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The Latest Development In the Highly Contentatious Court Battle Between the new TEC Diocese and the Historic Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

Judge Dickson Will Determine What the Supreme Court Opinions Mean

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (November 19, 2018)  –  Today, in the Orangeburg County Courthouse the honorable Edgar W. Dickson, heard arguments from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church on motions directed to the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The judge began by asking, “Who thinks this case will be resolved today?” When one person in the courtroom raised a hand the judge indicated he hoped they were pulling for South Carolina in their upcoming game against Clemson, and concluded, “Six judges have heard this case. I’m number seven. I hope that’s a lucky number.”

While five motions are presently before the court, Judge Dickson said, “the motion I’m most interested in” is the issue of what he has to decide.

Alan Runyan argued for the Diocese that given the lack of clarity in the five separate opinions, Judge Dickson had to first decide, what, if anything, the Supreme Court decided. The slide presentation summarizing his argument may be found here. Mr Runyan noted at the beginning of his argument  that the last statements by half the Supreme Court were that “We have given little to no coherent guidance in this case” and “The Court’s collective opinions give rise to great uncertainty” in “this matter of great importance.”

Tom Tisdale, counsel for TECSC and Mary Kostel, Counsel for TEC, presented their arguments which essentially repeated their prior assertions that “the decision has been made,” by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and all that was left was enforcement of the results.

It was obvious that Judge Dickson had problems with the argument that it is clear what the Supreme Court decided.

Addressing Mr. Tisdale, he asked, “How many times have you seen a Supreme Court decision with five separate opinions?” Mr. Tisdale acknowledged that it had never happened in the history of the court.

When counsel for TEC continued to assert that the result was clear, the judge replied,  “Like through a glass darkly.”

In commenting on the present ruling he observed, “Usually when I get something remitted it’s clear what I’m supposed to do.” In this case, however, interpreting the Supreme Court ruling will entail “trying to ferret out what they meant.”

In concluding he observed, “I have to decide and whatever is decided will be appealed by one side or the other.”

The Judge indicated he would be sending follow up questions by email for both sides.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Economist Erasmus Blog) The Greek Orthodox Church faces a battle over secularisation

Theresa May is not the only public figure in Europe who is making a rearguard defence of a “historic” agreement about an ultra-sensitive matter that was struck behind closed doors and may not survive open debate among the interested parties.

Earlier this month it was reported that a landmark accord had been reached to secularise the most theocratically governed democracy in Europe, Greece. The bargain was sealed on November 6th between the country’s leftist and atheist (though not especially anti-religious) prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and the head of the Greek Orthodox church, Archbishop Ieronymos. Today the archbishop was struggling to defend the accord before the bishops who make up his Holy Synod. It has been billed as the hardest moment in the 80-year-old cleric’s ten-year reign, and even a turning point in the 200-year history of the Greek state.

The deal is certainly an intriguing piece of political gamesmanship. One provision dominated the headlines: the country’s 10,000 or so priests would no longer be considered civil servants, with all the job security and pension rights that go with that status. Instead the state would pay the church an annual subsidy of €200m ($230m) a year, a sum that would not be affected by any change in the number of clerics. Over time, the need for such a subsidy would diminish. In what was described as a win-win arrangement, a large portfolio of properties, ranging from land to urban real estate, whose ownership had been disputed between church and state since the 1950s would be jointly managed for the benefit of both parties.

Read it all.

Posted in Greece, Orthodox Church

A study by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis finds that about 40% of middle-class Americans will live close to or in poverty in retirement

• Two in five – or 40% – of older workers and their spouses will be downwardly mobile in retirement.

• If workers ages 50-60 retire at age 62, 8.5 million people are projected to fall below twice the Federal Poverty Level, with retirement incomes below $23,340 for singles and $31,260 for couples.

• 2.6 million of 8.5 downwardly mobile workers and their spouses will have incomes below the poverty level – $11,670 for an individual and $15,730 for a two-person household….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

([London] Times) British Jews apply for foreign passports as ‘insurance policy’

Thousands of British Jews have applied for foreign passports since 2016, driven mainly by a desire to retain EU citizenship after Brexit but also by fears over rising antisemitism and the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn coming to power.

New figures obtained by The Times show that more than 3,600 Britons have applied for German nationality under a 2015 scheme inviting the descendants of those driven out on religious, racial or political grounds by the Nazis to reclaim citizenship, with most applications from Jewish people.

Michael Newman, of the Association of Jewish Refugees, said those who fled the Third Reich for Britain might find it “emotionally or psychologically difficult” to reclaim German citizenship, but their children and grandchildren wanted to enjoy freedom of movement after Brexit. Some had also raised fears of rising antisemitism.

More than 180 British Jews of Sephardic heritage have applied for Portuguese passports and more than 50 have been granted Spanish passports under 2015 schemes to restore citizenship to descendants of Jews persecuted in the 15th century. The Jewish Community of Oporto said it received “thousands” of inquiries from British Jews.

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Posted in England / UK, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(Fuller Studio) Beth Moore on Women in Leadership and Misogyny

Listen to it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Women

A Prayer for the Feast day of Mechtilde of Hackeborn and Gertrude the Great

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servants Mechthilde and Gertrude special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant, we beseech thee, that by their teachings we may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from J R Illingworth

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who knowest the Father, even as Thou art known of Him, lead us onward evermore in the knowledge of Thee Who art the truth, till at last we see Thy face, and know Thee as we are known of Thee; Who with ;he Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, one God for ever and ever.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For the workman trusts in his own creation when he makes dumb idols!

Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a dumb stone, Arise! Can this give revelation? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.

But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.

–Habakkuk 2:18-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT Pastors) Violence Isn’t the Only Threat to Evangelism in Nigeria

What is evangelism like while shepherding the church through intense persecution?

It may surprise you to hear this, but the effects of persecution are both good and bad. Positively, it shakes the institutionalism of the church and proves to us that there is no lasting home in this world. But it also destabilizes individual human beings and raises a lot of questions in the hearts of sufferers.

The first questions we encounter with people is this: “Is it because of our sins that God is punishing us?” That tends to be the most common interpretation of what we’re going through. But the truth is that churches impacting society by exposing sin are going to make those powers that are being exposed unhappy. When the church is a light in the world’s darkness, it will suffer from the darkness.

The other question we encounter is from people who cannot make meaning out of their difficulties. A young girl came back from boarding school and arrived to find her father, mother, and sisters, everybody at home, dead. And she wanted to know “why?” We don’t have answers to that except to continue to encourage such a person to trust God. Even though we don’t know why now, we will know it in eternity.

Yet persecution has increased the love, the sharing, and the caring of people for each other. We don’t love the persecution itself. But it has caused in our churches a practical demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Strong churches move in to help people and take them in.

For example, my wife, Gloria, has a habit of taking in orphans. When I was in Jerusalem this past June for GAFCON, the mother of a seven-month-old baby was shot back in Nigeria. The killers thought they had killed both of them, but later on in the day, people went searching for the corpse of this woman, and they found the baby sitting there crying with his dead mother. They immediately knew to bring him to Mama Gloria, to our house.

Showing the love of God by caring for orphans and widows is a top priority, and it is a great witness to our neighbors who are not Christians. It is a great testimony of the gospel.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth

(Observer) Bullying claims at Oxford ‘medieval fiefdom’ take toll on reformist dean

It is a quintessential institution of the establishment, producing 13 British prime ministers, 10 chancellors of the exchequer and 17 archbishops. Among its former students are King Edward VII, Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll and WH Auden. One fictional alumnus, Lord Sebastian Flyte, came to personify its privileges in the pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

But Christ Church, one of Oxford’s most venerable colleges, was plunged into turmoil last week when its dean was suspended from duties and barred from taking services at his own cathedral after being challenged under archaic and opaque rules.

A formal complaint has been filed against the Very Rev Martyn Percy with the college’s governing body. Few people know details of what is being alleged, or who is behind the move. Even Percy is largely in the dark, according to his friends.

The complaint is believed to centre on issues of governance; no one is suggesting improper personal conduct. It will be heard by a tribunal, which could dismiss Percy. A date for a hearing is yet to be set.

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Posted in Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(ADNE) The Rev. Andrew Williams elected the Next Bishop of the ADNE

Prior to his election, [the] Rev. Williams served as pastor of Trinity Church in Greenwich, CT. He began his professional life as a lawyer in the United Kingdom. From 1989-1998, he was a corporate litigator specializing in defending law suits brought against the legal profession. Despite a successful career, it was during this time that he began to sense that something significant was missing in his life, and much to the surprise of Rev. Williams and his wife, Elena, they found themselves drawn into something far deeper, and ultimately came to a living faith in God through the love, support and friendship of their Anglican Parish. A time of discernment followed, and after much prayer and strong encouragement from those who knew him, he resigned from his law firm and began training for ordination at Trinity College, Bristol. He graduated with an honors degree in theology and was ordained in the Diocese of Exeter in 2000. Drew spent six years as Associate Vicar of St. Andrew’s, Chorleywood, a vibrant suburban congregation just outside London. Prior to coming to Chorleywood, he served a congregation in the southwest of England….

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained

John Stott on the Dimensions of Christ’s Love

We shall have power to comprehend these dimensions of Christ’s love, Paul adds, only with all the saints. The isolated Christian can indeed know something of the love of Jesus. But his grasp of it is bound to be limited by his limited experience. It needs the whole people of God to understand the whole love of God, all the saints together, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, young and old, black and white, with all their varied backgrounds and experiences.

Yet even then, although we may ‘comprehend’ its dimensions to some extent with our minds, we cannot ‘know’ it in our experience. It is too broad, long, deep and high even for all the saints together to grasp. It surpasses knowledge. Paul has already used this ‘surpassing’ word of God’s power and grace; now he uses it of his love. Christ’s love is as unknowable as his riches are unsearchable (verse 8). Doubtless we shall spend eternity exploring his inexhaustible riches of grace and love.

–John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Bible Speaks Today) [Downer’s Grove, Ill. IVP Academic, 1984), p.80, quoted in this morning’s adult ed class by yours truly

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Narrow Way

O Our God, we believe in thee, we hope in thee, and we love thee, because thou hast created us, redeemed us, and dost sanctify us. Increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and deepen our love, that giving up ourselves wholly to thy will, we may serve thee faithfully all the rest of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Narrow Way, Being a Complete Manual of Devotion with a Guide to Confirmation and Holy Communion (London: J. Whitaker and Sons, 1893)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Ben Macintyre–Master race dystopia is closer than we think

In an essay published posthumously, Stephen Hawking warned that advances in genetic science would eventually create a generation of superhumans able to redesign and improve themselves by manipulating the genetic make-up of their offspring. “I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression . . . Some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to diseases and length of life.”

In Hawking’s nightmarish vision, there will be stark genetic division in society: a biologically improving elite and a mass of “unimproved humans” without the power or resources to edit their genetic inheritance. “Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete.”

Many people already consistently improve themselves and their offspring, when they can, with private education, cosmetic surgery and advanced healthcare. If there is the opportunity to rig the science of reproduction in favour of an improved outcome, those who can afford it, will. The survival of the fittest occurs naturally; now it may be possible to control the same evolutionary process artificially.

Henry Greely, professor of law and genetics at Stanford, predicts that 20 to 40 years from now a majority of babies will be born by IVF, after being screened to ensure their embryos are the healthiest their parents could produce.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology