Monthly Archives: August 2014

(Wash. Post) An unholy alliance between faith and college football?

Hugh Freeze takes his seat near the back of the Mississippi football meeting room, and from here, with his three daughters sitting to his left, the Rebels coach can see everything.

Players begin filing through the doors a few minutes before 10 a.m., some wearing dreadlocks and others buzz cuts. Several carry Bibles. Christian music plays through the speakers of this 200-seat auditorium, and Freeze mouths the words to a song titled “Jesus Paid It All.”

This room in the Manning Center is where the Ole Miss football team gathers to discuss its mistakes, players’ hopes and goals, the opportunities and pitfalls that lay ahead in the season, and anyway, doesn’t that sound like life? To Freeze, it makes sense to merge his beliefs with his coaching, holding a Fellowship of Christian Athletes worship service each Sunday during the school year. For the Rebels’ players and coaches during the season, this is church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sports

(NPR) Iraqi Christian Village: From Sanctuary To Ghost Town In 2 Months

The northern Iraqi village of ”” and some jitters ”” when NPR visited back in June. The Assyrian Christian villagers had opened their schools and homes to Iraqis fleeing the takeover of nearby Mosul by Islamist fighters calling themselves the Islamic State.

But these days, most of Al-Qosh is as silent as the overlooking the village from a hill. A few Kurdish security men guard the entrance to the village, primarily concerned with keeping potential looters away from the tidy stone and cement homes.

The villagers fled en masse in early August, when Islamist fighters made a move in Al-Qosh’s direction. Now, as Kurdish forces begin to retake territory around Mosul, including the strategic Mosul dam, some families have begun to trickle back to Al-Qosh. Most stay only during daylight hours, however, afraid to stay overnight with Islamic State forces a mere 20 miles away.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Iraq, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Violence

Good and Simple Encouragement from Rick Warren–Are we willing to pay the price?

Check it out.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer

More alarming Ebola headlines

The news of the Ebola outbreak continues to be very grim:

CNN: Death toll passes 1,550 as Ebola outbreak accelerates, officials say

The Ebola outbreak “continues to accelerate” in West Africa and has killed 1,552 people so far, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The total number of cases stands at 3,069, with 40% occurring in the past three weeks. “However, most cases are concentrated in only a few localities,” the WHO said. The outbreak, the deadliest ever, has been centered in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with a handful of cases in Nigeria. The overall fatality rate is 52%, the WHO said, ranging from 42% in Sierra Leone to 66% in Guinea. (emphasis added)

Bloomberg: Ebola Cases May Surpass 20,000, WHO Says in Updated Plan

More than 20,000 people may be infected with the Ebola virus before the outbreak in West Africa is controlled and curbing the epidemic will cost at least $490 million, according to a World Health Organization plan.

Posted in Uncategorized

Anglican Unscripted 117 – features Allan Haley on the legal news in San Joaquin and South Carolina

Allan Haley is Kevin Kallson’s guest on the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted. Allan and Kevin discuss the legal situations in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons

Persecution: An interview with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

Via Anglican Mainstream we discovered this video interview with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali. It’s 28 minutes long. He focuses on how persecution is escalating beyond persecution of individuals and churches to attempted genocide of entire communities and ethnic groups.

Here’s the link should the embedded video not play properly.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Resources: Audio-Visual

[AAC – Bishop Bill Atwood] The Gospel is Under Assault

An alternate title for this excellent commentary by Bishop Atwood might be “Manure and the Anglican Soup.” It pairs well with the article from Christianity Today which I’d just read and posted below.

[…]There is nowhere in the Church where there is more vulnerability for the Gospel to be undermined than in the Anglican Communion. Certainly, there are other churches and denominations where the historic faith has been more fully and formally abandoned by the official decisions of institutional leadership, but the current vulnerability in the Anglican Communion is that the historic faith and Gospel commitment which has driven missionary zeal and Biblical fidelity for centuries is being de-emphasized in order to “get along.”

Right now, there are countless initiatives at the institutional level to attempt to convince people that the “cut-glass crystal punch bowl” is so beautiful that when it is polished, preserved, and appreciated the recipe of the punch it contains is unimportant. The challenge, however, is how much adulteration to the punch is acceptable. I addressed the House of Bishops in one of our Anglican Provinces and pointed out that the soup that was being made (to switch metaphors) has lovely carrots, beautiful potatoes, succulent chicken, and tasty broth. “How much manure can be added to the soup before you no longer can consume it and stay healthy?” I asked them. Not surprisingly, they did not want to have any manure added to the soup, and yet, quite a number of them were participating in conferences sponsored by liberal entities that completely undermined the Gospel, replacing it with institutional focus and uncritical acceptance of sin.

While I was tremendously excited at the selection of Justin Welby as the Archbishop of Canterbury, and had hoped and prayed for his selection believing that he was the best of the available candidates, I have been concerned at what appears to be a perspective that everything can be reconciled with everything else. While most relational disruptions can be reconciled, theological positions are another matter. It is impossible, for example, for the position “Jesus is Lord of all” to be reconciled with “Jesus is not Lord of all.” While theological disagreements may not seem to be that stark, it is precisely that revelation that is at stake in the Anglican Communion. The Lordship of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture, and how He viewed Scriptural authority is very much in play.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Religion & Culture

[Christianity Today] "The Wrong Kind of Christian"

A powerful article at Christianity Today by Tish Harrison Warren. The subtitle: “I thought a winsome faith would win Christians a place at Vanderbilt’s table. I was wrong.” It’s an excellent read from one who was at the center of Vanderbilt University’s decision to rescind recognition of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and other Christian groups.

Kendall posted several entries on the Vanderbilt situation in 2011-2012. Links here, here, and here.

Tish Harrison Warren/ August 22, 2014
The Wrong Kind of Christian
Image: KEVIN VANDIVIER / GENESIS

I thought I was an acceptable kind of evangelical.

I’m not a fundamentalist. My friends and I enjoy art, alcohol, and cultural engagement.
We avoid spiritual clichés and buzzwords. We value authenticity, study, racial reconciliation, and social and environmental justice.

Being a Christian made me somewhat weird in my urban, progressive context, but despite some clear differences, I held a lot in common with unbelieving friends. We could disagree about truth, spirituality, and morality, and remain on the best of terms. The failures of the church often made me more uncomfortable than those in the broader culture.

Then, two years ago, the student organization I worked for at Vanderbilt University got kicked off campus for being the wrong kind of Christians.

[…]

At first I thought this was all a misunderstanding that could be sorted out between reasonable parties. If I could explain to the administration that doctrinal statements are an important part of religious expression””an ancient, enduring practice that would be a given for respected thinkers like Thomas Aquinas””then surely they’d see that creedal communities are intellectually valid and permissible. If we could show that we weren’t homophobic culture warriors but friendly, thoughtful evangelicals committed to a diverse, flourishing campus, then the administration and religious groups could find common ground.

But as I met with other administrators, the tone began to change. The word discrimination began to be used””a lot””specifically in regard to creedal requirements. It was lobbed like a grenade to end all argument. Administrators compared Christian students to 1960s segregationists. I once mustered courage to ask them if they truly thought it was fair to equate racial prejudice with asking Bible study leaders to affirm the Resurrection. The vice chancellor replied, “Creedal discrimination is still discrimination.”

Feeling battered, I talked with my InterVarsity supervisor. He responded with a wry smile, “But we’re moderates!” We thought we were nuanced and reasonable. The university seemed to think of us as a threat.

For me, it was revolutionary, a reorientation of my place in the university and in culture.

I began to realize that inside the church, the territory between Augustine of Hippo and Jerry Falwell seems vast, and miles lie between Ron Sider and Pat Robertson. But in the eyes of the university (and much of the press), subscribers to broad Christian orthodoxy occupy the same square foot of cultural space.

The line between good and evil was drawn by two issues: creedal belief and sexual expression. If religious groups required set truths or limited sexual autonomy, they were bad””not just wrong but evil, narrow-minded, and too dangerous to be tolerated on campus.

The whole article is highly recommended

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Church/State Matters, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Ebola outbreak: Nigeria closes all schools until October

All schools in Nigeria have been ordered to remain shut until 13 October as part of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The new academic year was due to start on Monday.

But the education minister ordered the closures to allow staff to be trained on how to handle suspected Ebola cases.

Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The West Africa outbreak has centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,400 people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Health & Medicine, Nigeria

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose grace we have been admitted into the glory of the new covenant: Grant, we beseech thee, that being delivered from the death of sin and the bondage of the law, we may rejoice in the life and liberty of the Spirit, and evermore find our sufficiency in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frank Colquhoun

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

Summer Open Thread #6: What are you grateful to God for?

Posted in * General Interest

Tim Keller on the Decline of the "Mushy Middle" in American Christianity

Blogger Trevin Wax, at his Kingdom People blog (one of the Gospel Coalition website blogs), has some interesting excerpts of a recent forum at which NYC pastor Tim Keller spoke on the increasing polarization of attitudes towards Christianity in American society:

In a recent forum, “Conservative Christianity After the Christian Right,” Tim Keller predicted moderate growth of conservative evangelicalism even as the culture at large has grown more secular. In these remarks, he explains why these trends are leading to increasing polarization:

When I say “growing moderately,” I mean that the number of the devout people in the country is increasing, as well as the number of secular people. The big change is the erosion is in the middle. The devout numbers have not actually gone down that much. It depends on how you read them. But basically, they are not in freefall by any means.

You don’t so much see secularization as polarization, and what is really disappearing is the middle.

Keller sees the middle as having once leaned toward nominal Christianity, out of a sense of respect, tradition, or for social reasons. He says:

It used to be that the devout and the mushy middle ”” nominal Christians, people that would identify as Christians, people who would come to church sporadically, people who certainly respect the Bible and Christianity ”” the devout and the mushy middle together was a super majority of people who just created a kind of “Christian-y” sort of culture.

The mushy middle used to be more identified with the devout. Now it’s more identified with the secular. That’s all.

What does this mean for conservative Christians? Keller uses the analogy of an umbrella:

So what’s happening is the roof has come off for the devout. The devout had a kind of a shelter, an umbrella. You couldn’t be all that caustic toward traditional classic Christian teaching and truth. I spoke on Friday morning to the American Bible Society’s board. American Bible Society does a lot of polling about the Bible. The use of the Bible, reading the Bible, attitudes toward the Bible. They said that actually the number of people who are devout Bible readers is not changing that much.

What is changing is for the first time in history a growing group of people who think the Bible is bad, it’s dangerous, it’s regressive, it’s a bad cultural force, that was just never there. It was very tiny. And that’s because the middle ground has shifted, so it is more identified with the more secular, the less religious, and it’s less identified now with the more devout.

Read the full entry.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, who hast revealed thyself in him who veiled his Godhead that he might unveil thy glory, and hast made him the eternal sacrifice and only priest of men: Grant that by the power of thy Holy Spirit the veil on our hearts may be taken away, and we may look on him who loved us and gave himself for us, and so be changed into the same image from glory to glory, until at last we shall see him with unveiled face, for evermore.

–W. M. Clow

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

Summer Open Thread #5 — Memorable Vacation Destinations – aka the "T19 Trip Advisor"

Our favorite blog host, the Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon, has been showing off the beauty of Camp St. Christopher in the family vacation photos he’s posted (here and here). As August winds down, we invite our readers to share comments about some memorable vacations and vacation destinations – and perhaps also hoped-for vacation destinations. Where would you choose to visit if time and money permitted?

Previous Open Threads:
Books
Guest Blogger
Memorable Sermons
Laughter the Best Medicine

Posted in * General Interest

[Lent and Beyond] Prayer for South Carolina Monday August 25th

The trial between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of South Carolina is complete, and the case is under the consideration of Her Honor Judge Diane Goodstein.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Dear Father in heaven,

We acknowledge that all of these ecclesiastical legal disputes within the Episcopal Church are a poor witness and a sorry mess. However, with You nothing is impossible. So, even in the mess, we say, To You be the glory. Amen.

Please pray it all if you wish and there are more prayers from Lent and Beyond for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina