8 Most Controversial Topics in the Church World Today
What is the Christian view on gay marriage? Are spiritual gifts biblical? Can Christians drink alcohol? These are some of the topics that often cause heated controversy within the church today. Christians have very different opinions on these issues and both
sides refer to Scripture to support their views.
Gay marriage — Gay marriage and whether it should be allowed in the church is certainly at the top of the list of modern-day controversial subjects. This issue has caused division among many denominations. The Presbyterian Church (USA) supports it, while the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and others do not support it. But perhaps nowhere is
the controversy surrounding this issue more prevalent than in the Anglican Church. In recent years, the Anglican Church has softened its stance toward gay marriage and gay priests, but there is still much opposition. Some have called on the church to be more welcoming of LGBT individuals. Some support gay clergy and grant them the rights to perform same-sex marriages, while others remain firmly committed to the traditional definition of marriage.
ABORTION – At first, one might think this subject is not so controversial within the church. However, as a recent Pew Research Center study shows, those who claim to be religious yet don’t associate themselves with a particular denomination actually are mostly in favor of abortion, with only 17 percent opposing it. A majority of Christians are pro-life, but the subject remains a controversial one within the church, especially when it comes to the argument that pro-life should mean more than simply “pro-birth.”
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – The issue of women teaching/preaching in church can quickly become heated. Again, more conservative denominations tend to be against women in leadership roles, while more liberal denominations tend to accept it. Recently, there has been a particular crisis on this issue with the rise of Christian women bloggers. The online presence these women have is substantial and has caused some within Christianity to question their authority, even though they are not preaching/teaching in a traditional church setting.
TYPE OF WORSHIP MUSIC – Contemporary or traditional? Hymns or modern worship songs? This is definitely an issue that tends to spark debate within many churches. It’s often even a deciding factor when someone chooses a church to belong to. Even certain instruments can be controversial. A drum set might not be considered acceptable in some churches, while another church may have an entire praise band with a full range of instruments.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS – Although spiritual gifts are mentioned several times in the New Testament, different church denominations have different interpretations of what it truly means to have and use a spiritual gift. Speaking in tongues tends to be the most controversial of any spiritual gift. While Pentecostals fully affirm this spiritual gift, other denominations have
gone so far as to say that speaking in tongues offends the Holy Spirit. Other Christians embrace spiritual gifts and even encourage congregants or church staffers to take spiritual gift tests to see where they are best equipped to serve.
BAPTISM – Although practically all churches practice baptism, the rituals in different denominations not only vary in practice but in theology. There has been a heated debate within the church for centuries on whether the Bible promotes infant or only believer baptism. More liturgical churches even tend to give the impression that baptism is essential for salvation, while others don’t agree. Some churches also baptize infants but see it not as evidence of salvation, but rather as a commitment by the child’s family and church body to bring up the child in the fear of the Lord. Some churches only baptize those who are old enough to make a profession of faith of their own free will. Christians also have opinions on how and where baptisms should take place — by sprinkling of water, by pouring water on someone, or by full immersion.
POLITICS FROM THE PULPIT – Should ministers talk about politics or endorse a specific political party or view from the pulpit? Churchgoers have very different views on the subject, but the controversy isn’t confined to the church. Just last month President Trump signed an executive order ceasing enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibited a church as a nonprofit entity from endorsing and promoting a particular political party or candidate. Many championed the executive order, saying that it gave c
hurches more religious freedom, but others maintained that siding with a certain political party is not something a church should be doing.
ALCOHOL – Can Christians drink alcohol? This question opens up all kinds of debate within the church. Many churchgoers believe Christians should completely stay away from alcohol, bars, and anything that has to do with drinking since the Bible condemns drunkenness and instructs Christ-followers to be sober-minded. Other churchgoers, however, believe that consuming alcohol in moderation is not a sin. These Christians often argue their point from 1 Corinthians 8 in which the Apostle Paul says, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Many take this to mean, by the context surrounding it, that drinking alcohol is permitted, but Christians should just be careful not to cause someone who is prone to alcohol abuse or someone who believes it is a sin to stumble in their faith by seeing another Christian drinking.
Pelosi: Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood “Dishonor God”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently criticized Republicans’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, even going so far as to say such efforts “dishonor the God who made us.”
LifeNews.com reports that Pelosi is a Democrat and a Catholic. She also is a firm supporter of abortion and Planned Parenthood.
Recently, in comments about the proposed GOP healthcare bill which aims to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood, Pelosi seemed to equate caring for God’s creation with supporting Planned Parenthood.
“I know my colleagues are people of faith,” Pelosi said. “They tell us that all the time. So, this is God’s creation, we have a real responsibility to it . . . to minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us…”
She also called on Republican legislators to “examine their consciences and look into their hearts” before they vote so they can “make a decision in favor of what is right.”
Townhall’s Guy Benson offered a response to Pelosi’s comments: “She has opposed virtually every conceivable limitation on abortion over her political career, including measures to ban the barbaric procedure known as partial-birth abortion. Read up on the grisly details of what that entails, then circle back to this lecture from Nance about faith, conscience examination, moral responsibility, and honoring God.”
Researchers: Famous Shroud of Turin May Be Stained With Jesus’ Blood
Researchers have found that the famous Shroud of Turin, thought by many to be the burial cloth of Christ imprinted with his features, also contains blood with the biological traces of extreme suffering.
Researchers at the Institute of Crystallography have analyzed small particles on the cloth. One of the researchers, Elvio Carlino, wrote about the discovery in an
article for The Christian Post. The remnants of blood “have recorded a scenario of great suffering, whose victim was wrapped up in the funeral cloth,” wrote Carlino.
The scientists were able
to tell that the blood particles were from someone who had physically suffered because certain enzymes are released into the blood during extreme trauma. Comparing these enzymatic patterns with blood stains of a normal person made the researchers realize that the blood stains on the Shroud were telling a specific narrative.
“Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments point to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud,” according to University of Padua professor Giulio Fanti.
Although the evidence is not conclusive that this piece of cloth is indeed the burial cloth of Christ, it may be another step toward that conclusion.
New Army Policy Requires F
emale Soldiers to Shower With Transgenders
An effort by the U.S. Army to be more inclus
ive of transgender women will have the consequence of essentially forcing women to shower with individuals who claim to be female but who are still biologically male.
According to LifeSiteNews.com, the new policy is part of the Pentagon’s new “transgender inclusion” agenda. Many conservatives have pushed back against the policy, but they haven’t been able to gain the support they would like since President Trump and the current administration have sent mixed signals regarding their stance on LGBT issues.
The transgender policy is outlined in Vignette 4.4 of the Soldier/Unit Training manual under “barracks, bathrooms, and showers.”
“Understand that you may encounter individuals in barracks, bathrooms, or shower facilities with physical characteristics of the opposite sex despite having the same gender marker in DEE
RS,” says Vignette 4.4.
Vignette 4.5 continues: “All soldiers should be respectful of the privacy and modesty concerns of others. However, transgender soldiers are not required or expected to modify or adjust their behavior based on the fact that they do not ‘match’ other soldiers.”
In addition to speaking out against this policy, some conservatives have spoken out against the Army employing transgender individuals who have undergone a sex change surgery.
Study: Evangelicals and Pentecostals Most Prepared For Persecution
A new study explores the connection between various Christian denominations and persecution, including how prepared certain groups are for it. The University of Notre Dame study, called In Response to Persecution, found that evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to experience persecution the most and to be most prepared for it. This is often due to the fact that these denominations focus on evangelism rather than assimilating with antagonistic cultures.
“In response to persecution, evangelical and Pentecostal Christians are more likely to engage in strategies of survival or, on rare occasions, confrontation,” the report says. “They are less likely, however, to engage in strategies of association. Mainline Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, are more likely to respond through strategies of associati
Such is the case in the country of Nigeria, for example, where the report found that “although views do not divide perfectly, Catholics and mainline Protestants tend to favor interreligious dialogue and building ties with Muslims, while evangelicals are skeptical of such engagement and more likely to prioritize evangelization.”
The study involved 17 scholars from various Christian organizations and schools.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- Washington D.C. has become the first place in the country to allow citizens to identify simply as “X”on official identification documents, rather than as male or female. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “Washington, D.C. has long been a leader in LGBTQ rights and gender issues, and this change is the most recent example of our city’s commitment to inclusivity.” The state of Oregon is set to follow in D.C.’s footsteps and will release gender neutral licenses this month.
- Recently, a group of Catholics protested against the U.S.’s first satanic monumenterected on public property. The monument, called the “bowl of wisdom,” will be placed in a designated “free speech zone” of Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. The area is reportedly open to a monument affiliated with any religion or belief system as long as the monument honors veterans. The “bowl of wisdom” reportedly features a black steel cube inscribed with inverted pentagrams. The top features an upside-down soldier’s helmet for visitors to place notes and remembrances to fallen soldiers.