Daily Archives: September 17, 2014

(Albert Mohler) Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

As the church responds to this revolution, we must remember that current debates on sexuality present to the church a crisis that is irreducibly and inescapably theological. This crisis is tantamount to the type of theological crisis that Gnosticism presented to the early church or that Pelagianism presented to the church in the time of Augustine. In other words, the crisis of sexuality challenges the church’s understanding of the gospel, sin, salvation, and sanctification. Advocates of the new sexuality demand a complete rewriting of Scripture’s metanarrative, a complete reordering of theology, and a fundamental change to how we think about the church’s ministry.

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

Tony Abbott urged to lift refugee intake by Archbishop Davies of Sydney to help Iraqi Christians

BILL Shorten is considering proposals to boost the refugee intake, amid Left faction unrest over military intervention in Iraq.

The Opposition Leader’s move came as the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, appealed to Tony Abbott “as a Christian leader” to restore the intake to 20,000 a year to help protect Iraqi Christians.

The Coalition cut the intake to 13,750 when it came to power, arguing that the enlarged program sent the “wrong message” to asylum-seekers seeking to come by boat.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Daily Mail) UK holds first ever Ideal Death Show including prizes

The Ideal Home Show has been running since 1908 and the International Motor Show began in 1903 so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar show and earlier this month the Beeches in Bournville, Birmingham played host to the first Ideal Death Show.

The event billed itself as a ‘weekend gathering of entrepreneurs, pioneers and progressives from the funeral industry’.

Open to members of the public, the show allowed discussions about death, planning a funeral and some of the more eccentric ways people select to mark their own passing….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, England / UK, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Economist Daily chart on the Scotland Vote: Disuniting the Kingdom

A less great Britain loses a quarter of its territory and almost all of its mountains. Scotland lays claim to the ski resorts (and, sadly, a bit more of the rain). It gets some of the oil in the North Sea. But for actors, athletes, tourism and treasure, the kingdom comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland holds a generous lead. Among inventors, Scotland gets John Logie Baird who devised the first television, while England lays rights on Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. The 18th century poet Robert Burns goes north, Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontë sisters and others stay south. Among politicians, the Scots can claim Gordon Brown; the rest of Blighty gets Churchill. In music, Annie Lennox and the Bay City Rollers have to hold their own against England’s Bowie, Beatles and Stones.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Scotland, Theology

Scots’ choice-full independence, financial stability+economic integration, only 2 of 3

If Scotland votes Yes to independence the knee-jerk response in the markets is easy to predict: sell sterling, sell UK equities, sell Scottish financials and short Spanish debt on Catalonia fears. UK gilts may offer a safe haven but this is not certain given questions about the allocation of debt in divorce, enhanced risk of rump UK exit from the EU and potential contingent liabilities associated with a messy break-up of the UK.

In particular there has been insufficient attention to the challenge that would be faced by the Bank of England maintaining unlimited liquidity provision to Scottish banks during the transition to independence, particularly if uncertainty about future currency arrangements were to result in cross-border capital flight. There is a non-trivial risk this could end in a credit crunch in Scotland.

The onset of divorce negotiations would lay bare that Scotland faces an impossible trinity: full independence, financial stability and deep economic integration with the UK. It can have any two of these but not all three.

Read it all Krishna Guha of the FT.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Scotland, Theology

(Tel.) One C of E rector faces backlash in pews over same-sex ”˜wedding’ plans

An Anglican clergyman is facing opposition from parishioners over a service in his local church to bless his same-sex civil partnership.

The Rev Dominic McClean, the Rector of 13 parishes around the village of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, invited parishioners to the special service this weekend to mark his civil union with his partner, Tony Hodges.

The service, taking place in the 14th Century St Peter’s Church in Market Bosworth on Saturday next week was given a go-ahead by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who led the Church of England’s opposition in the House of Lords to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tomas Halik–Europe after Secularisation: What Future has Christianity on the Continent?

It is now evident that the de-privatisation and re-politicisation of religion is a truly global phenomenon, and does not only concern the monotheistic religions. “Religious terrorism” and “fundamentalism” are its most obvious, but by no means sole, expressions.

We can find religious symbols and active religious groups nowadays across the political spectrum – from the extreme right to the extreme left; from fighters for civil liberties, human rights and social justice to supporters of authoritarian regimes; from ecological activists to extreme nationalists; from the United States and Latin America to the new states of African; from the Balkans to the Arab countries, from Israel to India or Japan.

The fundamental assumption of the theory of secularisation – that what had been happening in Europe for some time would necessarily have to happen throughout the world – is now regarded as erroneous, especially by sociologists and analysts of globalisation, who view it as one of the many prejudices of an arrogant and naive Eurocentrism. Religion has proven to be a more vital and multifarious phenomenon than it was viewed by the Enlightenment, positivism or Marxism.

In fact, the theory of secularisation had itself become a kind of ersatz religious conviction for certain social groups and political orientations; it no longer functioned as a scientific hypothesis, but instead as a ideology in the service of power politics….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, History, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

Evangelical and Protestant Ldrs in Syria nad Lebanon Make Appeal for Middle Eastern Christians

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

(WCC) Displaced Iraqis appeal for security and tolerance

A briefing by Amnesty International, Ethnic cleansing on historic scale: the Islamic State’s systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, calls the ISIS offensive a genocide, citing several examples of mass killings along with a wave of abductions.

“The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq,” says Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser. “The Islamic State is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims.”

In more than 20 interviews conducted during three days by a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation that visited northern Iraq at the end of August, few people could imagine the possibility of returning to their homes. A fourteen-year-old Christian girl from a village on the Nineveh Plain, Iraq, when asked what she thought about the future, replies, “There is no future. Da’ish (ISIS) destroyed our future. We are scared to go back.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Iraq, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(DMN) Cowboy Churches: the Gospel with a little twang

The fact that there are now two cowboy churches in the Fort Worth Stockyards is a sign of the times: Dozens of these churches have popped up in the last 15 years, constituting a rapidly growing constituency of new Western Christianity that embraces simple services over big-church productions.

Westby’s church is a nondenominational congregation with a relaxed, indoor service featuring lots of music and no formal sermon. Miller’s, meanwhile, is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has been open for a little more than a year with a focus on ministry that goes beyond Sunday morning.

The two pastors don’t conflict or compete: They say there are enough cowboys, or at least enough people who want to worship like a cowboy, in the Stockyards to go around.

“Talking to someone about religion is like talking about politics,” Miller said. “Talk to them about their horses and their spirituality, that’s what they connect with.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Animals, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Cleanse our minds, O Lord, we beseech thee, of all anxious thoughts for ourselves, that we may learn not to trust in the abundance of what we have, save as tokens of thy goodness and grace, but that we may commit ourselves in faith to thy keeping, and devote all our energy of soul, mind and body to the work of thy kingdom and the furthering of the purposes of thy divine righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

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

(CNS) Patriarchs urge West to stop extinction of Middle East Christians

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Dr Ian Paul: The real issue behind the Scottish Independence vote

There is something quite surreal about the prospect of a vote, by those who happen to reside in Scotland at the moment, on whether or not the 300-year-old Union of Great Britain should continue. Despite the opinion polls, I have a sneaky feeling that it will be a fairly clear ”˜No’ vote. Because of the emotive nationalism, my sense is that people are reluctant to tell anyone that they are planning to vote ”˜No’, and so the pollster results are skewed towards ”˜Yes.’

But whatever the result, there are going to be some serious recriminations about the way the whole process has been conducted. It is breathtaking to consider the misjudgements, incompetence and constitutional wrecking that has marked the whole process. These are the most obvious blunders:

”¢ Cameron insisting that the vote was a straight ”˜yes’ or ”˜no’, out of hubristic confidence that Scots would not dare to vote ”˜yes’, instead of including a third option.

”¢ Allowing the ”˜better together’ position to be called ”˜No.’ Not surprisingly, this looks rather negative, as does any campaign to maintain the status quo. If there had been any thought at all about this, the vote would have been cast as between ”˜yes to independence’ versus ”˜yes to union’””or, better still, ”˜yes to union’ versus ”˜no to union.’

”¢Putting that third option (the so-called ”˜devo max’) option on the table the week before the vote, which looks to everyone like a cross between a panic measure and a bribe.

ӢThe sloppy definition of who can vote, so that residents in Scotland with no long-term stake can vote, whereas those who have a long Scottish heritage but happen to have moved to England or another country cannot.

”¢The notion of making constitutional change on a mere 50% of those voting. Even a debating society has a 2/3 threshold for constitutional change””and if there is less than 100% turnout, this change could happen with a minority of the electorate voting for it, let alone a minority of all Scots.

”¢The idea that one part of the United Kingdom can vote itself independent regardless of the will of the rest of the Union. Scotland comprises 8% of the UK population””so why couldn’t other areas with 8% also decide to secede? At what percentage does the other half have a say?

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Posted in Uncategorized

[Army Gen.] Dempsey raises possibility of involving U.S. combat troops in fight against ISIS/ISIL

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) Painting churches black and blowing up shrines: A look at life in ISIS's Syrian home base

Please note–be warned this contains content that is very disturbing–KSH.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Violence, Women

New C of E lead bishop for Environmental Affairs

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has accepted the invitation of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to succeed the Bishop of London as the Church of England’s lead bishop for Environmental Affairs with immediate effect.

In his new role Bishop Nicholas will work with the Mission and Public Affairs department of the Archbishops’ Council and also with the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division on the Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign. He will also Chair the new Working Group on the Environment established by General Synod in February 2014.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology