Category : Other Churches

(HDS) Brett Malcolm Grainger reviews Bruce Hindmarsh new book ‘The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World’

The evangelical reversal on spirituality has happened alongside scholarly reappraisals. In recent decades, historians such as W. R. Ward (Early Evangelicalism: A Global Intellectual History, 1670–1789, 2006), Isabel Rivers (Vanity Fair and the Celestial City: Dissenting, Methodist, and Evangelical Literary Culture in England, 1720–1800, 2018), Tom Schwanda (Soul Recreation: The Contemplative-Mystical Piety of Puritanism, 2012), John Coffey (ed., Heart Religion: Evangelical Piety in England and Ireland, 1690–1850, 2016), and Phyllis Mack (Heart Religion in the British Enlightenment: Gender and Emotions in Early Methodism, 2012) have issued a torrent of insightful studies on the lived religion of early evangelicalism, looking into topics as diverse as dreaming, hymnody, emotions, attitudes toward nature, and the influence of Catholic spiritual traditions.1 Bruce D. Hindmarsh’s recent book, The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism, builds on these accomplishments, offering what is perhaps the most complete and far-ranging assessment of early evangelical spiritual life as it relates to contemporary developments in science, law, art, and literature. In some ways, the book functions as a companion to Hindmarsh’s The Evangelical Conversion Narrative, which explored traditions of spiritual autobiography in evangelical narratives of conversion. In this earlier volume Hindmarsh revealed how conversion often worked as a kind of viral outbreak within religious ecosystems. These sudden spiritual awakenings promoted novel forms of religious community built around the central ritual of narrating a personal experience of the new birth. The Bible played a crucial role in these spiritual practices. For early evangelicals, the Bible never constituted a divine download of impersonal dogma: scripture communicated a direct and personal message in God’s own voice to men and women willing to listen to it.

Another distinguishing mark of evangelicalism, Hindmarsh argued, was its historical liminality. The movement emerged, he wrote, “at the trailing edge of Christendom and the leading edge of modernity,”2 helping people move from collective identities rooted in church membership to stronger notions of the self, individual, and personal faith. If his previous work stressed the internal diversity of early evangelicalism—demonstrating the disparate constructions of selfhood that emerged among Methodists, Moravians, Anglicans, and Baptists—the new book sees more forest than trees. Evangelicals, regardless of their sectarian affiliation, Hindmarsh writes, perceived “one thing needful” in the Christian life: “the democratized pursuit of the new birth.” In other words, while conversion remains the focus of The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism, this new work offers a more expansive cultural account of the practical implications that flowed from making “true religion” (3) a matter of transformative personal religious experience.

As Hindmarsh describes the spiritual ambitions of early evangelicals, what emerges is something more intellectually substantive and expansive than “I saw the light.” (Sorry, Hank.) Evangelical spirituality encompassed the preparation for, experience of, and the practical repercussions that flowed from the relentless pursuit of what Henry Scougal called “the life of God in the soul of man.”

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church History, Evangelicals

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isabel Hapgood

Loving God, we offer thanks for the work and witness of Isabel Florence Hapgood, who introduced the Divine Liturgy of the Russian Orthodox Church to English-speaking Christians, and encouraged dialogue between Anglicans and Orthodox. Guide us as we build on the foundation that she gave us, that all may be one in Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, unto ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Spirituality/Prayer

(Bloomberg) Religion Meets Profit Generation in a Slew of New Faith-Based ETFs

As much as Samim Abedi loved his job as part of the team that managed Google’s corporate investment portfolio, he couldn’t always square the work with his Muslim faith. He worried that some of the companies whose securities he traded had ties to alcohol or tobacco or gambling.

So he quit to join Wahed Invest, which in July 2019 launched the first exchange-traded fund in the U.S. that’s compliant with Sharia, Islam’s religious law. It’s one of eight ETFs introduced in the U.S. last year that incorporate faith-based principles, raising the total to 11. More are coming: In June, money manager Global X filed to launch a bond fund aligned to Catholic values. “We’re all trying to solve the same question,” says Abedi, the global head of portfolio management for Wahed. “How do we invest our wealth in ways that align with our ethics?”

Religion-based funds can differ on what they consider ethical. A stock fund that caters to Catholics shuns companies that sell weapons or exploit child labor. Several ETFs for Muslims steer clear of anything related to interest-based finance, which the religion frowns upon. Those funds invest in a Sharia-compliant alternative to bonds called sukuk, which provide regular payments that are considered profit-sharing rather than interest.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Churches, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(NYT Op-ed) Issac Bailey–I’m Finally an Angry Black Man

You see, for a long time I was one of the “good blacks,” whom white friends and colleagues and associates and neighbors could turn to in order to be reassured that they weren’t racist, that America really had made a lot of racial progress since its founding, that I was an example of that progress because of the success I had attained after all I had faced and overcome.

For a long time, I wasn’t an angry black man even after growing up in an underfunded school that was still segregated four decades after Brown v. Board of Education in the heart of the Deep South.

I wasn’t angry even when I watched my oldest brother, my hero, be taken away in handcuffs for murdering a white man when I was a 9-year-old boy. He served 32 years, upending our family forever. Guilt is what I felt instead of anger. It’s akin to the guilt white liberals who go overboard in their efforts feel and are often guided by as they try to appease black people because of the racial harm they know black people have suffered since before this country’s founding.

Mine was a black guilt, a guilt stemming from the knowledge that my black brother had irreparably hurt a poor white family, guilt that helped persuade me to try to make it up to white people as best I could.

That’s why for a long time in my writings, I was more likely to focus on all the white people who didn’t yell “Nigger!” out their windows as they drove by as I jogged along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of those who did. That’s why I spent nearly two decades in a mostly white evangelical church. That’s why I tried to thread the needle on the Confederate flag, speaking forthrightly about its origins, but carefully so as not to upset my white friends and colleagues who revered a symbol of the idea that black people should forever be enslaved by white people.

Still, for a long time, none of that turned me into an angry black man….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Please pray for Tim Keller who has Been Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer

Posted in Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obituary for Peter Moore

Age 83, peacefully entered into eternal life May 30 in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Born in Scarsdale, NY, Peter was an innovative leader, mentor, preacher and author for more than 50 years. He currently served as the director of the Anglican Leadership Institute since 2016, training leaders in the world-wide Anglican Church in servant leadership, all the while serving as a scholar in residence at St. Michael’s Church, in Charleston, SC. Peter served as director of the Council for Religion in Independent Schools in New York City and at that time, started FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools) in 1962. FOCUS seeks to bring Christ to students attending independent Secondary Schools along America’s East Coast. He then served as the fourth dean/president of Trinity School for Ministry and as its first president of the board of trustees, before moving to Charleston, SC.

Decade after decade, Peter was an unswerving, tireless agent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Al Zadig on the Death of Peter Moore

From there:

Please keep the family and loved ones of the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, Director of the Anglican Leadership Institute, in your prayers. Peter died on the Eve of Pentecost, May 30, following a battle with cancer. Details for a service have not yet been announced.

The following is a message from the Rev. Al Zadig, Rector of St. Michael’s Church Charleston, where Peter served as Scholar-in-Residence.

Saying Goodbye to a Hero

Just minutes after our Annual Meeting/Festival of Faith on Zoom today, I received word that our Scholar in Residence and dear friend the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore had died. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we lost a hero of faith this weekend. A hero of the faith who always stood for the bedrock truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the foundation of Scripture against all odds, powers and principalities.

In addition to writing books, pastoring, and leading, Peter poured his life into the ancient art of mentoring the generations. Whether students at FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools), Trinity School for Ministry, St. Michael’s Church, or the Bishops and clergy of the Anglican Leadership Institute, he loved coming alongside to make disciples!

I therefore marvel at the fact that Peter died on the eve of Pentecost. Why? He simply lived and breathed through the power of the Holy Spirit. I know we all have our Peter Stories, but I especially remember that when he first came to St. Michael’s he would walk around with the pictorial directory of the parish just so he could memorize all your names and pictures! He had that kind of love for you!

While Peter’s obituary is being prepared as I write this, I just wanted you to know now so you can be praying for Peter’s wife Sandra as well. Funeral plans are being arranged and the service will take place at St. Michael’s Church at a date and time to be announced. In the meantime dear brothers and sisters, please pray with me:

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Peter. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive Peter into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

The Rev. Alfred T. K. Zadig, Jr
Rector
St Michael’s Church
 

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(RNS) US Roman Catholic bishops, Southern Baptists, grieve death of George Floyd, call for justice, condemn abuse of police power

Leaders from two of the largest faith groups in the United States issued statements lamenting the death of George Floyd and calling for an end to racial inequality.

“We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes,” wrote a group of U.S. Catholic bishops who head committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.”

Bishops drafting the letter include Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and numerous others.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pastor Dwight Nelson Preaches for an Ascension Sunday Joint Service with Wesley United Methodist Church+Christ Saint Paul’s

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ascension, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(NYT) A ‘Breakdown of Trust’: Pandemic Corrodes Church-State Ties in Russia

A physics student at Moscow State University, Dmitri Pelipenko turned away from science in 2018 to devote himself to God, enrolling as a novice monk at Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church.

His spiritual journey, derailed by the coronavirus, came to an abrupt and gruesome end shortly after the Orthodox Easter.

Admitted to the hospital after testing positive for the illness, Mr. Pelipenko smashed a window on April 24, jumped outside, doused his body with fuel from a church lamp and set himself on fire. He died from his burns two days later.

His monastery swiftly blamed the suicide on “mental illness.” Others, however, asked whether the monk’s clearly fragile mental state had been broken by the apocalyptic mood gripping wide swaths of the Russian church, some of whose leaders have challenged the state’s stay-at-home orders as the work of the devil.

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Posted in Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia

Albert Mohler–The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Reality of the Gospel

As the disciples preached in the earliest Christian sermons, “This Jesus God has raised up, of whom we are all witnesses . . . . Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” [Acts 2:32,36].

The Resurrection was not a dawning awareness of Christ’s continuing presence among the disciples, it was the literal, physical raising of Jesus’ body from the dead. The Church is founded upon the resurrected Lord, who appeared among His disciples and was seen by hundreds of others.

The Church does not have mere permission to celebrate the Resurrection, it has a mandate to proclaim the truth that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrected Lord gave the Church a sacred commission to take the gospel throughout the world. As Paul made clear, the resurrection of Christ also comes as a comfort to the believer, for His defeat of death is a foretaste and promise of our own resurrection by His power. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” [1 Corinthians 15:53].

So, as the Church gathers to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we should look backward in thankfulness to that empty tomb and forward to the fulfillment of Christ’s promises in us. For Resurrection Day is not merely a celebration”“it is truly preparation as well. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the promise of our resurrection from the dead, and of Christ’s total victory over sin and death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the very center of the Christian gospel. The empty tomb is full of power.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Monday food for Thought from Lutheran Theologian Robert Jenson

Posted in Lutheran, Theology

(NYT) Their Calling Was to Lay Hands on the Sick. Then Came the Coronavirus

He has also wrestled with his own fear. Walking the halls of temporary coronavirus wards amid the pumping hiss of mechanical ventilators and shellshocked hospital workers, he said: “I started to think about, maybe I could get this. Maybe it could kill me.” Yet Father Devaney still finds avenues of grace. “What gives me hope is that in the Catholic funeral liturgy, it says, life hasn’t ended, it has changed. So for me the hope is that there is a supernatural reality we can’t see, that there is eternal life, life in eternity. And that death doesn’t have the final word.”

Yet these sacrifices make up the core of the faith. The Gospel of John recounts that after arising from his tomb, Jesus Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene, who had come to tend to his body. He called to her by name, and recognizing her beloved teacher, she rushed to embrace him. “Do not touch me,” he said. How jarring that must have been to hear, and how painful to refrain — impossible, perhaps, save for the belief, held close in her heart, that the time would soon come to touch him again.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(PC) Tim Keller: People will say ‘I came to Christ during the virus’

Why has God allowed Coronavirus to happen?
There’s three things to say. The first thing is: why weren’t you asking that question before? In other words, when something bad happens to me, that’s when I start wondering about God, when actually bad things have been happening for centuries. The Bible is filled with discussions about it. The book of Job is all about that. Job had a terrible life, way worse than anybody I know.

Secondly, there’s a philosophical answer. The philosophical answer is, if you have a God big and powerful enough to be mad at for not stopping suffering, then you also have a God big and powerful enough who has some good reasons – that you can’t think of – for why he hasn’t stopped it. You can’t say ‘because I can’t think of any reason why God hasn’t stopped all the suffering, there can’t be one’. That doesn’t make sense. If you have a God big enough to be mad at, you’ve a God a big enough to be wiser than you. Philosophically that works, but it’s cold comfort to a person who’s actually in pain.

Thirdly, the more personal answer is, I don’t know the reason for your suffering. But I do know what it’s not. It’s not that God doesn’t love you. Christianity, uniquely among all the religions of the world, says that God actually came to earth and got involved in our suffering in order to someday end it without ending us.

Over the years, as a pastor and a sufferer, that has been the thing that’s helped my heart. Jesus suffers, he understands. I don’t have a God who’s remote. He must have a good reason why he hasn’t stopped it yet. It can’t be that he doesn’t love me, because look what he did on the cross.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Al Mohler) Obedience to God and Love of Neighbor in the Face of a Coronavirus: A Christian’s Mandate

But then, quite unexpectedly, Jesus said, “The second greatest commandment is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We should note that Jesus drew this from the book of Leviticus 19:18. The very same Book of Leviticus that included the quarantine of the diseased.

Love of neighbor means that we would not do anything to compromise, weaken, or endanger our neighbor—and that certainly includes our neighbor’s physical health. Applying all of these passages—Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Romans—we come to understand that faithfulness today means full and unwavering compliance with all rightful orders seeking to control the spread of COVID-19.

Interestingly, the command to “love your neighbor” ends with two words of enormous significance: “as yourself.” We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Often, we are told to not think about ourselves—that true virtue is found in self-sacrifice and having no regard for our own lives. That is true, but in this command from the words of Jesus himself, we are told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Actually, endangering ourselves also endangers others. We regard our own lives, so we must regard the lives of others. We protect our lives, so we protect the lives of others. In the context of this pandemic, if we do not comply with the government’s guidelines and fall ill, then someone will have to take care of us. We will tie up resources, time, and put others at risk of catching what could be for some people a deadly virus. Furthermore, we are not able to contribute to the commonweal—to the larger community.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Look Back to 1918–Francis James Grimké–“Some Reflections: Growing Out of the Recent Epidemic of Influenza that Afflicted Our City”

So Jehovah sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even unto the time appointed; and there died of the people from Dan even unto Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, Jehovah repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough; now stay thy hand.
—Samuel 24:15–16

We know now, perhaps, as we have never known before the meaning of the terms pestilence, plague, epidemic, since we have been passing through this terrible scourge of Spanish influenza, with its enormous death rate and its consequent wretchedness and misery. Every part of the land has felt its deadly touch—North, South, East and West—in the Army, in the Navy, among civilians, among all classes and conditions, rich and poor, high and low, white and black. Over the whole land it has thrown a gloom, and has stricken down such large numbers that it has been difficult to care for them properly, overcrowding all of our hospitals—and it has proven fatal in so many cases that it has been difficult at times to get coffins enough in which to place the dead, and men enough to dig graves fast enough in which to bury them. Our own beautiful city has suffered terribly from it, making it necessary, as a precautionary measure, to close the schools, theaters, churches, and to forbid all public gathering within doors as well as outdoors. At last, however, the scourge has been stayed, and we are permitted again to resume the public worship of God, and to open again the schools of our city.

Now that the worst is over, I have been thinking, as doubtless you have all been, of these calamitous weeks through which we have been passing—thinking of the large numbers that have been sick—the large numbers that have died, the many, many homes that have been made desolate—the many, many bleeding, sorrowing hearts that have been left behind, and I have been asking myself the question, What is the meaning of it all? What ought it to mean to us? Is it to come and go and we be no wiser, or better for it? Surely God had a purpose in it, and it is our duty to find out, as far as we may, what that purpose is, and try to profit by it.

Among the things which stand out in my own mind, as I have been thinking the whole matter over, are these…

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Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Theology

(Natl Cath Reporter) Pandemic response raises institutional stresses, new ways to be church

As the Catholic Church in the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shock and awe of local churches suspending all public Masses for the foreseeable future draw a great deal of attention. But behind the scenes, the public health emergency has prompted additional layers of response that bring into focus how the church is intertwined with the wider society, reliant on revenue and served by people on payrolls.

“The church has a profound involvement in all this,” said Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where public Masses are suspended indefinitely though churches remain open. “Pope Francis puts it best. He wants a poor church for the poor, and it looks like his prayer is being answered.”

Wester’s archdiocese, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018, now faces the challenge shared by church administrators across the country of adopting action plans in response to the pandemic’s effects. This includes how best to support staff in chanceries, parishes and schools who are unable to come to work, possibly for months on end.

“It’s a work in progress, a fluid situation,” said Wester, who sent a personal letter to all chancery employees expressing his care and wishes for their safety. He characterized his message to them as, “Do what you need to do. … If you’re concerned, stay home.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

(CLJ) The Catholic Artist in a Neo-Pagan Age

Mariani stands apart from this. His poetry, as explained in my essay, restores the term “confessional” to its sacramental significance. It is not a secret diary blown open by the wind or a police blotter plunging downward in a column of newsprint, as it were, but a prayerful record of self-discovery made in the presence of God. Saint Augustine’s Confessions is the most obvious antecedent alongside those distinctly modern features of his poetry that come from Lowell among others. I return to Mariani’s work, once again, because his own discussion of the vocation of the Catholic poet seems such a fruitful point of departure in answering the question, what must the Catholic artist do, in our day or in any day?

For his answer, Mariani draws our attention finally and above all to the example of Saint Paul, and to surprising effect. In the very center of the Acts of the Apostles, we watch as Paul comes to Athens; he finds a great “market place” of ideas, where “Epicurean and Stoic philosophers” meet him amid the Jews and gentiles of a city that, as Paul himself proclaims, must be “very religious” (17:18; 22). Very religious indeed, as the city is chock full of idols; their various devotions are multiplied by their decadent curiosity, which Luke describes by recording that “all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21). This is not the Athens of Plato, where the question of philosophy was a question of life and death, but the Athens of the Roman Empire, where Roman curiosity has become a kind of indulgent decadence, a place where interest in ideas was only increased by a doubt that any of them finally were to be credited and adopted. They had an interest in wisdom but little hope that anyone actually could be wise.

These pagans had, however, arrived at an intellectual maturity, where philosophical reflection had deepened traditional religion until the bold natural theology of Aristotle, with its prime mover and final cause, and Plato’s absolutely transcendent Good, understood as one god, supreme, father of all, had become something like the common sense of all educated persons.[2] They represent therefore an unfortunate but familiar coupling: genuine intellectual sophistication, rigorous refinement, and decadent unseriousness.

Saint Paul, as he comes to address these pagans in the Areopagus, appeals to both dimensions of their character. To their sound metaphysics and natural theology, he proclaims that the “unknown god” at last has been given a name and may be known to each person most intimately: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth . . . is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’”(17:24; 27-28). More subtly, he corrects their clever unseriousness, by wryly observing, “I perceive that in every way you are very religious,” and by provoking them to recall that, beneath decadent curiosity, lies a genuine eros to know the truth and to be saved, to “seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him” (17:22; 27).

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Art, Poetry & Literature, Roman Catholic, Theology

(GR) Ryan Burge on unique coronavirus fears in pews of America’s aging ‘mainline’ churches

Several years ago, I spoke to a rather typical group of Episcopalians in a church forum and I would estimate that roughly 75% of the people in the room were over 60 years of age.

I would love to see more nuanced statistics, at this point in time, because I suspect that the gold 36-64 years old band in the middle of that Burge chart leans toward the older end of that niche. Burge notes that the average Episcopalian is 59 years old. There are now three retired United Methodists for every member under the age of 35. More Burge:

Demography is destiny for many of these denominations. They will become dramatically smaller in the next two decades based on attrition alone, whether or not they are hit by COVID-19.

But if the disease can’t be curtailed, it could become a turning point for some of these denominations: Their houses of worship are prime targets for the spread of disease.

This passage hit me hard, as well:

Connection to their fellow members is especially important for older Americans. Data from Pew Research Center indicates that the average 80-year-old spends at least eight hours a day alone, double the time a 40-year-old does. For many of the older generation, the institutions that held society together for them during the formative years have already crumbled. One of the few things that has remained constant for them is their church home, seeing the same people in the same pews every Sunday, taking the bread and drinking from the cup the same way they have done for decades. They need that consistency and community — and COVID-19 might take that away from them.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Health & Medicine, Lutheran, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

(CT) The Possible Decline of the Nones Isn’t a Boost for Evangelicals

However, there is some nuance to the story regarding the religiosity of Gen Z. While the share of Gen Z that identifies as Christian is the smallest of any generation, those who still identify as Protestant or Catholic are incredibly devout. For instance, nearly 6 in 10 evangelical members of Gen Z attend church at least once a week. That’s as high as evangelicals older than 75 and statistically higher than baby boomers and those in Generation X. The same pattern emerges among mainline Protestants and Catholics, as well.

For mainline Protestants, there is no difference in weekly attendance rates between Gen Z and any other generation. For Catholics, the only cohort that attends Mass more than Gen Z is the Silent Generation, those born before 1946. The conclusion is straightforward: Though the share of Gen Z Christians is small, they are deeply committed to their faith.

It’s important to note that these data do not indicate that the overall rate of religious disaffiliation will decrease any time soon. Generational replacement is inevitable. Consider the fact that the Silent Generation, which is 18 percent nones, is decreasing by hundreds of members a day and is being replaced by Gen Z, which is 42 percent religiously unaffiliated.

There is no doubt that the rate will continue to rise, but it may find a plateau in the next few decades. At the same time, the United States will have a much smaller number of Christians, but those who remain will be committed to their faith and attend church regularly.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Sociology

For Their Feast Day–(CH) John and Charles Wesley

John and Charles Wesley are among the most notable evangelists who ever lived. As young men, they formed a party which came to be derisively called Methodists, because they methodically set about fulfilling the commands of scripture. In due course they learned that works cannot save, and discovered salvation by faith in Christ. Afterward, they carried that message to all England in sermon and in song. John Wesley is credited with staving off a bloody revolution in England such as occurred in France.

Although the brothers did not set out to establish a church, the Wesleyans and the Methodists are their offspring.

Both preached, both wrote hymns. But John is more noted for his sermons and Charles for his hymns. Here we present two hymns by Charles and a sermon by John.

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Posted in Church History, Methodist

(CP) Al-Shabaab warns all Christians to leave northeastern Kenya

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab has “ordered” Christians to leave three counties in northeastern Kenya to allow local Muslims to get all local jobs, according to the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern.

“Muslim teachers, doctors, engineers, and young graduates from the northeastern province are unemployed. Isn’t it better to give them a chance? There is no need for the presence of disbelievers,” al-Shabaab’s spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, said in an audio clip posted online, referring to the counties of Garissa, Wajir and Mandera.

In the 20-minute clip, the spokesman urged Somali-Kenyans to drive all non-Muslims out if they do not leave on their own.

The majority of the people living in the three counties are Somalis, who fled to Kenya due to war and violence in Somalia.

Read it all.

Posted in Kenya, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism

(Vatican News) Yeb Saño–The cry of the earth is no different than the cry of the poor

Yeb Saño believes that the environmental crisis is rooted in three human characteristics, all of which are “closely connected with who we are”. All of these three words, he says, “start with the letter A”.

The first word is arrogance. Arrogance is the belief that you’re better than God or better than nature, that we’re smarter than nature – and that has caused a lot of havoc in the world.

The second word is apathy. Apathy is the dangerous belief that it’s somebody else’s job to care, it’s somebody else’s job to take care of others or take care of the environment.

And the third one is avarice, which is extreme greed. Greed has made this world a much, much worse place to live in. Greed is what drives, for example, corporations to only think about profits and not the people and the planet.

These are three words that “we as Catholics strive to stand up against”, three forms of a lack of love: “the love that Pope Francis reminds us to embrace as a commandment from God and as an example from the life of Jesus”, says Yeb Saño.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CT) Recent Praise for Modi on India’s ‘Incredible’ Religious Freedom Doesn’t Match Our Research

…Modi’s record on religious freedom since becoming the leader of India has not been something to be proud of. His silence when minorities in India have been targeted and lynched by right-wing mobs has been telling. The worst sufferers of the wrath of extreme Hindu nationalists have been India’s Muslims—the targets of cow vigilantes and much hate speech—but Christians have not been far behind. The fundamental freedoms promised by the constitution of India to religious minorities are being constantly eroded, and persecution is a daily reality for many Christians in India.

Radicals affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) movement and its family of organizations—including Modi’s BJP—have been making concerted efforts to attack Christians both physically and socially. Groups such as Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which believe in the ideology of Hindutva as promoted by the RSS, have disrupted worship services in churches, beat up pastors and other Christians, engaged in vandalism and destruction of property, and have pressured many Christians to recant their faith and forcibly convert to Hinduism.

The lack of police action, and in too many cases the cooperation of the police with the radicals, has resulted in a culture of impunity, emboldening the oppressors to attack without fear of any consequence. This has resulted in a sense of insecurity felt by many Indian Christians. It does not help that responsible leaders of Modi’s party, including state and union ministers, routinely engage in hate speech against Christians and other minorities. This only bolsters the radicals, who view this as open encouragement to target minorities.

According to the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), which has been documenting incidents of persecution against Christians since 1998, incidents targeting Indian Christians have risen steeply since 2014, when Modi came to power. The commission recorded 147 verified cases of persecution in 2014; 252 cases in 2016; 351 in 2017; and 325 in 2018. The EFI commission will soon release the data for 2019.

Read it all.


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

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, India, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Violence

Tuesday Food for Thought from Dietrich von Hildebrand

“Enamoured of our present epoch, blind to all its characteristic dangers, intoxicated with everything modern, there are many Catholics who no longer ask whether something is true, or whether it is good and beautiful, or whether it has an intrinsic value: they ask only whether it is up-to-date, suitable to ‘modern man’ and the technological age, whether it is challenging, dynamic, audacious, progressive.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Roman Catholic

(CEN) Confusion grows over fresh divisions in Ukraine Orthodoxy

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine – and in Orthodoxy worldwide – are in confusion following Metropolitan Filaret (pictured on the left) of Kiev’s break from the new Ukraine Orthodox Church, established just a year ago by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Patriarch’s decision ended three centuries of Russian Orthodox canonical authority over all Ukraine Orthodox.

Ninety-year-old Filaret, the Soviet-era Russian Orthodox Church leader in Ukraine who formed the breakaway nationalist ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ when the USSR dissolved, was Patriarch Emeritus and joint leader of the new church, which comprised his patriarchate and an earlier breakaway, the small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Led by Metropolitan Epiphany, the new church claims to control some 7,000 parishes, 77 monasteries and 47 dioceses, with some 500 parishes having switched allegiance from the continuing Russiaaligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate] – voluntarily or under nationalist pressure.

Declaring the new church “too much under the control” of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and that in practice his own role counted for little in its decisionmaking rather than being ‘side by side’ with Metropolitan Epiphany, Filaret has proclaimed the re-establishment of his former Kiev Patriarchate. He is busily rebuilding its support following an extraordinary ‘restoration assembly’ of his followers in Kiev’s historic St Volodymyr’s Cathedral last June, defying both Epiphany and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Ukraine

(Seattle Times) Sudden resignation of two Seattle-area Roman Catholic school teachers stirs protests over church stance on same-sex relationships

Two people close to one of the teachers, Paul Danforth — his mother, Mary Danforth, and his fiance, Sean Nyberg — said his departure was related to news that he was planning to marry another man. They said they couldn’t comment about whether the teachers were fired, quit voluntarily or were asked to resign.

Several students said they already knew that Danforth and the other teacher were both in relationships with same-sex partners.

Kennedy Catholic mother Erika DuBois, who helped plan the walkout, said the news of the teachers’ departures shocked her. She said she knew that Catholic school teachers had to sign a contract that includes a morality clause about adhering to church values but that she didn’t expect the school to act on the clause.

Read it all.

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

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CCD) During Epidemic, Chinese Believers Hold on to Faith through Family Worship

During the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), all on-site gatherings of churches have been suspended, but Jesus’ work in the hearts of believers has been not. The epidemic seems to separate the believers, but the inseparable love between each other in the Lord continues through their family worship sessions.

As a sister puts it, even though we can’t go to church, God’s love never leaves us. At home, we confess our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness and mercy. We read the Bible to help with our spiritual growth, and share spiritual resources with our brothers and sisters. We encourage each other and pray together, waiting for God’s blessings.

The children of God, some as families, others as individuals, worship God at home in various ways, even when they are not able to gather together….

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(Christianity Today) What Does ‘Evangelical’ Mean?

What does it mean to be evangelical? The term, without a doubt, is widely misunderstood and frequently misrepresented. In recent years, the term evangelical has become highly politicized, invoked to describe a voting bloc or as a blanket label for those with conservative or, perhaps, fundamentalist views. Meanwhile, some from within the movement have dropped the label or left evangelicalism entirely, coining the monicker exvangelical.

Since its inception, Christianity Today has been distinctly evangelical, bringing together a broad readership of Christians from across the denominational spectrum who find common ground in their shared faith in Christ, commitment to orthodoxy, and passion for proclaiming the gospel. Throughout the decades, CT has discussed what it means to be evangelical (such as in this 1965 cover story). In recent years, the conversation has continued with renewed vigor. What is really at the heart of evangelical identity? Here’s a sampling of articles from the past few years that dig deeper into what it means to be an evangelical Christian today.

In “Evangelical Distinctives in the 21st Century,” Mark Galli (CT’s recently retired editor in chief) launched a series of articles meant to “articulate what we [at Christianity Today] mean by evangelicalism—and more importantly, why we continue to think that evangelicals are a people whom God still uses mightily to reform his church and touch the world with the grace and hope of the gospel.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(IVP blog) Ollie Lansdowne–We need to Recover Isaiah’s View of God

Maybe I’m the product of overexposure, but at this point I’m willing to argue it out with anyone: Isaiah is the greatest piece of literature that has ever been written.

More pointedly, Isaiah has what British evangelicalism needs: a thoroughly classical doctrine of God, which undergirds a vision of salvation that’s as sweeping as creation and would stop us putting our faith in powerful men.

Unique By His Very Nature

Isaiah’s doctrine of God is breathtaking, presenting us with a God who is genuinely incomparable. Here’s an example: “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?” ─Isaiah 40v25.

This isn’t just an attack on the number of gods in paganism, it’s an attack on the nature of the gods in paganism. The gods of paganism are many, but that isn’t the deepest problem that Isaiah identifies. The deepest problem with the gods of paganism is that it’s possible to compare them with one another: they are relative. Pagan gods are comparable and relative because these ‘gods’ can exist in varieties: you could tweak and change any of them─add some grace and power, remove some wisdom─and they’d become different gods, but they’d still be ‘gods’. No pagan god exists in a category uniquely its own, truly and totally independent from everything else, absolute and unchangeable by definition.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: if no pagan god is truly and totally independent, that means that no pagan god could ever be truly and totally dependable. If you throw the weight of your life at one of these gods, you’ll quickly find that they are themselves leaning on something else: whoever or whatever has been determining how much grace and power and wisdom they have.

Not so the God of Isaiah.

Isaiah’s God is unique by his very nature.

There are two categories: God, and everything that God created. He isn’t relative, a variation on a theme. As Steven J. Duby puts it in God In Himself, “There is no impersonal form of life, wisdom, or love “out there” from which God must draw in order to be what he is.” If it was even possible for this God to change, He would cease to be God. He isn’t ‘the most’, He is ‘the only’. Isaiah’s doctrine of God isn’t that “the most powerful” also─fortunately─happens to be “the most gracious”. It’s that God is incomparable and unchanging, truly and totally independent and therefore truly and totally dependable.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Theology: Scripture