Daily Archives: August 1, 2014

Trial Ends: Highlights from the Trial of the Diocese of SC vs. TEC and TECSC

The three-week trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) ended July 25, with Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who presided, telling the parties what she wanted from them to assist in her deliberations.

Attorneys representing the Diocese, the Trustees and the Diocesan churches were given 30 days to create a three-page document describing the testimony given in court which explained the procedures they followed to legally separate from TEC, (such as amending their by-laws, giving notice of meetings, properly taking votes, etc.) They were then to send those documents to the Court and to TEC and TECSC whose attorneys will have 30 days to respond in a similar fashion.

In essence, the judge’s last words reiterated what she said throughout the trial: The case will be decided on neutral principles of law, which means that the judge must apply the law to this case as it would any other ”“ making no adjustments because it involves a religious organization. TEC and TECSC have opposed the application of neutral principles; essentially arguing that the judge should defer to their view on the issues since they are a religious organization.

Read it all.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, Theology

(ABC) Bathurst's All Saints College named in bank's legal action against Anglican diocese

Court documents have revealed the Commonwealth Bank is looking for damages of more than $24m from the former Anglican bishop of Bathurst and five other defendants.

The Commonwealth Bank’s court action includes a summons against the diocese’s former bishop, Richard Hurford.

This action involves Bishop Hurford and eleven other defendants.
Another summons calls for a joint levy on all parishes, schools and other organisations to help repay the diocese’s debts.

The summon documents also call for assets, including the All Saints College in Bathurst, to be “realised” or sold if enough money cannot be raised or the parishes do not cooperate with a demand to prioritises the sale of assets

Read it all

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

(RNS) Mommy, minister and unmarried: Single mothers in the pulpit

When Philadelphia’s St. Paul Baptist Church hired the Rev. Leslie Callahan as its first female pastor, in 2009, she was nearing her 40th birthday and the tick-tock of her biological clock was getting hard to ignore.

She delighted in her ministry but also wanted a husband and children in her life. The husband she couldn’t do much about ”” he just hadn’t stepped into her life.

“But it was clear to me that I was going to do everything in my power to realize my dream of becoming a parent,” she said.Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Women

Eric Metaxas–Learning from Young Atheists: What Turned Them off from Christianity

My friend Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation set out to find out why so many young Christians lose their faith in college. He did this by employing a method I don’t recall being used before: He asked them.

The Fixed Point Foundation asked members of the Secular Students Associations on campuses around the nation to tell them about their “journey to unbelief.” Taunton was not only surprised by the level of response but, more importantly, about the stories he and his colleagues heard.

Instead of would-be Richard Dawkins’, the typical respondent was more like Phil, a student Taunton interviewed. Phil had grown up in church; he had even been the president of his youth group. What drove Phil away wasn’t the lure of secular materialism or even Christian moral teaching. And he was specifically upset when his church changed youth pastors.

Whereas his old youth pastor “knew the Bible” and made Phil “feel smart” about his faith even when he didn’t have all the answers, the new youth pastor taught less and played more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Youth Ministry

(UK Bible Society) World War One soldier survives attack to later find bullet in Bible

‘I am sending in a parcel, my pocket Bible and three shrapnel bullets, of which the following is the story’.

These are the opening words of letter 28 year old George Hever Vinall sent to his parents in July 1917 which tells the story of how he survived an artillery attack at the Frond and later found a bullet from the attack lodged in his Bible. It stopped at the verse in Isaiah which reads, ”˜I will preserve thee’. George Vinall was so convinced that God had saved him, he became a Bible translator after the war.

Read it all and then read the whole letter about it and watch the accompanying Vimeo video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, History, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Peter Berger–Archbishop Welby Smiled; some thoughts on the recent Women Bishops' Decision

Grace Davie, the distinguished British sociologist of religion, has proposed an interesting idea: A strong establishment of a church is bad for both religion and the state”“for the former because the association with state policies undermines the credibility of religion, and for the latter because the support of one religion over all others creates resentment and potential instability. But a weak establishment is good for both institutions, because a politically powerless yet still symbolically privileged church can be an influential voice in the public arena, often in defense of moral principles. Davie’s idea nicely fits the history of the Church of England. In earlier centuries it persecuted Roman Catholics and discriminated against Nonconformist Protestants and Jews. More recently it has used its “bully pulpit” for a number of good causes, not least being the rights of non-Christians. Thus very recently influential Jewish and Muslim figures have voiced strong support for the continuing establishment of the Church of England, among them Jonathan Sacks, the former Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, and the Muslim Sayeeda Warsi, currently Minister of Faith and Communities in David Cameron’s cabinet.

Of course it would be foolish to recommend that the British version of state/church relations be accepted in other countries””as foolish as to expect other countries to adopt the very distinctive American form of the separation of church and state. However, as I have suggested in other posts on this blog, the British arrangement is worth pondering by other countries who wish to combine a specific religious identity with freedom for all those who do not share it. For starters, I’ll mention all countries who want legislation to be based on “Islamic principles” (not full-fledged sharia law); Russia, struggling to define the public role of the Orthodox Church; Israel trying to define the place of Judaism in its democracy; India, similarly seeking to fit hindutva into its constitutional description as a “secular republic”. In a globalizing world, cross-national comparisons can be surprisingly useful.

Read it all from the American Interest.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology, Women

A. S. Haley–Making Sense of the Trial in South Carolina between TEC and the Diocese of SC

On Day 7, ECUSA finally got to the meat of the matter by calling an acknowledged expert in South Carolina’s religious and non-profit corporations law, Professor Martin McWilliams of the University of South Carolina law school. He offered an elaborate theory as to why the diocese’s vote to secede from the national Church was invalid under South Carolina law: according to him, the diocese incorporated the national Church’s constitution and canons into its articles by reference, holus bolus, when it simply mentioned them in passing. Then, because the national governing documents (as amended from year to year) were part and parcel of the diocese’s corporate articles, it could not change those articles in any manner that was inconsistent with the Church’s governing documents.

This theory, however, had a hole in it so wide that one could drive a truck through it, and it was a simple matter for Bishop Lawrence’s counsel, on their cross-examination of Prof. McWilliams, to discredit it completely. First Prof. McWilliams conceded that there was no language in the national governing documents ”“ even if they had been incorporated into the articles by the brief reference to them ”“ which forbade a diocese from seceding, or from amending its articles in any manner whatsoever. And with that concession, any effect Prof. McWilliams might have had with his testimony was finished. For he next had to concede that the Diocese was wholly within its rights under South Carolina law when it amended its articles so as to remove its language of accession to the national Church.

After that major concession, the case for ECUSA and its rump group never regained its momentum, and their attorneys became ever more desperate in their tactics as they tried to recoup lost ground. On Day 8 they tried to call an expert witness they had not bothered to disclose by Judge Goodstein’s deadline, and she blocked the testimony after giving the hapless attorney trying to introduce it a good tongue-lashing for disregarding her rules.

Read it all.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Martin Davie–Some Christian Thoughts on Isis

How, then, should Christians respond to Isis?

First of all, they need to respond with steadfast witness to Christ and the truth of the Gospel. The Book of Revelation is concerned with how the powers of evil that assault God’s people are defeated and what it tells us is that this is achieved through Christians remaining faithful to Christ to the point of death. ”˜And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ”˜Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’’ (Revelation 12:10-11).

Secondly, they need to pray. As Revelation also makes clear, it is ultimately God who sustains his Church and defeats its persecutors and so Christians need to take seriously Jesus’ injunction to ”˜ask, seek and knock’ (Matthew 7:7-8) and pray hard for those who are suffering because of the activities of Isis. The charity Open Doors, for example, has asked for prayers:

for God to change the hearts of those who are persecuting Christians;
for God to uphold Christian refugees who are weary and exhausted through the support of the body of Christ;
for God to give wisdom and strength to the government in Baghdad to resolve this crisis.

Thirdly, they need to give to support those in need because of Isis’ activity, such as the Christians who have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Foreign Relations, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology, Violence

C.S. Lewis with Food for Thought on a Friday–the Need to Aim for Heaven now

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who seton foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Theology

(WSJ) Rabbi Benjamin Blech–An Ancient Tomb Meets a Modern Horror in Mosul

The ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, once the most powerful capital of the ancient world, has special importance for anyone familiar with the Bible. It was the setting for the book of Jonah, a place to which God sent the prophet to warn its inhabitants of impending destruction unless they repented of their evil ways.

Today it is known as Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. And last week, almost unnoticed amid the horrific stream of news about violence in the Mideast, a fresh casualty of Islamic extremism was the towering structure that contained the tomb of Jonah. Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham who blew up the prophet’s tomb either didn’t know or didn’t care that it was Muhammad himself who, in the Quran, described Jonah as “a righteous preacher of the message of God.”

It is remarkable that Jonah achieved significant importance in the religious traditions of all three major monotheistic faiths. His biblical book is short, all of four chapters, totaling 48 sentences. In the Christian Bible, it is found in the section called “The Minor Prophets.” In the Jewish version, Jonah is lumped in with 11 others in the work known as “The Twelve.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(First Things) Matthew Schmitz–How I evolved on Same-sex Marriage

A week after my admission to my friend, I was sitting at a wedding Mass listening to the reading of a prayer written by the bride and groom. It asked that “all called to the generosity of the single or celibate . . . might inspire [name of bride and groom] by their conformity to Christ, and always find in them fiercely devoted friends, and in their house a second home.”

The prayer moved me, in part because I’d been going through my own period of loneliness, but also because it reminded me that the movement for gay marriage is absolutely right to demand that the institution be made more inclusive. Where it goes wrong is in supposing this can be done by asserting a free-floating right to marriage, rather than by insisting on the duty of every marriage to become a place of welcome. We can’t and shouldn’t redesign marriage under the illusion that it can directly include everyone. We need more than one form of solidarity.

Despite my eccentric evolution on gay marriage, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a certain fugitive solidarity with those whose paths differ from my own. A strange portion of the intellectual discovery and growth in friendship I’ve enjoyed these past years has come about not despite, but because of, the vexations of the gay marriage debate. Those with whom I disagree have helped me see how the strands of the Christian sexual ethic combine to form a great tapestry, the patterns of which would be much more obscure had they not prompted me to think through how sex intersects with Scripture, nature, culture. For this, I owe them a great debt. I hope that in the years to come I can do something to repay it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock–The Work of Forgiveness: Memorial Tribute to John Hughes

It is a rare person who possesses such an indomitable spirit and yet offends almost no one. But John Hughes was this rare person – without ambition, but able to assume with radiant humility any elevation; as innocent as a child and yet as wise as an ancient sage; full of fun and yet attuned to sorrow; able to polemicise, yet also to offer wise counsel. In debate, like no other, he knew how not to alienate while avoiding vacuity. In his sermons (several of which have or will be collected in print) he knew how to delight as well as to instruct. In his life as in his work, he managed to interweave gentleness with an optimum pitch of boldness and exactitude – and in such a way that these attributes combine as one.

As John Dryden described Henry Purcell, who died when he was just one year older and equally in the full flood of his creativity, John Hughes was a “matchless man.” It is now up to those who knew him to ask him and all the saints to assist us in dealing with this new lack in our lives. We can envisage this lack as being like guilt, since John had a strong New Testament and Patristic sense that sin and death are bound up with one another – are indeed in the end but one abyss.

Therefore we can apply his words in his Lear essay on the recognition of guilt also to the recognition of lack: “Properly, the recognition that the judge may be as guilty as the thief can be understood, not as universal innocence, but as the universal need for forgiveness and transformation.” We are all both lacking and guilty, but beyond this negative diagnosis of much secular existential and social critique, and consequent illusions as to either “natural” innocence or incurable anxiety and ferocity, lies the faith that alone allows us to build each other up once more.

This was the Christian Socialist vision of John Hughes. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Church Times) Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby plead for end to fighting in Gaza

Calls for an immediate ceasefire have come from all over the world. Pope Francis last Sunday deviated from his script to make an impassioned plea, apparently choking back tears as he spoke: “Please stop, I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please.”

The Evangelical Episcopal Church’s Bishop in Israel & the Palestinian territories, Dr Hani Shehadeh, and four other churchmen from the Holy Land wrote to the Church Times this week urging Christians to pray for peace.

They urge all Christians to stand up for the rights of the Christian family in the Middle East: “Lobby your parliament, speak up in your media, and pray for the well-being and safety of Christians facing persecution.” The letter said that the latest conflict in Gaza meant that “the Christian community of this corner of the Holy Land faces extinction.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Joseph of Arimathaea

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear did prepare the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and did lay it in his own tomb: Grant, we beseech thee, to us thy faithful people grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, whose Kingdom is everlasting and power infinite, and whose glory the heaven of heavens cannot contain, grant us so to desire thy Kingdom, as a pearl of great price, that the signs of its coming may be seen throughout the globe; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook (slightly edited)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

–Acts 2:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Special Emory University Hospital Unit Readies for Ebola Patient

Emory University Hospital in Atlanta said Thursday it was preparing a special isolation unit to receive a patient with Ebola disease “within the next several days”.

“We do not know at this time when the patient will arrive,” Emory said in a statement. The university also did not say whether the patient was one of two Americans battling Ebola infection in Liberia ”“ charity workers Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly.

“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” the hospital said. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

(CT) Roger Olson–Water Works: Why Baptism Is Essential

To be sure, there is no one simple way forward. But both sides must be willing to compromise if they want to see unity. Credobaptists should work to assure paedobaptists, especially those in the evangelical vein, that they do consider them fellow Christians, insofar as they have accepted Christ by faith. And it helps for credobaptists to go one step further and reconsider infant baptism, performed within a context of genuine faith, as valid if imperfect. They can still require would-be members who were baptized as infants to undergo a “completion” of baptism””perhaps immersion upon making a public confession of faith.

Meanwhile, paedobaptists could work harder to understand credobaptist concerns and consider re-baptism as completing infant baptism rather than totally rejecting it. And they would do well to emphasize more strenuously that baptism itself does not save the infant. Similarly, they should not relegate children of credobaptist believers to the status of covenantal outsiders.

Both groups should look beyond their differences and focus on a bigger problem: the growing neglect of baptism among people who call themselves Christians. As followers of Jesus, we must prevent Christ’s call to follow him fully from being drowned out.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gallup) Russians Back Strong Stance on Ukraine

Russians largely back their country’s tough stance on Ukraine, which earned Russia more economic sanctions from the U.S. and Europe this week. Nearly two-thirds of Russians surveyed before the latest round of sanctions believe Russia needs to have a “very strong position” in relations with its neighbor. One in five Russians still believe their country needs to have good relations with Ukraine by all means.

Russians’ attitudes could reflect the stronger position they may feel their country is already in after Russia’s seizure and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in March. Although the U.S. and other Western powers largely condemned the action, imposing sanctions and other penalties against specific individuals and businesses in Russia, nearly all Russians (95%) who are following the news about Crimea say they support Crimea joining Russia.

The earlier sanctions did little to dampen the average Russian’s enthusiasm for the country’s leadership, with President Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia vaulting to its highest level in years, and record-level confidence in the country’s military, the national government, and the honesty of elections. The previous sanctions also did not appear to affect Russians’ views of their country’s economy, with more Russians seeing their economy as getting better now than has been the case since 2008.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

(HS Today) Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History Could Spread to US

Now recognized as the largest Ebola outbreak in history, the most recent eruption of the disease in three countries in West Africa — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — has claimed more than 670 victims, spurring international concern that the disease is only a plane ride away from spreading to other countries, including the United States.

“Our government has declared this now as a humanitarian crisis that is above the control of the national government,” Tolbert Nyenswah, Liberia’s assistant minister of health, told CBS News, adding that, “This virus, if it is not taken care of, will be a global pandemic.” Nyenswah is calling for more international aid to stop the spreading of the disease.

With no cure and a mortality rate as high as 90 percent, the Ebola epidemic serves as a grim reminder that even with the advent of modern medicine, the spread of deadly infectious diseases is not relegated to history.

Read it all.

Update: In the span of four days, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa claimed 57 more lives and has resulted in 122 new cases says the WSJ–read it all also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Theology