Daily Archives: October 26, 2014

JI Packer on the Biblical Meaning of Wisdom

“But what sort of thing is God’s gift of wisdom? What effect does it have on a man?

Here many go wrong. We can make clear the nature of their mistake by an illustration.

If you stand at the end of a platform on York station, you can watch a constant succession of engine and train movements which, if you are a railway enthusiast, will greatly fascinate you. But you will only be able to form a very rough and general idea of the overall plan in terms of which all these movements are being determined (the operational pattern set out in the working time-table, modified if need be on a minute-to-minute basis according to the actual running of the trains). If, however, you are privileged enough to be taken by on the high-ups into the magnificent electrical signal-box that lies athwart platforms 7 and 8, you will see on the longest wall a diagram of the entire track layout for five miles on either side of the statio, with little glow-worm lights moving or stationary on the different tracks to show the signalmen at a glance exactly where every engine and train is. At once you will be able to look at the whole situation through the eyes of the men who control it: you will see from the diagram why it was that this train had to be signalled to a halt, and that one diverted from its normal running line, and that one parked temporarily in a siding. The why and the wherefore of all these movements becomes plain, once you can see the overall position.

Now, the mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that this is an illustration of what God does when He bestows wisdom: to suppose, in other words, that the gift of wisdom consists in a deepened insight into the providential meaning and purpose of events going on around us, an ability to see why God has done what He has done in a particular case, and what He is going to do next.
People feel that if they were really walking close to God, so that He could impart wisdom to them freely, then they would, so to speak, find themselves in the signal-box; they would discern the real purpose of everything that happened to them, and it would be clear to them every moment how God was making all things work together for good. Such people spend much time poring over the book of providence, wondering why God should have allowed this or that to take place, whether they should take it as a sign to stop doing one thing and start doing another, or what they should deduce from it. If they end up baffled, they put it down to their own lack of spirituality.

Christians suffering from depression, physical, mental, or spiritual (note, these are three different things!) may drive themselves almost crazy with this kind of futile enquiry. For it is futile: make no mistake about that. It is true that when God has given us guidance by application of principles He will on occasion confirm it to us by unusual providences, which we recognise at once as corroborative signes. But this is quite a different thing from trying to read a message about God’s secret purposes out of every unusual thing that happens to us. So far from the fidt of widsom consisting in the power to do this, the gift actually presupposes our conscious inability to do it; as we shall see in a moment.

We ask again: what does it mean for God to give us widsom? What kind of a gift is it?

If another transport illustration may be permitted, it is like being taught to drive. What matters in driving is the speed and appropriateness of your reactions to things, and the soundness of your judgment as to what scope a situation gives you. You do not ask yourself why the road should narrow or screw itself in a dog-leg wiggle just where it does, now why that van should be parked where it is, nor why the lady (or gentleman) in front should hug the crown of the road so lovingly; you simply try to see and do the right thing in the actual situation that presents itself. The effect of divine wisdom is to enable you and me to do just that in the actual situations of everyday life.

To drive well, you have to keep your eyes skinned to notice exactly what it is in front of you. To live wisely, you have to be clear-sighted and realistic ”“ ruthlessly so ”“ in looking at life as it is. Wisdom will not go with comforting illusions, false sentiment, or the use of rose-coloured spectacles. Most of us live in a dream world, with our heads in the clouds and our feet off the groun; we never see the world, and our lives in it, as they really are. This deep-seated, sin-bred unrealism is one reason why there is so much little wisdom among us ”“ even the soundest and most orthodox of us….

–JI Packer, Knowing God, quoted in this morning’s adult Sunday school class on Proverbs and the book of James

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Immigrant Children and the Courts

“The question for our government” says Lenni Benson, executive director and founder of the nonprofit Safe Passage Project, “will be, even if they have deportation orders, is it ethical and legal to remove a child to a country of origin if we aren’t assured that child will be safe upon return?”

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NPR) A Diary Of Deaths Reminds Doctor Of Life

Doctors rarely talk about death.

Mostly it’s because we’re in the business of trying to help people prolong their lives, which almost always makes death an unwelcome topic of discussion.

Too often, death is seen as failure, though it shouldn’t be. Death is a natural part of the cycle of our lives.

After all the time I’ve spent working in hospitals I’m less afraid of death than I used to be. It can be scary to see death up close. But the end can seem a blessing after you’ve watched patients suffer and witnessed medical treatments that were dehumanizing and fruitless.

Even though my medical practice is mostly confined to the office now, I still confront death regularly. As a part of my practice, I decided to be more mindful about it by keeping a list of the patients I’ve cared for who have died. I call it my necrology.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Local paper) A Q&A with the Dean of Westminster Abbey

Q: Can you give us a sneak preview of your lecture here?

A: I’ll be talking about the history and current ministry and mission and significance of Westminster Abbey, so I have quite a lot of images and I can give people, I hope, something like a tour by proxy as it were of Westminster Abbey.

I’ll also talk about some of the great events that I’ve been privileged to be involved in over the past couple of years at Westminster Abbey that I know many, many people in the United States were aware of.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Local Paper) new South Carolina Anglican Priest takes ordination vows in a Big Green Barn

When the Rev. Gary Beson was ordained recently, he took all of the pomp, prayer and robes out of the usual church sanctuary – and into a barn instead.

He held his big moment Oct. 17 in the Big Green Barn in Summerville’s Carnes Crossing subdivision and kept the event a public affair. After all, every moment is an evangelical possibility for a new priest planting a new church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(HBR) How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition

Smart, connected products offer exponentially expanding opportunities for new functionality, far greater reliability, much higher product utilization, and capabilities that cut across and transcend traditional product boundaries. The changing nature of products is also disrupting value chains, forcing companies to rethink and retool nearly everything they do internally.

These new types of products alter industry structure and the nature of competition, exposing companies to new competitive opportunities and threats. They are reshaping industry boundaries and creating entirely new industries. In many companies, smart, connected products will force the fundamental question, “What business am I in?”

Smart, connected products raise a new set of strategic choices related to how value is created and captured, how the prodigious amount of new (and sensitive) data they generate is utilized and managed, how relationships with traditional business partners such as channels are redefined, and what role companies should play as industry boundaries are expanded.

The phrase “internet of things” has arisen to reflect the growing number of smart, connected products and highlight the new opportunities they can represent. Yet this phrase is not very helpful in understanding the phenomenon or its implications. The internet, whether involving people or things, is simply a mechanism for transmitting information. What makes smart, connected products fundamentally different is not the internet, but the changing nature of the “things.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

(CT) Shirl Hoffman–Christians’ misguided fight for football devotions isn’t working

Should coaches and players pray before football games? Perhaps it all depends on what they pray for. Pray for peace? Not the way the game is played today. Pray that the Lord will help you “play to the best of your ability?” Not if that means you have to dampen God-given, psychological, fail-safe systems designed to protect you from injury. Pray to win? Only if you think God, in his infinite wisdom, wants to bring you the thrill of victory while bringing your opponents the agony of defeat. Pray for the Lord’s protection? Not unless you are willing to set limits on what your coach asks you to do with your body. Pray that God might be glorified by the game? Not unless the rules and strategies of the game are radically altered so that that overused platitude actually means something. Ask that the game will glorify God but only after it has been stripped of its bellicosity, purged of its brutality, and infused with a spirit that, far from challenging the best instincts of Christian, actually fosters spiritual growth.

I might venture one unqualified role for prayer in football although I doubt it ever would gain a foothold in a culture where clear thinking doesn’t have a chance against entrenched, unexamined traditions. Does it seem too radical, too idealistic, too traitorous to the ideals of the game to suggest that football Christian coaches, in the stillness of their offices pray that football might one day be redeemed and restored to its created design? And after having prayed that prayer, maybe they should work to realize its vision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sports

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Gillian Scott–How to prevent the extinction of the Church of England

If anyone isn’t aware that the Church of England is slowly walking down the statistical road to oblivion, the publication of the 2015 British Election Study last week should be enough to convince them that this is not just the dream of hopeful secularists.

This wide-ranging and extensive survey carried out earlier this year takes a look at historical trends of religious affiliation according to denomination and age. What we see is that Roman Catholics are doing pretty well, with their numbers staying more-or-less stable over the last 50 years, whereas the number of Anglicans has halved and other Christian denominations have fared even worse, dropping down by about two thirds.

Christianity still has its nose ahead in the overall statistics nationally at 48 per cent, just in front of the ”˜Nones’ at 45 per cent, with other religions, including Islam, making up the final 7 per cent.

Read it all and follows the links as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Write deeply upon our minds, O Lord our God, the lessons of thy holy Word, that only the pure in heart can see thee. Leave us not in the bondage of any sinful inclination. May we neither deceive ourselves with the thought that we have no sin, nor idly acquiesce in aught of which our conscience accuses us. Strengthen us by thy Holy Spirit to fight the good fight of faith, and grant that no day may pass without its victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–C. J. Vaughan

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary, beholding thy power and glory. Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

–Psalm 63:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse on Vic, Spain–Sunshine in the City of Saints

Three things immediately strike a visitor to the tiny cathedral city of Vic in Catalonia: the smell of pigs that hangs in the air, the lovely arcaded square surfaced with raked sand, and the fog that envelopes the place for 100 days a year. The last may bring out the richness of the first.

Fog was used by the writer Miquel Llor (1894-1966) as a metaphor for the closed, hypocritical society that he portrayed in his novel Laura a la ciutat dels sants ”“ Laura in the City of Saints. I don’t recommend it, except as an indicator of the way things seemed to middle-aged intellectuals in 1931, the year that the Republic was declared in Spain.

Vic was known as the City of the Saints because it produced saints at times that other Spanish towns did not. To acquire a new saint it is necessary first to supply holy men and women as candidates, but then to have people determined to persevere with the slow process of canonisation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain

Ian Paul on the Bishop of Blackburn's recent comments–How to save a diocese

But one thing which is not mentioned in the press reports is the question of clergy and the numbers in stipendiary ministry. As I have argued elsewhere, I am not sure there are many examples in history where churches sustain growth without stipendiary ministry. This is not because I believe in clericalism, but simply because setting people aside for ministry is essential to create the support and investment which sees individuals and congregations flourish and grow. It is the principle which was at work in Corinth, when Paul was able to devote himself fully to his apostolic ministry when he received the gift from the Macdeonian Christians in Acts 18.5.

This means that the decision some years ago to raise the average age of those entering training by 10 years over about 10 years was catastrophic for ministry and church growth in the long term, because it has led to the prospect of a whole cohort of clergy retiring at the same time, and a rapid drop in the number of stipendiary clergy in post. It is perhaps the single most devastating self-inflicted wound of the C of E. But it also means that dioceses which are encouraging vocations and generating ordinands are likely to be ones with the best chance of turning around decline and seeing numerical growth.

When I was responsible for admissions in the theological college I was part of, I did an analysis of where ordinands were coming from, so we could partner with them. But I also did some analysis that I have not seen elsewhere, but which seems pertinent. Dioceses vary in size, so you would expect larger dioceses to have more people in training for ministry. But the really interesting question is, which dioceses are generating more ordinands for their size? This is relatively easy to find out, since figures on Usual Sunday Attendance (USA) and the number of ordinands in training per diocese are available from different sources. They tell a striking story:

The Diocese of London had twice as many ordinands per church attender as the second most ”˜productive’ diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture