Category : Theology

Amy Watson Smith–Letting Go During This Advent Season

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Advent, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Sightings) Richard A. Rosengarten–The Achievement of David Tracy

Readers of theology know that much of its best work today can be categorized as “contextual,” meaning that it explicitly references a theme or location or correlative: examples (illustrative, by no means exhaustive) include “political theology,” or “Asian theology,” or “theology and/of disability.” The variety of this specificity of reference also indexes a shared felt pressure that has obdurate yet conflicting sources. On the one hand, it is clear that what has anchored theology in the past—its basis in a version of the Christian tradition of thought and practice—is no longer tenable. Theologians who do their work contextually have the intellectual humility to recognize this and seek appropriate ways to circumscribe their talk about God. On the other, a significant subset of scholars in other fields, whether associated with the study of religion (philosophers of religion such as Paul Griffiths or Jean-Luc Marion, ethicists such as Jeffrey Stout or Stanley Hauerwas, biblical scholars such as N.T. Wright) or in the humanities and social sciences (literary critics such as Harold Bloom, historians such as Mark Noll or George Marsden, sociologists such as Christian Smith) do not hesitate to offer comparatively general, supra-contextual theological claims.

David Tracy anticipated all of this, indeed has been working with both considerable care and ever-increasing precision to address it. Tracy’s first major statement, Blessed Rage for Order, established an extraordinary compass of reference for the theologian. Taken together its pages and its notes afforded a primer not only in the major theological debates of the moment, but in cognate conversations in philosophy, historiography, and literary criticism. Nothing in the world of meaning-making, Tracy there taught us, is foreign to the theologian. His second major work, The Analogical Imagination, worked from this resolve—impressive for both its capaciousness and its sympathy—toward the claim that a fully engaged theology must cultivate a mutually critical correlation. Tracy’s argument in this book was and remains in broad sympathy with the impulse of his contextualist successors: namely, that it is the case at once that theology can change the world, and that the world can change theology. To engage the world theologically is to make theology worldly. As Diana Ross and the Supremes sang, “it’s a game of give and take.”

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Posted in Theology

(Wordwise Hymns) Robert Cottrill on the hymn ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee’

…with more technical subjects, getting an overview can assist us in keeping the details straight. It can give us mental hooks to hang specific facts on, so we can recall them, and make use of them in an orderly and effective way.

There’s a sense in which many of the hymns of the church can do likewise, serving as summaries of biblical truth. There are Trinitarian hymns, for example, that teach us things about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or take a simple gospel song such as At Calvary, which gives a clear and compelling explanation of God’s plan of salvation, and how to receive it.

Ray Palmer gave us another simple song like that in 1830. It’s a prayer hymn, still appreciated for its clear message and a singable tune. Lowell Mason, who provided the tune, told Pastor Palmer:

“You may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”

He was right. The four stanzas teach us about four aspects of the Christian life, and they can be identified with four key words.

Salvation
Eternal salvation is found in Christ alone, called the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29). It is through faith in Him and His Calvary work that we are saved (Jn. 3:16).

CH-1) My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Saviour divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!….

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

([London] Times) Rowan Williams–Step back from election chaos: the world is crying out for stability and dignity

In our response to and involvement in the election campaign, as in our actual voting, we should be prepared to look at these global realities as much as our domestic troubles – simply because there is no middle or long term security for us that is not also a secure future for the entire global neighbourhood. And so we need to recognise that planning has to be long-term and patient: the assurances of decisive, transforming action overnight are fantasies – though they are fantasies very much in tune with our feverishly short-term culture and all those pressures that make politics more and more a matter of advertising and entertainment.

Grown-up planning and negotiating take time. We have good reason to be sceptical of reckless promises. Churchill famously promised his electorate ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ – confident that the public he was addressing were strong and adult enough to see that a comprehensive victory would take time and would cost a great deal.

Who are the politicians who take the electorate that seriously? Who genuinely think that there is in this country a capacity for shared heroism in pursuing victory over what seems a massive, sluggish but inexorable destructiveness at work in the world economy, and victory over the deeply ingrained habits that still drive our ludicrous levels of resource consumption in the developed world?

Well, they don’t seem in abundant supply. But the national community is surely still capable of vision.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

For His Feast Day–Clement of Alexandria: To the Newly Baptized

Cultivate quietness in word, quietness in deed, likewise in speech and gait; and avoid impetuous eagerness. For then the mind will remain steady, and will not be agitated by your eagerness and so become weak and of narrow discernment and see darkly; nor will it be worsted by gluttony, worsted by boiling rage, worsted by the other passions, lying a ready prey to them. For the mind, seated on high on a quiet thrown looking intently towards God, must control the passions. By no means be swept away by temper in bursts of anger, nor be sluggish in speaking, nor all nervousness in movement; so that your quitness may be adorned by good proportion and your bearing may appear something divine and sacred. Guard also against the signs of arrogance, a haughty bearing, a lofty head, a dainty and high-treading footstep.

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Posted in Baptism, Church History

From the Morning Bible Readings

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

–2 Peter 3:11-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Historic Anglican theological college, St John’s, Nottingham, is set to close in 2020

One of the leading theological colleges, St John’s, Nottingham, is to close. In a statement this week the College said that at a meeting of their Council on 11 November, future options were ‘prayerfully considered’ and it was agreed that the operation of the current configuration of St John’s is no longer financially viable.

The process of closure is to begin immediately, although several ‘significant’ aspects of their ministry will continue through partner institutions. Established as the London College of Divinity in 1863, it was during the term of Michael Green as Principal that it moved to Nottingham in 1970. The name was also legally changed to St John’s with the move.

From its move to Bramcote, Nottingham, the College developed and diversified its ministry under the successive leadership of Michael Green, Robin Nixon, Colin Buchanan, Anthony Thiselton, John Goldingay, Christina Baxter and David Hilborn as Principals.

With the closure imminent, the Midlands Institute for Children Youth and Mission announced recently that it will move to Leicester and merge with iCYM to continue its work. The specialist Library resources (which amounts to around 10,000 books) will also be gifted to iCYM in Leicester.

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

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Debating the decline of wedlock, again, in the shadow of the baby bust

Over the last 10 years, however — and again, I acknowledge that this is impressionistic — I think we have reached a third phase in liberal attitudes toward marriage, a new outworking of cultural individualism that may eventually render the nuanced liberalism my colleague describes obsolete.

This new phase is incomplete and contested, and it includes elements — in #MeToo feminism, especially — whose ultimate valence could theoretically be congenial to cultural conservatives. But in general the emerging progressivism seems hostile not only to anything tainted by conservative religion or gender essentialism but to any idea of sexual or reproductive normativity, period, outside a bureaucratically supervised definition of “consent.” And it’s therefore disinclined to regard lifelong monogamy as anything more than one choice among many, one script to play with or abandon, one way of being whose decline should not necessarily be mourned, and whose still-outsize cultural power probably requires further deconstruction to be anything more than a patriarchal holdover, a prison and a trap.

The combination of forces that have produced this ideological shift is somewhat murky — it follows a general turn leftward on social issues after the early 2000s, a further weakening of traditional religion, the cultural ripples from Obergefell v. Hodges, the increasing political polarization of the sexes and, of course, the so-called Great Awokening.

But it does not feel like a coincidence that the new phase tracks with the recent decline in childbearing. If the new liberal hostility to marriage-as-normative-institution is not one of the ideological causes of our latest post-familial ratchet, it is at least a post facto ideological excuse, in which the frequent prestige-media pitches for polyamory or open marriages or escaping gender norms entirely are there to reassure people who might otherwise desire a little more normativity (and a few more children) in their lives, that it’s all cool because they’re in the vanguard of a revolution.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Philosophy, Politics in General, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

–2 Peter 3:8-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) The First Christian: Mary’s preeminent example as a Christ follower neither began or ended at Christmas.

Once upon a time, the Virgin Mary pervaded the life and thought of the Western world. Her presence was so expansive, in fact, that even European fairy tales acknowledged her status. Take Cinderella. An abusive stepmother was still the cause of Cinderella’s impoverished conditions, but in one of the earliest tellings of the tale, she knew the one to call upon was the Virgin Mary. In no time at all, Cinderella’s hunger was resolved, and a prince was proposing. By replacing the Virgin Mary with a Fairy Godmother, the story of Cinderella was successfully secularized for today without disenchanting it. But it’s not just fairy tales that have stripped Mary from a well-loved story. She’s missing from The Story, too.

It’s not that Protestants have entirely forgotten Mary. At this time of year, the mother of Jesus gets some attention. But Mary is not a Christmas figure to be stored away like the manger and the Star of Bethlehem until next year. She played an extraordinary role throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the day of Pentecost. By overlooking the roles she played throughout Jesus’ ministry, we may think that we are protecting Protestantism from falling into old “Catholic” habits of elevating her beyond what Scripture declares about her. But there’s nothing “Protestant” about neglecting what Scripture does say about her—and about the other women named by the New Testament writers.

Before Easter this year, I (Jennifer) stepped out of my comfort zone and preached a sermon at a church on the women named in Luke 8, who traveled with Jesus and financially supported his ministry. In one sense, it was an obvious choice for a sermon. I wanted the congregation to know who the women of Luke 8 were before they met them again at the tomb on Easter. After all, every single Gospel account mentions that women were the first witnesses to the risen Christ. And there is no better evidence of the truth of the Christian claim that Christ truly, bodily resurrected than the fact that the Gospel writers absurdly and consistently base it on the testimony of women during a time when a woman’s testimony was legally worthless. Still, I was uncertain about how a sermon with this kind of focus would be received. Afterward, I had just a swarm of people saying to me that they had never even heard of these women before. They told me that while they had heard sermons focusing on a number of biblical characters other than Jesus, they had never heard a single Sunday morning sermon focused on a woman. And this was in a congregation that’s part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination that takes pride in its inclusion of women into all areas of ministry! As I officiated communion afterward, a line of women softly whispered to me “thank you,” some with tears in their eyes. Women have a hunger to know that women were faithful and active participants in Jesus’ ministry. They were not just recipients of his miracles. Not just people shown love and respect, but people transformed by Jesus for new life as participants and witnesses in his ministry.

Numerous women are named in Scripture as supporters and participants in Jesus’ ministry. Many more are named as co-workers with Paul. These women are not entirely forgotten by Protestant churches today, but when we tell the stories of Priscilla, Phoebe, Susanna, Chloe, Junia, or the many other women of Scripture, we almost always reserve that focus for the women’s retreat. The whole testimony of Scripture is for the whole church—both men and women. What would it mean for men in the pews to think about the examples of women not as particular “women’s stories” but as universal Christian exemplars? Women in our churches have long had to learn special listening and application skills as they considered the many examples of men following Jesus. It is the normative filter for women in the pew. What if the tables were turned to better reflect the practice of the Bible? What if the New Testament writers didn’t just name female disciples to show women that they too can participate in Jesus’ work? What if the New Testament writers also intended men to learn from women how to follow Jesus? What if Mary, the Mother of God, is for men too?

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Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Sister Teresa White on Advent–The love lies in the waiting

If we are not too tense or worried, waiting can give us the opportunity to see and hear and feel things that we are often too preoccupied to notice. As our vision sharpens, our eyes may be opened to the plight of someone in need; as our hearing is refined, we may hear the unspoken cry of a lonely soul. As we wait, often caught up in painful, incomprehensible, and messy situations, we may perceive something of the beauty given us — the love, the music, the laughter of life. The flickering flame of hope can light up unforeseen pathways, even in what seems to be a lifeless landscape; through hope, we may be able to discern a distant shape or a glow in the surrounding darkness. Psalm 30 reminds us that “joy comes in the morning”, as fresh hope brings welcome relief after a night of tears and anguish.

Advent is a time of waiting and promise, a time of longing and anticipation. But the quality of this waiting is not edgy and anxious; it is hope-filled, and quietly joyful. Waiting — being prepared to wait — indicates some measure of love, or caring, or interest; after all, we don’t usually spend much of our time waiting for something or someone of little or no concern to us.

A short passage from the Letter of St James, which regularly appears in the lectionary at this time of year, encourages us to be patient, and patience is born of hope. “Be patient”, James writes, “until the Lord’s coming.” And he engagingly adds, “Do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon.”

We know that Love is coming, and trust that Love will truly come; so we wait in joyful hope — a hope that is renewed, when, year after year, “we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing lovely songs of hope and promise” (Karl Rahner, The Eternal Year).

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Posted in Advent, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee.

–Psalm 5:7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Archbp Justin Welby–Why Advent shows us there is purpose to waiting

The prophet Isaiah, writing some half a millennium before Christ, spoke of judgement for society’s injustices and sins. When it all happened and much of the nation was enslaved, he wrote of the hope of return, of God’s transforming power. It is some of the most beautiful and passionate poetry of the Bible – and the return happened. Isaiah’s readings accompany the Church through Advent. He paints a vivid picture of a time when all nations will be at peace, when there will be no more tears and pain, no weapons or division and justice will prevail. It can all seem removed and unreal. Something to dream of, but not a reality.

On the contrary, Isaiah the prophet was utterly realistic. He lived in a country that preferred the illusion of all being well to the reality of social sin. Reality was his stock in trade. It was in reality that he held the vision for what could be if the people co-operated with God, if a value-based nation, albeit occupied and dominated by others, could seek the common good, as we might call it. We too can see how our hope for the future may start to change the present. Hope, in the sense of purposeful expectation, motivates action. Hope inspires us to follow God where God already is: at work in the world.

That is why Christian waiting and looking forward is never passive. It empowers hope to take courage and aspire to change the world. It makes space for God to work in our lives, being open to the challenge of the Spirit.

That is the hope-filled invitation that Jesus Christ offers to each of us – and that is why we wait both by praying, and by living out this joyful call to walk with God who brings light out of darkness, and purpose out of waiting.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Advent, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology

(Atlantic) The Crisis of American Christianity, Viewed From Great Britain The theologian N. T. Wright is unfazed by the faith’s politicization in the U.S.

Green: Do you feel hopeful about the future of Christianity?

Wright: Yeah, of course I feel hopeful. Lesslie Newbigin—does that name mean anything to you? He was a Presbyterian who went out to India as a missionary.

Somebody once asked him whether he was an optimist or a pessimist, and he said, “I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist; Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.” In other words, something has happened, as a result of which the world is a different place. If we put our faith only in a Western Enlightenment version of the spread of Christianity, how foolish would we be? Christianity is thriving in Africa and Asia—in China, for goodness’ sake. It’s amazing, actually.

Green: Looking to America and Britain to be the future of Christianity—you think that’s misguided?

Wright: Who knows? You know, God is the God of surprises. New things can happen; new things should happen. But there are more Anglicans in church in Nigeria on a Sunday than in the whole of Britain and America put together.

Green: If you were talking to a young person who feels anguish about what Christianity has come to mean in America, what would you say to him or her?

Wright: For goodness’ sake, read the four Gospels. That’s what they’re there for. And recognize that in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses.” You don’t just say that once, at the beginning of your Christian life. You jolly well say it every day, because you will need to. The trouble is that the Church is far too good at hoping that everyone else will be asking for forgiveness for their trespasses. Self-critique is part of the Gospel. And where the Church forgets that—oh boy, things go badly wrong.

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

–2 Peter 1:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(PD) Nathaniel Blake–Outrage Mobs Might Be More Forgiving If They Believed in Hell

Belief in Hell might seem like the opposite of forgiveness. However, divine forgiveness is contingent on the possibility of divine punishment. Temporally, belief in divine retribution may also encourage human forgiveness, as believers recollect that they, too, need mercy. At the very least, they may overlook some wrongs on the basis that God will sort them out.

The prospect of Hell may allow for a moving-on even in cases of radical evil of the sort that Arendt deems unforgivable. Civil peace often demands leniency for horrific crimes. It is sometimes necessary that witnesses and informants be granted immunity for their crimes, that traitors and terrorists be offered amnesty, or that treaties be made with tyrants. In such cases, where reasons of state preclude justice in this life, belief that there will be an accounting after death may help restore and preserve peace, even without forgiveness. Belief in divine justice liberates humanity from the responsibility of administering perfect justice—an impossible effort that, because of human finitude and sin, itself produces injustice.

Recognizing the social utility of religious beliefs is not enough to preserve them. Still, such reflection aids in diagnosing the ills of a culture that abandons them. Declining belief in divine judgment may encourage some to indulge themselves, comforted by the belief that there will be no punishment. However, others will attempt to take the place of the absent divine judge.

Those who believe that the only justice to be had is that which they administer in this life will be neither proportionate nor merciful. And those who do not believe in Hell may attempt to create it themselves.

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Posted in Eschatology, Philosophy, Politics in General

(1st Things) Hans Boersma–Advent Arrow

The Fathers see evidence in Isaiah 49:2: “The Lord … made me like a chosen arrow, and in his quiver he sheltered me.” Theodoret directly identifies Christ as God’s arrow when he comments on the meaning of the Bride’s profession of love, “I have been wounded by love” (Song 2:5). He too appeals to Isaiah 49: “For [Christ] is after all the chosen arrow (Isa. 49:2) that wounds the souls it strikes.”

The patristic logic is impeccable: If Christ is the Groom who wounds our heart, then with impatient desire we search the Scriptures for how he does this. That’s exactly what the Fathers do by turning to biblical texts such as Psalm 45:5 and Isaiah 49:2. The broader canonical witness tells us how it is that the Groom wounds his Bride’s heart. Archery is his means—preachers’ words give the Logos entry in the human heart.

Patristic scholars talk about “intertextuality” or “verbal association” to explain what’s happening here. I won’t object. But really, we should call this kind of exegesis advent reading. It is a form of interpretation that longs for Christ to come and that looks beyond the empirical. Only an interpretation animated by desire can spot the arrow.

Scripture demands an Advent posture. The most important things are not the ones we see. The unseen word arrow is arguably the key to grasping what the Bride means when she exclaims, “I am wounded with love.” That, at least, is the consensus patrum.

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Posted in Advent, Church History, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

–1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Suddenly, the Chinese Threat to Australia Seems Very Real

A Chinese defector to Australia who detailed political interference by Beijing. A businessman found dead after telling the authorities about a Chinese plot to install him in Parliament. Suspicious men following critics of Beijing in major Australian cities.

For a country that just wants calm commerce with China — the propellant behind 28 years of steady growth — the revelations of the past week have delivered a jolt.

Fears of Chinese interference once seemed to hover indistinctly over Australia. Now, Beijing’s political ambitions, and the espionage operations that further them, suddenly feel local, concrete and ever-present.

“It’s become the inescapable issue,” said Hugh White, a former intelligence official who teaches strategic studies at the Australian National University. “We’ve underestimated how quickly China’s power has grown along with its ambition to use that power.”

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Posted in Australia / NZ, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

–1 Peter 4:7-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Two Church of England Bishops Respond to an open letter on abortion

Further to the letter ‘Abortion Pledges,’ (Times – 28/11/19) we are grateful to the signatories for raising concerns in connection with this important and emotive subject.

The Church of England’s stated position combines principled opposition with a recognition that there can be strictly limited conditions under which abortion may be morally preferable to any available alternative. This is based on our view that the foetus is a human life with the potential to develop relationships, think, pray, choose and love. Those facing unwanted pregnancies realise the gravity of the decision they face: all abortions are tragedies, since they entail judging one individual’s welfare against that of another (even if one is, as yet, unborn). Every possible support, especially by church members, needs to be given to those who are pregnant in difficult circumstances and care, support and compassion must be shown to all, whether or not they continue with their pregnancy.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Theology

The Writers Almanac on CS Lewis, born on this day in 1898

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Posted in Apologetics, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

C. H. Spurgeon on the “marvelous medicinal power in joy”

There is a marvelous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. We noticed, in our reading, that there had been a little tiff between two sisters in the church at Philippi;—I am glad that we do not know what the quarrel was about; I am usually thankful for ignorance on such subjects;—but, as a cure for disagreements, the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” People who are very happy, especially those who are very happy in the Lord, are not apt either to give offence or to take offence. Their minds are so sweetly occupied with higher things, that they are not easily distracted by the little troubles which naturally arise among such imperfect creatures as we are. Joy in the Lord is the cure for all discord. Should it not be so? What is this joy but the concord of the soul, the accord of the heart, with the joy of heaven? Joy in the Lord, then, drives away the discords of earth.

Further, brethren, notice that the apostle, after he had said, “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” commanded the Philippians to be careful for nothing, thus implying that joy in the Lord is one of the best preparations for the trials of this life. The cure for care is joy in the Lord. No, my brother, you will not be able to keep on with your fretfulness; no, my sister, you will not be able to weary yourself any longer with your anxieties, if the Lord will but fill you with his joy. Then, being satisfied with your God, yea, more than satisfied, overflowing with delight in him, you will say to yourself, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” What is there on earth that is worth fretting for even for five minutes? If one could gain an imperial crown by a day of care, it would be too great an expense for a thing which would bring more care with it. Therefore, let us be thankful, let us be joyful in the Lord. I count it one of the wisest things that, by rejoicing in the Lord, we commence our heaven here below. It is possible so to do, it is profitable so to do, and we are commanded so to do.

Now I come to the text itself, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”

––C.H. Spurgeon (1834–1892)

Posted in Church History, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture readings

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

“The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner,”

and

“A stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall”;

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

–1 Peter 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the Chief Rabbi’s Statement

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Labour antisemitism: Corbyn not fit for high office, says Chief Rabbi Mirvis

Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism allegations makes him “unfit for high office”, the Chief Rabbi has said while warning that the “very soul of our nation is at stake” in next month’s general election.

In an unprecedented intervention into politics, which he describes as “amongst the most painful moments” of his career, Ephraim Mirvis says that “a new poison” has taken hold in Labour “sanctioned from the very top”.

In an article for The Times today, the Chief Rabbi says that the Labour leader’s claim to have dealt with all allegations of antisemitism is “a mendacious fiction” and the way that the party has handled the claims is “incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud”.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Church of England reviews its handling of sexual abuse case

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence