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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

Desiccated Christianity

It's important to emphasize this Christological dimension of Christian charity because many Christian agencies and even whole religious orders of consecrated men and women, originally founded on the basis of this original Christian inspiration, appear to have settled for a kind of Christian gloss over charitable work that is secular at its core. These religious communities have unwittingly allowed themselves to be guided by a kind of materialist framework for helping the poor. Such groups would do well to understand that Mother Teresa's words are not an expression of mere sentiment or outdated piety. They are a reflection of a core Christian idea, one that inspired those armies of missionaries who sought out "the lost"--so as to tend their material needs, certainly, but also to share the message of eternal life in Christ. Their great sacrifice, heroism, ingenuity...

Charles W. Colson

One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that I don't ever get up in the morning and wonder if what I do matters.

Charles W. Colson was one of the most remarkable leaders of the evangelical world. An honors graduate of Brown University and the American University Law School, a Marine captain, and a successful lawyer, Colson first achieved fame (or notoriety) as Special Counsel to President Nixon. As a member of Nixon's inner circle, Colson quickly developed a reputation for ruthlessness as "Nixon's hatchet man." He was involved in leaking confidential FBI reports to the press to undermine Daniel Ellsberg during the Pentagon Papers trial and to discredit the antiwar movement, and was involved...

Asceticism and Bad American Religion

Review of Ross Douthat's Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (ISI, April 2012) ISBN: 978-1439178300. Hardcover, 352 pages; $26.00.

Among other things, Ross Douthat argues in his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, that Americans have become a "nations of narcissists." He sees the evidence for this in our becoming a "nation of gamblers and speculators, gluttons and gym obsessives, pornographers and Ponzi schemers, in which household debt rises alongside public debt, and bankers and pensioners and automakers and unions all compete to empty the public trough" (p. 25).

Looking around, it is hard to dispute this. The free market is no longer really and truly...

O Brave New Abundance!

Review of Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler's Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think. (ISI, February 2012) ISBN: 978- 1451614213. Hardcover, 400 pages; $26.99.

Technological innovation can grow the pie, but it can't love you

We have come through the Occupy Wall Street movement's long winter of discontent, its iconic protestor clutching an iPhone in one hand, an "Eat the Rich" sign in the other, and not a single one of his comrades willing to pose the simple question: Who would create the next good thing if the Steve Jobses of the world have all been gobbled up? So it was refreshing to see an unapologetic exercise in grow-the-pie optimism blossoming onto the New York Times...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Hebrews 7:25

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

The entire life, death, and resurrection of Christ was an intercessory act for humanity. It continues to this day, where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. All of eternity is encompassed by the priestly act of His intercession. "The expression 'at the right hand' must therefore be understood in this sense: to exist in a state of perfect blessedness, where there is justice, peace and joy," said Augustine. The great joy is that his intercessory work is an effectual and permanent work in saving us because Christ is the once and final sacrifice. The Lord in the 110th Psalm promised us a priest forever. He is not a priest with imperfections nor does his priestly office ever end. He always has the will and ear of...

Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution

Review of Leon Aron's Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 (ISI, June 2012) ISBN: 978-0300118445. Hardcover, 496 pages; $40.00.

Review: The Second Russian Revolution (1987-1991)

"There are different ways to understand how revolutions work," writes Leon Aron in his new book Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and the Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 that chronicles the collapse of Soviet Communism during Glasnost from 1987- 1991. The most dominant is structuralism, an approach that draws from Marxist thought and sees the state as the central actor in social revolutions. In the structuralist view,...

Defending Religious Liberty: An Interview with Eric Metaxas

Eric Metaxas is a popular author and speaker. He is the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, which was named "Book of the Year" by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Bonhoeffer also won the 2011 John C. Pollock Award for Biography awarded by Beeson Divinity School and a 2011 Christopher Award in the Non-fiction category. Metaxas was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC this year. He is also the author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God among others. Metaxas, who delivered one of the evening talks at Acton...

Editor's Note

Eric Metaxas has raised the profile of two significant figures in the history of Christianity and the history of freedom in the West. His biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer garnered international attention and helped to remind people of the importance of living out faith in society. Metaxas, who was the keynote speaker at this year's national prayer breakfast, challenged the president on the life issue asking, "Whom do we say is not fully human today?"

In this cover story, Metaxas focuses on religious liberty, which undoubtedly faces serious threat today. Speaking on the HHS mandate he declares, "The idea that a canny and powerful government almost instinctively looks to pick off minorities is frightening." People are listening to his words. That is essential because, as Metaxas says, "our existence hangs in the balance,...

Why is Acton moving into new headquarters?

The short answer is that we're bursting at the seams. The new building, a landmark structure that dates to 1929, will accommodate our needs as we expand in staff, outreach activities, and in all our international educational programs and operations. The substantial basement space will allow us to expand our library and accommodate a fully functional state-of-the-art lecture hall. The hall will undergo an overhaul to seat close to 200 for in-house events, lectures, and discussions and feature the latest multi-media technology. This venue will be much more versatile for educational purposes and with its own entry point, it will be much more inviting to Acton's visitors and guests.

The Acton Institute also has a tremendous opportunity to raise its visibility in Grand Rapids with our recent building purchase. We look forward to being a significant part of the continued...

Globalization and Culture

Many of the ills of globalization are the result of top-down planning rather than free markets, but this realization needs to be balanced against another: Global capitalism can't of itself supply the cultural and moral formation worthy of the human person and essential for human flourishing. Even if we could purge much of the cronyism and misguided central planning from the process of globalization, the global market wouldn't suddenly supply the cultural and moral formation essential for widespread economic and human flourishing. This is not the function of a market, and both the critics and supporters of an international process of globalization and free exchange need to understand this clearly.

My friend, the late Rev. Edmund Opitz, put it this way: "The market will exhibit all the shortcomings and failures that people, in their peaceful acting, will exhibit....

Francis Hutcheson

Francis HutchesonThe ultimate notion of right is that which tends to the universal good; and when one's acting in a certain manner has this tendency he has a right thus to act.

Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746) was one of the most important clergymen and intellectual lights of the 18th century Church of Scotland. As the successor of another Scottish minister and philosopher, Gershom Carmichael, as Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow from 1729 onwards, Hutcheson wielded immense, even charismatic, influence over the generation of men who presided over the Scottish Enlightenment. Not for nothing did Hutcheson's most famous pupil, Adam Smith, describe him...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

The Psalmist declared that, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." This text from Matthew, the second verse in the Sermon on the Mount, ultimately points to what the coming of Christ has accomplished.

These words from Christ may appear contradictory to us. Those that spiritually and physically mourn don't feel blessed and certainly they would believe their comfort is in doubt. The words have a deep spiritual and theological significance however. The words primarily address those that recognize their need for salvation. Jesus is addressing those that understand their fragile state, the seriousness of sin, and what it means for their soul. They mourn over the seriousness of their sin and the despair and havoc it wreaks. There is indeed a blessing in these actions.

Today in our culture...

A Case for Limiting Caesar

For too long the commentariat has assumed it is an oxymoron for someone to be both an advocate for limited government and concerned about the well-being of their fellow man. A classically liberal philosophy is too often equated with a form of individualism so brutish that it is scarcely recognizable as human. For many classical liberals, it is precisely because they care deeply for the welfare of humanity, and religious liberty, that they advocate for limiting the role of government at all levels.

In fact, Americans should be seeking less action from Capitol Hill and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if they want to answer the call to be our brother's keeper and uphold the First Amendment. The tumult surrounding President Obama's HHS mandate only...

A Receding Voice: A Century of Methodist Political Pronouncements

Review of Mark Tooley's Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century (ISI, Jan 2012) ISBN: 978-1885224712. Hardcover, 406 pages; $24.95.

Methodism was once the largest denomination in America. The faith grew rapidly from America's beginning and has traditionally been characterized by aggressive evangelism and revival. It has carried a vibrant social witness, too. Methodist Church pronouncements once garnered front page headlines in The New York Times. Its high water mark undoubtedly came during prohibition, the greatest modern political cause of the denomination. Methodists even built and staffed a lobbying building next to Capitol Hill, believing a dry country could remake society.

In Methodism and Politics in...

Two Faiths: The Witness of Whittaker Chambers

Calvin Coolidge remarked that, "Great men are the ambassadors of Providence sent to reveal to their fellow men their unknown selves. To them is granted the power to call forth the best there is in those who come under their influence." To Coolidge's treatment of greatness, we might add the transcendent voices of certain writers who encapsulate in almost lyrical form the creative ideas, passions, and tensions within themselves, as measured by the period's conflicts they were providentially hurled against. These voices speak to the heart of man from the center of the writer's soul.

One such writer was Whittaker Chambers, whose autobiography Witness, published in 1952, details his life as an agent in the Fourth Section of Soviet...