Daily Archives: December 9, 2013

Archbishop Welby interviewed on same sex relationships by Iain Dale in March 2013

Iain Dale: You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?

Justin Welby: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is”¦ I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way”¦ you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty”¦ I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage”¦

Iain Dale: But if it could be made to work in a way that’s acceptable to the church you would be open to discussions on that?

Justin Welby: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that.

I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.

From here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(CC) Kathryn Reklis on the BBC America TV show Orphan Black and its theological significance

It is at the intersection of genetic variation, personality and choice that the show presses into new territory. What does it mean to be free? Which will predominate in the long run, genetics or environment? What are the legal and moral limits to biological exploration? Who has the power to create, control and manipulate life? As the clones begin to figure out their place in a larger scientific experiment, they are sucked into a world of danger, intrigue and philosophical and scientific speculation, all while having to raise children, finish a dissertation or escape a destructive boyfriend.

The show is suspenseful and addictive. By the time you finish watching the first season, you may not even realize that it’s examining deep questions about the meaning of selfhood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Movies & Television, Science & Technology, Theology

Professor Stephen Noll: The Pilling Report and the Anglican Communion

The Pilling Report has one goal: to legitimize an ongoing dialogue about normalizing homosexual relationships in the church’s life. In my opinion, this goal is incompatible with Lambeth Resolution I.10 and the position of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.

Nearly eighteen years ago, the Episcopal Church USA initiated a process called “Continuing the Dialogue” on sexuality that sounds very much like the PR’s idea of “facilitated conversation.” The end result of that “dialogue” was never in doubt – approval of the gay rights agenda – nor were conservatives ever more than token participants. I would ask conservatives in the Church of England one simple question: can you imagine any circumstance in which the traditional teaching of the Church on the exclusive character of Holy Matrimony will be reaffirmed as a result of this dialogue?

Although the PR is primarily addressing the Church of England, it also calls for Communion-wide dialogue – as if we had not already experienced the “Windsor process” from 2004 and the “Lambeth Indaba” in 2008. For global Anglicans to return to such a fruitless endeavor would be to deter their mission and divert attention from ongoing social issues that really do affect them. Finally, many Global South churches over the past decade provided refuge to orthodox churches and clergy in North America. They may well need to do the same for English churches and clergy as well, if the recommended listening process is adopted and has the same divisive result in the Church of England that the parallel “dialogue” has had in North America.

For these reasons, I would urge GFCA churches to leave the PR alone, to pray for brothers and sisters in the Church of England who will be affected by it, and to move forward with the ambitious agenda set forth in Nairobi. For those churches and leaders that may view the PR optimistically as a way out of the divisions facing the Anglican Communion, I can only suggest they attend the wisdom of the old limerick:

There was a young lady of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(CNS) Sensus fidelium doesn’t mean ”˜majority opinion’, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis said the church must pay attention to the ‘sense of the faithful’ (‘sensus fidelium’) when exercising its teaching authority, but never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith.

The pope made his comments Dec. 6, in an address to members of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory body.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CNA) Amid Increased Persecution, Christianity Growing in ”˜Global South’

“Persecution is growing because Christianity is growing in the places where people are persecuted,” said Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Speaking during a Dec. 5 media call, he characterized anti-Christian persecution as “growing fast.” His research estimates that one in five Christians, 500 million people, currently live in countries where Christians are likely to be persecuted. By 2020, their numbers are expected to rise to 600 million, 25% of the Christian population.

Johnson noted that the Christian population has significantly shifted from Europe and North America to the “Global South”: Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Asia, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, Religion & Culture, South America

(World) Joel Belz–J.I. Packer: The lost interview

I read some C.S. Lewis, I read a good deal of the Bible, and I read a number of books of all schools of thought relating to Christian faith. Two years on after this started, a friend of mine who had gone to university a year before I was due to go, he got suddenly converted through the Intervarsity [IV] people, and when next we met, and thereafter, he took it on himself to try and explain to me that I didn’t have faith. By then I had got to the point where I was prepared to stand up for the creed in debate””we had a 12th grade atheist; most schools do””and we used to have fairly intense arguments. I argued for truth of the creed and I took for granted that since I believed the creed, that’s what it meant to have faith as this friend of mine naturally had. Came the day when I was due to go up to Oxford and he said very quickly before he went off to the university where he was studying, “I haven’t been able to explain it to you very well, but when you get to Oxford, link up with the Intervarsity people. They will be able to make it clearer than I have been able to do.”

At Oxford the Intervarsity people were out on the hunt and we met right at the beginning of my time. They organized a periodic evangelistic preaching service at the university. The first such preaching service that I attended the sermon lasted three-quarters of an hour and was preached by an elderly gentleman who within the first 20 minutes bored me. Then he started telling at length the story of his own conversion and suddenly everything became clear. I am not a person who gets much in the way of visions or visuals, but the concept called up a picture which was there in my mind was that here I am outside of the house and looking through the window and I understand what they are doing. I recognize the games they are playing. Clearly they are enjoying themselves, but I am outside. Why am I outside? Because I have been evading the Lord Jesus and His call.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Andrew Symes: The Pilling Report: what it says, what it means, what we should do

A very thorough analysis by the Rev Andrew Symes, Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, and well worth reading
…As we can’t know anything for sure, the report says we can only move forward with mutual respect by a listening process. This is explained in page 103f. Specifically not a series of debates, but relationship building, with no predetermined outcome. There is an assumption that this process will be entirely fair, where conservatives and liberals can meet and listen to each other in an unthreatening environment. The report does not seem to recognize the very real danger of bias as the dice are loaded ”“ the culture is providing the weight on one side heavily inclining towards acceptance of homosexuality, and the choice of facilitators will be determined centrally and are much more likely to be liberal.

Blessing of same sex relationships

Now, on to the specific proposals about “blessing”. The legalization of gay marriage has brought an urgency to the question of pastoral care for same sex couples “who seek ecclesial recognition for their”¦relationship” (371). On one hand, to offer blessing, especially in church using formal liturgies, would be seen to be changing the doctrine of the church and to mimic marriage (384) which the Bishops have stated categorically should be reserved for heterosexual couples. But on the other hand, a failure of the church to celebrate faithful same sex couples continues to discriminate, and confirms the view that the church is not good news for gay people. So the report recommends “less formal approaches”, whereby a “pastoral accommodation” to pray informally with a couple need not entail a final moral judgement. Para 399 appears to go further, implying that such informal prayer may be an “act of worship to mark the formation of a same sex relationship”. The decision to do this should be left to individual clergy who must make the decision in consultation with their PCC.

Another “elephant in the room” comes up in the section about candidates for ordination. Guidelines from “Issues” of 1991 and the response to Civil Partnership legislation in 2005 confirmed that gay clergy could be in CP’s as long as they were celibate. The redefinition of marriage means that the sexual act is now no longer mentioned. CP’s will be converted to marriages. So it is theoretically possible that a gay person offering himself for ordination and his same sex partner could be “married” without being sexually active. While the report takes seriously the need for clergy “to order their lives according to the will of the Church”, it seems to assume that this will always be the case with partnered gay candidates who have verbally assented to the Church’s official teaching. Its not just conservatives who have pointed out that this is at the very least a charter for dishonesty, but much worse it is a deceptive witness to society. To expect people to believe that a gay clergy are not having sex with their partners could be more of a stumbling block for the average pagan than that Jesus died for their sins, rose again and is coming back as judge. To be fair, the report does call for this anomaly to be put on the table in the facilitated discussions, so that the requirement for sexual abstinence for gay clergy can be quietly dropped.

The dissenting statement

Bishop Keith Sinclair’s dissenting statement bravely refutes the report and clearly articulates the biblical vision for human flourishing which includes the proper place for sexual expression. The Bishop affirms the need to repent of homophobia in the way the report has defined it, but goes on to say that in the Gospel Jesus challenges everyone to repent, die to self and embrace a new identity in him. While the report affirms those who experience ssa and are celibate, it sees this as a minority choice which is optional, and so offers only confusion to those who want to know how to follow Christ. The report’s claim that it is not advocating a change in the church’s teaching is undermined by the recommendations to affirm gay relationships. Sinclair accuses the report of “cultural captivity” ”“ trying to appease society, undermining historic Christian doctrine and ethics, and not protecting conservative ssa people who want the Church to help them avoid temptation. Rather, he says, Christians should be different from the world, offering an alternative account of what we are to do with our desires.

Bishop Keith says that a valid listening process should be for pastoral application of what we know clearly from Scripture. Instead, what is being proposed is that facilitated conversations will help us to work out whether we should find new ways of communicating the traditional line, or discover that that line is wrong and should be changed (452); in the meantime clergy and PCC’s can pre-empt the process and ignore the Church’s official teaching as part of local pastoral accommodation. Although Bishop Keith is much too polite to say so, this is dishonest and manipulative. He is however forthright enough to say that it will produce “liturgical anarchy” ”“ although of course the official response will be that it’s not a liturgy, and it’s not a blessing, and we haven’t changed doctrine. There will be pressure on clergy with traditional views to perform blessings for same sex couples, and pressure on liberal clergy who believe in “permanent, faithful, stable” to bless couples who have no intention of living that way. Bishop Keith’s dissenting statement closes with a quote from Canadian theologian Edith Humphrey, that for the Church to invoke God’s blessing on an act for which repentance is required, is to replace God with an idol (481).

What can be done?
This is why we are faced with officially sanctioned apostasy in our own church. It has finally happened. What do we do? The first thing to say is that the report has not yet been endorsed by the house of Bishops. We must pray for them and lobby them as politely but intensively as we can before their meeting to discuss the document. Groups like Church Society, Reform, CEEC must play their part, but perhaps more importantly local DEF’s or other orthodox groupings at Diocesan level, and of course individual parishes. We need to make it clear to the Bishops that we stand by Bishop Keith, and urge them to do the same; that on their response to this report God will be judging their effectiveness as shepherds. As Peter Ould has said, this is the time for the godly among them to stand up and be counted. The bishops can vote to kick this report into touch, reaffirm the church’s traditional teaching without equivocation, and start again, building on +Keith’s vision and suggested course of action. Or they can challenge supporters of the report to put a motion to Synod to change the teaching of the church, and have a real public debate. If this does not happen, and the report is endorsed, then it is difficult to see how to avoid many cases of impaired fellowship between bible believing clergy and congregations, and Bishops who voted for the report. AMiE is now up and running and ready to help in those circumstances….

Read it all, thoroughly

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Local Parish Sermon Series on the Church–Craige Borrett: We want to be ready for Jesus' return

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Bloomberg) Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog

Shanghai warned children and the elderly to stay indoors for at least a seventh day out of the first nine this month, intensifying pressure on local authorities to control the worst smog since government monitoring began last year.

The city’s air quality index was at 238, or “heavily polluted” at 5 p.m., according to the local monitoring center. A warning to stay indoors is triggered any time the index exceeds 200. The index surged to a record 482 on Dec. 6 into the “severe” level, the highest of a six-tier rating system, according to the China Daily. That prompted the government to order cars off the road and factories to cut production.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

Monday Morning Mental Health Break–2 year Titus the Basketball Wonder Boy

Watch it all it is truly great fun

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Children, Sports

(Sunday Telegraph) Don't have children unless you are ready to marry, says judge

Couples should not have children if their relationship is not stable enough to merit getting married, a senior High Court judge said yesterday.

Sir Paul Coleridge said those couples whose relationship was stable enough to cope with the rigours of child rearing should marry.

But the judge, who is retiring from the bench next year after decades as a family lawyer and judge, said those who did not feel ready for children should not have them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

(YDS) Vasileios Marinis: how to read a church through architecture

Growing up in Greece, Vasileios Marinis encountered world-famous religious images on the walls of a thousand-year-old monastery not far from home.

The still-active monastery, called Hosios Loukas, is an acclaimed example of Middle Byzantine architecture. As a youth, Marinis learned to behold the building’s artful objects””mosaics, murals, icons””not as museum pieces frozen in time but as windows on eternity, declarations of faith that enlisted color, paint, fabric, wood and stone. These taught him to look, to see. Dreams of becoming an art historian””a byzantinist””were born.

“It was an astounding building,” recalls Marinis, assistant professor of Christian art and architecture at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Art, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Pundits and the Pope

At a December 2 program at Georgetown University, two prominent Washington columnists, E.J. Dionne and Michael Gerson, assess Pope Francis’s call for the Catholic Church not only to make caring for the poor a higher priority but also to work for a more just economic system….

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Media, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

“What I knew about God kept me from God” and then God rescued David Redding

I found a divinity school [where] we didn’t come to the Bible until about two weeks before commencement…[and as a result of my theological education] during the first years of my ministry what I knew about God kept me from God.

[Later when I was reading I learned that] Rembrandt had a powerful painting on”¦ [the subject of the raising of Lazarus in John 11], and it was quite obvious that Lazarus was not being raised in spirit only. The reanimated and bandaged corpse was realistically coming to life. Then I happened to turn to the back of the painting to see what the critic said of it. Critics have done much harm, but the words of that critic left there helped me into the Lord’s bright blessing: “Rembrandt did everything he could think of to intensify the miracles of Christ.” I had intended to dampen their effect, but Rembrandt did everything he could think of to enhance them, to give them glory. For some reason those words of that unknown critic did me in. From then on, I too tried to do everything I could think of to intensify the effect of the miracles. When I turned that page, I changed sides. I had never raised my voice in.. [the] Presbyterian pulpit [in the parish where I served] before, but that day, since John said Jesus shouted, I shouted [the words “Lazarus, Come out!”] as loudly as I could. And for the first time in my life someone asked me for a copy of my sermon.

–David Redding, Jesus Makes Me Laugh (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), pp.14-18, my emphasis

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

–Revelation 1:5b-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A WSJ Profile of one California Wealth Adviser who Guides Clients Through Divorce

As Justin Reckers watched his parents go through a nasty divorce, the wrenching experience gave him a first-hand view of some the worst mistakes couples can make when parting ways.

It also helped shape his career choice. He is now chief executive of Pacific Divorce Management and director of financial planning at Pacific Wealth Management.

Mr. Reckers describes his parent’s breakup, which occurred just as he graduated college, as “probably the worst possible divorce scenario you could imagine.” There were angry confrontations and the couple ended up bankrupt, he said….

Now 32, the son wants to help others find a less troubled path.Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Theology

(Inspire) Kellen Smith–A week of Silence and Service in the Taizé Community

While at Taizé, I felt called by God to choose the unique experience of spending the week in silence. This meant that I would join a small group of other pilgrims staying in the quiet and quaint village of Taizé in a house near the main grounds. The accommodations were simple and comfortable, providing a private room to be fully immersed in the gift of silence.

Spending a week in silence may not immediately sound like the kind of experience to put at the top of your bucket list. Yet this experience was so formational, I would not hesitate to do it again. It was initially challenging to allow my mind to become quiet and my spirit to settle, but after the first few days, my rhythm became one of great joy in silence. I would spend the morning reading scripture and in the afternoon, I would take time for personal prayer, enjoy a holy nap, and walk through the beautiful French countryside. While the days themselves seemed to pass slowly, the week went by very quickly.

Besides the inspiring prayer services, a poignant part of my week was sitting at the table and sharing meals with my fellow pilgrims. We gathered for meals in a beautiful common room that overlooked the hills of Burgundy. As each meal began, the aroma of freshly peeled tangerines filled the room. The only spoken words that broke the silent fellowship were the Taizé prayers we sang before eating. Each face around the table was of a different nationality””French, German, American, and others. As we served each other in the sacred silence, the real blessing was that we spoke the common language of service to one another. In these moments at mealtime, it was as if I were joining Jesus and the disciples at the table of servanthood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Seminary / Theological Education, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Charlotte Observer) Since his 95th Birthday Billy Graham is weaker, but in no ”˜imminent danger’

Billy Graham has gotten weaker since celebrating his 95th birthday at a celebrity-studded party last month in Asheville, but he is “not in any imminent danger,” and his “vital signs are quite good,” Graham spokesman Mark DeMoss told the Observer in an email on Sunday.

DeMoss, citing Graham’s medical and personal staff, said Graham has not been as strong lately as he was at the Nov. 7 party at the Omni Grove Park Inn, but that his health is not as dire as some news reports have suggested.

Those reports were reacting to recent comments by Franklin Graham, son of the Charlotte-born evangelist.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Living Out: Message for Church Leaders

For Church Leaders from Living Out on Vimeo.

More here and the Living Out website is here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(Telegraph) Judge Sir Paul Coleridge quit because of lack of ”˜support’ over marriage stance

The prominent family division judge announced last month that he is to retire early from the bench in April next year, saying he wanted to concentrate on his foundation which works to bring down the divorce rate.

But he has now disclosed that the lack of “support” he received from the legal profession for his stance on marriage was a crucial factor in that decision.

In an interview with The Tablet he said that he could have continued in his role for several more years had it not been for this.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture