Daily Archives: September 15, 2013

Tim Keller–Church of the Redeemer’s Public Faith

As a college student I attended a campus Christian fellowship that always, at every meeting, had a book table of literature for purchase. On the table there was a little booklet called Doubters Welcome. I remember my surprise at the title, because as a young believer I thought that Christians frowned on doubters and wanted them to just take that leap and have faith. But I came to realize that the Bible had a more balanced view. While we want doubts to give way to faith (John 20:28; James 1:6), we should be merciful and patient with those who are still in their doubt-troubled period. (Jude 1:22). On that campus the Christian fellowship was very inviting to skeptics and doubters, and there were always a lot of them mixed in with the believers.

I always wanted to be part of a church that had that same spirit. When we began Redeemer Church in Manhattan in 1989, one of the first “core values” was that we wanted to be a place where those who were not believers (or who were not sure what they believed) would find their questions welcomed and addressed, their doubts and difficulties respected, and their struggles and concerns anticipated. We soon became aware of and glad for the presence of many, many doubters and spiritual inquirers in our midst. Over time, many of them discovered the Redeemer community to be an “incubator” where they were able to see the reasonable beauty of the Christian gospel and discover their own faith developing and growing.

However, the only way we were able to have a community filled with questioners was because believers at Redeemer were not afraid to identify themselves publicly as Christians to others that they worked with and lived near.

Read it all (his emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(LA Times Op-ed) Apple and the religious roots of technological devotion

Apple has never been shy about claiming its role as artist and shaman. Links between religion and art and the promise of technology are frequently revealed in the company’s advertising campaigns. The 2007 ad that launched the iPhone, for example, shows the glowing device floating against a black background. A solitary finger reaches out to touch the haloed screen, and the tagline reads, “Touching is Believing.”

The copy is a biblical reference (among other things; it also referenced the way the new phone had been kept under wraps), and the visuals refer to a 17th century painting by Caravaggio, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas.” Caravaggio’s painting shows the apostle Thomas placing his finger into the wounded side of the risen Christ to confirm that he has truly risen from the dead. Thomas touches so that he may believe. Apple’s parody of sacred art pairs technology with transcendence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(TEC priest) Jared Cramer of Michigan Publishes some of his paper's for the Sewanee D.Min. Program

A lot of fodder to think against and learn from–check it out.

Posted in Uncategorized

Yonat Shimron–Bahnson helped grow the church garden movement in North Carolina

Fred Bahnson’s first bit of advice when he started planning a church garden eight years ago came from an elderly tobacco farmer who grabbed a handful of soil, rolled it around in his fingers and shook his head:

“You don wohn fahm heah,” he said in his deep North Carolina drawl.

Those were not the only discouraging words he received as he planted and cultivated one of the earliest and most successful church gardens, 20 miles north of Chapel Hill….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

An LA Times Editorial that has received much attention–The pulpit should be free of politics

Churches and other nonprofits long have been forbidden from endorsing political candidates. But erratic enforcement of the law has emboldened supporters of legislation in Congress that would end the restriction. Far from needing to be repealed, the ban on politics in the pulpit ought to be enforced more aggressively.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) would repeal a 1954 amendment to the tax code sponsored by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. The amendment says that churches and other so-called 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations may not “participate in, or intervene in ”¦ any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

Jones’ legislation seeks to restore the “1st Amendment rights” of churches, but that’s misleading. Churches may have a 1st Amendment right to endorse candidates, but there is no constitutional right to a tax exemption. Congress is free to condition such exemptions ”” which can be worth millions of dollars ”” on an agreement by churches and charities to refrain from partisan political activity. And it’s the IRS’ responsibility to enforce compliance….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

RNS Interviews Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid in South Africa, continues to speak around the globe on justice and peace. Butler University and neighboring Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis announced Thursday (Sept. 12) that they would name a center for the 81-year-old icon.

Just before the announcement of the new center, Tutu spoke with Religion News Service about faith and justice, Israel and Palestine and Pope Francis’ recent selfie and lifestyle choices. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Poverty, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Syria, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

Reformed Episcopal Church Diocese of the Southeast Expresses Support for the Diocese of S. Carolina

The Diocese of the Southeast of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America, unanimously approved a resolution of support for the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence as they face legal challenges and other harassment from The Episcopal Church following their disassociation last year from The Episcopal Church.

The resolution, introduced by the Rev. Charles A. Collins, Jr., Vicar of the Church of the Atonement in Mount Pleasant who also serves as the Ecumenical Representative for the Rt. Rev. Alphonza Gadsden, Sr., noted that the Diocese of South Carolina had sought to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints despite changes to the teaching of Scripture and the Church as well as the support that they have received from Anglicans in the Global South, including the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates Council. “We’re pleased to support Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina as they stand on the foundation of Scripture,” said Bishop Gadsden, who had met with other Anglican bishops at Camp St. Christopher earlier in the week to discuss ways that they could engage in ministry together.

Tracing its roots back to 1875, the Diocese of the Southeast comprises more than 30 parishes and missions in South Carolina and Georgia and also covers the state of Florida. Following the approval of the resolution, the text of which follows, prayers were offered for the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence.

The Text of the resolution is as follows:

A Resolution of Support
Whereas, the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and the Diocese of the Southeast of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America share a common heritage as Christians, as Anglicans, and as residents of this land in which God’s Providence has placed us; and,

Whereas, the Diocese of South Carolina has sought to “…earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 [ESV]) despite severe opposition and interference from The Episcopal Church as that latter body has revised Catholic teaching; and,

Whereas, on 17 October 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops of The Episcopal Church certified to the Presiding Bishop of that body that the Rt. Rev’d Mark Joseph Lawrence, D.D., had abandoned The Episcopal Church despite his earnest efforts to preserve both his Diocese’s relationship to that body and its faithfulness to Scripture and Catholic teaching; and,

Whereas, those actions triggered two pre-existing resolutions disaffiliating the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church and called for a special convention of that Diocese; and,

Whereas, that special convention was held at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston on 17 November 2012 and at that convention the overwhelming majority of the Diocese of South Carolina affirmed their support for this disaffiliation and Bishop Lawrence; and,

Whereas, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Primates Council has affirmed its support of the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence; and,

Whereas, The Episcopal Church has continued to seek legal action against the Diocese of South Carolina;

Now Therefore, we, the Forty-first Synod of the Diocese of the Southeast meeting at St. John’s Church in Charleston do hereby give thanks to Almighty God for the faithful witness and testimony of the Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence, affirm our support of our bothers and sisters in Christ, and do now lift them up before Almighty God in prayer and heartfelt affection.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Theology

A Local Paper Profile of South Carolina Diocesan Bishop Mark Lawrence

“If you aren’t seeing God at work in your life, you aren’t far enough out on the limb yet…” [Mark Lawrence said].

It’s a theme Lawrence has stuck by and modeled since, the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis says.

“As our bishop, he has consistently modeled a kind of faith that is prepared, when called to do so, to step out of the boat and trust in God’s loving provision,” Lewis says. “Consequently we continue, I believe, to see God at work among us in amazing ways.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the day

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named: Grant that, according to the riches of thy glory, we may be strengthened with power through thy Spirit in our inner being; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in thy love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is its length and breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

–Modeled on Paul in Ephesians 3

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

From the Daily Scripture Readings

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [Selah] Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! [Selah]

–Psalm 24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

ACI – Affidavit of Mark McCall on The Episcopal Church's Polity

From here. The entire affidavit can be read in pdf format here.

In April I submitted an affidavit in federal court in South Carolina on behalf of Bishop Mark Lawrence. It was one of several affidavits submitted by the Diocese of South Carolina in response to litigation filed against Bishop Lawrence by parties supporting the position of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. My affidavit included work on issues relating to TEC polity that I have done over the last three years but had not previously published. This affidavit has been part of the public record for several months. ACI is now posting it online.

My affidavit contains a detailed analysis of the legal structure and history of TEC. The following paragraphs provide an overview of the analysis:

26. In the remainder of my affidavit I will examine the account of TEC’s structure and history presented by Plaintiff’s expert witness, Robert Bruce Mullin. This account is profoundly mistaken and contains numerous errors, misrepresentations and failures to understand relevant legal concepts. But before turning to the detailed analysis it will be useful to present an overview of what that testimony is trying to accomplish.

27. As I will show below, Mullin concedes as he must that TEC’s governing document, its Constitution, contains no explicit language giving any central body hierarchical supremacy over its member dioceses in recognizable legal language. He claims instead that such supremacy was an “assumption” that is only “reflected,” not stated, in the church Constitution. Indeed, he goes so far as to claim that while “explicit language of supremacy was necessary” for other churches, for TEC “language of supremacy in the Constitution was unnecessary and, indeed, inappropriate.”

28. To justify why TEC alone does not need the standard legal language readily found elsewhere Mullin develops an alternative theory of TEC’s structure and legal history that he characterizes at the outset of his testimony as “an extended historical and theological analysis of the development of the Church’s hierarchical structure from its earliest days to the present.”

29. In this section I will consider carefully what Mullin admits about the lack of standard legal language expressing hierarchy. In the next section I will show that his alternative theory cannot withstand scrutiny.

30. Although I challenge in this affidavit Mullin’s interpretations of TEC’s legal history, constitution and canons and 200 years of related documents, it is important to reiterate that Mullin characterizes his testimony as “an extended historical and theological analysis.” When his testimony is understood as he himself describes it, it is clear that the Plaintiff is asking the Court to go far beyond anything the First Amendment permits. Courts cannot sift through 200 years of ecclesiastical history pursuing “assumptions” that were allegedly made in the 1780s and never stated explicitly but were only “reflected” in an ambiguous historical record. Courts cannot constitutionally enter a theological thicket that requires “immersion in doctrinal issues or extensive inquiry into church polity.” Maryland and Va. Churches v. Sharpsburg Church, 396 U.S. 367, 370, n. 4 (1970).

Read it all and follow the link to the affidavit here

[More South Carolina links here]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

PM News Nigeria: Kidnapped Archbishop Kattey Freed

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Nigeria’s Anglican Archbishop Ignatius C.O Kattey, and the Dean of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria kidnapped eight days ago by gunmen, was set free Saturday night.

Venerable Israel Omisioni, the Archdeacon of Eleme Archdeaconry of the Anglican Communion of the Diocese Niger Delta North confirmed to PMNEWS on phone that the Second in Command to the Primate suddenly walked into his compound at Alode Eleme in Eleme local Government Area of Rivers State.

Read it all [one of about 5 Nigerian news reports so far]

Update: I was interested to discover this weekend that the Economist had been covering the story (KSH).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

(NBC) First flood, now fire–how one New Jersey family plans to recover

One family with several generations of businesses on the Jersey shore wonders how it will rebuild yet again after a fire devastates the boardwalk. NBC’s Brian Williams reports

A great father and son portrait amidst real suffering, the Lord bless them and their community. Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Rural/Town Life

Largest Presbyterian Church in Texas Filing Suit to Keep Property Should They Leave Denomination

Presbyterian Church USA’s largest congregation in Texas has filed a lawsuit to seek legal protection for their property should they seek dismissal from the denomination.

The Highland Park Presbyterian Church, a Dallas-based congregation with approximately 4,000 members, filed the suit on Tuesday in Dallas County District Court.

Mark Annick of Androvett Legal Media in Dallas is working with Highland Park Presbyterian on the suit over the property.

“Regarding the status of the lawsuit, the court granted the temporary restraining order”¦and set a hearing date on the matter for September 23,” Annick told The Christian Post.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian