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December 29, 2011

Top Religion News Stories in 2011 from CT

Earlier this month on the blog, I discussed the Huffington Post's top religion stories of 2011 . Yesterday, Christianity Today released their list of top stories for the year. While the HuffPo list was populated by broader world religion issues, the Christianity Today list is, as expected, more focused on distinctly Christian issues.

CT is one of general Christian news magazines I read (the others being Christian Century, World, and Charisma). Each year they publish an end-of-year analysis that looks at things from an evangelical perspective. CT is a bit like evangelicalism's "village green," where ideas are debated and opinions exchanged. So, it tends to have a good read on evangelicalism but also touches on issues beyond.

For example, the Huffington Post did not mention Rob Bell in their top ten. Why? Because universalism is not news, it is the norm. However, what made it news to us is that Rob Bell was generally identified as an evangelical and he challenged existing evangelical views. Thus, it is number one in CT (as it should be).

Here is the complete CT list:

  1. Rob Bell tries to legitimize universalism, prompting huge backlash. He later announces he's leaving Mars Hill Bible Church to work in TV.
  2. States adopt 80 abortion restrictions in their 2011 legislative sessions, an all-time high (the previous record was 34).
  3. Mideast Christians conflicted about the Arab Spring, especially as anti-Christian violence follows Mubarak ouster in Egypt.
  4. John Stott, evangelical statesman, pastor, and builder of the global church, dies at 90.
  5. Beijing's Shouwang Church holds outdoor services for more than six months, enduring mass arrests as it leads China's booming house churches in unprecedented demands for religious freedom.
  6. HarperCollins, which already owns Zondervan, buys Thomas Nelson; it now has about 50 percent of the Christian book market.
  7. How best to translate "Son of God" in Bibles for the Muslim world becomes a flashpoint, prompting Wycliffe to clarify standards and missionaries to pledge more civility.
  8. Tim Tebow's prominent display of faith becomes one of the sports world's major talking points.
  9. Largely Christian South Sudan votes for independence; persecution ensues for Christians in the Nuba Mountains and Khartoum.
  10. The PC(USA) votes to allow noncelibate gay pastors, prompting defections from presbyteries. (Meanwhile, the United Methodists hold the line on same-sex unions amid a planned clergy revolt.)

You will want to visit the complete CT list and follow their links.

While these stories were discussed at length on many sites, two of them led to substantive discussions and even a spin-off series here on the blog.

Rob Bell's book Love Wins

Much to my frustration, I was not able to publish a review of Rob Bell's Love Wins for you along with the swarm of others when the book came out. If you recall, I had received the book about a week or so before it was published, read it twice, and had prepared a somewhat lengthy review (not compared to Kevin DeYoung's reviewum opus). But nonetheless it shared some thoughts about several elements of the book. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that it was lost in technology world-- and I still have not figured out what happened. Sigh.

Either way, since much of the detailed reviewing was done by others, I chose not reproduced my original writing. Instead, I shared a few thoughts about the concepts of love, holiness, and eternity.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

On a side note, the online discussion and debate, coupled with poor examples of criticism between evangelicals, allowed me to spin-off a series on criticism.

Translating "Son of God" in Bibles for the Muslim World

The other story discussed heavily here on the site was in response to Collin Hansen's article in Christianity Today about the controversy in missiology relating to ministry to Muslims. At the heart of the controversy was how to best translate the Bible. But, it's not just a matter of translation. It is also an issue of contextualization. For example, is it appropriate to use the word "Allah" (a title older then Islam) to refer to God in these new translations? Another key translation issue is what to do with Jesus' title, "Son of God."

Part 1 | Part 2

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Top Religion News Stories in 2011 from CT