Daily Archives: October 20, 2016

(CT) How did a tiny campus church plant become the fastest-growing flock in Tallahassee?

One of the axioms for preaching to and teaching college students seems to be a de-emphasis on some of the more difficult implications of the gospel, such as sexual ethics, etc. But you’ve not shied away from those. Why?

We want to answer questions people are actually asking. The whole world is talking about sexuality, gender, and other ethical issues, so why wouldn’t the church? Much more importantly, the Scriptures are clear on God’s design, and we want to be clear where God is clear. We recently concluded a sermon series on predestination and effectual calling, immediately followed by a series which covered gender, divorce, and homosexuality. During the two months we spent in those sermon series, we saw the church grow.

Conviction and clarity matter. It is an urban legend that to see a church grow in reaching young people means to accommodate the people in the seats, rather than challenge them to leave their church chairs after the service is over and live out a worldview that is based on their conviction concerning the Scriptures and the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Rowan Williams: celebrity culture as damaging to future generations as pollution

Britain’s shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture could leave as toxic a legacy for future generations as the pollution of the planet, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth has warned.
Today’s children are growing up in a culture with few if any real “heroes”, he said, while ideas of “nobility” and even “honour” are quietly disappearing.
The result could be as damaging to the nation’s “moral and imaginative ecology” as the destruction of the environment, he argued.
Britain is in danger of become a more “boring” and “mean-minded” place as a result, he added.

Read it all (another from the long line of should have already been posted material).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(AM) Andrew Symes responds to Anthony Archer on the C of E and Establishment

But if there is a growing gap between the beliefs of the elites and the laws of the nation on one hand, and the Christian Church on the other, then the Bible and church history give clear guidance: the Church’s responsibility is to do precisely the opposite of what Mr Archer suggests, and stick to its principles courageously, compassionately and prophetically, as for example the Anglican Church did in South Africa, otherwise it becomes a puppet of the State and a religious cipher in society.

Mr Archer goes on to predict, with approval, that Parliament will in time act to “urge” the Church of England to change its official teaching and practice regarding sexual ethics and marriage. He may be right, and readers should not be surprised in the coming months to see influential leaders such as Mr Archer siding with Government and media to put pressure on the Church in this way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Anthony Archer–Trials, tribulations and ”¦ Establishment for the C of E

The questions to be posed are what a national Church should do when it is out of step with the law of the land and the people it serves, and whether this conundrum strikes at the root of Establishment. The fact is that the Canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with the traditional understanding of Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman, and would render it in conflict with statute law, but for the so-called quadruple lock.

Increasingly that teaching is being tested and challenged, both for reasons of moral logic and for reasons of different contextual interpretations of the relevant scriptures. Overall, the Church of England is being tested in relation to a doctrinal position that has as one of its consequences an apparently irreconcilable pastoral position.

The long and at times complicated relationship between Parliament and the Established Church of England is likely to be tested further in the months and years ahead. Commentators have noted the extraordinary lengths MPs and Peers went to in engaging with the debates on women priests and bishops and there is no reason to believe that there will not be a repeat of this over the question of same-sex marriage, in all its aspects. Traditionalists will resile at attempts by Parliament, which can be anticipated, to urge the General Synod to change its teaching, if only permissively, to allow clergy to bless same-sex marriages, to remove the restrictions on celibacy for clergy in same-sex relationships and, ultimately, to permit clergy to conduct same-sex marriages. There will be renewed claims of Erastianism. But the Church cannot have privileges associated with being the Established Church and not be aware of the potential for disestablishment over this issue, with all that that might imply for the mission and ministry of the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Can we use social media for evangelism?

The church is struggling to adjust to its new environment in the technological advances of the twenty-first century””we are no longer even in a postmodern age but something indescribably beyond even that. Most consider us to be living, in the West, in post-Christendom. This does not mean we are secular in the UK necessarily; we are simply ”˜haunted,’ as Rowan Williams memorably put it, by the memory of Christianity. Along with all other large institutions the church seems to be losing its hold and authority. Into this we can insert the charge to all Christians, and particularly to the ordained in the Church of England, to ”˜proclaim the gospel afresh in each generation.’

I am what might be described as an ”˜early adopter’; I embraced with enthusiasm social media in all its forms when it emerged in the middle of the last decade. I have also always had a passion for evangelism and for finding new ways to share the faith that I hold so dear. This study seeks to understand something of the world in which we now live, where connection to the internet is seen by some to be a human right, and where it is an integral part of a lot of people’s lives and how this connects to our calling as Christians to become involved in the missio Dei, the mission of God, in the world.

This is an important task. Because of the fast pace of change, we must be careful not to sleepwalk into a new paradigm without taking the time to reflect theologically.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Sweden opens its first cemetery free of religious symbols

“People can decide for themselves what their graves should look like, but the cemetery will be free of all religious and nationalist symbols,” said Erdem.

He also stressed that the cemetery wasn’t just for atheists. Believers too could apply to be buried there, as long as they were happy to keep the religious element of their identity out of sight.

Located close to the city’s Stora Tuna church, the cemetery remains empty for now, but several locals have expressed an interest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sweden, Theology

(NYT Magazine) Saul Austerlitz–How the Berenstain Bears Found Salvation

Mike Berenstain became a designer at Random House and then a children’s-book writer and illustrator for about 10 years before being called in by his overworked parents to help out with the family business in the mid-1980s. Stan died in 2005, and after that, Mike was left in charge of the writing; his mother continued to co-illustrate the stories along with Mike until she died in 2012. Mike took over as sole author and illustrator, and the books began to reflect more of his own personality, even as he served as the faithful executor of his parents’ vision. This led to a disconnect between his family’s stolid, universalist postwar morality and his own.

Stan Berenstain had been born to a secular Jewish family in West Philadelphia, and Jan Berenstain, née Grant, was Episcopalian by birth. Mike and his brother were not raised in any particular religious faith. “They taught me morals and traditions and ethics, but not a particular spiritual identity,” he says. Mike didn’t find religion until he enrolled his children at Quaker schools near his suburban Philadelphia home, which led him to the Presbyterian Church and a mature religious faith of his own.

In 2006, Mike Berenstain, with the agreement of his mother, approached HarperCollins with an idea for a new book series. They had noticed an unusual volume of letters and emails from devoted Christian readers, writing to share their appreciation for the timeless values of the Berenstain Bears books. A light went off: How about an entire series for religious readers?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Children, History, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology

Stephen Trew–Armagh Archbishop calls for a mission audit. How does the church itself measure up?

On the fifth mark of mission I was very pleased to hear Archbishop say this,

“Care of the creation and our responsibility for it was something that became very real to me in Lusaka, where I heard of formerly inhabited islands in the dioceses of the southern Pacific that have disappeared beneath the ocean because of global warming.”

He encourages parishioners to act in simple ways for future and present generations.

But how does the Church of Ireland itself measure up to his call for an audit? How should it act in regards to climate justice and global warming? The Bishops’ Appeal does and excellent job but it is where the church’s money is invested that raises questions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O God our Father, whose will is our sanctification: Grant that thy Holy Spirit may so fill and possess our souls that we may be delivered from all unclean thoughts and imaginations, and may have grace to direct our minds to whatsoever things are true and honourable, just and pure, lovely and of good report, as revealed to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

'Applying the 5 marks of Mission'–The Archbishop of Armagh’s Presidential Address at Synod 2016

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, delivered his Presidential Synod Address at the 2016 Armagh Diocesan Synod in the Alexander Synod Hall, Church House, Armagh on Tuesday 18th October 2016. He spoke on the themes of applying the ”˜five marks of mission’ identified by the Anglican Communion: to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; to teach, baptise and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth. Archbishop Clarke said: ”˜Every part of the worldwide Church has to work through them, work out the implications for their own setting, and then put them into practice,’ and continued: ”˜Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom does not mean handing people a package, it means encouraging them to join with us on a journey ”¦ We are asking people to become, not “people like us”, but to become what we all strive to be, children of the Kingdom of God.’

Read it all.

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

Wednesday Afternoon Pick me up–Fantastic Things' Video of Military Dogs

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Defense, National Security, Military, Photos/Photography