The Christian Post, 3/10/2011: American Evangelicals, Mormon Search for Common Ground [Excerpts]--A group of prominent evangelicals [met] with a Mormon leader [March 11] in Salt Lake City, Utah, for dialogue to better understand each other's faith [including]: Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary; Craig Williford, president of Trinity International University; and David Neff, editor-in-chief of Christianity Today.
"We hope this time of dialogue with LDS leaders will deepen our understanding of the Mormon faith and contribute to the ongoing work of evangelicals in Utah," said Leith Anderson, NAE President. "For the sake of Christ and his kingdom, we seek to represent biblical evangelicalism to those who wouldn't hear or know. We also look for common ground on issues where we can work together."
The meeting between evangelical figures and a leader from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) [took] place during the NAE semiannual board meeting [whose] members...include the CEOs of 40 denominations...from a broad array of evangelical organizations.
Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the NAE, clarified in an e-mail to The Christian Post that the NAE itself is not officially involved in the religious dialogue with the Mormon leader. Rather, some of the organization's members will participate in the separate talk, he explained.
[However,] this is the first time [an] NAE board meeting is held in Utah, where about 60 percent of the population are members of the LDS church.
[TBC: Some believe this meeting may have been called in part to gauge evangelical support for potential Mormon GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose nomination would undoubtedly have the voice of conservative TEA Party icon Glenn Beck (also a professing Mormon considered "Christian" by many evangelicals).
Tragically, pragmatism in conservative politics has too often trumed the warnings and commmandments of God's Word: "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14). Evangelicals eager to embrace Mormons as political allies would do well to heed the Scriptures: "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" (Is 31:1)]
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Reuters, 3/15/2011: Israel seizes ship with Iran arms for Gaza [Excerpts]--Israeli naval commandos on Tuesday seized a cargo ship in the Mediterranean carrying what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said were Iranian-supplied weapons intended for Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
A military spokeswoman said Israeli forces met no resistance when they intercepted the German-owned "Victoria" some 200 miles from Israel and were taking the vessel to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Israel maintains a land and naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, a coastal enclave controlled by Hamas, an Islamist movement opposed to peace with the Jewish state.
The military said the vessel had set off from the Syrian port of Latakia and stopped in Mersin, Turkey, before heading toward Alexandria in Egypt. Turkey has no involvement in the arms shipment, the military said.
Palestinians use a network of tunnels to smuggle weapons and other goods from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu said he personally approved the operation, which he told reporters was carried out "on the high seas in accordance with international law."
"Many weapons were found on board, intended for terrorist forces in the heart of Gaza," Netanyahu said. "Iran is the source of the weaponry."
Asked about Israel's allegation that it seized Iranian arms on the vessel, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman RaminMehmanparast said: "Don't trust Israeli media news. There is no such thing. We do not confirm it in any way."
An Israeli military spokesman said an initial search turned up three containers loaded with arms and more cargo would be examined after the ship reached Israel.
Fans Revel in Rob Bell's Latest Heresy
Huffington Post, 3/15/2011: The Heretical Rob Bell and Why Love Wins [Excerpts]--Rob Bell is a heretic. And so are you. But that's the good news.
It's also part of the message of Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, in which Bell, 40, pastor of 10,000-strong Mars Hill church in Grandville, Mich., reexamines Christianity's traditional understanding of life, salvation and what happens after we die.
While Bell hardly revels in being called a "heretic," the label isn't altogether wrong, either.
"It's roots are in a Greek word hairetikos that means, 'able to choose'....Everybody is forced to believe or think or subscribe to a particular thing, but there are those who are able to choose--how awesome is that?" Bell said, laughing.
Essentially, we're all heretics because we all have the ability to choose.
"One of the most lethal aspects of that word--'heretic'--is that it ends discussion...," Bell said. "And that's why I think it's so dangerous. It ends discussion and it's holding hands with violence."
Bell didn't write Love Wins for his detractors. "I wrote it for people who are thirsty," he said.
God put Bell here to tell people--by any and all means necessary--how much God loves them. And that there is nothing they can do to make God love them more or less. That is the "Good News" of Jesus.
For too many people, though, what they've been told is the good news is actually an ugly truth. They hear that God is full of grace and unconditional love, a God of endless second chances, infinitely patient. But then they hear that God's grace, love and patience expires at death. "Too late," they're told. "You had your chance." That schizophrenic idea of God is simply untenable, Bell says.
"It's psychologically unbearable. No psyche can handle that," he said. "It's devastating."
It's also toxic and a lie. The Good News, Bell insists, is better than that.
"If we have the freedom to choose these things now, that Jesus came to offer us and show us, then I assume that when you die, you can continue to choose these realities because love cannot co-opt the human heart's ability to decide," Bell said. "But after you die, we are firmly in the realm of speculation."
[TBC: Indeed, Rob Bell is making a fatal assumption that one may "choose reality" after life on earth. On this matter, God's Word leaves no room for speculation: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27). Tragically, Bell's "ability to choose" will lead all who place their hope and trust in this deception to their second death (cfPrv 14:12).]