Daily Archives: October 16, 2013

(RNS) Cathy Grossman–Mainline Protestants: Vintage or vibrant?

Half a century ago, the denominations under the mainline umbrella dominated the American faith landscape. Now, after decades of declining numbers, only about one in five U.S. adults identifies with a mainline denomination such as United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and American Baptists.

Could replacing the “mainline” name help stem the slide? The challenge came from scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt. Writing in the venerable Christian Century magazine, she called for a new brand that conveys her view of the mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership.

“The image of an all-white, elitist church is not going to fly for generations to come,” said Merritt, an author and speaker who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. “’Mainline’ was a good historic marker but the future needs to reflect who we are now.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

(Public Discourse) A Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada

There is a new and significant piece of evidence in the social science debate about gay parenting and the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to their children’s flourishing. A study published last week in the journal Review of the Economics of the Household””analyzing data from a very large, population-based sample””reveals that the children of gay and lesbian couples are only about 65 percent as likely to have graduated from high school as the children of married, opposite-sex couples. And gender matters, too: girls are more apt to struggle than boys, with daughters of gay parents displaying dramatically low graduation rates.

Unlike US-based studies, this one evaluates a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census, where same-sex couples have had access to all taxation and government benefits since 1997 and to marriage since 2005.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Marriage & Family

(RNS) Long an oasis of Christian-Muslim calm, Kenya may see more strife

While the smoke that hung over the Westgate Shopping Mall has dissipated, a quiet tension still lingers in the air throughout the capital.

Last month’s attack by al-Shabab militants on a mall frequented by Westerners in the capital city, left at least 67 dead. But the burning of a Christian church in the majority-Muslim city Mombasa just two weeks later suggests the nation is on the precipice of more conflict between Christians and Muslims.

This is dispiriting for many in a country that for years enjoyed relative peace between the two monotheistic religions that dominate the region.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Kenya, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Pew Research) As Debt Limit Deadline Nears, Concern Ticks Up But Skepticism Persists

With just two days to go before an Oct. 17 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit, 51% of the public views a rise in the nation’s debt limit as “absolutely essential” in order to avoid an Half View Debt Limit Increase as Essential, More than a Third Say it is Noteconomic crisis, while 36% think the country can go past the deadline without major problems.

Public concern over breaching the debt limit deadline has risen only slightly from a week ago, when 47% said a rise in the debt limit was essential and 39% said it was not.

Those who see no dire economic consequences resulting from going past Thursday’s deadline are not only skeptical about the timing ”“ most say there is no need to raise the debt limit at all. Nearly a quarter of all Americans (23%) ”“ including 37% of Republicans and 52% of Tea Party Republicans ”“ believe the debt limit does not need to be raised at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Stock Market, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NY Times Op-Ed) T. M. Luhrmann–U.S. Mainstream Denominations "rely on a relatively impersonal God"

The mere fact that people like Jack find it intuitively possible to have invisible companions who talk back to them supports the claim that the idea of an invisible agent is basic to our psyche. But Jack’s story also makes it clear that experiencing an invisible companion as truly present ”” especially as an adult ”” takes work: constant concentration, a state that resembles prayer.

It may seem paradoxical, but this very difficulty may be why evangelical churches emphasize a personal, intimate God. While the idea of God may be intuitively plausible ”” just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are atheists who have prayed for parking spots ”” belief can be brittle. Indeed, churches that rely on a relatively impersonal God (like mainstream Protestant denominations) have seen their congregations dwindle over the last 50 years.

To experience God as walking by your side, in conversation with you, is hard. Evangelical pastors often preach as if they are teaching people how to keep God constantly in mind, because it is so easy not to pray, to let God’s presence slip away. But when it works, people experience God as alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Soundings) Dale Matson–GAFCON II: A Way Forward For Anglicanism

The Church of England and ++Welby are culture bound. They formerly sent missionaries to the far corners of the earth. Much of the pushback against Canterbury is from lands Canterbury missioned through the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The prophetic voice for Anglicanism is from the Global South not Canterbury. It should be Canterbury speaking truth to power not cowering and renting her garments because she is ashamed of her guiding documents and Lord. Does accommodating the cultural change make the church more relevant; more genuine; more truthful; more liked? Does ++Justin Welby actually speak the mind of the WWAC any more than the former ABC ++Rowan Williams? His collaboration, while cloaked is progressivism not true reconciliation or repentance.

The bitter irony is that Canterbury in an attempt to be more relevant and responsive to her immediate culture has made herself less relevant to the Christian church in general and the WWAC in particular. Since when does taking the majority side make the church right or more liked? Does Canterbury even understand that lukewarm Christianity is no match for Islam which will ascend to power by demographics alone? England is in danger of having a new and less tolerant established religion.

The title of my article is “A Way Forward For Anglicanism”. It is different than two years ago. We are further down the road. There is more clarity. GAFCON II will be meeting in Kenya in October. I am hopeful.

Read it all and part two is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

Cambridge's The Tab Interviews former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

On the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, do you consider your own views and those of the church as being out of touch with the views of your students at Cambridge, and do you think that’s a problem?

I think it is quite a problem. This is the one area where there is the deepest sense of the church being out of step with what the rest of the culture take for granted. I think it’s quite difficult for some people outside of the church to recognise that there is something in the matter of several thousand years of assumption, reflection and ethical practice here which isn’t likely to be overturned in a moment. But, all that being said, I think the church has to put its hands up and say our attitude towards gay people has at times been appallingly violent. Even now it can be unconsciously patronising and demeaning, and that really doesn’t help. We have to face the fact that we’ve deeply failed a lot of gay and lesbian people, not only historically but more recently as well. I think that there is a very strong, again theological, case for thinking again about our attitudes towards homosexuality: but I’m a bit hesitant about whether marriage is the right category to talk about same sex relation, and I think there is a debate we haven’t quite had about that. But in a sense that’s water under the bridge, the decision has been taken, things move on. Looking back over my time as Archbishop I think that’s what most people will remember about the last ten years: ”˜oh, he was that bloke who was so bogged down in issues about sexuality’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AAC) Prayer for GAFCON2

GAFCON2 will be held on October 21-28 in Nairobi, Kenya. Bishops and their wives, clergy, and delegates from Anglican dioceses all over the world will gather for worship, instruction, fellowship, and discussion of how to share Jesus with the world.

Please pray for GAFCON2. Here are some specific things to bring before the Lord:

1. For all the delegations attending:

Pray for good health, travel mercies, ministry time while there, and reentry upon returning.
Pray for their witness for Christ, their ministry to others, and for what God wants them to receive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates, Kenya, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(ACNS) Michael Perreau–The China not many people hear about

Long queues of people waiting to go to church, sermons broadcast on loudspeakers in a busy public place”¦these are two of the many extraordinary things that I witnessed on a recent visit to China.

I travelled there with Bible Society colleagues from 7 different countries at the invitation of China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). It was an important official visit to cement our already good relationship with SARA, which has enabled us to work closely with the Church in China to print more than 100 million Bibles at the Amity Printing Press in Nanjing since 1987.

From Beijing to Nanjing and then onto Shanghai we spent time talking to officials from SARA and meeting key Chinese Church leaders from the Three Self Patriotic Movement/China Christian Council (China’s Protestant Church) and the Catholic Church. It was fascinating to hear about the incredible growth of Christianity in China, in part fuelled by the wider availability of Bibles.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Jesus, our Master, do thou meet us while we walk in the way and long to reach the heavenly country; so that, following thy light, we may keep the way of righteousness, and never wander away into the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art the Way, the Truth, and the Light art shining within us; for thy mercy’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

King Zedeki”²ah sent Jehu”²cal the son of Shelemi”²ah, and Zephani”²ah the priest, the son of Ma-asei”²ah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Pray for us to the Lord our God.” Now Jeremiah was still going in and out among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. The army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt; and when the Chalde”²ans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they withdrew from Jerusalem. Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah who sent you to me to inquire of me, ”˜Behold, Pharaoh’s army which came to help you is about to return to Egypt, to its own land. And the Chalde”²ans shall come back and fight against this city; they shall take it and burn it with fire. Thus says the Lord, Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chalde”²ans will surely stay away from us,” for they will not stay away. For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chalde”²ans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.’”
Now when the Chalde”²an army had withdrawn from Jerusalem at the approach of Pharaoh’s army, Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to receive his portion there among the people. When he was at the Benjamin Gate, a sentry there named Iri”²jah the son of Shelemi”²ah, son of Hanani”²ah, seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are deserting to the Chalde”²ans.” And Jeremiah said, “It is false; I am not deserting to the Chalde”²ans.” But Iri”²jah would not listen to him, and seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. And the princes were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison.

When Jeremiah had come to the dungeon cells, and remained there many days, King Zedeki”²ah sent for him, and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?” Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.” Jeremiah also said to King Zedeki”²ah, “What wrong have I done to you or your servants or this people, that you have put me in prison? Where are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ”˜The king of Babylon will not come against you and against this land’? Now hear, I pray you, O my lord the king: let my humble plea come before you, and do not send me back to the house of Jonathan the secretary, lest I die there.” So King Zedeki”²ah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard; and a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

–Jeremiah 37:3-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Senate leaders could Soon announce deal to raise debt limit and reopen the govt

Looks like it will go through Jan 15, and there will be a panel create to work on deficit reduction.

One of many tweets:

“It’s all over. We’ll take Senate deal” … “People are thinking about primaries, they really are”

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

The Anglican Church of Bermuda to Host Alister McGrath for a Forum on Faith In A Scientific Age

Professor McGrath was originally a scientist, and is a leading authority in the relation of science and religion.

Bishop Nick Dill said, “I am personally very excited to be able to welcome Alister McGrath back to Bermuda. Dr. McGrath was the Principal of my Theological College and brought a tremendous academic vigour to the college, but he has an amazing ability to communicate at a level that everyone can understand. He is a humble man, but you know that what he says is backed up by research, deep thought and prayer.” Alister McGrath has spoken in Bermuda on one occasion previously.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, West Indies

(ACNS) The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland's Synod Address

The first and most important identity for any of us is that each of us is a child of God, created by him and made in his image and likeness. This is crucially important in the way we live, in how we respond to God and in how we treat each and every other person. If we get this wrong, and regard any of our other identities as of more significance, we are simply a danger to ourselves and other people. If we believe that we are each made in God’s image and likeness we can never treat any other person with anything less than dignity. If we do not get this right, everything else will be wrong in our lives. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of Britain, once wrote that it is indeed difficult to see the image of God in those who are not in our image. Yet it is essential that we should do it.

A second primary identity for us is that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. We are disciples which means “learners”, never smug, never totally satisfied with ourselves, never judgmental of others, sometimes falling but nevertheless being picked up and gently placed on our feet again by a loving Lord. An identity that could be summed up as “following, learning, growing, and telling of Christ”. It is to this area that I will be devoting much of the content of my “roadshows” around the diocese next month.
These are the two identities that we should place above all else ”“ made in God’s image and likeness, and our discipleship of Jesus Christ. Anything that takes their place is simply idolatrous.

There is a third identity which should never be confused with those of which I have spoken but which nevertheless should mould how we live in the service of Jesus Christ. We are members of a particular Christian tradition and we should feel confidence although never arrogance in this identity. T

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland