Daily Archives: October 17, 2014

[Christian Post] Episcopal Church Still Counting withdrawn Diocese in Membership Numbers

When The Episcopal Church recently released its statistics on membership among its dioceses for 2013, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was listed along with the others.

There is one problem, however: the South Carolina Diocese’s leadership voted to leave the denomination back in 2012, taking most of the members and congregations with them..
“TECSC is no doubt seeking to avoid a painful public reporting of their diminished numbers,” said Walton of IRD to CP.

“This failure to report accurate membership figures calls into question the trustworthiness of congregational reporting within The Episcopal Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Chr Post) Massive decline in religion in Britain, according to new figures

In five decades, the number of people with no religion in Britain has grown from just 3 per cent of the population to nearly half, according to a new survey. Among adults aged under 25, nearly two-thirds define themselves as “nones”, or people with no religious affiliation.

The findings present an enormous challenge for the churches over how they make faith appealing to young people, in a world where many young will be appalled at how the male-dominated church leadership has made discrimination against women and homosexuals a defining feature of orthodox mission.

If the trends continue, Methodists will be extinct in a few decades and the Church of England also faces massive decline by the end of the century.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Robert Sirico–Beyond the Hype About a Vatican Upheaval

What is really happening at this synod is an earnest effort by pastors of the church to determine how best to encourage people to live the Catholic faith. This is no easy task. A move too far in the direction of merely repeating old formularies will not work. A move away from what constitutes the very definition of what it means to be Catholic will not only erode the church’s self-identity and betray her founder’s mandate, it will also insult and alienate many Catholics who strive to live by the church’s teachings. This is what we pastors call the art of pastoral practice.

The practice is best modeled by Jesus’ encounter with the woman “caught in the very act of adultery” (John 8: 1-11). His interlocutors somehow thought that they could drive a wedge between his allegiance to biblical law and mercy. So they cast the woman before him and demanded that he say whether she should be stoned, as the law stipulated. The tension built as Jesus doodled in the sand. Finally he replied, “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone.”

The story does not end there. Jesus turned to the woman at his feet and delivered gentle, memorable words””a message that makes the whole story an encounter of faithful mercy: “Go and sin no more.” If this model””finding the balance between justice and mercy, which are often in tension””weighs heavily on the minds of bishops gathered in Rome, that will be an achievement for the church and its pastoral model.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(EN) Churches seek to be more pastorally effective for people with disabilities

Dr. Samuel Kabue, coordinator of the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network says, “The inclusion of persons with disability is not an option but a defining characteristic of the Church.”

Members of EDAN, a program of the World Council of Churches, met in the Netherlands to develop a new statement with the working title “Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All.”

The new document aims to build on the WCC interim statement on disability “A Church of All and for All” issued in 2003, the WCC said in a statement.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bishops of Truro and Ely speak in House of Lords Social Justice debate

The Bishop of Truro has called for a ‘major cultural change’ in British society to recognise the need for justice for all – in particular young carers, those who use food banks and families living in poverty.

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton warned against an ‘us and them’ approach to social justice, calling instead for a greater sense of the ‘glue’ in society, or interdependence, that holds together people regardless of economic status.

“Social justice assumes, surely, that there is such a thing called society in which a key value is justice, and implicit in that, is that it is justice for all people in our country,” he told a House of Lords debate on social justice.

“I suggest that there is clear evidence that our society is struggling to understand itself as a society today and there is not enough evidence on the value of justice for all people, for all members of our society.”

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

David Brooks at The Gathering–The importance of the Person and Cultural Walls+Ramps for Christians

So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends how live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the sub-culture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.

I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.

The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of ”“ this is going to sound a little rude ”“ in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex.

And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.

The third wall is the wall of bad listening.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Media, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) In Layers of Gear, Offering Healing Hand to Ebola Patients in Liberia

The first time Dr. Steven Hatch suited up in protective gear at an Ebola treatment center, he was confronted with the weight of his decision to volunteer here. A patient, sweating and heavily soiled, had collapsed in a corridor. “Literally every surface of his body was covered in billions of particles of Ebola,” he recalled.

The physician introducing him to the routine, Dr. Pranav Shetty, said they needed to get the man back to bed, so they picked him up. Dr. Shetty focused on calming the patient, who would not live through the night. He diluted a Valium tablet in water, and cut some intravenous tubing into a crude straw for him to sip.

“It was a beautiful moment because I was like, he’s a doctor, he was taking care of his patients,” said Dr. Hatch, an American volunteer. “That’s what we do here.”

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

(Wannabe Anglican) The Wisdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch

I wish to conclude by quoting a statement of his about heresies in his Letter to the Trallians.

[Heretics] mingle Jesus Christ with their teachings just to gain your confidence under false pretenses. It is as if they were giving a deadly poison mixed with honey and wine, with the result that the unsuspecting victim gladly accepts it and drinks down death with fatal pleasure.

And so it remains today. The inventors of just about every false religion and heresy, even if mad and blind, still realize that the person of Jesus Christ is important and attractive. Even in their delusions, they are compelled to answer his question, “Who do you say that I am?” So they include in their falsehoods what I call a “token Jesus.” They give lip service to Jesus to add attractiveness and legitimacy to their false religion. But it is not the real Jesus Christ, but a supposed Jesu

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

(Church Times) Praise for patience as Lords agree to women bishops

The House of Lords passed the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure on Tuesday night.

The vote followed a debate in which Baroness Perry praised the “immense patience” of Church of England women clergy, the Archbishop of Canterbury emphasised the need to remain a “broad Church”, and Lord Cormack welcomed the provision for traditionalists.

Lady Perry said that women clergy had been snubbed by male colleagues and criticised “because their high-heels clonked”, and it had been “infinitely humiliating” to see the Church “reject the potential of those wonderful women within it”. One “very senior” woman had found that male colleagues failed to invite her to important meetings. Yet such women remained “patient and conciliatory”.

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

(Prospect) Daniel Dennett–Are we free? Neuroscience gives the wrong answer

For several millennia, people have worried about whether or not they have free will. What exactly worries them? No single answer suffices. For centuries the driving issue was about God’s supposed omniscience. If God knew what we were going to do before we did it, in what sense were we free to do otherwise? Weren’t we just acting out our parts in a Divine Script? Were any of our so-called decisions real decisions? Even before belief in an omniscient God began to wane, science took over the threatening role. Democritus, the ancient Greek philosopher and proto-scientist, postulated that the world, including us, was made of tiny entities””atoms””and imagined that unless atoms sometimes, unpredictably and for no reason, interrupted their trajectories with a random swerve, we would be trapped in causal chains that reached back for eternity, robbing us of our power to initiate actions on our own.

Lucretius adopted this idea, and expressed it with such dazzling power in his Stoic masterpiece, De Rerum Natura, that ever since the rediscovery of that poem in the 15th century, it has structured the thinking of philosophers and scientists alike. This breathtaking anticipation of quantum mechanics and its sub-atomic particles jumping””independently of all prior causation””from one state to another, has been seen by many to clarify the problem and enunciate its solution in one fell swoop: to have free will is to be the beneficiary of “quantum indeterminism” somewhere deep in our brains. But others have seen that an agent with what amounts to an utterly unpredictable roulette wheel in the driver’s seat hardly qualifies as an agent who is responsible for the actions chosen. Does free will require indeterminism or not? Many philosophers are sure they know the answer (I among them), but it must be acknowledged that nothing approaching consensus has yet been reached.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; 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 from Saint Anselm to begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, that we may cleave to thee without parting, worship thee without wearying, serve thee without failing; faithfully seek thee, happily find thee, and for ever possess thee, the one only God, blessed, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

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.

–Psalm 16:7-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Globe and Mail) Abby Lippman–Why genetic self-test kits should not be allowed into Canada

Even if one ignores some very important issues ”“ such as just what DNA patterns can predict about the likelihood of developing any of the diseases for which risk factor screening is done (basically, little if anything); how using the 23andMe tests to determine health risks is currently prohibited by the FDA in the U.S.; and the potential for obtaining disrupting, disturbing, or even destructive information about family connections (which is a far from trivial possibility) ”“ serious additional concerns arise in this country. These stem from the ongoing absence of genetic privacy and genetic discrimination laws in Canada, a contrast with the U.S. where there are (some) longstanding protections against misuses of DNA data.

This suggests that when someone in Canada gets a report of its findings from 23andMe, there is no way to keep insurance companies or employers from asking about it. Maybe not directly, but during an interview, applicants might be asked if they have ever had any genetic testing and, if so, what was found. Not to reveal that testing was done could be seen as providing a false answer and thereby disqualify the individual from coverage or a job. Maybe this is not as bad as learning a father is not really the man you thought he was, or as pleasing as finding you have a sister who was adopted into another family living nearby, but definitely a more negative outcome than is desirable.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Theology

How Boko Haram's Murders and Kidnappings Are Changing Nigeria's Churches

A leading Nigerian evangelical, Samuel Kunhiyop, author of African Christian Ethics,serves as general secretary of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), a 5-million-member denomination in Nigeria. ECWA has been doing frontline evangelism in Nigeria since 1954. In recent years, this group has planted hundreds of congregations in Muslim areas of Nigeria. Kunhiyop spoke with Timothy C. Morgan, CT’s senior editor for global journalism.

Is Nigeria as bad as we read in news headlines?

It’s even worse. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed, over 50 in Kano alone. One church and ministry has been built seven times and destroyed seven times. Another has been built three times and destroyed three times. Pastors have been murdered in their houses. Another was murdered in the church during a prayer service.

The situation is much worse further north in Yobe and Borno states, the headquarters of Boko Haram. People have fled residences where their forefathers lived for generations. Christians have been the victims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Stephen King–The US no longer controls its own economic destiny nor, indeed, the destiny of others

Sometimes, though, another analogy makes more sense. In this story, the US is the first to climb a cliff. Other countries are tethered to the US by ropes. The overall pace of ascent depends on the burden of debt each country has to carry. One false move by the US will wreck the entire enterprise. Yet the US will only get to the top if the others also make steady progress. At the moment, they are more in danger of losing their footing, thereby dragging down the US.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, The U.S. Government, Theology

ACNA Leader Bill Atwood–The Anglican Communion, ACNA and TEC and the Ang Ch of Canada

Shortly after the TEC House of Bishops met in Taiwan, a group went to West Malaysia. They announced that they had heard the consecration of a new assistant bishop was about to take place and they were there to participate. Leaders in the Anglican Church in Malaysia said, “You are welcome””to our country. You cannot participate in the service however, because of the actions you have taken to tear the fabric of the communion and you remain unrepentant. We are not in Communion with you, so you cannot participate in the service.”

The visit was part of TEC’s initiative to demonstrate that they are fully part of the Communion and are in relationships with other Anglican Provinces. The tactic has been used in a number of places in Africa where they visit, are received with hospitality (because that is the culture of those people), and then take pictures to demonstrate that there are no significant issues even though there may be disagreement over things like sexuality.

In this case, the TEC plan did not work in Malaysia. The leaders in the Diocese of West Malaysia are very well informed and steadfastly faithful. Not only did they turn TEC away, they knew I was traveling in South East Asia so they sent me a message. “Can you change your travel plans to be at the consecration we are having in Kuala Lumpur? We want to demonstrate that we are not in Communion with TEC, but we are in Communion with the ACNA. If you can get here, we’d like to make your visit highly visible.”

I was able to change my itinerary and arrived in time to participate in the Consecration including the laying on of hands for Charles Samuel, consecrated as Assistant Bishop for the Panang district of the Diocese of West Malaysia.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Instruments of Unity, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture