Category :

Billy Graham RIP

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture

A S Haley Historic Episcopal Church of South Carolina Asks US Supreme Court for Review

Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, along with a number of member parishes, having lost a confusing, non-definitive and divided decision in that State’s Supreme Court, have filed a petition for writ of certiorari (review) in the United States Supreme Court. The petition (fifty pages, downloadable from this link) asks the Court to bring harmony to the multiple lower court decisions that diverge over the meaning of “neutral principles of law” as used by the Court in its seminal case of Jones v. Wolf, 445 U.S. 595 (1979).

As the petition lays out with masterful clarity, both state and federal courts apply differing standards of “neutral principles” in approaching the resolution of disputes over the ownership of church property:

Nearly 40 years after this Court last addressed the neutral-principles approach in Jones, the courts are deeply divided about what “neutral” means. For many courts, “neutral” means just that—“neutral”: the high courts of seven States, plus the Eighth Circuit and three intermediate state courts, follow Jones’ clear guidance and resolve property disputes between religious organizations by applying well-established state trust and property law. These jurisdictions hold that a disassociating local church’s property is held in trust for the national church only if the alleged trust satisfies ordinary state law requirements for the creation of trusts. Courts and commentators call this the “strict approach” to Jones, because it blinds judges to the religious nature of the parties to the dispute, requiring them to apply the same ordinary state law that would apply to property disputes between any other parties….

The petition then addresses the Court directly, and explains why it should grant review:

Petitioners are here for one simple reason: they are churches. If this dispute arose between two secular organizations, or between a religious and a secular organization, the party standing in Petitioners’ shoes would have prevailed. Thus, far from yielding to the First Amendment, the decision below actually violates it. The Religion Clauses command a “principle of neutrality” whereby “the government may not favor one religion over another, or religion over irreligion, religious choice being the prerogative of individuals under the Free Exercise Clause.” McCreary Cty. v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 875-76 (2005). The hybrid approach disregards this vital bulwark, favoring one religious organization over another by allowing a national church to disregard the requirements of state trust law at the expense of a disassociated congregation’s claim to property. As two leading commentators recently emphasized, the strict approach to Jones is “the only approach consistent with the free exercise and nonentanglement principles of the Religion Clauses.” Michael W. McConnell & Luke W. Goodrich, On Resolving Church Property Disputes, 58 ARIZ. L. REV. 307, 311 (2016).

The persistent confusion over the meaning of Jones and the neutral-principles approach has resulted in polar-opposite outcomes in materially indistinguishable cases, creating enormous — and enormously expensive — uncertainty for this country’s religious institutions. Case outcomes turn on courts’ differing interpretations of Jones and the First Amendment, not on how the parties have arranged their affairs under state law. This case could have been easily resolved under ordinary state trust and property law. Instead, the parties and the property have been mired in litigation since 2013. Several years and millions of dollars later, Petitioners seek this Court’s review.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Historic South Carolina Diocese files a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the US Supreme Court

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Friday, February 9 the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes took the historic step of filing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.  The requested review of the adverse ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court focuses on addressing the key constitutional questions in that case.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that church property disputes may be settled by applying “neutral principles of law”.  The South Carolina Supreme Court has interpreted that precedent as meaning that some religious institutions (such as TEC) are subject to standards of trust and ownership that would never be recognized under state law for anyone else. As Justice Kittredge in his opinion aptly stated, under truly neutral principles of law, “the suggestion that any of the thirty-six local churches created a trust in favor of the national church would be laughable.”

Our Petition addresses as the central issue in our litigation the following question:  Whether the “neutral principles of law” approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the State’s ordinary trust and property law.” (Petition, p. i)

As the Petition goes on to argue, the original intention of the neutral principles approach is to rely “exclusively on objective, well established concepts of trust and property law familiar to lawyers and judges.” and “embodied in some legally cognizable form.” Jones v. Wolf (1979).  Strict application of this principle would mean that it could not be determined that parish property is held in trust for the national church unless such a trust satisfied ordinary state law requirements for the creation of trusts.  The petition makes the point that the Jones majority expressly ruled out “compulsory deference” to national denominations, in its affirmation of neutral principles.

The plurality position in the South Carolina court unquestionably did not take this “neutral” approach.  Those justices believed that requiring a national church to comply with ordinary State trust and property law would “impose a constitutionally impermissible burden on the national Church and violate the first amendment.”  Courts and commentators call this the “hybrid approach” because it rejects application of ordinary state law in favor of deference to the national church’s unilateral rule and canons (i.e. the “Dennis Canon”).  It is compulsory deference in effect if not in name.

The State Supreme Court’s earlier All Saints (2009) ruling clearly upheld the neutral principles approach and was the basis around which the Diocese and its parishes ordered their common life and governing documents.  As former Chief Justice Toal noted in her dissenting opinion on the South Carolina court, its August ruling is a “distinct departure from well-established South Carolina law and legal precedents… appears to be driven by a sole purpose: reaching a desired result in this case.”  All Saints, embraced in name but not result, illustrates the concern raised in our petition.  “The vacillation of the Supreme Court of South Carolina from the strict approach in All Saints to the hybrid approach in this case makes clear that title to local church property is no more secure than the composition of a state’s high court.”  (Petition, p. 38)

The U.S. Supreme Court is asked to take this case, because it represents “a deep, acknowledged and fully matured split both among and within the Nation’s courts over the meaning of Jones and its “neutral principles of law” approach.” (Petition, p. 18)   The high courts of at least seven states, plus the Eighth Circuit have required the application of normal trust principles as Jones suggests.  The high courts of at least eight other States, however, now including South Carolina, have adopted the less than neutral interpretation that “courts must recognize trusts announced in church canons, even if those alleged trusts do not satisfy the requirements of state law.” (Petition, p. 18)

It is our assertion that this approach violates both the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The former prevents states from burdening the free exercise of religion.  The “hybrid” approach clearly does this by conditioning congregations’ free exercise of differing religious beliefs on their willingness to surrender their property to TEC who has neither owned nor contributed to its purchase.   Similarly, the Establishment clause forbids the government from favoring one religion over another.  The “hybrid” approach irrefutably does that as well, “allowing national churches – and no one else – to skirt ordinary state trust and property law…  The law cannot then place a thumb on the scale in favor of a national church in its property dispute with a disassociating congregation…” (Petition, p. 19)   As observed by Justice Rehnquist in an earlier opinion, “If the civil courts are to be bound by any sheet of parchment bearing the ecclesiastical seal and purporting to be a decree of a church court, they can easily be converted into handmaidens of arbitrary lawlessness.” Serbian, (1976).

It is anticipated that today’s Petition will be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming months and the decision whether to grant review or not will be made before the end of the current session in June.   If review is granted, a hearing would be late this year or in the Spring of 2019. In the meantime, we should remain prayerfully confident as a Diocese that God is working His purposes out in all these things and will redeem them for the greater blessing of the Church and the spread of the Kingdom.  To those ends I encourage your continued prayers.

–The Rev. Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary to the Bishop of South Carolina
(if necessary you may find a link for the original letter on the web there).

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Supreme Court, Theology

Grant Wacker: How Billy Graham Prepared For Death

As for his future, Graham made clear that he anticipated his demise as a door to a new life in heaven. “I’m looking forward to it — I really am,” he said in 1995, in his late 70s. “I’ll be happy the day the Lord says, ‘Come on. I’ve got something better planned.’”

To be sure, Graham admitted that he did not look forward to the dying process itself. He said he had seen “some of the terrible things that happen to people that are dying. I don’t want that.”

But beyond the event itself stood heaven as a place of glorious fellowship with the Lord, saints, loved ones and invigorating work to do. “Think of a place where there will be no sorrow and no parting, no pain, no sickness, no death, no quarrels, no misunderstandings, no sin and no cares.” The preacher even speculated about golf courses and beloved pets — whatever it took to make folks happy.

The journalist David Frost asked the mature Graham what he would want the first line of his obituary to say. “That he was faithful and that he had integrity,” he replied. “And that I was faithful to my calling, and that I loved God with all mind, heart and soul.” Frost wondered if Graham had questions he hoped to ask God in heaven. “Yes, thousands. Many things in Bible mysteries.” He then added, “Some things in my life I would be embarrassed if anyone else saw. I would like God to edit the film.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Theology: Scripture

(Takis Mag) Joe Bob Briggs–Making My Peace With Billy Graham

A few years back I was invited to a conference on Christian-Muslim relations, held at an old castle in Vienna, and one of the seminars was led by Anglican theologians from Oxford University, and another was led by faculty members from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. The Baptists listened politely to the Oxford divines droning on and on about the cultural demographics of Manchester, but when the Baptists chose to talk about “the living Christ” and His absence from the empty cathedrals of Europe, the Anglican divines became infuriated. They felt somehow personally attacked, even though nothing the Baptists said went very far beyond the simple message of Billy Graham that he had repeated millions of times in thousands of sermons. The fact that this simple altar-call message now seemed strange to men who had dedicated themselves to a life serving Christ struck me as odd then and still strikes me as odd. It’s as though they were saying, “We’re post-Christian.” Well, if you’re post-Christian, please remove the vestments and go run a hedge fund.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education

(Local Paper front page) Billy Graham left a giant footprint, spreading evangelism from the South across the globe

Peter Beck, professor of Christian Studies at Charleston Southern University, grew up watching Graham’s crusades on television.

“He was in many ways the heartbeat of the evangelical movement in the mid-20th century to the end. He was the face,” he said. “Most people are going to label him today the greatest evangelist or the greatest revivalist of the 20th century, and I think those are fairly accurate descriptions.”

That said, Beck noted that neither his children nor his students are aware of Graham. “He’s been retired longer than they’ve been alive.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, History, Religion & Culture

(CT) A Billy Graham Sermon–The Sin of Tolerance

One of the pet words of this age is “tolerance.” It is a good word, but we have tried to stretch it over too great an area of life. We have applied it too often where it does not belong. The word “tolerant” means “liberal,” “broad-minded,” “willing to put up with beliefs opposed to one’s convictions,” and “the allowance of something not wholly approved.”

Tolerance, in one sense, implies the compromise of one’s convictions, a yielding of ground upon important issues. Hence, over-tolerance in moral issues has made us soft, flabby and devoid of conviction.

We have become tolerant about divorce; we have become tolerant about the use of alcohol; we have become tolerant about delinquency; we have become tolerant about wickedness in high places; we have become tolerant about immorality; we have become tolerant about crime and we have become tolerant about godlessness. We have become tolerant of unbelief.

In a book recently published on what prominent people believe, 60 out of 100 did not even mention God, and only 11 out of 100 mentioned Jesus. There was a manifest tolerance toward soft character and a broadmindedness about morals, characteristic of our day. We have been sapped of conviction, drained of our beliefs and bereft of our faith.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Evangelicals, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Scripture

(Kim Lawton Blog) Remembering Evangelist Billy Graham–Billy Graham: “An American Phenomenon”

LAWTON: In 2002, Graham released a book titled “Heaven, the Final Journey.” Heaven was a subject he preached about frequently during his career. Talk show host Dick Cavett once asked Graham what he thought heaven would be like.

GRAHAM, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: Heaven is going to be where Christ is. Now I don’t know whether that’s a planet or whether that’s a star or whether it’s on this earth or where it’s going to be. But it’s going to be where Christ is and the Bible says, “to be absent from the bodies, present with the Lord.” And if I died right now, Dick, I know that I’m going to go immediately into the presence of God.

DICK CAVETT, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: You do?

GRAHAM, on “The Dick Cavett Show”: I know that.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

John Stott on Billy Graham–Walking Together to Glory

John R. W. Stott first met Billy Graham in the 1940s, while sharing an open-air meeting at Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park. Their shared concern for evangelism led to a close association during Graham’s 1954 Harringay crusade, which captivated London nightly for nearly three months. Over the next 50 years, the two men’s lives would frequently intertwine, through shared leadership in significant ventures like the Lausanne International Congress on World Evangelization and in personal friendship. In 2007, Stott offered these unpublished reminiscences:

Integrity. If I had to choose one word with which to characterize Billy Graham, it would be integrity. He was all of a piece. There was no dichotomy between what he said and what he was. He practiced what he preached.

Finance. When Graham first came to London, a considerable group of church leaders was wondering whether to invite him to preach there. They were critical, but he had anticipated their questions. He was able to say that he received a fixed salary, less than most salaries paid to the senior pastors of large churches, and he received no “love offerings” (unaccounted extras). As for crusade finances, they were published in the press during each crusade.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture

JI Packer on Billy Graham–When Billy Took Britain By Storm

In March 1952, while still a layman, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a gathering of 750 evangelical leaders, not-quite-leaders, and not-yet-leaders, at Church House in central London. We gathered to hear a 35-year-old American evangelist speak and answer questions about his burgeoning crusade ministry.

Billy Graham’s address, based on Habakkuk’s prayer that God would revive his work, averred that God was working a modern-day revival through the remarkably fruitful large-scale missions that he had been leading. He was relaxed, humble, God-centered, with a big, clear, warm voice, frequently funny and totally free from the arrogance, dogmatism, and implicit self-promotion that, rightly or wrongly, we Brits had come to expect from American evangelical leaders. He was engaging in his style, displaying the evangelist’s peculiar gift of making everyone feel that he was addressing them personally. He monologued for 90 minutes and answered questions for another hour. Though somewhat prejudiced at that stage of my life against all forms of institutionalized mass evangelism, I ended up admiring the speaker and rejoiced that I had been squeezed into the meeting. In retrospect, it stands in my memory as something of a landmark.

This meeting was held to consider whether to invite Graham to lead a crusade in London. Two days after his star performance, the invitation was issued—the first step on the road to the Harringay crusade, by far the most momentous religious event in 20th-century Britain. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lasting conversions, spinning off into dozens of vocations to evangelical pastoral ministry, led to high morale and significant spiritual advance through the next generation, despite the inroads secularism had made into British life. That Billy Graham left an indelible mark on England is not open to doubt.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

Billy Graham on Courage: ‘A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity’

From here:

A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BGEA) A Video Tribute to Billy Graham

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Ferguson

Almighty and eternal God, who has so made us of body, soul and spirit, that we live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from thee: Make us to hunger for the spiritual food of thy Word; and as we trust thee for our daily bread, may we also trust thee to give us day by day the inward nourishment of that living truth which thou hast revealed to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her; and she served them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And he sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

–Mark 1:29-45

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbishop of Canterbury warns cutting 0.7% aid budget would be ‘tragedy’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned it would be a ‘tragedy’ if Britain backed off its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its spending on overseas aid.

Justin Welby’s remarks came as Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring admitted the scandal around sex abuse committed by the charity’s staff in Haiti had undermined public support for the government’s international development budget.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology

(1st Things) Matthew Rose–The Anti-christian Alt-right: The Perverse Thought Of Right-wing Identity Politics

Almost everything written about the “alternative right” in mainstream outlets is wrong in one respect. The alt-right is not stupid. It is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous. They are serious. To appreciate this fact, one needs to inquire beyond its presence on social media, where its obnoxious use of insult, obscenity, and racism has earned it a reputation for moral idiocy. The reputation is deserved, but do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of genuine power and expanding appeal. As political scientist George Hawley conceded in a recent study, “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”

To what is the movement committed? The alt-right purports to defend the identity and interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality. Its goals are not conventionally conservative. It does not so much question as mock standard conservative positions on free trade, abortion, and foreign policy, regarding them as principles that currently abet white dispossession. Its own principles are not so abstract, and do not pretend to neutrality. Its creed, in the words of Richard Spencer, is “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.” The media take such statements as proof of the alt-right’s commitment to white supremacy. But this is misleading. For the alt-right represents something more nefarious, and frankly more interesting, than white identity politics.

The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it. Greg Johnson, an influential theorist with a doctorate in philosophy from Catholic University of America, argues that “Christianity is one of the main causes of white decline” and a “necessary condition of white racial suicide.” Johnson edits a website that publishes footnoted essays on topics that range from H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger, where a common feature is its subject’s criticisms of Christian doctrine. “Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood,” writes Gregory Hood, one of the website’s most talented essayists. It is “the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Law & Religion UK) David Pockington–Wi-Fi in churches: the Government-Church Accord

The 13-page Guidance document provides information relating each stage of the process, from receiving an approach from a mobile phone operator or internet service provider, to seeking faculty approval:

  •  obtaining specialist advice, consultations with various agencies and the public;
  • investigating the various permissions that might be required;
  • obtaining professional advice – architects, surveyors, solicitors and other specialists;
  • contacting national bodies with a statutory interest in the church’s built heritage: Cathedral and Church Buildings Division; National Amenity Societies: Ancient Monuments Society, the Council for British Archaeology, the Georgian Group, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Twentieth Century Society and the Victorian Society, Historic England (see below).
  • Issues to consider: equipment to be used; ingoing works; impact on the fabric of the church; health and safety compliant access for telecommunications operators  & ors; health and safety; lightening protection; new ‘clean’ electrical supply; insurance; bell and turret clocks; wildlife and trees; archeology.
  • Licence issues: The parish will need independent advice as to the Licence Agreement. The Diocesan Registrar will usually have a copy of a Model Licence.
  • Formal application for faculty authorization.

Covering similar issues, the Historic England guidance is equally important since HE is the statutory adviser to local authorities and the listed five denominations in accordance with the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and the Ecclesiastical Exemption Order 2010. If the installation will make changes to historic fabric that could affect the character or significance of a listed building HE must be consulted, whether the church is seeking permission through its denominational advisory body or the local authority.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture, Science & Technology