreciation of the early church, is the Henry Anton Buttz Professor Emeritus of Theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and general editor of the multivolume Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. The Good...

The Scandal of Evangelical Politics

In The Scandal of Evangelical Politics, Ronald J. Sider attempts to construct a methodology for evangelical Christians to participate faithfully in the political process. His construct is a backlash—to a degree—of the political monopolization of the religious right and its influence in politics. The book is a response to past evangelical involvement, which Sider sees as largely being a failure and highly contradictory. And while his methodology does not necessarily contradict any political goals of Christian conservatives, and is in fact in agreement with many, he wants to encourage greater biblical integrity and sound thinking.

Sider, for example, cites former senator Jesse Helms as an example of someone who brings faith into politics with improper or little theological reflection. Sider praises Helms for standing up for the unborn, then admonishes him by...

"Brand Loyalty" in the American Religious Marketplace

Earlier this year, the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life released the first installment of a truly impressive study based upon a massive survey of more than 35,000 Americans. Its portrait of "the American religious landscape" attracted a great deal of media attention, typically focusing on three or four principal themes. If you were to read only the press accounts, here's what you would know:

  • While Americans are still overwhelmingly -- at least nominally -- Christian (78.4 percent of the respondents identified themselves that way), only a bare majority (51.3 percent) call themselves Protestant. Our once dominant majority religion is headed toward being a minority religion -- still the largest single bloc of adherents, to be sure, but home only to a plurality of our country, rather than to a majority.
  • The most rapidly growing precinct in our religious...

Theology at Work: Faithful Living in the Marketplace -- An Interview with David Miller

Your book, God at Work, was published last year. Tell us about the faith-at-work movement, and what are some of the reasons for its rise in society?

David W. Miller
David W. Miller

Broadly speaking, it’s a loosely networked collection of individuals and groups throughout the country who are all seeking to integrate faith and work. Some of the groups are comprised of people from a particular company who come together in the cafeteria or in someone’s conference room and have a half hour of prayer and Bible study. But many of the groups meet outside of work, and attendees come from a variety of companies, instead of just from, let’s say, Citibank or from J.P. Morgan.

These gatherings of people to discuss how to integrate...

Editor's Note

This issue of Religion & Liberty in many ways personifies Christ in culture. The lead interview is an analysis of the faith at work movement from one of its leaders, David W. Miller. Miller reminds us of how the Church has lagged behind in integrating faith with work, and quite often many pastoral and church leaders have failed in articulating a strong theology of work. As you will see, some of these reasons are ideological, while some may simply arise from practical reasons. At the same time, faith at work has a significant grassroots following that has decisively shaped various sectors of the business and corporate arena.

Joseph M. Knippenberg offers a different analysis of the much discussed findings by the Pew Forum on Religion and & Public Life Òon the American religious landscape.Ó Knippenberg's analysis is far less dour than what has been reported in...

Does the Church Serve the State?


Rev. Robert Sirico

The secular world and the Christian world agree that religion and the state should be separate. It’s better this way for all concerned. It keeps the social peace. It prevents entanglements that can corrupt the faith. And these spheres have different jobs to do, and each can uphold its job better when they tend to matters that are their own respective responsibilities.

And yet there are times when mixing does occur, with the predictable result of social division and doctrinal confusion. I’m thinking in particular here of a case in Italy, where the Italian prime minister demanded that the church assist in task of collecting taxes via propaganda from the pulpit.

“A third of...

Juan de Lugo

Juan de Lugo

One of the most eminent moral and dogmatic theologians of his time, Cardinal Juan de Lugo, S.J., was the last representative of the famous group of early-modern Catholic thinkers associated with Spain’s University of Salamanca. Sent by his father to study law at Salamanca, de Lugo entered the Jesuits in 1603 and turned his attention to theology. His theological reputation was such that he was eventually summoned to Rome by the Jesuit General Mutius Vitelleschi in 1621.

Despite his brilliance, de Lugo remained a humble man. He only allowed publication of his writings following a direct order from his...

Work and the Final End of Man

In addition to economic and health reasons, there are also spiritual grounds for doing away with early, full-time retirement. From a Christian point of view, work is not a punishment, but it is a gift of God that allows man to take part in the furthering of the world of creation. In this, Christ gave us the supreme example: He was a diligent worker, publicly known as a carpenter’s son, and good not only in words but also in deeds (cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 2:51; Mark 7:37). Everything that Christ did had a redemptive dimension, including his professional work.

Pensions, Population, and Prosperity

Man also has...

Democratic Capitalism and its Discontents

Despite its triumphant defeat over totalitarianism and socialism, democratic capitalism still faces angry and aggressive opposition from inside the West. In his new book, Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents, Brian Anderson carefully examines this opposition and investigates the erosion of liberal democracy by contrasting the thought of classical liberal philosophers, such as Alexis de Tocqueville, with the thought of the heroes of the contemporary academy, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Antonio Negri.

Explaining what he calls the “suicide of culture,” Anderson appeals to Rocco Buttiglione’s view that libertinism is more dangerous to democratic capitalism than Marxism. Anderson explains, “Instead of crushing man’s reason and passions, as did communism, moral libertinism turns man’s passion against the truth.”

However,...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word

Jeremiah 22:13–17

“Woe to him who builds his house on wrong, his terraces on injustice; who works his neighbor without pay, and gives him no wages; who says, “I will build myself a spacious house, with airy rooms”; who cuts out windows for it, panels it with cedar, and paints it with vermillion. Must you prove your rank among kings by competing with them in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink? He did what was right and just, and it went well with him. Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, it went well with him. Is this not true knowledge of me? says the Lord. But your eyes and heart are set on nothing except on your own gain, on shedding innocent blood, on practicing oppression and extortion.”

...

Is Consumerism Harmful?

Among secular scholars, there is some debate as to whether consumerism is a real problem. James Twitchell, in his book Lead Us into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism, argues that consumerism is a beneficial phenomenon because it provides a meaning for people to replace the meaning formerly provided them by religion.

Billfold

The empirical evidence, however, indicates that consumerist attitudes are associated with reduced consumer well-being. People who are more consumeristic tend to have lower satisfaction with their lives, a greater tendency to compulsive spending, higher incidences of depression, and also lower ethical standards. Tim Kasser, in his recent book summarizing his own extensive work and that of other researchers in this area,...

Why does the Acton Institute operate the Catholic High School Honor Roll?

Since the Acton Institute’s work to build a free and virtuous society includes serving future religious and moral leaders, it makes sense to begin where these leaders are first formed in social and economic issues: high school.

Why Catholic high schools? Because they provide a starting point for broader educational work we plan to do with religious-based high schools.

Catholic schools are also of particular focus because they have shown an increasing trend toward secularization in recent decades. Having long set the benchmark for moral and academic formation as well as education in the classical liberal tradition, many schools now see a loss of traditional Catholic identity, a weakening of academic standards, and the support of views contrary to church teaching. It is no surprise that the majority of Catholic secondary students are taught to be suspicious...

A Law Beyond Law: Life Together in Deadwood

Deadwood Cover

The Black Hills of Dakota in the 1870s may seem like an unlikely place for a dramatic narrative pursuing themes of justice, service, and community, but that’s exactly what the audience gets in compelling fashion in HBO’s recently concluded series Deadwood. When creator and executive producer David Milch first pitched the idea to HBO executives, the setting was in fact ancient Rome.

Speaking of Deadwood’s setting, a mining camp, Milch says, “This was an environment, as was Rome in the time of Nero, where there was order but no law whatsoever.” The character Merrick, who runs the camp’s newspaper, the Deadwood Pioneer, observes in the first episode that the camp is officially and formally “...

The Works and Words of Love

In July 2007, the Rev. John A. Nunes was named president of Lutheran World Relief. He becomes only the fourth president to lead the international development and relief organization since it’s founding in 1945. Nunes, 44, is a former research fellow at the Acton Institute and a long-time lecturer at Acton University and the Toward a Free and Virtuous Society student conferences. At Baltimore-based LWR, Rev. Nunes will lead a staff of nearly 100 people, directing projects in thirty-five different countries, and managing a budget currently at $34.6 million. The author of the book, Voices from the City, Rev. Nunes is a contributing scholar for Modern Reformation magazine, and holds membership in the American Academy of Religion. He spoke recently with Religion & Liberty executive editor John Couretas.

...