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Blessed Pentecost 2018 to all Blog Readers

Posted in Pentecost

A S Haley–The South Carolina Case of the Historic Diocese and the Nearly brand New TEC Diocese Goes to SCOTUS Conference

In their (non-linkable) respondents’ brief, ECSC and ECUSA took a gamble by resting their main opposition upon just a single ground: that the Court lacked jurisdiction to review the case because the five divided justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court had decided the case below on independent state-law grounds, and did not rest their decision on any interpretation of federal law. (SCOTUS reviews only issues of federal law that are decided by either the state or federal courts.)

As the Diocese’s reply brief points out, this claim is far from accurate. Two of the justices below (Pleicones and Hearn) were clear that they viewed the 1979 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf as requiring them to give effect to the trust on church property imposed by the Dennis Canon, even if the documentation of that trust failed to pass muster under South Carolina law. In other words, Justices Pleicones and Hearn held that the First Amendment trumped state trust law — and that was obviously a federal ground of decision.

Even Chief Justice Beatty, who declined to articulate his reasoning, held that the Dennis Canon was sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law so long as the individual parishes “acceded” in some way to that Canon. Since, as Justice Kittredge pointed out in dissent, any argument that a trust under South Carolina law could rest upon such a dim showing of assent was “laughable”, it is only fair to conclude that Chief Justice Beatty reached his result by relying upon the same (federal-law) reading of Jones v. Wolf that drove Justices Hearn and Pleicones.

In sum, the South Carolina case presents as good a reason as ever will arise for SCOTUS to grant review, in order to end the confusion over the meaning of Jones that divides some nineteen different state and federal courts below. (Those decisions are reviewed and discussed at pp. 21-29 of the Diocese’s petition.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

In the Diocese of SC Supreme Court Case–The Diocese has now filed its response to TEC and the new TEC Diocese

You can find the full 17 page pdf here–read it carefully and read it all. Please do continue to note that you can follow all the documents as they become available there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, State Government

Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke on the Surprises of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

From there:

And we would therefore do well to remind ourselves that all our planning and all our strategising is of little avail if we do not also place ourselves at the disposal of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal Leo Suenens, one of the great Roman Catholic proponents of the modern charismatic movement memorably commented that he would have liked to add a phrase to the creeds. Not only do we believe in the Holy Spirit, he suggested, but we should also express belief in ‘the surprises of the Holy Spirit’. I might perhaps suggest an addition to Cardinal Suenens’ phrase. We should believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit, and our belief should be as much in the surprises of the Holy Spirit that are unwelcome, as in those surprises that we might welcome! In the Church of Ireland, we are not keenly attuned to the possibility of surprises, not even welcome surprises. But if we truly believe in the Holy Spirit, we must believe in surprises, and certainly General Synod and our participation in this Synod can never be all about us, but rather centred and focussed on the glory of God

(and, you guessed it–also quoted in the morning sermon)

Posted in Church History, Church of Ireland, Pentecost, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Food for Thought for A Sunday from a man who wrote his own Epitaph

‘Anthony Benezet was a poor creature, and through divine favour was enabled to know it’–from an honest man who wrote an epitaph for his own tombstone, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Pentecost (II)

O Holy Spirit of God, who didst descend upon our Lord Christ at the river Jordan, and upon the disciples at the feast of Pentecost: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, and by thy divine fire enlighten our minds and purify our hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Nerses of Clajes (4th century Persian Bishop and Martyr)

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

John Stott on the Spirit-Filled Christian for Pentecost

Our attitude to our fallen nature should be one of ruthless repudiation. For ”˜those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24). That is, we have taken this evil, slimy, slippery thing called ”˜the flesh’ and nailed it to the cross. This was our initial repentance. Crucifixion is dramatic imagery for our uncompromising rejection of all known evil. Crucifixion does not lead to a quick or easy death; it is an execution of lingering pain. Yet it is decisive; there is no possibility of escaping from it.

Our attitude to the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is to be one of unconditional surrender. Paul uses several expressions for this. We are to ”˜live by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18. 25). That is, we are to allow him his rightful sovereignty over us, and follow his righteous promptings.

Thus both our repudiation of the flesh and our surrender to the Spirit need to be repeated daily, however decisive our original repudiation and surrender may have been. In Jesus’ words, we are to ”˜take up (our) cross daily’ and follow him (Lk 9:23). We are also to go on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), as we open our personality to him daily. Both our repudiation and our surrender are also to be worked out in disciplined habits of life. It is those who ”˜sow to the Spirit’ (Gal. 6:8) who reap the fruit of the Spirit. And to ”˜sow to the Spirit’ means to cultivate the things of the Spirit, for example, by our wise use of the Lord’s Day, the discipline of our daily prayer and Bible reading, our regular worship and attendance at the Lord’s Supper, our Christian friendships and our involvement in Christian service. An inflexible principle of all God’s dealings, both in the material and in the moral realm, is that we reap what we sow. The rule is invariable. It cannot be changed, for ”˜God cannot be mocked’ (Gal. 6:7). We must not therefore be surprised if we do not reap the fruit of the Spirit when all the time we are sowing to the flesh. Did we think we could cheat or fool God?

Authentic Christianity (Nottingham, IVP, 1995)

Posted in Pentecost, Theology: Scripture

Charles H Spurgeon on Pentecost–‘How absolutely necessary is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit!’

How absolutely necessary is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! It is not possible for us to promote the glory of God or to bless the souls of men, unless the Holy Ghost shall be in us and with us. Those who were assembled on that memorable day of Pentecost, were all men of prayer and faith; but even these precious gifts are only available when the celestial fire sets them on a blaze. They were all men of experience; most of them had been preachers of the Word and workers of miracles; they had endured trials and troubles in company with their Lord, and had been with him in his temptation. Yet even experienced Christians, without the Spirit of God, are weak as water. Among them were the apostles and the seventy evangelists, and with them were those honoured women in whose houses the Lord had often been entertained, and who had ministered to him of their substance; yet even these favoured and honoured saints can do nothing without the breath of God the Holy Ghost. Apostles and evangelists dare not even attempt anything alone; they must tarry at Jerusalem till power be given them from on high. It was not a want of education; they had been for three years in the college of Christ, with perfect wisdom as their tutor, matchless eloquence as their instructor, and immaculate perfection as their example; yet they must not venture to open their mouths to testify of the mystery of Jesus, until the anointing Spirit has come with blessed unction from above. Surely, my brethren, if so it was with them, much more must it be the case with us.

–From a sermon in 1863, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Church History, Pentecost, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

John Calvin on Pentecost

[At Pentecost Peter] intendeth to prove…that the Church can be repaired by no other means, saving only by the giving of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, forasmuch as they did all hope that the restoring drew near, he accuseth them of sluggishness, because they do not once think upon the way and means thereof. And when the prophet saith, “I will pour out,” it is, without all question, that he meant by this word to note the great abundance of the Spirit….when God will briefly promise salvation to his people, he affirmeth that he will give them his Spirit. Hereupon it followeth that we can obtain no good things until we have the Spirit given us.

–Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Posted in Pentecost, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Pentecost from George Appleton

O Jesus Christ, who art the same yesterday, today and forever: Pour thy Spirit upon the Church that it may preach thee anew to each succeeding generation. Grant that it may interpret the eternal gospel in terms relevant to the life of each new age, and as the fulfillment of the highest hopes and the deepest needs of every nation; so that at all times and in all places men may see in thee their Lord and Saviour.

Posted in Pentecost, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

–John 4:19-26

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Bernard Lewis, eminent historian of the Middle East, dies at 101

Bernard Lewis, a preeminent scholar of Middle Eastern history whose work profoundly shaped Western views of the region — including fears of a “clash of civilizations” — but also brought scorn from critics who considered his views elitist and favoring Western intervention, died May 19 at an assisted-living facility in Voorhees, N.J. He was 101.

The death was confirmed by his romantic partner and co-author, Buntzie Churchill, who did not cite a specific cause.

Dr. Lewis’s prolific scholarship — including more than 30 books, hundreds of articles and competence in at least a dozen languages — traced fault lines that define the modern Middle East, such as sectarian divisions, the rise of radical Islamists and entrenched dictatorships, some backed by the West.

Along the way, Dr. Lewis often gained a privileged vantage point for events in the region during a life that spanned the era of T.E. Lawrence, oil discoveries in Arabia and showdowns against the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Middle East, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Married

Prince Harry, 33, the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, married Meghan Markle, 36, an American actress, at a ceremony at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which is (you might have guessed) in Windsor, an ancient town west of London.

• Oprah Winfrey was there. So was Elton John. Serena Williams was spotted, as were the Clooneys and the Beckhams. The dress was by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy. The big moment was the rousing address by the Most Rev. Michael Curry.

• Harry is now the Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel. Ms. Markle will be known as Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. For more photos from the royal couple and their wedding, go here.

• In the scheme of things, this particular marriage is not that important. Harry is only sixth in line to the throne. But Ms. Markle is a highly unusual royal bride: She’s American, three years older than Harry, had a high-profile career and is biracial.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

(NPR) Hospitals See Growing Numbers Of Kids And Teens At Risk For Suicide

The number of kids who struggle with thoughts of suicide or who attempt to kill themselves is rising. New research, published Wednesday in Pediatrics, finds children ages 5 to 17 visited children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts about twice as often in 2015 as in 2008.

The study found kids of all ages are affected though increases were greatest for older adolescents.

Lead author Gregory Plemmons, a pediatrician and researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., says the study results confirmed what he had been seeing at the hospital.

He says he hopes clinicians and families take note. “The No. 1 thing to take home is that it’s important to talk about this and important to ask about it,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Dunstan

O God of truth and beauty, who didst richly endow thy Bishop Dunstan with skill in music and the working of metals, and with gifts of administration and reforming zeal: Teach us, we beseech thee, to see in thee the source of all our talents, and move us to offer them for the adornment of worship and the advancement of true religion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Lord of all power and might, fill our lives with the joy of thy Word and the courage of thine apostles, that having caught the vision of thy Kingdom we may proclaim it with power and a glad heart, to the salvation of men’s souls and the creation of a better order more conformed to the pattern of thy Kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

–Ephesians 6:10-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture