Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Editor's Notes

In a 2013 commencement address at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, Makoto Fujimura told the graduating class, "We are to rise above the darkened realities, the confounding problems of our time." A tall order for any age, but one God has decisively overcome in Jesus Christ. Fujimura uses his talent to connect beauty with the truth of the Gospel in a culture that has largely forgotten its religious tradition and history. He makes those things fresh and visible again. With works like "Walking on Water," and the "Four Holy Gospels," Fujimura is illuminating God's Word to a culture that is mostly inward looking and mired in the self. His art is world renowned, and he provides stunning imagination and beauty for the text that restores the world.

For this issue, I contribute a column on the dangers of state religion. Secularism, now thriving as the...

Lightening Our Burdens

Recently, a 14-year-old in Michigan carried his younger brother on his back for 40 miles. The younger brother (Braden) is afflicted with cerebral palsy, and his big brother, Hunter, wanted to bring awareness to the disease while trying to raise money for medical research. Over the course of two days, the brothers completed their journey, which they called the "Cerebral Palsy Swagger."

A cynic might look at this and say, "So what? What did the kid prove? His little brother still has cerebral palsy, and he didn't even raise that much money."

I am not a cynic. (I admit to occasionally being cynical, but I am not a cynic.) These brothers accomplished quite a bit. The younger brother was not simply "along for the ride," but an active participant. There is something about him that moved his older brother to do this in the first place, but...

Charles Malik

Charles Malik

The greatest thing about any civilization is the human person, and the greatest thing about this person is the possibility of his encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.

Lebanese academic, philosopher, theologian, and diplomat Charles Malik served as a drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as president of the thirteenth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. His life's work emphasized the centrality of individual rights over collectivism, that humanity's most treasured possessions are the mind and the conscience.

For Malik, freedom included the right to become in addition to the right to exist. It was on this basis that he defended freedom of conscience,...

How Much Progress has Acton made with its Capital Campaign?

In the Winter 2012 issue of Religion & Liberty, I discussed Acton's decision to seek a new downtown headquarters. Our growth over the last few years has been phenomenal. In the FAQ column from 2012, I briefly mentioned our Acton@25 Capital Campaign. This initiative not only secured our move to 98 E. Fulton but allowed us to make the kind of investments that will enhance our current work while continuing to expand. For those of you have been able to visit our new building, you have seen firsthand the potential the technology and space provides in helping us reach new audiences.

Currently, one of the key final phases to our capital campaign is the completion of a fully functional media and recording studio. For us there will be a lot of added media value with the use of live-streaming technology. Some of that was on display during our "Faith, State, and...

Ambition Meets Complexity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Review of The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs And the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk (Doubleday 2013) 272 pages; $26.95.

Jeffrey Sachs, the world-renowned professor of economics and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals, makes a bold claim: Extreme poverty can be eradicated and the means for doing so may not be as difficult as we imagine.

In The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, contributing editor at Vanity Fair and journalist Nina Munk details the six years she spent following Jeffrey Sachs around Africa, tracking the development of his Millennium Villages Project, a $120 million effort that began in 2005, aimed at reducing poverty...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Colossians 3:1-4

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

One of the greatest truths about the incarnation is that the Father looks upon us just as He looks upon His Son, Christ Jesus. He does not condemn us or desire to punish us, but rejoices that humanity through the person and work of Christ has been joined into the Trinitarian relationship.

Sometimes we wrongly think of the incarnation as a temporary event, that Christ put on human flesh for only His time on earth. But even now he is clothed in our humanity and is seated at the right hand of the Father. In...

A Curmudgeon's Counsel for the Workplace and Life

Review of The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead by Charles Murray (Crown, 2014), 140 pages; $17.95.

If you've ever wondered what a libertarian curmudgeon's guide to life, love, and making a living might look like, well look no further. Charles Murray, the social scientist and best-selling author of such books as Losing Ground (1984) and Coming Apart (2012), has given us such a book in The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead. Aimed at those in their 20s or those approaching those years, much of the book's advice is just as applicable to someone in their 30s or 40s, or someone, like me, in their 50s. Interestingly, the book started off as a kind of workplace advice column...

John Milton on Liberty, License, and Virtuous Self-Government

John Milton

The notion that genuine liberty is predicated upon virtuous self-government was an accepted ideal among many of the United States' founders. During the Founding era, this ideal was perhaps best expressed in a 1791 letter by the Irish-born British parliamentarian Edmund Burke, who wrote: "Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites . . . It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."

Burke's convictions and concerns were anticipated by the English poet and Interregnum statesman John Milton (1608-74). Throughout his writings, Milton addressed...

Vietnam, Luther, and the Doctrine of Vocation

Uwe Siemon-Netto

An Interview with Uwe Siemon-Netto

Uwe Siemon-Netto is the founder and executive director emeritus of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life in Capistrano Beach, California. He is also a regular contributor to English- and German-language publications. Siemon-Netto, a native of Leipzig, Germany, has been an international journalist for over 50 years. His assignments have included the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War (over a period of five years), the Arab-Israeli Six Day War, and China's Cultural Revolution.

In mid-career, he turned to theology, earning his M.A. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and his Ph.D....

Editor's Notes

In getting to know Uwe Siemon-Netto, I learned that one of his most admirable qualities is his willingness to speak his mind and stand clearly for truth amid a drifting and compromising culture. I'm sure he'd think nothing of my complimentary view of his character given all he has seen and accomplished. His life reminds me of the popular song "I've Been Everywhere," first made popular in America by the country singer Hank Snow. Siemon-Netto has been all over the world as a journalist covering many of the biggest and most chaotic events of the 20th Century.

As readers will see in this issue's interview, Siemon-Netto's life in journalism gives him added insight as a theologian. As a journalist and theologian, he sees deeply into many of the problems that plague the media today. As somebody who enjoys studying military history, I appreciate Siemon-...

Reasons to Celebrate

President Barack Obama has just met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. It is always an important event when the president of our nation meets with one of the most important religious leaders in the world, regardless of who occupies either office at the time of such a meeting.

There are topics I would have liked to see these two men discuss, but I, like most of the world, am not privy to most of their conversation. What I hope is this: that these two men, who have considerably different worldviews, are able to set aside differences for a meaningful discussion with fruitful results.

I think back a few decades to the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. While the two had basic Christian beliefs in common, they were shaped as men by very different experiences. While Reagan was serving stateside in the military during WWII, Karol Wojtyla was trying to...

Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter

It is God's great mercy to mankind, that he will use us all in doing good to one another; and it is a great part of his wise government of the world, that in societies men should be tied to it by the sense of every particular man's necessity; and it is a great honour to those that he maketh his almoners, or servants, to convey his gifts to others; God bids you give nothing but what is his, and no otherwise your own but as his stewards. It is his bounty, and your service or stewardship, which is to be exercised.

Richard Baxter is recognized by many as the most prolific theological writer of the 17th Century. He wrote 140 books, many of them while serving in the pastorate. Timothy Keller, pastor...

Christian Environmentalism and the Temptation of Faux Asceticism


It is important to clarify the Church's teaching on asceticism because many voices in the environmental movement encourage a kind of ascetical lifestyle in the name of "ethical consumption." Orthodox writers on the environment are not immune to the temptation of putting the ascetical tradition of the Church in the service of another agenda. For example, the conclusion of the Inter-Orthodox Conference on Environmental Protection, held in Crete in 1991, states: "Humanity needs a simpler way of life, a renewed asceticism, for the sake of creation."

Many Orthodox writers call on asceticism— fasting in particular—to reduce consumption. Deacon Dr. John Chryssavgis, the theological...

Why is the Acton Institute Fighting the city of Grand Rapids for Non-Profit Property Tax Exempt Status?

As many city governments seek additional revenue to deal with their growing budgets, one of the new emerging and favorite targets is non-profits. A new survey from the University of Michigan highlights how local government officials are looking to put the tax squeeze on non-profits, educational institutions, and charitable organizations. At Acton, we are currently experiencing this first hand. The city of Grand Rapids denied our property tax exemption request for our new $ 7 million downtown headquarters. Acton lost an appeal to the city's board of review and will appeal to Michigan's state Tax Tribunal.

The city is trying to define us very narrowly as not being a charitable or educational organization but their argument does not persuade anyone familiar with our work for more than two decades. We are confident our appeal will be successful because of the existing...

How our Permanent Political Class Resembles Organized Crime

Review of Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets by Peter Schweizer. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) 256 pages; $27.00.

If you want to understand how our federal government operates, you might learn more by studying the Mafia instead of civics. In Extortion, Peter Schweizer offers examples and evidence of how the permanent political class is run like an organized crime ring. Shake-downs, protection money, and political slush funds for private use are not only legal, but it's a thriving racket. And it's the sellers of influence who are the biggest benefactors, more so than those trying to buy influence.

The common consensus on political...