Daily Archives: August 7, 2015

(AAC) Phil Ashey–What do we have to offer a “selfie” culture?

Like many of you, I’m continuing to reflect on the tectonic philosophical and moral shifts in our culture crystallized in the Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage””and what that decision means not only for our religious liberties, but for our evangelism, discipleship and mission as followers of Jesus Christ.

Four weeks ago I quoted Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission who stated that there will be a new generation of “refugees” from the current metaphysical-sexual expression culture that we now live in. Yes, there will be refugees””because turning in on yourself and pursuing your own sexual desires as a fundamental liberty never ends well. (See Romans 1:18-32 for a picture of what that looks like). Such a culture cannot keep its promises of personal happiness and fulfillment for individuals whose needs and cravings will inevitably be at odds! Sexual and relational brokenness, desperate loneliness, divorce, broken families, spiritual and emotional wounds will increase with the ever-accelerating sexual revolution which has been blessed by the highest courts of our land. Not only that, but abortion as a gruesome method of birth control and fetal tissue extraction and euthanasia at the other end of life will also increase as the exaltation of personal desires trumps traditional biblical values on the sanctity of life.

In a culture where it’s all about me and my choices, where the bottom-line world view is that the self is the only thing that can be known, and where freedom of sexual expression, self-interests and narcissism reign supreme, here’s the question: what do we as a church, as followers of Jesus Christ, have to offer to those who will be refugees of this new metaphysical-sexual expression regime?

Read it all (his emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Apologetics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

Taylor Brown reviews 'Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Liberty'

Chapter two of the book is primarily devoted to an in-depth examination of the negative socio-cultural ramifications of redefining marriage and how, if not checked, this redefinition can all too easily lead to further breakdowns in the monogamy, permanence, and exclusivity that bolster the procreativity-oriented reality of comprehensive/conjugal marriage. This is then buttressed with an extremely thorough examination of the judicial overreach and activism involved in the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage in Obergefell in chapter three. The treatment given to the dissenting opinions in this chapter is worth the cost of admission alone.

The second half of the book, beginning with chapter four, is devoted to defending religious liberty in the wake of Obergefell. Chapter four itself is largely devoted to examining several prominent religious liberty infringement cases that have already occurred. This is then followed in chapter five with a detailed explanation of what religious freedom is, why it is the “first freedom,” and why it is of paramount importance that it be protected, not sacrificed on the altar of the sexual revolution. This “strong-protection” view of religious liberty is then reinforced in chapter six, wherein Anderson shows how detrimental a national SOGI (Sexual Identity and Gender Identity) law(s) would be for religious liberty and for those whose religious convictions commit them to the traditional view of marriage.

The final three chapters examine both the negative sociological ramifications of redefining marriage, particularly for children, and lay out a long-term plan for adherents of traditional marriage to begin rebuilding a marriage culture and strengthening religious liberty against attempts to weaken it. Anderson is optimistic here, but also realistic. He rightly points out that the legalization of same-sex marriage is just the most recent and logical outworking of previous deconstruction done by no-fault divorce, recreational sex, and other trivializations of marriage and sexuality over the past four decades.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

What is the State of the American Mind? A Conversation with Mark Bauerlein

Is the American Mind”“the collective intelligence of what it means to live as independent citizens and individuals in America”“increasingly being lost? That is the subject Mark Bauerlein discusses with Richard Reinsch in this Liberty Law Talk. Some have argued that we are Becoming Europe in fiscal and welfare state policies. Others have noted the rise of political correctness as a smothering force in our society. Many have long observed that our education system not only inadequately prepares young Americans in primary schools and colleges and universities for the competitive private sector, but that it is nearly oblivious to the American Founding and the qualities of American citizenship. Mark Bauerlein, in a new volume co-edited with Adam Bellow entitled The State of the American Mind, pulls these critiques together in a powerful, contemporary light with 16 essays by various critics. Our conversation considers these contributions on education, politics, media, and culture.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Job Growth Stays Steady, but Signs of Slack Persist

U.S. employers are adding jobs at a steady clip though the labor market is showing little sign of overheating, factors likely to reassure Federal Reserve officials as they weigh their first interest-rate increase since 2006.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 215,000 in July, the Labor Department said Friday. Revisions showed employers added 6,000 more jobs in May and 8,000 more in June than previously estimated.

The unemployment rate, which is obtained from a separate survey of U.S. households, held steady at 5.3% in July.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

[CMS] New post to help Church tune in to global voices

A century earlier two great mission thinkers, Henry Venn of the Church Mission Society (CMS) and Rufus Anderson of the (Congregational) American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, had spelt out a vision around which this development would take shape. A mature church, they said, should be self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.

The Rt Rev Graham Kings, who takes up a newly created seven-year post, mission theologian in the Anglican Communion, believes a fourth element is needed to make the Anderson-Venn vision complete: self-theologising. This fourth self, he says, now needs to come to the fore, especially the largely unrecognised work of Anglican theologians from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. “It is these theological voices which need to be heard more clearly throughout the Anglican Communion,” he says.

“It’s a partnership to find and publish new voices,” Kings adds. The post is an initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church Mission Society, and Durham University. Kings has been awarded an honorary visiting fellowship at Durham, will be employed by CMS, will work in the Lambeth Palace Library, and will serve as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Southwark, London.

Step one will be a series of seminars around the Communion for theologians, particularly from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. There are two further elements: coordinating writing-sabbaticals for hard-pressed theologians of the Global South and publishing a series of books on Anglican theologies. Sabbaticals are being planned at colleges in Durham, Oxford, Cambridge, and at Virginia Theological Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies.

Read it all

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

([London] Times) Isis trades women like barrels of oil, says United Nations envoy Zainab Bangura

Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special envoy on sexual violence, said yesterday that a document discovered eight months ago that appeared to show Isis trading pre-pubescent girls as sex slaves had been authenticated.
“The girls get peddled like barrels of petrol,” she said. “One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men. Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, she said that the document claimed that children aged nine or under could be sold to Isis fighters as slaves for $165. Older women, from the Christian or Yazidi communities, were worth less, with those over 40 selling for as little as $41.

Read it all 9requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(BBC Mag.) When the god of money isn’t enough: the hidden spirituality of Silicon Valley

Nestled amongst the nondescript concrete buildings of Silicon Valley, home to start-ups and tech giants, are a surprising number of churches and temples.

They cater to the highly successful and wealthy population of the world’s tech capital. It is surprising because this is a region that is known for its agnosticism, rather than religiosity.

“Silicon Valley attracts people with a type-A personality,” said Skip Vaccarello, author of Finding God in Silicon Valley. “[That type has] the lowest number of people that go to a church on any Sunday. The gods become the things like money, technology, success and so on.”

A recent survey listed San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose as having the least church-going population of any place in America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(J Post) US-Iran diplomacy fails to bear fruit for Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran

While the White House and Congress prepare for a final showdown over the controversial Iran nuclear deal, three American prisoners and one missing American in Iran are awaiting their own fate.

One of the prisoners is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. He has become the international face of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic.

Abedini was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting relatives and building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Initially placed under house arrest, he was transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and later to Rajai Shahr Prison.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Sir Philip Mawer: Chrism masses do not breach principles

Alternative chrism masses for those who cannot accept women bishops are a consequence rather than a cause of division in the Church, and do not breach the principles in the House of Bishops’ Declaration on women bishops, an independent review has concluded.

The adjudication by Sir Philip Mawer, who was appointed by the Archbishops to consider grievances from those who are concerned that the principles are not being adhered to, was published last Friday. It followed a letter to him from Hilary Cotton, who chairs Women and the Church (WATCH), in April.

She argued that there was “no sacramental need” for the masses, which are presided over by bishops of the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, since chrism masses were already held in each diocese. Alternative masses were “a cause of much pain to clergy women and their supportive male colleagues, and an expression of division within the dioceses”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Irish Times) Belfast preacher in court over calling Islam ”˜satanic’

Christian preacher Pastor James McConnell has said he wants to be “exonerated, liberated and set free” after he pleaded not guilty at a Belfast court in connection with charges he faces over a sermon where he branded Islam as “satanic”.

At Laganside court on Thursday, the north Belfast preacher’s solicitor Joe Rice said his client would be pleading not guilty to the case prosecutors have taken under the 2003 Communications Act.

Supporters, including DUP MP Sammy Wilson, gathered outside the court holding placards to protest what they described as the pastor’s right to free speech.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mason Neale

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

Almighty God, in whose presence is fullness of joy, and whose power is made perfect in our weakness: Grant us so to dwell in thy presence, that we may ever be glad of heart; and so to rest on thy strength, that we may have victory over evil; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

GAFCON Chairman's July – August Pastoral Letter

How is it that the glory of Jesus is recognised in the Church today? As Peter was speaking out of his ignorance about making shelters for Moses, Elijah and Jesus, the voice of God the Father interrupts him saying “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him”. The same is true today. We must listen to him. But we can be much more interested in our ideas than God’s Word. We must listen to the voice of Jesus as it comes to us through the whole of the Scriptures, but the recent decisions of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) and the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) to amend their marriage canons to accommodate so called ”˜gay marriage’ remind us that parts of the Church are becoming increasingly bold in speaking what they have learned from listening to the world rather than listening to the Scriptures and the witness of the Church through two millennia.

The problem TEC in particular continues to pose for the rest of the Communion was highlighted by another but less reported resolution from its 2015 General Convention, A051, ”˜Support LGBT African Advocacy’ which mandates that Church to spread its ideas to Africa. In the light of this resolution it is increasingly difficult to see what purpose the dialogue of Continuing Indaba and associated projects such as Bishop Graham Kings’ ”˜Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion’ project can serve except as a means, even if unintentional, by which TEC can promote further confusion and division around the Communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

(AFP) Boko Haram guns down 9 villagers in NE Nigeria: survivors

Boko Haram Islamists shot dead at least nine people and set homes on fire in a raid on two villages in conflict-hit northeastern Nigeria, fleeing residents told AFP on Thursday.

All nine victims were gunned down with assault rifles as the jihadis attacked Tadagara around 10:30 pm (2130 GMT), looting thatch-roofed mud homes and shops before setting them ablaze, according to witnesses.

“Boko Haram gunmen came on motorcycles and opened fire on the village after we had retired for the night and killed nine residents,” Tadagara villager ”ŽShuaibu Nuhu told AFP.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence