Category : Evangelicals

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please do read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

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

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

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

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

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

The solution lies in the middle.

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology: Scripture

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

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

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Anglican evangelicals in focus

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

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

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

Read it all (subscription).

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

Andrew Towner–5 summary Points from Renew 2019

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

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

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

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

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals

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

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

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

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

And they abound….

Read it all (subscription).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(BBC) Choosing between God and the gang in El Salvador

A church deep in La Dina, San Salvador is holding a service with a difference: many of the men here used to be in a gang.

Eben-ezer is a functioning church but also runs a rehabilitation project for men who repent their past gang life.

Watch it all (about 3 3/4 minutes).

Posted in --El Salvador, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Evangelicals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Violence

Ian Paul’s full letter to the Editor of the Church Times in response to the misleading previous article on some C of E evangelicals and the marriage statement

(Please note that the first three sections of this letter to the editor WERE published in the Church Times, but not the last two; it is included here with Ian’s kind permission–KSH.

From the Revd Dr Ian Paul–First, no ‘senior members’ of the group resigned. You do mention two archdeacons, who might be styled ‘senior’ in terms of ministry, but they had no seniority within the group. The committee and leadership of EGGS were unanimously agreed on the proposed changes.

Secondly, the group was in no sense ‘split’. Of those who did vote against, a number agreed with the statement, but were not sure whether the timing was right. The fact that you can name only three people who have resigned from a membership of around 140 gives some indication of how united the group was.

Thirdly, you quote Ven Gavin Collins claiming that the new statement was a ‘very narrow formulation’. In fact, as was mentioned repeatedly in the debate at which Gavin was present, the statement did nothing more than restate the current teaching of the Church of England in its canon law and liturgy, and was in line with the stated view of the Anglican Communion. It is a strange day when an archdeacon can believe that the current teaching of the Church is ‘very narrow’.

Jayne Ozanne asks ‘Who is speaking for young people?’ She might want to note that members of the group include leaders from the churches with the largest youth ministries in the Church of England, as set out in an answer given during Synod questions that immediately preceded the EGGS meeting.

The fact that the vote was so clear offered an example to the Church of people finding unity in the truth, just as Jesus prayed in John 17. Many in the Church of England are desperate to hear someone in leadership in the Church actually speak up for the Church’s understanding of marriage and sexuality, and they will be heartened to read of the clarity of the EGGS position.

IAN PAUL
Member of General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council
Nottingham

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

An unfortunately misleading Church Times Article–‘Evangelicals on [General] Synod split over marriage statement’

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(EF) Thinking through how a biblical work ethic clashes with contemporary European life

In its report World Employment Social Outlook, published this year with data from 2018, the International Labor Organization (ILO), says that “a majority of the 3.3 billion people employed globally in 2018 experienced a lack of material well-being, economic security, equal opportunities or scope for human development”.

The volatility of employment is what leads the coordinator of GBG (the Spanish IFES Graduates group) and of the Lausanne Movement in Spain, Jaume Llenas, to consider, “the long-term commitment and the emotional involvement with people as the main challenges that the biblical work ethic poses to the current labour system”.

“Although the companies we work for ask us for teamwork and mutual collaboration, they foster superficial and utilitarian relationships, dispatch their workers without any relational consideration, and use and throw away workers following other very different principles”, he says. Furthermore, “this sharp contrast of values provokes the corrosion of the character, the destruction of the person”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Evangelicals, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Spain

(CT) Mark Galli–Whatever Happened to Communion & Baptism?

Let clarify my use of the term sacrament. Some evangelical churches call the Lord’s Supper and baptism ordinances, to suggest they are actions Jesus commands us to participate in, and that they signal our faith in and obedience to Christ. The term sacrament includes these two ideas and another crucial one: that they are means of grace. By “means of grace” I’m not proposing any specific theology—whether trans- or consubstantiation, whether real or symbolic presence. But for all believers, Communion and baptism are practices in which one’s faith is deepened and strengthened, and that sort of thing only happens by God’s grace. This is what I mean by “means of grace” in this article, and why I will use the word sacrament to talk about them.

As I said, I believe these sacraments are in a profoundly low state in many areas of evangelical church life.

Take baptism. Even among churches that believe Matthew 28:19 is the church’s rallying cry—“Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ….”—the sacrament is no longer central to their mission. It would be difficult to come by statistics that suggest the problem, but one anecdote suggests it’s a serious one. I belong to an Anglican church in Wheaton, Illinois, which meets not far from Wheaton College. The charismatic singing and Bible-centered preaching attract many Wheaton College students to attend worship and to become members. However, to partake in Communion, as well as to become a member, one must have been baptized. The pastors are continually surprised at the number of Wheaton College students—no doubt some of the most earnest, devout, and intelligent young believers in the evangelical world—who have yet to be baptized. One would have thought that their churches would have attended to this matter long before they left home for college.

Another sign of the problem is the deep fear some evangelicals have of baptism. I attended an independent church in Dallas, Texas, on a Sunday on which they were having a mass baptism for some 400 people. This speaks well of the effectiveness of their outreach and their desire to obey the commands of their Lord. As part of the service, four or five people came on stage and were interviewed by the pastor to help them give their testimony. At the end of each testimony, the last question the pastor asked each was this: “But you don’t believe that baptism saves you, right?” It wasn’t just the question, but the leading way in which it was asked time and again that suggested to me that the pastor was deeply afraid of the power of the sacrament. And the fact that he also asked this right before each person was baptized went a long way into ensuring that the sacrament did not become a means by which God broke in and blessed the recipient but became all about the horizontal: an act of the person’s faith.

The state of the Lord’s Supper is in a worse state.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptism, Eucharist, Evangelicals, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(France 24) Evangelical churches gaining ground in France

“In France, a new Evangelical church is built every 10 days, thanks to the efforts of highly motivated young believers. Once a fringe religious movement, Evangelism (sic) is gaining ground and now counts 700,000 followers across France. What are the reasons for this success? Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s Emerald Maxwell.”

Watch it all (about 4 2/3 minutes).

Posted in Evangelicals, France, Religion & Culture

(CT) Celibate Gay Christians: Neither Shockingly Conservative nor Worryingly Liberal

Researchers Mark Yarhouse and Olya Zaporozhets step bravely (foolishly?) into this battleground with their comprehensive study of people like me: Costly Obedience: What We Can Learn from the Celibate Gay Christian Community. It’s an important book with an academic feel that grows more pastoral as you read on. Yarhouse has written multiple volumes on LGBTQ experience based on careful research from the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity at Regent University in Virginia, where both of the authors teach. I wouldn’t agree with everything he’s ever written, but I thank God for the gracious tenor of his contributions.

This newest book is essentially a listening exercise, based on an in-depth survey of celibate gay Christians. You hear their stories of milestone events and experiences in church life and ministry—as well as research that maps their mental health outcomes and relational challenges. But they are not the only voices recorded: There’s also input from friends, along with some fascinating insights into the perspectives of some evangelical pastors. The authors helpfully add their own measured reflections.

Certain conversation topics could prove controversial. We hear differing thoughts, for instance, on such questions as the origins of same-sex attraction, the correct labels to use (is it “gay,” “same-sex attracted,” or something else?), the possibility of same-sex desires that aren’t wholly sinful, and the prospect of changing one’s sexual orientation. But one of the authors’ strongest points is the need to discuss these issues more carefully. They write, “Some church leaders and some celibate gay Christians seem to us, at times, to be describing two different things, rather than disagreeing on precisely the same thing.”

This appeal for a better conversation within evangelicalism couldn’t be timelier.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Churchman) A 1957 Article by (then) Bishop Hugh Rowlands Gough–Our Evangelical Heritage

A study of our Evangelical Heritage would be grossly incomplete unless attention were drawn to the high standard of conduct and of disciplined holy living set by our forefathers. These Evangelicals of old were men who knew their God ; they were men of God, men of Prayer, men of Christlike character, men filled with the Holy Ghost.

They proved the truth of the Evangelical Doctrines by the way they lived. They demonstrated the reality of justification by faith by their works. Through their evangelistic preaching and through the witness of their lives, thousands upon thousands of sinful men and women were converted and experienced a similar transformation of character, and this miracle was one which even their opponents admitted. Although special emphasis in their preaching was always laid upon the Atonement and man’s consequent reconciliation with God, the great implications of the Doctrine of the Incarnation were not neglected. By word and by example these men proclaimed how the Lord Christ, Who became Man, still dwelled with man upon earth, entering into his daily life and toil, so that work became worship, and “the daily round, the common task” a thrilling experience of the presence and power of God.

Moreover, as these truths were more closely studied, the Evangelicals became foremost in the movement for social reform, for the material as well as the spiritual welfare of their fellowmen….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelicals, Theology

([London] Times) The Rev Richard Bewes RIP

It became something of an open secret during the latter years of Richard Bewes’s ministry that he might have to “drop everything” if the call from the US came. A long friendship with Dr Billy Graham had led Graham and his family to ask Bewes to preach at his funeral. That honour was a measure of Bewes’s stature and a signal not only of the respect between the two men, but of their shared Gospel convictions.

For decades Bewes enthusiastically supported the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse International. He had chaired Graham’s Eurofest event in Brussels in 1975. He was also an energetic member of the planning committee of the Amsterdam 2000 Congress, which brought together more than 11,000 evangelists from around the world.

It was an immense disappointment to Bewes that, after Graham’s death (obituary, February 22, 2018), his failing health prevented him from flying to take part in a ceremony viewed by millions. It could have been a fitting climax to a magnificent career.

Bewes was one of the most versatile Anglican parish clergy of his generation. He served as rector of All Souls, Langham Place in central London from 1983 to 2004 as a successor to John Stott and Michael Baughen.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CT) Mark Galli–The Temptations of Evangelical Worship

In the last decade or so, evangelical congregations have woken up to the centrality of praise and adoration as Scripture commands. One of the great developments of our time is how we worship. “Praise choruses” and contemporary worship music, for all their limitations, aim our hearts and minds in the direction of God. One does not even have to be taught to lift your face or raise your arms as you sing these songs, as the songs themselves often drive one upward to seek and praise God. One has to be a spiritual miser not to recognize how such music has helped the church worship God.

Yet the temptation of the horizontal is with us always, and it comes in many disguises in our worship. Worship leaders—as they themselves often admit—are tempted to take cues from Finney’s Lectures on Revivals. Every worship leader worth his or her salt knows how to manage the emotions of the congregation, moving them from quiet devotion to raucous praise or from bass-throbbing adulation to whisper-quiet meditation. We don’t have to deny that, despite sometimes obvious manipulation, we’ve been touched by God in such services. But it is a constant temptation to replace God with technique, to seek not the Holy of Holies but mostly devotional exhilaration.

That is to say, many weeks what we mostly want is for worship to give us a good spiritual feeling. I suspect that by our inattention to what we’re singing. We sing various choruses that say, “Bring down your glory” and “show us your face.” But we do not know what we’re asking for. People in the Bible who actually encountered God’s glory fall on the ground in fear. For example, after the miracle of the fishes, Peter knows he has seen glory and that he is in the presence of the Glorious One. He doesn’t give God an ovation. He doesn’t weep with joy. He falls on his knees, begging Jesus to depart from him. The glory of Jesus has made it clear to him that he is a sinful man (Luke 5).

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

(AM) Andrew Symes–“We don’t do prosperity theology” – or do we?

Historically, among white British Christians there has probably been a more natural tendency towards emphasis on the stiff upper lip against adversity and even poverty rather than expectation of miraculous and abundant provision. There remains a suspicion of demagoguery; also, the huge improvement in living standards generally over the past 50 years has meant less fertile ground for the preachers appealing to those desperate for supernatural intervention in personal fortunes. As Joel Edwards comments:

“Most traditional evangelicals …who belong to affluent churches have less need of a God who acts vibrantly in the material world… the prosperity gospel and its audacious faith holds little cultural or theological attraction”.

But is this the whole story? Perhaps most challengingly from this book, experienced mission leader Eddie Arthur warns the British church against arrogance and complacency. We might not be taken in by the white-suited emotional preachers, but have we unwittingly swallowed other forms of prosperity teaching without realizing it?

Certainly we’re not immune from consumerism. When as lay people we drive half an hour to a large church, is it because of the “good teaching”, or the well-staffed kids work, excellent coffee, numerous programmes and sense of ‘success’? As clergy faced with powerful pressure to conform to new ethical norms, or making decisions about ministry, do we tend to prioritize personal comfort and steer away from sacrifice, rationalizing perhaps that the more godly approach is to keep quiet in the face of obvious wrong (for the sake of “continued opportunities for the gospel”) rather than speaking out?

Many Western Christians continue to be generous in their giving and humble and servant hearted in their leadership – these are good ways of counteracting greed and hunger for power in ministry. But as our affluence increases at the same time as the possibility of persecution and the temptation to avoid it through disobedience, the need is more pressing for us to learn from the disadvantaged and suffering parts of the global church which have not succumbed to the prosperity preachers.

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Evangelicals, Psychology, Theology

(CT) Evangelicals Can Help at the Border. They Just Can’t Do It Alone.

Leaders like San Antonio pastor Max Lucado have urged Christians to pray and act. “This is a mess. A humanitarian, heartbreaking mess. As we are wondering what can be done, let’s do what we are called to do,” he wrote in a lament for CT. “Let’s pray. Let’s lament. Let’s groan.” (You can read a collection of six Christian leaders’ prayers for the border here.)

Grief over the conditions at the border has compelled many evangelical Christians to act, but they prefer to work directly with evangelical mercy ministries.

However, in these moments when the law stands between Christians and acts of mercy—like not being able to drop off donations at a detention center—they can be uncomfortable with idea of supporting government aid or state humanitarian efforts, said Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission.

“Even for Christians who tend to be leery of government intervention,” Freeman said, to get the diapers and wipes to the children in custody, “the reality is that Congress has to take that up and do it.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Immigration, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(AI) GAFCON kept in the dark about Jonathan’s Fletcher alleged misconduct

Though Mr. Fletcher was removed from public ministry in 2017, he continued to hold himself out as a priest in his retirement and led an active ministry life. Following the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Andy Lines in Illinois by GAFCON archbishops last summer, a commissioning service was held in September 2018 at Emmanuel Church to inaugurate his English ministry. GAFCON Archbishops Peter Jensen and Ben Kwashi participated in the service.

The GAFCON spokesman explained: “The service was officiated by Robin Weekes [Emmanuel’s minister]. Jonathan Fletcher did a Q and A with Bishop Lines as part of the evening. The GAFCON global folks there did not know Jonathan’s PTO had been removed.”

He added that no one informed them of Fletcher’s status or the allegations of misconduct. Asked when Bishop Lines understood his long standing relationship with Fletcher may have been unhealthy, the spokesman said:

“Bishop Lines didn’t begin to recognize the nature of the abusive relationship until later in 2018 and didn’t fully come to grasp with it until the first quarter of 2019.”

Read it all.

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