I gave thee a royal sceptre, and thou hast given My head a crown of thorns.
I have exalted thee with great power, and though hast hanged Me on the gibbet of the Cross.
The dozen Orthodox priests who signed the declaration - some in open defiance of directives from church leadership - represent five different Orthodox churches, including the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Georgian and Ecumenical Orthodox Churches.
"We came to the firm belief that it is high time for the Orthodox Church to correct its attitude toward Jews and Judaism," the declaration states.
Unlike the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church has never removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, which still refers to Jews as Christ killers, said Dr. Dmitry Radyehsvky, director of the Jerusalem Summit, a conservative Israeli think tank that co-sponsored the visit.
He said the anti-Semitic passages were most conspicuous during Easter services, and included statements such as "the Jewish tribe which condemned you to crucifixion, repay them, Oh Lord," which is repeated half a dozen times, and "Christ has risen but the Jewish seed has perished," as well as references to Jews as "God-killers."
"Orthodox Christianity lives up to its name: it's extremely conservative - even more than Catholicism," Radyehsvky said.
"For them to even pose the question about the need to throw out Judophobic passages from the liturgy, which were there for 1,500 years, is a revolution," he said.
In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007.
"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."
Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.
Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide."
“October 18 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim sheikh jailed in Egypt for 18 months has declared from his prison cell that he is under arrest for “insulting Islam” by becoming a Christian.
Egypt’s secret police transferred Bahaa el-Din Ahmed Hussein el-Akkad, 57, to the Wadi el-Natroun Prison last month. He was told he would remain there indefinitely unless he agreed to work as a government informer against other converts to Christianity.
According to the prisoner’s Cairo attorney, Athanasius William, his client remains incarcerated in this desert prison “only because he has chosen a different belief, to be a Christian.”
El-Akkad was imprisoned without charges for more than a year after officials of the State Security Investigation (SSI) arrested him in Cairo on April 6, 2005.
Although subjected to repeated interrogations, the former Muslim was never told the specific accusations against him. But several of his cellmates spread rumors that he was converting and baptizing people into Christianity, sparking verbal abuse and at least one severe beating from a fellow prisoner.”
Christians hold that Heaven is a state of union with God, while Hell is separation from God. They have long wrestled, however, not only with the fate of unbaptised children, but also with the conundrum of what happened to those who lived a “good life” but died before the time of Jesus.What did Christians believe before the 13th century? And why did they change?
The answer since the 13th century has been limbo. What remains in an uncertain state, though, is the status of all the pre-Christian and unbaptised adult souls held by some still to be in this halfway house between Heaven and Hell.
The Pope is expected to abolish only “limbus infantium”, where the souls of unbaptised infants go. The precise status of “limbus patrum”, where the good people went who lived before Christ remains . . . well, in limbo.
The Vatican's envoy in the Holy Land and bishops from three other churches have launched a rare joint attack on the Christian Zionist movement, accusing it of promoting "racial exclusivity and perpetual war."Whereas the other churches in the area are all about love and peace, don't you know. Holy Land churches attack Christian Zionism.
The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.Uh-huh, sure it won't.
The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."
The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.
For those who are curious about Christianity but disillusioned by the institutional Church, there is a novel solution - drop the religion.I've always felt a little guilty for laughing easily - and quite often inappropriately - but a Jewish friend told me laughter is a blessing. And she's right, laughter is a blessing, it's one of the best things in life. So maybe Reverend Gregory is onto something.
The Rev Ian Gregory, a cleric well known to readers of The Daily Telegraph for launching the Campaign for Courtesy in an attempt to improve manners, has embarked on a new project which he calls "Christianity without religion".
Out goes the "archaic mumbo-jumbo" of church services and the "silly arguments about things that don't and shouldn't matter"; in come chats about anything that makes you feel good and the world's first dedicated "laughter room" because "laughter is as important as prayer".
As recently as the 1970s, 90 percent of the Irish identified themselves as Catholic and almost the same number went to mass at least once a week; now the figure for mass attendance is closer to 25 percent, according to church officials in Dublin.How Catholicism fell from grace in Ireland
Commenting on the foundation of the Holy Orthodox Synod of Egypt and the Mediterranean by Maximus Johanna I, the spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Salib Mata Sawiris, told journalists that there was the possibility that such a "split" was backed by the US in its efforts to decrease Pope Shenouda's III popularity.
According to various polls, an estimated 40% of Americans believe that a sequence of events presaging the end times is already underway. Among the believers are pastors of some of the largest evangelical churches in America, who converged at Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood in February to finalize plans to start 5 million new churches worldwide in 10 years.Let's say this is not nonsense and the apocalypse will happen as described in the Bible. If this is God's plan, does he really need our help to speed it up?
"Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life," said James Davis, president of the Global Pastors Network's "Billion Souls Initiative," one of an estimated 2,000 initiatives worldwide designed to boost the Christian population.
"As we advance around the world," Davis said, "we'll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that Great Commission. Then, the Bible says, the end will come."
Indeed, the issue has rocked the Presbyterian Church. Many church members felt not only misled about the 2004 resolution — which they thought had been vetted with the Jewish community — but misrepresented by a leadership they felt didn’t call enough attention to the issue before that vote, when it was tacked on to another resolution.
That jeopardized the Presbyterian ethic of fairness and deliberation. Making matters worse, other actions by church leadership — such as meetings with the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah — further alienated rank-and-file members.
For many Presbyterians, the 2004 resolution compromised the impartiality required by the church’s aspiration to be a peacemaker. Others say the punitive nature of divestment is simply bad policy.
The question about the Holocaust has a special edge because Benedict is German, and it first surfaced during his visit to Cologne last August. In addressing an audience of Jews in that city's synagogue, the pope roundly condemned the Nazi genocide campaign. But then he defined the lethal Nazi anti-Semitism that spawned the genocide as having been ``born of neo-paganism." He made no mention of anti-Semitism's other parent, the long tradition of Christian contempt for Jews and the Jewish religion, which both fed the hatred of the perpetrators and justified the inaction of the bystanders. Little was made of the pope's omission of reference to such Christian responsibility, as if to give him time to make his position clearer.
Benedict said it was almost impossible, particularly for a German Pope, to speak at "the place of the Shoah."
"In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence, a silence which is a heartfelt cry to God -- Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"
"Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?"
Kneeling "is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin," Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary's by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin. The Diocese of Orange backs Tran's anti-kneeling edict.
Though told by the pastor and the archdiocese to stand during certain parts of the liturgy, a third of the congregation still gets on its knees every Sunday.
"Kneeling is an act of adoration," said Judith M. Clark, 68, one of at least 55 parishioners who have received letters from church leaders urging them to get off their knees or quit St. Mary's and the Diocese of Orange. "You almost automatically kneel because you're so used to it. Now the priest says we should stand, but we all just ignore him."
The debate is being played out in at least a dozen parishes nationwide.
School administrators must also wrestle with difficult questions about where the right to religious expression ends and the separation of church and state begins. Some school officials have discouraged their Seekers clubs over the years from having Jesus Day, while others have imposed strict limitations on advertising for the event, including prohibiting groups from using the name "Jesus" in any literature.What would happen if the Muslim student groups wanted to hold "Mohammed Day" and spread the word about Islam?
When the FLDS under Mr. Jeffs (and his father before him) grew to some 10,000 followers in several southwestern communities with estimated assets of $110 million; when it became clear that government officials, school authorities, and police in those communities had become intertwined with the sect; when ex-members increasingly reported child and sexual abuse charges (mainly involving underage girls forced to marry older men); and when the sect began to use secluded compounds, state and federal authorities started to crack down more vigorously.
Specifically, Jeffs is charged in Utah and Arizona with sexual assault of underage girls and with arranging "spiritual" marriages for girls and older men. At weekend press conferences in Salt Lake City and Phoenix, FBI and state officials said Jeffs "is considered armed and dangerous and may be traveling with armed bodyguards." In the past, he has talked in apocalyptic terms about a violent end to the world, according to former members.
"The thing that makes it so hard to track a guy like this down is that he probably has a lot of cash, and like Osama bin Laden [who also is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted list], he has people who totally buy into his position as a religious icon, and would guard him quite loyally," says Levin.
Tempers flared as thousands of worshippers waited to pass through security barricades into Jerusalem's Old City. Some priests and pilgrims shoved and punched police. Inside the church, people scuffled with each other and with officers as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
The Greek and Armenian Orthodox patriarchs in the Holy Land descended into the church's underground tomb to bring out the flame. Worshippers clutching bundles of unlit tapers and torches waited in the darkened church for the church leaders to emerge.
When they reappeared with lighted torches, church bells pealed. Worshippers cheered, shrieked "Christ, Christ," and ululated. The flames were passed around to the thousands of faithful and light and smoke filled the cavernous church within seconds.
The ritual dates back at least 1,200 years. The precise details of the flame's source are a closely guarded secret, but some believe it appears spontaneously from Christ's burial area as a message from Jesus on the eve of the Orthodox Easter that he has not forgotten his followers.
"My connection to Jesus is stronger, my connection to Jerusalem is stronger now," said Jeanette Gennetian, 66, of Watertown, Mass, a member of the Armenian Apostolic church.
Religious observations historically have touched off clashes over protocol among the different Orthodox denominations. Groups of people Saturday shouted, "Armenia, Armenia" in Armenian, and "Greece, Greece" in English.
On Friday, screaming Coptic priests threw punches over where and how long different sects would stand during the Good Friday service.
Pope Benedict XVI recalled the "terrible persecution" Armenians suffered under Turkish rule 90 years ago during an audience Monday with an Armenian Catholic patriarch.
Speaking to Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni about the Armenian people over the centuries, the pope singled out the "sufferings which they underwent in the name of the Christian faith in the years of the terrible persecution that went down in history with the sadly meaningful name 'metz yeghern,' the great evil."
Armenians accuse Turks of a genocide of up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. Turks claim the number of deaths is inflated and say the victims were killed in civil unrest.
The country is now facing pressure to fully acknowledge the event as it seeks membership in the European Union.
Benedict did not use the term "genocide" in his official remarks. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the deaths genocide but did not declare any party responsible.
The Bible simply wasn't error-free. The mistakes grew exponentially as he traced translations through the centuries. There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.
"Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament," Ehrman summarizes.
Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later -- and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.
Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible -- but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.
For a man who believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God, Ehrman sought the true originals to shore up his faith. The problem: There are no original manuscripts of the Gospels, of any of the New Testament.