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Food for Thought from Reinhold Neibuhr

If psychological and social scientists overestimate the possibilities of improving social relations by the development of intelligence, that may be regarded as an understandable naivete of rationalists, who naturally incline to attribute too much power to reason and to recognise its limits too grudgingly. Men will not cease to be dishonest, merely because they have discovered their own deceptions. Whenever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive to maintain it. They will use whatever means are most convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise.

–Reinhold Neibuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics (1932)

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History

(Churchman) Philip Edgcumbe Hughes–The Reformers’ View of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture

The Church of England has created its own identity crises by progressively distancing itself from its Reformation roots. A state of flux has become the norm doctrinally, liturgically, and morally. It is therefore opportune to reconsider the Reformers’ convictions about inspiration of Scripture, instead of allowing the Reformation to be viewed as an unfortunate historical parenthesis.

Dr Hughes presented this article as a paper to the 1960 Conference of Evangelical Churchmen.It is reproduced by permission….

Holy Scripture belongs integrally to God’s purposes of redemption for fallen man, and its primary object is to lead us to Christ. Its function is within the sphere of special grace. The blessings of the Reformation resulted from the return to the Bible as the Word of God in humble and grateful obedience to the Good News it announces. This is still today the road to blessing and renewal.

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Posted in Church History, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E B Pusey

O Lord Jesus Christ, who when on earth wast ever about thy Father’s business: Grant that we may not grow weary in well-doing. Give us grace to do all in thy name. Be thou the beginning and the end of all: the pattern whom we follow, the redeemer in whom we trust, the master whom we serve, the friend to whom we look for sympathy. May we never shrink from our duty from any fear of man. Make us faithful unto death; and bring us at last into thy eternal presence, where with the Father and the Holy Ghost thou livest and reignest for ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried, “Teacher, I beg you to look upon my son, for he is my only child; and behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him till he foams, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon tore him and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

But while they were all marveling at everything he did, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.”

–Luke 9:37-50

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Bernard-Henri Lévy–ISIS Overlooks a Synagogue in Mosul

In short, a few hours of lively conversation on social media generated at least one area of agreement: ISIS, in its abysmal stupidity, had not understood that in its midst, converted into a cache for rockets and ammunition, stood a synagogue on par with those found in Kurdish Iraq. The discovery is a reminder of Mosul’s once thousands-strong Jewish community, which was evacuated in the early 1950s.

It also shows that what goes for hearts also goes for places: To survive, they sometimes have to borrow an identity, to pretend. It may well be, in other words, that cities, like Spanish Jews, can be Marranos, living undercover. This marranism is so powerful that when the jihadists took control of the region—and methodically destroyed churches, Yazidi temples and the ancient al-Nuri mosque—they managed to miss a holy place where the eternal continued to be praised, though in secret.

It raises a question: Is the world serious about saving what still can be saved of one of its oldest cities? Does Unesco mean what it says when it baptizes its program of urban and political reconstruction “the spirit of Mosul”? Will Americans and Europeans have what it takes to remake this disfigured city into what it was for centuries—a crossroads of peoples, religions and civilizations—and what its immortal soul aspires to become once again?

If so, we must heed the erudite Muslim of Mosul Eye. Watching and writing from his hometown, from the quiet heart of what was the epicenter of world jihadism, he called on us to rebuild the last synagogue still standing in the city of the prophet Jonah.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, Judaism, Terrorism

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act-Government Consultation: A Response from the Church of England

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(SBS) Melbourne Anglican budget hit by redress

The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne expects to pay up to $21 million over the next decade to people sexually abused as children by clergy but it’s confident it will be able to honour the redress payments.

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier says the diocese’s budget will be significantly affected by the cost of redress.

The diocese’s redress liability has been estimated at between $12.2 million and $21 million.

Addressing the annual Melbourne synod or parliament on Wednesday night, Archbishop Freier said the Anglican diocese’s budget situation was tight.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Stewardship

(Bloomberg Quint) Almost Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage, Signaling Cultural Shift

An increasing number of births happen outside of marriage, signaling cultural and economic shifts that are here to stay, according to a new report from the United Nations.

Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest international provider of sexual and reproductive health services. That number is even higher in the European Union.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family

(NC Register) Dwight Longenecker–What’s Wrong With a Drive-Thru Parish?

In our town, for instance, we have one church that offers traditional liturgy influenced heavily by the Anglican tradition. They enjoy a beautiful building, excellent servers, fine music. Then we have the Franciscan parish with gospel music, a strong emphasis on peace and justice, lively preaching and involvement with the poor.

Across town we have a couple of typical American suburban parishes — easygoing contemporary music, large and active congregations, busy youth work, Life Teen Mass, a huge CCD program. On the other side of town a parish offers the Extraordinary Form every week — indeed, every day. The parish school is thriving and a busy, enthusiastic traditionalist crowd fills the pews.

So people church-shop.

It is a reality.

Church-shopping has its strengths and weaknesses. The downside is that we lose the natural diversity of a natural local community that has been part of Church understanding for eons. People are scattered and it’s hard to get them together. On the other hand, if people church-shop they are more likely to end up in a church they like and more likely to be committed to that congregation and ministry. Or so the theory goes. In fact, I have noticed something else creeping in which makes my job as a pastor even more difficult.

The church-shopping has started to disintegrate. Not only do people church-shop in order to find a church community to which they want to belong, but they church-shop from week to week.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

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

Jesus, our Master, do thou meet us while we walk in the way and long to reach the heavenly country; so that, following thy light, we may keep the way of righteousness, and never wander away into the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art the Way, the Truth, and the Light art shining within us; for thy mercy’s sake.

–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 Bible Readings

Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhe’gium; and after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Pute’oli. There we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brethren there, when they heard of us, came as far as the Forum of Ap’pius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them Paul thanked God and took courage.

–Acts 28: 12-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

John Stackhouse–Eminent Scientist Stephen Hawking Concludes God Doesn’t Exist—Again

The God of the Christian Bible could certainly have created the world through the Big Bang. And, as many theologians and scientists have agreed ever since Darwin published The Origin of Species, God could have supervised evolution to achieve God’s purposes in creation. What Darwin and Hawking seem to have concluded is merely that there is no convincing scientific proof of God performing a miracle at the start of the cosmos or at the genesis of each new kind of creature. But that conclusion isn’t much of an argument against God’s existence.

“We can’t find sure proof that God was definitely there” is hardly proof that God wasn’t there.

No, this final book of Hawking’s will persuade only those who don’t understand the problem. And it’s not a scientific problem, but the problem of evil: However the universe was formed, and however we ourselves got here as human beings, is there better reason than not to believe in God, and particularly the God of the Bible?

I have offered my best answer to that here, among the many other replies available. As Christmas approaches once more, this would be a good season to give that question, along with the interesting ones Professor Hawking was indeed qualified to answer, the attention it deserves.

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Posted in Apologetics, Science & Technology, Theology

Archbp Welby speaks on religious intolerance+prejudice in the House of Lords

We have just heard the noble Lord, Lord Hain, set out many of the incidents at temples and gurdwaras, the abuse of people in the street and so on.
Freedom of belief and freedom of speech are fragile plants that need to be intertwined if they are to flourish. They are both menaced by the chill that comes from constraining their expression, except when freedom of speech is promoting hatred. They easily wither, as I have found in many of our churches across the 165 countries of the Anglican communion. We stand against that, through the Commonwealth and the United Nations, but it is the call of religious leaders to bring them together and stand up for them.
Free speech may well be robust, even humorous, as I discovered recently, when a friend of Mr Blobby described me in terms that I cannot use in this House. More politely, I and those on these Benches are often described as those who believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. That kind of bluntness is good and proper. However, for it to work, there must be a context of what the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, describes in his books as a “culture of civility”. Today’s multifaith society means that we live in a context of diverse religious practice. For some, this is welcome and enriching—I put myself among them—while others find it strange and threatening. Whatever your views on that, it is clear that debate in Britain across a range of issues risks losing the gains we have made in the post-war period: gains of civility and respect. If you watch the news, read a newspaper or go on social media—let alone stand up against right-wing, fascist and other extremist activity, as the noble Lord, Lord Hain, has done throughout his life—you will know that there is a notable absence of genuine dialogue and listening to different views.

I also wonder that, for all our rich Christian heritage in this country, as seen in our laws, practices and many of our values, the breadth of view which we tolerate has become less and less wide. There are many Christians with whom I disagree on the expression of their views in particular areas. There is a long history of Christians disagreeing with each other: Lambeth Palace has a prison for this. It has not been in recent use, although I am from time to time tempted. However, even where I disagree, I want to uphold the right of these people to say things that are neither fashionable nor conventional today. That has certainly been examined in the Supreme Court recently, through the Ashers case. Again, although there might be things in that case that I would question, it is a thoughtful, erudite and profound examination of the intertwining of freedom of belief and freedom of expression.

There is an attitude—I think this is the underlying issue we face—that there are no absolutes, except the statement that there are no absolutes. That is an absolute. We are told that to criticise that statement that there are no absolutes is, in fact, to be an extremist. ​Certainly, as a Christian who believes in the love of God found in Jesus Christ, I have what some people would call absolute views. But almost every day I meet people who do not share those views. I thank God for those encounters, and for the people themselves, who deepen and enrich my understanding.

Jesus criticised directly, bluntly and forcefully, and was criticised himself. He answered his critics, yet he loved them. It is the last bit that we are missing. Love in that context is not a warm and cuddly feeling. What it means in practice is accepting that the other has as valuable a place as me and is fully part of the national fabric. This may be what is behind the trouble that the noble Lord, Lord Hain, explained so carefully: the sense that the people who are attacked, diminished and marginalised are, in some way, not considered to be fully British. Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-Hindu, anti-Sikh or other attacks have as a presupposition that only “my sort of person” is welcome here. Those who attack them require not just integration but assimilation, so that no difference is seen, but clearly that is impossible and the prospect of it is diminishing. Most religious belief demands a loyalty beyond country or group—a loyalty to ultimate truth. It says there are absolutes, and we should rejoice at them and listen to the narrative. Competitive narratives encourage developing traditions, secular or sacred.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture

An Alabama School goes the extra mile to acknowledge their custodian

Eugene Hinton can’t control his emotions after walking into the gym at an elementary school in Alabama.

He thought he was going to clean up a spill and instead got an awesome surprise from the kids and their teachers….

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in Children, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market