Category : Other Churches

(CT Pastors) The Peculiar Tale of an Anglican-Baptist Church Plant

Do members feel they are “losing” by planting a church outside their denomination?

Crane: This is a gift for the kingdom. It is not a quid pro quo arrangement. Our denominational systems reward denominational progress. Our resources are poured into the expansion of our own tribe. Imagine what can be accomplished for the kingdom if we move beyond models of denominational competition toward strategic partnerships.

But strictly speaking, one reason an evangelical congregation can plant an Anglican church in the same facility is because there is such a dramatic difference between a contemporary service and a liturgical service. Typically the evangelical congregation will not “lose” many people to the liturgical expression—other than those who are encouraged to assist in the startup. You can plant on top of yourself if you reach a different universe.

What should a typical pastor take away from your uncommon approach?

Crane: The need for church plants. New churches have a much younger age profile than do older churches, and new churches have two to four times the conversion rate of new Christians than older churches do. New churches are required to keep the church species healthy and strong.

Hunter: The power of trust. Stephen Covey wrote about The Speed of Trust. When you have trust, things that would otherwise be really hard become doable.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Baptists, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Churchman) Paul Carr: Are the Priorities and Concerns of Charles Simeon Relevant for Today?

There is a strong argument for reforming the Church from within rather than through schism and we have a practicable model for pastoral care and social action. In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.

1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ‘quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.

2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ‘Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(Churchman) J I Packer–Expository Preaching: Charles Simeon and ourselves

Simeon himself is our example here. The feature of his preaching which most constantly impressed his hearers was the fact that he was, as they said, “in earnest”; and that reflected his own overwhelming sense of sin, and of the wonder of the grace that had saved him; and that in turn bore witness to the closeness of his daily fellowship and walk with his God. As he gave time to sermon preparation, so he gave time to seeking God’s face.

“The quality of his preaching,” writes the Bishop of Bradford, “was but a reflection of the quality of the man himself. And there can be little doubt that the man himself was largely made in the early morning hours which he devoted to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. It was his custom to rise at 4 a.m., light his own fire, and then devote the first four hours of the day to communion with God. Such costly self-discipline made the preacher. That was primary. The making of the sermon was secondary and derivative.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

John Piper on Charles Simeon: We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering

He grew downward in humiliation before God, and he grew upward in his adoration of Christ.

Handley Moule captures the essence of Simeon’s secret of longevity in this sentence: “‘Before honor is humility,’ and he had been ‘growing downwards’ year by year under the stern discipline of difficulty met in the right way, the way of close and adoring communion with God” (Moule, 64). Those two things were the heartbeat of Simeon’s inner life: growing downward in humility and growing upward in adoring communion with God.

But the remarkable thing about humiliation and adoration in the heart of Charles Simeon is that they were inseparable. Simeon was utterly unlike most of us today who think that we should get rid once and for all of feelings of vileness and unworthiness as soon as we can. For him, adoration only grew in the freshly plowed soil of humiliation for sin. So he actually labored to know his true sinfulness and his remaining corruption as a Christian.

I have continually had such a sense of my sinfulness as would sink me into utter despair, if I had not an assured view of the sufficiency and willingness of Christ to save me to the uttermost. And at the same time I had such a sense of my acceptance through Christ as would overset my little bark, if I had not ballast at the bottom sufficient to sink a vessel of no ordinary size. (Moule 134f.)

He never lost sight of the need for the heavy ballast of his own humiliation. After he had been a Christian forty years he wrote,

With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men; but I have at the same time laboured incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God. I have never thought that the circumstance of God’s having forgiven me was any reason why I should forgive myself; on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me (Ezekiel 16:63). . . . There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: and I have always thought that they should be viewed together; just as Aaron confessed all the sins of all Israel whilst he put them on the head of the scapegoat. The disease did not keep him from applying to the remedy, nor did the remedy keep him from feeling the disease. By this I seek to be, not only humbled and thankful, but humbled in thankfulness, before my God and Saviour continually. (Carus, 518f.)

Please do read it all.

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

(Churchman) Arthur Bennett–Charles Simeon: Prince of Evangelicals

Simeon’s firm allegiance to the Anglican Church was as much a matter of spiritual duty as of love. In view of the cynical treatment he received from churchmen and university alike he may well have left it for Independency or Presbyterianism. But a godly imperative kept him in its fold. He was wedded to its doctrines set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles and Homilies, and expressed in its Prayer Book. In his opinion the Protestant Reformed Church of England was the truest and finest manifestation of the Christian Faith emanating from scripture and had everything in it to meet his spiritual needs. He was sad to see others departing from it into Dissent and sought, by forming parish Societies, to prevent his own people following them. As to the clergy, Stephen Neill makes the point that the actions of evangelical clergy in the eighteenth century could have led to separation from the Church, but:

The influence of Charles Simeon swung the movement the other way, and all the evangelicals of the first half of the nineteenth century were convinced and devoted churchmen. G.M. Trevelyan’s powerful statement that owing to Simeon the drift of evangelical clergy into
Dissent was arrested is incontrovertible.

Without him, he went on, ‘the Church of England might perhaps have fallen when the tempest of Reform blew high in the thirties’. The respect that evangelicals obtained within the Established Church was, in James Downey’s view, ‘largely accomplished through the teaching and influence of Charles Simeon who finally won a general respect for evangelical preaching’ by his structured presentation of Christian truth and note of authority, and that in a church that rejected Whitefield’s and Wesley’s effusive style. Credit must also be given to the ordinands who attended his sermon classes and used his homiletic methods in their churches.

But Simeon did not discount nonconformity. His sentiments were warm to those ministers who shared his spiritual views, even to supporting financially Joseph Stittle, a layman, who shepherded some extreme Calvinists who forsook Simeon’s ministry. By joining with Free Churchmen in creating Missionary and Home Societies he formed a bridge between Anglicanism and nonconformity, avers Trevelyan. Of Methodism, which hardly touched Cambridge, he had little contact, and met John Wesley but twice, though he visited Fletcher of Madeley and received a warm reception. Wesley’s Arminianism and doctrine of perfection were hardly likely to attract the sin-conscious Simeon. Presbyterianism was more to his liking. He made close friends of Scottish ministers, and preached and communicated in their churches. Towards Roman Catholicism he was extremely severe and held the traditional view that its system was not of God. He showed acid disfavour to the Catholic emancipation movement, even refusing to vote for Charles Grant’s son, a candidate for Parliament, who favoured it. ‘Gladly would I give to the Catholics every privilege that would conduce to their happiness. But to endanger the Protestant ascendency and stability is a sacrifice which I am not prepared to make,’ he said.

Read it all.

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

John Stott gives an introduction to the life and work of Charles Simeon

John Stott on Charles Simeon at Taylor University from Randall Gruendyke on Vimeo.

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

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT’s The Exchange) Another Way for Immigration Reform? How Evangelicals Can Help Lead It

As I speak in evangelical churches on a regular basis, I find most evangelicals are desperate for an approach to immigration that respects biblical principles. That means keeping families together whenever possible, being fair to taxpayers and insisting that our government fulfill its God-ordained responsibility to secure our borders and protect citizens from harm.

It also means respecting the law – the point on which evangelicals feel most conflicted. While they don’t like raids and mass deportation, amnesty – which means dismissing and forgiving the violation of U.S. law – is also a non-starter.

The solution lies in the middle.

This week in Washington, D.C., the Evangelical Immigration Table unveiled an Evangelical Call for Restitution-Based Immigration Reform.

Dozens of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the country – leaders of evangelical denominations, presidents of Christian colleges and seminaries and pastors of prominent churches – voiced their support for a process that would require undocumented immigrants to get right with the law by paying a significant fine.

If they could pass a criminal background check and meet other requirements, they would be given the opportunity to gradually earn permanent legal status. Most immigrants I know would be thrilled to make things right and stay lawfully with their families.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(OUP Blog) Heretics to demigods: evangelicals and the American founders

As political conservatism became more secular and more wedded to classical liberal principles at the close of the nineteenth century, evangelicals left behind some of these theological scruples and lent their voices to laudatory hymns to the Founders. Their approach to the Founders became less nuanced and indistinguishable from the generic civil religion espoused by political conservatives by the mid-twentieth century.

This historical backdrop helps illuminate the bizarre spectacle of best-selling evangelical author David Barton recently maintaining that Jefferson was a bona fide evangelical. In short, two developments (among other factors) help explain the evangelical change of heart regarding Founders like Jefferson and Paine. First, evangelicals came to embrace uncritically the minimalist, laissez-faire model of the state championed by many Founders. Second, theological commitments became less important to conservative Protestants as pragmatic concerns about securing and protecting their political influence prevailed.

Uncritical nationalism and partisanship have long been temptations for Christians of every sort. Still, reflecting on their past critical engagement with the Founders can bring greater clarity to how evangelicals envisage their role in the public square today and their distinctive contribution to the larger American experiment.

Read it all.

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

(EF) IDOP 2019: “Persecuted but not abandoned”

This year, the IDOP is on 3th and 10th November, with the theme ‘Persecuted but not abandoned’, inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:9.

Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the WEA Religious Liberty Commission, invites Christians and local churches to “pray that, in spite of the pressure and persecution, our suffering brothers and sisters — where ever they may be in the world — would stand firm in their faith, hold fast to the promises of God, and live victoriously in Christ”.

“Pray that they would relentlessly follow Christ, remembering that they are…’persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed'”, he added.

Read it all.

Posted in Other Churches, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Russell Moore on an important new law that prevents discrimination against Catholics and evangelical Protestants in adoption services

It’s no secret what happens when faith-based providers get pushed out. A year after Boston stopped working with them, the percentage of youth in foster care who left the Massachusetts system because they aged out rose more than 50%. With fewer available homes to place children in, aging out is one of the worst outcomes as it increases a child’s likelihood of homelessness and unemployment. The rate still has not returned to pre-2006 levels. In 2011 Illinois passed a law discontinuing its partnerships with faith-based agencies—then lost more than 1,500 foster homes between 2012 and 2017. All this when the world desperately needs more providers.

And it made this week’s news even more encouraging. On Thursday, the White House announced a new rule that will help faith-based organizations remain a vital part of the child-welfare system. The Obama-era provisions redefined federal nondiscrimination policies in a way that excluded faith-based groups. The new rule brings regulations at the Department of Health and Human Services back in line with all other federal nondiscrimination law and Supreme Court precedent.

This is not a narrowing rule that excludes gay people and others from serving children. Instead, the regulation merely ensures that no one is kept from serving, while ending an attempt to stop religious organizations from doing so consistent with their convictions. It’s a welcome statement that the child-welfare system is about the welfare of children—not proxy culture wars.

Communities of faith have a lot to offer to children in foster care. Barna research shows that practicing Christians may be more than twice as likely to adopt compared with the general population—with Catholics three times as likely and evangelicals five times as likely.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

John Stott on Jesus being glorified IN his saints on the last great day, from 2 Thessalonians 2:10

That is to say, not only will the Lord Jesus be ‘revealed’ objectively in his own splendour (7), so that we see it, but his splendour will be revealed in us, his redeemed people, so that we will be transformed by it and will become vehicles by which it is displayed. The exact purport of this depends on how we understand the repeated preposition *en*, which NIV translates first *in his holy people* and secondly *among all* believers. *En* could also be translated ‘by’ or ‘through’. So how will the coming Lord Jesus be glorified in relation to his people? Not ‘among’ them, as if they will be the theatre or stadium in which he appears; nor ‘by’ them, as if they will be the spectators, the audience who watch and worship; nor ‘through’ or ‘by means of’ them, as if they will be mirrors which reflect his image and glory; but rather ‘in’ them, as if they will be a filament, which itself glows with light and heat when electric current passes through it.

The distinction between these models is important. A theatre is not changed by the play which is performed in it. An audience is not necessarily moved by the drama enacted before it. A mirror is certainly not affected by images it reflects. But a filament is changed. For when the current is switched on, it becomes incandescent. So when Jesus is revealed in his glory, he will be glorified in his people. We will not only see, but share, his glory. We will be more than a filament which glows temporarily, only to become dark and cold again when the current is switched off. We will be radically and permanently changed being transformed into his likeness. And in our transformation his glory will be seen in us, for we will glow for ever with the glory of Christ, as indeed he glowed with the glory of the Father (E.g. Jn.14:13).

Take the Transfiguration as an illustration. On that occasion Jesus was glorified in his physical body. His face shone like the sun, while his skin and clothing glistened and became as white as light. In other words, his body became a vehicle for his glory. So will it be with his spiritual body, the church. The body of Christ will be transfigured by the glory of Christ, not temporarily as at the Transfiguration, but eternally.

–John R W Stott, The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994 Academic edition of the 1991 original), pp. 149-150, quoted in part by yours truly in the morning sermon for All Saints Day

Posted in Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Katharine Hayhoe–I’m a Climate Scientist Who Believes in God. Hear Me Out.

Connecting our identity to action is key, and that’s exactly why I don’t typically begin with science when starting conversations about climate change with those who disagree. Rather, I begin by talking about what we share most. For some, this could be the well-being of our community; for others, our children; and for fellow Christians, it’s often our faith.

By beginning with what we share and then connecting the dots between that value and a changing climate, it becomes clear how caring about this planet and every living thing on it is not somehow antithetical to who we are as Christians, but rather central to it. Being concerned about climate change is a genuine expression of our faith, bringing our attitudes and actions more closely into line with who we already are and what we most want to be.

And that’s why I’m more convinced now than ever that the two most central parts of my identity — that of climate scientist and evangelical Christian — aren’t incompatible. They are what’s made me who I am.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Theology

Orthodox, Anglican churches hold international theological dialogue

The International Commission for Anglican Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in Canterbury, England from 10-17 October to continue consideration of ecology and end-of-life issues.

In a communique, the group stated that its work was undergirded by daily prayer and worship. “Visits were made to holy and historic sites, including a tour of St Augustine’s Abbey and the ancient church of St Martin, and to the Cathedral archives and library, and the Eastbridge Hospital,” reads the communique. “One of the highlights of the Commission’s meeting was a meditative candlelit walk of prayer led by the Dean around the Cathedral, including the site of the martyrdom of St Thomas Becket.”

The Commission completed its work on issues surrounding the environment and ecology according to principles established in its agreed statement, “In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology” (Buffalo 2015). “The text of a statement, entitled ‘Stewards of Creation A Hope-Filled Ecology,’ was finalized and will be prepared for publication as part of a projected series,” states the communique. “Further consideration was then given to the proposed statement on the end of human life, now provisionally entitled ‘Good Dying: the Christian Approach to Life and Death.’ ”

Read it all and you can find the Communiqué there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church

(Belfast Telegraph) Largest Northern Ireland churches insist same-sex weddings won’t be held in places of worship

None of the largest Churches in Northern Ireland have said they are prepared to carry out same-sex marriages.

The Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Church in Ireland all stated that they will only celebrate marriages between a man and a woman.

The Catholic Church expressed its concerns at the “redefinition” of marriage, but did not comment directly on whether it would hold same-sex wedding ceremonies on its properties.

The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster did not reply when approached for comment, although it has previously expressed its opposition to same-sex marriage.

However, All Souls Church, a non-subscribing Presbyterian Church based in south Belfast, confirmed it will provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to have their marriage solemnised.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Ireland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Vatican News) Abrahamic religions: no to euthanasia, assisted suicide, yes to palliative care

“We oppose any form of euthanasia – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life – as well as physician-assisted suicide – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide – because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.”

Representatives of the Abrahamic religions made the statement in a position paper that they signed and released in the Vatican on Monday regarding end-of-life issues, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

The term, Abrahamic monotheistic religions, derives from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham who is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

They categorically condemned any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CT’s The Exchange) Will the Largest Diaspora Become a Global Missionary Force?

The technology skills, English language (India boasts the largest English-speaking populace in the world), work ethics, multicultural sensibilities, and motivation to succeed and accumulate wealth will continue to scatter many more millions in the coming years.

Migration is fundamentally a disruptive phenomenon. The globalized Indians who are upwardly mobile are quick to break out of the bondage of geography. They seek liberation by migrating to nearby cities to live in relative anonymity, free from obligations bound up in a place, and defying religious restrictions.

They choose to pursue education and jobs that do not curtail their freedom or have them live coerced by the age-old meaningless traditions. In the process of unshackling from the past, migration exposes them to new ideas and they tend to compare themselves against other worldviews—and many come closer to the gospel claims of Jesus Christ.

As they pitch their tents in the far corners of the globe, many uprooted people from India are becoming Christians at considerable numbers. They find greater freedom in Christianity that is more suitable to their contemporary migratory and mobile world. They are drawn to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and find soul-cleansing for their polluted life and voyages.

Read it all.

Posted in India, Missions, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(RNS) National Association of Evangelicals names new president, diverse leadership

Scholar and minister Walter Kim, an expert on the theology of race, has been chosen as the next president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Kim is a pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has served on the board of the group, an umbrella organization of 40 evangelical Christian denominations, since 2013.

“As a proven pastor, scholar and thought leader, Walter brings an incredible combination of skills to lead the National Association of Evangelicals into the next decade,” said Roy Taylor, chair of NAE’s board of directors, in a Thursday (Oct. 17) announcement of Kim’s election.

“His ability to think critically and engage charitably has garnered respect and enthusiasm among our leaders as we consider the future of the NAE and evangelicalism in America and throughout the world.”

Read it all.

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

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Anglican evangelicals in focus

On their Census form clergy were invited to tick different boxes. Many Anglican Evangelicals, 49 per cent, ticked both “Broad” and “Evangelical” in 1990, but such had dropped to 29 per cent by 2010 and are likely to be only 12 per cent by 2030 if present trends continue. Also in 1990, a third of all Anglican Evangelicals, 35 per cent, ticked “Charismatic” as well as “Evangelical.” Anglican Charismatic Evangelicals have remained about the same proportion since (39 per cent in 2010 and 31 per cent probably in 2030), perhaps partly because the meaning of “charismatic” has changed, some formerly Charismatic churches now simply calling themselves Evangelical.

The third group of Evangelicals, outside the Broad and Charismatic, are called “Mainstream” Evangelical in the early reports, simply to save confusion with the other two groups (ministers simply ticking the one word “Evangelical” on the Census form). The word was used before the Mainstream Anglican group came into being, although as it happens probably many of the churches in the two groups would be the same. Many would now prefer the word “Conservative” to “Mainstream”, which may or may not fit theological definitions!

It is, however, this group which is growing among the Anglicans. The Mainstream Evangelical Anglicans were only16 per cent of all Evangelical Anglicans in 1990, but had doubled in proportion to 33 per cent by 2010, and they could be almost three-fifths, 58 per cent, of the total by 2030. It is the Mainstream Evangelicals which are also growing in most of the other denominations, especially the Baptists, Independent ch urches and the Pentecostals.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(First Things) Carl Trueman–Humble John Henry Newman

Dan Hitchens recently described Newman as “a literary and theological genius.” That he certainly was. For years, I have told students who want to improve their prose that they need to read three great English writers: William Hazlitt, George Orwell, and Cardinal Newman. No less a connoisseur of literary elegance than James Joyce, speaking through Stephen Dedalus, declared Newman to be the greatest of all English prose stylists.

But for all of the dazzling brilliance of the sermons and the Apologia, his writings do vary dramatically in quality. His novels are mediocre, replete with cardboard characters and dreary, didactic speechifying. Callista has some curiosity value as a Christian novel set in the third century, but only Loss and Gain has remained consistently in print; and that, I suspect, is not because of its literary merit but because of its trite apologetic for Rome. As for Newman’s theology, the Development and the Grammar certainly represent serious and influential contributions to religious thought. Yet Tract XC remains one of the most self-serving and embarrassing pieces of historical and theological tosh ever penned by an otherwise intelligent person. Not even the author found his arguments cogent or persuasive—why should anyone else do so?

Yet Protestants, as I have written elsewhere, should read Newman and take him seriously, particularly his thoughts on doctrinal development and on Christianity as a dogmatic faith. But there are other reasons to study his work. While it may seem paradoxical to say this, his very lack of originality is also one of his great contributions to the Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(PD) Things Worth Dying For: The Nature of a Life Worth Living

Family, friends, honor, and integrity: These are natural loves. Throughout history, men and women have been willing to die for these loves. As Christians, though, we claim to be animated—first and foremost—by a supernatural love: love for God as our Creator and Jesus Christ as his Son. St. Polycarp, for all his caution and prudence, eventually did choose martyrdom rather than repudiate his Christian faith.

The issue at hand is this: Are we really willing to do the same; and if so, how must we live in a way that proves it? These aren’t theoretical questions. They’re brutally real. Right now Christians in many countries around the world are facing the choice of Jesus Christ or death. Last year the German novelist Martin Mosebach published an account of the 21 migrant workers in Libya who were kidnapped by Muslim extremists and executed for their faith. Twenty were Coptic Christians from Egypt. One was another African who refused to separate himself from his brothers in the faith.

The murder of those 21 Christians is captured on video. It’s hard to watch—not just because the act is barbaric, but also because, in our hearts, we fear that, faced with the same choice, we might betray our faith in order to save our lives. Put frankly, the martyrs, both ancient and modern, frighten us as much as they inspire us. And maybe this reaction makes perfect sense. Maybe it’s a version of the biblical principle that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of martyrdom is the beginning of an honest appraisal of our spiritual mediocrity.

So I think we should consider this fear for a moment, rather than repressing it, as we so often do.

The Christian men beheaded on the Libyan beach are not really so remote from us. The worry we naturally feel, that we might fail a similar test, is a concrete and urgent version of the anxiety we rightly feel when we think about coming before the judgment of God. If we’re honest about ourselves, we know that we’re likely to fail that test too. After all, we’re barely able to live up to the basic demands of the Ten Commandments. Many of us have trouble following even the minimal norms of a Catholic life: regular confession and Mass attendance, kindness to others, and a few minutes of daily prayer. If those very simple things are struggles, how can we possibly have the spiritual strength to face martyrdom? Or the judgment of a just God?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(America) One man, two churches: John Henry Newman’s legacy lives on for both Catholics and Anglicans

What is the significance of the Anglican Communion including John Henry Newman on its liturgical calendar?

John Henry Newman has been commemorated in the liturgical calendar of the Church of England for a number of years. There is no central sanctorale for the entire Anglican Communion, but he is also commemorated in the calendars of other provinces, among them the U.S., Canada and Australia. The Churches of the Anglican Communion do not have a tradition of canonization as it is understood in the Catholic Church, but they do have liturgical calendars that mark and honor the lives and legacy of holy men and women, including many from the period after the Reformation.

As someone who was an important figure in the development of the life of the Church of England in the 19th century, as well as a figure of prayer, holiness and dedication to Christ, Newman is an example of godly life. As is most common with commemorations of holy men and women the date of his commemoration in the Church of England calendar is Aug. 11, the date of his death.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(WSJ) John Garvey: John Henry Newman–A New Saint for the Age of Loneliness

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job, and the results don’t surprise me. I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other. I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby. Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames. The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone; we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes, noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship. Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people, but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship. The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic, someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality. Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial, thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble. Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful. Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness. He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism, at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence, some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(BBC) Church of Scotland considers selling half Aberdeen’s churches

Almost half of Aberdeen’s churches are being considered for sale as part of a “once in a generation” review.

The 10-year plan recommends 15 buildings for disposal, with 15 being retained and the future of a further three under consideration.

The Church of Scotland report said it aimed “to reshape the church estate”.

Rev Scott Rennie, planning convener for the Presbytery, said there were “many more” church buildings than needed and that “difficult choices” lay ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Carey

Merciful God, who didst call William Carey to missionary work in India and didst endue him with a zeal for thy Word that led him to translate Scripture into many local languages and dialects: Give us a heart for the spreading of thy Gospel and a thirst for justice among all the peoples of the world; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who sheds thy light and peace throughout humanity, and who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Baptists, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

Andrew Towner–5 summary Points from Renew 2019

4. Gospel ‘positives’ must drive and motivate gospel ‘negatives’ so that love for truth drives concern with falsehood, and the glory of Jesus as sufficient Saviour motivates engagement with the multi-faith movement and so on.

  • we will all be actively pursuing positive gospel partnership(s) as well as visible differentiation, and especially through the ReNew network locally, regionally and nationally.

5. Unavoidable avoidance / visible differentiation from false teaching and teachers is a non-negotiable for an evangelical. This is not a call to a communal witch-hunt, but false-teaching and error must be contended with and the faithful must distance ourselves from such things.

  • united across ReNew with Jesus as our glorious focus
    • in our different context
    • with our consciences to be both obeyed and taught by the Bible
    • and pursuing the gospel positives joyfully
    • we will be prayerfully working out visible differentiation in various different ways
    • Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals

(CEN) A remarkable ministry–Chris Sugden reviews ‘Michael Green Remembered’

Michael Green was decisive. He made decisions, sometimes impulsive, often intuitive, occasionally spur of the moment. And he encouraged thousands of people, many in their late teens and early 20s, to make the most important decision of their lives, to live for, with, and in the power of Jesus.

It is quite natural, that within nine months of his death in January 2019 at the age of 88, 35 people who had known him at various stages of life should, encouraged by his family and editor Julia Cameron, contribute to a book of remembrances that was formally launched at his memorial service in Coventry Cathedral, where he was a canon theologian, on 7 September.

Some will read this book to discover more about a valued friend and colleague in Christian ministry, and others because his combination of sharp apologetics and winsome evangelism won them to Christian discipleship and they want to find out about other phases of his life.It is not a book to be read end to end, but from which to pick out gems here and there.

And they abound….

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, History, Terrorism

A Prayer for the Feast Day of ‘the beautiful-sounding nightengale of the church’ Kassiani

O God the Father of boundless mercy, whose handmaiden Kassiani brought forth poetry and song: Inspire in thy church a new song, that following her most excellent example, we may boldly proclaim the truth of thy Word, even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Deliverer, who with the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with you forever and ever. Amen (slightly ed.).

Posted in Church History, Orthodox Church, Spirituality/Prayer