Category : Theology

(NBC) 4th grader gives moving classroom speech about his experience with autism

During a lesson on Autism Awareness Month, 11-year-old Rumari asked his teacher if he could speak about what it’s like to have autism. His powerful speech ended with a big group hug from his peers.

Watch it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Theology

([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary

The American, Canadian and Scottish churches in the Anglican communion have backed same-sex marriage. Most Anglican churches, including from countries such as Uganda, remain firmly opposed.

Every Anglican bishop has been invited and they can all invite their spouses, with the exception of married gay bishops. It has prompted criticism from MPs, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the American bishop who preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the University of Kent, the conference host.

Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) The Gospel of AI: Evangelicals Want Tech to Remain Good News

As artificial intelligence (AI) makes its way into social media and smart devices, markets and health care systems, military and public policy, evangelicals are raising big questions about its revolutionary potential.

“We recognize that AI will allow us to achieve unprecedented possibilities, while acknowledging the potential risks posed by AI if used without wisdom and care,” state the authors of the new Evangelical Statement of Principles on Artificial Intelligence, unveiled today in Washington, DC. “We desire to equip the church to proactively engage the field of AI, rather than responding to these issues after they have already affected our communities.”

The statement was initially endorsed by about 65 leading evangelical voices, including Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president J. D. Greear; pastors Matt Chandler and Ray Ortlund; professors Wayne Grudem, Michael Horton, and Richard Mouw; as well as leaders of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), which released the document. (CT’s editor in chief, Mark Galli, also signed the statement.)

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Wash Post) Kay Coles James–I wanted to help Google make AI more responsible. Instead I was treated with hostility.

But the Google employees didn’t just attempt to remove me; they greeted the news of my appointment to the council with name-calling and character assassination. They called me anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ and a bigot. That was an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation.

Last week, less than two weeks after the AI advisory council was announced, Google disbanded it. The company has given in to the mentality of a rage mob. How can Google now expect conservatives to defend it against anti-business policies from the left that might threaten its very existence?

I was deeply disappointed to see such a promising idea abandoned, but the episode was about much more than just one company’s response to intolerance from the self-appointed guardians of tolerance.

It was symptomatic of where America is heading. Whether in the streets or online, angry mobs that heckle and threaten are not trying to change hearts and win minds. They’re trying to impose their will through intimidation. In too many corners of American life, there is no longer room for disagreement and civil discourse. Instead, it’s agree or be destroyed.

In 1961, at age 12, I was one of two-dozen black children who integrated an all-white junior high school in Richmond. White parents jeered me outside the school, and inside, their kids stuck me with pins, shoved me in the halls and pushed me down the stairs. So when the group of Google employees resorted to calling names and making false accusations because they didn’t want a conservative voice advising the company, the hostility was reminiscent of what I felt back then — that same intolerance for someone who was different from them.

Uncivil discourse is an illness in America. We can do better — we must strive to show the world what a pluralistic society should be, a place where people of different faiths and viewpoints are willing to engage and willing to listen to others, especially when they bring different ideas to the table. From those conversations come a deeper understanding and better policies — and ultimately a better, more civil society for all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Palm Sunday Sermon for 2019–The two Mistakes of Judas

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.

–Psalm 51:6-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Tom Wright–On Palm Sunday, Jesus Rides into the Perfect Storm

If we try to follow Jesus in faith and hope and love on his journey to the cross, we will find that the hurricane of love which we tremblingly call God will sweep in from a fresh angle, fulfilling our dreams by first shattering them, bringing something new out of the dangerous combination of personal hopes and cultural pressures. We mustn’t be surprised if in this process there are moments when it feels as though we are being sucked down to the depths, five hundred miles from shore amid hundred-foot waves, weeping for the dream that has had to die, for the kingdom that isn’t coming the way we wanted. That is what it’s like when we are caught up in Jesus’s perfect storm.

But be sure, when that happens, when you say with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “We had hoped … but now it’s all gone wrong,” that you are on the verge of hearing the fresh word – the word that comes when the storm is stilled, and in the new great calm we see a way forward we had never imagined. “Foolish ones,” said Jesus, “and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and so enter into his glory?”

Who knows what might happen if each of us were to approach Holy Week and Good Friday praying humbly for the powerful fresh wind of God to blow into that combination of cultural pressure and personal aspiration, so that we each might share in the sufferings of the Messiah and come through into the new life he longs to give us.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Holy Week, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

–Jeremiah 31:31-34

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(MarketWatch) Former SEC lawyer sounds alarm on ‘the greatest retirement crisis’ in history

He pointed to a “woefully unprepared” U.S. population.

“In the decades to come, we will witness millions of elderly American’s, Baby Boomers and others, slipping into poverty.” he said in a podcast this week with the Peak Prosperity blog. “‘Too frail to work, too poor to retire’” will become the new normal for many elderly Americans.”

Siedle threw out some startling numbers to show just how much pensions are underfunded, a pervasive problem made worse by their inability to reach performance targets, which is typically set around 7%.

“Warren Buffett BRK.A, +1.41% himself has said that is an unrealistic return,” Siedle said in the interview. “Wall Street’s solution to every investor problem is, and will always be, pay us more fees.”

Investors then pay those higher fees for “ever riskier rolls of the dice,” in an effort to chase returns, which “has resulted, predictably, in worse performance.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pensions, Personal Finance, Personal Finance & Investing, Social Security

(David Ould) Anglican Bishop Of Newcastle Proposes “Newcastle Way” On Marriage Question

At Bishop Peter’s own invitation we have asked him the following question:

You write that “the Bishop together with the Synod and Diocesan Council is responsible for the good order and government of this Diocese” and “I have some confidence that together we might be able to find a ‘Newcastle Way’ which will incorporate living with strong difference in an open and Godly way”,

1. Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?

and

2. Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions it will bring?

Bishop Peter’s reply is as follows:

Q: Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?
A: The legal situation in the Australian Church around liturgy and order is not clear. The Archbishop and Diocese of Sydney have set a significant precedent for unilateral action by authorising liturgies additional to the Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia. Those liturgies not being authorised by the General Synod. They have also set significant precedent with the Archbishop unilaterally authorising Diaconal Administration of the Holy Communion. The latter not being authorised by the General Synod.
In this church, a resolution about doctrine by the General Synod is not determinative. Ultimately if doctrine is contested, the disagreement must be resolved by the Appellate Tribunal. That was the situation with the marriage of persons who have been previously married while their former spouse is still alive, the ordination of women and the order of the administration of the Holy Communion.
There were no proposals before the Newcastle Synod in 2018 of this kind. The Synod has shown a cautious but genuine desire to listen very attentively in the spirit of Lambeth 1:10.

Q: Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions (“strong difference”) it will bring?
A: In the Province of New South Wales the Bishop is not a member of the Synod meaning that a motion is an expression of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity as assembled at that time. The Bishop has no role in assenting to motions and motions do not bind the Bishop, unless moved in accordance with an Ordinance that has established such power.
In relation to legislation, the question significantly preempts any conversation or deliberation in which the Synod may engage. The Synod has heard my desire that the Diocese of Newcastle will be an expression of comprehensive Anglicanism. The next step for the Synod will include exploring how Christians who have theological differences live together. The work of the General Synod Doctrine Commission and the Diocesan Faith and Order Commission will be important parts of ensuring that the Synod and the Diocese continues to give prayerful, biblical and theological reflection to the life of the Diocese.
In relation to legislation, the role of the Diocesan Bishop is to listen to the Synod, the National Church and the Anglican Communion in exercising his or her mind around assent.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(AI) Anglican Church of South East Asia breaks with Brazil over same-sex marriage

From there:

Noting the decision of the General Synod of lgreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) on 2nd June 2018 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998; and

Recalling that as a consequence of the then Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) proceeding with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, in contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared in 2003 that it was in a state of impaired communion with ECUSA (now known as The Episcopal Church); and

Further consequent to the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church on 8th June 2017 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared on 31st January 2018 that it was in a state of impaired communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Now it is hereby resolved,

That the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declares that it considers itself to be in a state of impaired communion with the lgreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) with immediate effect.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Southeast Asia, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Dealbook) To Purge Some of Social Media’s Ugliness, an Unlikely Lesson From Wall Street

Although it won’t address all of Big Tech’s problems, a simple rule that bolsters the banking system could do a lot to clean up some of the uglier aspects of social media that Mr. Zuckerberg felt compelled to apologize for.

The concept is “know your customer” — or KYC, as it’s called on Wall Street — and it’s straightforward: Given concerns about privacy, security and fraud when it comes to money, no bank is allowed to take on a new customer without verifying its existence and vetting its background.

The idea of applying such a rule to social media has been floated before, but it has so far failed to take hold. Now may be the right time.

Consider this: Facebook has said it shut down over 1.5 billion fake accounts from April through September last year (yes, that’s a “B” in billion). That was up from the 1.3 billion such accounts it eliminated in the six previous months. To put those numbers in context, Facebook has a reported user base of 2.3 billion.

What if social media companies had to verify their users the same way banks do? You’d probably feel more confident that you were interacting with real people and were not just a target for malicious bots.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Law+ Religion UK) New campaign launched for recognition of same sex marriage in the Church of England

Equal, the Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England, seeks to ensure that the official policy of the Church properly respects and protects the conscience of all its members on these matters of deep human importance. It is not a membership organization; there are no membership fees, no complicated structure, no committee to join and no local groups to support. It states:

“The Church of England’s current official position is that only opposite-sex couples can marry in its churches. Same-gender couples cannot marry in church. They cannot even officially receive a blessing after a civil marriage. Christians who have married their same-gender partner are discriminated against in the ministry of the church, both lay and ordained”,

and lists its aims as belief that:

  • same-gender couples should be able to be married in Church of England parishes.
  • people in such marriages should have the same opportunities for lay and ordained ministry in the Church of England as anyone else.
  • the consciences of everyone should be protected – no member of the clergy should be forced to conduct a marriage they disagree with. No member of the clergy should be prevented from celebrating a marriage involving a same-gender couple.

It is seeking signatures to an Open Letter to the House of Bishops, and free resourcesare available to download and print. Those with IT, publicity, media or campaigning skills, or are willing to join a demonstration or to write letters are may contact the campaign.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

First national Director of Safeguarding appointed for the C of E

Melissa Caslake, Executive Director of Children’s Services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and City of Westminster, has been appointed as the Church of England’s first permanent Director of Safeguarding. She takes over from Sir Roger Singleton who took up an interim role at the beginning of the year.

Melissa has a strong professional background in adult and children’s services over a 20-year career, with particular experience of child protection and safeguarding, and a track record of leading good and outstanding children’s services in local authorities.

As executive director she has overseen the Bi-Borough response to non-current child sexual abuse and been the London lead Director of Children’s Services for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, working with Government departments to develop a stronger national response. Melissa has overseen the provision of support for children affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, also reporting to the Government’s Taskforce.

Prior to her current role she was Director of Family Services for the City of Westminster where she led the service to an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rating in 2016. She was formerly a divisional director in the London Borough of Harrow and Director of Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion in the London Borough of Merton.

Read it all.

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

(CNA) In a changed country, poor Americans miss the benefits of marriage most

Marriage has major benefits for children, adults, and society as a whole, said a marriage scholar this week, and the poor and less educated are suffering most from the widening class divide between those who get married and those who don’t.

“What we’re seeing today in America is that upper middle-class Americans are much more likely to get and stay married compared to less educated, working class Americans – that’s the marriage divide in brief,” Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, told CNA April 9.

This divide in family structure is not just a private matter.

“Kids who are born and raised in a stable married family are much more likely to do well in school, to flourish in the labor market later on in life, and themselves to forge strong stable families as adults,” Wilcox said. “Coming from a strong stable family gets kids off to the best start, typically.”

Wilcox spoke on the American marriage divide Tuesday evening at Colorado Christian University in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.

There were “minimal class divides” in American married life 50 years ago, but not today. While 56% of middle- and upper middle-class adults are now married, only 26% of poor adults and 39% of working-class adults are.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Poverty, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream, for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the Lord.

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfil to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart….

–Jeremiah 29:4-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Blaire French–Putting ‘Soul’ Back in the Hebrew Bible

Berkeley scholar Robert Alter, in his new translation of the Hebrew Bible, has made a decisive statement against soul. Nowhere in the text does he render nefesh as soul—because he believes it would import Christian beliefs into the Hebrew text. Mr. Alter’s Psalmist declares, “The Lord is my shepherd. . . . My life He brings back.”

In the attempt to de-Christianize the nefesh, however, Mr. Alter and others create a metaphysical gulf between the Hebrew Bible and traditional English translations. Nefesh has a range of meanings—many of which indicate that it is indeed intrinsic to corporeal existence. Animals and humans, at the moment of their creation, are called a “living nefesh” in the book of Genesis. In Numbers, a “dead nefesh” is a corpse. The word is also found in Sheol, the shadowy underworld populated by the deceased described in Psalms 49 and 88. This raises the specter of a nefesh unbound by flesh.

Then there is the prophet Elijah. When calling on God to bring a child back to life, he requests the return of the boy’s nefesh. It re-enters the child and he revives (1 Kings 17:21-22). However the verse is parsed, the nefesh exists apart from the body.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Language, Theology: Scripture

(CC Editorial) Imagination is at the heart of faith

For generations, people have lamented the decline of biblical literacy—the fact that many people don’t know basic stories like Jonah and the fish or Daniel in the lion’s den. The decline of biblical literacy is frequently associated with moral and social decline and the rise of indifference to religion. But in their various ways the writers in this issue of the magazine point to a different kind of crisis. The problem may not be that people lack information or arguments about religion but that we don’t deeply inhabit the religious stories we do know. We aren’t open to letting stories of faith and the movements of the spiritual life work on us. That’s a problem even for those of us who do have some knowledge of the Bible, who study it and preach from it.

Our culture—sometimes even the culture of churches—can be inimical to the work of the imagination. We are prone to emphasize knowledge, action, and argument. These articles remind us that the work of becoming faithful people happens in ways that can’t easily be measured. It happens through contemplation, prayer, wonder, ritual, imagination, play, shared meals, artful storytelling—activities that require slowing down and involve ways of knowing that our everyday world is apt to treat as expendable. It takes courage to spend time on such arts and with such disciplines. It can be difficult to trust that God is working through them.

Imagination is one of the most glorious aspects of being human….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Bronwyn Lea–Scripture Says, ‘Sisters, I’m Talking to All Y’all’

As a woman, I take joy in watching the growing recognition among scholars that adelphoican be better translated as “siblings” or “brothers and sisters.” Greek has a word for a brother or a sister, but when you use the plural—adelphoi—it’s a gender-neutral catch-all. The decision to use “brothers and sisters” as the optimally equivalent translation reflects a commitment to gender accuracy and is not a concession to gender inclusivity.

In their handling of adelphoi, the translators of the Christian Standard Bible “chose to avoid being unnecessarily specific in passages where the original context would obviously include men and women,” explains Trevin Wax. “If the original used a masculine generic word to refer to both male and female, the translators made that clear. This is why, often in Paul’s letters, adelphoi is translated as ‘brothers and sisters’ instead of just ‘brothers,’ because Paul obviously had the whole church in mind when using the generic masculine form in Greek.”

I’ve always known I was generally included in the broad sweep of humanity’s plural pronouns: I’m part of mankind even though I’m a woman, and brothers includes me as a sister, too. But something deep within me pays better attention when these verses specifically include me as a woman. I listen not as a passively engaged eavesdropper but rather as a fully committed part of the intended audience. “Sisters, I’m talking to all y’all,” it says. Scripture’s teaching and tending is for my ears, specifically.

In this age of individualism, men and women are doubly compelled to tune in to the gospel’s corporate call. We are addressed directly and with familiarity—the children of God gathered around the Father’s table. And when he speaks to me as a sister in this family, I need to do more than listen in. I need to listen up.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Theology: Scripture

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

(Terry Mattingly) Busy pastors and the dumpster fire of social media

“People can create online personalities that are simply not real. … A lot of what they say in social media has little to do with who they really are and all the fleshy, real stuff that’s in their lives,” said the Rev. John Jay Alvaro of First Baptist Church in Pasadena, California.

Thus, Alvaro and the church’s other clergy are committed to this strategy: Always move “one step closer” to human contact. “What we want is coffee cups and face-to-face meetings across a table. … You have to get past all the texts and emails and Facebook,” he said.

In fact, Alvaro is convinced that online life has become so toxic that it’s time for pastors to detox. Thus, he recently wrote an essay for Baptist News Global with this blunt headline: “Pastors and other church leaders: Give up social media. Not for Lent, but forever.” His thesis is that the “dumpster fire” of social media life is making it harder for pastors to love real people.

To quote one of Alvaro’s Duke Divinity School mentors — theologian Stanley Hauerwas — today’s plugged-in pastor has become “a quivering mass of availability.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(AAC) Phil Ashey–The Anglican Consultative Council: Adding Dysfunction To The Broken Instruments Of Communion

At the January, 2016 meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Primates said The Episcopal Church (TEC) would not be permitted to participate in ecumenical conversations or any decisions on the doctrine or polity of the Anglican Communion. This consequence was declared by the Primates because TEC had made decisions that unilaterally violate the teaching of the Anglican Communion. Therefore, the Primates reasoned, TEC shouldn’t be allowed to represent Anglicans anywhere.

Less than four months later the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC-16) met in Zambia on April 8-19, and “received” the report of the Primates. In fact, they ignored it. The Episcopal Church participated in every vote on every resolution that came before ACC-16, including every matter relating to the doctrine and polity of the Anglican Communion. You can read the facts in detail here. A spokesperson on behalf of Episcopal Church Communications reported that the ACC deliberately refused to implement the recommendations of the Primates. Even the delegates from TEC to ACC-16 publicly refuted Archbishop Welby’s claim that ACC-16 had honored the decision of the January 2016 Primates meeting and admitted to doing whatever they pleased during the meeting!

The refusal by the Anglican Consultative Council to implement the recommendations of the January 2016 Primates meeting is prima facie evidence that the Instruments of Communion are at odds with each other – broken systemically, and unable to reach the “conciliar consensus” that has characterized Anglican decision making at every other level of Anglican Churches other than this global, Communion level of governance. In fact, the Anglican Consultative Council is a major part of the problem, and not the solution.

The Anglican way of decision making is conciliar, and finds it roots all the way back to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Yes, in conciliar decision making every voice in the church must be heard – not only Bishops and clergy, but laity, male and female, theologians and more. But the place for this to happen is in a Synod where all voices come together in the decision making, and where Bishops exercise a unique role in guarding the faith and order, doctrine and discipline of the Church.

The Anglican Consultative Council is NOT such a Synod. According to its own Constitution[1], the Anglican Consultative Council has power only to assist Primates and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops “as and when required to do so.” (Art. 5.12) That is not the language of a Synod. It is the language of a subordinate and advisory body that serves the bishops rather than contradicting and usurping their authority. This becomes even clearer in the language of Article 5 where the ACC is referred to multiple times as an “advisory body” only: with power “to advise on inter-Anglican, Provincial and Diocesan relationships” (Art. 5.3 at page 4), power “to advise on matters arising out of national or regional Church union negotiations,” (Art. 5.8, at page 5) and power “to advise on problems of inter-Anglican communication.” (Art. 5.9, at page 5). The powers enumerated to the ACC in the rest of Article 5 are what we would expect for the Board of Trustees of a charitable organization—in language that facilitates the exercise of their fiduciary duties.

But here’s the rub: The Anglican Communion is more than a charitable organization under the UK Charities Act. It is a Church – led by Bishops who have an ancient, conciliar responsibility to guard the doctrine, discipline and order of the Churches they lead, and Primates to guard the faith and Godly order in the relationships among those Churches. This authority is recognized not only in the Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference but also in The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion. One hardly knows how to characterize the repudiation of the Primates gathering by the ACC – arrogance, rebellion or legal fiction, it’s all the same.

As I contend in Anglican Conciliarism, this is the heart of the “ecclesial deficit,” the inability of the existing global structures of the Anglican Communion to say “no” to false teaching or any other violation of faith and order. There was some hope that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant would provide a means for addressing this deficit. But those hopes were dashed at the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, Jamaica.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Consultative Council, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Roseanne Gudzan–How a Jury Summons led to a very unexpected Outcome

In July of 2018, a summons ordered me to report to Charleston Municipal Court for jury duty in early August. After reading the very limited exemptions from duty, I realized that resistance was futile and reported on the required Monday morning to fulfill my civic duty.

As it turned out, a priest named Ryan Streett and 40-some other Charlestonians had been summoned for this same jury duty, and we all sat in the courtroom that Monday waiting to see if we would be selected. Later, those of us who were not chosen for the first case lined the walls of the hallway outside the courtroom waiting for the next case to be called. The week progressed this way and with a great deal of waiting outside the courtroom in the hallway.

During a particularly long recess, I spotted Father Ryan and I nervously approached him, introduced myself, and asked if he ever performed baptisms for people other than those in his congregation….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Quillette) Joel Kotkin–The End of Aspiration

Since the end of the Second World War, middle- and working-class people across the Western world have sought out—and, more often than not, achieved—their aspirations. These usually included a stable income, a home, a family, and the prospect of a comfortable retirement. However, from Sydney to San Francisco, this aspiration is rapidly fading as a result of a changing economy, soaring land costs, and a regulatory regime, all of which combine to make it increasingly difficult for the new generation to achieve a lifestyle like that enjoyed by their parents. This generational gap between aspiration and disappointment could define our demographic, political, and social future.

In the United States, about 90 percent of children born in 1940 grew up to experience higher incomes than their parents, according to researchers at the Equality of Opportunity Project. That figure dropped to only 50 percent of those born in the 1980s. The US Census bureau estimates that, even when working full-time, people in their late twenties and early thirties earn $2000 less in real dollars than the same age cohort in 1980. More than 20 percent of people aged 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980. Three-quarters of American adults today predict their child will not grow up to be better-off than they are, according to Pew.

These sentiments are even more pronounced in France, Britain, Spain, Italy, and Germany. In Japan, a remarkable three-quarters of those polled said they believe things will be worse for the next generation. Even in China, many young people face a troubling future; in 2017, eight million graduates entered the job market, but most ended up with salaries that could have been attained by going to work in a factory straight out of high school.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance

(CA) Stephen Noll–“Living in Love and Faith”: Tree or Billboard?

A colleague sent me a link to the “Living in Love and Faith” report to the General Synod of the Church of England, which is meeting later this month. For the uninitiated, the “Living in Love and Faith” (LLF) project is a massive exercise by the Church of England to tackle the thorny issue of human sexuality. The general supposition is that the LLF results will be forwarded to the Lambeth Conference in 2020, to be discussed in table groups (indaba), which in turn will conclude that Anglicans have a mixed bag of views on sex and marriage and that they have agreed to disagree. Such a result will in effect nullify the clear teaching of Lambeth 1998, which has been a touchstone for the Global South churches….

Despite its likening a book to a tree trunk, the entire report manages to avoid quoting the Book, the Bible, anywhere. Instead we get vague allusions to “creativity” and “hermeneutical understandings” and “situatedness of the gospel” and “ecclesiology in the context of difference.” The report makes no reference to Lambeth Resolution I.10 on Human Sexuality and suggests that it will produce a deeper understanding of the interplay of “inherited teaching” on marriage and singleness with “emergent views.” (The word “deep” seems a favorite of the authors, reminding me of this ditty from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience: “If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me, Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!”)….

It seems that the current controversy in the Anglican Communion and Lambeth 2020 comes down to branding rights. On the one hand, I would commend the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on Human Sexuality (300 words), the 2008 Jerusalem Statement and Declaration (2400 words) and the 2018 Gafcon “Letter to the Churches” (2500 words) as clear and concise statements of biblical teaching in the Anglican tradition. On the other hand, we have the ponderous Windsor Report (93 pages), the 2008 Lambeth Indaba (44 pages) and we are looking oh-so-so forward to the weighty multi-layered Oxbridge-endorsed LLF Project. Which of these “brands” will be fruitful for the future of the Gospel and mission of Christ to the nations?

The LLF likens its work to a tree. Well, it is a good metaphor. God’s Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her” (Proverbs 3:18), and as noted in Joyce Kilmer’s verse: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”

But somehow, given this present update, I doubt the final Living in Love and Faith Report will be lively, lovely, or faithful. I suspect it may function more like the billboard in Ogden Nash’s “Song of the Road”:

I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

–Romans 10:14-21

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Sunday Telegraph) Professor quits Royal College of Physicians over new assisted suicide stance

Professor Weale, emeritus professor of political theory and public policy at University College London, said he saw no reason why the RCP’s governing council had decided to abandon its previous position, which stated the organisation could not support changing the law on assisted suicide.

“There seems to be no chain of coherent reasoning leading to the council’s own position – a situation I regret deeply,” he said.

He also attacked the handling of the survey of doctors which led to the change in stance.

The poll asked doctors if the RCP should be for, against or neutral on assisted suicide; 43 per cent voted for opposition, 32 per cent backed changing the law, and just 25 percent voted for neutrality.

But unlike previous polls on the same question, the RCP’s council had decided in advance they should automatically switch to neutrality unless any of the three options was backed by a super-majority of 60 per cent.

As a result, the RCP announced last month it would be neutral on the issue, despite only one in four doctors endorsing that position.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945): V

The voice of the tempter does not come out of an abyss only recognized as ‘Hell’. It completely conceals its origin. It is suddenly near me and speaks to me. In paradise it is the serpent–quite plainly a creature of God–through whom the tempter speaks to Eve. Indeed there is no sign of the origin of the tempter in fire and brimstone. The denial of the origin belongs to the essence of the seducer.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: Temptation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997 ed. of the 1957 tr. of the 1955 German original), p.116 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Church History, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945): IV

Precisely because of our attitude to the state, the conversation here must be completely honest, for the sake of Jesus Christ and the ecumenical cause. We must make it clear–fearful as it is–that the time is very near when we shall have to decide between National Socialism and Christianity. It may be fearfully hard and difficult for us all, but we must get right to the root of things, with open Christian speaking and no diplomacy. And in prayer together we will find the way. I feel that a resolution ought to be framed–all evasion is useless. And if the world alliance in Germany is then dissolved–well and good, at least we will have borne witness that we were at fault. Better that than to go on vegetating in this untruthful way.Only complete truth and truthfulness will help us now.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer as quoted in No Rusty Swords, my emphasis

Posted in Church History, Theology