Daily Archives: January 29, 2014

(CT) Ed Stetzer–Cynicism Doesn't Reach a Lost World

The fact is that in one moment, while Christians like me (and maybe like some of you) would be a bit cynical at the simplicity and, yes, the “hokeyness” of skywriting evangelism, potentially up to 133,000 people (using the average daily attendance of the four parks in the resort) actually discussed what it means to trust Jesus. That’s something that should not be dismissed.

Now, skywriting is not the ultimate form of evangelism– that takes feet and faces, not just billboards and signs. Personally, I’m more concerned that I share Christ with my neighbor than some sort of placard, billboard or flyer.

But at the end of the day, I was convicted that maybe those of us who call ourselves “missional” should be a little less cynical about Christians who are trying to get the message out in ways that we might deem cheesy or ineffective.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Canon Phil Ashey: The Bishops Have Spoken

The Bishops of the Church of England have spoken…
…When the very context of such “facilitated conversations” is misplaced, the results surely will be. This is precisely what Archbishops Drexel Gomez and Maurice Sinclair predicted in 2001 in To Mend the Net when they described the fatal flaw of facilitated conversations AFTER innovations have been allowed to disrupt the spiritual unity of the church without any consequences:

“the way the ”˜process of reception’ is presented and set up for consideration has, practically speaking, only one or two possible results, eventual acceptance of the innovation or a never-ending period of reception.” (63) To Mend the Net.

This is the heart of the new religion of relational reconciliation. It is as if “reconciliation” is some kind of common good or end in itself. Facilitated conversations (aka “Indaba”) can have only two possible results: eventual acceptance of the innovations, or a never-ending process of facilitated conversations, until all resistance is vanquished.

3. The very recommendation of facilitated conversations across the Communion betrays an unwillingness to acknowledge the plain authority of the Bible as it speaks to human sexuality, marriage and the qualifications for ministry. The proponents of innovations in each of these areas”“ TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada since 2003 (with respect to same sex blessings and consecrations of partnered same-sex persons as bishops), and now the Church of England with regards to both blessing civil partnerships and permitting such partnered clergy to be eligible for the episcopate”“ have had ample opportunity to make their case. Time and again, they have failed to show how these innovations are in keeping with the Bible or the uninterrupted teaching authority and tradition of the Church.

For over 10 years, such “conversations” within the Instruments of Communion have simply enabled TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada to project false teaching and confusion across the Communion without any consequences. And now, I am sad to say, it appears that the bishops of the Church of England propose to follow the example set by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Culture changes. God’s word never changes. Cultures and contexts can and do err. God’s word does not. It is a tragedy that TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada have decided to “indaba” themselves to death rather than speak prophetically and lovingly to Western culture with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. It is an even greater tragedy that the bishops of the Church of England should now propose to join them in projecting confusion and error through “facilitated conversations” across the Anglican Communion.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

GAFCON Chairman's Pastoral Statement

To the Faithful of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and friends
from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya
and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

29th January 2014

”˜”¦by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God’ 2 Corinthians 4:2

…We cannot therefore allow our time and energy to be sapped by debating that which God has already clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Earlier this week, the English College of Bishops met to reflect upon the ”˜Pilling Report’, commissioned to reflect on how the Church of England should respond to the question of same sex relationships. Its key recommendations were that informal blessings of such unions should be allowed in parish churches and that a two year process of ”˜facilitated conversation’ should be set up to address strongly held differences within the Church on this issue.

While we should be thankful that the College of Bishops did not adopt the idea of services for blessing that which God calls sin, it did unanimously approve the conversation process and this is deeply troubling. There has been intensive debate within the Anglican Communion on the subject of homosexuality since at least the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it is difficult to believe that the bishop’s indecision at this stage is due to lack of information or biblical reflection. The underlying problem is whether or not there is a willingness to accept the bible for what it really is, the Word of God.

At Lambeth 1998, the bishops of the Anglican Communion, by an overwhelming majority, affirmed in Resolution 1.10 that homosexual relationships were not compatible with Scripture, in line with the Church’s universal teaching through the ages, but the Pilling Report effectively sets this aside. The conversations it proposes are not to commend biblical teaching on marriage and family, but are based on the assumption that we cannot be sure about what the bible says.

I cannot therefore commend the proposal by the College of Bishops that these ”˜facilitated conversations ”˜ should be introduced across the Communion. This is to project the particular problems of the Church of England onto the Communion as a whole. As with ”˜Continuing Indaba’, without a clear understanding of biblical authority and interpretation, such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel because the Scriptures no longer function in any meaningful way as a test of what is true and false…

Read it all

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Featured (Sticky), GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Kathleen Parker–The diminishing returns of an American college education

The problem isn’t only that higher education is unaffordable to many but that even at our highest-ranked colleges and universities, students aren’t getting much bang for their buck.

Since 1985, the price of higher education has increased 538 percent, according to a new study from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group that encourages trustees and alumni to foster improvement where institutions may be reluctant to go against popular trends.

For perspective, compare tuition increases to a “mere” 286 percent increase in medical costs and a 121 percent increase in the consumer price index during the same period, according to the ACTA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Personal Finance, Theology, Young Adults

Timothy George on Richard John Neuhaus–The Radical Conservative

As noted in first things, this month marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009)–KSH

If ideas have consequences, Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009) will be remembered as the most serious Christian thinker and the most consequential public theologian in America since Reinhold Niebuhr. As editor in chief of First Things, a journal he founded in 1990, and as director of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, an influential think tank that addresses issues of moral and social concern, Neuhaus placed his considerable gifts as a writer, thinker, and networker in the service of reasoned discourse and the common good.

T. S. Eliot described the art of writing as a “raid on the inarticulate.” Neuhaus was a brilliant raider, and never wrote a boring sentence. His many books and essays, like those of G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis, will be studied for generations to come.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(L. Times) 1/5 of young marrieds admit removing wedding ring before going out for the evening

Now you see it, now you don’t. It is the quickest way to invite suspicion, but a fifth of young married couples have admitted to removing their wedding ring before going out with friends or after a row.

A study of 2,000 couples found that men and women were more likely to wear a wedding ring today than in previous generations. However, the study also showed the flipside of these displays of fidelity ”” that if more people are willing to wear them, there will be more disgruntled couples willing to whip them off.

One in five people under 40 admitted to having taken off their wedding ring during marital strife. Men were most likely to take their ring off before socialising, and women were more likely to remove it after a fight.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stress, Theology, Young Adults

J. D. Greear–Hell is a difficult reality, but it is something that the Bible teaches

Concerning hell, C. S. Lewis once wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.”[1] In many ways, I agree with him. No one, Christians included, should like the idea of hell. For years I’ve felt that if you were to give me a Bible, a divine eraser, and ten minutes, I would take hell out of the Bible.

Those of us who believe in hell aren’t sadists who enjoy the idea of eternal suffering. In fact, the thought of people I know who are outside of Christ spending eternity in hell is heart-breaking. As a young Christian, when I began to learn about hell and its implications, I almost lost my faith. It was that disturbing.

Hell is a difficult reality, but it is something that the Bible teaches, and we can’t fully understand God and his world unless we grapple with it.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC ) The Bishop of Taunton calls for talks on proposed Bishop of Bath and Wells Residence

The Bishop of Taunton has called for more consultation over plans to move the new Bishop of Bath and Wells out of a flat in the 800-year-old palace.

The Right Reverend Peter Maurice said the Church Commissioners had not spent enough time before making “a major decision of this kind”.

Bishop Maurice plans to put a question about the decision to the General Synod – the Church of England’s ruling body.

The Church Commission said the move would give the bishop more privacy.

Read it all and there is also more there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Bishop of Bath and Wells to move into a rectory the C of E buys back for more than they sold it for

The £900,000 mansion that will become the home of a newly-appointed bishop was previously sold by the Church of England for less money, it has been revealed.

The Grade II-listed Georgian former rectory was sold for £750,000 in 2007 after the church deemed it ‘unsuitable’ for the clergy.

But the diocese is set to buy back the imposing property for the Right Reverend Peter Hancock in a controversial move away from his traditional historic palace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

A Washington Post Editorial on the President's State of the Union Address

Entitlements and a cure for America’s long-term fiscal imbalance, once ostensibly key Obama concerns, no longer rank as priorities. And in a speech devoted overwhelmingly to domestic issues, Mr. Obama spent just enough time on foreign policy to demonstrate again his determination to limit U.S. commitments in the Middle East. He stressed the end of U.S. military interventions, particularly in Afghanistan, and he vowed to veto any move by Congress to sanction Iran pending his top priority, negotiations on its nuclear programs. He had little to say about ongoing turmoil in Egypt and even less about growing tensions in East Asia.

Read it all. Also, I thought Dana Milbank’s analysis was interesting: “The address was an implicit acknowledgment that his once-grand legislative ambitions are over.” You may find the text of the speech itself here.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Professor John C. Lennox's Adult Sunday School Class from this week–Changing Culture

You can find the link to listen to it all here; note you can listen by clicking the link or download by clicking the blue “download” word underneath the black line. Our thanks to Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, S.C., for making this available.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Apologetics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

An Intermountain Catholic Article on a Pulpit Exchange in the interest of Ecumenism

Jan. 19 marked the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, celebrated that theme at three faith gatherings while reflecting on the need for Christians to come together.

Bishop Wester began the public portion of his day at the Cathedral of Saint Mark in Salt Lake City, where he preached the Gospel at the invitation of the Right Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, who celebrated the Holy Eucharist at the 10:30 a.m. service.

The two bishops decided the “pulpit exchange” was one way to publicly display their belief that Christians of various denominations share witness and fellowship, and can work together.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.
On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all thy creatures: We pray thee of thy great mercy to guide us to thy will, to make our minds steadfast, to strengthen us against temptation, to put far from us all unrighteousness. Shield us against our foes, seen and unseen; teach us that we may inwardly love thee before all things with a clean mind and a clean body. For thou art our Maker and Redeemer, our help and our comfort, our trust and our hope, now and for evermore.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Yea, he shall see that even the wise die,
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes for ever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they named lands their own.
Man cannot abide in his pomp,
he is like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who have foolish confidence,
the end of those who are pleased with their portion.
Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
straight to the grave they descend,
and their form shall waste away;
Sheol shall be their home.
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me.

–Psalm 49: 10-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture