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Religion & Liberty Article Listing

How has the Acton Institute broadened its outreach on social media websites?

One of the main keys for a successful social media strategy is having timely, professional, and relevant content to share. Almost everyone today is bombarded by content from virtually everywhere. At Acton, we face fierce competition from a wide variety of news and opinion sites vying for the attention of the busy. We want readers of Acton's print and digital content, and video productions, to know that investing their time in our resources is valuable for them and it's beneficial for their intellectual and moral growth.

Acton has a unique and rich message to share with the world and we are working hard at broadening our social media reach every day. We know that our content can help shape and influence a free and virtuous society. We reach popular opinion makers but also the faithful individuals active in their businesses, and in their churches and synagogues.

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Freedom and Chaos

Freedom is a word that can mean dramatically different things to different people in different settings. The kind of freedom that leads to human flourishing—and that is sustainable over time—is freedom in a much richer sense than what many people mean by freedom today.

Let me take the point even further. True freedom is actually the opposite of what has been called "freedom" at some times and some places. One example from the previous century illustrates what I mean.

The Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. I'm not talking about the U.S. Constitution, although the same could be said of it. I'm talking about the Soviet Constitution of 1924. And after that constitution took effect, political dissidents were brutally suppressed; priests, ministers, and rabbis were deported to the Gulag;...

Calvin Coolidge

"It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow."

Calvin Coolidge was deeply committed to limiting the power of the state. But his desire to check the expansion of the federal government was always rooted in America's founding principles. He declared of the founders, "They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power." Coolidge has often been referred to as "the last Jeffersonian president."

Coolidge was sandwiched in between the rise of Wilsonian and New Deal progressivism. He was deeply critical of those that wanted to harness the state as an overseer of the community and individual man, a project that had...

The Last Victory of General Grant

Review of Charles Bracelin Flood's Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year (Da Capo Press, October 2012) ISBN: 978- 0306821516. Hardcover, 320 pages; $27.50.

This country suffers no shortage of heroic tales. For the Union soldier who served under Ulysses S. Grant, there certainly was no greater leader. Often referred to by detractors as "a butcher" for the wake of Union dead left after his victories, he took the fight to the Confederacy. After the Wilderness campaign in 1864, where 17,000 Union soldiers died in just a few days, Grant, unlike all the Union generals before him, refused to lick the Federal wounds and retreat...

Double-Edged Sword: The Power of the Word - Daniel 3:12

But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego— who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provides a clear illustration against the overreach of the state in religious affairs. The three faithful Jews refused to bow down and worship King Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold. The King's religious test allowed for three Jews to step out in boldness and proclaim faith in the one true God. Acts 5:29 implores us to "obey God rather than men." The three were thrown into a fiery furnace but the Lord protected and saved them and they were uplifted and honored for their devotion and actions.

Religious liberty is commonly referred to as "our first freedom....

The Scandal of Just Politics

Review of Ronald J. Sider's Just Politics: A Guide to Christian Engagement (ISI 978- 1587433269). Paperback, 272 pages; $19.99.

In Just Politics: A Guide for Christian Engagement, Ronald J. Sider offers an updated edition of his 2008 book, The Scandal of Evangelical Politics. Ray Nothstine reviewed that book in Religion & Liberty (18.1) at the time, writing,

Ultimately, Sider's methodological construct is a valuable source material for evangelically minded Christians. The book's call for a "Biblically balanced political agenda" over and against narrow...

The Perfectibility Thesis – Still the Great Political Divide

Three hundred years after Plato and Aristotle wrestled with the idea and constitution of the just regime, God incarnate arrived on Earth and added very close to nothing. Christ did tell us to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's," and we can certainly glean principles from New Testament teaching. However, Christ made no attempts to establish a righteous political system, nor did he leave instructions to history on this seemingly important matter.

The God of the Old Testament appears no more enthusiastic about investing political lordship in human beings. Upon the Israelite's demand for a king "such as all the other nations have," the Lord instructed Samuel to "warn them solemnly, and let them know what...

Angola Prison: A Place of Encouragement

An Interview with Burl Cain

Burl Cain is the longest serving warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), a position he has held since 1995. He formerly worked as a warden at the Dixon Correctional Institute in Jackson, Louisiana. He is well known for his work at transforming prison culture and promoting moral rehabilitation. Warden Cain serves on the board of Prison Fellowship. He recently spoke with managing editor Ray Nothstine.

R&L: What do people outside of Angola need to know about the prison?

Warden Burl Cain: I think Angola proved a lot of things that even Scripture says that does not need proving, like II Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are...

Editor's Note

Angola Prison will probably always carry a mystique because it's wrapped around a violent and brutal history. For many outsiders, visiting Angola might seem like a step back to some distant past or time. It certainly evokes an imagery and language of the deepest South. But in touring Angola, one constantly becomes aware of all the newness and rebirth that surrounds what should seem hopeless. The front entrance to the massive prison grounds has a sign from Philippians 3:13, "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead."

Burl Cain is the longest serving warden in the Louisiana prison's history. He's been an instrumental force in offering new ways to think about prison reform and moral rehabilitation. He cares about his inmates. That will be clear from this interview. Cain knows that the prison system in...

How does the intern program advance the mission of the Acton Institute?

We have always been fortunate to attract talented and religiously diverse interns at the Acton Institute. The talent we are able to bring in spans the globe and consists of students from some of the best universities and seminaries in the world. It is a privilege to introduce these students and young scholars to Acton's understanding of Christian anthropology and the morality of free-market economics. Interns have been invaluable to assisting our staff and expanding our operations and reach across the world.

Acton interns are vital to launching and operating programs like Acton University. Without their help and contribution, not only would it be difficult to manage this growing event, but also it would subtract from the overall experience for participants. The hospitality interns show and the hours they put in at the conference inspires us and renews our commitment to the...

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...