Category : * Religion News & Commentary

News and commentary from / about other (non-Anglican) Christian churches and denominations

(Church Times) Find a way for the UK and EU to coexist, Archbp Welby and Bishop Bedford-Strohm tell politicians

In a joint statement issued by Lambeth Palace on Friday morning, Archbishop Welby and Dr Bedford-Strohm said: “European relationships are changing, not least as a result of Brexit. We do not know what will happen and what the relationship between the UK and EU will look like after 29 March 2019. However, what we do know is that the relationship between the Church of England and the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland goes back over many centuries — long before the European Union.

“As churches, we urgently appeal to all politicians to find fair and sustainable solutions for the future coexistence of the UK and the EU. United in Christ we are drawn together in hope, faith and love, and those things which divide us are of much lesser importance.”

Last week, during a Q&A at Great Yarmouth Minster, the Archbishop said that there was “no necessary defeatism, no necessary outcome either to staying in Europe or leaving. . . The big problems in our society of inequality, of unfairness, of the abandonment of an understanding of a moral and ethical framework which helps us choose how to treat people — that is the thing that will decide our future. . . Being in Europe or being out is obviously important, but there is as much hope out as in or in as out.’’

Read it all and the full joint statement may be found there.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General

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

Charles Simeon on Easter–a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers

In this tomb, also, you may see, A pledge to us…Yes, verily, it is a pledge,

Of Christ’s power to raise us to a spiritual life -The resurrection of Christ is set forth in the Scriptures as a pattern of that which is to be accomplished in all his followers; and by the very same power too, that effected that. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul draws the parallel with a minuteness and accuracy that are truly astonishing. He prays for them, that they may know what is the exceeding greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And then he says, concerning them, “God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us usi together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus^” Here, I say, you see Christ dead, quickened, raised, and seated in glory; and his believing people quickened from their death in sins, and raised with him, and seated too with him in the highest heavens. The same thing is stated also, and the same parallel is drawn in the Epistle to the Romans ; where it is said, “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” But can this be effected in us ? I answer, Behold the tomb ! Who raised the Lord Jesus? He himself said, ” I have power to lay down my life, and power to take it up again….”

–Horae homileticae, Sermon 1414

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

(CT) Charles Simeon–Evangelical Mentor and Model

When Simeon moved to put benches in the aisles, the church wardens threw them out. He battled with discouragement and at one point wrote out his resignation.

“When I was an object of much contempt and derision in the university,” he later wrote, “I strolled forth one day, buffeted and afflicted, with my little Testament in my hand ”¦ The first text which caught my eye was this: ‘They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; him they compelled to bear his cross.'”

Slowly the pews began to open up and fill, not primarily with townspeople but with students. Then Simeon did what was unthinkable at the time: he introduced an evening service. He invited students to his home on Sundays and Friday evening for “conversation parties” to teach them how to preach. By the time he died, it is estimated that one-third of all the Anglican ministers in the country had sat under his teaching at one time or another.

Read it all.

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

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

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

(CP) Atheist United Church minister keeps her job; ‘heresy trial’ called off

A United Church minister who had faced an unprecedented ecclesiastical court hearing over her professed atheism is no longer in danger of a defrocking after the two sides reached an agreement in the long-running case.

In an unexpected development this week, Rev. Gretta Vosper and the church settled ahead of what some had dubbed a “heresy trial,” leaving her free to minister to her east-end Toronto congregation.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” Vosper said in an interview Friday. “We’ll be out from underneath that heavy cloud. Now we’ll be able to really fly.”

The settlement, the terms of which are confidential, came during what was supposed to be a week of routine preliminary motions ahead of the full hearing later in the month.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Theology

(OCR) Fired Muslim awarded $3.2 million in discrimination suit against Loma Linda University Medical Center

The complaint contends Strode and Gonzalez harassed Lizarraga through 2015 because of his Islamic beliefs, at times referring to him as a terrorist and calling him other derogatory names, and complained he was “too slow” due to his medical condition..

“Mr Strode and/or Mr. Gonzalez often told the plaintiff, ‘Why don’t you quit?’ or ‘You are going to get fired anyway,’ ” the lawsuit alleges.

After Lizarraga’s work restrictions were lifted, Strode and Gonzalez increased his workload and assigned him tasks that should have been undertaken by other workers, says the complaint.

“Despite this unreasonable and unfair workload, plaintiff still completed it, ” according to the suit. “Still, Mr. Strode and Mr. Gonzalez would unjustly complain to the plaintiff that he was too slow and continued to tell him he should quit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Anti-Semitism in the West Jew-hatred keeps mutating to survive

Michal Bilewicz of the University of Warsaw outlines three categories of anti-Semitism. The “traditional” kind is based on Catholic teaching (since abandoned) that Jews killed Christ, and on medieval blood-libels (accusations that Jews killed children to mix their blood with Passover flatbread). The second, “modern”, sort is based on a belief in conspiracies by powerful Jews. The last kind, “secondary” anti-Semitism, holds that Jews abuse the history of the Holocaust. Others seek to categorise the miasma differently: eg, as racist, economic, cultural and religious; or explicit and coded; or soft and violent.

Many see a “new anti-Semitism” that developed after Israel’s victory in the six-day war of 1967. The Soviet Union and its vassals purged Jews on the grounds that they were Zionists and thus agents of America. This overlaps with Muslim Jew-hatred, which not only denounces Israel but also presents Jews as the enemies of Muslims since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. This form has proven the most murderous in recent decades. Global jihadists say they are fighting against “Jews and Crusaders”. In the West anti-Semitic acts by Muslim migrants tend to spike with rises in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Speaking at a protest against the war in Gaza in 2014, Appa, a Dutch-Moroccan rapper, blurred the line between politics and religion: “Fuck the Zionists! Fuck the Talmud!”

A wave of jihadist attacks against Jewish targets in Europe in 2012-15 resulted in 13 deaths in France, Belgium and Denmark. Increased security, and caution by many about revealing their Jewish identity, led to a drop in attacks on Jews. Attention shifted to anti-Semitism on the radical left. Britain’s Labour Party, the main opposition and political home of many Jews, has torn itself apart this year over which kind of criticism of Israel should be regarded as an attack on Jews. Jeremy Corbyn, its left-wing leader, agreed only grudgingly to accept that utterances repudiating Israel’s right to exist, or accusing it of behaving like the Nazis, were anti-Semitic.

Yet it is odd that right-wing anti-Semitism, obsessed with Jews at home, and the left-wing variety, focused on Jews in Israel, survive at all. The number of Jews in the world is quite small—about 6m apiece in Israel and America, and another 2.5m scattered elsewhere. Indeed, some talk of “anti-Semitism without Jews”.

The Pittsburgh murders were a stark reminder of the threat lurking on the far right, particularly among white supremacists who lump Jews in with blacks, Muslims and other minorities as objects of hatred. American far-right groups benefit from a greater degree of free speech than do European ones—and easy access to guns.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Judaism, Religion & Culture

(NYT Op-ed) Dana Horn–American Jews Know How This Story Goes

“There are no words.”

This was what I heard most often last weekend from those who were stunned by the news: 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh — believed to be the largest massacre of Jews on American soil. But there are words for this, entire books full of words: the books the murdered people were reading at the hour of their deaths. News reports described these victims as praying, but Jewish prayer is not primarily personal or spontaneous. It is communal reading. Public recitations of ancient words, scripts compiled centuries ago and nearly identical in every synagogue in the world. A lot of those words are about exactly this.

When I told my children what had happened, they didn’t ask why; they knew. “Because some people hate Jews,” they said. How did these American children know that? They shrugged. “It’s like the Passover story,” my 9-year-old told me. “And the Hanukkah story. And the Purim story. And the Babylonians, and the Romans.” My children are descendants of Holocaust survivors, but they didn’t go that far forward in history. The words were already there.

The people murdered in Pittsburgh were mostly old, because the old are the pillars of Jewish life, full of days and memories. They are the ones who come to synagogue first, the ones who know the words by heart. The oldest victim was Rose Mallinger, 97….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(Et Cetera) In Memoriam: Remembering Eugene Peterson

We never met, but my life has been touched by Eugene Peterson’s at several points. About eight years ago, I was in a dark night of the soul. My relationship with God feeling dry and lifeless. I did not want to attend church or pray. I could barely read my Bible even once a week. Wandering around a used bookstore with a friend one day, I found a copy of the Psalms in the Message translation for ninety-eight cents. I deliberated, then bought it, took it home, cracked it open and still remember reading the preface. Eugene’s words opened up something new for me as he described people coming into his office wanting to know how to pray. He sent them to the Psalms. “The Psalms in Hebrew are earthy and rough,” he wrote. “They are not genteel. They are not the prayers of nice people, couched in cultured language.” They do not speak King James English, in other words, as beautiful as it is. Reading his translation of these “earthy and rough” prayers made them fresh for me, made me willing to come back to Scripture and find that God had given me language with which to be honest before him. It was an oasis in the spiritual and geographic desert I found myself in at the time.

Directly before coming to Regent, I read A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I found I encountered someone who was letting Scripture do its work on him as he carefully and lovingly attended to just a section of the Psalms. I also ate up the video with him and Bono discussing the Psalms.

While a student at Regent, I was introduced to a video showing him with the celebrated contemporary poet Christian Wiman. Eugene clearly was not one to fall prey to the dazzle of celebrity. He interacted with these distinguished men with the same care and ease it sounds like he would also offer to his students and congregants. His care for people was palpable in all these tastes I’d gotten of him. His care for language is also evident. He clearly loved poetry. Tell It Slant, As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Reversed Thunder—those are all lifted straight from poems. He wrote it, read it, appreciated it, and brought that care for language into his work as a pastor and translator. I care deeply for words as well and am grateful to benefit from the work of someone whose love for God, for people, and for words coalesced in a beautiful, life-giving way.—Jolene Nolte

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) ISIS Claims Credit for Attack that Kills Christians in Egypt

Islamist gunmen killed at least seven Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt on Friday and wounded at least 16 in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State.

The attack — an ambush on two buses — ended a nearly yearlong lull in major attacks on Copts in Egypt, and may signal a resumption of the Islamic State’s campaign to sow sectarian divisions in Egyptian society.

It was also a setback for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has put security concerns at the heart of his autocratic style of rule and has repeatedly vowed to protect Christians, a minority in the country, from attack.

The shooting occurred as two buses carrying pilgrims left the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, in Egypt’s Western Desert.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Death / Burial / Funerals, Egypt, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(NYT) Jewish Leaders, in Call for Unity After Shooting, Welcome Outsiders to Shabbat

In preparation for the first Sabbath following the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Jewish leaders are signaling that they do not plan to close off their communities out of fear.

Instead, many are encouraging Jews and non-Jews alike across the country to attend services on Friday night or Saturday, spreading the hashtag #ShowUpForShabbat across social media as an invitation to all. The campaign, started by the American Jewish Committee, is meant to offer a space for people to express grief over the massacre and show solidarity with the victims, said David Harris, the chief executive of the organization, which is a Jewish advocacy group.

Last Saturday, a holy day of rest in the Jewish faith, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs stormed into the Tree of Life synagogue in the Jewish enclave of Squirrel Hill, killing 11 congregants. The rampage was among the deadliest against Jews in the United States.

“We want to send a powerful message to anti-Semites that Americans are outraged, whether these Americans are Jewish or non-Jewish,” Mr. Harris said. “It was not only an assault on the Jewish community, it was an assault on American values.”

Read it all.

Posted in Judaism, Religion & Culture

(GR) Ira Rifkin–Pittsburgh surprised many: But not those who repeatedly reported rising American anti-Semitism

Some 15 years ago I wrote a piece on anti-Semitism for an online Jewish publication that began as follows: “It is an irony of Jewish life that it took the Holocaust to give anti-Semitism a bad name. So widespread was international revulsion over the annihilation of six million Jews that following World War II anti-Semitism, even of the polite variety, became the hatred one dared not publicly express. But only for a time.”

Saturday’s synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh underscored how anti-Semitism is no longer the hatred one dares not publicly express — though that’s been obvious for some time to all who cared to recognize it. I’ve tried to make the point in numerous GetReligion posts.

The details of what happened in Pittsburg, on the Jewish Sabbath, are by now well known, thanks to the wall-to-wall coverage, much of it sympathetic, detailed and excellent — including their understanding of the Jewish religious and communal aspects.

The extensive coverage is entirely appropriate, I’d say. Because more than just a display of vicious anti-Semitism, what happened in Pittsburg was an American tragedy. It underscored how threatened the nation is today by our corrosive political environment.

Read it all.

Posted in Judaism, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) ‘We will not be broken:’ Emotional vigil held for victims of Squirrel Hill synagogue shooting

To an audience of more than 2,000 inside Soldiers & Sailors Hall and many more gathering in the damp weather outside, after all the dignitaries had spoken, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told of his night of restlessness, of wrestling with Scripture.

When he has sleepless nights, he said, he often turns to the Psalms. But there was no night like Saturday night, just hours after Rabbi Myers survived the deadly gunman’s attack on his Tree of Life / Or L’Simcha synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

He thought of the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”

“Well God, I want!” he said, his voice reverberating through the hall during Sunday’s interfaith vigil in honor of 11 victims killed and the six wounded Saturday at the Squirrel Hill synagogue building shared by three congregations.

“What I want you can’t give me,” he continued. “You can’t return these 11 beautiful souls. You can’t rewind the clock.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence