Jeremy Vine explores the most fundamental question of all: ‘what makes us human?’ with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in a major BBC Radio 2 series featuring some of the leading thinkers of our time. This week Archbishop Welby will deliver his thoughts on the very essence of human existence.
Daily Archives: May 2, 2014
Even in a church full of surrendered believers, human frailty alone will lead to problems. But many problems in the church are caused by sin. And we are never told to stay put in our sinfulness. Paul expected the Corinthian church to change and grow. God expects the same progress in our churches today.
Yes, the church is holy because God, on the basis of Christ’s imputed righteousness, proclaims it so. But if we desire to move beyond being called holy””if we desire to be holy””then we must cooperate with such grace. In this sense, the holiness of the church is dependent on the holiness of its people. But always and forever, the holiness of its people is dependent on the sanctifying grace of God, who is in essence holy love.
We are God’s people. The church is God’s church. God, help us to become who we are.
Consider Monica (not her real name), the African American mother of two daughters. An immigrant from Cote d’Ivoire, she is an American success story, gaining her citizenship and raising two daughters on her own. One is a college junior, the other a high school senior trying to decide between colleges.
Before getting married in July, Monica’s income made her eligible for financial aid which brought her yearly tuition liability to $15,000. If she had not got married, her per-student tuition liability would have likely remained the same, so she would have been responsible for $30,000 a year for both of her daughters combined.
Instead, her daughter’s university wants her to contribute $25,000 for each child because of her new husband’s income. This increase happened even though Monica’s new husband is not the biological or legal father of her daughters, and he has children of his own to support.
Cohabitation without marriage pays.
Naomi Long, MP for Belfast East and deputy Alliance Party leader, has told the Commons that religious persecution is on the rise.
She opened a backbench business debate on 1 May 2014 by saying that the freedom to subscribe to any religion or none is not offered enough protection by the UN.
She referred to it as a “residual right” and warned that “within the family of human rights it remains on the margins”.
The number of kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria has risen to 276, up by more than 30 from a previous estimate, police said, adding that the actual number abducted by Islamic extremists on April 14 was more than 300.
Police Commissioner Tanko Lawan said the number of girls and young women who have escaped also has risen, to 53.
He told a news conference Thursday night in Maiduguri, the northeastern capital of Borno state, that the figures keep increasing because students from other schools were brought into one school for final exams last month after all schools in Borno state were shut because of attacks by Islamic extremists.
“My own view is that what is needed in the Church at present is gracious restraint. We need a cool and calm period in which to explore the issues. To those among clergy and ordinands contemplating entering a same-sex marriage I would say, “Might you hold back while the Church reflects?” Gracious restraint. To those who might make a complaint against a priest who, despite that, does enter such a marriage I would say, “Might you hold back while the Church reflects?” Gracious restraint. To those who contemplate leaving the Church of England because of its perceived position I would say, “Might you hold back while the Church reflects?” Gracious restraint. To those who condemn the Church of England from other parts of the Anglican Communion I would say, “Might you hold back while the Church of England reflects?” Gracious restraint to give us space.
“The next steps for the Church of England are to have facilitated conversations at a national and diocesan level. This should involve profound reflection on the interpretation and application of Scripture. The outcomes that are hoped for, certainly what I will pray for are of two sorts.
“One sort is that we seek to listen together with sufficient commitment that we lift the issue out of its present situation where people of entrenched views fail to hear one another or respect one another’s integrity. We need to listen very carefully to the beliefs and opinions that come out of a profound change of attitudes in our society to gender, sexuality and marriage. We need to listen very carefully to the experience of gay and lesbian people, both those who are celibate and those who are in sexual relationships, including gay and lesbian clergy. We need to listen, in some cases, to their pain, and we need also to listen to their sense of joy, love and blessing in a faithful partnership. We need to listen very carefully to what the world and medicine and science can tell us about homosexuality. We need to listen very carefully to those who believe we are sitting light to the teaching of Jesus and the authority of the scriptures. We need to listen to one another and we need to listen to what the Spirit may be saying to the churches. And each and every one of us needs to participate in that listening with a humility that recognises that we have things to learn and may be some opinions to revise and that the Church’s teaching in this area of life may need to be expressed in a new language. I say “may”, for we must also allow for the possibility that what emerges, at the end of profound reflection, is a clear restatement of a traditional view.
…last week the story began to crumble faster than an ancient papyrus exposed in the windy Sudan. Mr. Askeland found, among the online links that Harvard used as part of its publicity push, images of another fragment, of the Gospel of John, that turned out to share many similarities””including the handwriting, ink and writing instrument used””with the “wife” fragment. The Gospel of John text, he discovered, had been directly copied from a 1924 publication.
“Two factors immediately indicated that this was a forgery,” Mr. Askeland tells me. “First, the fragment shared the same line breaks as the 1924 publication. Second, the fragment contained a peculiar dialect of Coptic called Lycopolitan, which fell out of use during or before the sixth century.” Ms. King had done two radiometric tests, he noted, and “concluded that the papyrus plants used for this fragment had been harvested in the seventh to ninth centuries.” In other words, the fragment that came from the same material as the “Jesus’ wife” fragment was written in a dialect that didn’t exist when the papyrus it appears on was made.
Mark Goodacre, a New Testament professor and Coptic expert at Duke University, wrote on his NT Blog on April 25 about the Gospel of John discovery: “It is beyond reasonable doubt that this is a fake, and this conclusion means that the Jesus’ Wife Fragment is a fake too.” Alin Suciu, a research associate at the University of Hamburg and a Coptic manuscript specialist, wrote online on April 26: “Given that the evidence of the forgery is now overwhelming, I consider the polemic surrounding the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus over.”
Downing Street has announced today four new Suffragan bishops in the Dioceses of York and Chelmsford. John Thomson (Selby), Paul Ferguson (Whitby), Roger Morris (Colchester), and Peter Hill (Barking), have been confirmed to become Suffragan bishops after their nomination was approved by the Queen.
Anglican leaders are hailing the report Nudging Anglican Parishes to Prevent Violence Against Women, saying it points to a paradigm shift in the way Anglican communities assist in tackling family violence now and in the future.
In Australia, one in three women has experienced violence and one woman dies each week as a result of violence in the home. Most of their tormentors are not strangers lurking on busy streets, but their friends, acquaintances, husbands, brothers and fathers. The rest of the data on violence against women is equally disturbing.
Praying that God should stop Nigeria’s looming descent into the abyss of insecurity, unemployment, high crime rate, [Adebola ] Ademowo, who is also the Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos, called on Nigerian youth to shun violence.
According to him, “the youth cannot gain anything by indulging in violence and they must behave themselves and channel their energies in the proper direction.
“In our own diocese, we have been taking care of the youths. We have youth empowerment programmes and what we have done so far is to give them financial assistance – some received above N1 million, some N1 million and the rest got less than that.
“It is to encourage them to be gainfully employed and start their own small-scale businesses, because we can’t all be going for white collar jobs, they are not available anyway.”
Suspected members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram are believed to be holding 187 girls hostage in north-eastern Nigeria, after kidnapping them from their boarding school in Chibok at night.
Several girls managed to escape and get back to their families during the kidnapping on 14 April, but most are still being held. The Christian Association of Nigeria has called for prayer and fasting for the girls’ safe release.
For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us Acts 17:27 before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption; seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through: seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away: seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves: and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death: He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery””lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought””He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours. For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well. But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men. For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling. And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father””doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that, firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord’s body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers), and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.
–Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word
Uphold thy Church, O God of truth, as thou didst uphold thy servant Athanasius, to maintain and proclaim boldly the catholic faith against all opposition, trusting solely in the grace of thine eternal Word, who took upon himself our humanity that we might share his divinity; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who for our sakes didst give up thy well-beloved Son to endure the shameful death of the cross, that we might be delivered from the power of the devil and be cleansed from all unrighteousness: Grant unto thy servants, we beseech thee, that through his passion the body of sin may be destroyed in us, and through the power of his resurrection we may henceforth walk in newness of life; for the merits of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “Thou art my Lord;
I have no good apart from thee.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the noble,
in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their libations of blood I will not pour out
or take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
thou holdest my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure.
For thou dost not give me up to Sheol,
or let thy godly one see the Pit.
Thou dost show me the path of life;
in thy presence there is fulness of joy,
in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.
Clearly, United Theological Seminary not only emphasizes renewal, they model it. In striving for renewal in local churches or the broader denomination, several take-aways can be lifted from the United story.
”¢ United is saturated by prayer.
”¢ United is committed to the historic, orthodox faith and understanding of the scriptures.
”¢ United honors the faith of the saints who have gone before.
”¢ United was desperate for God to do something supernatural. This seems like an essential characteristic in the study of genuine revivals of the past and present.
The Clapham Sect’s commitment to personal spiritual formation helped to fuel the social activism that is commonly associated with Wilberforce and his contemporaries. The Clapham Sect is understandably most famous for its role in ending slavery, but it is important to understand that their anti-slavery motivations were grounded in their faith. Slavery was an abomination because every human being is created in God’s image. Aside from treating fellow humans as property, slavery promoted the worst sorts of vices: physical abuse, rape, separating families, malnourishment, etc. The crusade against slavery was a moral crusade born out of Clapham Spirituality.
In addition to combating slavery, the Clapham Sect was committed to pushing back against other social evils. The Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor was an effort by wealthy Anglican evangelicals to alleviate poverty among the lower classes. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which Wilberforce and other Clapham Sect members joined, championed animal rights two centuries before the cause became politically correct. The Society for the Discharge and Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debt, originally an evangelical initiative, sought to reform the oppressive practice of placing debtors in prison, effectively ending their wage-earning potential. Clapham Sect members also championed prison reform, education reform, healthcare reform and (in the case of some members) the abolition of capital punishment. Clapham Spirituality recognized that, for evangelicals, cultural influence was a matter of moral stewardship.
Clapham Spirituality was not only committed to what we might today call matters of social justice; it was also zealous for the spread the gospel to all people.
The National Council of Churches USA has joined in “urgent solidarity” with Christians and other faith groups around the world to call for the release of 234 Nigerian school girls kidnapped April 14 by the Boko Haram extremist sect.
Speaking out with special urgency is the Church of the Brethren, one of the NCC’s member communions. Leadership of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria””EYN) has reported that most of the girls are EYN.
“This act of cruel violence tears at the hearts of Brethren who are called as witnesses of God’s call to live in love and peace with our neighbors,” said Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren in the U.S.
Church of England officials are facing humiliation after controversial plans to stop a bishop living in the medieval palace occupied by his predecessors for centuries were overturned.
The Rt Rev Peter Hancock, who will be formally enthroned as the 79th Bishop of Bath and Wells next month, had been told he would not live in the 13th Century palace because it was not “conducive to ministry” and a more normal family home would be found.
The medieval complex doubles as diocesan headquarters and a tourist attraction and the Church Commissioners, the Church of England’s property and financial arm, argued that it lacked privacy for the bishop and his family.