Category : Other Churches

John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance on Wilberforce’s Feast Day

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations

(CEN) Paul Richardson reviews Richard R. Gaillardetz’s ‘The Cambridge Companion to Vatican II’

As Richard Gaillardetz points out in his introduction to this important work, efforts to assess the impact of Vatican II have been hindered by what he terms a Catholic version of the ‘culture wars’ with conservatives claiming the Council was pastoral and brought about no doctrinal change and radicals seeking to put the Council’s stamp of approval upon whatever policies they favour.

No one reading this book can doubt that the Council did produce significant changes in the life of the Catholic Church but that it was often able to build on developments that had already begun, not least in the work of an impressive group of German and French theologians that included such figures as Karl Rahner, Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar. The first six chapters of this book seek to set Vatican II in context and show that while Rome opposed the ‘new theology’ the picture was mixed. The encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu , for example, promulgated by Pius XII paved the way for acceptance of biblical criticism.

My main criticism of this work is that it does not seek to assess the influence of Vatican II beyond the Catholic Church or see it as a significant event in the life of the world-wide church. This is especially true of the impact of the liturgical changes it encouraged in Anglicanism and many other churches. David Turnbloom does refer to this in his chapter on liturgy, pointing to such WCC documents as Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry as showing the influence of the Council.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Books, Church History, Roman Catholic

(CT) Mainline Protestants Are Still Declining, But That’s Not Good News for Evangelicals

This rapid shift in American religion was driven primarily by evangelicals becoming more prominent in American culture. The rise of televangelists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson coincided with the Religious Right beginning to assert itself in electoral politics. Because the nones were relatively small at this point, there’s ample reason to believe that significant numbers of mainline Protestants became evangelicals through the 1980s.

By the late 1980s, evangelicals had become 25–27 percent of the population, and the mainline population was stuck around 20 percent. In 1993, evangelicals hit their peak in the data at just under 30 percent and have since gone into a slow and steady decline over time.

Between 2000 and 2018, the decline among evangelicals has been relatively modest—just about two percentage points. The mainline also declined three times as fast during this same time period, dropping from 16 percent in 2000 to just over 10 percent in 2018.

When you look at where both traditions started in 1972, evangelicals are slightly up, while the mainline is significantly smaller.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(WOF) Andrew Petiprin–Subsidiarity, Solidarity, And Human Dignity In “Mare Of Easttown”

The new HBO series Mare of Easttown, created by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel, is a riveting crime drama that reveals both the darkness and light residing in the soul of America these days. The show is reminiscent of the superb British series Broadchurch, and it focuses on the murder of a poor teenage mother and the earlier disappearance of two young prostitutes.

Set and filmed in Delaware County outside of Philadelphia, Mare of Easttown is disturbing and inspiring. The actors’ eastern Pennsylvania accents are impeccable, and I could just about feel a cup of Wawa coffee in my hand. The multiple plotlines related to opioid addiction represent the demonic gloom that has settled over countless communities in the so-called “rust belt” and Appalachia. The biggest point of pride in Easttown is the memory of a high school state basketball championship; and Mare Sheehan, played by Kate Winslet, is the forty-something divorced grandmother who is still famous for hitting the winning shot all those years ago.

As a small-town police detective, Mare embodies the pain of the people she cannot help but love. With the nature of policing under intense scrutiny these days, Mare is deeply compassionate about the needs of her neighbors (when we meet Mare, she is helping a junkie get to a church shelter, instead of taking him to jail), and she is subject to a high degree of accountability from them, precisely because they know and love her too. At the same time, Mare faces a public relations crusade led by an old friend, whose missing daughter Mare has not yet succeeded in finding. It is an excellent depiction of the Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity: there is no nameless, faceless force here, but rather justice tempered with mercy at the local level. It is messy, but no one in Easttown seems to want it any other way.

Read it all.

Posted in Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishop, Pope and Church of Scotland Moderator write to South Sudan’s leaders

When we last wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people. Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress. Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled (cf 2 Corinthians, 5). This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders – Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully – and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(PCN) Tributes to ‘hero of the faith’ Joel Edwards who has died from cancer

Former General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance and senior UK church figure, Rev Dr Joel Edwards, has died from cancer.

On Wednesday morning, the family confirmed the passing of the 70-year-old pastor by posting a letter Rev Edwards had written thanking people for their prayers.

“This is to say a final goodbye. First, my incredible thanks for your prayers, love and holding on with me to that fingernail miracle,” the letter said.

“Words cannot express the depth, breadth and height of my gratitude, but I have gone home.

“My earnest prayer is that your faith and tenacity on my behalf will not be considered a pointless religious exercise, but that it will have strengthened your faith in a God who is marvellous, mysterious and majestic in all that He does: The Faithful One.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

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 Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

(RNS) At 71, Christian author Philip Yancey still believes in amazing grace, despite the county’s divisions

If you could talk to evangelical leaders right now or to people in the pew, what would you tell them?

I go back to that beautiful discourse in John Chapters 13 to 17, which is Jesus’ last time with his disciples. He’s turning over the whole thing to them. And they haven’t really proven themselves. In fact, they’ve proven themselves unreliable. So, what did he do? He washed their feet. And he said to them, this is your stance in the world. You’re a servant, you’re not the leaders. Then he said, you should be known by your love. And you should be known by your unity. Those three things.

Yet so often the church seems more interested in cleaning up society, you know, returning America to its pristine 1950s. That’s the myth we have — we are making America pure again, cleaning it up.

Jesus lived under the Roman Empire, Paul lived under the Roman Empire, which was much worse morally than anything going on in the United States. They didn’t say a word about how to clean up the Roman Empire, not a word. They just kind of dismissed it.

So, why are we here? Well, we’re here to form the kind of community that makes people say, ”Oh, that’s what God had in mind.” We’re here to form pioneer settlements of the kingdom of God, as N.T. Wright puts it. It’s about demonstrating to the world what the whole human experiment is about.

Let’s remember why we are here. We love people, we serve and we show them why God’s way is better. Let’s concentrate on that rather than tearing people down or rejecting them or denigrating them in some way. We’re here to bring pleasure to God. I believe we do that by living in the way God’s son taught us to live when he was on earth.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Vatican News) English and French bishops call for better treatment of migrants

In a joint statement released on the occasion of the World Refugee Day, on June 20, the six bishops remind that these strangers “who are exiled from their homelands” are “fellow humans who deserve to be helped to find places where they can live in dignity and contribute to civil society”. They observe “with sadness the lack of hope that drives people in distress to become exploited by traffickers and add to the profits of their illegal trade”.

The Church leaders, however, also call attention to some positive signs, saying they are “heartened by those who generously offer financial and material support, time and skills, shelter and accommodation, whatever their religious conviction”. These people, they remark, “ignore the myths that lead to prejudice and fear that apparently prevent politicians from creating new and constructive policies that go beyond closing frontiers and employing more security staff”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

Stephen Freeman–Shame in the Public Arena

But all of these events share something in common: the public use of shame. The language of shame essentially attacks who-a-person-is rather than what-they-have-done. A person who is guilty of murder thus becomes a “murderer.” And though this is technically true, it is also not true. The language of guilt isolates responsibility for a single event; the language of shame assumes that you are now that event waiting to be visited upon all. Guilt suggests punishment or restitution; shame declares that no matter what you might do, you will always be that person.

There is a world of difference, for example, between being wrong about something and being “stupid.” But, as one comedian has it, “There’s no cure for stupid.” Shame labels us as incurable.

The language of shame is far more powerful than the language of guilt. Guilt can be answered and atoned. Shame, however, has no atonement – it is a declaration of “who we are.” There is no atonement for stupid, ugly, incompetent, mean, evil, etc. On occasion, I have been accosted by those who use shame as a verbal weapon. Recently, in an exchange in which I was the object of someone’s labeling, I was told that no apology need be made when speaking the truth – that is, shame is fine so long as it is “true.”

Shame is not only permitted in our culture; it needs no apology.

There is a strange phenomenon about shame, however. I describe this as its “sticky” quality. When we see the shame of someone else, we ourselves experience shame. This can be as innocuous as watching someone’s public embarrassment and sharing the feeling of embarrassment. It is equally and more profoundly true in darker and deeper encounters. We cannot shame others and remain untouched. The very shame we extend reaches within us and takes us with it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Orthodox Church, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Interesting food for thought from Christ City Church Vancouver BC

The Evangelical Statement of Faith

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the infallible, authoritative Word of God.
We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration of the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in Canada, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology

(Cardus) Timothy Keller–The Fading Of Forgiveness: Tracing The Disappearance Of The Thing We Need Most.

A recent interview with an actress in Global Heroes, a magazine insert in The Wall Street Journal, perfectly exemplifies the therapeutic turn. When asked, “What is one good choice that everyone can make to improve the world around them?” she answered, “Look for your own truth, LIVE your own truth instead of repeating anyone else’s.” She elaborated: “What’s crucial to me is to make my audience . . . [question] old beliefs.” She counsels her fans to engage in a daily practice of asking, “What do I need today?” and then to go and get it.

Gregory Jones sees this therapeutic turn as perhaps the greatest reason that we have such “impoverished contemporary understandings and practices of forgiveness in modern western culture. . . . If all that matters is individual autonomy, then forgiveness and reconciliation—which are designed to foster and maintain community—are of little importance.” Today, Jones argues, forgiveness is either discouraged as imposing a moral burden on the person or, at best, it is offered as a way of helping yourself acquire more peaceful inner feelings, of “healing ourselves of our hate.”

In contrast, the Bible orients us toward “Christian life embodied in eschatological community.” The church is to be a foretaste of the future world of love and perfect community under the lordship of Jesus. Our sin inclines us to behaviour that regularly weakens and breaks relationships, but through the Spirit we are given the ability to realize—partially, never fully in this life—something of the beauty and joy of those future relationships through practices and disciplines of forgiveness and reconciliation now.

In October of 2006 a gunman took hostages in a one-room Amish schoolhouse at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He shot ten children ages seven to thirteen, five of whom died, and then he committed suicide. Within hours members of the Amish community visited both the killer’s immediate family and his parents, each time expressing sympathy for their loss. The Amish uniformly expressed forgiveness of the murderer and his family. The forgiveness and love shown toward the shooter and his family amazed many. Numerous voices called Americans to emulate the Amish and become more forgiving.

Four years later a group of scholars wrote about the incident. One of their main conclusions was that our secular culture is not likely to produce people who can handle suffering the way the Amish did. They argued that the Amish ability to forgive was based on two things. First, at the heart of their faith was a man dying for his enemies. Through communal practices this self-sacrificing figure was seen, sung, believed, rehearsed, and celebrated constantly. For Jesus to give his life and forgive his tormentors was an act of enormous love and spiritual strength, and so within their worldview orientation, the Amish saw forgiveness as the greatest gift and virtue. In American culture, in which church attendance is declining, this view of Christ is slipping more and more out of daily view.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * South Carolina, Anglican Continuum, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT front page) Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

The books have become some of the order’s best-sellers in recent years, a boost to the nuns, whose income as a nonprofit publisher has declined sharply in recent decades. Sister Aletheia is currently working on a new prayer book for the Advent season, leading up to Christmas.

“She has such a gift for talking about really difficult things with joy,” said Christy Wilkens, a Catholic writer and mother of six outside Austin, Texas. “She’s so young and vibrant and joyful and is also reminding us all we’re going to die.” Ms. Wilkens credits memento mori with giving her the “spiritual tools” to grapple with her 9-year-old son’s serious health issues. “It has allowed me, not exactly to cope, but to surrender everything to God,” she said.

For Sister Aletheia, having spent the previous few years meditating on mortality helped prepare her for the fear and isolation of the past year. The pandemic has been traumatic, she said. But there have also been small moments of grace, like people from the community knocking on the door to donate food to the nuns in isolation. As she wrote in her devotional, “Remembering death keeps us awake, focused, and ready for whatever might happen — both the excruciatingly difficult and the breathtakingly beautiful.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CNS) Catholic Bishops urge Mexicans to vote in elections, but some see warning signs

Ascencio’s diocese has been hit hard by drug cartel violence, something highlighted by a recent visit to the besieged town of Aguililla by Archbishop Franco Coppola, apostolic nuncio. The bishop expressed bewilderment at a mayoral candidate in Michoacán appearing on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s wanted list.

“In my diocese … it’s very likely there’s complicity between organized crime and those exercising political power,” Ascencio said. “They have told me that they’re overwhelmed by the crime situation and security is not their duty; it’s something for the federal government.”

In this election cycle, the bishop said more candidates have sought him out for meetings than in past years. He notices that “they haven’t taken reality into account.”

“What’s not seen is that power in not in the hands of legitimate rulers,” he said. “Power in many places is held by organized crime. It seems like the political sector is at the service of organized crime.”

Read it all.

Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Mexico, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

(EF) Michael Oh–John Stott: The head and heart of the Lausanne Movement

The two leaders with whom the Lausanne Movement is most closely associated are Billy Graham and John Stott.

Billy was the face and voice of the movement. That voice echoed through the halls of the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974 on the first night of the First Congress on World Evangelization exclaiming, ‘Let the earth hear his voice!’

John Stott, however, was the head and heart of Lausanne.

I first met Uncle John 25 years ago while I was a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where I had the unexpected blessing of lunch with him. It was like meeting a real-life hero. Not the kind that you watch in movies, but the kind that we all truly need. Not a man of fame and fortune, but a godly, wise, and humble servant.

The topic of our conversation was birds—a topic Uncle John was always animated about. After sharing with me some of the fascinating lessons on life and faith to be learned from birds, he expressed his hope to one day write a book on his favorite hobby.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Theology

(CT) A New Study Shows That Political Privilege Is Harmful for Christianity

Why is Christianity growing in some countries but declining in others?

For much of the 20th century, social scientists answered this question by appealing to the so-called secularization thesis: the theory that science, technology, and education would result in Christianity’s declining social influence.

More recently, some scholars have suggested the cause is rather the accumulation of wealth. Increasing prosperity, it is believed, frees people from having to look to a higher power to provide for their daily needs. In other words, there is a direct link from affluence to atheism.

In a peer-reviewed study published this month in the journal Sociology of Religion, my coauthor and I challenge the perceived wisdom that education and affluence spell Christianity’s demise.

In our statistical analysis of a global sample of 166 countries from 2010 to 2020, we find that the most important determinant of Christian vitality is the extent to which governments give official support to Christianity through their laws and policies. However, it is not in the way devout believers might expect.

As governmental support for Christianity increases, the number of Christians declines significantly. This relationship holds even when accounting for other factors that might be driving Christian growth rates, such as overall demographic trends.

Read it all.

Posted in Life Ethics, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Astonishing Witness of the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 2006

The sleepless grandfather of the two slain sisters was walking by the schoolhouse, reflecting on his loss…

a little…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Sunday, May 9, 2021

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Tim Keller reviews Samuel L. Perry and Andrew Whitehead’s book ‘Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States’

White Americans are divided into almost equal numbers of Ambassadors, Accommodators, Resisters, and Rejecters. African Americans, however, are more supportive of Christian Nationalism than whites—65% of all African-Americans are Ambassadors or Accommodators, the largest proportion of any racial group. Hispanics are mainly found in the two middle, moderate groups, as are Asians and other races (41). All of this indicates that socially conservative views, and a general comfort with a Christian-influenced culture, are not positions exclusively held by white people. Many non-whites are religious, traditional, and conservative in their orientation and shy away from progressive political views that are highly negative and critical of America, its ideals, and its past.

Another surprise is that, while about 50% of the Christian nationalists are evangelicals, nearly 25% of the strong Resistors or Rejecters are also evangelicals.This shows that evangelical beliefs do not automatically cause Christian Nationalism. They can also be the basis for its rejection. Therefore, Christian Nationalism is far more “ethnic and political than it is religious” (10). It is not an inevitable or logical result of traditional, biblical beliefs. It uses the Bible selectively, mainly appropriating for America promises like 2 Chronicles 7:14 (that are given to Israel), promising prosperity if they obey their covenant with God. It ignores the Old Testament passages demanding justice for the poor and the immigrant, and it never deals with New Testament calls to love enemies and turn the other cheek.

And so Christian Nationalism “isn’t localized within [any] particular religious tradition” (13). It doesn’t arise from strongly-held Christian beliefs of a Protestant evangelical, Catholic or any other group. “In fact…religious commitment [to a particular theology] and Christian Nationalism appear to foster distinct moral worldviews that differ in critical ways” (13). That is—Christian Nationalism ignores much of Christian teaching and puts together a highly selective pastiche of biblical texts with commitments to nativism, white supremacy, and so on.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CW) New Sydney Anglican archbishop ‘gladly trusts in Jesus’

A convert to Christianity from Buddhism, Archbishop-elect Raffel is the first person from a non-European background to hold the position. He’s the 13th leader of the Anglican Church in Sydney since Bishop Broughton was first appointed in 1836.

“I’m humbled and somewhat daunted by the responsibility given me by the Synod,” he said in a statement. “We believe that the Lord works through his people — both in making this decision and in enabling the Archbishop to fulfil his role. Like every Christian, I gladly trust in Jesus.”

Aged 56, and born to Sri-Lankan parents in London, Mr Raffel and his family emigrated to Australia from Canada in 1972. He and his wife Cailey have been married for 32 years and have two adult daughters.

He has been the Dean of Sydney for six years, previously leading a large Anglican church in Shenton Park in Perth for 16 years. He has been described as a gifted preacher and communicator who at the age of 21 underwent a conversion to Christianity after reading the lines from St John’s Gospel: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Buddhism, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CT) Makoto Fujimura Sings with God, Carries His Cross, and Awaits the New Creation

Fujimura believes that the Crucifixion reveals this theological vision in powerful ways. As he writes, “Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, Christ’s bloodshed, becomes an entry point of faith for all of us.” Artists, he argues, are uniquely able to witness to the hope of redemption amid brokenness by letting their artistry emerge from the traumas and tragedies of living in a fallen world:

Art literally feeds us through beauty in the hardest, darkest hours. … Through this wine of New Creation we can be given the eyes to see the vistas of the New, ears to hear the footsteps of the New, even through works by non-Christians in the wider culture.

Metaphors like “new wine” are among the key ways Fujimura expresses his vision. He draws heavily on the image of soil as a regenerative space where even our brokenness can testify, over time, to new creation. And he attests to the invaluable gift of tears as expressions of sanctification and consecration.

This theme of suffering is central to the book, as it is to Fujimura’s work as a fine artist. Art and Faith gives particular focus to the Japanese art form of Kintsugi, in which broken pottery is reformed using precious metals. The result, writes Fujimura, is a work of newly created beauty, “which now becomes more beautiful and more valuable than the original, unbroken vessel.”

In many insightful moments, Fujimura relates this redemptive vision of Kintsugi to experiences of suffering in his own life.

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Books, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture, Theology

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (VII)–A Message from Chris Wright

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (VI)-Canon J John: John Stott Is Still a Hero Every Christian Should Know About

I was privileged to meet with ‘Uncle John’ on many occasions. I was particularly encouraged when, still finding my feet as an evangelist, he invited me to tea, supported what I was doing and encouraged me to deepen my knowledge of God through Bible reading and prayer. One cherished memory is how, whenever I met him, he would give me a characteristic hug, gaze at me with his blue eyes and ask, ‘Brother John, are you still preaching the gospel?’ to which he would inevitably add, ‘This is the one thing you must do!’

One of the fascinating and challenging things about John was the way that he balanced things that could have easily been opposites.

So although John was extraordinarily self-disciplined, he was also gentle. He would rise early— 5 or 6 a.m.— and devote himself to prayer and Bible reading. He seemed to live life with a remarkable efficiency and never seemed to waste time. Yet there was never any sense of him being any sort of driven individual whose projects demand priority; with John you always felt that people came first.

Equally, although John was an authority, he was also humble. He was one of the very few Christian leaders to be known and respected globally: Time magazine labelled him as one of its ‘100 Most Influential People’ in 2005. Yet you never felt any sense of superiority or self-importance with John. He listened graciously to other views and always seemed to have time for people. He lived humbly too; it’s fascinating that the only property he ever owned was that tiny cottage in Pembrokeshire. With John, the idea of being a servant of others was no cliché but the truth.

Finally, although John was a deeply spiritual man, he was also utterly relevant.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (V)–The full Service of Celebration for this Momentous Event from his home Parish of All Soul’s Langham Place

There are many wonderful people whom you will get to hear from–do take the time.

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (IV)–His Address to the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966

All this implies a recognition that Jesus of Nazareth was no mere Jewish teacher who founded a Jewish sect, but rather the Saviour of the world who summons all nations of the world to His allegiance.

The Church, in other words, is fundamentally a missionary society, commissioned and committed to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to the whole world. Insofar as any inhabitants of the globe have not heard the Gospel, the Church should have a heavy conscience. Christ has sent us to herald forgiveness to all the nations, but we have not done so. role have failed to ‘fulfill His final commission. We have been disobedient to our Lord.

There is still time to make amends, however. As the world population explodes, the Church’s task might seem to be getting harder and the goal of world evangelization more remote. But as modern means of mass communication increase, and as the Church humbly seeks fresh spiritual power, the task once again appears possible. This spiritual power is, in fact, the fifth and last aspect of the Lord’s commission which Luke mentions. We are to proclaim the forgiveness of sins on the ground of Christ’s name and on condition of repentance to all the nations.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Germany, Missions, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (III)–Tim Chester: Ten Things You Should Know about him

2. The main influence on Stott’s preaching was someone he never met.

The culture into which Stott was converted was one where preaching was only loosely related to the Bible. Yet a few years later, his preaching was electrifying congregations with sermons that gained their power from the text itself. Stott had spent the intervening years at university in Cambridge, and I believe it was a Cambridge preacher who transformed his preaching: Charles Simeon, the vicar of Holy Trinity. But Stott never met Simeon because Simeon was preaching in the 19th century—a century before Stott went to Cambridge. Stott met Simeon only through Simeon’s writings. “Simeon’s uncompromising commitment to Scripture,” Stott once wrote, “captured my imagination and has held it ever since.” In his London apartment Stott had various pictures on his wall of some of the places that had been significant in his life, but he had only one portrait—a portrait of Simeon.

3. Stott belonged to only one congregation.

Stott’s father was a doctor and lived in Harley Street, the area of London traditionally associated with the medical profession. The nearest parish church was All Souls, Langham Place, and it was there that Stott was taken as child. Stott spent his school days at boarding school and it was at Rugby School that he was converted. After graduating from Cambridge University, he was ordained and became a curate, or trainee pastor, back at All Souls under the then-rector Harold Earnshaw-Smith. But within months, Earnshaw-Smith had suffered a heart attack and Stott was largely left in charge. Five years later Earnshaw-Smith died and in September 1950, Stott became the new rector. Though not entirely without precedent, it was unusual for a curate to move straight to the senior role in the same parish. Stott remained at All Souls as Rector and then Rector Emeritus for the rest of his ministry. Only in the last few months of his life did he move to a retirement home outside London.

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Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Theology

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (II)–Paul Woolley’s Credo in last weekend’s London Times

In 2006 he said: “My hope is that in the future, evangelical leaders will ensure that their social agenda includes such vital topics as halting climate change, eradicating poverty, abolishing armouries of mass destruction, responding adequately to the Aids pandemic, and asserting the human rights of women and children in all cultures. I hope our agenda does not remain too narrow.”

Stott set out to destroy the myth of the sacred-secular divide, the idea that some parts of life (church services, praying, reading scripture) are important to God, but everything else (work, the arts, science, sport) is “secular”. “We must not marginalise God, or try to squeeze him out of the non-religious section of our life,” he wrote. Similarly, Stott was committed to the “liberation” of the laity, recognising that while clergy had a crucial job to do, so did lawyers, industrialists, politicians, social workers, scriptwriters, journalists, and homemakers.

Stott’s appeal lay in his authenticity. He did not want power or status. He was unassuming and lived simply. He gave his wealth away. “Pride is without doubt the greatest temptation of Christian leaders,” Stott said in 2006 during a visit to the US. “I’m very well aware of the dangers of being fêted and don’t enjoy it, and don’t think one should enjoy it.”

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Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Theology

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (I)–John Yates III: John Stott Would Want Us to Stop, Study, and Struggle

While many leaders are known for their egos, John is rightly remembered for his humility. One of the hallmarks of that humility was his deep sensitivity to the needs of others and his tireless commitment to caring for those needs. Undistracted by concern for himself, he had the mental and emotional energy to attend to those around him.

While some leaders search for glimpses of themselves in the eyes of others, John looked into others’ eyes as windows instead of mirrors, seeking to catch sight of their hearts and minds.

On the final morning of that Easter conference, John insisted that the young translators come out of their soundproof booths and join him on stage in order to be thanked by their peers. It was the loudest cheer of the week, during which John slipped quietly out of the spotlight.

On this centenary of his birth, I pray that God would give the church more leaders like John Stott: leaders who understand the value of pain in the mind, who are generous in personal friendship, and who are humble enough not just to share the spotlight but to step out of its warm glow entirely in order to pass on the legacy of godly leadership to the next generation.

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Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Theology

(Spectator) Chris Wright–John Stott: the centenary of a true radical

But such evangelicals, a fraction of the global majority, are not typical. Most evangelicals are more aligned with the faith modelled by John Stott, which had nothing to do with ethnic or political allegiance but simply a personal devotion to Jesus Christ as saviour and Lord, belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible, and a commitment to live out their faith in daily practice.

Decade after decade, Stott travelled around the globe, speaking and teaching at conferences, building friendships among church leaders in the majority world, and mentoring young men and women by his own example of humility, integrity, and servanthood. Together with Billy Graham, he launched the Lausanne Movement in 1974 which, in partnership with the World Evangelical Alliance, holds evangelicals to the historical legacy of Wesley, Wilberforce, and Shaftesbury – integrating their evangelistic message and mission with social action in combatting the evils of poverty, injustice, racism and slavery.

As an Anglican clergyman who stayed rooted in his own local parish for 50 years, he had a profound love for the Church of England and the rapidly growing Anglican churches in other continents, especially in Africa. He founded and inspired the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion (EFAC), a global network to encourage faithfulness to the Bible’s teaching and moral standards. But his vision also embraced all denominations of the global church – he founded the Langham Partnership to resource churches worldwide with enhanced theological scholarship, quality literature in local languages and cultures, and training in biblical preaching.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

(GR) Richard Ostling–Inspiring feature idea on Christianity near Holy Week sent aloft by (what are the odds?) producers at MSNBC

This got The Guy to thinking about how much we’re missing on TV and religion. Leave aside fictional entertainment, which when religion turns up in the plot too often causes anybody who knows anything about religion to cringe. And let’s not get into the fare transmitted by paid-time preachers.

Eastertide or Christmas may bring seasonal documentaries, often over the years sensationalized attempts to debunk the church or the Bible. David Gibson’s 2015 archaeology series on CNN, “Finding Jesus,” was an exception.

But what about intelligent treatment throughout the year of news and ideas in the world of religion, which interests masses of today’s viewers just as it has gripped imaginations across human history?

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Holy Week, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology