Representatives of churches from around the world joined East German Protestants this week to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation.
They gathered at the newly restored Wartburg Castle, where Luther fled on May 4, 1521, after refusing to recant his criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church at the Diet of Worms.
While there he translated the New Testament from the Greek of Erasmus into German, one of the first renderings of the Scriptures into the vernacular and a major step in the eventual division of the church.
The PTL Club, a Christian evangelical organization headed by the Rev. Jim Bakker, plans to donate $2.5 million to the city of Jerusalem to purchase an Arab-owned bus station located at the spot where some believe Christ was crucified.
PTL Club spokesman Brad Lacey said negotiations to purchase the Arab-owned land have been under way for two years.
Other religious groups are expected to contribute to the project, which will cost approximately $10 million. The area would be converted into a park and shrine, which could take up to four years to complete. Details of the sale are still being negotiated.
Bakker said his ministry, which is based in Fort Mill, S.C., will not own the park. It will belong to the people of Jerusalem, he said.
Pope John Paul II told seven bishops from Zaire last week that they should guard against allowing African beliefs to interfere with Roman Catholic doctrine.
"You are certainly aware of the danger--that of allowing the construction of a special African philosophy and theology which would be uniquely homegrown," the pope said, speaking in French.
The pontiff said such a philosophy and theology could cut what he called the real links to Christ and that, "Christianity would be no more than a verbal reference."
John Paul said that while "theological work done in Africa can certainly render good services," it must be based on church teachings.
The pope did not give specific examples of African philosophical or theological developments to which he objects.
An evangelical publishing company soon will be competing for romance readers.
A line of romance paperbacks under the Serenade label will be launched in August by Zondervan, one of the nation's largest Christian publishing houses. The stories are designed to "fill a void for the discriminating reader by providing a romance story that is uplifting and wholesome as oppposed to erotic and explicit," said Ann Severance, editor of the Serenade line.
Guidelines for writers stress that "all of the books will reflect an evangelical world view, with an emphasis on love from a Christian perspective. All references to Christianity should be a natural outgrowth of plot and characterization."
Patricia Hudgins, executive secretary of the Romance Writers of America, has welcomed the entry of a Christian publishing house into the field. "Generally, successful romance fiction is pro-marriage and pro-family," she said. "I think most readers don't really like bed-hopping and mechanical, graphic sex. They want light reading with a happy ending."