Daily Archives: May 13, 2013

Kevin McFadden–How Should Christians Disagree over Theology?

First, we need to recognize that some doctrines are more important than other doctrines. All Christians recognize this to some extent. For example, the doctrine of the return of Jesus Christ, the second coming, is much more important than the question of whether Christ will return before or after the tribulation. If you deny the second coming of Christ, it calls into question whether you are a Christian. But Christians have always disagreed about the exact timing of Christ’s return. So which doctrines are more important and which are less important?

One way to think about this issue is to distinguish between three levels of doctrines. First level doctrines include those a person has to believe in order to be a Christian. These include things like the inspiration of Scripture, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the humanity of Christ, the sacrificial death of Christ for our sins, and his bodily resurrection. Now I am not saying that every Christian understands these doctrines fully. But if a person rejects these doctrines, can they really be a Christian in any historic sense?

Second level doctrines include those which are important because they promote the health of the church.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Education, Other Churches, Theology

Episcopal Church regains control of two buildings in California; some Anglicans must move

St. Paul’s Anglican Parish in Bakersfield is looking for a new home following a courtroom decision that hands control of its church property back to the Episcopal Church.

The Anglicans are on the move following a little-noticed ruling in February that parishioners in two of several breakaway Kern churches lacked the authority to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church.

Even though Anglicans at St. Paul’s and St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Ridgecrest both held their own titles to church property, Kern County Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ruled that they had to vacate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

(Wash. Post) IRS targeted groups critical of government, documents from agency probe show

The staffers in the Cincinnati field office were making high-level decisions on how to evaluate the groups because a decade ago the IRS assigned all applications to that unit. The IRS also eliminated an automatic after-the-fact review process Washington used to conduct such determinations.

Marcus Owens, who oversaw tax-exempt groups at the IRS between 1990 and 1999, said that delegation “carries with it a risk” because the Cincinnati office “isn’t as plugged into what’s [politically] sensitive as Washington.”

Owens, now with the firm Caplin & Drysdale, said that before the agency’s most recent reorganization, it had a series of “tripwires in place” that could catch unfair targeting, including the fact that the IRS identified its criteria for special scrutiny in a public manual.

“There’s no longer that safety valve, and as a result, the IRS has been rolling the dice ever since…..

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

Shunned Elsewhere, Body of Marathon Bombing Suspect Is Buried in Virginia Cemetery

The mystery surrounding the burial of the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev has come to an end. The Boston Marathon bombing suspect was buried this week at a small Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Va.

According to his completed death certificate, which was released on Friday, Mr. Tsarnaev was buried on Thursday at Al-Barzakh Cemetery, about half an hour north of Richmond. Officials in Massachusetts had said the body was moved to a burial site out of state. But they had refused to disclose where.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Stuff) Ken Daniels Chimes in on the Christchurch Cathedral debate: a view from the pews

I have always believed in a threefold way of looking at the journey of life. I need to acknowledge the past, live in the present and anticipate the future.

In relation to the cathedral building I acknowledge the forebears. I go further and honour them, because for many years I have been a beneficiary of their efforts.

When it comes to living in the present, my life, like so many others, has been drastically changed by the seismic activity. Life cannot return to what it was. I live in a house which is to be demolished and hopefully rebuilt. This is just one of the constant reminders of the change that has and is occurring for so many.

The present situation, dominated as it is by change, is forcing me to think more and more about the future and try to anticipate what that might look like.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

The Harmon Family Picture at Nathaniel's Graduation from Vanderbilt University

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Education, Harmon Family, Young Adults

It behooves us "to fill our hearts with faithful meditations" on His Passion or His Resurrection

….the bridegroom rejoices to revisit the heart’s chamber when He finds it adorned with fruits and decked with flowers””that is, meditating on the mystery of His Passion or on the glory of His Resurrection.

The tokens of the Passion we recognize as the fruitage of the ages of the past, appearing in the fullness of time during the reign of sin and death (Gal. 4.4). But it is the glory of the Resurrection, in the new springtime of regenerating grace, that the fresh flowers of the later age come forth, whose fruit shall be given without measure at the general resurrection, when time shall be no more. And so it is written, ”˜The winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth’ (Cant. 2.11 f); signifying that summer has come back with Him who dissolves icy death into the spring of a new life and says, ”˜Behold, I make all things new’ (Rev. 21.5). His Body sown in the grave has blossomed in the Resurrection (I Cor. 15.42); and in like manner our valleys and fields which were barren or frozen, as if dead, glow with reviving life and warmth.
The Father of Christ who makes all things new, is well pleased with the freshness of those flowers and fruits, and the beauty of the field which breathes forth such heavenly fragrance; and He says in benediction, ”˜See, the smell of My Son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed’ (Gen. 27.27). Blessed to overflowing, indeed, since of His fullness have all we received (John 1.16). But the Bride may come when she pleases and gather flowers and fruits therewith to adorn the inmost recesses of her conscience; that the Bridegroom when He cometh may find the chamber of her heart redolent with perfume.

So it behoves us, if we would have Christ for a frequent guest, to fill our hearts with faithful meditations on the mercy He showed in dying for us, and on His mighty power in rising again from the dead. To this David testified when he sang, ”˜God spake once, and twice I have also heard the same; that power belongeth unto God; and that Thou, Lord, art merciful (Ps. 62.11f). And surely there is proof enough and to spare in that Christ died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and ascended into heaven that He might protect us from on high, and sent the Holy Spirit for our comfort. Hereafter He will come again for the consummation of our bliss. In His Death He displayed His mercy, in His Resurrection His power; both combine to manifest His glory.

–Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), On Loving God, Chapter III

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church History, Soteriology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(JTA) Synagogues Merge to Survive

The Jews of Corpus Christi knew a decade ago they had to act fast to save their two synagogues.

With at most 1,000 Jews left in the Texas town and only 60 families making up its membership, the 60-year-old Conservative synagogue was in shaky financial shape. So in 2005, B’nai Israel Synagogue merged with Temple Beth El, a Reform shul, to form Congregation Beth Israel, combining customs and sharing sacred spaces to preserve Jewish life in an area that saw its heyday around World War II.

The combined synagogue, and a small but growing number of others like it, makes a concerted effort to be inclusive despite denominational differences in liturgy and theology. Friday night services are tailored to Reform-minded members, while Saturday morning is conducted in the more traditional Conservative style, according to Kenneth Roseman, Beth Israel’s Reform-ordained rabbi.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Prison Nonviolence Project

ROBIN GUILLEN (Inmate): (speaking to group) My name is Robin, and I’m a peacemaker.

OLSON: Fellow inmates, like Robin Guillen, who are graduates of the program, guide the weekly sessions.

GUILLEN: (speaking to group) That’s part of what we explore here and discover about ourselves on why we acted violently.

OLSON: Guillen has served 40 years in prison””20 of them here at San Quentin””for a murder he committed at age 17. After witnessing a stabbing outside his cell, he made a decision to turn his life around beginning with facing his painful past.

Watch or read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Prison/Prison Ministry, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes, we beseech thee, to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him by whom all things were made, thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Christians worldwide called to pray for Syria

“On Saturday, May 11, Christians of all denominations will gather in prayer to petition God to grant his mercy on Syria and to bring an end to violence,” reads a message issued by the Syrian Christian community.

The prayer is focused on four main intentions: the return of peace, the liberation of all hostages, assistance for all children traumatized by the war, and humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees and displaced people.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Syria, Violence

Choral Evensong

from St John’s College, Cambridge on Ascension Eve available here

and Sung Eucharist from Trinity College, Cambridge recorded on Thursday available here

More Sunday Worship available here

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ascension, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

(Gleanings) Good News for Christians in India's Most Persecuting State

Indian Christians are celebrating the result of recent elections in Karnataka, a southwestern state known for having the highest rates of violence against Christians. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party which supports extremist groups, has finally lost power “after nine years of unchallenged rule.”

“The BJP is decimated,” reports AsiaNews. “Its defeat is good news especially for social and religious minorities of Karnataka, victims in these years of violence and persecution of the Hindu ultranationalist groups, openly supported by the BJP.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, India, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Turkey uncovers alleged plot to kill Orthodox patriarch

Turkey is investigating an alleged plot to assassinate Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and has stepped up security around the patriarchate in Istanbul, his spokesman said on Friday.

Spokesman Dositheos Anagnostopoulos said the patriarch had not received any direct threats but had learned of the alleged plot from Turkish media, which was later confirmed to the patriarchate by Turkish police.

“Later in the day, police informed the patriarchate of a possible threat and dispatched additional police officers,” Anagnostopoulos said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Turkey

Google brings free wi-fi, Street View Trekker to Charleston, S.C.

“We are very excited to expand our relationship with Google and Charleston Digital Corridor to offer residents and visitors several hotspots to connect to the Internet,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley. “Having this Wi-Fi network makes life easier for people doing business here and helps our tourists find the attractions they want to visit. And in the case of the trekker, get a sneak peek of the places before you visit. It’s all done at no cost to the taxpayer.”

A Google community grant to the Charleston Digital Corridor supports the Wi-Fi network, and the project uses no public funds. The Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation is responsible for maintaining the network.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

Albert Mohler–Confessional Integrity and the Stewardship of Words

Theological education is a deadly serious business. The stakes are so high. A theological seminary that serves faithfully will be a source of health and life for the church, but an unfaithful seminary will set loose a torrent of trouble, untruth, and sickness upon Christ’s people. Inevitably, the seminaries are the incubators of the church’s future. The teaching imparted to seminarians will shortly be inflicted upon congregations, where the result will be either fruitfulness or barrenness, vitality or lethargy, advance or decline, spiritual life, or spiritual death.

Sadly, the landscape is littered with theological institutions that have poorly taught and have been poorly led. Theological liberalism has destroyed scores of seminaries, divinity schools, and other institutions for the education of the ministry. Many of these schools are now extinct, even as the churches they served have been evacuated. Others linger on, committed to the mission of revising the Christian faith in order to make peace with the spirit of the age. These schools intentionally and boldly deny the pattern of sound words in order to devise new words for a new age ”” producing a new faith. As J. Gresham Machen rightly observed almost a century ago, we do not really face two rival versions of Christianity. We face Christianity on the one hand and, on the other hand, some other religion that selectively uses Christian words, but is not Christianity.

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Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology