Daily Archives: March 3, 2016

(CT) Derek Rishmawy reviews Thomas Jay Oord's "The Uncontrolling Love of God"

Coming from the stream of recent theology called “open” or “relational” theism (which holds that God cannot predict or predetermine the choices we make), he’s not satisfied with traditional accounts of God’s providence. They don’t help him make sense out of life, especially the problem of “genuine” (purposeless, gratuitous) evil. At some point, they all have to appeal to mystery, and so they offer no “explanatory consistency.” In their place, Oord offers a winsome, clear, and charitable exposition of his own providential framework, drawing on philosophy, the sciences, and biblical wisdom to fill the gap.

In a nutshell, his thesis is that evil exists, quite simply, because “God cannot unilaterally prevent genuine evil.” Theologians have long recognized that God can’t do all sorts of things””like create a round square, or lie, or be faithless. Oord simply expands the list of divine “cannots” to the reality of controlling evil.

Building on his particular reading of the Christ-hymn of Philippians 2, he “considers the self-giving [kenotic], other-empowering love of God revealed in Jesus Christ to be logically primary in God’s eternal essence.” And that sort of love is, by its nature, uncontrolling. Putting those two claims together, he draws two conclusions: first, that “God’s loving nature requires God to create a world with creatures God cannot control”; and second, that it also prevents him from interrupting the “law-like regularities” of the natural world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology

[Bishop Mark Lawrence] Finding Elevation in the Sierra Nevadas

The Devil’s Washbowl, Middle Fork Canyon
..The trail down the Middle Fork Canyon was breathtaking. Everywhere offering grand views both down the canyon as well as up toward the Sierra crest. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Each mile brought spectacular cliffs 4,000, to 5,000 thousand foot canyon walls and the river festooned with waterfalls, deep pools, raging rapids. But each impressive water fall or rapids made the words of warning echo in my ears””“Be careful fording the Middle Fork of the Kings!”

Just a mile or so past Devil’s Washbowl things took an ironic turn. As I rounded the talus rock of a side canyon there was a stench of smoke. I thought at first it was a simple campfire””but wondered who might be in the canyon and why they’d have a campfire on a rather warm afternoon. Too soon it was obvious this was no campfire but a forest fire.

The entire canyon was filling with smoke””above me, behind me, in front of me, down trail below me. My first thought was””“Where is the fire?” and the second””“What should I do?”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Theology

(NYT) A Swedish Girl, ISIS and a Cautionary Tale of Global Terrorism

It was a running-away-from-home nightmare for the age of global terrorism. Marilyn Nevalainen, a pregnant teenager, decided to follow her boyfriend last year when he set out to wage jihad, leaving the lakes and forests of southwest Sweden for life under the Islamic State in the desert heat of Iraq.

Apparently lacking any clear idea of what she was getting herself into, she ended up with militants near Mosul, with a new baby to care for and her boyfriend dead on an Iraqi battlefield.

Remarkably, Ms. Nevalainen, now 16, and her infant son made it out alive. Much remains unknown about how she turned up two weeks ago in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, and she has not spoken publicly beyond a brief television interview in which she contended that she had followed her boyfriend without knowing “what ISIS means, what Islam is, nothing.” She is now back in Sweden.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Sweden, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Women

[VOCM Canada] Anglican First Nations Not Ready to Allow Same-Sex Marriage in Church

The Anglican Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador says the divide over same-sex marriage in the church has as much to do with cultural difference as it does with faith. VOCM Andrew Hawthorn explains.
The First Nations community within the Anglican Church of Canada is not eager to embrace marriage equality.

A heated meeting of the House of Bishops last week ended with the realization that any resolution to allow for same sex unions within the church is not likely to receive the two-thirds majority necessary to pass.

This, following a warning from the global Anglican community to the Canadian church to leave the issue alone.

Bishop Geoff Peddle says cultural difference between First Nations and European-descended bishops was one of the major road blocks.

He says many of the bishops are representing indigenous and first nations communities, and those communities aren’t ready to move forward on marriage equality.

The issue is still headed for debate and a vote this July at the General Synod Meeting in Toronto..

Read and listen to it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Matt Malone–Mourning the departure of politics as a noble vocation

It’s the rest of it that is so deeply troubling. I have spoken with parents who have told me they don’t let their kids watch the debates because they don’t want them to think that that is an acceptable way for adults to behave. I’ve spoken with high school principals who have told me that their students see little use for politics except as a punchline. I myself wondered whether a single young person watching this spectacle would be moved to enter public service. Would any one of them think that this is a noble calling that is worthy of the best in ourselves?

Over this last weekend, after Donald Trump called Ted Cruz “a liar” and Marco Rubio “a choke artist,” Mr. Rubio pushed back by mocking Mr. Trump’s appearance, the size of his fingers and even the size of his genitalia. Mr. Rubio’s crowds cheered him on, much like first-century Romans at a gladiatorial contest. The media, meanwhile, who share a hefty size of the blame for our descent into gutter politics, sat back in faux-shock, pretending not to know how all this came to be.

When the major candidates for president of the United States are saying and doing such things and are then rewarded for it in poll after poll, then I no longer recognize my own country. Like my father, I don’t know whom I’ll vote for. A pro-life, pro-immigration, economic liberal who is no fan of guns but still a constitutional originalist has no natural home in either party. My father, I suspect, is now similarly homeless. But he would likely say that he didn’t leave the Republican party. The party left him.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, Theology

(Guardian) Tending the flock: a year in the life of a London priest ”“ in pictures

These are lovely–look through them all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bishop Ghais Abdel Malek: Faithful Servant

Bishop Ghais Abdel Malek has died at the age of 85 after a period of ill health. From 1984 to 2000 he was Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt and North Africa and from 1996 he was also Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Ghais Abdel Malek Barsoum was greatly respected and loved as a man of prayer and faithful service. He leaves his widow Fawzia and three children, to whom, as well as to the people of Egypt, Bishop Michael has sent condolences on behalf of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. Mrs Georgia Katsantonis in her capacity as Provincial Secretary and also representing Cyprus and the Gulf, will attend the funeral at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo at 1 p.m. on Saturday 5 March.

Read it all and there is a tribute from Archbishop Mouneer Anis

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley

Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer Adapted from John Wesley to Begin the Day

Let these my prayers, O Lord, find access to the throne of grace, through the Son of thy love, Jesus Christ the righteous; to whom with thee, O Father, in the unity of the Spirit, be all love and obedience, now and for ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.3This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to our food and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have any one deprive me of my ground for boasting.

–1 Corinthians 9:1-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Anglican Ink] Prof Stephen Noll: The Fallacy of Core Doctrine

“Feature: The concerns voiced by Prof Stephen Noll in his 1996 response to the trial of Walter Righter bear re-reading today.”
The Aftermath of the Righter Trial (1996)

On 15 May 1996, the trial Court delivered its Opinion, dismissing both counts: that Bishop Righter had taught false doctrine and had violated his ordination oath. The vote was 7 to 1, one judge having recused himself from the case.

The seven majority judges, inspired by C. H. Dodd’s Apostolic Preaching, made a distinction between what they called “Core Doctrine” (kerygma) and “traditional teaching” (didache). Despite the fact that the Canon stated that a bishop might be tried for holding and teaching “any doctrine contrary to that held by this Church,” they concluded that only Core Doctrine could be grounds for a heresy trial. In fact, Core Doctrine as they spelled it out, is so vague that no one will ever be convicted. And surely, that was their point: no more trials!

The Core Doctrine distinction involves a category error. Dodd was describing basic elements of the evangelistic preaching of the Church, not its internal rule of faith and life. The Court majority was a bit uneasy that their Core Doctrine contained no moral norms at all, and so they conceded that a bishop might conceivably be disciplined for teaching or practicing immorality such as adultery, theft, and assault; but the conclusion for such a norm would be that it had never been contested within the Church as homosexuality has. Since Bishop Spong had already contested every known doctrine of the faith, he can presumably breathe a sigh of relief!

The majority claimed to be agnostic on the morality of homosexuality and called for a period of “patient listening and holy discernment.” During such a holy hiatus, of course, a sizeable group of Episcopal bishops will continue to ordain non-celibate homosexuals and push the next agenda item, gay marriage..

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

[Underground Pewster] The Elastic Identity of the Episcopal Church

“Elastic identity” is not an idea that I came up with. Instead, it is straight from the mouth of the President of the Episcopal House of Deputies at the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church this February.

“The last time we met, just over three months ago, I said some things. I said some things about standing on the threshold and about longing for change and about embracing our elastic identity.”

Are any of you bouncing up and down, eager to join a church with an elastic identity? If so, there are several things about elastic that you should remember..

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016

[JMECA] The four churches in Iran – meeting faithfully

There have been Christians in Iran since the earliest days of the Church and the indigenous Churches continue as minorities in this predominantly Muslim country. The Anglican presence arose out of missionary work by the Church Missionary Society and the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people.Today there is a small Church which looks to the Bishop for spiritual leadership. The diocesan institutions ”“ schools and hospitals and work among the blind ”“ have gone but the tiny Church persists. Members of the Church need much prayer for strength to witness to their faith and for protection from the opposition. There have been martyrs since the Revolution, and the situation can only really be described, in human terms, as unpredictable.

The Diocese of Iran differs from other dioceses in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in that it consists purely of congregations of Christians, with no medical, educational or other institutions. They were expropriated, along with institutions run by other Churches, after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. So week by week the four congregations in Tehran, Isfahan, Julfa (a suburb of Isfahan) and Shiraz meet for fellowship and worship. Their numbers are not large, but they gather faithfully, supported by prayer, by the pastoral visits made by Bishop Azad, the leadership in Tehran of the Revd Christopher Edgar and others in Isfahan and Shiraz.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East