Daily Archives: February 5, 2014

(CC) Lawrence Wood–Theologians in place: Thinking about God together

“Theologian in residence” is a provocative term that raises many questions””questions about the relation of pastoral work to theology, about the expectations and responsibilities of clergy, about class and privilege and about how theology grows out of a place. Designating a person in a particular place whose primary role is to think about theology may seem like a luxury. But for the church, making room for such work may be a necessity.

At Eastminster Presbyterian in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brian Madison has served as theologian in residence for five years. He preaches once a month, presides at communion twice a month and leads several classes for adults drawing on his work as a professor at Western Theological Seminary. Ann Conklin, the church’s senior minister, deeply appreciates his role.

“It has been nice for me as a solo pastor to have a sounding board, a colleague, someone to talk to about theological questions,” she said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Theology

Building Churches in Ethiopia

The Anglican Church in Gambella was begun by refugees who planted church communities in refugee camps. Since then, the church has grown at an astonishing rate and there are now church communities in local villages among several tribes.

Although there are 70 church communities, there are only 20 church buildings. These building are traditional structures made of mud walls, and thatch roofs. A few have only plastic tarpaulins as a roof, a few have upgraded to having tin roofs and stone and cement foundations. Those without a church building meet under a tree, braving the scorching sun in the dry season, and heavy rain during the wet season.

In 2012 most of the church buildings were destroyed by floods in an especially devastating rainy season. Many of the destroyed buildings have been re-built or partially re-built, but this work has depleted the available funds.

The need for buildings for church communities is acute …

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethiopia

An NBC Report on how Visitors to Sochi Olympics Immediately Hacked

Skilled computer hackers, combined with weak law enforcement and a strong criminal underworld, creates a big problem in Russia.

Watch two reports from Richard Engel here and there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Globalization, Russia, Science & Technology, Sports, Theology

Andrew Symes: Church growth ”“ time to get serious

Concern for ”˜right doctrine’ is not even present in the majority of evangelicals, argues Dr Anna Strhan; experience of God, being in community and speaking the language of hope are more important among charismatic Anglicans, according to her research.

Its easy to see where this is leading. The Pilling Report and the Bishops’ response is largely based on the reasoning we find here. The sociologists writing in the Church Times are describing reality, the “revolution” of which Archbishop Justin spoke last year. The old “Christendom” is gone, but what has replaced it is not a secular state with inevitable church decline but a new opportunity for preaching the Gospel in a new context. And the Gospel is: you can have your cake and eat it! You can have a relationship with God, be part of a warm welcoming community, but be relaxed about theological doctrine and sexual ethics. Those with a more conservative or puritanical streak can still have their congregations, and we do not need to immediately change liturgies or have damaging debates in Synod about official documents. Rather, Bishops and congregations can show by their words and actions that the church is listening and changing, including and affirming, “de-toxifying the brand”. It is this which will arrest decline and promote growth, not anxiousness about the Pilling Report.

There is a variation on this theme which is more acceptable to some conservative Anglicans. That is to say that we should teach heterosexual monogamous marriage and celibate singleness within the church to those who have accepted Christ, but we should not pronounce on sexual morality outside in the public square as if to fight a rearguard action in a culture war which as already been lost. It is too toxic, and Christians who do this are harming the mission of the church.

How to respond to such compelling arguments? Why does it matter that the Church holds on to traditional sexual morality? What has sex got to do with the Gospel, and how can the Church engage with a culture that considers this aspect of its teaching ridiculous and even harmful?

The answer is in the way we interpret the Bible, in how we understand God and the spiritual realm, and in whether we trust him and his word even if it seems foolish and offensive. When a main feature of prevailing humanistic philosophy is to deny God’s clear plan on gender, sexuality and marriage, a main feature of countercultural Gospel preaching and disciple making must be to talk plainly about sex. The idea taking root among some evangelicals that we can promote the biblical Gospel more effectively by not talking about sex and silencing conservatives who do, comes from a love of popularity and fear of offending, and becomes a capitulation to a false and deceptive philosophy.

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

(NYDN) New York City public school kids getting new Muslim, Lunar New Year holidays

New York City is moving to close school for two Muslim holidays and the Lunar New Year ”” but Mayor de Blasio isn’t so sure about the Hindu festival Diwali.

Appearing on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, the mayor said he hadn’t taken a position on whether Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated in India and other South Asian countries, should be a day off from school.

But he said he’d move forward with closing schools for Lunar New Year and for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Muslim holy days.

“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, City Government, Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Alltech's Irish distillery goes Gothic with restoration of Anglican church

Deirdre Lyons, Pearse’s wife and director of Alltech’s corporate image, is spearheading plans to renovate the building, which is surrounded by 300,000 graves, including that of Pearse Lyons’ grandfather, John Hubert Lyons.

“I’m working with a historic preservation architect and a team to restore it to its former glory,” Deirdre Lyons said. The building hasn’t been a church in decades and most recently was a lighting store, so it is in pretty sad shape, she said. Half the steeple and the stained glass windows are gone.

Alltech paid about $900,000 for the building, plus about $45,000 to the Church of Ireland to release the site from covenants that would have prevented the sale or use of alcohol.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Ireland

An Interview with Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, about the House of Lords

Listen to it all (4 and 3/4 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(Christian Today) The Bishops of Portsmouth and Peterborough enter House of Lords

The Anglican Bishops of Portsmouth and Peterborough are becoming the latest members of the House of Lords this week.

The Right Reverend Christopher Foster has asked for prayers as he becomes one of 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords.

The bishop has said he will use his position in Parliament to speak up for issues affecting south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The full text of Archbishop Justin Welby's sermon in South Sudan

Reconciliation is long and hard work. The first place we find reconciliation is in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus has the resources to give us so we can be reconciled. Paul says, be reconciled to God through Jesus. Even a loving person runs out of resources to forgive – like a bottle of water which becomes empty.

But the reconciliation of Jesus is like the Nile in flood. If you want reconciliation in South Sudan, renew your reconciliation with God in Jesus. In the revival of 1938, this region spoke of the joy of Christ. As Nehemiah says, the joy of the Lord is our strength. When I see you dance and I hear your sing, my strength is renewed.

It all starts with Jesus. So pray, pray and pray more. In England it’s a lesson we need to learn.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sudan

Archbishop Justin Welby preaches in South Sudan

Preaching at All Saints Cathedral in Juba, South Sudan, last week during a six-day visit to Africa, the Archbishop of Canterbury offered encouragement to South Sudanese Christians in their role supporting reconciliation in the conflict-torn country

Archbishop Justin has reassured Christians in South Sudan they are not forgotten by Christians elsewhere and urged them to see themselves as “God’s people of reconciliation”.

In a sermon preached at All Saints Cathedral in the South Sudanese capital Juba on Thursday last week, the Archbishop said Christians in England pray daily for Sudan and South Sudan and its Christian people. “Your courage and faith gives us courage and faith,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Sudan

(WWM) Algerian Christian refused burial in public cemetery

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.

“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.

Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Algeria, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Lifesite) Canada’s law societies show their intolerance in new bid to block Christian law school

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Health Care Law Projected to Cut the Labor Force

The budget office analysis found that the law, in effect, nudges workers to work less. The insurance expansion reduces the need for a person to take a full-time job just to get coverage. The premium subsidies effectively bolster household income. Higher taxes for richer households also reduce the incentive to work.

But it will also have an effect on businesses, the report said, including by encouraging them to reduce employee hours to avoid the “employer mandate.” The overall demand for labor would not change, in other words, but businesses might arrange their workers’ schedules differently to avoid having to provide them with health care.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

(B Stan.) Christians need to develop public theology, Mark Tooley says

“I think that historically, the institutional church teaches a broad principle politically. But its primary vocation is, of course, to proclaim the gospel, to evangelize and to disciple,” he said.

Churches support, encourage and guide believers, but Christians have a responsibility to form their own political ideologies, he asserted.

“The more specific vocations for the details of politics are primarily left up to the Christian lay people,” Tooley said. “Sometimes, we confuse those vocations, but I think it is an important distinction.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and eternal God, who art able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think: Give us grace to believe that the things which are impossible with and women men are possible with thee; save us from all doubt of thy goodness and questioning of thy love; and help us to trust in thy wisdom and mercy, that we may be calm and unafraid; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–James Todd

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72: 18,19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Mouneer’s Visit to Tunis and Algiers

Bishop Mouneer writes “The Holy Spirit works in an amazing way in our Anglican Church in Tunis. Young people see Jesus in visions and dreams. With open hearts they come to Him being ready to pay the cost. They long to know Christ and go to the depth of His knowledge. They enjoy praise and worship.

Bishop Bill and his wife Hilary lead the team of ministers by setting a good example and with rich grace. They encourage young people to lead and teach. The wonderful thing is that the congregation give generously and with joy. They always think of the next generation. That is why the ministry expanded to a new place. O Lord bless your church, protect her from every evil, and send workers to help.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

World Watch Monitor: Egyptian priest claims church attack was Muslim Brotherhood ”˜revenge’

The priest of an Egyptian church attacked last week says his church was targeted as part of a wider pattern of retribution from Muslim Brotherhood supporters against churches and security forces following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer.

Around 70 churches were attacked last summer in retaliation against the dispersal of protest camps set up in the wake of Morsi’s deposal. Many Muslim Brotherhood members hold Christians at least partly responsible for the overthrow, especially following comments made in support of the army by Coptic Church leader Pope Tawadros II.

In the latest attack on a church, a policeman was killed and two others injured when the Church of the Virgin Mary in the 6th of October Diocese came under fire on Jan. 28.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East

JI Packer: Fighting Heresy in Churches and Small Groups

h/t ACL Sydney for this article from several years ago
Can you explain a little more about the process of catechesis?

First, there are other ways of doing catechesis than by question and answer, which is what we are used to when we think of catechizing children. Catechesis is the teaching of the truths that Christians live by, and linked with that it’s the teaching of how to live by those truths. It’s a practical, pastoral discipline of instruction.

In the second and third centuries, the inquirers didn’t have any Christian background””they didn’t have any kind of theistic background even. They were polytheists who came out of various pagan cults. And so the catechists had to begin at the beginning and take them through the whole body of Christian doctrine.

We know from surviving catechetical materials that they taught not by separating truths from each other in order to focus on them in isolation. Rather, they taught the whole Christian view of Christianity””God’s great economy of grace for the salvation of sinners””and the syllabus was essentially the themes of the Apostle’s Creed.

And you feel that the practice of catechesis would be beneficial in modern churches, as well?

Yes. If we could recover catechesis as a regular element of church life, well, we’d be anticipating a lot of these problems with heresy and other troubles. We’d be constantly sustaining orthodoxy and reminding people of what the Christian faith is when you put it all together as a single ball of wax.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala dismisses calls to ”˜normalise homosexual lifestyles’

The letter the Archbishops sent last week to Primates in the Anglican Communion as well as the Presidents of Nigeria and Uganda quoted the Dromantine Communiqué of 2005 ruling out any victimisation or diminishment of people on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

“We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by Him and deserving the best we can give – pastoral care and friendship,” the letter reiterated. Last week in London, Church of England bishops agreed to hold a mediated dialogue throughout the 80-million member Communion to reflect on Biblical passages about gays in a way that could make Anglican churches more welcoming to them. Wabukala reiterated that debating that which God has already clearly revealed in Scripture would be a waste of time adding that such dialogue only spreads confusion and opens the door to a false gospel.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(New Vision) Construction of Anglican Martyrs shrines to begin in Uganda

Church of Uganda Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, on Tuesday launched a fundraising drive for the construction of the Anglican Martyrs shrine at Namugongo.

Ntagali announced the fundraising drive during at a news conference at the Church of Uganda headquarters in Kampala.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Uganda