Category : * Religion News & Commentary

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

(Terry Mattingly) a Marvin Olasky flashback: Back to the evangelical clashes over character and two-party politics

Back in 2016, Olasky noted that opposing Trump was risky: “Our call for a different Republican candidate will lose us some readers and donors.” Then in 2021, Trump-era tensions played a major role in his exit at World, after serving as editor for nearly three decades.

“Many people continue to stress that we are electing a president, not a preacher,” said Olasky. “I am also aware that God can do many things outside the limitations of what I think about all of this.”

But Olasky stands by his views in “The American Leadership Tradition” about fidelity and character. “From my selfish point of view,” he added, “the whole Trump era has been a vindication of that book.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

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

(Pzephizo) Ian Paul–Is Britain no longer a ‘Christian’ country?

The census was of ‘religious attitudes‘, and not religious practice, so there was no question here about any kind of attendance. This leads to some key observations.

First, there is a large disparity between those identifying as ‘Christian’ and actual regular attendance at churches, on Sundays or midweek. C of E regular attendance is around 850,000, and (according to the work of Peter Brierley) this represents around a quarter of all attendance, which would then be 3.4 million, or just under 6% or the population. That attendance figure is a small part of the 27.5 million identifying as ‘Christian’.

(An interesting comparison is football viewing and attendance. In 2020/21, a record breaking 26.8m people or 40% of the population watched a live Premier League match at some point during the year. During football season match days, total attendance at matches of the first four divisions is 720,000—so the Christian faith is still far more popular, in terms of commitment and affiliation, than football!)

So the question is, what did people mean by saying they identified as Christian? For some, they will be aware of the heritage of Christian values which has shaped our culture—but I suspect for most, particularly those who are older, the term is effectively equivalent to ‘decent’, ‘moral’, ‘respectable’, or even ‘traditional British’.

This is very different from any reasonable working definition of ‘Christian’. In the gospels, it is clear that the core of Jesus’ message is ‘The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand—repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1.15). We might express this in contemporary terms: ‘the kingly, ruling presence of God is on its way; change the direction of your life, and trust your life to me.’ St Paul sums up Christian commitment as confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (Rom 10.91 Cor 12.3), that is to say, it is to Jesus we owe the faithful allegiance of our lives as we receive the forgiveness, hope and confidence that he offers through his life, death and resurrection. As an ordained Christian minister, I confess I am much more concerned with how many people are Christian in this sense, than how many tick a box on a census form!

Read it all.

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

(CT) Evangelical Giving Goes Up, Despite Economic Woes

The annual State of Giving report from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) found giving to ministries increased more in 2021 than it had any year out of the last 10. Inflation and the pandemic both raised real concerns for ministry leaders trying to make ends meet, but evangelicals responded to the crises with generosity.

The ECFA survey of about 1,800 members found they received more than $19 billion in donations in 2021. Adjusting for inflation, giving went up by about 3 percent. In the last 10 years, the increase has been closer to 2 percent.

“Contrary to what many expected, giving during the pandemic to ECFA members was strong,” Michael Martin, ECFA president and CEO, wrote in the report. “The findings we unveil emphasize the good work that ECFA members are doing to serve and expand their services in the face of inflation and other challenges.”

If Christians are excited and optimistic about the work of parachurch organizations, though, the numbers reveal a different story when it comes to megachurches. The ECFA surveyed 87 churches that belong to the financial accountability organization. Giving to those congregations dropped by 6.6 percent in 2021, following a decline of 1.1 percent the year before.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Stewardship

(Telegraph) Christians now a minority in England and Wales for first time

Christians now account for less than half of England and Wales’ population for the first time in census history, government figures reveal.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) results show that 46.2 per cent of the population (27.5 million people) described themselves as ‘Christian’ in 2021. This marks a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3 per cent (33.3 million people) in 2011.

The census data also shows that every major religion increased over the ten-year period, except for Christianity.

Despite this decrease, ‘Christian’ remained the most common response to the question about religion. ‘No religion’ was the second most common response, increasing to 37.2 per cent (22.2 million) from 25.2 per cent (14.1 million) across the ten-year period.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Wash. Post) Michael Gerson, Post columnist and Bush speechwriter on 9/11, dies at 58

Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues as diverse as President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP and his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.

The cause of death was complications of cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.

After years of working as a writer for conservative and evangelical leaders, including Prison Fellowship Ministries founder and Watergate felon Charles Colson, Mr. Gerson joined the Bush campaign in 1999. Mr. Gerson, an evangelical Christian, wrote with an eye toward religious and moral imagery, and that approach melded well with Bush’s personality as a leader open about his own Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General

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) Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth’

Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying “Gordon Fee Is Dead.”

Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it.

Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) The Rev. Calvin Butts III, Pastor of Storied Black Church, Dies at 73

The Rev. Calvin Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, died Friday. He was 73.

The church, considered one of the most influential Black houses of worship in the nation, announced his death Friday morning.

“It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,” the church said in a statement.

Mr. Butts served in Abyssinian’s ministry for 50 years, joining as an executive minister in 1972 and becoming its 20th pastor in 1989.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptists, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Independent) Religious leaders back our campaign to urgently extend free school meals

Religious leaders have backed The Independent‘s call for free school meals to be extended to more children living in poverty and urged the government to make it one of its priorities this winter.

Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, said: “It is heartbreaking to think of children living in poverty facing this winter without free school meals and the impact this will have on their health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.”

Our Feed the Future campaign, in partnership with the Food Foundation and a coalition of charities, calls on the government for free school meals to be extended to all children living in families that rely on universal credit.

Mr Butler, who is lead bishop for the Church of England in the House of Lords on welfare issues, added: “The Independent has shone a light on the heroic efforts of schools to step in and support their pupils and struggling families through initiatives such as school food banks but it really should not be down to them to fill this gap. I have long held that all children in families in receipt of universal credit should receive free school meals and I urge the government to give this priority in their spending plans.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Education, England / UK, Islam, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Archbishop of Canterbury prays for unity and stability under new PM Rishi Sunak

Last week, the racial-justice officers for the diocese of Chichester, the Revd Martha Mutikani and the Revd Dr Godfrey Kesari, called on the Church of England to “embrace minority communities” and “give them much more space” in leadership roles….

Delivering “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4’s Today Programme on Tuesday morning, the Rector of St James’s, Piccadilly, the Revd Lucy Winkett, said that “to acknowledge the UK’s first Hindu Prime Minister is a source of great significance and positivity, whatever the party politics, and to mark with gladness that a person of Global Majority Heritage, practising a faith that is followed by 1.2 billion people around the world, has become the first among equals in the British constitution.

“Given this, the very best thing that citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever their ethnicity, background or religion, can do, to honour this significant moment, is to expect the highest standards of integrity and courage,” Ms Winkett continued.

Mr Sunak took his oath as an MP on the Bhagavad Gita. In an interview with The Times in July, he said of his faith: “It gives me strength, it gives me purpose. It’s part of who I am.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General

(CT) Evangelical Creation Care Expert Shares Lessons Learned from Global Tour

Can you give an example about how we have missed this message in Scripture?

The central passage I use is Colossians 1:15–20. It begins by speaking about Christ creating all things and ends with how the blood of Christ on the cross is redeeming all things. Most people read this redemption in terms of people. But if you zoom out and realize that the “all things” being redeemed are grammatically the same as the “all things” he has created, then you have a universal picture of redemption.

This is reinforced by Romans 8: how creation is waiting for the redemption that will come through the revealing of the children of God.

The church has sometimes struggled over the correct prioritizing of evangelism and social outreach. Does adding a third issue of creation care become too much for some?

Actually, it is the opposite. People working in poverty have realized for a number of years that they are on a treadmill and moving backwards. You cannot make progress in development and ministering to the poor if there are environmental problems that haven’t been addressed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(RNS) At new Minnesota facility, Amazon takes small steps to welcome Muslim workers

A new Amazon sorting facility in Woodbury, Minnesota, is taking its employees’ religious needs seriously, adding new “ablution stations” for ritual hand and foot washing and three rooms that people of any faith may use for prayer or meditation.

The 550,000-square-foot facility, which opened this month, employs about 300 Somalis and Somali Americans, many of them refugees from the generation-long civil war in the east African nation. Minnesota is home to as many as 80,000 Somali immigrants, more than half of those living in the United States. More than 99% of Somalians are Muslim.

A stop for packages moving between Amazon warehouses and their shipping destinations, the Woodbury center includes signs in Somali as well as translation services. Other accommodations for all employees include lactation rooms for nursing mothers and soundproof booths for phone calls.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Islam, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

([London Times) Kallistos Ware–Gentle-voiced Oxford don and Greek Orthodox bishop who spread understanding of his faith in the English-speaking worl

The young Ware had entered a world of perpetual controversy, between different nations and ethnicities and between different shades of ideology. The remainder of his life was devoted to wrestling with these contradictions and helping others to do so.

Having won a King’s Scholarship to study classics at Magdalen College, Oxford, he took a double first and wrote a doctoral thesis on St Mark the Ascetic. At the same time he deepened his commitment to Orthodoxy. He loved Russian spirituality but was wary of being embroiled in Russian controversies. His wisest Russian mentors advised moving closer to the religious mainstream and joining the Greek church, into which he was received in 1958, later being elevated to the priesthood, tonsured as a monk and given the name Kallistos in 1966.

By that time he had been guided by Amphilochios Makris, a visionary monastic on Patmos, who said that care for the environment, especially trees, was a Christian duty. It was this monk, canonised in 2018, who advised the young Englishman that his future lay in teaching Orthodox Christianity in the West.

Ware faithfully carried out this mission during three decades as an Oxford lecturer, presenting arcane theological issues with clarity and humour.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Theology

(Church Times) Irish bishops express sympathy for bereaved after Creeslough explosion

Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland have joined Pope Francis in offering prayers for those killed in an explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal, on Friday.

On Sunday, Irish police released the names of the ten people who were killed in the explosion. The victims included three children, among them Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who was five years old.

The blast destroyed a petrol station and a shop, and damaged surrounding buildings, in the village, which is in the north-western part of the Republic of Ireland.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, released a statement with the bishop of Derry & Raphoe, in whose Church of Ireland diocese Creeslough is situated.

“On behalf of Church of Ireland people across this island, we wish to express our sympathy to all who have been bereaved,” the statement read. It continued: “Our hearts also go out to those who have been injured and to their families, along with the assurance of our prayers in the weeks to come.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(NYT Op-ed) Pinchas Goldschmidt–My First Yom Kippur in Exile

This year, I will divide my time between a few Jerusalem synagogues. Here, and across other cities of Israel, I meet new Jewish émigrés from Russia, the tens of thousands of fellow Jews who have fled since the start of the war. We reminisce about our pasts, and look ahead to our future.

It is strange to feel in exile in Jerusalem, in the Jewish ancestral land — but home is strange like that. Over the centuries, rabbis used to sign their names on documents, not as a “rabbi of” a certain city, but rather “as a temporary dweller” of that city. The role of a religious leader is not only to be a pastoral guide, not only to answer questions and lead services and give sermons, the beautiful and glorious moments that fill one with meaning, a sense of purpose and awe. Those are, so to speak, the easy parts of the rabbinate.

The hardest task of religious leadership is to take moral stances in difficult times, no matter the cost.

And this is perhaps what the shofar, the ram’s horn that Jews blow on the High Holy Days, represents. According to the Bible, the shofar blow is the sound of freedom. It was historically blown at the beginning of the jubilee year — the year that freed all slaves and returned all sold ancestral property. The sound of the shofar blow is meant to remind us of both freedom and equality.

When we blow that shofar this year, let us remember how a peaceful world must rely on the fundamentals of liberty and life, not only for individuals but also among nations.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine

(CLJ) Phil Davignon–Misunderstanding the Rise of the Nones

The assumption that proper catechesis produces assent to Catholic doctrine—which thereby fosters Catholic identity and practice—assumes that people choose their actions and identity primarily on the basis of theological beliefs. Yet this widely held assumption has come under fire recently. James K. A. Smith’s work on cultural liturgies draws on Augustine, cognitive psychology, and philosophies of action to challenge this myth: people’s behavior is not driven primarily by what they know and believe but by what they love and imagine as good. This is not to say that beliefs are unimportant, but that what gives shape to human action is primarily one’s imagination and enduring dispositions (habitus) rather than mere assent to doctrine.

This notion is consistent with St. John Paul II’s critique of modern culture in Evangelium Vitae, which focuses on “the eclipse of the sense of God” (§21). He argues that people do not lose their sense of God because of their beliefs, but due to a “loss of contact with God’s wise design,” which occurs “when nature itself, from being ‘mater’ (mother), is now reduced to being ‘matter,’ and is subjected to every kind of manipulation” (EV §22). John Paul II names this loss of the sense of God as “the deepest [root] of the struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death,’” which is characteristic of a “social and cultural climate dominated by secularism” (EV §21). People who lose “contact with God’s wise design” and their sense of God are prone to begin “living as if God does not exist,” (EV §21) also known as “practical atheism.” The most shocking aspect of this diagnosis of modern secularity is that it even describes many who maintain belief in God and superficial religiosity, since assenting to orthodox theology does not protect someone from losing their sense of God and living as if he does not exist.

This is not to say that beliefs are unimportant, but that one’s imagination—whether Catholic or secular—is ultimately more important for determining whether someone embodies a life of faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(FT) India bans leading Muslim group over terrorism accusations

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has outlawed a leading Muslim group and its affiliates for five years, accusing it of links to terrorist organisations, in a move that is likely to foment the country’s deepening communal tensions.

The banning of the Popular Front of India on Wednesday followed the arrests in recent days of more than 200 of its members and searches of top leaders’ houses and offices.

India’s Ministry of Home Affairs said the PFI was involved in “serious offences, including terrorism and its financing, targeted gruesome killings, disregarding the constitutional set up of the country [and] disturbing public order”. 

The ban extended to eight other groups that work on behalf of the Muslim minority population, which makes up about 200mn of India’s almost 1.4bn people. Those organisations included the Rehab India Foundation, the Campus Front of India, the All India Imams Council, the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, and the National Women’s Front.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, India, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(R U) Giorgia Meloni’s Politics And Faith: Meet The Woman Who Could Be Italy’s Next Leader

Pope Francis has been openly anti-populist, but the Italian people seem open to it now that the situation has gotten more dire economically as a result of COVID-19, rising inflation and an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The pope has been good about staying away from the morass of Italian politics, leaving it to the Italian bishops to exert influence.

As Vatican observer John Allen Jr. wrote in a recent Crux column: “Italian Catholics also have a commendable capacity to live with contradiction, reflecting a healthy sense of the complexities of things. Small case in point: I recently went to a local pharmacy for a Covid test, and I noticed a poor box to support the hospital founded by Padre Pio atop a shelf. Upon further inspection, it was the same shelf that offered the pharmacy’s collection of jumbo-sized boxes of condoms.”

Meloni is an embodiment of such contradictions. For example, she supports family values and other Catholic doctrines, but has a daughter, named Ginevra, with her boyfriend Andrea Giambruno, a journalist.

Allen said Italy is a place where “the sacred and the secular have been forced by bitter experience to work out a modus vivendi, for the most part respecting the legitimacy and autonomy of the other.”

Despite all these contradictions, Meloni is poised to be prime minister. Her campaign slogan may be “Ready” — but it remains to be seen if she, the majority of her countrymen and the world are ready to see her lead Italy.

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, Italy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Current) Marvin Olasky–A Wrinkle in Journalism History

As I began editing World thirty years ago I was proposing policies regarding poverty-fighting and related issues that became known as “compassionate conservatism.” The magazine reflected that viewpoint. Today, “national conservatism” or “Christian nationalism” has little room for compassion. As World resisted paranoid lines regarding vaccines, masks, and church closings—all part of a big government plot—our resistance became part of a larger conspiracy theory: World had gone woke.

American journalism history has valuable lessons on how to deal with conspiracy mongers. In 1955 wealthy William F. Buckley, Jr. started a magazine, National Review, that invigorated a conservative movement in disarray. Within a few years Buckley as editor had to fight off the John Birch Society, which asserted—among other oddities—that President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. Buckley said Birch founder and head Robert Welch inferred “subjective intention from objective consequences”: Because bad things had happened, U.S. policy makers must have intended them to happen.

John Birchers scrutinized book-buying decisions by local librarians and demanded that some books be removed. When National Review opposed the Birch campaign to impeach Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, many subscribers complained. When one donor said he had supported National Review financially and wanted it to support his concerns, Buckley said the magazine was “not for sale.”

Buckley owned the magazine and maintained his emphasis on independence even when the business side, led by publisher Bill Rusher, worried about reader and revenue loss. Rusher said a “substantial fraction” of readers “bled away” during 1962 and 1963. A direct mail campaign flopped as many on the mailing lists sided with the Birchers.

Buckley stuck with his principles and wrote to Barry Goldwater, “It is essential that we effect a clean break” with the Birch Society.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

Frederick Buechner RIP

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology

(UMNS) Some large Texas Methodist churches vote on disaffiliation

Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches.

But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination.

On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate.

The Woodlands Methodist is among the denomination’s very largest churches, ranking fourth in membership and second in worship attendance in 2018. The church is known for its ties to Good News, a longtime traditionalist caucus within The United Methodist Church that has opposed same-sex marriage and ordination of [non-celibate] LGBTQ people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT op-ed) Julia Yost–New York’s Hottest Club Is the Roman Catholic Church

As senior churchmen seek to make Catholicism palatable to modernity, members of a small but significant scene are turning to the ancient faith in defiance of liberal pieties. The scene is often associated with “Dimes Square,” a downtown Manhattan neighborhood popular with a pandemic-weary Generation Z — or Zoomer — crowd, but it has spread across a network of podcasts and upstart publications. Its sensibility is more transgressive than progressive. Many of its denizens profess to be apolitical. Others hold outré opinions, whether sincerely or as fashion statements. Reactionary motifs are chic: Trump hats and “tradwife” frocks, monarchist and anti-feminist sentiments. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this contrarian aesthetic is its embrace of Catholicism.

Urban trends can shape a culture, as millennial Brooklyn did in its heyday. The Dimes Square scene is small, but its ascent highlights a culture-wide shift. Progressive morality, formulated in response to the remnants of America’s Christian culture, was once a vanguard. By 2020, the year of lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests, progressivism had come to feel hegemonic in the social spaces occupied by young urban intellectuals. Traditional morality acquired a transgressive glamour. Disaffection with the progressive moral majority — combined with Catholicism’s historic ability to accommodate cultural subversion — has produced an in-your-face style of traditionalism. This is not your grandmother’s church — and whether the new faithful are performing an act of theater or not, they have the chance to revitalize the church for young, educated Americans.

Honor Levy, the fresh-out-of-Bennington writer who co-hosts the trendy podcast “Wet Brain,” recently converted to Catholicism and lets you know when she has unconfessed mortal sins on her conscience. The podcast’s beat is pop culture, literature, politics and religion — including practical tips for warding off demons. Dasha Nekrasova, a Catholic revert and actress with a recurring role on HBO’s “Succession,” is a co-host of the scene’s most popular podcast, “Red Scare.” On an episode during Lent this year, Ms. Nekrasova focused on esoteric Catholic topics such as sedevacantism, the ultra-traditionalist notion that the popes since the Second Vatican Council are illegitimate.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Christianity Today Names Russell Moore Editor in Chief

We aspire at Christianity Today to advance the stories and ideas of the kingdom of God. The basic question that animates our work is What does it look like to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ in our time? We hope to be for a new generation what we were for Moore himself when he came across Christianity Today at the age of 15: a capacious and compelling vision of Christian life that opens a path through a fallen world and into the kingdom of God.

That’s why appointing Moore to this position is so important. As president and CEO, I have held the editor in chief position in stewardship for a brief time, but it needs someone to inhabit it fully, and Moore exhibits that way of following Jesus that is deeply rooted, beautifully orthodox, thoughtful and compassionate, and committed to serving the kingdom even at great cost to ourselves.

Significantly, we are also bringing longtime communications and publishing veteran Joy Allmond onto our team to serve as editorial chief of staff. One of the primary charges for Moore will be to continue advancing the Public Theology Project. Allmond will work alongside him to see that project flourish. With an extensive background at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Decision magazine, and Lifeway, Allmond will bring considerable editorial, executive, and interpersonal gifts to the smooth functioning of our publishing enterprise as well as forthcoming events and programs.

Ours is an era of great peril and great promise for the church. We are determined at Christianity Today to do everything we can to serve the church in a turbulent and divisive time, and to love the world God made. We were honored to bring Russell Moore onto the team a little over a year ago. Now we look forward to what he, Allmond, and our extraordinary editorial team can accomplish in the years ahead.

Read it all.

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

(CT) With an Eye to Mission and Money, More Evangelical Universities Go Green

There are two reasons to put solar panels on the roofs of Calvin University.

One, renewable energy can provide power for the private Christian campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without adding to the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide that are driving climate change.

Two, it will save the school some money.

At Calvin, the environmental reason is primary. The budgetary help is a bonus.

“I think taking care of the planet is a prerequisite to being a Christian,” Tim Fennema, vice president for administration and finance, told CT. “And as a Christian university, it’s something we want to do.”

Calvin is on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2057. The school got a little closer last month when it announced a partnership with the Indiana-based Sun FundED to come up with a plan to install solar arrays on university buildings, offsetting the high-carbon energy sources Calvin currently uses to heat, cool, and power the campus.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(CT) Craig Keener–Ron Sider Was the Real Deal

Ron’s loyalty was to Scripture. He was no more radical than John Wesley or Charles Finney (and certainly far less radical than Saint Anthony and Saint Francis).

As I once pointed out to him, he was much more conciliatory than the biblical figures of Amos; Jeremiah; John the Baptist (Luke 3:11); and, most important of all, the Lord Jesus, who said we cannot be his disciples unless we surrender all our possessions (Luke 12:33; 14:33).

Although Ron was often associated with the evangelical Left, he remained consistently pro-life and insisted that the church should maintain biblical sexual ethics. I’m pretty sure that he and I didn’t always vote the same way, despite our agreement on ethics, but I never doubted that his vote was informed by his biblical conscience.

In conversation, I found him ready to embrace what he saw as the best solutions from either side of today’s (tragically polarized) political aisle, and he maintained contacts on both sides of that split. He always remained the consistent evangelical Anabaptist that he was—living simply and sacrificially and working on behalf of the needy. The 2013 book of essays dedicated in his honor is fittingly titled Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals

(CT) Ron Sider RIP, An Evangelical Who Pushed for Social Action

Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,’ died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider had suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest.

For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors.

“Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,” he said. “Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Andrew Atherstone–The Alpha Course will continue rebranding Christianity

The Christian faith always has direct social implications. It is not a privatised religion but overflows into practical action and community transformation. This is seen clearly in the Alpha movement, which has been putting on courses for 45 years. Alpha is a global phenomenon, one of the leading brands in Christian evangelisation, created at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in central London. More than 28 million people have attended the course worldwide, nearly five million in the UK, and many have become Christians as a result. Alpha’s pioneer, the former barrister Nicky Gumbel, has won plaudits as a Billy Graham for the modern age.

Alpha’s ambition, expressed in its famous catchphrase, is to see not only “lives changed” but also “society transformed”. Alpha has matured over three decades, with frequent revision of Gumbel’s books and films, and this emphasis has become increasingly explicit. For example, he suggests that to pray “Your Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer is to pray for the nation to be transformed in the areas of politics, economics, social justice, crime and education. Drawing lessons from church history, he praises John Wesley, the father of Methodism, as not only a preacher by also “a prophet of social righteousness”. Gumbel’s other heroes include campaigners such as William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Questions of Life, the core Alpha text, has sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Recent editions reveal a great leap forward in the maturing of Gumbel’s social theology. “We experience the Holy Spirit not just so that we have a warm feeling in our hearts,” he declares, “but so that we go out and make a difference to our world.” Another of his popular paperbacks, The Heart of Revival, was published in the late 1990s, when many churches were excitedly looking for evidence of “revival”. Gumbel wrote: “True and lasting revival changes not only human hearts but also communities and institutions. Love for God and love for neighbour go hand in hand.”

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Posted in Adult Education, Atonement, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nathan Söderblom

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the life and work of Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala, who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians. Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of thy Church in life and worship, for the glory of thy Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Spirituality/Prayer, Sweden

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes Head of Orthodox Church of Ukraine to Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy, to Lambeth Palace..[yesterday].

The Archbishop invited His Beatitude and His Eminence Archbishop Yevstratiy Zoria, Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, to express his solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to spend time in conversation, prayer and worship.

The two leaders held a meeting with Archbishop Justin before attending the midday Eucharist in the Crypt Chapel at Lambeth Palace. During the Eucharist, Archbishop Justin knelt to receive a blessing from Metropolitan Epifaniy.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Ukraine

Keep up momentum on highlighting abuses of freedom of religion and belief, bishop Philip Mounstephen urges

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, told a global summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) hosted by the UK Government, that there had been some good progress in some areas made since the publication of the review in 2019, but ‘much’ still needed to be done.

“The challenge going forward is to keep up the corporate momentum that has developed around this issue because this is a really, really significant global issue,” he told a panel session of the Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London today.

“We must not let it sink back into the place that it was before, largely ignored and overlooked.”

Asked what his advice would be to Parliamentarians, Bishop Philip said: “My key message to Parliamentarians would be: understand what the main drivers behind freedom of religion or belief abuses are – we are looking at totalitarian regimes, religious fundamentalism, militant nationalism – these are really serious issues that must be addressed. So please Parliamentarians, make this a bipartisan issue, espouse it across the political spectrum.”

In his remarks during the panel session Bishop Philip welcomed the creation of the UK Freedom of Religion or Belief Public Forum made since the publication of the 2019 report.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution