Category : Other Churches

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 America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology

A new Book from Tim Keller to be on the Lookout For

Posted in Books, Evangelicals, Theology

Tuesday Inspiration–John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance

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 (cited by yours truly in the Sunday sermon)

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Evangelicals, Race/Race Relations

(AC) J.I. Packer: A Remembrance

Already in his 70s at the time, he preferred not to travel on a Sunday, but to travel earlier and serve a local church on Sunday, preaching to and teaching the faithful gathered in that place. He would fly in on a Friday, spend the weekend relaxing and recreating with us, preach and teach on Sunday, and then head off to CT Monday morning. He was always the perfect houseguest.

The first visit was arranged by my friend and parishioner Mark Galli, then editor at Christianity Today. It was thrilling to have him as a guest and to introduce him to my parishioners. The epistle for that Sunday was from Philippians 4, and he urged us not to neglect the important Christian work of rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness. But it was his second visit, rather the arranging of that visit, that opened a particular window onto his character.

I was in my office at the church one afternoon when the phone rang. I answered and heard a soft, British voice say, “Hello Chip, this is Jim Packer. I hope you remember me…”

I hope you remember me? Are you kidding me? But there you are, Jim Packer was perhaps the least presumptuous person I have ever known. He never felt that the renown his work had earned him was his entitlement to any special recognition or treatment.

Here’s another thing about Jim Packer: that man could eat! I never remember him turning down seconds at a meal, or refusing dessert because he was full. Oddly, he didn’t drink water, didn’t like it at all, but ate his food as spicy as he could get it. Once, at the airport in Dallas, we shared a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Lots of folks, myself included, like a bit of hot sauce on a scrambled egg. I remember Jim drowning his eggs in Tabasco Sauce, creating what looked like a sort of Tex-Mex Egg Drop soup.

Another time, driving from Columbia, SC to Tallahassee, FL for a Prayer Book Committee meeting, we stopped at an old Boarding House restaurant in south Georgia for lunch. At those places, you don’t order, they just bring what they have prepared that day: a variety of vegetables and rolls, and a choice of three meats. Jim chose all three. And when the two dessert options were offered, he asked if he might be permitted to have both.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

(CT) Bruce Hindmarsh–J.I. Packer Was the Robin Hood of Evangelicalism

J. I. Packer was my teacher at Regent College when I was a young graduate student. Some years later, he became my colleague and next-door neighbor in the hallways at the college and a fellow church member at St. John’s Anglican Church in Vancouver. I will forever be grateful to have known him. He shaped my life and thought in many ways, and I am not alone in this experience.

In light of his recent passing, I have been thinking more about his wider legacy and especially his significant contribution to evangelicalism as a whole. In the present political culture, however, the word “evangelical” or “evangelicalism” is freighted with a good deal of baggage that’s worth shedding immediately.

We can do so by going back in time. The Old English word “gospel” never got a proper Old English adjective and had to steal a Greek one: “evangelical.” But the noun and the adjective belong together. And as the great Bible translator William Tyndale put it, “evangelical” is a word that “signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy.”

This vibrant relationship between word and life, message and experience, doctrine and devotion was absolutely central to the evangelical movements in Germany and English-speaking lands that emerged at the beginning of the modern period.

Evangelicals today claim some sort of genealogical or theological continuity with these movements. But wherever we see the preaching of Jesus Christ generate new life and set people in joyful motion, that is where we properly use the adjective “evangelical” in its most important and basic sense. It is why we cannot, I think, abandon the term. Again, the words “gospel” and “evangelical” ought always to be kept together. Indeed, Jim Packer played a significant role in evangelicalism over the past six decades precisely because he helped those who identify as social evangelicals to be theological and spiritual evangelicals as well.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education

JI Packer RIP

Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet — which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! — declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.)

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15 ESV

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. J.I. Packer, a treasured faculty member, author, churchman, and friend.

James Innell Packer died July 17th in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was ninety-three, and humorous, gracious, and prayerful even in his final days.

One of the most widely-respected systematic theologians of the twentieth century, Jim drew his inspiration primarily from Scripture, but was deeply influenced by the works of John Calvin and the English Puritans. Jim brought seventeenth-century Puritan devotion to life for his twentieth- and twenty-first-century students. While named as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals by Time Magazine in 2005 and author of one of the best-selling Christian books of all time, Knowing God, Jim Packer’s description of himself was as an “adult catechist.” “Theology, friends, is doxology” is a phrase students recall, and in many respects, the adage that shaped his lengthy career.

From his youth as the son of a railway clerk in Gloucester, England, Jim won a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was noted as a remarkable student with a brilliant intellect. Growing up in a nominal Anglican home, Jim became a Christian early in his time at Oxford, largely through the InterVarsity Fellowship Christian Union and St. Aldate’s Anglican Church.

Following his undergraduate degree, Jim taught Greek at Oak Hill Theological College in London. He quickly felt drawn to further study, and commenced his studies in theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was awarded an MA and DPhil, writing his dissertation on Puritan Richard Baxter’s doctrine of salvation under Geoffrey Nuttall. “It was the Puritans,” Jim noted, “that made me aware that all theology is also spirituality.”

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Church of England, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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