Daily Archives: December 4, 2014

[Christianity Today] Time To Rend Marriage? 1 in 4 Pastors Agree with First Things Petition

..American pastors are split over the issue, with 24 percent of them saying clergy should no longer be involved in the state’s licensing of marriages, and 71 percent saying they should stay involved. Pastors of small churches with fewer than 50 congregants were most likely to say clergy should no longer be involved, and evangelical pastors were slightly more likely than mainline pastors to say clergy should remain involved (77 percent vs. 69 percent).

Meanwhile, half of Americans are ready to separate religious weddings from the government’s definition and recognition of marriage.

Read it all. For background see The First Things Marriage Pledge and Mark McCall’s Legal Analysis

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Lent and Beyond: Advent Links

From Lent and Beyond
Check out the Advent “menu” entry at Lent & Beyond for 2014

Here is a list of great websites & blogs with Advent devotionals and prayers – the vast majority are Anglican sites

You’ll find all our Advent 2014 entries here:

A blessed Advent to all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

What is the point of Advent?

By Pageantmaster:
I admit while putting a listing of Advent links together to asking: ”˜What is the point of Advent?’ How can I put together links to Advent resources unless I am clear about what the purpose of Advent is?

I mean I know that it is a time to look forward to the birth of Christ, and also to the second coming at the end of time, when all things are made new and we are restored to the fullness of life with God as it was before the Fall.

Is it another penitential season perhaps with fasting like Lent? Well many people seem to think so. The colours of Advent candles reflect the liturgical colours of Lent including the change to pink on one Sunday. The Orthodox Church regards Advent as a season of fasting before Christmas, but the Roman Catholic Church does not specifically list Advent as a season of penitence as it does Lent. Some of the more reformed do not seem to bother much with it. So what is it?

Looking forward to Christmas, if on the one hand we are just to rehearse the Christmas Story, is that not just bringing the point of the Christmas season forward into Advent, a story which is already adequately covered in Christmas services such as Nine Lessons and Carols? How is Advent different from Christmas? Is it worth observing as a distinct season?

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Advent Resources

1. Advent Bible Reading Plans

Scripture Union USA: ‘Take The Essential Journey to Bethlehem this Advent’ – Spend just a few minutes each day following the Bible’s story of Jesus’ birth

The Dawning of Indestructable Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper – free download
and he has daily devotionals

Good links to Bible reading plans for Advent and Christmas from Bible dot com

Billy Graham Advent Readings

2. UK Calendars and Daily Readings

The Archbishop of York’s Advent Calendar – daily readings and reflections

24-7 Prayer: ‘When God comes near’ – helpful daily reflections but no verses and prayer time this year. and onYoutube

Advent Church Calendar – Premier Christian Radio daily readings starting with Canon Andrew White

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Sir Fred Catherwood obituary in the Guardian

Sir Fred Catherwood, who has died aged 89, was an accountant and businessman who in 1979 became one of the first Conservatives to be elected to the European parliament in Brussels. His life was shaped more directly and profoundly, however, by his evangelical Christian beliefs. He was the sort of pro-European Conservative whose views are almost extinct in the current party and he made little secret of his opposition to the economic price of Thatcherism.

Catherwood’s ecumenism extended to working closely with Labour governments in the 1960s as director general of the National Economic Development Council (NEDC, known in the jargon of the time as Neddy), the ultimately ill-fated attempt to bring management and trade unions together with government to boost Britain’s industrial regeneration. In 1971, the year he stepped down from the post, he was knighted. He transferred that enthusiasm for economic co-operation to Europe, where he ultimately became vice-president of the European parliament (1989-91). For much of this time he also ran weekly Bible classes at Westminster Chapel, the independent evangelical church in central London.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

John Henry Patterson (1867-1947)-The lion-killer who became an Israeli hero to be reburied in Israel

This is a fantastic interview by the BBCWS with Denis Brian, author of The Seven Lives of Colonel Patterson How an Irish Lion Hunter Led the Jewish Legion to Victory. Among many other things, he says of Patterson “If you combined Roosevelt, Hemingway and Lawrence of Arabia you might have a man like John Henry Patterson.” Listen to it all (about 3 minutes). Careful listeners will also be interested in the quote from Ze’ev Jabotinsky who once said of Patterson: “In all of Jewish history we have never had a Christian friend as understanding and devoted as he.”

Update” you may read more about the book and denis Brian there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, History, Ireland, Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

ERLC Questions and Ethics Program–Russell Moore Pleads for the Importance of NT reconciliation

I mean, there is no excuse that I can think of for choking a man to death for selling illegal cigarettes. This is about cigarettes. This isn’t a violent confrontation. This isn’t a threat that anybody has reported, a threat of someone being killed. This is someone being choked to death. We have it on video with the man pleading for his life. There is no excuse for that I can even contemplate or imagine right now. And so we’ve heard a lot in recent days about rule of law, and that’s exactly right. We need to be emphasizing rule of law. And a rule of law that is Biblically just is a rule of law that carries out justice equally.

Romans 13 says that the sword of justice is to be wielded against evildoers. Now, what we too often see still is a situation where our African-American brothers and sisters, especially brothers, are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be executed, more likely to be killed. And this is a situation in which we have to say, I wonder what the defenders of this would possibly say. I just don’t know. But I think we have to acknowledge that something is wrong with the system at this point and that something has to be done.

Frankly, nothing is more controversial in American life than this issue of whether or not we are going to be reconciled across racial lines. I have seen some responses coming after simply saying in light of Ferguson that we need to talk about why it is that white people and black people see things differently. And I said what we need to do is to have churches that come together and know one another and are knitted together across these racial lines. And I have gotten responses and seen responses that are right out of the White Citizen’s Council material from 1964. In my home state of Mississippi, seeing people saying there is no gospel issue involved in racial reconciliation.

Are you kidding me? There is nothing that is clearer in the New Testament that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

A decision I agree with–Jimmy Fallon Named Entertainer of the Year

As good a year as it was for Groot and company, there was one person who stood apart: Jimmy Fallon, EW”˜s 2014 Entertainer of the Year. In his first year as host of The Tonight Show, the 40-year-old turned the revered late-night franchise into the hottest party in town, a celebrity playpen full of games, music, surprise guests, and good vibes all around. Where else could you see Emma Stone shut down a lip-sync battle or Will Smith do the Stanky Legg? The fun is so infectious that even Barbra Streisand decided to return as a guest, a thing she hasn’t done in over 50 years. All the while, Fallon managed to do something almost no one expected: get the Tonight Show”˜s ratings to increase from when it was in Jay Leno’s hands a year ago

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television

(Times) Church of Scotland at loggerheads over move to appoint clergy in Same-sex partnerships

A majority of presbyteries in the Church of Scotland have agreed to a historic legal change, enabling individual congregations to opt out of traditional teaching on marriage and appoint a gay minister who is in a civil partnership.

While official returns will not be released until the new year, it was revealed last night that at least 27 of the 45 voting presbyteries had already accepted the principal of a “mixed economy” within the church, the compromise agreed at this year’s general assembly.

The policy laid out in an “overture” ”” or proposal ”” was drawn up as a way of maintaining the doctrinal position of the Church, to the satisfaction of some of its evangelical members, while allowing more liberal congregations to break with tradition and appoint gay clergy.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(GR) Terry Mattingly–Was the Wash Post all that interested in the heart and soul of Tom Hanks?

Does Hanks know that the word “Mysteries” — with a big “M” ”“ is at the heart of all Orthodox Christian discussions of faith and theology? I think that is a safe assumption. Does he know that he can use the word “mystery” in a secular forum and few reporters will know that? Maybe.

So what is my point? Am I arguing that the Post needed to devote a large chunk of its Kennedy Center Honors feature on Hanks to the role that Christian faith does or does not play in the actor’s life and career?

Well, if part of the point of the story is that this complex man ”“ often hailed for his moral convictions and character ”“ has kept essential parts of his life quite closeted, I think it might have been interesting to ask why. That might include at least a few sentences about his family and his faith.

Think about it. You see, the contents of his mind and his soul might have SOMETHING to do with his art.

Perhaps there is a reason that he keeps some parts of his life private, yet not all that private. I mean, what kind of Hollywood superstar burns crosses into the frames of his doorways?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CSM Editorial) With fewer young people gambling, time for a government rethink

An old bit of wisdom ”“ that gambling is only for people who never took math ”“ may have finally hit home with Americans. According to surveys by researchers at the University at Buffalo, the number of gamblers and the frequency of their play have dropped since 1999 despite a recent proliferation of casinos and lotteries. Even more heartening, the largest falloff was among people under age 30 (from 89 percent to 78 percent).

Unlike their elders, perhaps the younger generation knows the odds are never in their favor when they are up against the “Hunger Games”-like gambling industry. Or perhaps the thrill is gone with so many more gambling joints now an easy drive away for most Americans ”“ or just a click away in many places.

The survey, published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, did find hard-core gamblers are betting more money and that Internet gambling has gone up. But policymakers ”“ who generally promote gambling ”“ should take note of the decline in interest among young people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

Robert Barron on CS Lewis' argument from Desire

The first premise of the demonstration hinges on a distinction between natural or innate desires and desires of a more artificial or contrived variety. Examples of the first type include the desire for food, for sex, for companionship, for beauty, and for knowledge; while examples of second type include the longing for a fashionable suit of clothes, for a fast car, for Shangri-La, or to fly through the air like a bird. Precisely because desires of the second category are externally motivated or psychologically contrived, they don’t prove anything regarding the objective existence of their objects: some of them exist and some of them don’t.

But desires of the first type do indeed correspond to, and infallibly indicate, the existence of the states of affairs that will fulfill them: hunger points to the objective existence of food, thirst to the objective existence of drink, sexual longing to the objective existence of the sexual act, etc. And this is much more than a set of correspondences that simply happen to be the case; the correlation is born of the real participation of the desire in its object. The phenomenon of hunger is unthinkable apart from food, since the stomach is “built” for food; the phenomenon of sexual desire is unthinkable apart from the reality of sex, since the dynamics of that desire are ordered toward the sexual act. By its very structure, the mind already participates in truth.

So what kind of desire is the desire for perfect fulfillment? Since it cannot be met by any value within the world, it must be a longing for truth, goodness, beauty, and being in their properly unconditioned form. But the unconditioned, by definition, must transcend any limit that we might set to it. It cannot, therefore, be merely subjective, for such a characterization would render it not truly unconditioned. And this gives the lie to any attempt — Feuerbachian, Freudian, Marxist or otherwise — to write off the object of this desire as a wish-fulfilling fantasy, as a projection of subjectivity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Apologetics, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

World Bank chief in Sierra Leone ”“ almost 700 new Ebola cases in just 9 days

If the intention of the government of Sierra Leone today was to show the World Bank president, how effective its coordinating strategy has been in combating the Ebola virus, then Ebola must have had a different and shocking agenda.

As the World Bank chief arrived in Freetown today, the number of cumulative Ebola cases in the capital was fast making its way to an all time high of 2,223 ”“ an increase of 396 new cases in the last thirteen days.

Figures for the country as a whole was even less flattering for the man who controls the World’s finances, as the total number of cumulative confirmed new cases rose to 6,132 ”“ a massive 93 new cases recorded across Sierra Leone in one day, bringing the total number of new cases in the country to 691 in just nine days.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Sierra Leone

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of Damascus

Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by thy servant John of Damscus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, Father of mercies, who didst so love the world that thou didst give thine only begotten Son to take our nature upon him for us men and for our salvation: Grant to us who by his first coming have been called into thy kingdom of grace, that we may always abide in him, and be found watching and ready when he shall come again to call us to thy kingdom of glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Henry Stobat

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer